3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chairat 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if the Public Service Commissioner has altered his classification in order that increases may be given to the heads of Departments. If he has not done so. under what section of the Public Service Act is authority given to propose the increases which are set down on the Estimates for them all?
– I am not aware that it is proposed to give increases to all the heads of Departments, but as administrative officers,they are not subject to the Public Service Commissioner’s recommendations in respect to salaries.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral able to give the House further information in regard to the proceedings for the recovery of the £25,000 guarantee given by Messrs. Laing and Sons in connexion with the mail contract which has been cancelled?
– I have nothing to report since I last replied to a Question on the subject.
– I should like to know from the Prime Minister if the new protection memorandum is ready yet.
Estimated Cost of Militiaman and National Guardsman - Compulsory Training : Number under Training, and Pay - Long Service Medal.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
-In reply to the honorable member’s questions -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
For eighteen days for each of the first three years ;
For seven days for. each of the last five years.; and as the rate of entry is estimated at 27,000 a year, will not the estimated number under training at the end. of the eighth year be 216,000?
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Clarke’s Hill and Ballarat Telephone Communication - Accounts - Maylands Post Office
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– At present the system of accounts of the Department in the various States is not uniform. An InterDepartmental Committee was appointed some time ago, and is engaged upon an inquiry with aview to securinguniformity in this respect. The answers to the honorable member’s questions, so far as New South Wales is concerned, are as follow: -
– On Thursday last, the honorable member for Perth asked me the following questions : -
The following information, in reply to a telegram, has now been received from the Deputy Postmaster -General, Perth: -
Export of Adulterated Chaff - Duty on Medicated Plasters.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice: -
Whether, in view of the Parliament of Victoria having passed an Act to prevent the adulteration of chaff, he will so administer the Federal Commerce Act that the export of adulterated chaff will also be prohibited?
– This question is already receiving careful consideration with a view to taking some such action as that suggested.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice: -
– It is proposed to make special inquiry into the matter brought under notice.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice: -
– In reply to the honorable gentleman’s questions, I beg to state : -
Appeals - Pensions
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice : -
Referring to section 50 of the Public Service Act, has the power of appeal therein provided been taken away or restricted, and, if so, by what authority?
– The Public Service Commissioner reports : -
The right of appeal as prescribed by section 50 of the Public Service Act has not been taken away or restricted ; an appeal only lies where an officer has been prejudicially affected in regard to his status or salary, and in all such cases appellants have been granted a hearing.
asked the Prime Minter, upon notice : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are-
Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following papers : -
Inter-State Conference of Premiers, &c, Melbourne, April-May, 190S - Report of the Resolutions, Proceedings, and Debates, together with Appendices.
New Protection - Memorandum relating to the proposed Amendment of the Constitution.
Debate resumed from 23rd October (vide page 1502) on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the item, “ The President, £1,100,” be agreed to.
.- When progress was reported on Friday last I was about to deal with a question of vital importance, not only ‘ to Tasmania, but to every other State of the Commonwealth. I pointed out that section 94 of the Constitution makes provision for a fair distribution of the surplus revenue from Customs and Excise after a period of five years, but I am not aware that Ministers have shown any desire to carry out the duty imposed on them in that respect. I do know, however, that the honorable member for North. Sydney, when he retired from the Reid-McLean Ministry, after one year of service, expressed an opinion on the subject. I think I am fairly representing that honorable member when I say that, in his opinion, the period of five years was regarded by the framers of the Constitution as sufficiently long in which to discover what would be a fair distribution of the Customs and Excise revenue. The honorable member stated that during that period we should have gained experience, and that there had been, in one or two States, somewhat serious changes ; as, for instance, in Tasmania, where the difference between the amount paid per capita there and the amount paidper capita in the other States, at the time of Federation, had been reduced from about 20S. to something oxer 10s. We have now reached a period when our Customs and Excise revenue realizes, roughly, 55s. per head, and the figures show that the Stales in this connexion are drawing nearer to each other every year. Even Tasmania, with a small population, is becoming more closely allied, so far as the amount per head is concerned, with the other States, and, under the circumstances, it is very disappointing to the Treasurer and people of Tasmania that no steps have been taken under section 94 of the Constitution to remedy what I shall show has been to Tasmania an immense evil. Prior to Federation the Customs and Excise revenue of Tasmania was £480,000. Soon after Federation, under the Kingston Tariff, the revenue amounted to £320,000, whereas now, speaking from memory, I think that the amount likely to be received for the current year is only £210,000. This has necessitated a very serious call on direct taxation, in order to make up the deficiency to the Treasurer of the State. Prior to Federation, the indirect taxation in Tasmania amounted to about £480,000, and the direct taxation to about £100,000, but now the Customs and Excise revenue yields only the £210,000. The Treasurer of Tasmania has made, or partly made, up that serious falling off by direct taxation to the amount of £210,000. Under our Electoral Act, every man and woman exercises the suffrage ; and we find that whereas 88 per cent. of the voting power is responsible for 4.15 per cent. of the direct taxation, 12 per cent. is responsible for 95.85. It will be seen, therefore, how nearly we are approaching a period when, if more directtaxationbe necessary, we shall invert the old democratic order of things, and have representation without taxation.
– Taxation with practically no representation.
– Yes. So serious has the position become that I must call the attention of honorable members to facts which prove, so far as Tasmania is concerned, that that State is keeping pace with the neighbouring States. Tasmania is, closely approximating in her private wealth, her imports and exports, savings of the people, and so forth, with the other States, so there can be no reason to suppose that the State has drifted into a position of less importance from the point of view of revenue. I should like honorable members to give their attention for a moment to the figures. I find that whereas, in 1902, the imports of Tasmania were valued at £1,192,000. they are now . valued at £3,000,000, while the exports, which were previously £1,500,000, are now represented by £3,700,000. Then, as showing the thrift and accumulation of wealth on the part of the people, we find that while the Savings Bank deposits in 1902 amounted to £691,000, they now amount to £1,411,000. These figures, I think, show that Tasmania is keeping pace with the other States, and showing her ability to take her proper place in the Commonwealth; yet we find that, so far as the distribution of Customs and Excise revenue is concerned, there has been a serious falling off, and a very large deficit has to be faced. This suggests a very serious problem which we must at some time or another consider. If honorable members agree with me that in the matter of savings, wealth, and trade, I may fairly compare the 180,000 people in Tasmania with a similar number of persons in any other part of the Commonwealth, they must admit that the £210,000, which is now being paid to Tasmania from Customs and Excise revenue, is notat fair proportion of the total revenue received from that source by the Commonwealth Treasurer. The fact that in connexion with Inter-State adjustments, New South Wales and Victoria have had to make good to the other States £2,700,000, discloses the trend of trade during the seven years since the establishment of Federation. In the’ circumstances, it might be expected that the Governments of those States would be prepared to show some consideration for the States whose revenues they have collected, and to assist in securing a fairer distribution of the Customs and Excise revenue.
– I tried to get the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria to do what the honorable gentleman suggests.
– I think it is a proper reply to make to the Treasurer that, whilst the Governments of Victoria and New South Wales might not, when privately consulted, have been prepared to do what I suggest, if Ministers had in this House made any proposal, under section 94 of the Constitution, to deal more fairly with the weaker States, they would have found a disposition amongst honorable members to support such a proposal. We have never had any such proposal put before us, and during the period I have mentioned, Victoria and New South Wales have profited by the filtration of that amount of the trade of other States through their merchants, and Tasmania has lost a profit which she might have obtained if. her trade oversea had been done directly with her own merchants, I think that if the matter had been put fairly before this House in the form of a proposal under section 94 of the Constitution, a more equitable adjustment would have been arrived at.
– The Treasury officials, after investigating the matter deny thatany loss can be traced.
– That may be so, and it would possibly be very difficult to trace any loss in connexion with the smaller items on which Customs duties are collected. The figure I have referred to is, however, on record, as the amount involved in the necessary Inter-State adjustments between New South Wales and Victoria and the other States. Victoria and New South Wales are the only States that benefit by the existing arrangement, and, so far as Tasmania is concerned, it is important to remember that of the total of £2,700,000 which has had to be refunded by Victoria and New South Wales in connexion with Inter-State adjustments, no less than £700,000 has had to be refunded to Tasmania. Honorable members will realize from this the very serious responsibility imposed upon the State Treasurer of Tasmania year by year, and will understand how his position has been growing worse and worse. If honorable members will permit me to again take Tasmania as an example of what may result from direct taxation, they will see that anothervery serious problem confronts us. I have been unable to obtain figures setting out the private territorial wealth in States other than Tasmania. We have the figures for that State, because for years past we have had in operation a graduated land tax of one half-penny in the £1 upon proper ties under the value of £5,000, and rising by one-eighth of a penny to a maximum of one penny in the pound on estates of the highest value.
– I think the taxation is even higher than that on large estates now.
– I direct attention to the fact that in Tasmania we have not only the land tax, to which I have referred imposed and collected by the State Government, but land taxation imposed and collected by local Boards equivalent to shire councils in the other States of the Commonwealth. In addition to the State land tax of from one half-penny to one penny per £1 according to the value of private estates, we have local Board taxation up to1s. in the £1 for road purposes, and taxation varying in amount for the destruction of the codlin moth and other insect pests. So far as the other States are concerned I am aware that in most of them shire councils collect local rates for local purposes, and these may be compared with the taxation imposedby local Boards in Tasmania for road purposes. In Tasmania the number of owners of real estate is 22,741. Of these 22,000 pay land taxation on properties under the value of £5,000, and 741 on properties exceeding £5,000 in value. The 22,000 smaller proprietors own properties valued at £10,000,000, whilst the 741 larger proprietors own properties valued at £13,000,000.
– What is the income tax in Tasmania ?
– It is a graduated tax rising to a maximum of1s. in the £. Honorable members will see that in Tasmania direct taxation is imposed to a greater extent than in any other State in Australia. We have been forced into that position in order to make good the difference between £480,000, the revenue received in Tasmania from Customs and Excise prior to Federation, and £210,000, the revenue now received from the same source. I have said that I am unable to obtain any figures from the Commonwealth statistician showing the number and value of properties held throughout the Commonwealth in States other than Tasmania. But assuming that the 180,000 people in Tasmania fairly represent in wealth and progress an equal number of people in any other part of the Commonwealth, and recognising that the population of Tasmania represents one-twenty-second of the popu- lation of the Commonwealth, and that they contribute £60,000 a year in direct taxation on land it will be seen that at a similar rate the amount which would be contributed for the whole of Australia would be £1,500,000. I refer to this matter because from time to time we are invited to believe that direct taxation, chiefly in the form of a land tax would be likely to prove a panacea for all our troubles. Assuming again that the holdings throughout Australia would be much the same as they are in Tasmania, six-fourteenths of the whole amount of a land tax imposed throughout the Commonwealth would represent the proportion to be paid by those holding estates of less than £5,000 iri value, whilst eight-fourteenths would represent the proportion to be paid by those holding estates of a higher value. So that when we speak of a direct tax on land, and particularly on large holdings, we might expect to realize by such taxation only eightfourteenths of the £1,500,000 to which I have referred, because it would probably be proposed that the holders of estates of small value should be relieved entirely of this taxation. If this be so honorable members will realize from the figures I have given what a poor reed we are invited to rest upon, when it is suggested that we should impose a high rate of land taxation on owners of estates above £5,000 in value. We should probably not realize more than £800,000 at the most in this way. I have taken Tasmania as an example because it was impossible for me to supply accurate figures regarding other States of the Commonwealth. I should have been very glad if such figures had been available. If, however, mv calculation on this basis is approximately correct honorable members will see that we are. resting upon a slender reed if we assume that we can continue our present large expenditure in ‘anticipation that direct taxation will relieve us financially, or in anticipation that, if we impose a land’ tax, we shall be able to relieve the smaller landed proprietors. I- hope that our friends in the Labour corner will remember that if, as they propose, the smaller land-owners are exempted, the amount raised by means of a land tax will be proportionately reduced.
– Can the honorable member say what is the cost of collecting the land tax in Tasmania?
– Speaking from memory, I should say that it is. about 2 per cent. The Tasmanian land tax realizes about £60,000 per annum, and we also have in operation there death duties, and an income tax, which, in the case of companies amounts to is. in the £1. Then there is in force an ability tax of 4d. in the £1, and other income taxes, running up to is. in the £1.
– Is there any exemption from the land tax?
– No. I would remind honorable members that the land tax in Tasmania is a tax not on the unimproved capital value, but on the value of the land, including all improvements. I am aware of large areas of orchard and hop land in Tasmania that are. valued at £80 per Acre. Pastoral areas, on the other hand, are valued at from £2 to £4 per acre. If we are) looking forward to deriving from a land tax a sum at all commensurate with our growing expenditure we shall be gravely disappointed. I offer these facts as a warning to honorable members to watch more closely the expenditure of the Commonwealth, and not readily ‘to acquiesce in the passing of bounty Bills involving a large expenditure, or in any other proposed large outlay, “ which can for the present be delayed. I now pass on to another phase of the Budget, which should be interesting to honorable members. I refer to what I shall describe not as erroneous, but as very doubtful estimates of revenue. On a former occasion, I committed myself to an absolute statement that the revenue from Customs and Excise would be very much larger than the Treasurer had anticipated, and my prophecy proved to be correct. I do not intend to make so positive a statement in respect to the Estimates for the current financial year, but I ask honorable members to follow me for a few minutes, while I review some items in respect of which the Treasurer anticipates so great a falling off in revenue, that the total receipts from Customs and Excise will be, according to his Estimate, £600,000 below those of the last financial year. I have taken from the Statistician’s records for the first four months of this year figures relating more particularly to those items which, under the Tariff, pay the highest rates of duties. We are told by our protectionist friends that the higher’ the rate pf duty, the less will be tha imports. The fallacy of that statement is shown by what is transpiring at the present time. We have had experience of the Kingston Tariff, and we have also had a fair experience of the Tariff of the present Government. I find that the value of our imports, under the heading of “Apparel and Textile Fabrics,” during the first four months of the current financial year was £4,600,000, as against an importation of £4,300,000 worth during the same period last year. Then, again, the value of our imports of biscuits increased from £2,000 to £2,300. One might reasonably have expected the imports on boots and shoes to be seriously affected by the Tariff, and I am glad to find that the local manufacture of such goods is increasing more and more. Duty was collected on £125,000 worth for the first four months of last financial year as against a total importation of only £109,000 worth for the corresponding period of this year. Although the duty on cement has been materially increased, we imported £23,000 worth in the first four months of the present financial year as against an importation of £16,000 worth for the first four months of last year. The value of our imports of cordage and twine increased during the same period from £185,000 to £208,000; drugs and chemicals from , £342,000 to £391,000; leather from £91,000 to £101,000; machines and machinery from £817,000 to £883,000; and manufactures of metals from £459,000 to £607,000. The total value of our imports for the first four months of the present financial year was £16,748,000 as against £16,200,000 in respect of the corresponding four months of last year. We have in these figures a demonstration of the fact which was brought prominently before the notice of the Committee when the Tariff was under consideration, that there are certain classes of goods that cannot possibly be manufactured in the Commonwealth for a great number of years, and which, ‘ consequently, we must continue to import, no matter how high theduty may be.
– It is curious that the Customs revenue for the first four months of the current financial year was considerably less than that of the first four months of the last financial year.
– It must have been more.
– No. It was £55,000 less.
– I am not in a position to correct the honorable member, but I have been quoting figures taken from statistics supplied by Mr. Knibbs.
– It may be due to the fact that during the first three months of last financial year the duties were lower.
– We evenwent so far as to remove £11, 000,000 out of £15,000,000 worth of goods from the free list and subject them to aduty, leaving only about £4,000.000 worth of free goods amongst our imports. The year yielded a very much larger increase than the honorable member has referred to ; but I am now referring to the possibility that the current year will yield a much higher return thanhe expects.
– Which four months has the honorable member taken ?
– I have taken from January to April inclusive.
– I am taking from June to September inclusive.
– I could only get the figures for the four months from January to April.
– I have the figures for four months of this financial year, and the revenue is £50,000 or £55,000 less.
– That would be at the rate of £150,000a year. I said that the Budget speech disclosed that the imports of the various articles to which I have referred, and also others during those four months, were larger than in the same four months of the preceding year. I also referred to the fact that on pages 18 and 19 of his statement the Treasurer gave us120 items of revenue from various classes of goods last year, and that on page 19 he gave the same 120 items, showing the revenue which he expects to get this year. Last year the revenue from metals and machinery showed an increase of £201,000, while this year it is put down at £57,000 less. In other words, the imports of metals and machinery will be worth £300,000 less this year’ than they were last year, despite the fact that the returns for the four months to which I have referred show an increase. Take again apparel and textiles. Last year the revenue from this source showed an increase of £221,000 on the returns for the previous year, but for the current year the Treasurer stated that the return will be £99,000 less, so that there is another item of £300,000.
– He will probably be wrong there, because there was also an increase in theyear before.
– If any one will look at the windows of drapery establishments he will observe an enormous variety of goods of that class which cannot possibly be manufactured in Australia, and which must continue to be imported, no matter what the rates of duty may be. It is the same with machinery, metals, biscuits, and many similar articles. I think that the Treasurer has erred in stating that the revenue from Excise and Customs duties will be £600,000 less this year than it waslast year. He has told us that for four months it has been £55,000 less than it was last year, that is £150,000 less for the whole year. We maytherefore hope to derive a. larger revenue from imports this year than the honorable gentleman has estimated’. I desire to refer for a few moments to the revenue from the Post and Telegraph Department. Strangely enough, the Treasurer has estimated an increase of £185,000 in the revenue of this Department. We know that an increase in revenue can only be earned by an almost equal increase in the expenditure, but the expenditure is increased by only £29,000. I need not make any further reference to that Department. Much has been said about old-age pensions and various matters, but I shall not weary honorable members by dealing with them. I want to refer to a matter which I consider might very well claim the attention of the Government, and that is the neglect of revenue sources. I shall beno party to breaking down any industries which were invited to establish themselves here - first by Victoria and secondly by the Commonwealth - by the imposition of Excise duties on spirits and tobacco. If there be anything in my statement, and it is worthy of the consideration of the Treasurer, some arrangement should be made to buy out those institutions. According to the Commission’s report, they can be purchased at a low rate as compared with the amount which we are losing in revenue year by year.
– Does the honorable member want to nationalize them?
– No. I have no idea of nationalizing the tobacco industry. I think that we have heard enough of the tobacco monopoly in France to realize that a tobacco monopoly would not suit in Australia. I am not in favour of nationalizing for any purpose an industry which can be best carried out by private enter prise. Whatever can be best carried out by private enterprise I should like to see carried out in that way ; but I am Socialist enough to say that what will not be best accomplished by private enterprise may, as in the case of railways or water supply, be undertaken by the Government. On the supposition that we might buy out the distilleries at about £300,000 - and that, I gather from the Commission’s report, to be the amount of capital invested in plant - the annual interest on that sum at 4 per cent. would come to £12,000, whereas we are losing in revenue the difference between £284,000, Excise receipts at 10s. per gallon, and £559,000, Customs duty at 14s. per gallon, that is, £274,000 a year.. For what purpose are we suffering that loss? The object of the Excise duty on spirits was to encourage the agriculturist to grow barley. If the Treasurer will refer to the records, he will find that a very small quantity of barley indeed is used in our distilleries, and he knows how very difficult it is to grow first class barley. Therefore, to lose £274,000 a year in revenue for the sake of the few hands who are employed in the distilleries, and the small number of bushels of barley which are grown, in order to encourage distillation, is a waste of revenue resources. I think that the same may be said with respect to tobacco. Strangely enough, the Treasurer is empowered by the Customs Act to free from duty a certain number of articles which are used in the local manufacture of tobacco. It was quite a revelation to me to learn that essences, spirits, alcohol, starch, liquorice, corn-flour, spice, saccharin, glucose, orange peel, glycerine, tags, cork, paper manufactures, and vaseline are admitted free of duty for the purpose of encouraging the manufacture of tobacco in Australia, and that thereby £1 3,900 a year is lost to the Customs revenue. Although we derive a revenue from the Excise duty on such articles as may be weighty when turned into tobacco, still we give to the manufacturers of that article a bounty of1s. per lb. - that is, the difference between 2s. 6d., which includes a Customs duty of1s. 6d. per lb. on the unmanufactured tobacco, and an Excise duty of1s. per lb. on the manufactured article, and 3s. 6d., which represents the Customs duty on manufactured tobacco- we give that advantage to tobacco manufacturers at a loss of £75,000 a year to the revenue, because the articles to which I have referred as being admitted duty free aggregate 1,008,001 lbs. At present there is a very serious leakage of revenue - a revenue which, so far as Tasmania is concerned, amounted to £70,000 annually, before it was affected by the Excise duty. When the time comes for us to review our financial position, I hope thatwe shall find it necessary to inquire how far the free admission of these manufactures is assisting the development of the tobacco industry.
– The free admission of those articles does not all represent loss. For instance, the tags are paid for.
– I have already alluded to the fact that a part of the loss sustained by the Customs revenue is returned to the Commonwealth by means of the Excise levied upon tobacco. That remark, however, does not apply to essences. I merely call attention to the fact that we are paying too dearly for the encouragement which we are according our tobacco manufacturers. They do not employ a large number of hands; and hitherto tobacco has contributed so considerably to the revenue that it is very questionable whether we ought not to review our position in this connexion. If the Treasurer is really watchful of the sources of our revenue, I think that he will devote more attention to this matter. An honorable member who preceded me went so very fully into the matter of the payment of sugar bounties that I shall not traverse the same ground. But, in passing, I wish to say that we have paid very dearly for our experience in this matter. We have repatriated 4,000 kanakas at a cost of £11,400, we have disbursed £1,845,000 in sugar bounties, and other expenses have amounted to £7,000. In. the aggregate, therefore, £1,900,000 has been contributed to the sugar industry, and all that we have accomplished in the way of preserving a “ White Australia ‘ ‘ consists of the deportation of 4,000 kanakas, leaving 60,000 Syrians, Japanese, and Chinese within our borders. This result goes to show how easily we are induced by a popular cry to do serious things without achieving any good result.
– We have accomplished a great deal.
– It is true that the number of sugar planters in the Commonwealth has been increased by about 4,000, demonstrating that the larger plantations have been subdivided. But we have not got rid of the whole of the kanakas, and I do not know when we shall do so.
Personally, I think it is a very good .thing that our own people have demonstrated their ability to undertake the work in the canefields. I have merely called attention to the enormous expenditure incurred in connexion with the sugar industry.
– What is the. total amount of that expenditure?
– About £1,910,000.
– That represents the accumulated amounts paid by way of sugar bounties?
– It represents the amount that has been paid to the industry since the consummation of Federation, and during the current financial year we shall have to pay an additional £518,900. We are also losing by way of Customs duty £503,000 annually, less the amount that may be paid in Excise.
– The honorable member does not know the amount that has been paid in wages?
– No. I think that I have occupied the time of the Committee quite long enough. But I felt it my duty to call attention to these items, especially in view of the position occupied by Tasmania, and I hope that honorable members will recognise the very serious aspect which I have put to them. In addition, it is well worth our while to consider what would be the result of future taxation if applied to land. I have been able to instance only the case of Tasmania, because that is the only State for which official figures are available. At the present time the holders of land under £5,000 value in that State number 22,000. It would be useless to limit the collection of a land tax upon estates of more than £5,000 value, because we should then get only eight-fourteenths of the total amount that would otherwise be returned. So that if, under a land tax, based upon the rate payable in Tasmania, £1,500,000 would be collected throughout the Commonwealth, six-fourteenths of it would be contributed by persons who hold land of £5,000 value and under. Thus we should have cast upon us the serious responsibility of imposing a burden upon those who, as the result of thrift, have accumulated small sums in the Savings Bank and building societies, and who have invested those sums in homes for themselves. I hope we shall never do that. I trust that we shall be able to finance the Commonwealth through all her diffi- culties without being compelled to resort to direct taxation in the form of a land tax.
– I do not intend to address myself at great length to the position of the sugar industry, because that question has already been exhaustively dealt with by the honorable member for Wide Bay. But some remarks of the honorable member for Denison call for a reply. He stated that the net result of the assistance which has been accorded to the sugar industry has been the deportation of some 4,000 kanakas. That statement is quite correct, and I think that the Commonwealth is to be heartily congratulated upon the success of its policy in that connexion.’ During the past hundred years only one similar experiment has taken place, upon an extensive scale. I refer to the deportation by the British Government of some 8,000 or 1,0,000 French, from Nova Scotia, to the United States and elsewhere, in 1815. A great deal of suffering was associated with that movement, but I am glad to say that the kanakas were deported from Queensland without any serious trouble, notwithstanding the dire prophecies of many that their return to their own islands would be marked bv a good deal of bloodshed. Happily, nothing of the sort has occurred. The honorable member for Denison also asserted that the Commonwealth had succeeded in taking 4,000 kanakas from the sugar industry, leaving 60,000 Syrians, Japanese, and Hindoos engaged in it. I should like to point out to him that the total number of coloured persons engaged in the industry in Queensland and New South Wales, during 1905, was 8,452, whereas, in 1907. it was only 3,345, a difference of over 60 per cent.
– I understand the honorable member for Denison to say that 0,000 coloured persons had been left in the country, not in the industry?
– If that is so, I misunderstood the honorable member. ‘ In 1905 I expressed the opinion that there was no occasion to pay the bounty in New South Wales or Southern Queensland, because trie effect produced was not commensurate with the amount paid. In New South Wales matters have gone back instead of progressing in regard to the employment of white labour. In Queensland the effect of the bounty has been very marked, as the number of coloured people now employed in the industry as compared with those em ployed in 1901 shows a striking decrease. In 1902 the percentage of farmers employing coloured labour in Queensland was 60.9, and of those employing white labour 39.1. In 1907 the- percentage of employers of black labour in Queensland had fallen to 8.8, while in the case of white labour the percentage had increased to 91.2 - a very marked difference. But in New South Wales the percentage of farmers employing black labour, which was 10.3 in 1902, had increased to 10.7 in 1907 - an advance of 0.4 per cent., so that the bounty has had no effect in New South Wales. The estimate, for next year shows a slight improvement in those figures of 2.8 per cent., but up to the present the effect of the bounty in New South Wales has been actually to increase the percentage of farmers employing coloured labour. Therefore, as I said in 1905, there is no necessity for paying ‘the bounty in New South Wales or Southern Queensland, because the farmers there had all the white labour they required prior to the payment of the bounty, and there were as many of them employing white labour then as there are to-day. The bounty might be well wiped out in No. 3 district - Queensland1 - and in No. 4 district in New South Wales. I shall not deal further with the sugar question at present) because it is not of great urgency at this moment. We shall have to consider it again shortly when we are called upon to decide whether the bounty system should be continued or not. There are more pressing questions in regard to the finances of the Commonwealth that deserve our immediate attention. I thought when the honorable member for Denison was speaking in reference to Excise duties that he would favour nationalization. I had a faint hope in that direction for a moment, until the honorable member corrected me. Unhappily, * I do not think the honorable member is built that way. It is about the last thing one would expect from him. The honorable member pointed out that there are sources of taxation in Australia which have not been touched yet, or which, if they have been touched, might be considerably more developed. There is a great deal in what the honorable member, said in regard to the Excise duty on spirits. There are many sources of revenue which the present Government might very easily tap if they had the courage ; but that is just what they lack. I will mention three possible sources of revenue. There is, first, the tobacco industry. So far as I recollect it was estimated in evidence given before the Royal Commission on that subject that the net profits from the manufacture of tobacco were about £2,000,000 per annum. I make that statement subject to correction, but those are the figures so far as my memory serves me.
– Is that the wholesale or the total profit ?
– I take it to be the wholesale profit upon themanufacture, not upon the retailing of tobacco.
– The State monopoly returns about £17,500,000 in France.
– Honorable members tell us that the French tobacco is no good.
– They say it will kill at a mile.
– Enemies of nationalization will be found in France as well as elsewhere whose policy and interest it is to condemn anything done by the State in that direction. But certain honorable members on the other side, especially some who are not now present, are very much enamoured of anything done by Japan. Japan is doing the very same as has been done by France, and yet Japan has not been cited here as a shocking example.
– Japan has made the tobacco monopoly the security for her war debts, amounting to over £60,000,000.
– The State monopoly of tobacco is one of the sources from which Japan derives her war revenue. Yet we do not hear honorable members opposite condemning Japan. Rather that country is held up in a great many cases as an example of what we ought to do.
– I never heard anybody on this side hold Japan up as a bright example to us.
– I am sorry the honorable member’s memory is so short, but one honorable member on that side moved, a short time ago, in favour of removing the restrictions on Japanese immigration, on the ground that the Japanese were such an admirable people.
– That is not so at all.
– The honorable member I refer to did not proceed with the motion, but it was on the business-paper for a considerable time. Another possible source of revenue is to be found in the refining and distribution of sugar. That industry should be nationalized’. We should also tax absentees, who take large sums of money from Australia. One of them, of whose existence the PostmasterGeneral is well aware, owns a valuable block of land at the corner of Swanston and Collins streets, but, I am told, he has never seen the land, although he is reaping a very large income from it.Those people, who never contribute to the Commonwealth or States revenues, should pay for the privilege of living abroad and taking money from us. Those are three; sources which might be tapped, and if they were tapped the Treasurer would find himself walking upon a pathway of financial velvet. Our path would be very much easier in the direction of defence, and also of old-age pensions, of which we have heard so much lately, and so many fears expressed regarding the impossibility of financing them on the Treasurer’s Estimates .
– Tobacco, sugar, and property! That is a large order. It does not take long to say it.
– Why not say it? Does the honorable member believe that it would be bad for the Commonwealth if my suggestions were adopted? If so, I could understand his opposition, but both he and other honorable members have said that those things are good, but that the time is not ripe for them There was an article in the Age this morning in the same direction. It practically said, “ By-and-by it will be all right, but do not do these things now.” If it is good to do something in the future, it is good to do it now, and we are, relatively, in as good a position to do it now as we shall be twenty years hence. The Age complains of the Labour Party as impracticable, and as continually hitching its waggon to a star.
– They immediately follow that up by saying that they find no fault at all with our policy. It is only our methods that they disagree with. The trouble with our methods is that we do not elect their men.
– The trouble about our methods in the eyes of the Age is that we are here at all. I was about to say that it would be much better for us to hitch our waggon to a star than to trundle our little political hoop round and round the graveyard of dead and decaying shibboleths, as is being continually done by honorable members opposite. If the Prime Minister would only take his courage into his hands and say “ I will do this thing “ he would be able to compel the Labour, Party to follow him. We have been sent here for a definite purpose, with a definite policy. We go before the people with a straight-out programme, and everything that we do, both inside and outside Parliament, is done in the broad light of day. Wesay to the Government, “ Here is our policy; will you help us to carry it out?” As long as a Government will do that, we are perfectly satisfied. The Minister last week described the leader of the Opposition as an aboriginal of the old type, going for the right honorable member for Swan with a club. Why does not the Prime Minister go for the Labour Party with a club? If he had the courage to do so; he need not solicit, but might compel, the support of the party. If he had the courage to place before Parliament measures of a certain character we should have to support him willy-nilly. I feel perfectly certain that when the Prime Minister debates the situation with himself in the privacy of his own room, he recognises that we are on the right track. I have recently read a volume to which he has contributed a prefatory chapter. I allude to the recently-publishedLife of David Syme. Writing with approval of the career and character of Mr. Syme, the Prime Minister makes it clear that that gentleman supported a policy almost identical with that which we favour, and which incidentally the Prime Minister himself favours. Why, then, does he not come to the Labour Party with a club, and compel us to keep him in the position which he now occupies? But he hesitates, “ letting I dare not wait upon I would.” If he were true to the convictions of which he has approved - tacitly at any rate - he would lay before Parliament measures which the Labour Party would be compelled to support and help him to carry.
– He does not believe in them.
– He does believe in them.
– Does the honorable member say that “ the Great David “ approved of our programme?
– Honorable members are too much afraid of those two letters “we.”
– What is wrong with them ? They are my initials !
– When the editorial “we” is used, honorable members opposite, as well as many on this side of the House, blanch and tremble. When the fiat goes forth from the editorial sanctum for them to do this or that, they are afraid.
– Is not the honorable member afraid of the Thursday Island Times ?
– Do I look like a man who is afraid? Why does not the Prime Minister take a leaf out of the book of the Labour Party? We have dared the tempests of misrepresentation provoked by the press, and shall have to dare them again. There is no doubt whatever that at the next election we shall have the thunders of the conservative newspapers rolling round us more heavily than before. But, notwithstanding that, we are not afraid of the issue. We intend to sail right in the very teeth of the storm, and although the thunders of abuse and the lightnings of misrepresentation rage around us as they have done before, I believe that we shall bring our ship into this port with a larger and more valuable cargo than we have ever had yet.
– More Socialism?
– Yes, and of a more advanced type, too.
– That is straight, at any rate.
– The honorable member and his party have to put up with the “ we “ from the labour newspapers.
– We are quite independent of the press of all kinds, as the Prime Minister knows. Our platform is formulated, not in an editorial sanctum, but in the light of day, at the conferences of our party, the members of which are elected by the various branches of our leagues. The labour press supports what is resolved in those conferences of duly accredited members, who pass by majorities the various items in our programme.
– Has the honorable member been reading Pratt’s Life of David Syme?
– That is the book to which I referred a few minutes ago.
– Has the honorable member seen a copy of the famous letter there referred to?
– My honorable friend refers to chapter 16. I do not know what has become of the document.
– Chapter 16 is there, but the letter is not.
– That is to be “continued in our next.”
– I noticed the omission, but thought that the object of it was to induce the leader of the Opposition to make a statement, and then to “ flop “ the letter down before the public. The honorable member for Denison spoke of Tasmania as having been badly treated. On page 37 of the Budget papers is detailed the taxation paid by that State over a series of years; but, although the estimated return from Customs and Excise for the present year is only £380,000, as against .£489,151 in 1900, it must be remembered that the difference between the two amounts represents money which has remained in the pockets of the people. While the Tasmanian representatives are complaining that the Customs and Excise returns are not large enough, and that the State Treasury suffers, the New South Wales representatives complain that this taxation is too heavy, and that the Treasurer of their State receives too much from this source, the Customs and Excise taxation of New South Wales having increased from £1,785,781 in 1900 to £4,272,696, the estimated receipts for the present year. Whom are we to follow, the representatives of Tasmania, or those of New South W ales ? As for the complaints of the State Treasurers, in 1900 the Customs and Excise revenues of the States totalled £7,762,653, of which New South Wales received £1,785,781, Victoria £2,342,485, Queensland £1,561,486, South Australia £639,004, Western Australia £944,746, and Tasmania £489,151. During the years 1901-2 to 1907-8 inclusive, the States have received £54,176,909 from the Commonwealth, an average of about £7,739>558 per annum, or an average for the seven years of within £23,000 of what the total Customs and Excise revenue amounted to in 1900, and have been relieved of the cost of the transferred Departments. Therefore, although their populations have increased, their Treasurers have no good cause for denouncing the action of the Commonwealth Parliament in depriving them of the surplus revenue. However, as I had
not intended to speak this afternoon, I am not as fully prepared as I should like to be to deal with this subject, and therefore, in concluding my speech, I leave unsaid a good deal which I had intended to place before the Committee.
– No doubt most honorable members will desire to express their opinions in regard to the Budget. I particularly wish to do so, because of my attitude in connexion with a recent vote which was taken. The more I investigate the figures, the more I am satisfied that it was right that there should be a distinct declaration by the House of its appreciation of the important fact that our expenditure has grown so much that the revenue is now inadequate to meet many of the proposals put forward by the Government. When I addressed the Committee last year, I ventured tq submit a form of accounts which would enable the financial position to be seen at a glance, and honorable members were good enough to allow my statement to be included in the Hansard report of my speech. I was hopeful that that form would be adopted by the Treasurer this year when distributing his Budget papers; but as it was not, I shall again ask the Committee to allow me to put his figures before them in a concise statement, which will enable even those who are not experts’ to at once grasp the situation. As the Budget papers contain information that may be of service to honorable members individually, I do not suggest their curtailment; but, as the Treasurer has presented his figures, there is such an accumulation of detail, that it is difficult to ascertain the situation without making calculations and compilations which should not be necessary. I have set out in the following table the Treasurer’s estimate of the revenue and expenditure for the current year, on the basis of section 87 of the Constitution -
In the Budget statement for 1906-7 the estimated surplus for 1907-8 was £103,992, while it actually was, as in present Budget statement, £330,613, or an excess beyond the estimate of £226,621. This difference is made up as follows : -
My object in placing these figures before honorable members is to suggest to the Treasurer that information of the kind ought to be supplied, as it would be in any ordinary commercial business, so that we may see the position at a glance. There is another matter to which serious consideration requires to be given, and that is the interest on the transferred properties, for which the Treasurer has made no provision whatever. It will be remembered that at the Hobart Conference of Premiers, in February, 1905, this was regarded as a matter which would, sooner or later, have to be dealt with in a practical manner, and the following resolution was passed: -
That we consider it to be indispensable that the interest on the cost of transferred properties shall be Federal expenditure.
– Had that been done, the States would not have had so much returned to them.
– That is so. But I hold that we must settle this matter on sound business lines so as to remove all doubt for the future. In my opinion - an opinion which I expressed at the time - the Treasurer was acting within his authority when he appropriated the surplus revenue, and had it transferred to a trust account. Apart altogether from the judgment of the High Court, I have always considered that the Treasurer, in taking this step, was acting within his rights; but as to whether it was a prudent step, I do not express an opinion. The Treasurer, however, in the course of his Budget speech, said that he regarded the transferred properties as only a matter for adjustment - practically that cross entries as between the States and the Commonwealth would settle the question. If I have properly read section 87 of the Constitution, the “Treasurer must feel that, sooner or later, in consequence of his act in depleting the States Treasuries-
– The . States are trying to deplete the Commonwealth Treasury.
– Allow me to put the case in my own way. In consequence of the act of the Commonwealth Treasurer in depleting the States Treasuries, the Treasurers of the States will very properly endeavour to ascertain what is their legal position, and, sooner or later, the question will have to be referred to the High Court for interpretation. In the Estimates of 1908-9 the Treasurer shows that he expects to have to deduct from the threefourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, £77,338 in the case of Victoria, £73,9°3 in the case of Queensland–
– What for?
– The Treasurer says’ that it is for various purposes - I am quoting from his own figures. In the case of Tasmania the deduction is expected to be £33,233
– We shall pay the three-fourths to the States.
– But not the whole of the three-fourths.
– Yes, except expenses.
– If I am wrong, I shall stand corrected.
– The honorable member is making an error in some way.
– If so, I shall take some means to correct it. At any rate, I think the Treasurer will agree with me that the interest on the transferred properties amounts to £320,000, and that the £184,474, made up of the deductions, and the £320,000, amount to £504,474, for which, if the High Court did declare against him, he has made no provision. I ask the Treasurer to look into the matter and correct me if I am wrong in the view I take; but I feel that no adequate provision is made for amounts in regard to the payment of which it will be for the High Court to determine. If the interest or rent of the transferred properties had been deducted this year, New South Wales would have been debited with £27,827 ; Victoria, £157,394; Queensland, £120,846; South Australia, £1,237 ; Western Australia, £84,997 ; Tasmania, £26,407, making a total of £418,708. I urge on the Treasurer at this stage, in order that the contemplated large expenditure mav. not be undertaken without a full knowledge of -our responsibility, to seek legal advice, and, if necessary, have a friendly reference made to the’ High Court to determine whether in this respect he is acting within his rights under the Constitution.
– We cannot do that ; when the step is taken, the States may go to the High Court.
– I am not speaking without approved advice in this regard; and I think the Treasurer will find that there will have to be some adjustment, which will entirely upset his calculations, unless some arrangement of the kind I have suggested is made. I trust that neither the present nor any past Treasurer has delayed the settlement of the transferred property question in the hope that payment of interest may be avoided. I cannot think that any Treasurer would lend himself to such a delay for an ulterior purpose of that kind. The accumulated interest is now assuming such proportions that I think it is necessary that the Treasurer should obtain some authentic and authoritative opinion on this matter. With regard to the Post and Telegraph Department, I have had a statement compiled which shows that the expansion of the Department has naturally involved increased expenditure, and we have less reason to accuse the Postmaster-General of under expenditure than we have; to accuse him of a lack of careful administration of the Department. I find that in 1905-6 the number of officers employed in the Department was 10,751, while in 1908 it had increased to 12,555. The receipts of this Department in 1905-6 amounted to £2,824,913, whilst the estimated revenue for 1908-9 is £3,483,000. The expenditure has, of course, been correspondingly increased, but the balance of receipts over expenditure has increased from £186,824 in 1905-6, to £436,249 in 1908-9. In the circumstances, I feel that we are entitled to expect that the Post and Telegraph Department shall exhaust its revenue in making provision for further public facilities. The Postmaster-General has a right to object to any Treasurer who will say that the Department under his control should hand over a large surplus every year to swell the general revenue, when the money should really be expended in increasing the facilities afforded “by the Department. Some time ago, we had a Committee inquiring into the affairs of this Department, and at the present time we have a Royal Commission engaged in the same business. So far as I can gather the Royal Commission is engaged in an investigation into the merits or demerits of individual officers, rather than upon an inquiry into the operations generally of this great Department of public utility and convenience. ‘
– The honorable member must have been reading the newspapers, and not the evidence given before the Commission.
– I do read the newspapers. I wish to point out that if we had adopted the proposal for the establishment of penny postage, which, I think, should be given effect to if our financial position will permit of it, it would have involved a loss in this Department of £63)353- The Postmaster-General, in submitting his estimates, arrived at the conclusion that the deficiency would amount to about £117,000.
– More than that ; to nearly £250,000.
– I think I have correctly stated the Postmaster-General’s estimate of the probable loss in revenue upon the establishment of penny postage.
– Does the honorable member think that we are justified in sacrificing so much revenue?
– I agree with the honorable member that at a time when our revenue and expenditure just about balance each other, we are not in a position to make costly experiments. This is not the proper time to refer in detail to the Government scheme of defence, but I may refer to its financial aspect. I find that with the exception of a small amount of about .£5,300, derived in revenue-, the Defence Department is a charge upon the people of the Commonwealth, and involves an expenditure of £933,260 at the present time.
– Practically £1,000,000.
– The expenditure on this Department has practically reached £1,000,000 already. The Prime Minister has submitted a proposal in connexion with the defence of the Commonwealth, which, I certainly think, aims at an object it is desirable to attain if it can be attained prudently and cautiously. But if we except the amount which has been transferred to a trust account for the purpose, no provision has been made to meet the increased expenditure involved in the adoption of the Government proposal. I shall not trouble honorable members with detailed figures, but even if we adopted the suggestion made by one honorable member who spoke from the other side, and who proposed a starvation allowance to men whilst they are engaged in training in the National Guard, I estimate that the total expenditure involved will very nearly approach £1,500,000, The question of States debts has been given no important place in the Budget statement. I am one of those who have never laid very much stress upon the savings to be .effected by the transfer of the States debts to the Commonwealth, because those savings, if made, must be returned to the States originallyresponsible for the loans. But the matter is one which must be dealt with if we are to arrive at a settlement once and for all of the amount of revenue to be retained for the purposes of the Commonwealth, which, under existing conditions, is limited to onefourth of the net Customs and Excise revenue. I have always supported the payment of a fixed sum to the States, with an automatic arrangement by which they might derive some benefit from any expansion of the revenue from Customs and Excise. I ventured, when I last spoke on the Budget statement, to express the belief that the Treasurer’s expectations of revenue would not be realized. Although, apparently, revenue and expenditure at the present time only about balance, it may be that the Treasurer’s expectations of increased revenue will be realized, and that the fear which many honorable members entertain that the honorable gentleman is being led financially into a cul de sac are not justified. I hold the opinion that we are fast approaching the time when it will be necessary for us to borrow money to carry out the large works which will be required tomeet Commonwealth expansion. I am aware that that view is not shared by mv honorable friends of the Labour Party. I think that it is idle to suppose that the present generation can meet out of current revenue the large expenditure necessary to cope with that expansion of the future which we have a right to expect. I have only one feeling in this matter, and that is that, except for reproductive works, borrowing should be avoided.. Such borrowing may, perhaps, never be forced upon the Commonwealth, but our difficulties must be met and faced. We are told that oyer ,£1,500,000 is required to put the Postal, Telephone, and Telegraph^ services into proper working order. That expenditure would be revenue producing, and I hope that honorable members are agreed that it should not be met entirely from current revenue. I have a strong objection to the position occupied by Ministers “at the present time. If I may repeat what has so often been said in this House, I object that their proposals should be dictated Bv honorable members of the Labour Party. It seems to me that as the members of that party set their faces entirely against borrowing, the responsibility for the financial position must rest with them, and, in the circumstances, they should occupy the Treasury benches.
– I wish the honorable member meant it.
– I do mean it. If the party to which the honorable member belongs will accept the responsibility of their position, instead of putting it upon the members of the present Government, they will probably find more support in this House than they now anticipate.
– They would find that honorable members opposite would displace them when they got the chance.
– The Government are submitting magnificent schemes, most of which are desirable, but they expect them to be carried out by a population of not more than 4,250,000, whilst they ignore the one great necessity of our situation. It is absolutely necessary that we should increase the consuming power of the Commonwealth, and yet we are doing nothing in the matter of increasing our population. The leader of the Labour Party delivered an oration on the subject of Socialism. It would be idle for me to talk at length on that subject, but I remind honorable members of the distinct statement made by the speaker who immediately preceded me, that, however exaggerated the demands of the Labour Party may have been in the past, they may be regarded as moderate compared with those which will be made in the future.
– Exaggerated by whom? The members of the Women’s National League?
– Exaggerated by honorable members of. the Labour Party themselves. If Ministers are to continue to submit to prodding and dictation from the members of that party, it will be hard to say what proposals will not be put before the House. The men who create the situation and succeed in getting- proposals brought forward should be placed where they would feel that it was their duty, as custodians of the public purse, only to submit schemes which there was some chance of the Commonwealth being able to finance.
– On that question, how many votes does the honorable member guarantee to us?
– I cannot guarantee any vote to my honorable friend, and there is no one authorized, I am sorry to say, to speak on behalf of the corner, as was evidenced quite lately. Rather than continue to submit to this dictation, which is so pronounced here, surely it would be better for us to place on the front bench those who possess the confidence of the majority of the House to carry out its behests? I do not wish to commit myself finally to the proposition to elect our Ministers, but I have no hesitation in saying that, if the present unsatisfactory condition of public affairs is to continue, that is the only solution of the difficulty.
– Then the honorable member believes in elective Ministries?
– I believe that it is a solution of a very serious complication which has arisen in the House. If my honorable friends who sit in the Labour Corner are not able to assume the responsibilities of office, and to show how their schemes can be carried out, the. House had better elect an Executive to administer the various Departments. We should then have a Ministry which would be guided by the general sense of the House, and assisted with recommendations to which they would pay respect. At the present time any suggestions from honorable members on this side’ of the Chamber are received, I am sorry to say, with very little respect by those honorable members who occupy Ministerial positions. If the Departments were administered by an elec? tive Ministry probably we should arrive at a position which would be much more satisfactory than is the present one. In these circumstances, I feel that it would be idle for me to attempt to deal with the Budget in detail. The more one investigates the financial position the more one feels that the Ministry are groping very much in the dark, and giving a submissive adhesion to various projects from the Labour Party, without realizing how they are to be financed. At the present time honorable members in the Labour Corner say to the Government, “ You must carry out our schemes and provide the money for the purpose, but you are not to borrow.” Probably when we arrive at the end of the ten years’ period they will issue a mandate that the States are not to receive threefourths of the net revenue from Customs and Excise duties. Unless an adjustment is come to that is apparently the direction in which they are driving the Government. It is our duty to keep the States as well as the Commonwealth on sound financial lines. I have always recognised that the great purposes for which the Commonwealth was established must be carried out, and that provision for that purpose should be made from time to time.
– Does not the honorable member think that if we introduce old-age pensions and save that expense to the
States we should take that money from their share of the revenue?
– Most decidedly. I have already said that that question might have been adjusted by a private arrangement with the States.
– But they would not agree to that.
– I have already expressed the view that, failing an agreement of that kind, we are entitled to take the matter into our own hands. Whether we are to avoid a very serious financial position or not will depend upon the manner in which the fund for old-age pensions is administered. In Victoria a similar fund has been dispensed fairly and justly.
– No, it has been dispensed in a most miserable and insulting way. They have put in prison sons for not contributing to the pensions of their parents.
– There are indications that in New South Wales applicants will be treated with greater liberality than in Victoria. It is not for me to comment on their policy, because they can do as they like. I trust that the Commonwealth will not do other than what is just and humane. Victoria furnishes a good example for us to follow, because prudence and caution have marked the administration and distribution of the fund. I regret that a sum of only£20,000 is proposed on the Estimates for the purpose of advertising the Commonwealth. That is merely a drop in the bucket. I think that an increased expenditure in that direction would have been quite justified. Long ago we should have had a High Commissioner established in our own offices in London, and the Commonwealth occupying its proper position before the world. Systematic efforts should be made to attract people to Australia. I do not overlook the fact that the States have incurred some degree of responsibility by not accepting the challenge which the Prime Minister, in one of his most fortunate utterances, threw out to them that if they would provide the land the Commonwealth would find people to occupy it. I still hope that in the forthcoming’ Conference of States Premiers, although it is proposed to be confined entirely to the financial question, it will be recognised that an increase of our population is a paramount consideration to the Commonwealth.
.- I desire to refer briefly to the statement of the honorable member for Kooyong that the Postal Commission seem to be inquiring merely into differences between officers in the Post and Telegraph Department. He must know very well that a report in a newspaper is a very condensed account of what has taken place, either here or elsewhere. Generally speaking a little disturbance about something or other, or a little cross firing is fully reported, but a good sensible speech is ignored, even by a newspaper which agrees with the speaker. The proceedings of the Postal Commission are treated in exactly the same way as are those of the House. Whenever there has been a little cross firing over an officer or something of that kind it has been reported, but other matters have been simply ignored. If the honorable member will read the evidence which has been taken I am sure that he will admit that the expenditure on the inquiry has been quite justifiable.
– When is the Commission likelv to conclude its work?
– I am not in a position to say.
– Can the honorable member say when it is likely to go to South Australia ?
– As the honorable member knows, it cannot leave Melbourne while the House is in session.
– It could go to Adelaide at a week-end.
– There is a difficulty about any Commission going to another State at a week-end. If the Postal Commission went to Adelaide at a week-end and got the evidence of a witness or two, returned to Melbourne to get the evidence of another witness or two, and then returned to Adelaide for another weekend the witnesses and the evidence would get mixed up. We want to keep the evidence as clear and consecutive as possible, and while we have plenty of witnesses here we think that it is best to spend as much of our time here as is possible. Those who are not on the Commission can have no idea of the volume of work which is done by its members, who are each trying to do the best they can for the Department. However, I do not desire to go into that matter now. It is strange how little interest seems to be taken in the most important matter in connexion with the Commonwealth, and that is the Budget, including the financial proposals of the
Government. Although I sit behind the Government, I have always reserved to myself the right to speak as I think on any question which may arise. I certainly do not intend to vote for any increase of expenditure which is likely to increase the taxation of the people where I do not think that the proposed increase is deserved or required. I notice that the Estimates provide for an increase in the salaries of the heads of the various parliamentary Departments. While I believe that every man should receive a fair remuneration for his work, I believe that some of our parliamentary officers are overpaid for their work in comparison with the work which is done by a taxpayer outside, and the remuneration which he receives therefor. When I was asked some years ago if I was in favour of increasing the remuneration of members of Parliament, I replied that while I was always willing to take as much as possible I tried to consider those who had to find the money. While the taxpayers have to pay so much as they do at the present time, I do not think that it would be wise, for us to increase the salaries of any officers, especially those who are well - paid. I shall cast my vote against such increases. I trust that, however long the general discussion on the Budget may last, no arrangement will be made to put through so many pages of Estimates in a night.
– I do not care how soon they are passed.
– That mav be so; but I am opposed to passing items without reasonable consideration.. As the managers of the public estate of Australia, we should quietly discuss the various proposals coming before us, just as company directors would deal with their business. Unfortunately our parliamentary procedure seems to require that the various parties should set forth at length their positions in regard to Socialism and other questions, with the result that not sufficient consideration is given to the important details of finance. If Australia were governed byone man, he could manage her affairs more economically than they are managed at present. He would not have in London a representative for each of the States, but would appoint a High Commissioner to represent both the Commonwealth and the States.
– The Commonwealth is not responsible for the fact that there are six Agents-General.
– Five years ago, when I was a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, and we were asked to agree to the appointment of an Agent-General for the State, it was said that before long the Commonwealth would appoint a High Commissioner, and, enable this officer to be dispensed with. It is the fault of the Commonwealth that there is not in London a representative of Australia who would attend to the business of both the States and the Commonwealth. Then, too, it is well known that a bank will give better terms under a joint and several bond signed by six parties than could be obtained by any one of those parties individually. Similarly the Commonwealth could borrow money on better terms than any of the six States.
– Especially with Tasmania’s guarantee.
– Tasmanian stock stands as well in the London market as does that of New South Wales. We can always get what money we need, although we have not borrowed so rapidly as some of the other States. As to the bookkeeping which is still carried on, it was understood that, after the first six years of Union this would be abolished; but there are still staffs in the Post Office and Customs Departments to check the interchange of parcels and goods between the States. That seems to me to necessitate useless expenditure, and I am sure that if the Government had sufficient strength of will to propose the abolition of the bookkeeping system, Parliament would agree to it. The honorable member for Denison referred to the hardships which Tasmania has suffered since joining the Union. As another representative of that State, I say that its people do not ask for concessions, but they insist on getting their rights. They expect that the distribution of revenue shall be Per capita. There is some difficulty in the way of this because of the large receipts from Customs in Western Australia ; but that can be got over. This year the sum likely to be returned to Tasmania is £244,000. The honorable member for Denison put it at £.210,000, which is too little, although the return will be less than was received last year. Our revenue is now, per capita, almost as large as that of the other States, except Western Australia. I am sure that Tasmania would not have joined the Union had it been known that the debts of the States would not be taken over by the Commonwealth, and that there would not be a -per capita distribution of revenue. There is no talk of trying to dissolve the Federation, but we wish to see the spirit of the agreement carried out. There might as well be a system of bookkeeping to check the transport of goods between the north and south districts of Tasmania, as one to check the movement of trade between any two of the States. Now that we are federated, State boundaries should be obliterated, so far as trade and commerce are concerned. The right honorable member for East Sydney complained that the Government has returned too much money to the States, and has not spent enough on the Post and Telegraph Department. But it must not be forgotten that Australia as a whole is one people. When a man takes money out of one pocket and puts it into another, he makes himself neither richer nor poorer thereby. The Commonwealth knew the necessities of the States, and therefore returned to them as much as possible of the Customs and Excise revenue. It is easy to speak of the (Post and Telegraph Department being starved; no doubt there, as in other Departments, a great deal of money could be spent with advantage ; but a community, like a private individual, must economize when income is limited, and cut its coat according to its cloth.
– It can hardly be said that this community is short of money.
– I have heard the honorable member say that South Australia couldnot afford a penny postage system. The right honorable member for East Sydney comes from a State which has not needed the revenue returned to it, though its people have benefited by the return, because of the consequent reduction of taxation.
– The trouble in Tasmania was that the sums returned were not large enough.
– Yes. . But the people of Tasmania knew before Federation that they would lose their revenue, and were prepared to put up with that inconvenience. I notice that very large increases are proposed in every department of the Estimates. The increases in the Department of External Affairs total £6,729; in that of the Attorney-General, . £509 ; in the Department of Home Affairs, £1,821 ; in the Electoral Office, £1,011; in the Public Service Commissioner’s Department, £933 ; for the Public Works staff, £4,231 ; in the Census and Statistics Branch; £2,963 ; in the Meteorological Branch, £3,542 ; in the Department of the Treasury, £6,152; in the Department of Trade and Customs, £28,532 ; in the Department of Defence, £64,000 ; and in the Department of the Postmaster-General, £97,691. When the individual increases are before us, I shall point out that it is not necessary to swell our expenditure in the manner proposed. As to the granting of a bounty for the production of iron, while I think it necessary to encourage the iron industry, I am not sure whether it should be done by means of a bounty or of a duty.
– Has Tasmania money to spare for bounties?
– I consider always the welfare of Australia, not merely that of Tasmania. When the Tariff was under discussion, I voted to protect industries which were being conducted in States other than Tasmania, and no one can accuse me of being parochial.
– It will be interesting to see how the Opposition will vote in regard to a proposal for a duty.
– In some instances, members of the Opposition, although freetraders, voted protection to serve the interests of their individual constituents.
– That sort of thing was not confined to members of the Opposition.
– I shall not discuss the matter, because I do not wish to enter into personalities. Coming to the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department, there are one or two matters to which I wish to direct attention. Two or three years ago it was suggested here that provision might be made for the posting or letters on trains without extra charge. The city populations are given letter deliveries, and every convenience for posting letters; but very little is done for the man in the country’ The matter was brought before the honorable member for Eden-Monaro when Postmaster-General. What is desired is that the man who has come, perhaps, ten or twelve miles to a small railway station to get a parcel, shall be at liberty to post a letter in the train that may be there without paying an extra fee of 2d. Personally I regard that as a very great hardship, seeing that residents of our cities are provided with letter-boxes at almost every corner.
– If a person affixes a Victorian stamp to a letter intended for transmission from New South Wales, the recipient is required to pay an additional fee of 2d.
– If thebookkeeping system were abolished, a unfform stamp for the Commonwealth could be adopted, but until that is done the existing condition of things cannot be changed. I come now to the question of the mail service which is provided between Tasmania and King and Flinders Islands. At the latter place the residents receive their mails only once in three weeks, even if the wind is favorable. At present the contract is being carried out by a sailing vessel - formerly a steamer was employed - and if the weather be unfavorable the inhabitants of the island are compelled to wait perhaps five weeks for their mails. Quite recently a resident of Flinders Island informed me that he simultaneously received a letter which was written in Sweden, and another which was written in Melbourne, upon the same day. I would also point out that it was by the merest accident that some residents of the east coast of Tasmania observed the wreck which recently occurred there, and reported it. Had it been visible only to the residents of either Flinders or King Islands, they would have bean unable to report it. I trustthat these people will be speedily granted better mail facilities than they at present enjoy. These irregular services should not be continued in order that greater facilities may be afforded city residents.
.- It appears to me that the speeches which have been made upon the Treasurer’s Budget ought to have been delivered upon the noconfidence motion which recently engaged our attention. Not one of those utterances has been favorable to the Government, notwithstanding that the whole of them have been delivered by honorable members who, last week, affirmed that the financial proposals of the Ministry which they now denounce were entirely satisfactory. Ever since the division was taken, however, members of the Labour Party have been doing their best, by their criticism., to belie the vote which they registered on the occasion in question. Their speeches have been chiefly directed to showing how unsatisfactory are, not only the financial proposals of the Government, but its whole administration. In short, their utterances constitute an effective satire upon their recent votes. The honorable member for Kooyong was quite right when he indorsed the declaration of the Opposition, that responsibility and power should go hand in hand. To my mind, the Labour Party should really endeavour to come to some arrangement with the Government whereby a change of places might be effected. At present the smallest section of the House is charged with administering the affairs of the country.
– No. The Irvine party is the smallest section of the House.
– That is not a party, but an independent collection of units. During the course of this debate, four statements have been made which are particularly worthy of notice. In the first place the leader of the Labour Party admitted the absolute failure of the new protection policy which his party were mainly instrumental in forcing upon this Parliament. The second statement was that Socialism would provide the desired remedy for existing evils which protection has accentuated. Then the honorable member for Herbert laid down the principle that the Government should compel support of its measures by means of a club - that when the Prime Minister desired to carry a Bill he should abandon his rhetorical powers of persuasion and invade the Labour corner armed with a club. This advocacy of brute force is new to this Parliament. At any rate, I have not previously heard the suggestion: made. It seems astonishing that the honorable member for Herbert, who is usually regarded as a most peaceful member of the House, and who usually wears a seraphic smile of angelic serenity, should have come forward with such a violent recommendation. A fourth statement which has beenmade during the debate has reference to the subject of fresh taxation, and again reveals the Labour Party as an advocate of heavy taxation. It is in keeping with all their political record
– They are a bad lot.
– They are, politically.
– Yet the honorable member wishes to see them on the Treasury bench.
– Because they would then be saddled with responsibility as well as with power, and they could be tackled in the way that they should be tackled. At present they make the bullets which the
Government are compelled to fire. My pity goes out to Ministers who are so ‘ spiritless that they can retain office under such humiliating circumstances: The honorable member for Wide Bay admitted that the policy of protection had proved an absolute failure so far as it was intended to benefit the workers of the community. He further declared that he had never entertained the belief that it’ would better the condition of the workers. Yet I recollect the period, only a few short months ago, when members of his own party and of the Government were accustomed during luncheon adjournments to harangue our factory operatives in support of a larger measure of protection being accorded to our industries to save them from extinction and to provide the employes with better wages. I believe that there were one or two count outs through the absence of the then Government whip on those expeditions around the highways and byways, the purlieus and slums of the city of Melbourne. Those who took part in them preached to the wageearners the blessings that would follow the adoption and extension of the policy of protection. They did not say anything to the worker at that time about the failure of protection as a panacea for improving his conditions. Their mission was to establish the alleged fact that if the wage-earners would only vote for high protection they were sure to better their industrial position. Yet, the leader of the Labour Party, many of whose followers supported the higher duties, as they allege, in the belief, that the workers would get the benefit of the duties in higher wages and better conditions, now declares that he never believed that protection would do anything of the kind. The honorable member was one of those who voted for high duties, and he, and those associated with him, are equally responsible for the present Tariff, which is returning so large a revenue at so heavy a cost to the wage-earners. They are responsible for the heavy load which the wage-earners of the country have to bear.
– Does the honorable member believe that protection increases or reduces wages ?
– Protection never did and never could increase wages, but there are innumerable cases where it has had the effect of reducing them. To illustrate the truth of that remark, I refer the honorable member to the fact that in those countries where the largest measure of protection is established the lowest wages and worst conditions of labour prevail. In China, and in Germany, “France, Switzerland, or, in fact, any continental country, where the protective duties are highest, the, wages are lowest, and the conditions of labour and of living are of the worst description. In America the highest wages prevail in the unprotected industries, and the lowest in those most highly protected. With the evidence of generations of experience of the absolute failure of protection to benefit the workers, the Labour Party have been mainly instrumental in heaping a heavy burden of Customs taxation upon the people of this country. They had a full knowledge at the time that the protective policy’ had teen proved a failure over . and ow.r again in other countries.
– There are hundreds of thousands of people who are getting no wages at all in free-trade England.
– And also in protectionist Europe, America, and Australia. I have said that protection is not the remedy. There are between 80,000 and 90,000 unemployed in the city of Berlin alone, and” that is in a country which has one of the highest Tariffs in the world. In that case protection has failed to improve the conditions of the worker, because there the worst possible conditions of labour, and a very low standard of living, obtain. I wish to direct special attention to the admission of the leader qf the Labour Party as to the failure of protection to do what its advocates claimed for it so far as it affected the worker. The present Government - some of whose members went about preaching the benefits of protection to the workers within the last couple of years, and urging the workers to return protectionists in the assured hope that thereby their conditions would be improved - now admit that tint policy has not done what they claimed fo: it. It has been a miserable and ghastly failure, and the Government now under the direction of the Labour Party, table a new scheme called the new protection, which, they confidently assure us, is going to bring about a change. I venture to say that just as the old protection was all humbug, the new protection will be an even greater humbug, and the workers will not get a shilling of benefit from it. It is only another device to deceive the workers with a placard that will be absolutely useless to them. It is an illustration- of the saying about asking for bread and being given a stone. The workers are still asking for bread, and are now offered a brick instead of a stone. Quite recently a number of unemployed invaded the precincts of Parliament House clamouring for work - in Victoria, which has had the alleged benefits of a protective policy for so many years ! Yet Victoria has a large army of workless people unable to get work, and many of them declaring that they are starving, and every year she is losing her population by thousands. Not only has protection been of no benefit to them, but they have had to pay through the nose for everything they buv, and the value of any sovereign that they earn is under that policy reduced to about 13s. That is the only privilege that they have obtained from voting for those who have imposed this policy upon them. Even the new protection memorandum which has been tabled to-day does not pretend to bring about a general improvement in wages and labour conditions. Its operations are to be limited only to a small section of the workers. It is to apply only to those who are fortunate enough to be employed in certain protected industries. But are wage-earners who do not happen to be employed in protected industries not equally worthy of consideration ?
– The honorable member knows that there is no power to provide for them.
– What an admission And what a satire on the Labour Party and its tinkering policy. Surely if one worker is worthy of consideration, another is equally so. Why make an invidious distinction between one class of worker and another? Why are some to be singled out for the special privilege of ‘being able to dip their hands into the pockets of others, and the rest excluded ? Those who will get no benefits under the scheme have to pay the cost of protection equally with those who will benefit. Any system which sets up a class distinction between one set of workers and another is a rotten system.
– Will the honorable member vote to extend the Constitution so as to include all workers?
– The honorable member has just declared that there isno power to do so. The Government scheme proposes to amend the Constitution, but only to confer these benefits upon a small section of the workers. All those who happen to be outside the pale of em ployment in protected industries are to be excluded from the benefits of improved social conditions. This proposal presumably will have the support of the Labour Party. I believe the Labour Party are really responsible for it, and thus we have the party themselves. setting up an aristocracv of labour within the ranks of the workers. That was also clearly indicated by the leader of the Labour Party’s objection to the use of the term “ hands “ in relation to those who did not happen to earn their living by manual labour. The word “hands” was too common, too ple- bian, a term to employ. According to the honorable member, we must use not an Australian or even an English word, but a French word. Those gentlemen who happen to be employed in the Government service are not to be referred to as civil servants or hands, but as “ employes.” We have to be careful to make these class distinctions between different sections of wageearners now, because the leader of the Labour Party thinks that the term “hands,” although applicable to navvies, coal lumpers and wharf labourers, miners, and so on, is offensive when applied to people employed in the post-offices and other Government Departments. I have always asserted that the Labour Party were really the Tory party of the House, and they have been giving evidence lately of their claim to that title. Reference was also made by the honorable member for Wide Bay to the trawler. He spoke of it in terms of eulogy as having been built by the State, and as a shining example of the benefits of the socialistic policy of the Labour Party which the present Government are carrying out. It is a funny thing that whenever an industrial experiment carried out by the Government terminates successfully it is always hailed by the Labour Party as an evidence of the benefits of Socialism, but let failure attend any similar experiment, and they at once repudiate it as not being Socialism. It is Socialism only when it is successful. If it happens to fail it is not Socialism.
– An individualist is usually responsible for the failure.
– And also the success; but that is not the point. It does not matter whether an individual is responsible for the success or the failure ; so long as it is a success the Labour Party claim it as an evidence of the value of Socialism ; but when it fails they repudiate all connexion between Socialism and that particular enterprise. That is one of those remarkable things that one cannot help noticing.
– The honorable member must admit that the production of the trawler is a proof of the benefits of Socialism.
– That illustrates what I was saying. The honorable member claims this as an experiment in the fields of Socialism, because it happens to be successful. I venture to point out that it is not Socialism at all. As some honorable members in the Ministerial corner claim to be Fabian Socialists, I would remind them that one of the foremost writers of the Fabian school alludes to the tendency of some members of the “ popular party “ - referring to the Labour Party - to fall into the error of claiming certain State-controlled efforts as evidences of Socialism. The Post Office has often been referred to as a socialistic enterprise. I have heard honorable members in this House and on the public platform pointing to the Postal Department as an illustration of socialistic administration.
– Has the honorable member ever been in a country where the letters were delivered by private enterprise?
– That is not the point. Some of our labour friends use the fact that the Post Office is under State control as an argument for Socialism. All that I can say is that if we are to take that as a socialistic illustration, the sooner we have recourse to some other system the better. If our industries were run oh the same lines as the Post Office, we should speedily be reduced to inextricable chaos.
– We havetoo many individualists in the Post Office at present.
– Fortunately for the Labour Party some of their own authorities disclaim that the Post Office conducted under State control should be cited as an example of Socialism.
– Who says that?
– I may instance Mr. Hubert Bland, one of the most eminent of English Socialists, as well as one of the most moderate. He says, on page 212 of Fabian Essays on Socialism -
It must not be forgotten that although Socialism involves State control, State control does not imply Socialism.
– Hear, hear.
– There is the distinction between the two.
– State control means State Socialism.
- Mr. Hubert Bland says distinctly that it does not.
– We want to have the same control over monopolies as we now have over the Post Office. It does not matter what we call the system.
- Mr. Bland draws a distinction between State control and Socialism. Although Socialism involves control by the State, State control does not always involve Socialism.
– We know what we want better than he does.
- Mr. Bland goes on to say -
It is not so much to the thing the State does, as to the end for which it does it, that we must look before we can decide whether it is a Socialist State or not.
That is an important distinction. The whole matter hinges on the purpose of the State control.
– The objectis to bump out the private employer.
– That,I know, is the object of the honorable member and his party. Mr. Bland continues -
Socialism is the common holding of the means of production and exchange, and the holding vf them for the equal benefit of all.
– That is not Australian Socialism. It is an imported article.
– This hair-splitting distinction between Socialism in Australia and elsewhere may deceive a few people, but it does not deceive any thinking man. Honorable members in the Labour corner profess to be Fabian Socialists. We have been told that theirs is not the Socialism of Karl Marx, Gronhund, Liebknecht and other well known Socialist writers. Mr. Hubert Bland, from whom I am quoting, is a Socialist of the school to which they profess to adhere. He proceeds -
In view of the tone now being adopted by some of us -
The honorable member for Cook, for example -
I cannot strongly insist upon the importance of this distinction ; for the losing sight of it by friendsj and. its intentional obscuration by enemies, constitute a big and immediate danger. Tobring forward sixpenny telegrams as an instance of State Socialism may be a very good method of scoring a point on an individualist opponent in a debate before a middle-class audience ; but, from the stand-point of the Proletariat, a piece of State management, which spares the pockets only of the commercial and leisured classes, is no more Socialism than were the droits de seigneur of the middle ages. Yet this is the sort of sham Socialism which it is as certain as death will be doled out by the popular party -
We might substitute “ The Labour Party “ in this country - in the hope that mere State action will be mistaken for really Socialist legislation.
– That shows that the writer does not know what he is talking about.
– That sort of dog will not bark. The writer is an acknowledged forefront Socialist leader of the Fabian school. What is here referred to is exactly what is being done by the Labour Party in Australia - claimingall State action as Socialism, no matter for what end it is undertaken. Mr. Bland goes on to say -
The object of these givers of Greek gifts will most infallibly be attained if those Socialists who know what they want hesitate (from fear of its losing popularity, or from any more amiable weakness) to clamour their loudest against any and every proposal whose adoption would prolong the life of private capital a single hour.
I quote Mr. Hubert Bland, not only because he is one of the foremost Socialist writers in England, but also because he condemns the very thing that the Labour Party is doing in this country. It is, as he says, nothing but sham Socialism. They claim as socialistic, enterprises that are not socialistic at all, because they do not involve the basic condition of being held by all in common “ for the equal benefit of all.”
– It does not matter; we will make our own Socialism.
– Honorable members in the Labour corner are continually saying that they want certain private industries nationalized, their object being the destruction of private enterprise for profit making. That is Socialism. But when they claim that the mere management of public utilities - which does not aim at destruction of profit making - is Socialism, we reply that such control does not involve or imply Socialism at all.
– Oh, yes, it does.
– Curiously enough, however, in spite of their professions, we have had some members of the Corner Party objecting to the term “ Socialist “ being applied to them. Though some of them have time after time declared that their party is Socialist, we have had the leader of the party almost crying because, as he said, the Opposition accused them of being Socialists.
– The honorable member should not believe such things. The leader of the Labour Party never cried about that.
– He seemed to think that there was something ignoble attached to the word “ Socialist,” and that it was a misrepresentation as applied to him and his party.
– Why misrepresent the leader of the Labour Party in that way?
– I need only refer the honorable member to the speech delivered last week by the leader of his party. I made an interjection at the time.
– I will admit that I am a Socialist, if that will suit the honorable member.
– But the leader of the Labour Party took exception to the term, and charged the Opposition, with improperly applying it. I pointed out that the term “Socialist,” as applied to the Labour Part, did not originate with the Opposition. It originated with themselves. The present leader of the Labour Party has often declared himself and his party to be Socialists. The exleader of the party, the honorable member for South Sydney, at a Conference in Sydney, declared that the sine qua non of membership of the party must be that every one applying for admission must be a Socialist.
– He did not say, “ must be.”
– If not, he said that they “ should be.” At all events, he said that this was a sine qua non; that is, that belief in Socialism was an essential condition of membership of the party. Of course, since then, honorable members opposite have been trying to water down their objective, and to explain it - away. But their newspapers have not done so. There is no mistake about them. The Queensland labour journal in particular makes no bones about the matter. In fact, some of their journals condemn the Labour Party for being so squeamish in trying to cover up their meaning in verbiage. They make no secret of the fact that their objective is Socialism. The honorable member for Herbert this afternoon made no secret of it either. He said that whatever the attitude of the
Labour Party may have been in the past in regard to Socialism, and however strong they may have been on the subject, that was nothing to what they would be in the future. He made some reference, to which I interjected, “What, more Socialism!” and his reply was, “ Yes, more Socialism, and of a more pronounced type.” And vet the leader of the Labour Party complains that we charge them with being Socialists.
– This is not “ rubbing it into “ the Treasurer.
– He has admitted that he is a Socialist, and that he is going to carry out this policy. It is well that the public should know that whilst the honorable member for South Sydney and some other members of his party are seeking from the public platform to water down their policy and to make the people believe that the Opposition are falsely and wickedly charging them with being Socialists, the Treasurer himself has declaredthat he is a Socialist, and various members of the Labour Party have made the same declaration. One of the most prominent members of that party declared this afternoon that the demands of the party in the future would be for more Socialism, and for Socialism of a more pronounced type. It is time that these facts were known to the public. It is well that the public should know that the longer the present Government remain in power the more Socialism they will get. The leader of the Labour Party made against the Opposition the baseless charge that it accused the Labour Party of wishing to destroy the sanctity of the home and of the marriage tie, and so forth.
– That -was the/Cry’ of the leader of the Opposition all over Australia.
– Honorable members of the Opposition have never made such a charge against the Labour Party ; but some of them have levelled it against Socialists as a class, and on the strength of the teaching of the standard writers on Socialism, who insist that our present systems of marriage and family life cannot be maintained under socialistic conditions. IIf honorable members desire to apply to themselves so wide reaching a term as Socialism - if they choose to say that they are members of the socialistic school - they must be prepared to accept responsibility for all that Socialism entails. It is all very well for an -honorable member to say, “Socialism consists of 100 parts, and I am only five parts a Socialist.”
– The honorable member says that he is only a little bit of an antiSocialist.
– No ; I say that I am an anti- Socialist.
– Then the honorable member would abolish State control of the Post Office?
– I have already shown that the Post and Telegraph Department is not a socialistic institution.
– Does the honorable member admit that it is collectivism ?
– Not in the sense implied by Socialism. It is an administrative service for the general convenience of the people, and does not conform to any of the conditions underlying Socialism. State control may mean much or little, but it does not necessarily involve Socialism. But to return to the point which I was emphasizing when interrupted, I wish to say that I have not heard an honorablemember of the Opposition impute to any” member of the Labour Party a desire to interfere with existing social conditions so far as marriage and the family are concerned.
– Opposition candidatesin Victoria did.
– I was not aware of that. The leader of the Labour Party spoke of members of the Opposition, and’ I am speaking for myself and other mem’ bers of the Opposition. What the Opposition have said is that the standard writers’ on socialistic subjects nearly all claim that these relations must be interfered with. If honorable members apply to themselves the term “ Socialists “ they cannot expect that in the public mind they are going to be dissociated from all that Socialism may involve.
– Then the honorable member admits that the Opposition infer that such a thing would happen if the Labour Party had their way?
– The Labour Party claim to be Socialists, although the policy, they advocate is to a large extent, not socialistic, but a system of voluntary cooperation in which the basic elements of Socialism are wanting.
– They do not know what they want.
– They are applying to themselves a term to which, judging by their policy, as expressed by those among them who hold the mildest views, they are not entitled. I have not said, and have never believed, that any member of the Labour Party is less moral than is a member of any other party. I do not think that any of them in theix wildest dreams would go so far as most of the standard writers on Socialism insist is imperative. I would, in passing, however, refer to the fact that even in Australia Socialism and irreligionare not inseparable. There have been established by Mr. Tom Mann, who for a long time was the accredited representative of the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne, socialistic Sunday schools for the teaching of children from which all reference to the Creator is banished. The scholars are taught only material matters, and are told to expunge from their minds all our accepted ideas of religious teaching. The recognised Labour newspapers subsidized by the funds of the party, not only ridicule religion, but publish blasphemous articles. We may, therefore, claim that in Australia Socialism is identified with irreligion. I go no further than that, but having reached that stage, it is easy to go beyond to other more or less objectionable realms.
Sitting suspended from 6.29 to 7.45 p.m.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I do not intend to occupy much more of the time of the Committee, considering, as I do, that a number of special items may better be dealt with when we are considering the expenditure in detail. But there are one or two matters to which I should like to refer, and amongst these is the administration of Papua. This question has been hanging fire for a long time, and petitions have been received, I understand, from residents in the Possession, asking that, in the best interests of the country, an Administrator should be appointed at an early date. In this connexion, honorable members are entitled to information as to the intentions of the Government.
– Our intentions are honorable!
– I have no doubt that that is so, in regard to the intentions of the Treasurer ; but that cannot be expected to be wholly satisfactory to the residents of Papua. In any case, we are entitled to more information before we vote money for the administration of the Island. Another item to which I desire to call attention is that of the £20,000 for the purpose of advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. What is the use of advertising the resources of the Commonwealth, unless for the purpose of encouraging immigration? Seeing that the Labour Party are opposed to immigration-
– No, No !
– Seeing that the Labour Party, notwithstanding their lip professions of a desire for immigration, are really antagonistic to that policy.
– Seeing that the real desire of the Labour Party - and all their actions are in that direction - is to prevent immigration, so as to make practically a close corporation for the workers already here, I do not see the utility of the proposed expenditure. At the same time, the Prime Minister tells us that the primary need - I think his own word was “peremptory” - especially from the stand-point of defence, is population.
– Hear, hear; we say so.
– In view of that interjection, I should like to call attention to the action the other day of the Trades and Labour Council of Sydney. That body passed a resolution inviting the whole of the trade unions and organizations of Australia to join in a representation to the British Labour Party in the House of Commons, as to the undesirability of sending any more immigrants to Australia. I do not know whether the Sydney Trades and Labour Council may be” regarded as representing authoritatively the views of the workers as a whole; but, if so, then I point to the discrepancy between the sentiment of that resolution, and the sentiment just indorsed by the honorable member for Herbert. Both the Labour Party and the Prime Minister say that our great need is immigration, and yet we have this resolution on the part of a Trades and Labour Council of Sydney antagonistic to immigration. A significant fact is the absence of any provision in the Estimates for immigration. It is true, there is the item of £20,000 for advertising the resources of Australia, but there is no provision for the actual work of bringing immigrants to this country.
– The honorable member knows that the States are opposed to the Commonwealth doing anything in this connexion.
– I regard that as simply an excuse on the part of the Government for the purpose of covering up their own omission in not making any provision on the Estimates. It is trying to shift the burden of responsibility from the Commonwealth to the States.
– That is a very unfair thing to say. It is not true, as the Prime Minister explained the other day.
– I cannot find anywhere in the Estimates any provision for the actual cost of immigrants.
– The States will not agree to the Commonwealth doing anything in this direction.
– If so, what is the use of spending £20,000 in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth? What is the use of such expenditure, if, as the Treasurer says, the States are going to block immigration ?
– I did not say that.
– That is practically what the Treasurer said.
– The States desire to undertake this work, and will not agree to the Commonwealth doing it.
– I think that the desire of, at any rate, a portion of the House, is that the Commonwealth shall consult as far as possible the wishes of the States, and act in conjunction with them in an active immigration policy.
– The Premiers, at their Conference, asked the Commonwealth to advertise Australia, the States themselves arranging for the class of immigrants to be brought out.
– But the Treasurer says that the States are blocking any action in this direction. At any rate, I do not know how we can persevere while parties remain as they are, and we have a Government controlled from the Labour corner. Is it of any use spending money on advertising when the Sydney Trades and Labour Council invite the Labour Party to make representations as to the undesirability of bringing out any more immigrants? We have the Labour Party speaking with two voices. Inside this House members of the party declare that they are in favour of immigration, but outside their efforts are in an opposite direction.
– We want proper provision made before immigrants are brought here.
– That is simply an evasion, to cloak the well-known desire of the party to which the honorable member belongs, to prevent immigrants coming here. However, the party are afraid to express their desires openly.
– There is an evasion to enable single-taxers to fight for the squatters !
– I do not see the point of that remark.
– That is quite possible, but it is true.
– It can, however, apply only to the honorable member’s own party. I should like now to direct attention to the subject of wireless telegraphy. We saw in the press recently about some representation to which the Government have listened sympathetically, as to the advisability of establishing, or cooperating in establishing, wireless telegraphic stations amongst the various islands in the Pacific, and in Australia, with a view to the development of commerce, the aid of vessels in distress, and so forth. It is represented that, in many ways, it would be of great advantage to the Commonwealth to have such a system established j and I should like to know later on what the Government propose to do, and whether any specific promise has been made in this connexion to any company, or private firm. I desire to know whether the Government propose to in any way assist in the establishment of wireless telegraphic stations on the commercial routes in the Pacific. There is one other point I wish to refer to, and it is connected with the administration of the Telephone Branch of the Post and Telegraph Department. Some representations were made to me by the Municipal Council of Rockdale pointing out that at the very important suburban passenger station of Banksia, on the Illawarra line, distant not more than half-a-dozen miles from Sydney, there was urgent need for the establishment of a public telephone bureau for the convenience of the many passengers by the trains as well as of the local residents. In my opinion, it should be entirely unnecessary to make any representations of this kind to the Department, because, as a matter of business, a public telephone bureau should be established at every suburban station for the convenience of the local residents. If a locality is sufficiently populous to warrant the building of a railway station, it should certainly be sufficiently populous to warrant the establishment of a telephone bureau. I communicated with the Post and Telegraph Department on this matter; and the reply I got is as follows : -
With reference to your communication of the 26th August last applying, on behalf of the Municipal Council at Rockdale, for the establishment of a telephone bureau at the railway station, Banksia, I have the honour to inform you that, owing to the number of telephone works, provision for which has been made on the Estimates for the current financial year, it will not be possible, at present, to establish a public telephone at the Banksia railway station. The work would include the erection of a line and ‘the supply of a cabinet and fittings, together with a telephone instrument, estimated to cost approximately £38.
I admit that the amount mentioned is enormous ! When we are proposing to fritter away millions the finding of £28 must certainly present a very serious obstacle to the Department. However, there is some hope for the future, because the departmental reply goes on to say -
The matter will, however, be brought forward for further consideration next year, with a view to the service being provided as early as possible.
Communications of this kind bring the administration of the Department into contempt in the eyes of the public. That such a convenience as that asked for should not be provided at a suburban railway station is in itself evidence of a lamentable want of business acumen in the administration, but it is simply humiliating that such a reply, should be given when a request for the establishment of a telephone bureau is made on behalf of a public body. I shall feel mean and contemptible in having to send the communication on to the Rockdale Municipal Council. It can only provoke the laughter of any body of business men. This is the kind of reply which I and many honorable members receive to communications concerning such matters. I am aware that it is of little use to say anything on the subject in this House, because when attention was called to it the other day in the form of a vote of censure on the Government, a majority of honorable members, including the members of the Labour Party, asserted that the administration was all right.
– It does not follow that we are not with the honorable member in such a matter as he has referred to. Cases of the same kind occur in my electorate.
– But the honorable member voted with his party the other day to say that the financial administration of the Government was perfectly satisfactory.
– I could quote similar cases from my electorate.
– Is it not ridiculous to say that the resources of this great public Department are not equal to providing a sum of£28 or any number of such sums, for necessary public conveniences?
– It is not the difficulty of providing £28, but of meeting thousands of such applications, that has tobe considered.
– I think the Minister is exaggerating the matter to some extent; but he should not forget that the expenditure of these amounts in the way proposed would lead to business and profit for the Department. There is not one oi the suburban telephone bureaux that doesnot show a profit to the Department, and yet here we have evidence that the authorities actually refuse business.
– Is the honorable member aware that there is no telephone bureauestablished at the biggest railway station in Australia?
– I am not at all surprised to hear it. The statement is only further evidence of the manner in which the Department is administered. However, the honorable member for Yarra need not complain, because he has voted that the financial administration of theGovemment is perfectly satisfactory. I did not vote in that way, and I am, therefore, at liberty now to express my disapprobation of it. I hope the PostmasterGeneral will see that such paltry letters as that which I have quoted are not sent to honorable members to communicate to their constituents as the serious business replies of his Department.
– What is the date of the letter ?
– It is dated 22nd October, and if the honorable gentleman had been present while I was reading it he would know that the statement is made by the Department that as the cost of providing the convenience asked for would amount to £28; it cannot be considered this year, but must be held over until next year.
– It is perfectly absurd.
– It is absurd in the last degree. Yet the departmental reply I have read is the kind of letter from Government Departments with which honorable members have to deal day after day.
Such communications bring the Commonwealth administration into contempt in the eyes of the public, and of the municipal bodies who make these! very reasonable requests. I can do no more at this stage than direct attention to the matter. As we go through the Estimates, there are several items, which I propose to challenge. In the meantime I shall give way to some other honorable member who may desire to speak in general terms on the Budget.
.- I do not intend to detain the Committee very long. In the first place, I desire to congratulate the members of the Labour Party on their new recruit, in the person of the honorable member for Kooyong. The honorable member stated this afternoon that he is quite prepared to support the Labour Party on the Treasury bench.
– Is the honorable member prepared to support their policy?
– I am prepared always to do the right thing at the proper time.
– And the honorable member goes down to the Age office to find out what it is.
– I have learned recently that the honorable member’s leader went to the Age office at one time when he was in trouble. I wish to say that I congratulate the Ministry on their present proposals. They went to the country on a definite programme of protection, old-age pensions, and defence, and they are doing their best to carry out that programme. I venture to say that it is a programme which meets with the approval of a majority in this House. That was demonstrated very plainly only the other evening. I am aware, of course, that the right honorable member for East Sydney has had his day. The time; has gone by for him to get into power. I came across four lines the other day which I think aptly describe the right honorable gentleman’s position. They are these -
He revelled under the moon,
He slept beneath the sun,
He lived a life of going-to-do,
And died with nothing done.
Those lines, in my opinion, aptly sum up the right honorable gentleman’s political history. I had no wish to discuss the question of free-trade and protection, but the honorable member for Robertson, made a statement which has since been supported by the honorable member for Lang, and to which I must take some exception.
– It would be a poor look out for the honorable member if he did not discuss that question.
– It would be a poor look out for New South Wales if we had not adopted, the policy of protection. The honorable member for Robertson, on Friday last, stated thatwhere there is high protection wages are not too good.
– I said wages were low. High protection is associated with low wages.
– The honorable member for Lang made a somewhat similar statement to-night, and I propose to quote the wages paid in the United States, the highest protected country in the world, and those paid in the freest country in the world, Great Britain. Bricklayers in Great Britain, working fifty-two hours a week, receive £2. Bricklayers in the United States, working forty-four hours in the week, receive £6.
– Does the honorable member say that the average wage of a bricklayer in the United States is £6 per week?
– Yes; that is the average wage, according to an official document giving an account of the wages paid’ in various countries, presented to the House of Commons in 1906. Masons are paid in Great Britain £2 for a week of 52 hours, and in the United States, £5 for a week of 44 hours. Carpenters are paid £2 for a week of 52 hours in Great Britain, and £5 a week of 44 hours in the United States. Plumbers receive £2 for a week of 50 hours in Great Britain, and £5 to £6 5s. for a week of 45 hours in the United States. Plasterers are paid £2 2s. for a week of 51 hours in Great Britain, and from £5 10s. to £6 17s. for a week of 44 hours in the United States. Painters are paid £1 16s. for a week of 52 hours in Great Britain, and £3 15s. to , £4 5s. for a week of 44 hours in the United States. Blacksmiths are paid £1 16s. for a week of 53 hours in Great Britain, and 15s. per week of 54 hours in the United States. Pattern-makers are paid £2 per week of 54 hours in Great Britain, and £4 5s. for a week of 54 hours in the United States. Cabinetmakers are paid £116s. for a week of 54 hours in Great Britain, and from £3 15s. to £4 7s. 6d. for a week of 53 hours in the United States. What does the honorable member for Robertson say to those figures, taken from an official document presented to the House of Commons?
– I think the honorable members gets his own answer from those figures.
– Honorable members on the other side, including the honorable member for Parramatta, who, on every occasion, claims to be in favour of the policy of new protection-
– Have I said that?
– I understood that the honorable member claimed to be in favour of the policy of new protection. If he did not say so, his leader certainly did. I am sure that the honorable member for Parramatta is not in favour of sweating.
– I am in favour of truthful statements.
– If the honorable member will say that he is not in favour of the new protection, I shall admit that he is a con- .sistent free-trader.
– The’ honorable member is prepared to congratulate me either way.
– I shall say that he is a consistent free-trader, because no free-trader can be in favour of the policy of new protection. That has been proved. When questions relating to the sweated industries of Great Britain were under discussion in the House of Commons this year, it was clearly shown that in the absence of some protection it was impossible to restrict foreign labour. A little time since the Home Government sent out a Commissioner to report on the conditions of labour here and also in New Zealand. Upon his return he reported that Wages Boards and factories legislation could be made effective only in conjunction with a protective policy, and that -if we opened our ports we should find it impossible to have a fixed standard of wages. That goes without saying when we remember the rates of wages prevailing in certain countries. In Japan, for instance, the wage of a carpenter is is. 2½d. per day, and1 that of a bootmaker or a cabinetmaker is. per day.
– Is Japan a freetrade country ?
– Protection prevails there.
– Germany is also a protectionist country, and yet what are the wages paid there?
– We could never hope to compete with the sweated labour of Japan.
Surely the honorable member for Franklin will not assume for one moment that we could. In reply to the honorable member for Dalley, I would point out that Germany, where protection prevails, is looking after her workmen far better than Great Britain is doing at present. In the House of Commons this year, Mr. Chiozza Money, in putting a question to a Minister with respect to the condition of the cutlery trade in England, pointed out that in Germany workmen were provided with rooms where they could wash themselves and change their clothes, and he asked whether the Home Government would be prepared to introduce legislation providing for similar conveniences for workmen in Great Britain. He stated that the attention given by Germany to her workmen was superior to that of Great Britain.
– So that the honorable member is proving that protection nowadays makes people, wash themselves.
– I am reminded that freetraders never wash themselves. The honorable member for Parramatta is well aware that New South Wales to-day, under the policy of protection, is making greater progress than is any other State. The number of workmen employed in Ker factories increased last year by over 9,000, the wage’s paid by £1,087,000, and the number of factories bv 526. And yet the honorable member still clings to the bogy of freetrade. I wish now to refer briefly to the question of invalid and old-age pensions, and the Government proposals in regard to the new protection. I would remind the Committee that the present Treasurer introduced the old-age pensions system in New South Wales, and that the present Prime Minister, as Chief Secretary of Victoria, first introduced factories legislation in this State. In these circumstances, surely honorable members will agree that the Ministry are sincere in their proposals.
– The leader of the Opposition was the first to introduce factories legislation in New South Wales.
– And I repeat that the present Treasurer first introduced the system of old-age pensions there. Coming to the Post and Telegraph Department, I have no hesitation in asserting thai no PostmasterGeneral has given greater satisfaction to the men employed there than has the present occupant of that office, and that no one in Australia has done more than he has to put down the sweating evil. Is it any wonder, then, that the Ministry should receive support when it brings forward proposals of a far-reaching character, covering a policy that the people of Australia have adopted ? Honorable members may, for the sake of convenience, sit on one side of the House or the other, but they must all realize that the present Ministry is putting forward ai policy which the people of Australia have adopted, and which spells progress for the Commonwealth. I did not intend to speak to this question, but was induced to do so by the action of some honorable members of the free-trade party who raised the freetrade flag and thought, apparently, that their statements would be allowed to pass unchallenged.
– Cannot the honorable membersay a word for the old protection ?
– It is going, in the near future, to spell progress, not only for Australia, but for Great Britain. During the consideration of the Tariff various statements were made as to the inability of Australia to manufacture certain goods, and notably dress material. I wish now to congratulate New South Wales on the production of dress material weighing less than 5 ounces per yard. I have here a sample of such material, and the gentleman who forwarded it sent along a declaration that it was made in New South Wales. We have here another illustration of the value of protection.
– I suppose that material was being made in New South Wales twenty-five years ago?
– Not twenty months ago.
– I hope that the Government will extend as far as possible the policy of the new protection. If we are to pay invalid and old-age pensions-
– Have we the money?
– Surelv the honorable member will not baulk at finding the money when it is necessary to obtain it for such a purpose? He and others should not try to harass the Government in that direction. Every honorable member who voted for invalid and old-age pensions was, I am sure, sincere in his desire that they should he paid, and when the time comes to finance them I hope that honorable members generally will assist the Government in their efforts to find the necessary funds. But whilst we are providing for the payment of old-age pensions we should take care, by means of the new protection, to improve the conditions of labour, and so to preserve the health of the workers of the community. Let me refer byway of illustration to the position of our miners. We have in the Commonwealth about 100,000 men employed in quartz gold-mining, and in Bendigo, about 100 miles from this city, there are a number of miners who are being allowed to commit what I describe as slow suicide. We have there the deepest gold mine in the world, where men are employed 4,400 feet below the surface. Men cannot work at such a depth for eight hours at a stretch, and two shifts are necessary. A man works below as long as he can, and as soon as he reaches the plat another takes his place. Honorable members may call it Socialism, or any other “ism,” but I am in favour of reducing to six per day the number of hours that men have to work below the surface, and if it is possible to extend the new protection to the gold-miners of Australia such an extension will have my hearty support. I trust that the Government will take full advantage of the opportunity they now possess to extend the new protection to all sections of the community. I congratulate the Ministry on their financial proposals.
– I do not intend to speak at length, because I am anxious, for two or three reasons, that we should deal without delay with the New Works and Buildings Estimates. The sooner the contemplated new works are out in hand the better. If, because of delay in commencing operations, portion of the votes agreed to in respect of new works and buildings is unexpended, that unexpended balance has to be handed over to the States Governments, and they are thankless bodies.
– They represent the people who send us here.
– If we were dealing with the people themselves we should get fair play. As a matter of fact, it is in the interests of the people that I wish the proposed new works and buildings to be pushed on without delay. They are not enjoying the facilities which they expected to obtain from the Commonwealth. In South Australia we have great difficulty in obtaining materials for various works, and the sooner they are undertaken the sooner shall we find work for some of the 6,000 men said to be unemployed in Melbourne. In South Australia we have a comparatively small number out of work.
– Does the honorable member think that it is the duty of the Government to find work for all the unemployed ?
– It is the duty of the Government to push on with all the work that requires to be done. I hope the time is coming when the Government of the day will consider it their duty to go much further, and to see that there is no waste of labour in the Commonwealth. Every idle man is a loss to the community. We lose the value of the labour of every man out of employment, and some one has to keep him.
– Some men will not take work when it is offered to them.
– I have no sympathy with that class. I am glad to say that I have met with very few of them. But I have heard similar remarks to that of the honorable member applied by some members of his class to men who were only too willing and anxious to do a -hard day’s work, and too often for very little remuneration, in fact, for much less than the work was worth. In regard to the proposals of the Government, I find that highly-paid officers in the Public Service experience no difficulty in getting enormous increases in their salaries, but that those who are lower down on the ladder have the greatest difficulty in obtaining any increases.
– Oh, no. An immense number of them have got increases of salary.
– That is so, and as a whole public servants are much better off under the Commonwealth than they were under the States; but that is not so in the case of South Australia. I have a greater grievance than that to ventilate. It seems to me that a public officer near the top of the tree hi? no difficulty in getting his services valued at an enormously high rate, compared with men who are lower down the ladder. Not only that, but the former’s chance of promotion seems to be much greater. Take the reply I received to a question to-day. When public officers at the bottom of the ladder want to reach positions for which they feel specially fitted they are blocked by the Public Service Commissioner. It is only just to him that I should express my belief that he has no knowledge of the facts of many cases which have come under my notice. Since I spoke last Thursday, I have heard of the case of an officer who applied to be allowed to pass an examination in order to get into a higher grade. He was not granted the necessary permission, but a junior officer, who I admit had been doing the class of work which was expected of the other officer, was allowed to be examined and got the promotion. The disappointed officer appealed, but he was told that he had no right of appeal. Yet later on he was allowed to go up for examination, and had no difficulty in passing. In the meantime, however, his junior had been placed above him. We shall never have a satisfactory or contented service so long as that kind of thing is possible. I could cite many similar cases. I regret that I cannot bring under the review of honorable members the case of the officer I have just referred to.
– Is .the honorable member referring to the same officer as he did on Thursday?
– No ; to another case which has been brought under my notice since then. There are dozens of such cases which could be cited. The officer whose case I have just mentioned has no grievance now, since he has received promotion, except that a junior was allowed to be examined before he was, and is now his senior. That is a kind of treatment which causes great irritation, and which certainly ought to be got rid of.
– Is he in the Post and Telegraph Department?
– Yes. I desire to call the attention of the Treasurer to what I regard as an omission from the Estimates. I understood that the Government had come to the conclusion that the time had arrived when a sum ought to be placed on the Estimates in order to encourage inventors. I know, and I am sure that many honorable members are aware, that in the Commonwealth we have as clever inventors as are to be found in any part of the world, but, unfortunately, they require to receive some encouragement), and, in some cases, financial help. We are prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in bounties, and I do not believe that money could be spent in a better way than in encouraging our inventors. Many of their inventions would be of far more value to the Commonwealth than will be some of the products for which bounties have been offered.
– Does the honorable member think that the iron industry is important enough to justify the Government, in putting other public business aside to permit of its consideration ?
– I should like to know how it is that some societies can get the ear of the Government so easily and have no difficulty in getting their little claims attended to. This is a far greater matter than the granting of bounties for the production of articles, many of which can be grown, we know, whether that encouragement is given or not. I have no objection to bounties being offered in certain directions, because we cannot give a duty in every instance. There are instances where a duty is very much better than a bounty. I observe that a sum of £12,000 has been placed on the Estimates for an Iron bounty. I do not think that that is necessary. I should like to see that sum devoted to the encouragement of inventors. It would produce far better results, because the iron industry, °as I hope to be able to show by-and-by, ‘ought now to be able to stand on its feet without other help than a protective duty.
– It never has been able.
– No, but it can do so now if we impose a protective duty. So far, we have not given the necessary protection to the industry. But that is no reason why we should not do so now. I think that when it is proposed to treat highly-paid officers so liberally as the Estimates disclose, we ought to .know more about the value of their services to the Commonwealth, and whether there is a limit to the salaries in some cases. There does not seem to be a limit until we get down to the bottom of the ladder, and there we find one imposed. Many “officers have been blocked for twenty years.
– The Treasurer is not listening to the honorable member.
– My speech will be reported in Hansard, and if the Treasurer does not see the report others will and let him know what I said. I think that more ought to be done in this matter. The Postmaster-General is aware that on the last Estimates a sum was voted for the purpose of giving gratuities to officers who had made valuable and practical suggestions. I hope that that policy is being carried out.
– Yes, it is.
– I desire to call the Minister’s attention to an instance where that has not been done. A considerable time ago I had the opportunity of inspecting the new mail van which runs between Adelaide and Melbourne. It is really a magnificent piece of work. It enables the officers to do their duty comfortably, easily, and quickly. It is a great improvement upon the old van. I inquired as to who was responsible for its construction. I ascertained from some of his friends the name of the officer who was responsible for making most valuable suggestions in that regard. I discovered further that he has not received a single penny by way of recognition, and I doubt if he has even received a letter of thanks. If that is so, I know that the matter has only to be brought under the attention of the Postmaster-General to insure that the valuable services of the officer shall be recognised in some; shape or form. If we intend to give encouragement in this matter, we ought to see that no officer who has done valuable work is overlooked. In the course of his rambling remarks, the! honorable member for Lang referred to the question of immigration. He tried to show that the Labour Party are antagonistic to that policy. Now ihe position taken up by the Labour Party in this House is precisely the position taken up by the Labour Premier of South Australia, who said to the people of England: “ In spite of the fact that in South Australia we have never had more prosperous times than we have at present, and that we need immigrants, we are not ready for them yet. We do not want you to send out a large number of persons until we know how to provide for them.” That is a sensible, reasonable attitude to take up. It is precisely the attitude of the Labour Party, and one which I hope will be indorsed by the House. What is the use of bringing in persons by the thousand, until we know what to do with them?
– We want to bring them in with a thousand instead of by the thousand.
-Exactly. There is no immigrant who is not welcomed by the workers of Australia. I may say that the Tariff which has been mentioned’ by the honorable member for Lang, has been the means of attracting, a good many workmen to our shores. At my own door a branch of a large business in Melbourne has been’ started, and many persons have been brought out for the factory. Not the slightest objection is raised by the workers of Australia to the introduction of these men so long as work is provided for them, except that it is just possible that they are being brought here under agreements. I hope that the Government have seen every one of these agreements, though I believe that they have not. Of course, it will be their duty to see them.
– They did not take any action in the case of some agreements which they did see.
– It is time that we took action with a Government which will not intervene in such cases.
– Why did not the honorable member do that last week?
– He has missed the “ ‘bus.”
– I have not missed the “ ‘bus.” I am trying to find out whether it is so or not. While we are prepared to welcome these men to our shores, we want them to come here under fair agreements. I saw an agreement the other day. I do not know whether it has been seen by the Government, but I must admit that it is a fair one. If any men have been brought in without the Government seeing their agreements, and ascertaining whether or not they are fair, I hope that they will take some action, and let employers know that they will not be permitted to bring in men except in accordance with the law. Othenvise, while one employer might bring in a man under a fair agreement, another employer might do so under an unfair agreement. The honorable member for Lang has stated that the Sydney Trades and Labour Council are urging the unions of this country to influence the Labour Party in the Old Country to use their utmost efforts to prevent persons from coming here. I am entirely in accord with what they are doing. They are doing exactly the right thing. I am quite sure that if the Trades and Labour Council could be shown that there was room for 20,000 working men, or 20,000 families, they would say, “ Bring them in by all means.” But when it is proposed to bring in men to compete for work when there is not enough to go round, honorable members cannot wonder at that body sounding a protest. If we were to bring in 3,000 or 6,000 persons, practically to starve, that would be about the worst advertisement which the Commonwealth could get, because” it would be damned by the immigrants from the Old Country, and their friends would be advised not to come here.
– The honorable member does not wish them to import lawyers in that way, does he?
– I hardly think that there is enough work for lawyers to go round, though, I admit, that the Constitution has provided a good deal of work which the profession did not have previously, and is likely to prove a mine of wealth to them for many a generation.
– It was provided by this Parliament.
– Not by Parliament, but the Constitution. Only the other day, we witnessed the spectacle of the Premiers of the States thrusting this country into expensive litigation, notwithstanding that the Constitution was sound! upon the question at issue. What did they care, so long as they were afforded another tilt at the Commonwealth I am afraid, however, that we shall have to submit to that sort of thing until a truly Federal feeling has grown up in the States. I believe that such a feeling is growing, and I am pretty certain that some of those gentlemen who have had so much to say against the Constitution, will find it a very difficult task to get back into the States Legislatures when they have to appear before the electors. The honorable member for Parramatta remarked this afternoon, “ What ! Six thousand unemployed in spite of the Tariff?” I say that they ‘are not unemployed “ in spite of the Tariff.” Only a day. or two ago, I was very gratified to see a number of the free-trade members of this House, who did their best to prevent the piano industry from being established in the Commonwealth, present at the laying of the foundation stone of a piano factory in Richmond, which will employ hundreds of hands. At the same time, I recognise that if the Tariff had been enacted in the form in which it was introduced by the Treasurer, a great many more industries would have been established in our midst. The revision of the Tariff is a work which has still to be completed, and the sooner we tackle the task, the better. If there are unemployed to the extent which has been suggested in Victoria, the fault rests with members of the direct Opposition, and ot the Opposition corner, who voted in favour of the imposition of revenue duties, when they should have supported protective duties.
– Did not the honorable member advocate free-trade in respect of olive oil?
– I certainly did not. I consistently voted for protective duties, and the honorable member should not make insinuations which are utterly without foundation. It is true that I voted in favour of the remission of a Jd. per pound upon tinned fish; but I still allowed the industry the benefit of a protective duty, and I supported the reduction of that duty by a Jd. per pound, only because we had already authorized the payment of a bounty to that industry. For the same reason, I do not favour the granting of a bounty to the iron industry. I am prepared to encourage it by the imposition of a protective duty; but I am not willing to afford it a double measure of protection by granting it both a bounty and a duty. There are many items in these Estimates upon which I should have liked to make some observations; but, until we have dealt with the New Works and Buildings Estimates, I shall abstain from doing so.
– Are the New Works and Buildings Estimates to be dealt with before we have considered the Estimates-in-Chief ?
– I hope so. That is the practice which was followed on a former occasion. The present position of our public servants is most unsatisfactory. The members of the administrative staff are apparently able to obtain any increases that they desire, whilst another section nf our Commonwealth employes, who were told that if injustice were done to them, they would have the right of appeal, are now informed, when they wish to exercise thai right, that “ No appeal lies,” Then there is the case of the Hansard staff, the members of which have no appeal at all. They are liable to instant dismissal.
– And they are the friends of every member of the House. I know that they are my best friends.
– Quite so. It merely goes to show what an anomalous measure the -Public Service Act is. I hope that the time is near at hand when we shall endeavour to effect some improvement in that measure. I trust that the present debate will not be prolonged-
– That is very good. The honorable member has had his “ cut,” and then in effect says to his fellow members “ Dry up.”
– No. There is plenty of material available upon which I could speak for three or four hours.
– The great bulk of the people outside seem to have no grievances lately. Their watch-dogs are all dumb.
– The honorable member was not present during the earlier portion of my speech or he would scarcely have made that remark. The honorablemember for Lang referred to the questionof the new protection, and railed at theGovernment and the Labour Party becausethey propose to assist only one section of the workers - the section engaged in industries which have been afforded the benefit of protective duties. But he knows perfectly well that under the Constitution wehave no power to help any other section, of workers. He is also aware that the members of the Labour Party are quite prepared to have the complete control of industrial legislation vested in this Parliament. Until that is done, we shall never bring about a satisfactory condition of affairs. Is the honorable member prepared to vest in this .Parliament complete control of industrial legislation ?
– I am prepared todo whatever is right. , That is what the honorable member for Batman said.
– It is right in my judgment that this Parliament should have control of industrial legislation. This afternoon the honorable member for Lang, appeared to be talking on behalf of the Opposition. In the absence of the leader, and the deputy leader of that party, he attempted to paint a terrible pictureof the condition of the poor worker, whois not engaged in our protected industries. I do not think that his statement should be allowed to pass without making it clear to the outside workers of Australia that thereason we do not help them is because wehave not the Constitutional power to do so..
– We have not the power to assist those who are engaged in protected industries. The honorable member wishes the Commonwealth to acquire fresh’ powers.
– I believe that thegranting of those fresh powers will prove satisfactory alike to the employers and employes. An amendment of the Constitution in the direction desired is the only way in which we can secure the establishment of equitable conditions. I hope that honorable members opposite are not attempting to fool the workers by pretending that they are in favour of doing something for them, whilst objecting to the means by which it is proposed to afford them relief:
– We shall have to keep on trying until we evolve a successful scheme to afford the workers protection.
– I believe that the honorable member - despite the fact that he is a free-trader - is sincerely desirous of assisting the toilers.
– I am a Tasmanian freetrader.
– The honorable member is a Queensland free-trader, because I noticed that when the Tariff was under consideration, the representatives of Queensland, irrespective of the party to which they belonged, voted solidly in support of Queensland industries. I was delighted to see them do so. It made me begin to think that there was hope for every free-trader in this Parliament. I do not intend to say any more at the present juncture, beyond expressing the hope that the debate will soon close, so that we may proceed with the consideration of the Estimates.
– I do not intend to detain the Committee very long, but I wish particularly to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Batman, who seems unable to speak in this House without dragging in the fiscal question. This evening he dragged it in in a manner that requires a correction from honorable members who, like myself, are free-traders. He declared that it was impossible for any free-trader to adopt the principles of the new protection. I am one of the democratic “free-traders in this House who, in season and out of season, have attempted to point out the imperfections attaching to the old system of protection, which was initiated in Victoria, and which obtained here so long - a system which had its beginning and ending at the Customs House. One of my principal objections to that system of protection was that it went no further than the Customs House, and I think that if the honorable member will take the trouble to turn up the report of my first speech in this House upon the fiscal question, he will find that in it I emphasized the necessity for an advance upon the lines of the new protection. I wish also to remind the Committee, if I may do so without undue egotism, that when the Government introduced the most highly protective measure yet submitted to any Australian Parliament - I refer to the Australian Industries Preservation Bill - I attempted to embody in that measure the principles of the new protection. But the Government would have nothing to do with them. So that all this indignation upon the part of honorable members sitting behind the Ministry is evidenced rather late in the day, especially in view of the fact that some of us who have not altogether seen eye to eye with them upon the fiscal question are blest with retentive memories. The new protection, which is designed to protect alike employers and employes, and which, at the same time, prevents the consumer from undue exploitation-
– That is not in the memorandum circulated by the Government. Apparently it has been omitted.
– The protection of the consumer is a necessary part of the new protection, and I shall always endeavour, whenever the matter comes before me, to give effect to a scheme which has those three objects in view.
– The Prime Minister has evidently forgotten the interests of the consumer.
– Well, some of us will refresh his memory in that connexion if he has fallen away from grace. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has once or twice referred to what he regards as the unfortunate working of the Public Service Act in respect of promotions which have been made over the heads of seniors. If the honorable member had been in the House when the Act was framed he would have had to take part in what was, to most of the old members, a very anxious debate as to whether the moss-grown system of promotion by seniority, or the system of promotion by merit, should be the rule in the Federal Public Service. It was decided, I think wisely, that promotion by merit should be adopted. That portion of the machinery which has been alleged to work so badly now - the part represented by the Commissioner and his inspectors’ - was brought into existence with the deliberate and definite intention of carrying out the system as thoroughly as possible. While I admit that Commissioner and inpectors alike are liable to commit errors of judgment, I have yet to find that they have done anything unbecoming to their office, or in any way contrary to the spirit of the Act. We all realize that every promotion of a capable junior over the heads of one or two seniors who are not quite so capable will raise a storm of indignation on the part of those who have been passed over. Honorable members ought to be careful in bringing such cases before the Committee that they are not voicing the spleen and jealousy of those who have lost positions to which they deemed themselves entitled rather than some righteous grievance which I am inclined to think seldom exists.
– Unless it is a case like the one I quoted to-night, where the officer actually got the chance afterwards and proved his superiority.
– In those cases some machinery ought undoubtedly to exist to enable any one with a legitimate grievance to prove his position. But until instances of that kind become much more general than they appear to me to be, I should hesitate long before I brought any serious charge against the Commissioner or his inspectors as to the carrying out of their work. I should certainly have to see the present Act working much worse than it is before I should dream of going back to the old system of promotion “by seniority. Almost anything would be better than that. In my own State we have had a good many troubles with regard to promotion by merit. Yet, in speaking to large numbers of civil servants as man to man, confidentially and freely, they have invariably admitted that the Act on the whole works well, and that the conditions in the service are much better now than they were under the old State arrangements. There is a measure before the House, introduced by a private member, which it is perhaps out of order to discuss . at this stage, but I wish to say that I believe the Public Service Act could be amended in the direction of improving the power of appeal at present provided. I believe that with that alteration, and one or two minor modifications, such as experience has enabled us to suggest, we could obtain an improved Public Service Act that ought to be satisfactory to all branches of the service, and give the highest possible degree of efficiency. When the Treasurer was introducing the Budget he referred to the matter of unexpended1 votes, and I made an interjection, which he might have thought was rather too severe,but I wish to point out the position in my own State as a justification of the strong language which I used.There is no doubt that the matter of unexpended votes has grown almost to the dimensions of a public scandal, and indicates a degree of circumlocution in carrying on the business of the Commonwealth that should be abolished at the earliest opportunity. I remember a vote for a post office in my own electorate being passed by Parliament no less than three times before the money was actually spent.
– But the work is sent on to the States Public Works Departments, and you cannot shift them with’ dynamite.
– I know that some of the States Public Works Departments are greatly lacking in energy in the matter of carrying out public works for the Commonwealth, but the troubledoes not always lie there. It undoubtedly began with the roundabout method adopted, particularly in connexion with the Post and Telegraph Department. Matters could be very much simplified and expedited if, after Parliament has decided that a certain sum shall be spent - the general principle having beerr affirmed - the spending of the money was determined absolutely by the Deputy PostmasterGeneral of the State concerned.
– What is wrong with the Commonwealth having its own Public Works Department?
– That is “ a consummation devoutly to be wished,” but I do not see how it can be carried out very economically, in regard to the whole of the States, at any rate.
– The main cause of the trouble is that we are so late in reaching, the consideration of the Estimates.
– That is undoubtedly at the bottom of a good deal of the trouble, and an improvement is possible in that respect. But even after all that has been said and done, I know instances where money has been voted for public works and the details havehad to circulate through several Departments in the most remarkable fashion. That kind of thing ought to be put an end to at the earliest possible moment, and a more business-like and direct method of dealing with the votes passed by this House should be invented. In my own State, in the financial year 1907-8, only half of the vote for new works was expended. There is something seriously wrong in such a state of affairs. I am not including the sum that has been put on the Estimates for und’rgrounding wires in Perth ; but what I have said applies to buildings for the Post and’ Telegraph Department and Defence generally.
– The honorable member will remember that sums were voted late in the year, and there was a difficulty in getting all the money spent.
– Even so, surely more than half of the total vote should have been expended I am glad to find that the Treasurer has determined’ to no longer starve the Commonwealth Public Departments, although he has not given us very forcible proofs of his intention yet. In Western Australia, Federal members have been in an unfortunate position, in this way : The Federal Government, with the assistance of Parliament, have been straining every nerve to provide the largest sum possible for the States Treasurers. The Treasurers of Western Australia have invariably made a loud outcry because they have not been able to get enough money. At the same time the public of the State make an equally loud outcry because the Post and Telegraph Department in particular is being starved. The Federal Government have, up to the present, been in the position of the old man who tried to please everybody. They wanted to return a large sum to the States, in order to give the States Treasurers enough to spend, and at the same time, they had to see that the Departments were administered on proper lines. In Western Australia so much has been given to the State Treasurer that the Federal Departments have been starved, and odium has fallen upon the Federation in that way. At almost every election, the cry has been, “ Oh for the old days of the State control of the Post and Telegraph Department, when we could get improvements carried out without delay, and without so much difficulty as has to be encountered under Federal conditions.” Whilst the Treasurer says he wishes to be generous to the Post and Telegraph. Department, I am afraid he will not be able to prove that he has dealt very generously with it in Western Australia. Comparing this year with last, and including the re-vote of money voted but not spent last year, there is an increase of £2,000 for new works in that State; but, deducting the re-vote, there is an actual decrease. That is not a proper state of affairs with regard to the one State of Australia that is perhaps developing at a much more rapid rate than are the others, and that requires a greater amount of money to be spent on postal matters than does any other State, seeing that we have not had the number of years to build up our postal service that the others have enjoyed. I hope that the Treasurer, or, to put it bluntly, the Treasury Department, will see next year that Western Australia is given a sum commensurate with her requirements in that respect.
– She has got a great deal more per head of population than the other States have.
– I admit it frankly and freely ; but she has not got what she is reasonably’ entitled to as the youngest State, and the one necessarily requiring more developmental work to be done than the others do. I brought under the notice of the postmaster-General, a few days ago, a case in which the postal services of a considerable town in my electorate were being conducted in premises which had been condemned by the local Board of Health as insanitary and unfit for occupation. I was told that perhaps next year something might be done to give those people proper postal accommodation. I do not intend to wait for next year. If the PostmasterGeneral does not see fit to do something in a case like that, I assure him that he will hear more from me about it. I wish to bring under the notice of the Treasurer the necessity for some inspection of the working conditions under which Government contracts are carried out in Western Australia. I refer more particularly lo the contracts for clothing. I am informed, and my information is, I think, trustworthy, that some of that work is done under conditions which would not be approved of by the Government, and certainly not by a majority of the members of this House. I- am told that a certain amount of sweating goes on in connexion with them, and that there is an urgent necessity for the appointment of an inspector to see that proper labour conditions, as laid down by the Federal Government, are observed. There is in that State an Inspector of Factories, whose services could, I believe, be obtained to supervise the conditions under which the Federal Government contract work is done. I trust that the Treasurer will note what I am saying, and take steps to have that inspection carried out, for I can assure him, on the very best authority, that the matter urgently requires his . attention. Perhaps the most striking feature of that Treasurer’s Budget was his reference to old-age pensions. I am one of those who believe that he has not made adequate pro- vision for that purpose, as this Parliament desired that he should. If he is proceeding on the estimates of the States, I would remind him that we desire something in the nature of an improvement.
– I had better hand over the Treasury, because the estimate of some persons would require £2 per head of the population to do what we are now proposing.
– Of course, the Treasurer has merely given us. a general idea of his scheme, and we can only discuss it in a general fashion at present.
– We are entitled to discuss the amount of money voted.
– That is what I am doing ; and I am pointing out that it would be misleading to adopt as a basis for Federal old-age pensions what is being paid by the States.
– Particularly in respect of the Victorian practice.
– The Victorian Act is particularly objectionable in some of its characteristics. Many people in the States are at present precluded from enjoying the benefits of old-age pensions through not having being resident in a State for the requisite number of years.
– I am allowing for that.
– I am glad of that, because it is obvious that people who are now precluded in this way from receiving oldage pensions would come under the operation of a Federal law.
– How many cases of that kind are there?
– I have had an estimate worked out, but cannot tell the honorable member from memory.
– As to invalid pensions, I believe that the Victorian law refuses aid to a person who has not been twenty years in the State. My idea is that if a person meets with an accident, or is injured so as to be incapacitated from earning his living, no matter whether he has been twentv years or twenty months in the Commonwealth we should not see him suffer.
– We must guard against the importation of invalids.
– We must take can; that every recipient of an invalid pension is bond fide, entitled to it. But take the case of a father of a family who has met with a serious accident after being resident three or four years in Australia. Is he to be precluded from receiving the invalid pension because he does not happen to have lived in the Commonwealth for a longer period? Should not the fact that he has worked hard and maintaineda creditable record, entitle him to assistance?
– Does not the honorable member think that such persons are more deserving than many old people are?
– A man who is incapacitated whilst working for his living is undoubtedly more deserving of consideration than are many old persons who ought to have made provision for their old age, but have not done so. Any man going through the principal streets of Melbourne at night - along Swanston street, for example - will see for himself a condition of things of which the people of Victoria ought to be ashamed. In spite of the Oldage Pensions Act one can see at least halfadozen poor creatures who are maimed or blind begging for charity from the passers by. Many of them are accompanied by children or mere babies. Sometimes I have seen these infants lying down exhausted and asleep by the side of their blind parents. How long they are kept in the street at such work I do not know, but such a state of things is a scandal and a disgrace, and ought not to be allowed in a great community like this.
– I doubt very much whether old-age pensions would cure that evil.
– Most of these people have met with accidents or misfortunes, and have thus become unable to support their families.
– It may be that some of them make a great deal more than they would receive from an old-age pension.
– At any rate, each case of the kind ought to be inquired into; and those who are maimed or blind ought to receive sufficient to keep them off the streets, and to give to their children the life of children. These little ones ought to be playing their games, not wandering about the streets rattling a tin box and soliciting coppers from passers-by, for their paralyzed or blind parents. Such a state of things ought to be unknown in this great Commonwealth, where there is so much natural wealth; and I believe that the spirit of philanthropy which should be embodied in an Old-age Pensions Act, would put an end to such conditions. I have brought a few matters under the notice of the Government which I thought ought to be placed on record in a general debate. I intend, when we deal with the items of the Estimates, to allude to a few details. I will reserve my remarks upon them until the proper occasions mite.
.- I desire at the outset to make a few remarks bearing upon the Budget statement in one particular, namely the increase of the population of Australia - truly an important subject, and one full of interest. In the year 1907-8 the increase of the population was 77,547- The estimate for the year 1908-9 is 80,962. If that rate of increase is maintained the population of Australia will obtain 5,000,000 within the next eight years. Such a rate of increase is nothing like what I should like to see. The Government have made many professions of their desire to encourage immigration. But our friends in the Labour corner, judging from what some of their supporters outside say, seem inclined to retard the introduction of population. But there is no question that it is absolutely necessary for the proper defence of Australia, if we are going to maintain this as a white man’s country, that we should fill it with white people.
– How can we fill Australia with immigrants when we cannot keep our own native-born people?
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will allow me to pursue my own argument. Our population since the inception of Federation has increased very slowly. Between the years 1900 and 1907, New South Wales has gained 208,637 people ; Victoria has gained 51,882; Queensland 47,918; South Australia 30,558; Western Australia 81,596; Tasmania 11,108 - or a total increase during the period of 431,699.
– We have later figures than that. The total increase’ is over 500,000.
– Our friends in the Labour corner seem to be impressed with the idea that if we bring people into Australia on a large scale, we shall add to the number of unemployed. But I point out that in New South Wales, which has gained 208,637 people as against Victoria’s 51,882, you do not find a greater number of unemployed than are to be found in this State. In fact, a study of the Year-Book is sufficient to satisfy one that there is a greater measure of prosperity in New South Wales than Victoria has attained.
– That is inevitable from the larger resources of New South Wales.
– And the change of fiscal policy has had much .to do with the increase of prosperity.
– I am not now discussing the cause, but am pointing out the figures as an answer to the idea of my honorable friends in the Labour corner that the introduction of fresh blood into Australia means an increase of the unemployed.
– Some of those who returned from South Africa could not find employment in the honorable member’s own electorate. He will remember that.
– I recollect that the honorable member tried to make a great deal out of matters that had no significance whatever.
– I never opened my mouth on the subject until now.
– The Government dumped down a number of individuals without making provision for their wants. But they were soon relieved.
– The Federal Government did not dump them down.
– I did not say that the Federal Government did. But the Federal Government and the State Government between them, by some arrangement, brought these men from South Africa, and they were sent to Rushworth under conditions that were a disgrace to any Government. But I do not think that the Federal Government was to blame in the matter. I also have something to say in regard to the Postal administration, and the cry that the Post and Telegraph Department is being starved. I know that so far as concerns many electorates in Victoria there has not been sufficient money available to meet requests which have been made. For instance, requests have been forwarded to me from various parts of my electorate. They could not be granted, and the reply forwarded through me was that the carrying out of the works depended upon the amount of money which Parliament thought fit to provide. The position is, however, that this Committee is prepared to vote whatever sums of money for postal purposes the Treasurer is prepared to put upon the Estimates. I venture to say that it is the Treasurer himself who is responsible for any shortage in this respect. He appears to sit very tight upon the Treasury chest; for what reason I do not know. Obviously it would have been better had he” expended much of the surpluses which he has returned to the States in improving the post and telegraph services. I think that ihe
Treasurer made a very grave financial mistake when he did not use the surpluses returned year by year for the purpose of paying what was due on account of the transferred properties. That would have been a much sounder procedure than the course which has been adopted.
– How could the transfer of properties be paid for when they had not been valued?
– They should have been valued.
Sir William Lyne. The honorable member forgets how long that takes.
– The States have been (federated for nearly eight years now.
– There has been ample time in which to make the valuation. Honorable members opposite have thrown a good many gibes at honorable members on this side because of their action in regard to the Tariff. It was like the kettle calling the saucepan black; although, personally, I have given effect to every fiscal pledge made to my constituents. The honorable member for- Hindmarsh to-night uttered some very pointed . remarks of this kind. Brit I find that on the 2.7th May last, when the Senate requested that linseed, denaturated as prescribed by departmental by-law, should be made free, and the Treasurer proposed that the requested amendment be not made, the honorable member became a free-trader, so far :as oil was concerned, because there is a paint factory in his constituency.
– I voted to give protection to the paint-making industry. The honorable member forgets to add that I also voted for a bounty to encourage the production of oil.
– When the honorable member was speaking as a protectionist, he said repeatedly that if an article could be manufactured in Australia, no matter in what quantity, its manufacture should be protected, and encouraged by the imposition of a duty. But when it was proposed to encourage the manufacture of linseed oil for paint-making, he said -
If I were certain that in the near future sufficient for manufacturing paint could be obtained locally, I should not object to a duty ; but we should not put our manufacturers of paint at a disadvantage with those of other countries, whose paints are adulterated with barytes to an extraordinary degree. … As we have no evidence that linseed oil will be produced in sufficient quantities to meet the demands of our paint manufacturers, I think that it should be -made free until the Department is satisfied that those demands can be supplied locally.
To “give effect to its new protection policy, the Government proposes to ask Parliament to amend the Constitution ; but I venture to think the people will not vote for such an amendment, not because they are opposed to the workers getting their fair share of the benefits of protection, but because they know that the Parliaments of the State’s have the power to legislate as they think best in this matter. <
– They do not. exercise that power.
– They have exercised it in Victoria.
– This State is not the whole Commonwealth.
– In New South Wales, too, the Labour Party has received all that’ it has asked for.
– Queensland and Tasmania have none.
– There is a Labour Government in South Australia.
– It could not prevent what was done by the Commonwealth there. It represents the people. ‘
– It is a singular fact that the Parliaments where the Labour Party is dominant are the slowest to pass this legislation. Having failed in the States, Labour members are trying to effect their object by. a side wind and a proposal to amend the Constitution. But that is too sacred an instrument to be tampered with for every twopenny-halfpenny purpose that a section of the community may have in view.
.- I wish, first of all, to briefly deal with the new protection proposals of the Government. To-night a new version of hew protection has been put forward, though it follow? much on the old lines. Like the honorable member for Echuca, I desire that the working man shall benefit to the full by any prosperity that may flow from the policy of protection ; but we have been told - though I do not see it set out in this document - that manufacturers are not to be allowed to increase their prices. Of course, if they can increase their prices, making the public pay more, there will be something for the workers to share in ; but how will the people as a whole like that arrangement?
– This is not the scheme which the Government proposed last vear. ,
– If every one charges higher prices, no one will be any better off in the end.
– Is not that now taking place ?
– Protectionists like the Treasurer and myself have always argued that protection does not increase prices. In the industries with which I have been connected, it has had the effect of decreasing them. The fact is that work, which was formerly done abroad, is done in the country ; but beyond that there is not much benefit. There are no great profits made out of protected industries.
– What about the increased volume of trade?
– I agree with the honorable member that to that extent there is a benefit, and the workman ought to get his share of it. The fact remains, however, that in the greater portion of the Commonwealth there is the Wages Board system. It is admitted that the Arbitration Court system has broken down, as was only to be expected. Under the Wages Board system employes meet employers, and, both understanding the business, they talk matters over, and, as a rule, agree among themselves, whereas a Court is about the last place where people can be brought to an agreement. My great objection to the new protection proposals is that there is introduced the machinery of the Arbitration Court, which has been a notable failure.
– In New South Wales.
– Properly administered, it is not a failure.
– Judge Heydon has declared it to be a failure.
– Judge Heydon said that the Arbitration Court was shot at, riddled, and battered by other Courts, but that it was a fine machine when it first started.
– However that may be, the law in New South Wales has been altered, and the Arbitration Court system abandoned in favour of the Wages Board system. It stands to reason and commonsense that the way to bring about agreement is for people, conversant with the subject, to first talk the matter over.
– I have always favoured that.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say so. As I have already said, one of my chief objections to the new protection is the introduction of the Arbitration Court principle.
– But if there is agreement, the Court is not invoked.
– Quite right; but, unless there is provision made in the measure, there will be no agreement because there is no machinery to enable an agreement to be come to. We read in the memorandum -
The question whether an industry is a protected industry will be left to the decision of the Inter-State Commission.
We know the class of men from whom members of the Inter-State Commission will be selected.
– They will be the best men to be found !
– Probably retired politicians, with a thorough, knowledge of the proceedings of this House, but no knowledge of business.
– The honorable member is neither right nor just in making such an assumption !
– Every member of the High Court Bench was a politician.
– And I am arguing that politicians, who, as a rule, have not had much to do with the business, are not the right sort of men to adjust disputes between employers and employes. We read further in the memorandum -
The amendment will enable Parliament to empower the Inter-State Commission to determine the various conditions affecting employes in protected industries.
Just think what that means? The InterState Commission will have the whole farming industry under their thumb. The Commission will have it in their power to say whether farming is or is not a protected industry. Of course, we know perfectly well that farming is a protected industry, though it is one to which it has been very difficult to apply the Wages Board or Arbitration Court system. The Inter-State Commission, however, may insist that the farming industry shall be carried on under the new protection.
– In view of the revelations, as to working of children of farmers in New South Wales, is it not time something was done?
– It would be very difficult to carry on farming under a Wages Board system, and the PostmasterGeneral will see that it would be absolutely ruinous to farmers if they had to conduct their operations under Excise conditions.
– This is not an Excise measure.
– It is an Excise measure.
– Not necessarily; there is not a word about Excise in it.
– Of course, we do not as yet know what the provisions of the new Bill will be, but the old Act was an Excise Act; and I do not see how it could be other than that. How could such an Act be carried out except as a matter of Excise ?
– In quite a number of ways.
– It may appear quite easyto the Postmaster-General, but it is not so to me. All I can see is that a farmer might, perhaps, be charged £4 per ton on his hay, and a locker be placed on his premises to lock up the farm horses, and so on.
– That is simply ridiculous !
– Then, I cannot understand plain English.
– Such arguments may be all right before a meeting of the Women’s National League, or of the Property Owners’ and Producers’ Association, but not here !
– If the honorable member does not like what I say, he had better get up and reply to me.
– The honorable member for Wannon knows a little bit about farming !
– I do not suppose that he knows much more than I do. I am not a Bourke-street farmer.
– No; the, honorable gentleman is a farmer of the farmers.
– If the honorable member knows so well how this thing can be done, let him point out the way.
– Give the farmers the power, and they will do it all right.
– If it were proposed to administer the measure under Wages Board conditions, so that employers might meet employes, it would be a different matter.
– The honorable member is trying to create a bogy.
– There is no bogy about this, as the farmers will find. The memorandum states that the
Inter- State Commission will determine the various conditions affecting employes in. protected industries; and that can only be done by means of an Excise.
– Why should not the Inter-State Commission be created a Wages Board for all the industries in Australia ?
– That cannot be, because this Parliament has not the power.
– But we propose asking for the power.
– What is proposed is to insert two new paragraphs in section 51 of the Constitution to enable this , Par- liament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to - xxxva. The employment and remuneration of labour in any industry which, in the opinion of the Inter-State Commission, is protected by duties of Customs.
– Does the honorable member not think that the proper time to discuss that question is when it is brought before the House?
– I am quite of the Treasurer’s opinion, but the matter has already been debated at considerable length by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– The honorable member never saw the proposal, and so he could not have debated it.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh dealt at some length with the question of new protection. I do not wish to take up the time of the Committee unduly in dealing with this matter, but I should just like to say that the second of the proposed new paragraphs is suggested to enable the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
We donot yet know what the provisions of the new Bill will be, but if it is to be as crude a measure as the last Bill dealing with the same subject then the Lord help us !
– What the honorable member has read will be the Government’s proposal. The Prime Minister has said so.
– But it will have to be accompanied by a Bill.
– No. If the proposal is carried we can make our laws under it as far-reaching as possible.
– If that is what the Ministry propose, we must consider what will be the position of the people who will have to carrv on business under such legislation. First of all there will be the States Wages Boards in the various States, with the exception of Tasmania and South Australia.
– And Western Australia, where they have an Arbitration Act which does not apply to many industries.
– It can be made to apply to them. Then we shall have the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act covering disputes extending beyond the boundary of any one State, and on top of these the operations of this Excise Court or Inter-State Commission. We shall have three laws dealing with the one subject, and we can imagine the position in which the manufacturer or farmer will find himself.
– How will it affect the squatters who are paying their employes 15s. a week and housing them badly at that ? They are the class to which the honorable member belongs, and he ought tobe able to speak for them.
– I do not know of any squatters who are paying their employes15s. a week.
– I know of a number who are doing so.
– My interests in the pastoral industry are chiefly in Queensland, where, under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, a finding has been recorded, and the rates for shearing were recently increased to £1 4s. per 100, and the wages for ordinary work in the shearing sheds to 30s. per week and found.
– The Act does not appear to have broken down in Queensland.
– No. Those engaged in the pastoral industry in Queensland are working very harmoniously, and the industry is getting along first-rate.
– The industry still lives.
– Yes, the seasons are good; but if the same rates of wages had had to be paid in 1902,when the seasons were bad and the price of wool was low, I am not sure that a good many Would not have had to go under. I am very glad that at the present time the condition of the industry is satisfactory. Another matter to which I wish to refer is the vote of £20,000 appearing in the Estimates for advertising Australia. We shall have tolook the question of immigration sternly in the face. I need not go into figures to show what the influx of population hasbeen of late. It is not at all what most of us would wish it to be. I am not one of those who desire to see people dumped into the Commonwealth without some provision being made for them. I think provision might be made for them if the Commonwealth did the oversea work and the States looked after the immigrants on their arrival. Apparently there are many people at the present time seeking occupation or land in the various States without being able to obtain what they desire. I think that the States Governments should be responsible for them. In my opinion, it isthe duty of the Commonwealth Government to make the necessary arrangements to secure a considerable flow of properlyselected immigrants into Australia, and to devise some method of putting them on the land, where they may have a chance of making a living. I think the proposed vote of £20,000 is quite inadequate for the purpose. I hope that the Ministry will take this matter seriously in hand. They have sheltered themselves so far under the excuse that it is the business of the States Governments. We should go into the matter more thoroughly, and I wish the Government would take it up seriously, because from many points of view, it is necessary that there should be a big influx of population.
– The Government dare not take it up.
– That is so. I am afraid that some of their bosses in the Labour corner will not let the Government take it up. Their view of this question is a very narrow one.
– The class to which the honorable member belongs appears to desire to monopolize the ‘ ‘ boss” business which they had to give up long ago.
– When the old bosses were in the saddle the country was not so badly run. There was no squealing about unemployment in those days, and thirty years ago there was more prosperity and good feeling in the Commonwealth than there is to-day.
– That is the time we were told the “ Berry Blight “ was bad.
– The honorable member refers to what was only a trifling affair. If Sir Graham Berry was alive to-day honorable members opposite would describe him as a “ Conservative “ or a “ crusted Tory.” When the new protection policy is in operation in Gippsland the honorable member will get a turn. His constituents will hoist him as high as Haman.
– Is the honorable member referring to the women leaguers?
– The Women’s League is established in Gippsland, and will give the honorable member a stir.
– Is that where they have put “Mrs. Smith “?
– I am not responsible for “ Mrs. Smith.” It is the Treasurer who discovered that lady.
– He has not discovered her yet.
– I agree entirely with the suggestion that the Commonwealth Government should undertake the work of advancing immigration. It has been said that in order to secure land for immigrants we should impose a progressive land tax. That is a pet idea of our friends in the Labour corner. It would suit their case first-rate.
– It would suit me all right.
– Because the honorable member has not land worth £5,000. Honorable members of the Labour Party are not manly enough to tax themselves. The honorable member for Wannon says that the progressive land tax would suit him, because he does not possess land worth £5.000.
– I said nothing of the kind. I am quite prepared to bear my share of a land tax.
– I have taken out a few figures showing what would be the effect of a progressive land tax. In Australia we have actually sold, and are selling to the people-
– Who are the people. The squatters?
Mr.FAIRBAIRN. - I suppose that the honorable member is one of them. If the honorable member who is going to tax “ the other. fellow “ will allow me to proceed, I should like to point out that the total area alienated or being alienated from the Crown in Australia and Tasmania is 121,914,948 acres, and that the Govern ments of the States have received about £121,000,000 in respect of that land, most of it having been sold at about£1 per acre. The contract made between theStates and the individuals who purchased it was that it should be for all time the property of the purchasers or their heirs or assigns. The States, however, now say, “ We want this land back. We find that we have made a mistake in selling it, andwe require it for some other purposes.” I am entirely in’ favour of such an attitude, provided that the State is prepared to pay the value of the land resumed. When that is done, the man whose land is resumed has not much cause for complaint. Let us see what has been done under the compulsory resumption laws.
– What sort of laws would! the honorable member have - voluntary laws ?
– The difference between a bargain in land made between the State and the individual, and one made between two individuals, is that the vendor in the latter case cannot take back the land if he finds that the bargain does not suit him. The States, however, are doing so. I am pointing out that immense advantagesare to be gained by the States resuming, possession of some of the lands that have been alienated, and paying a fair price for them. Land under agriculture is far more profitable to the State than is land under pastoral occupancy. The State reaps the benefit of the additional railway traffic due to the diversion of estates from pastoral to agricultural purposes, and should be the intermediary in the making of such a change. In Victoria we have in operation an Act under which the Government have purchased 207,775 acres at a cost of £1,349,661. The total area of land purchased by the States is 1,385,798 acres, the price paid amounting to £5,015,881, whereas the States have sold to private individuals lands for which they have received about £121,000,000. It wilt thus be seen that the bargain has so far been immensely in favour of the States. Turning to New Zealand, the population of which is about one-fifth of that of the Commonwealth, we find that it has purchased 1,122,135 acres, at a cost of £4,807,369.
– There is a progressive land tax in operation there.
– That is so; but it does not press so harshly upon land-owners as such a tax would do here. In New
Zealand there is a large area of country, subject to a regular rainfall, which can be devoted almost entirely to agriculture. There is there very little pastoral land, such as we have in Australia. A Commonwealth progressive land tax, without exemptions, would press very heavily upon the holders of immense areas in the interior, which are useful only for pastoral purposes. The owners of those holdings would be ruined. Such a tax in their case would simply mean repudiation, and as the Labour Party say that there must be no repudiation, they should recognise that their proposal must be very carefully considered from that point of view.
– But the tax would be imposed in respect of the unimproved value of the holdings, and not in respect of the areas.
– The point that I wish to make is that owners of agricultural land in districts where it can be readily sold, are in a different position from those who hold large pastoral areas in the interior, where there is no demand for small blocks.
– But the principle of a progressive land tax is opposed by those residing in the good land districts just as strongly as by those who own only inferior country.
– Any law that we might pass would be of general application ; and I am sure that a Commonwealth progressive land tax would fall with tremendous severity on the owners of estates which every one admits are unfit for agriculture, or closer settlement.
– In South Australia, large runs of the kind to which the honorable member refers, are held under lease, and are not subject to taxation. We have a land tax there, but none of the squatters pay a land tax on their northern runs.
– That is not the position in Queensland and New South Wales. Over 50,000,000 acres have been purchased by pastoralists and others in New South Wales, and a large proportion of that territory is unfit for anything but sheep farming. So far as we can see, it is not likely to be fit for anything else.
– We are told that there are in New South Wales 20,000,000 acres of first class wheat land that has never been touched by the plough.
– It must labour under some disability, such as remoteness from railway communication. But I think that on investigation that estimate will be found to be exaggerated. If there is so large an area suitable for wheat-growing, why do not the Government step in and purchase it in a manly straightforward way ? There is a Compulsory Purchase Act now in operation in New South Wales; but I have not been able to obtain the latest figures in regard to purchases made under it. The Australian Year-Boo k shows that up to 1906, the Government of New South Wales had purchased only 74,000 acres of land, at a cost of £162,000. I know that they have purchased estates since then.
– The compulsory law has not yet been applied there.
– I do not think that it has. If, as the honorable member for Calare has stated, there is a vast area suitable for wheat-growing that has not yet been touched by the plough, why has not the State Government acquired some of it at a fair price?
– Simply because the purchase of every estate by the Government has the effect of putting up the value of the remaining estates, which makes it impracticable from a financial stand-point to resume land.
– That is a very useful statement; but it is not borne out by the figures. Of course I admit that it has a tendency to inflate land values, but since the Government of Victoria has ceased to buy land, strange to say, land values have been rising more and more. It shows that it is not the only factor tending in that direction. If the honorable member had been interested in this State for many years he would have known that of late there has been an immense change in the conduct of agriculture. About six years ago artificial manures were introduced, and these have entirely changed the value of land. They have made a great deal of land fit for agriculture which previously was unfit.
– That condition applies to the resumed land too.
– That change has taken place in regard to all land. It has been the main factor in increasing land values during the last five years. I know that this year one man has taken £11 an acre off a piece of land for which he paid over £6 an acre. He has obtained the value of the land and £5 an acre besides. Six years ago that land, to my knowledge, was not worth £3 an acre. That increase of value is not due at all to the Government having bought a few acres. In New Zealand the price of land is not quite so high as it is in Victoria. I cannot explain why.
– A residential land tax would have some bearing on that, I think.
– It might.
– It would bring more land into use.
– In New Zealand six times as much, land has been bought by the Government as has been purchased in Victoria, that is to say, 1,122,000 acres there as against 207,000 acres here. That ought to have made the price of land in New Zealand very much higher.
– It would if a progressive land tax had not been levied at the same time.
– That I do not agree with. Another point I want the honorable member to comprehend is that the alienated land in Australia is held by about 200,000 persons. One acre and more is held by 77,136 persons in New South Wales ; by 56,065 persons in Victoria ; by 8,475 persons in Western Australia; and by 12,098 persons in Tasmania. I could not get the figures for Queensland and South Australia, but I feel quite sure that in those two States combined there are as many holders of one acre and more as in Victoria. The figures I have quoted are set out in the following table -
– The honorable member knows that the great bulk of the landholders in Victoria have very small areas.
– I understood that that was what the honorable member desired.
– But less than one per cent, of the people hold about twenty-five per cent, of the land.
– Of persons who held 50,000 acres and upwards in Victoria there were four at the end of 1907 as against twenty-three at the end of 1904, so that there has been a very considerable reduction in the number. Of those holding from 20,000 to 50,000 acres in Victoria there were sixty-one in 1907 as against 121 in 1904.
– Sometimes, in order to evade taxation, an estate is cut up amongst members of the family.
– Surely that is what the honorable member wants.
– In shires that is done in order to give increased voting power.
– I am not aware of that. But whether it is done or not, it is a fact that of late years a great area of land has been sold in a bond fide manner. Of persons who held from 10,000 to 20,000 acres there were 118 in 1907, as against 180 in 1904. Let us now look at the opposite side of the picture. Of persons who held from 51 to 100 acres in Victoria there were 6,223 in 1907, as against 5,500 4a 1904, so that there has also been a very large increase there. Of persons who held from 100 to 200 acres there were 7,601 in 1904, and 8,653 in 1907. It will be seen that under the present system the number of small men is increasing rapidly, and that the number of large holders is decreasing. Of course, from the point of view of tillage, the proper working of the land and the railways, and all that kind of thing, there is no doubt that it makes for prosperity. We are all agreed about that. I shall now quote Mr. Drake’s figures as regards the number of sheep in Victoria. It increased from 11,455,000 in 1906 to 14,146,000 in 1908. Almost the whole of the increase is accounted for by the men who own less than 2,000 sheep.
– That shows that the small man is most beneficial.
– I am very glad to see that he is doing well. The land is being cut up, and owing to mixed farming, it is carrying more sheep than it did formerly. As regards flocks of under 500 sheep, there were 11,647 in 1906, and 15,797in 1908, showing an increase of 4,000, which is a very large one indeed. Of flocks of from 500 to 1,000 sheep, there were 3,407 in 1906, and 3,414 in 1908, being about the same. Taking the large flock-owners, with from 15,000 to 20,000 sheep each, the number was 50 in 1906, and 39 in 1908. It will be seen, therefore, that the thing is working its own cure. The land is being cut up faster and faster.
– What we complain of is that it is not being cut up fast enough.
– There is no sense in taking one small holder off land in order to put another small holder on it.
– Obviously there is not.
– We do not advocate that kind of thing.
– I should think not. What the members of the Labour Party advocate, and what I think every one advocates, is the cutting up of large estates. We only differ as regards the method of doing that. My honorable friends say that it ought to be done by means of a progressive penal land tax, and I contend that the Government ought to come forward boldly and pay the propervalue of the land. The imposition of a graduated land tax would certainlyreduce the price of all land. It would create a panic more or less.
– According to Mr. Seddon, the value of land in New Zealand has increased by over £47,000,000.
– Because there was a natural increase in values all round. I have pointed out that that country is different from Australia in that it has a regu lar rainfall, and that a man there is able to cut up his property. In the first instance the land was gradually bought from the Maoris ; it was not sold by the Government with an indefeasible tenure, as in Victoria. If that bargain had been between individual and individual, we should, undoubtedly, recognise that a breach of the agreement had been committed. What I desire to emphasize is that we require to obtain land upon which to settle intending immigrants, and the only way in which we can secure that land is by borrowing. In Canada there is an enormous organization, called the Grand Pacific Railway Company-
– Canada does not produce nearly as much as does Australia.
– Yet it is attracting a far bigger stream of immigrants. If the honorable member’s argument means anything, it means that we ought not to interfere with the system of individual enterprise. But of late years, we have prevented individual enterprise, so that to-day capitalists cannot embark upon industries with any great amount of confidence. Their efforts are “ cribb’d, cabin’d, and confin’d,” and in many directions the Government to-day are doing work which was previously undertaken by private enterprise.
– And in many cases they are doing it better.
– I will not say that. In my opinion, the Government, as a rule, do not perform work as well as does private enterprise. That, however, is a debatable question, the threshing out of which would probably occupy a couple of weeks. If we desire to attract immigrants to the Commonwealth, the Government must provide the land upon which they can settle, otherwise private enterprise must do so.
– They should either do that, or discontinue using immigration as a political placard.
– It is idle to spend money on advertising our resources if we do not really intend to undertake this work. My own opinion is that the people of the Commonwealth desire us to undertake it, and the only way in which we can do it is by borrowing the necessary money and ear-marking the security. The project will not be worth tackling if we are not prepared to spend about £20,000,000 upon it.
– Does thehonorable member advocate the purchase of land by the Commonwealth Government?
– I think that the Federal authority should do any further borrowing that may be necessary.
– They ought to have the control of the land in the first place.
– My idea is founded upon borrowing;. The Commonwealth Government is the proper authority to borrow the requisite money, and, I believe that they can obtain it cheaper than can the States. In Canada the necessary funds are provided by the Grand Pacific Company, the SalvationArmy, and a number of different classes of people. I have given a few facts and figures, which, I hope, will sink into the minds of honorable members. I feel sure that the following remark which I read in a New South Wales newspaper the other day, is a perfectly accurate one -
What the Commonwealth wants is population, not legislation ; settlement and industrial life intend of suicidal experiments by professional politicians.
I hope that the Ministry will take that . sentence to heart.
House adjourned at10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 October 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19081027_reps_3_47/>.