3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker read prayers.
– Has the Prime Minister read a paragraph in this morning’s Age, purporting to have been telegraphed from Adelaide, in which it is announced that the Premier of South Australia, in introducing into the House of Assembly proposals for a progressive land tax- warned opponents that if they did not accept the State proposals, the Commonwealth Parliament would come along andmake the tax heavier.
Was there any warrant for that statement? Is the introduction of land taxation part of the policy of this Government?
– The Premier of South Australia has not done me the favour to inquire, either my personal views, or the intentions of the Government on this subject. His remarks can therefore be regarded only as such a forecast as every one is entitled to make.
Mr.REID. -Will the Prime Minister answer the concluding question put to him by the honorable member for Cowper, as to whether the introduction of land taxation forms part of the policy of the Government? That is a matter upon which be may have some knowledge.
– Had I continued my reply, I should have said that any change in the incidence of taxation or proposals for the imposition of. new taxation would be too important to be broached in an offhand answer to a question without notice. It was made plain at the last election that the Government did not intend to propose a land tax during the existence of this Parliament. What will be proposed to the next Parliament will depend entirely upon the necessities of the country at the time.
– Has the Prime Minister read the statements which recently appeared in the newspapers to the effect that Japan desires to confer with the great powers regarding the control of the Pacific ? In the event of such a conference, will the honorable and learned gentleman take care that Australia is represented?
– So much in the daily press is mere speculation that Ministers give it only the casual attention it receives from other honorable members. I have not hitherto regarded these suggestions as serious, though they may be intended to pave the way for a conference. Until a definite proposal has been made, it would be premature to express an opinion.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next at 3 o’clock p.m., or such time thereafter as Mr. Speaker may take the Chair.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions’ are these -
Protection for Fishermen and Consumers
asked the Prime Minister upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Treasurer upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, Ibeg to state-
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The honorable member’s suggestion, that the Union Jack has been “ hauled down” anywhere in Australia-, is misleading, since the Australian ensign itself consists of the Jack with the Southern Cross added. There has never been a proposal to omit the Jack. All parts of the Empire use flags which include the Jack, and distinctive local symbols. Each State of the Commonwealth has a similar flag. Last year the practices prevailing in the States were harmonized by authorizing the display of the Australian ensign, as the official flag, upon our forts, in the same way as it has been flown on our vessels and public institutions. The Union Jack symbolizes the union of the countries which make up the United Kingdom, and, as used in the Australian ensign, the union of the Mother Country with the people of the Commonwealth. No regulations were required to legalize the use of the Australian ensign, which is flown, as are the Other ensigns of the Empire, with the King’s sanction. The real objection appears to be to the Australian symbol, the Southern Cross, because the Union Jack appears as part of the Australian flag.
– I rise to order. I have placed on the notice-paper a series of questions, which the Minister had the right to refuse to answer, and to which he can reply as he thinks fit. But is he in order in improperly imputing to me motives for seeking the information desired? The questions are couched in language so simple that if the honorable gentleman honestly wished to answer them straightforwardly he could do so.
– An honorable membet giving notice of a question can frame it in any way he pleases, so long as he complies with the Standing Orders, and the same may be said of the Minister’s reply. It is, however, not in order at any time, whether in answering a question or making a speech, to impute improper motives, and I ask the Minister not to do so.
– I shall not. Questions may be divided into two classes - genuine and otherwise. I regard these as coming within the second class.
– We know within which class the Minister comes.
– To sum up, the Australian flag was approved by the Imperial authorities, it appears in the Imperial Gazette and Flag Book, and has received the approval of His Majesty the King. I may add that similar flags are used in every other part of the Empire.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and answers will be furnished as soon as possible.
Tasmanian Solicitor-General’s Opinion.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1.’ Has his attention been drawn to a report appearing in the Tasmanian papers of Wednesday, 28th inst., setting out that the opinion of the Solicitor-General upon the Surplus Revenue Bill was laid on the Table of the House of Assembly on Tuesday last?
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I beg to state -
Debate resumed from 29th October (vide page 1758) on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the item, “The President, ^1,100,” be agreed to.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The other evening the honorable member for Fawkner said that there is no evidence that Mr. Walpole, the paid organiser of the Employers’ Federation, made the statement which I have attributed to him, that marriage is a luxury for the workers. I have taken the trouble to look up the newspaper files, and in a letter written by Mr. Walpole, and published in the Age of 15th October, 1904, I find this passage -
On the 12th April, 1902, I gave a lecture at Lilydale, and was asked to define a “ living wage.” I declined, as the Employers’ Federation had not empowered me to speak on that point. After the lecture I was asked to give my private view of the question. This I also declined doing, but in order to give some information to the gentleman asking The question I gave him the calculations of leading American economists as to what a muscular man, capable of doing hard work, could live upon. I was then asked, “ What about a married man ? “ and replied that “ Economists in dealing with these matters looked upon marriage as a luxury,” and jokingly added, “ Like long sleevers and theatre parties.”
On the following Monday I wrote to the Age as follows : -
Sir, - I have read Mr. Walpole’s letter in your issue of to-day, which purports to be a denial of a statement which I made in my speech in the recent debate, namely, that he had stated at a Lilydale meeting that “ Marriage was a luxury, and so was long sleevers, attending theatres, &c. It was not fair to compel employers to pay foi such things.” Mr. Walpole, in the first paragraph of his letter, asks to be permitted to give that statement a flat denial ; but in the second paragraph he admits that he said exactly what I stated, “ Marriage was a luxury, &c.” But he explains this was said in a private conversation after the meeting. If that explanation is correct., so much the worse for him and the cause which he advocates, as he evidently has one doctrine to be used publicly and the other for private use only. Mr. Walpole further states that he does not think the reporter took any notes of what took place. Your readers should be told that Mr. Walpole sent on (or took with him) a stereotyped report of his lecture for the use of the local paper, so no reporter was needed to take any record of What he said during the lecture ; but any person reading the report can see that after the lecture a reporter must have taken notes. We see that Councillor Hutton indorsed the remarks of the speaker, and moved a resolution against the Factories Act, which was carried unanimously. Mr. .Lithgow moved that steps be taken to form a branch of the Employers’ Federation. This was also carried unanimously. The Chairman then asked some one to propose a vote of thanks to the lecturer, and as it was in the reply to the vote of thanks that Mr. Walpole made the statements referred to, I will give the report verbatim : - “ The Rev. K. G. Burke would do so with very , great pleasure, as he was quite in accord with the doctrine expounded by the lecturer. Mr. B. Morey, in seconding the motion, was somewhat puzzled as to how a married man could exist on the amount stipulated by Mr: Walpole as a ‘ living wage.’ The motion was carried with acclamation. Mr. Walpole, in replying, expressed his thanks for the cordial reception he had met with at the hands of the meeting. What was lost in numbers was made up by the appreciation and intelligence of his listeners. Touching the matter of a living wage, he said marriage was a luxury, and so was long sleevers attending theatres, &c. It was not fair to compel employers to pay for such things. . . . He had to thank Councillor Hutton for the action that gentleman had taken in bringing about his visit to Lilydale, and he was also grateful to the President of the Shire for presiding. The proceedings then terminated.”
Mr. Walpole has never replied to that letter from that day to this. On the following day, a letter signed by Mr. T. Oliver, proprietor of the paper in Lilydale, appeared in the Age -
Sir, - I observe that Mr. R. S. Walpole, Secretary to the Employers’ Federation, in writing under the above heading in Saturday’s issue of the Age, denies that he used the words “ (hat marriage was a luxury, as were long sleevers and going to theatres, &c, and it was not fair to compel employers to pay for these things.” He also makes the bold assertion that the report was a sheer distortion of what he had said. Mr. Walpole further says, “ I do not think the re? porter took any notes.” Now, sir, the facts, shortly stated, are as follows : - On the 12th April,1902, Mr. Walpole was announced to deliver a lecture in the Red House, Lilydale. I attended with a view to reporting the lecture, but in conversation with Mr. Walpole beforehand I was informed that if I cared to publish the whole of the lecture I would be supplied with stereo blocks of the matter. I agreed to accept the offer, and intimated to Mr. Walpole that I would report the Chairman’s remarks and any question that he (Mr. Walpole) might be called upon to answer. At the conclusion of his lecture Mr. Walpole was asked the question as to what was a living wage. In his reply, Mr. Walpole quoted the views of several American economists, but as there was a doubt what Mr. Walpole himself considered as a living wage, he was asked what he thought was a fair living wage. He replied that he was of opinion that a man could live very well on 30s. a week. He was then asked, “ How about a married man with a family ? “ and he replied that marriage was considered a luxury, as were long sleevers and going to the theatres, &c. ; it was not fair to compel employers to pay for these things. The answer provoked considerable laughter, and oneor two persons present said, “ Hear, hear.” I have no desire to enter into the discussion between Mr. Tudor and Mr. Walpole, but in justice to myself, I think it only right to vindicate my report of Mr. Walpole’s remarks. Several gentlemen who attended the lecture affirm that they have a distinct recollection that, when pressed, Mr. Walpole gave the meeting his own opinion as to what is a fair living wage and his reference to marriage, &c. It seems strange that after the lapse of two and a half years Mr. Walpole should now question the accuracy of what was reported, seeing that he had several copies of the Lilydale Express forwarded to him on the day of publication, thus affording him the very earliest opportunity to have had any mistakes in the report rectified.
Yours, &c, T. Oliver.
Lilydale, 17th October.
On 20th October, Mr. Walpole replied in a long letter.
– The honorable member cannot make any one else responsible for asinine remarks like that.
– We were told the other day by the president of the organization which employs Mr. Walpole, that there was no evidence to prove that Mr. Walpole had made these statements.
– Will the honorable member take the responsibility for the article in last month’s International?
– No, seeing that I do not employ the editor of the International, but Mr. Walpole was, and is, employed by the Victorian Employers’ Federation. I am simply replying to the statement made by the honorable member for Fawkner.
Mr. Walpole, in the course of his letter, stated -
In his letter, Mr. Oliver varies his report by. referring to the fact that I quoted the views of American economists on the matter. But in what he printed in the Lilydale Express on18th April, 1902, there is no reference at all to “ economists.” It is all “ employers.” It is upon Mr. Oliver’s unfortunate substitution of the word “ employers “ for “ economists “ in his report that the whole of the calumnies against myself have been based.
Apparently, therefore, in his anxiety to get out of the difficulty, he desires to make out that he said that “ marriage was a luxury for the worker, and that it was not fair to compel ‘ economists “ - not employers “ to pay for it”! This is the first time that I have ever heard that economists pay the wages of the workers.
.- I had not intended to intervene in this debate, and should not have done so but for the allusions made last night by the honorable member for North Sydney to the proposals submitted by the Government in connexion with the transfer of the States debts to the Commonwealth. The debate has strayed far beyond the items in the Budget, and a variety of matters have been discussed, many relating to the future rather than to the present year. A good deal of the criticism passed upon the Budget has been concentrated on the course taken by the Government in initiating legislation which many honorable members consider will involve largely increased expenditure in future years. No doubt honorable members have been within their rights in calling attention to those matters. It was their duty to bring under notice the tendency towards increased expenditure, and to remind the Government of the necessity for looking ahead in connexion with the Commonwealth finances. I, however, desire to say a few words to-day, not with a view of starting a new discussion on the States debts question, but in order to make clear the facts of the position. Later on we shall have an opportunity of discussing the whole question in detail.
– What further op portunity will there be?
– I understand that the whole question is to come up for discussion on concrete proposals to be laid before Parliament by the Government in anticipation of the settlement of the problem at the approaching Conference of States Premiers. I understand that that is to be done this session. The Government would scarcely be justified in meeting the Premiers, at what will probably be the last occasion on which the matter can be discussed in Conference, without first ascertaining the views of this House on their proposals. It is desirable that the fullest information should be placed before honorable members, and I take this opportunity of referring to the subject, because the proposals laid by the Government before the last Premiers’ Conference, and which will ere long be discussed by this House, are admittedly based on the scheme submitted by me in 1906. So far as I can see, the only changes made in that scheme by the Government have been in connexion with the amounts to be paid, and the period over which the rebates shall extend, and in other details which do not involve its principle. The questions of the amounts to be paid, and the period over which the arrangement is to continue, are matters which clearly should be settled by the Government and by Parliament, and, therefore, I will not deal with them now. I wish simply to explain the principles of the scheme as originally drawn up by me, and to use the figures that I then used.
– Has the Government adopted the honorable member’s scheme ?
– It is set out in the Government’s proposals, as submitted by the Treasurer, that after full consideration, it was decided that the only scheme which met all the necessary conditions was the one that I had formulated. I desire to explain to honorable members what my scheme involved as originally drawn. They will then be in a better position to deal with the proposals of the Government, and with the variations made by the Government in the plan as originally submitted. I may say that my object, from the first, in formulating these proposals, was to do ample justice, and exercise the fullest liberality, towards the States, while at the same time conserving the rights of this Parliament in connexion with the finances of Australia. To do that, it seemed to me that any scheme to be perfect must do several things. First of all, it must provide for the taking over of the whole of the States debts. I know the difficulty that exists owing to that section of the Constitution which provides that the Commonwealth may take over the debts existing at the initiation of Federation only, but I apprehend that that difficulty could easily be surmounted. It is inconceivable to me that the Commonwealth would entertain any proposal to take over only a portion of the debts. It must be apparent that, were the Commonwealth to do so, there would still exist rivalry and’ competition in connexion with renewals, which it is one of our chief objects to avert. In the next place it is absolutely necessary that any proposals to be satisfactory must end by the actual abolition, once and for all, of the bookkeeping system. Although we have practically, to some extent, got used to that system, I think that, if honorable members only realized, as the honorable member for North Sydney pointed out last night, the annoyance, expense, and trouble which it causes, they would agree that it must be abolished. In the third place, I consider that one of the greatest objects to be attained in connexion with this question Is the adoption of a system which will separate absolutely and finally the connexion and entanglement between the finances of the Commonwealth and those of the States. The Commonwealth, so far as its functions are concerned, should have the fullest right, without involving the finances of any of the individual States, to expend its revenue in the way that seems to it best. On the other hand, it is absolutely necessary for the safety and stability of the finances of the States that they should know exactly what the position is, and should not have their finances interfered with or upset by the proceedings of this Legislature. That object is, perhaps, the most important of all. I should like the attention of the honorable member for Swan - who really instigated me to go into this question, over which I have taken a good deal of trouble - because I do not think, from his remarks, that he quite understands my object.
– My objection to the honorable member’s suggestions was constitutional.
– I am not dealing with the constitutional point at present.
– The honorable member desires to change the Constitution.
– Although, as a layman, I do not think it necessary to change the Constitution in order to take over the debts incurred since the inauguration of the Federation, some lawyers holda contrary opinion.
– The honorable member means that each State must pay its own share under the Constitution.
– I do not wish to go into that question, which the right honorable member and myself may very well discuss in private. I am now pointing out what I think is necessary, if we are to have a settlement which will prove at once fair to the States and fair to the Commonwealth. To that end I take into account what the present position is. “Under the Braddon section, the States are entitled, until 1910, to receive three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, but, after that year, the whole of that revenue is to be at the disposal of the Commonwealth Parliament. No one will deny that the Braddon section was adopted in the clear contemplation of this Parliament carrying out what was one of the main objects of Federation, namely, the taking over of the States debts and the obligations connected therewith. The claim has been made by the States, that the Braddon section should be retained in perpetuity, or, at any rate, continued in operation for a considerable number of years.
– For twenty years, I think.
– Practically the States are insisting on perpetuity, but at the Hobart Conference twenty years was spoken of. That was a circumstance) which I did not overlook; and I think that Sir George Turner might have been able to close with the States, on that basis had he been prepared to concede as much.
– The next Government would have upset the arrangement.
– However that may be, I merely mention the circumstances, so as to convey to honorable members some idea of the lines on which I desire to go. I take, as a starting point, what the whole of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue might fairly be expected to be over a series of years ; and for that purpose, I have selected the four years prior to 1906 as a period in which the excitement consequent on the introduction of the Federal Tariff had passed away, and business might be considered to be under fairly normal conditions.
– The honorable member is speaking of the first Tariff.
-r-Yes. This is ancient history, but I desire honorable members to understand exactly the mental process by which I evolved my scheme, and to enable them to apply it to possibly changed circumstances. I found that, during those years, the amount payable to the States was on the average, in round figures, £6,500,000, and that, supposing the whole of the debts to be taken over with their attendant obligations, tha amount payable by the States in interest would be £8,300,000. It was thus apparent that the whole of the threefourths of the revenue payable to the States was £1,800,000 short of the amount due for interest. I may say that t”e £1, 800,000 ought to be, so far as five of the States are concerned, £2,000,000, but the amount is reduced by a credit balance on the part of Western Australia, where there is a surplus of something like £200,000 over and above the interest payable. I mention this because of the peculiarity of the case of Western Australia, which, under any circumstances and- under any scheme, must be provided for ; that is to say, in Western Australia there is a surplus, whereas all the other States, so far as the Customs and Excise revenue is concerned, are short of their interest payments by £2,000,000. Having arrived at the prime elements in the case, my proposal was that the Commonwealth should at once take over the whole of the debts and apply until 1910, when the operation of the Braddon section expires, three-fourths of the revenue to meeting the obligation, the States finding the remainder until that year, just as they are doing now.
– Each State making up its own deficiency.
– I mean that the States would pay interest to the Commonwealth instead of to- its creditors. The Commonwealth would take over the payment of the interest on the whole of the debts, and the States would be credited with £6,500,000, each providing the balance in the old way.
– That is, we become the agents of the States up to 1910.
– Yes. Then starting from 1910, the Commonwealth having assumed the whole of the States debts and interest obligations, would, for a period of twenty years - until 1930 - rebate to the States each year 5 per cent, cumulative of their deficiency of interest, £1,800,000, so that on that date their debts and the full amount of the interest therein would be assumed by the Conmmonwealth. and they would have no further obligation in connexion therewith. My object was to evolve a scheme which, while doing away with the Braddon section and its impedimenta, including the bookkeeping system, would practically give the States all the monetary advantages of that section as nearly as may be, for twenty years; and I shall show how I think that object can be achieved. I have selected the figure of £1,800,000, and have informed honorable members of my reason for doing so. I do not wish to entangle the argument at this stage by introducing any question about Western Australia - that is a matter which must be settled, and can be settled, on equitable and reasonable principles, and does not impair or interfere with the general policy. I calculated that, up to 1910, the amount which the States have to pay - that is, the balance between three-fourths of the revenue, and the actual amount of their interest on the debts - would diminish yearly by 5 per cent., cumulative. That is to say, at the end of 191 1, the amount in round figures would be £90,000 less than previously. In the next year the deduction in the amount allowed to the States by the Commonwealth, would be £180,000, and in the third year it would be ,£170,000, and so on, with the result that at the end of twenty years the Commonwealth would have assumed the obligation in respect of payment of the whole of the interest on the whole of the debts of the States. The States in the meantime would have freed themselves of their obligations, and would have all their public works and other assets on which the money borrowed had been spent.
– Revenue-producing railways.
– Yes ; their revenueproducing railways and other works.
– But the people of the States would have paid those contributions.
– The people are finding the money now and paying it to their creditors. I fail to see that we should impose on the States any hardship by requiring them to continue to pay the interest on their debts, either directly to their creditors, or through the Commonwealth, the latter having assumed the obligation in respect of those debts. What is proposed is simply a transposition of the obligation for the debt to the Commonwealth ‘ from the States ; the bodies which originally con tracted the debt, and had not freed themselves from the payment of the interest thereon, gradually doing so by reducing instalments extending over twenty years.
– Could they not do that without the intervention of the Commonwealth ?
– Certainly they could; but I am assuming that the desire of theHouse is to alter the existing state of affairs.
– The honorable member proposes to take .the Customs, revenue for all time from the States.
– I shall deal with that, point. Those who have not taken the trouble to master my plan see difficultiesthat I do not.
– Forrest. - I do not think that the honorable member should suggest that I have not studied it.
– When this scheme isthoroughly understood, its absolute simplicity and freedom from complexity causes one to wonder how one could haveimagined any difficulty in connexion with*, it.
– But the honorable member’s proposal would certainly reduce theimmediate income of the States.
– No. If A is owed by B £100, and, by arrangement, B transferrins liability to C, that liability must stillbe met, and no one is injured.
– But the honorable member proposes to go further than that.
– I do; but at present-. I am trying to convince the right honorablemember for Swan. I am explaining theprinciples that have been adopted by the Government, so as to enable honorablemembers to criticise and deal with their scheme.
– But the honorablemember seems to infer that we have notstudied it.
– If I may judge by theright honorable member’s interjections, I do not think that he has.
– I must be verydense.
– Far be it from me tomake such an insinuation against any honorable member’s comprehension; but I’ do not think that my right honorable friend” has grasped the proposal.
– The newspapers of” Queensland reiterate the lie that it is proposed to give the States only £6,000,000,. and then to escape.
– That shows that the scheme is not understood. Unfortunately, the whole question has not been ventilated and discussed, and many men approach its consideration with their minds already made up, and without having accurately gauged the facts.
– We have heard the honorable member explain his scheme on two or three occasions.
– If, although I have explained it two or three times, the right honorable member does not understand it, I am surely not blameworthy.
– The trouble is that the right honorable member has a scheme of his own.
– I shall not discuss his scheme except to say that the right honorable member only proposed, in my opinion, to put off the evil day. He did not propose to settle anything, and I do not think that this House would have agreed to his scheme since it would have .meant sacrificing, to a great extent, the rights and privileges of this Parliament.
– That is not so.
– That, at all events, is my opinion.
– The question is whether the honorable member’s scheme does not go to the other extreme.
– I hope to be able to show that it does not.
– It seems to me that the honorable member’s scheme proposes to unify the Federal problem.
– Order. I must ask honorable members not to constantly interject.
– We are dealing with a somewhat technical subject, and whilst interjections do not confuse me, they make it difficult for honorable members to follow the argument. My desire is simply to lay before the Committee, to the best of my ability, the views which I entertain with regard to these proposals. When interrupted I had pointed out that by 1930 the Commonwealth would have assumed the whole of the debts of the States, by the application of a sliding scale, gradually remitting to the States 5 per cent, each year of the sum which they have to pay io their creditors.
– The interest?
– Yes. I noticed, whilst listening to my honorable friend’s argument last night, in regard to the Ministerial scheme, that some confusion had arisen with regard to the sinking fund and the principal. Under my scheme, the States would have nothing to do with the reduction of the principal.
– The Government scheme would relieve, them of so much debt, but whilst it would relieve one State to the extent of £79 per head-
– The honorable member’s argument is one that I have heard very often, and I hope to show that there is no force in it.
– The scheme is against us.
– It has the great merit of not doing an injustice to any one.
– The allegation is that it is in favour of Queensland and South Australia, and against the Commonwealth itself.
– Under my original proposal, in 1930 the States would have all their revenue producing and nonproductive public works absolutely free of debt, the Commonwealth having assumed their debts and the obligation to pay the principal and interest. It has been stated that it would inflict an injustice on some, of the States - that it would cause Victoria, New South Wales, and some of the larger’ States to carry a very large proportion of the interest on the debts of Queensland and some of the other States. That ‘argument is also associated with the per capita argument. To my mind, one of the great advantages of the proposal which I have submitted, is that it would at once rid us of any necessity of going into the question of per capita. That is a very shifty and troublesome element to deal with, and I shall show honorable members how I got rid of it. It is impossible for any man to say what will be the population of the various States twenty years hence. It is possible that within a few years some of the States, which at present show the largest debt per capita, may then show the lowest.
– But the honorable member does not propose to take over the future debts in the same way.
Mr. HARPER. That is so; but I shall show what I propose with regard to that on another occasion. When I came to grapple with the difficulty with regard to the existing debts per capita, I saw the absolute impossibility of dealing with it in a way that would be satisfactory to the Legislatures.
– If is quite possible, too, that the present inequalities may be further emphasized.
– Quite so. But to my mind,, it is absolutely impossible for any man to take up the role of prophet and to say what will be the position, year by year, for the next twenty-four years. I came to the conclusion that it was desirable not to adopt the per capita system mode of calculation, but to pursue another line which would enable us to attain the object we have in view, of dealing fairly with all the States, and of not favouring one at the expense of another. That object is achieved by this scheme. I admit that when I wrote my first paper on the subject, my mind had not been impressed, as it was later on, by ‘ the difficulties that might accrue to some of the States by the arrangement I then proposed, that the remission to the States collectively, year bv year, of 5 per cent, cumulative of their deficiency for interest should be distributed amongst them on a uniform plan. When I spoke, in 1906, from the seat now occupied by the right honorable member for Swan, the honorable member for North Sydney took exception, on that ground, to my scheme. He very properly pointed out that to remit, without discrimination, 5. per cent, of the contributions of the States would bring about the result, that some would have to pay more than their share and others less. My reply at the time was that it would.be only Federal and fair for the stronger States to assist the weaker; but the honorable member’s criticism set me thinking.
– That is not the arrangement in the Constitution.
– I have as much respect for the Constitution as has the right honorable member, but I am now dealing with a concrete proposal with which the Constitution is not immediately concerned. On malting very full calculations to ascertain the probable effect of mv proposal, I felt that I would not be justified in maintaining that part of my scheme, and in ray second paper I said -
Should it be decided that the aggregate amount of the annual rebate shall be made to trie States in proportion to the numbers of their people as estimated at the end of each year, it can be done without d;parting from the principle of the scheme.
That is now mv proposal, and, I understand, that of the Government. So far as tha Commonwealth is concerned in its- rela tions with the States, it will not matter how the money is distributed. All that will be necessary will be to rebate 5 per cent, cumulative each year. The amount of that rebate may be divided among the States, as I originally suggested, or, as I now propose - that is, it may be distributed according to their population, as ascertained each year by the Government Statist.
– That is only the interest.
– I am dealing only with interest. The repayment of capital is not now in question. Many persons think that under this scheme there is to be a repayment of capital at the expense of the Commonwealth. Something has been said about the repayment of capital within thirty-five years. I do not know how that idea originated. I am now dealing not with capital, but with the interest which the States have to pay .to their creditors.
– How would the honorable member increase the contribution to Queensland, except at the expense of the other States ?
– The growth of population in the State will make the difference disappear.
– The inequality per capita of the debts of the States carries with it a similar inequality of interest.
– Precisely. I have not lost sight of that inequality, and am showing now how the 5 per cent, rebate to the States should be distributed. I have admitted that to distribute it equally would not be fair. It would result, for example, in Queensland evading part of its just responsibility for interest.
– That is very doubtful, in view of the ratio of increase of - population.
– The increase of population does not affect the question. It is the existing, not the future, debts of the Stales with which we are dealing.
– Suppose that £450,000 has to be rebated in the fifth year, when, according to the Government Statistician, the population of the various States was so many. The rebate to the States collectively of £450,000 would be made from the Commonwealth fund created by the contributions of the States to the Customs and Excise revenue. The money rebated would be really part of the revenue collected from the States, and the allocation of it between the States would be accord- ing to population as certified for that year. If in five years the population of Queensland increases by 200,000 or 300,000, its contributions to the Commonwealth revenue will increase proportionately, and in the allocation of its share of the money in connexion with the payment of interest it is only right that it should get credit in proportion to its contribution. The contributions of the States according to population should determine the annual distribution of the rebate.
– That arrangement would suit Queensland very well.
– It should suit every State very well. The people would merely get back their share of what they contributed.
– The honorable member gets over the difficulty by unification.
– I am not an advocate of unification, though I would unify the existing debts. There are discrepancies between the per capita contribution of the States to Customs and Excise revenue, but they are rapidly disappearing. The difference between the contributions of, say, Tasmania and New South Wales are only a few pence per head.
– Two shillings and eightpence per head.
– The per capita contribution of Western Australia is £3 j 6s. per head.
– I exclude Western Australia. If Federation is to prove of any value, small inequalities might well be overlooked when we are attempting to obtain one of its chief objects. The £450,000, which I have assumed to be rebated to the States, can be distributed per capita, or on the basis of my original suggestion. This is a matter for the States themselves.
– I do not recognize the equity of the honorable member’s proposal.
– I do not understand the honorable member’s difficulty. I have explained that the Commonwealth will rebate 5 per cent, to the States in globo annually for twenty years.
– That is 5 per cent, of the interest for a period. 1
– Honorable members should not anticipate. ‘ I am not dealing with what may happen at the end of that period. I think I have demonstrated that this 5 per cent, can be equitably divided among the States, per capita, according to population. It seems to me that we cannot deal with the States more honestly than that. We have nothing to do with anything except the amount by which the States are short of their interest payments. If we remit that by 5 per cent, annually, by either of the methods which I have suggested, we shall be doing what is fair and reasonable.
– The payment to the States will be on the proportion of their interest existing al the time the debt is taken over.
– lt is not a payment, but a rebatea gradual assumption by the Commonwealth of an obligation from each of the States.
– But the payment to the States will be based on the interest at the time the debt is taken over, while the remission will be upon the basis of the population at the end of each year. Consequently, there will be two different bases.
– So far as the Commonwealth is concerned, there will not be two bases. I give the States a free choice. To me, as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, it matters not how they divide the money.
– But it does matter to the States, and the honorable member does not settle the trouble,
– The States cam settle it for themselves. We settle it fairly, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. As a Commonwealth we discharge our obligation to the States, and, so far as the remission is concerned, we. leave it to them to al locate , the money, either, as I first proposed, on a uniform rate, or if the plan of the honorable member for Parramatta were adopted by them, we should not object ; we should let them divide the money in proportion to their debts.
– We settle the problem for ourselves, and raise it for them.
– We do not create a problem for them - we leave them free to exercise their own sweet wills. We rebate to them what will have the effect in twenty years of taking the whole of the debts on to the shoulders of the Commonwealth, and freeing them. We give them a remission annually to attain that end, and they can either agree to the allocation of the money as I first proposed, on a population basis, to be fixed each year- - -
– The honorable member might explain that his scheme was differentiated by the Government to the extent of extending the period.
– I am coming to that, but I have already spoken longer than I intended’.
– It is a serious business.
– In my opinion, it is the most important business that the Commonwealth has to face, and perhaps time spent in discussing it in a reasonable way, as I hope I am doing, is not altogether misspent. My object is to give information rather than to provoke criticism at this stage.
– -We should’ have a separate debate on this question.
– We shall have, and I am told that I am anticipating it. The Treasurer rather objected to my making this statement now, because he said it would probably be the means of prolonging the debate on the Budget. But the matter has had so little consideration in proportion to its importance that honorable members’ minds ought to be prepared, before we come to the full-dress debate later on. I am open to any criticism that may be advanced, but I desire honorable members, whether they agree or disagree! with me, to be in the position, of really knowing what is proposed, and what the effects of the proposal will be. I come now to the point about increasing population. I may say without egotism that the States Premiers in their meetings have shown no such anxiety as I should have felt in their place to get at all the facts. Not one of them has ever asked me or given me an opportunity to explain to them in public or in private what the proposals and their objective were, although some of them did not abstain from disapproval of them. From the character of their objections, it was clear to my mind that they did not understand them, but they gave me no opportunity, such as I was quite willing to afford them, as some of them know, to go over the scheme with them in private, and explain it point by point. This is a business matter. I am dealing with it as a business man, and I assume that the States Premiers are business men. Any business man when he has a difficult financial problem to solve usually obtains all the information, good, bad, or indifferent, that is available, and then makes up his own mind. No doubt, it will be construed as a piece of egotism on my part as a private member to think that those “ potent, grave, and reverendsigniors “ would consult any one less than a Cabinet Minister.
– In their opinion, no good thing can come out of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The honorable member is about right.
– They agreed to the proposals of the Government at the Brisbane Conference.
– -Thev agreed to them, and then went back on them. Mr. Kidston did, at any rate.
– I think, without conceit, that if I had had the opportunity of explaining to the right honorable member for S wan exactly what is involved, he ‘ might take a different view. The writing is on the wall - “ 1908, 1909, 1910.” If the Premiers who are in charge of the affairs of these important States are wise men, they will settle the question when they have time, and betimes, and settle it on lines that are fair and reasonable, instead of raising objections without understanding what they are objecting to.
– They are making a political cry of it
– They are a bad lot, are they not?
– I do not say so. I simply say that, so far as I can see, they do not realize the seriousness of the position.
Colonel Foxton. - They do.
– If they do, they show very little prudence in allowing the time to pass without a settlement.
– Let us get to the scheme.
– All this is eliciting points that should be stated, and, perhaps, will have to be stated. T was told just now that the States Premiers were going to make an electioneering cry of this matter.
– Judging from the temper of this House, they would be justified in doing so.
– It appears to me that this House will have to make an electioneering question of it.
Colonel Foxton. - The people will settle it.
– There the honorable member and I are. in agreement. This should not be a party question. This House will have to know its own mind and to understand exactly what it is proposing and what it is opposing. For that reason, it is important that honorable members should realize that the scheme which I am now expounding - although I am not expounding the Government’s figures - is,, in its essence, and its whole application, absolutely fair. Any man can maintain that position on any platform. It is necessary, therefore, that we should understand exactly what it means, and see that it is fair. If we are satisfied that it is, let us stand by it. If any honorable member thinks that it is not fair, let him point out the unfairness, and let us amend it, if necessary. I am convinced that it holds water a t every point, and that it is fair, reasonable, and just throughout.
– And beneficial.
– And. beneficial above everything, because it attains the great object of separating the Commonwealth and States finances once and for all, takes over the States debts on the only practicable plan, does everything that we want to do, and does injustice to none. Much has been made by the States Premiers of the population question. They claim with perfect justice that their population is increasing, and that they have to provide for that increase all the conveniences which are in the domain of the States Governments, as apart from the Commonwealth. I arrived at my assumption of a rebate of 5 per cent, per annum on a system. I looked lip the statistics of immigration and increase of population for a period of thirty years. I found that the increase was not uniform. In one ten-year period there was very little increase, in another a large increase took place.’
– Does the honorable member base his calculation on immigration, or excess of births over deaths?
– I mean increase of population. I am dealing with the increase of the people who pay the taxes.
– The two things are very different. If the honorable member is inking the excess of births over deaths, he should remember that children do not Day taxes.
– I presume that their parents pay for them. My accumulated annual rebate is based on, and, as nearly as I could arrive at them, covers the probable contributions to revenue on the basis of increased population during 20 years. That is to say, what I propose to rebate annually is a fair representation of the contributions to the revenue Of the es- imated increase of population on the threefourths basis. By that means I broadly continue the effect of the Braddon clause for twenty years. Some of my Federal friends who take the Federal view regard this proposal as too liberal to the States and unfair to the Commonwealth. lt is, however, in my opinion, fair to the Federal Parliament and to the States, because it provides for the financial requirements of an increasing population, taking the States in globo. At the end of 1930, on my proposals, the States would be free from all past debts. I am not now dealing with future borrowings, which is too big a subject for and not relevant to, the present question. At the time mentioned, the States would have possession of all their railways and other works, and the Commonwealth would have assumed the interest obligations for all time. I cannot understand how any one can, in the interests of the States, urge that this is unfair treatment. I might more readily be accused of too great liberality to the States; I told one of the Premiers that I never expected such objections to come from the States’ representatives. I say, advisedly, that it is inconceivable to me how anybody could suggest a fairer, more equitable, or a simpler plan, which, at the same time, gets lid of all per capita calculations.
– We cannot get rid of per capita calculations in regard to new debts.
– If the honorable member reads my paper, he will see that, for reasons that are there made quite apparent, new debts must be treated differently from the existing debts - in a manner which, in my opinion, is not inconsistent with the principle upon which existing debts are to be dealt with, not on a per capita basis.
– I only desire the honorable member’s statement to be qualified as regards new debts.
– According to my view, and I think, the Government’s view, when the old” debts are dealt with in the way proposed, it will be for. the executive body to be appointed for the administration of the debts to provide, by borrowing, under statutory authority, the money for the States to meet their requirements. The Queensland Premier the other day expressed the opinion that the Commonwealth desired to control the expenditure of the States, but that is hot the case, so long as it is confined to reproductive works for which borrowing is reasonable and fair, the definition of which shall be fixed by law.
Colonel Foxton.- Who is to decide that ?
– I am merely laying down the principle; if I were to go into details I could occupy another two hours.
Colonel Foxton. - It is a very important point.
– It is, but this is not the time to discuss it.
– In what way does the honorable member show that the Federal _ authority can afford cumulative interest at 5 per cent, out of the one-fourth of the revenue ?
– We shall have increased revenue from an assumed increase of population. I am assuming that the population will increase, at least, as rapidly as in the past thirty years, and that there will be an increasing revenue, which will provide fox the cumulative rebate of 5 per cent. Honorable members will see that my proposals meet the objection, that, whilst we are taking from the States the whole of their Customs revenue, they will have to provide for the wants of an increased population, for school-houses, and other local expenditure, out of the States resources, because the annual rebate from the Commonwealth will be an addition to their revenues. In my opinion, at the time when I formulated the scheme, and, of course, excluding any increased expenditure which the Commonwealth Parliament might decide upon, of which I could not have knowledge, the expected increase of population would justify the Federal Government in charging itself with the remission of 5 per cent., and, at the same time, the proposal would be fair in the interests of the States. I think I have dealt with all the points that strike me except one. When asked by the Government to submit these papers I pointed out to the Prime Minister and the Treasurer that they must understand that my figures were figures I had taken as in 1906. These figures were necessary to illustrate, the argument, and I considered them fair ; but they must understand that the figures are not part of the principle of the scheme, and could be altered, as, indeed, 1 believe they have been altered. The Government have decided to defer the rebate for five years and to extend the period of twenty years to thirty years, so that by their proposal we have a period of thirty-five years before the completion of the arrangement.
– The Government have also taken off £500,000 annually.
– That is so, and I am obliged to the honorable member for the reminder. I wish honorable members tounderstand that these figures are a matter for consideration in the light of information, which, I suppose, the Government will be prepared to afford, as to their reasons for reducing the amount and extending the time. I understand that one of the reasons is the adoption of old-age pensions, which were not in contemplation when my figures were prepared. I wish to impress upon honorable members that the scheme, proceeding step by step, achieves all the ends in view, and is not affected by the figures, which, as I have said, can be varied without affecting the principle. What I set myself out to do was tosolve the problem of how best the Commonwealth could assume the total debts of the States in such a way as not violently toaffect the finances of any State, and, at the same time, not put the Commonwealth in a. difficulty, retaining in substance all the advantages of the Braddon section for twenty years. The question of a sinking fund has been introduced, though I do not know exactly how, because I was not present when, the remarks were made. I proceeded on the assumption - and I may mention thisbecause a good deal has been said about it both here and in London - that it would be possible, if we entered into this arrangement, which, I believe, would greatly strengthen Australia in the financial world, to borrow on the basis of 3 per cent. Of course that would depend on the state of the money market from time to time; but I had in my mind the fact that, at the time I spoke, the interest actually being paid averaged 3.6 per cent., or a little over per cent. I showed that, if we could save the .6 per cent, over the long period in contemplation, the result would be that the whole of the debts would be redeemed in some sixty-five years. The Administration, which would have control of these huge operations, would, in time, have a large fund of its own, which could be loaned again and again and earn money all the time.
– Does the honorable member think that we could live without a public debt?
– The question I am now referring to is how to pay our debts, and I am pointing out how, apart from any future borrowing, our successors in sixtyJive years could be made free of debt. I know that one eminent London financier who is very much interested in our loans says that we cannot borrow at 3 per cent, j and I do not say whether we can or can not. J based my assumption on the opinion of the right honorable member for Swan and Mr. Coghlan ; I do not profess to be an authority, and cannot tell what the market is going to be. I understand that the Government are going to propose, in the event of any deficiency in the sinking fund of .6 per cent. , to make it up ; but I know nothing on that point. I am assuming that my proposals are carried out entirely, and, if so, if we were to save only .3 per cent, instead of .6 per cent., it. would mean that we should be free of debt in about 100 years, instead of sixty-five years. The fundamental principle is that, if possible, our bonds’ should be like consols, interminable - that is, we should have power, on giving notice, after a certain time, to pay them, but that the lenders should have no right to call up the money. The saving in commission on renewals, and so forth, would, in fifty years, amount to a huge sum, which, capitalized, would grow like a snowball ; and it is fair to assume that, without taking into account future borrowing, Australia might, at the end of the period I have mentioned, be in the possession of all her public works - possibly returning fivefold with the increased population - and, at the same time, have no debt. If we could carry out such an arrangement as I propose, the position from the point of view of the States would be magnificent. It would enable them to rid themselves of what is at the present time their besetting danger. Owing to the prosperous seasons that we have enjoyed during the last three or four years, we have had a great accumulation of money in the local market, with the result that the Treasurers of several of the States, as well as the Treasurer of New Zealand, have been borrowing here. If we have the money, it is much better that we should borrow locally, and that the interest should remain in the country, than that we should go abroad, but-
– I hope that the States are not wasting the money that they are borrowing.
– They are borrowing locally as a rule to repay loans heretofore held in Great Britain. The effect of these local conversions upon the local money market is well known by financial men. They have absorbed the loose capital available, and with any’ reaction to bad times money will not accumulate in Australia as it has done. The States Treasurers have, in my opinion, come almost to the end of their tether so far as borrowing in the local market at present rates is concerned. The day is at hand when they will have to pay an increased price. The interest rate has increased of late by fully J per cent., and users of the money will have to pay that increase. Some people imagine that the increased rate is paid by the banks ; but if the banks pay more for their money the people who use it have to pay more for it. The Treasurers of the States may have staved off a difficulty, and credit is’ due to them in the circumstances for borrowing locally instead of abroad; but if money which is necessary for the development of the industries of the States is made dear by the action of the States Governments in competing in the local market for it, the progress of the country may be retarded. Cheap money is of immense advantage in the development of a new country, and there can be no doubt that as business improves, and our industries increase, the loose money in the market will be absorbed. The States Treasurers will in that case find that they cannot borrow here at present rates, and they will have to go once more to the London money market. What, then, will be their position? As I pointed out in 1906, from 1 9 15 onwards the States will have to borrow largely to renew loans. In one year four States will have to float redemption loans, and in other years still more will have to do so. As I have already pointed out, in one year loans to the extent of £21,000,000 have to be renewed.
– Or ‘£90,000,000 in the next 10 years.
-Fully £90,000,000. Do honorable members realize what that means? If the Commonwealth is not in a position to take time by the forelock, and to deal with the finances of the States, as a whole, the State Treasurers may have to pay 41, or even 5 per cent., for their loans to meet urgent necessities. Much will depend upon the state of the European money markets, the standing of public and private securities, and whether or not capitalists are inclined to invest in Australian stocks. If we have the Treasurers of the States, so to speak, running over one another in the London money market in their desire to be first in floating their conversion loans - and a very small body of men are the media through whom all this money is to be obtained - they will have to pay for it. On every ground of statesmanship and reasonableness, the Governments of the .States ought now to close with terms so handsome as those offered to them. I am not speaking of the thirty and the thirty-five years periods. That is a matter for discussion ; but I have no doubt that the Government will be able to give a reasonable justification for the alteration in figures. The system which I have expounded is simplicity itself, once it is understood, and if the statesmen of the States and the members of this Parliament do not rise to the occasion, they will show a want’ of appreciation of the magnitude of the interests involved, amounting almost to a want of patriotism. There is only one other point to which I desire to refer. It has been said by the States Premiers that, under this scheme, we should obtain all their. Customs and Excise revenue at the end of twenty years, and that they would receive no more from the Commonwealth. That complaint was made at the Premiers’ Conference, and it has been voiced in this House. When a member of the Government of New South Wales raised that objection to my scheme, my reply was : “You will have obtained value for your money. You will have got rid of your debts, and will have all your public works free.” I pointed out to him further that my scheme would not debar a further settlement at the end of the period named. We are bound to assume that our successors as representatives of the people of Australia twenty or thirty years hence will be prepared to come to some reasonable arrangement at the end of the period fixed. It will be open to the States to negotiate.
– That is after severing our financial relations for thirty years, we are to reopen them.
– I hope that the honorable member will not put “into my mouth words that I have not uttered. Mv suggestion is that there will be nothing to prevent the Parliament of the day then agreeing, as Canada has done, to give all the States a grant per capita.
– That is to say, we may then reopen what we have now closed.
– As it is we are compelled to reopen the question at the expiration of the Braddon section. Is all wisdom to die with us? I do not know that we have exhibited much up. to date in connexion with this matter, but surely it is not to be suggested that those who come after us will be less patriotic in sentiment and less reasonable than we are.
– What the honorable member suggests would mean an abandonment of the position taken up by the Treasurer - that there is to be an absolute separation of accounts.
– It would not. Does the honorable member mean to say that if,, at the end of thirty years, £1,000,000 were agreed to be distributed per capita amongst the States, an entanglement of the financial affairs of the Commonwealth and the States such as exists now would” bc involved?
– No; but theTreasurer says his principle is absolute separation.
– And anything distributed after that would be a mere charitable dole.
– Honorable members may call it what thev please. It will be for the people themselves to decide. I donot think that we are entitled to say what the people of Australia in 1930 or 1945 will do. Indeed, I do not feel inclined totake the trouble to project my mind so far ahead. I cannot pretend for one moment to prognosticate what will then be done. The objection raised to the adoption of my proposals, or any proposals based upon them, is that they mean irrevocably that the States . will get nothing more from the Commonwealth after the prescribed” period. My reply is that the matter is; one for the people themselves to decide. If they decide it now, well and good, but if they do the chances are about .50 to t that before the time arrives they will have to make an alteration. All that I wish tomake clear is that the question as to the States obtaining any further contributions from the Commonwealth is a matterfor arrangement quite consistently with theadoption of the principle of my proposal. I do not project my mind into the- future. What I suggest is a method by which the States debts of £247,000,000 may be taken over by the Commonwealth in twenty years without one shilling being taken from one State for the benefit of another.
– The honorable member has not proved that to my satisfaction.
– I am sorry that I have not clone so. If the right honorable member will be good enough to explain to me, as he may have an opportunity to do, what his difficulties are in regard to my scheme, I shall try to the best of my ability to enlighten him. My scheme does not in any degree tie the hands of the people of the future. It simply aims at a certain object, and I contend that it will accomplish it perfectly.
.- There is no subject of more importance to the Commonwealth than that of our financial relations to the States. I have listened with the greatest interest to the speeches delivered by the honorable member for Mernda and the honorable member for North Sydney, and agree with them that it is well that we should have as much enlightenment as possible on this subject. It will be for the Treasurer, having regard to the speeches that have been made on this question, and more particularly to the strong criticism of his proposals by the honorable member for North Sydney to further enlighten the Committee.
– I am going to make my own speech in my own way.
– I hope that the honorable member does not imagine that I am seeking to dictate to him. I am merely expressing the hope that the Treasurer will further enlighten us with regard to his proposals. I hope we shall have a full explanation from the Treasurer before the debate closes. The honorable member for Mernda said that Parliament must make up its mind- in regard to the debts question, and his statement that the settlement of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States should be made an electioneering cry was cheered by the honorable members for Wide Bay and Bass.
– The proposal of the honorable member for Mernda would suit Queensland very well.
– The Premier of Queensland has said that its adoption would mean disaster to that State.
– From what I havegathered from the honorable members for Mernda and North Sydney, Quensland would do very well by any pooling arrangement, and therefore I am not surprised that the honorable member for WideBay is willing to make this an electioneering matter. The people of Queensland, like those of other parts of the world, are doubtless ready to take as much as they can get; but the honorable member for Bass is on very much more dangerousground than that occupied by the honorable member for Wide Bay. Apparently the arrangement would not suit Tasmania at all, the indebtedness of that State beingbetween £300,000 and £400,000 pei annum.
– I am afraid that the honorable member, like the right honorablemember for Swan, does not understand the question.
– I should prefer to be told that by the honorable member for Mernda.
– He told the right honorable member, for Swan that he did not understand it.
– He was speaking then of another matter. I do not think that he will say that my statement is incorrect. I understand that another financial light is going to place a new scheme before the Committee and the country, and as we require as much information as possible, I shall not, by delaying our proceedings, hinder him from coming forward. As the representative of a country constituency, I am glad that the Government is going to establish a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau. I was a member of the deputation to which yesterday the Acting Minister of Trade and Customs gave the promise that the Government would mate a departure in this matter. It was pointed’ out by the apple-growers of Tasmania that it is very important that the fullest investigation should be made into the’ nature of the pests which interfere with their industry, and the means for destroying them, and the Minister stated that he would use every endeavour to obtain the best experts -if necessary, from other parts of the world - to investigate these matters. We are always delighted to learn that there are Australians capable of filling positions in our Public Service; but it must be recognised that we have not a monopoly of all knowledge and skill, and I. trust that when necessary experts from other parts of the world will be appointed - not only in .the Department of the Minister of Trade and Customs, but in other Departments as well.
– The honorable member has the support of the Socialists in that.
– The tendency of late has been to avoid going out of Australia for experts, even when that has been desirable. I, like other honorable members, have suffered considerably from the bad administration of the Department of the Postmaster- General. Last year a sum was voted for the construction of a trunk telephone line from Sydney to Wollongong, a town which is the centre of the second largest coal-field in Australia. There are at present sixteen coal mines in full work near by, as well as many coke ovens and factories. Wollongong has a port of its own, and is very near to Port Kembla, where steamers as large as 8,000 tons load coal for other parts of the world. Tenders for the supply of material were accepted on 6th July last, and it was then found that the line would have to be repoled. This important district is very much inconvenienced by the error of judgment which prevented that fact from being discovered earlier. I am unwilling to attempt to fix the blame for the occurrence on any official, but some one is responsible for the delay, and I trust that the Postmaster-General will now see that the work is expedited as much as possible. Two memoranda have been submitted by the Government, embodying their new protection proposals. The first was put before us on the 13th December, 1907, and the other laid upon the table this week. We know that votes were secured for many of the Government’s Tariff proposals because of the promise that, under the new protection, not only manufacturers, but also their employes and the general public, would benefit. One of the contentions of the free-traders has been that protective duties merely give manufacturers the opportunity to grow rich at the expense of the community, and it was alleged that the new protection would require them to share the benefits which they gained with their workmen and those to whom they sold their goods. The leader of the Labour Party stated very clearly that the benefits of protection should be shared by employes as well as by employers, and that the general public should get a share. Hestated that in the magnificent railway workshops at Newport the Government of Victoria is saving at least 21 per cent., and tried to make it appear that if the new protection were put into effect all the industries of the Commonwealth would be similarly managed. The Labour Party, however, is not prepared to socialize or to nationalize every industry. It would take over only what it calls monopolies - that is, good paying businesses. Its members would not risk the success of their theories by applying them to other industries than those which now show a substantial profit.
– Those are the trimmers. Some members of the party are more thorough Socialists.
– I understand from the memoranda which has been put before us that if manufacturers unduly raise their prices the protection given to them will be reduced. Under such a system, however, manufacturers who were dealing honestly with the public would be punished for the fault of those who were not. If effect is to be given to the new protection, the employers, the workers, and the consumers should all benefit. But I fail to discover anything in the memorandum recently laid on the table making provision for the protection of the consumers. Paragraph 16 of the first memorandum stated -
So far, reference has been made only to that aspect of the proposals which is concerned with the protection of the manufacturer on the one hand and the employes on the other. An essential part of the completed scheme, however, is the protection of the consumer by the establishment of machinery to prevent the undue inflation of prices.
In the memorandum recently made public there is no mention of the consumers.
– Nor of the imposition of Excise duties, which was the original new protection.
– That was a feature of the scheme outlined in the first memorandum, but so far as I can gather, no mention is made of it in the second memorandum. On the second page of the new document, it is stated that -
The object of the proposed amendment of the Constitution will be to endow the Parliament of the Commonwealth with a grant of power to do economic justice in. protected industries -
I fail to understand what that means, or how it can be brought about - with due regard to the unity of the Commonwealth, and the diversity of local circumstances.
To ascertain just where economic justice lies, having regard to those matters, and then to apply it to all the protected industries, will be rather a complex task. We find then that -
The electors will be invited to empower the Commonwealth to determine the employment and remuneration of labour in protected industries in view of the protection granted to the manufacturer under the Commonwealth Tariff.
At first sight, it would appear to any ordinary individual from that statement that the’ idea of the Government was to apply the new protection only to what we know as the manufacturing industries, because the word “ manufacturer “ is actually used. But when we come to the new paragraph, which the people of Australia are to be asked to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to insert in section 51 of the Constitution, we find the proposal put in a very different way. Proposed new paragraph xxxva is as follows : -
The employment and remuneration of labour in any industry which, in the opinion of the Inter-State Commission, is protected by duties of Customs.
That is a very broad sweep.
– It strikes me as very narrow.
– The honorable member takes a different view. As I read it, it appears that any industry in regard to which a duty appears in the Customs Tariff, and which in the opinion of the Inter-State Commission is a protected industry, will come under the proposed amendment of the Constitution.
– Hear, hear ; that is Tight.
– I am glad to hear the Minister indorse my opinion, because it appears to me that under this scheme, not only the manufacturing industries, but all the primary industries from one end of Australia to the other, will be brought under the operation of the new protection.
– If they are protected, ves.
– I represent a constituency which is largely engaged in the primarv’ industries, such as coal mining and dairying. I unhesitatingly Mr that the men’ engaged in the dairying industry do not want any new protection system applied to them.
– What about the report regarding child labour?
– I saw that report in connexion with the Teachers’ Conference in Sydney. I have lived in a dairying district all my life. The majority of my relatives are engaged_ in dairying, and have been for the last sixty or seventy years. They were amongst the pioneers of the first dairying district of Australia. I undertake to say that in the Illawarra district, where these things are supposed to exist, and probably in a small proportion of cases do exist, will be found a race of men and women than whom there is no finer or more intelligent body in Australia. As for dairying work affecting the intelligence of, the children, a large number, in proportion to the population of the district, of the boys brought up in its public schools occupy some of the highest positions in professional and other walks of life in Sydney to-day. Those were boys who had to get up at’ 4, 5, and 6 o’clock in the morning to do their milking before they went to school. The examinations held in the primary schools of New South Wales every year show that the boys and girls in that district are quite equal in intelligence to those of the rest of the State, and that their mental qualities are not impaired in any way. So much for the interjection of the Postmaster- General regarding the employment of children in the dairying industry. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has been, engaged for a number of years in a campaign against sweating inother industries in Melbourne and Victoria generally. Judging by the reports of the conditions in those industries, the dairyingindustry, so far as sweating and the employment of child labour is concerned, cannot be compared with them, and showsnothing like the long hours or the hardships that have to be endured in other callings in which child labour is engaged, more particularly in the big cities of Australia,
– Would not the honorable member prevent what child labour there is?
– As far as possible child labour should be stopped, but dairying work is very suitable work for young” people.
– If the Treasurer wishesme to -refer to his opinions, I can quotea speech made bv him when the Arbitration Bill was before the House, at the time the Watson Government were in power, andreported in Hansard. The honorable member then spoke very strongly in favour of” dairying1 work as employment for children.
– Milking was the most horrible thing I had to do when a. boy.
– I was offered all sorts of inducements as a youngster to learn to milk, but I could never be brought to do it. Although- it is constant work, and has to be done every day, Sundays included, it is not arduous work.
– Is it not? Let the honorable member, try it.
– I have tried it; for I can milk now, although I would not learn in mv younger days. It is not hard work for young people. The Government scheme as embodied in the memorandum will bring all the primary industries of Australia under the new protection system.
– How would the pastoral or coal-mining industry come in ?
– All that has to be done is to impose a duty in the Tariff, the matter is submitted to the Inter- State Commission, the industry is found to be a protected one, and then the new protection is applied.
– Does the honorable member think that the Inter-State Commission would regard the pastoral industry, for instance, as a protected industry?
– The chances are that any member of the Inter-State Commission, finding that a duty affecting an industry existed in the Tariff, would regard that industry as a protected one. Time after time, when I have pointed out in the House that the duty in relation to the dairying industry was an absolute farce, and gave no protection whatever, honorable members on the ether side of the chamber have contended that it was strongly protective, and helped the industry considerably. If that position is taken up, we are justified in concluding that the Inter-State Commission would regard the industry as coming within the scope of the new protection.
– I take it that when the honorable member spoke of the child labour at present in vogue, he did not therefore necessarily approve of any sweating that went on?
– Of course not.
– That was what (underlay the interjection of the honorable -member for Cook, nevertheless.
– I shall be much obliged if the Honorable member for Cook would come to my constituency and find any -place where sweating is going on in connexion with child labour.
– Children under a certain age ought not to be allowed to work at all.
– I agree with the honorable member as regards hard labour ; but I do not think it does children any harm to send them messages or make them do a little work. It is necessary for a good many young Australians to be taught to work in their younger days. Under this scheme, we are to create a new Court, in addition to those already in existence in the various States. There are established in New South Wales and some of the other States, Courts for dealing with industrial matters. In creating a, new Court, we may expose those who are affected to the possibility of having to obey conflicting decisions in relation to the same matter. That would be undesirable. It has not been shown that there is any need ‘for an additional Court, because these matters have been, and are now being, dealt with successfully by the Courts in the various States. It appears to be an attempt to increase the powers of the Federation at the expense of the States. I cannot agree with the proposition that because the Commonwealth Parliament has power to impose duties of Customs, it follows as a corollary that it should also have the power to deal with all questions arising out of the protective policy. These questions could be very much better dealt with by the States, having regard to the diversity of conditions in each. At the recent Labour Conference in Brisbane, Mr. McGowen, the leader of the Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr. Holman, and Mr. Bowman, the leader of the Labour Party in the Queensland Parliament, expressed themselves much more strongly in opposition to this proposal than I have done.
– But we agreed upon a compromise, which we all accepted.
– A good deal is agreed upon in caucus by way of compromise, but iri- this case we had two caucuses fighting one another. Senator Givens submitted the following motion to the Conference -
That the plank “.uniform industrial legislation, amendment of Constitution to provide for same,” be included in the fighting platform.
After the mover had spoken in advocacy of the motion, it is reported that -
Mr. McGowen, leader of the State Labour Party in New South Wales, said that in a year or two, with the fiscal issue out of the way and a. fusion of conservative free-traders and protectionists, there would possibly be an ultraconservative development. He cautioned them to look ahead and see if such happened in the future with an ultra-conservative party in power, what a lever this would be for such a party to work its will. Might he use a homely saying, and ask, “ Is it a good thing to put all your eggs in one basket ? “ With the six States remaining as now, where one State had better wages than others, there was a spirit of friendly emulation amongst the other five, but where they had only the one centralized authority a kind of medium would be struck, and there would be in reality a levelling down for some of the States.
In those words, Mr. McGowen struck the exact position. The tendency throughout the history of our Federation has been to level down to the position of the weakest, and not up to the position of the strongest. I advised the railway employes of New South Wales to be very careful in connexion with this matter, in view of the wages that they enjoy, lest it should happen - as in all probability it would - that they were brought down to the level existing in some of the other States.
Sitting suspended from 7 to 2.15 p.m.
– I was calling attention to the utterances of Mr. McGowen, leader of the New South Wales Labour Party, last year, and pointing out that, in that gentleman’s opinion, we ought to be careful lest the higher wages in certain States were not brought down to the level of the wages paid in other States. In further support of that position, I should like to quote the following from a speech delivered on the same occasion by Mr. Holman, M.L. A., of New South Wales-
Having touched on the possiblepersonnel of the High Court Bench in years to come, Mr. Holman went on to say that he would sooner have the Legislative Councils, which could be “ swamped,” than a judicial tribunal that was unassailable and immovable. The argument - if he could dignify it with the name of argument - that because a Parliament imposed the Tariff it should have charge of all industrial legislation would not stand investigation. The step that was suggested meant, in the long run, the end of the State Labour parties. First, industrial legislation would go, then in three years there would be a request for the railways, then in another three years, lands, education, and control of mining.
I should also like to quote from the remarks of Mr. Bowman, leader of the Queensland Labour Party, reported as follows -
Mr. Bowman, leader of the Queensland State Labour Party, was not in accordance with the arguments of the Federation taking over the wholeof the industrial legislation of Australia. He would say, in passing, that he favoured the principle of arbitration in preference to Wages Boards, but he did not think it advisable to hand over the local work which those Boards might safely do, to the Federation. The present proposal might be all right as applied to the big industries, but what about the little industries? They could, he thought, be belter handled in the State than in the Federal sphere. He was as anxious as any member to consolidate the Commonwealth and State labour forces, but he was not going to sit tamely by and allow the Australian Government to take over the State railways or other functions without very solid reasons being adduced. So far. as the new protection was concerned, he thought that this should be carried, but he resented anything that looked like undue interference in legislation which they could manage in the States.
We have this testimony of three representatives, including two leaders of the Labour Party, which is entirely in opposition to the policy advocated by honorable members in the Government corner. On page 2 of the memorandum, which has been circulated by the Government, it is stated -
The electors will be invited to empower the Commonwealth to determine the employment and remuneration of labour in protected industries in view of the protection granted to the manufacturer under the Commonwealth Tariff. In some industries the existing protection may enable the payment of fair and reasonable rates of wages. In other industries, not sufficiently protected to enable the full standard of remuneration to be paid, the payment of at least a minimum wage can be required, pending the enactment of effective protection. Unprotected industries will not be affected.
It is admitted that under the existing Tariff, there are industries which can pay fair and reasonable wages, but it is also admitted that there are other industries in which the Tariff enables only a minimum wage to be paid, pending the enactment of effective protection. It appears, therefore, that, while an apparent concession is made to Labour representatives, and to employes - I believe “employes” is the proper word - the idea is to sneak in very much higher protective duties than prevail at present. ‘ In considering the new protection proposals, we have to guard against, first, the handing over of the full control of all industrial matters to the Commonwealth, and also against Labour classes being fooled through their representatives being fooled. I do not believe that the new protection will achieve the result Labour men desire, namely, that of raising wages. I have no desire to enter into a discussion of fiscal matters, but I am justified in saying that the labouring and producing classes pay quite enough under the Tariff at the present time. Any further remarks I have to make in this connexion, I shall reserve until the new protection proposals are submitted by the Prime Minister. I have taken this opportunity to shortly place my views before honorable members, and to draw attention to the fact that, more particularly in the country districts, industries may be adversely affected by those proposals. Before sitting down, however, I should like to remove any misunderstanding there may be in regard to the remarks I made in reply to the interjections of the honorable member for Cook and the honorable member for Maribyrnong, in regard to the employment of child labour in the dairying districts. I hope I made it clear that I am not at all in favour of sweated labour; but, in the meantime, remarks have been made which render it necessary for me to emphasize the position which I then endeavoured to place before honorable members. There is another matter to which I desire to refer. When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was addressing the Committee last night, honorable members, including myself, made some pertinent interjections, which apparently led the honorable member to believe that we were glorying in the fact that Victoria was losing population: I tried at the time to disabusethe honorable member’s mind of any such idea, because I have no desire whatever that Victoria, or any other State of the Commonwealth, should be in any other
but a flourishing position. It would be to the disadvantage, not only of Victoria, but of the whole of the Commonwealth, if that or any other State were retrogressing from the position it occupied at the initiation of Federation; and my hope is that not only Victoria, but the whole of the States, may flourish.
.- The Treasurer took exception to some figures which I submitted when I last addressed the Committee ; ‘but I have since compiled a statement, which I personally submitted to the honorable gentleman and to the Secretary to the Treasury in support of my contention. I trust the Treasurer will agree to the publication of this statement in Hansard, without the necessity of my reading it now.
– I wish the honorable member would in the same way include his speech in Hansard I
– That makes it necessary for me to read the statement, which is as follows -
The position in regard to Tasmania, particularly supports my contention that these debits are entirely in contravention of section 87 of the Constitution. If the Treasurer is entitled to deduct the amount named in the case of that State, there is no reason why he should not deduct any further amount that is necessary for him to make up any deficiency that he finds himself likely to have to meet at the end of the current financial year. I know that this matter will be dealt with by the Treasurers of the various States, and as it is highly important, I felt constrained to ask the indulgence of the Committee in order that the return I have read might appear in Hansard for the purposes of reference. I thank honorable members for permitting ma to make this reply to the Treasurer, who challenged the figures which J submitted a few days since.
– I have listened with interest to the speech on the financial question delivered by the honorable member for Mernda, who I think has struck the right keynote in this debate. He pointed to the raid that is being made on the local money market by the States Treasurers, and the fact that within the next twenty years loans amounting to something like £180,000,000 will mature, and will have to be provided for. That is a vast sum, and the work of making adequate provision for the redemption of those loans will require careful handling on the part of the Treasurers and financial experts geneTally. The advice which the honorable member for Mernda has tendered is well worthy of consideration. We ought certainly to attack the problem as soon as possible, and endeavour to arrive at a speedy solution. It is not a purely State or Federal question. It is one in which the whole of the people are vitally interested, and we shall not arrive at a satisfactory basis of settlement unless we deal with it from that stand-point. The Treasurer has intimated that we shall have an opportunity later in the session to deal with the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, and that his reference to the question in his Budget statement was only an incidental one. Having regard to the contributions te the debate which it has drawn from the honorable member for Mernda, the honorable member for Koovong, and several others, I cannot help thinking that it was well timed. I do not pose as an authority on high finance, and I shall leave the question for future consideration. There is one matter to which I desire to make special reference, inasmuch as it relates more particularly to the party to which I have the privilege to belong. The leader of trieLabour Party, in speaking to this question, made some sarcastic references to the change of front on the part of some of those who stand before the electors as anti- Socialists. Those honorable members now wish to hold1 up the placard of moderate Socialism. They claim to be the pioneers of everything; in the nature of Socialism which they are pleased to describe as “ sensible “ and wish, to brand the Labour Party as extreme ai.’d unreasonable Socialists.
– The honorable member claims to be a moderate Socialist?
– I do not claim to be a Socialist. I belong, not to any socialistic organization, but to’ the Labour Party, and that is good enough for me. In the heat of political battle a great deal is said that perhaps in calmer momentswould be considerably modified, but it cannot be denied that a frontal attack has beenmade on the Labour movement. An attempt has been made to prove that it is intimately allied with the worst phases of Continental Socialism. I do not hesitate to say that with that class of Socialism no honorable member of our party is in sympathy. An attempt has been made tosaddle the Labour Party with every possible enormity. It has been urged that the members of it would destroy the Christian religion, abolish the marriage tie, and do away with all the accepted principles of our modern civilization. It was reserved to the honorable^ member for Parramatta, however, to charge our party with being in sympathy with the teachings of Malthus.
– That is incorrect.
– Then what was the object of the honorable member’s reference to that matter?
– I shall explain intwo minutes if the Chairman will permit me to do so.
– I shall be glad to give the honorable member an immediate opportunity to explain the matter,, because I desire to clear the Labour Party of the charge that it favours the teachings of Malthus.
– I am much obliged to the honorable member for Calare for permitting me this explanation. If the honorable member will read the report of my speech he will find that I was speaking in reply to statements by his leader and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who certainly made some very pointed references to the party with which I am associated, as holding Malthusian premises. Nothing has been said about the Malthusian remedies. They :have not been touched upon by either side. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, however, was at infinite pains, with the approval of his leader, to give a statement of the Malthusian premises, and -to try by implication to fasten them on to our party.
– Malthus never advocated any remedies.
– I believe neither “in his remedies nor his premises. Speaking in reply, I quoted from an article in the Sydney Worker a statement to the effect that in Japan - and the writer of that article declared that he was stating the case for the Labour movement in Australia
– For the Socialist movement, not for the Labour movement.
– I am speaking of his claims which -are set out in the Worker. He made a statement that in Japan Malthusianism was practically an accomplished fact. I made this comment, and only this : that if a charge of accepting the Malthusian premises could lie anywhere it would seem on the authority of the statement, to lie more properly in the Labour corner than on the Opposition side of the House. As a matter of fact, I ‘…. never believed that the honorable member’s party favours such doctrines. But when we are attacked in that way the honorable member will forgive me it I, on the other hand, try to defend my own party from any such implication or inference.
– I should like also to make a personal explanation. I said when speaking on the Budget, that charges of immorality were made against the Labour Party at the last general election by candidates standing in opposition to us, and who declared that we were prepared to violate the sanctity of the home, to destroy altars, and so forth. I stated also that our opponents then quoted against is assertions made in other countries, not by exponents of the Labour platform, but by representatives of other phases of thought, and that I thought I should be meting out equal justice by quoting the definition of individualism given by Malthus.
The honorable member for Robertson challenged the accuracy of my reference to Malthus, and denied that such a statement had ever been published. I was able later on to turn up the reference and to hand it to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who spoke next day, with the result that he was able to absolutely prove everything that I had said on the subject.
– I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether it is in accordance with the Standing Orders for personal explanations to be introduced during an honorable member’s speech?
– I would remind the honorable member that we are now in Committee, and that the Standing Orders impose no restraint on honorable members in regard to the number of times they speak in the course of a debate.
– I am glad that we have had these explanations since they will enable me to deal with this matter from a different aspect than I should otherwise have done. I should not have attempted to introduce this subject but for my desire to correct a false impression that the editor of the Sydney Worker indorsed the articles to which reference has been made. In an introductory note published in the Worker the week before the appearance of the first of those articles the editor disclaimed any responsibility or ‘them. He wrote -
The Worker has arranged for the early publication of a series of articles upon Australian Socialism. They are written by a keen student of social problems who brings to his task a well-trained mind and independent judgment. The Worker will not indorse every line of the articles, but prints them as a valuable addition to the scanty literature of Australian Socialism.
– And then those articles are boomed all over Australia as “ The Rising Tide.” Surely all that does not mean nothing.
– The honorable member is scarcely fair. The editor of the Worker went on to state in this introductory note that he hoped to be able to publish the first article in the following issue. The honorable member charged me deliberately with having suppressed something that appeared in that statement.
– Only the last sentence.
– That was simply an intimation that the editor hoped to publish the first article in the next issue.
– I do not mean that sentence.
– The honorable member charged me with having suppressed something vital to my explanation that the editor of the Worker did not indorse every line of the articles which he was publishing. Now the honorable member says that these articles are boomed as “ The Rising Tide “ ; but that is their title. They are an exposition of Australian Socialism by a writer who is not imbued with the theories of Malthus, and who shows, by an extract from Darwin, that the principles of that philosopher do not apply in Japan or elsewhere. The articles were written bv a leading professor in one of the universities of the Commonwealth, a gentleman, who, by his scholarly attainments, and his keen study of social questions here and in the old world, is qualified to speak with authority.
– I regard the articles as very able.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say so. I do not see the point of his attack on the members of the party in reference to the first article published.
– The honorable member, if he reads my speech again, will find that he has misinterpreted my remarks.
– I am very sorry. Had not the honorable member accused me of suppression, when I was endeavouring to set the Committee right as to facts, I should not have referred to the matter. Malthus has been described as a leading thinker on the individualistic side in economics.
– I showed in my Speech that we, on this side, began by disproving his doctrines, and put constructive individualism on a proper basis.
– Malthus has played a considerable part in forming English opinion on economic questions, and his doctrines have prevented Governments from dealing properly with grave questions affecting social conditions and the lives of the people. They were published at a time when England was becoming disturbed bv the radical teachings of France. He was welcomed by the wealthy and privileged classes as a sort of prophet.
– He was a minister of religion.
– Yes, and had a cure of souls, living and dying in the odour of sanctity. But the result of his teachings is that England is now fifty years behind where it would have been had they not interfered with her political progress. Malthus laid down, as his guiding principle, the thesis that population, when unchecked, increases in geometrical ratio, whereas the means of subsistence increase only in arithmetical ratio, and that, therefore, demand must exceed supply, and misery and degradation ensue. He says that these two great natural forces must bi kept equal, and speaks of checks upon the increase of population. He says that the avoidance of irregular gratification may be called moral restraint, and in the passage quoted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, speaks of Nature’s mighty forces and the “ uninvited guest “ in these words -
A man who is/ born into a world already possessed, if he cannot get subsistence from his parents on whom he has a just demand, and if the society do not want his labour, has no claim or right to the smallest portion of food, and, in fact, has no business to be where he is. At Nature’s mighty feast there is no vacant cover for him. She tells him to be gone, and will quickly execute her own orders.
That passage appeared in the second edition of the Essays on the Principles of Population, revised and enlarged by the author; but was omitted, with others which were considered objectionable, from succeeding editions, though Malthus did not recede from his position. When Sir Robert Peel brought in his poor law reform, Malthus was one of his strongest opponents, contending that poor laws depress the general conditions of the poor, by assisting to increase population without increasing food supplies, diminishing the share of the worker. He went on to argue that they contribute to raise the prices of provisions and to lower the prices of labour. The honorable member for Parramatta says that neither he nor his party hold similar views, but the honorable member for Yarra to-day substantiated the statement which was denied by the President of the Federal Employers’ Union, that its paid agent intimated that it is not an obligation of the capitalist to enable his employes to marry, marriage being a luxury, in the nature ° of “ long-sleevers ‘ ‘ and theatres.
– What have we to do with that?
– The fact shows that there is still a leaven of Malthusian doctrine in the views promulgated by organizations supporting the party to which the honorable member belongs. Coming to another matter, I have here the September number of that eminently respectable publication, the Westminster Review, in which an article “ Socialism through biological spectacles,” by Bernard Houghton, takes pride of place. I commend it to those who say that Socialists harbor the ideas which the honorable member for Parramatta properly describes as “devilish” and “ghoulish.” The writer says -
If there is one point more than another concerning Socialism, which is impressed on us - is impressed on us with studied irritation - it is the right of all human beings to employment - “ From each according to his powers, to each according to his wants,” is, perhaps, not strictly the utterance of a Socialist, but similar shiboleths are amongst the commonplaces of Socialism. “ Every infant that came into the world,” say Morris and Bax, “ would be born into full citizenship, and would enjoy all its advantages, whatever the conduct of its parents might be.” Or, again, what can be clearer than the statement of Deville - “ The support of children will no longer depend on the chance of birth. Like their instruction, it will become a charge of society.”
Then follows this paragraph, to which I direct the honorable member’s special attention -
Now, Malthus will have lived in vain, the numerous examples drawn by him from the history of the world in general, and from that of England prior to the Poor Law Reform of 1834, will have fallen on deaf ears if such principles as these, which abrogate all responsibility of adults for their offspring, are ever translated into actuality. The swiftness of increase in population under a civilized Government, that is to say under the so-called capitalistic regime, is, in fact, often lost sight of ; it has to be actually verified to be believed. . . . The main fact, indeed, stands out clearly enough, namely, that under a civilized Government, given security of life and property, and an assured abundance of food for the parents and their offspring, the population will increase with a most embarrassing rapidity. The difficulties, miseries, and perils springing from such a condition, form one of the most obvious obstacles which confront the enthusiastic Socialist.
The honorable member for Parramatta will therefore see that the doctrines of Malthus. either here or in the Old Country, are not quite so dead as he imagines. On which side of the great line which divides modern civilization into two camps - the camp on the side of social humanitarian reform, or the camp who believe that things as they are are the best that can be ob tained - does the honorable member really believe that the truth lies? The teachings of Malthus, although not so powerful as they were at the outset in the Old Country, are still a factor to be reckoned with. The honorable member for Dalley was good enought to remind me that Malthus was a member of the church. When the great capitalistic East India Company founded a college for the training of its cadets in England, the man appointed as first professor of the chairs of history and economic thought was the Reverend Mr. Malthus. He occupied that position from 1807 until 1834 - a considerable period.
– Does not the honorable member think that the advertisements issued bv the employing classes, asking for married couples without families afford the best evidence of their sympathy with the teachings of Malthus?
– I know that a great section of the employing class act on the principles laid down by their paid agent, and that as soon as a man employed on a station marries, and begins to get a family around him, he is speedily asked to look elsewhere for employment, his place being taken by some one who is not so’ encumbered. With respect to the question of applying Socialism, which is the very opposite to the doctrines of Malthus, I am reminded of the severe attack made on the Labour movement at the last general election. I am reminded also of a statement by the late Lord Salisbury, one of the Prime Ministers of England, who had a long experience of the public life of the Empire, and knew all its movements, and all its tricks. He is credited with having said, speaking of the wealthy and privileged class in England, a class which to alarge extent is the ruling class there, that -
The classes ‘ never join issue on a measure which hits them hard in order to beat you onthat. They prefer to select other matters on which they appeal to prejudice, and to upset you on a matter to which they think the masses will be indifferent.
That fairly correctly expresses the attitude of the anti-Socialists towards the Labour movement of Australia. At the beginning of the last election campaign little, if any,, of their attack was directed to the programme put forward bv the Labour Party. Labour candidates were rather charged with being Socialists, and all the prejudice of ignorance was appealed to in order to turn public feeling against the Labour movement, with, I am bound to admit, a considerable degree of success. At the beginning of my political campaign I’ heard the Labour Party charged with being hostile to the Christian religion, with being actuated by a desire to destroy the marriage tie, and the relations of the home and family, to divide up accumulated wealth every Saturday night and have a good carouse. Those statements appeared to me so utterly ridiculous as to be’ unworthy of serious attention on a public platform, but I found as I progressed that it was no small matter but a real issue that had to. be fought. The anti-Socialists, adopting the tactics of the class interests of the Old World as described by Lord Salisbury, were able by those means to score to an extent that would not have been possible had they confined their attack to a fair, straight-out fight with the principles espoused by the Labour movement. Since then the people have had an opportunity to think. Attention has been directed to the teachings of leading socialistic thinkers, with the result that the public generally have become better informed than they were then. We now find a number of declared anti-Socialists, who came into this Parliament with the one objective of fighting all forms of Socialism, announcing that they are Socialists. They claim that practically every one is a Socialist, but the line of demarcation that they draw is that there are two kinds of Socialists in the world - the sensible, or moderate, and the extreme. Thev belong, they say, to the moderate and sensible section, while the men who owe allegiance to the Labour movement are the extremists, of whom the public would be well advised to be afraid.
– The honorable member says that he is not a Socialist.
– I do not claim to be a Socialist. I do not belong to a socialistic organization. I belong to the Labour movement. If the honorable member says . that that movement is socialistic, then, if he is right, I am a Socialist.
– The honorable member’s late leader said that it was a sine qua non that a man should be a Socialist before he could enter the Labour movement.
– That is a very interesting phase of the question. I wish to call honorable members’ attention to the utterances of some leading thinkers on the subject of Socialism. First, I wish to quote the views of the leader of the Opposition. He had a good deal to say about the question during the last election, and repeated a lot of stuff compiled by the Women’s National League. There is, of course, a considerable difference between the leader of the Opposition and a large number of other honorable members, in that he is a humorist, and most of us, unfortunately, are not so gifted. One of the troubles with a political humorist is that, like the spring poet, he wants a lot of licence, and picturesqueness often counts for more than actual statements of fact. 1 prefer to regard the right honorable member for East Sydney from that stand-point. At one time he was infected with the microbe of Socialism, or alleged Socialism, to some extent, because early in the Federation, when the relative merits of free-trade and protection were under discussion, and the point was raised as to how the establishment and development of industries could be encouraged, he committed himself at Toowoomba to the following position : -
If industries cannot be established without protection let the Commonwealth Government establish them, because we can be quite sure of the conditions of the factories, of proper wages being paid, and decent hours being kept. There would be no one to sweat, because there would be no one to make a profit.
He afterwards practically repeated that in the House. In the great anti-socialistic campaign that he led at the last general election, it was reported that -
Mr. Reid, speaking at Terang, in Victoria, said the doctrine of the Socialist was in contradiction to the first commandment, and was in effect, “If thou cannot win any “prize in the race, share and share alike with those who can - let those who have not divide with those who have. Do not sacrifice thyself “for the sake of others, but sacrifice others for the sake of thyself.”
The honorable member for South Sydney, who then represented Bland, was called upon to reply to that statement. His reply was very neat. He referred to Exodus, chapter xx., 18, and chapter xxiii., t which I leave honorable members to turn up for themselves. The texts were very appropriate. I wish to refer honorable members to an undoubted authority, Professor Kirkup, whose article on Socialism in the Encyclopaedia, Britannica contains the following : -
The ethics of Socialism axe closely akin to the ethics of Christianity - if not identical with them.
Professor Laveleye, Professor of Political Economy at the Liege University, stated in an essay -
Every Christian who understands and earnestly accepts the teaching of his Master is at heart a Socialist, and any Christian who opposes what is commonly known as Christian Socialism misunderstands Christ or Socialism, or both.
I next refer to Professor F. D. Maurice, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Cambridge some years ago -
The watchword of Socialism is co-operation. The watchword of anti-Socialism is competition. Any one who recognises the principle of cooperation as a stronger, a truer principle than that of competition has the right to the honour or the disgrace of being called a Socialist.
Another leading authority is Professor Woodward, who has written a very valuable treatise on this subject -
The two ideals presented by the Socialist’s programme and the Christian Church are not essentially inconsistent, for in the perfect state each includes the other. The fundamental demand of Christianity is to love Cod; but the second is like unto it : “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And Socialism, however its teachings may be distorted, has its real hold to-day on the open public misery of individual suffering which is both produced by and in turn produces degraded moral conditions.
– Doss the honorable member subscribe to all those opinions?
– I quote the extracts as against those who represent Socialism as anti-Christian- as opposed to the tenets of the Christian religion. The gentlemen I have quoted have studied the question, as neither I, nor, perhaps, a number of other honorable members have had the opportunity to do; and they are certainly in a” better position than is the right honorable member for East Sydney to. express an opinion as to the real essence of the teachings of Socialism.
– The honorable member is defending Socialism, and yet he says he is not a Socialist !
– I think it only fair that this presentation of the case should be considered. Though «I do not belong to the community, if is only justice to show what the teachings of the community are. I should like to refer honorable members to a report of the proceedings of the Lambeth Conference of the Church of England, held as far back as 1888, when this question was considered, and when a Committee was appointed to deal with it. The Chairman of that Committee was no less a person than the well-known and respected Bishop Moorhouse, formerly of this ‘State, while one of the members was a prelate well known in my own State, the Rev. Dr. Barry. The definition of
Socialism arrived at by that Committee was -
Any scheme of social reconstruction may be called Socialism which aims at uniting labour and the instruments of labour (land and capital), whether by means of the State or of the’ cooperation of the poor.
Later on, the Fabian Society, which is more academical, in a report in 1896, defined Socialism as -
Socialism, as understood by the Fabian Society, means the organization and conduct of nil the necessary industries of the country, and the appropriation of all forms of economics, rent of land, and capital by the nation as a whole through the most suitable public authorities, parochial, and municipal, provincial or central.
– The honorable member is not saying that he believes in those definitions.
– It does not follow ; at present I am giving various definitions of Socialism. A later definition has been given by a practical politician, Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald, who is not unknown in Australia, in his little) work Socialism and Society -
Socialism is a theory of individualism in which the individual is regarded as being in organic relationship with his fellows in the community, and in which, consequently, the State, the community, and the individual are seen to be pursuing the same ends.
That is the definition of a leading politician on the social reform side in the British House of Commons. I now come to the question - What is not Socialism? The honorable member for Lang desired to show that certain State enterprises, such as railways, tramways, and so on, do not give expression to socialistic thought, and that, therefore, anti-Socialists are not to be regarded as inconsistent if they supported such enterprises.
– That is what honorable members opposite call “safe” Socialism.
– This shows the progress honorable members opposite are making. I suppose that the honorable member for Parramatta, who, I regret to say, is not present, will accept the honorable member for Parkes as a leading political thinker, and an authority on antiSocialism, and will admit that he is now on the same side of politics as himself. The honorable member for Parkes, during the last elections, had some criticism to offer on his own party ; and he is reported in the public press as follows -
Mr. Reid has recently expressed approval of the recommendation of the Old-age Pensions Commission, which is distinctly socialistic Com- pulsory arbitration, which Mr. Reid supported rn the Federal Parliament, is unmistakeably a socialistic measure. His own Sea Carriage of Goods Act was equally socialistic j and he has always failed to give the true anti-socialistic answer to the argument in regard to the railway and tramway and telephones being already State socialistic functions, namely, that he is prepared to see them placed in the hands of private enterprise as in Great Britain and the United States.
That is the opinion of an anti-Socialist, who looks on this question purely from the individual stand-point, and he occupies an important place in the councils of the party to which the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Robertson, and the honorable member for Lang belong.
– They were not “ playing marbles “ then 1
– I understand there was some difficulty at -that time, because the honorable member for Parkes did not like the trimming of his anti-socialistic-, friends in regard to the socialistic operations I have indicated. -Then, during the last elections, the honorable member for Robertson had a good deal to say, in the way of adverse criticism, of Socialism, and yet to-day we find him charging the Labour Party with not living up to their objective. The honorable member for Parkes tells us that, if we wish to be practical anti- Socialists, we must be prepared to hand over to private enterprise railways, tramways, and so forth ; and that is not all. I remember that, just prior to the last general election, a Conference of the Employer’s’ Federation, held in’ Adelaide, was addressed by a number of representative men, including politicians. One of’ these was Mr. Brentnall, of the Legislative Council in Queensland, who showed how modern Socialism had evolved. The first step, he said, was payment of members, the second was adult suffrage, and the third was arbitration, or interference by legislation, in industrial matters. These he laid down as the main planks’ of Australian Socialism; and if the honorable member for Parramatta asks me if 1 indorse all the extracts I have read, I ask if he indorses the state-‘ ment of his colleague, the honorable member for Parkes, namely, that if we are truly anti-socialistic we ought to hand, over our railways and tramways to private enterprise, as in England and America. Having asked the honorable member that question, I atn prepared to say that, if old-age pensions be an expression of Socialism, I am a Socialist. If the regulation of trade to which he takes exception - if adult suffrage, payment of members, and legislation for the settlement of industrial disputes are expressions of Socialism - than I am to that .extent- a Socialist. ‘ But the Labour movement is not tied to any one economic thinker. The Labour Party do not regard the writings of any particular economic thinker in the light of Holy Writ, that cannot- err. They are prepared to take from the writings of Adam Smith, Carey, McCulloch, Ricardo, Stuart Mill, or any. other of the standard economic teachers, or from the writings of Karl Marx, Henry George, and others on the socialistic side, anything that appears to them to be desirable, and in harmony with fact, and to work for its realization. They formulate their platform, and the party is wide enough to comprise within its scope all who are at one as to the desirableness of carrying into effect a policy of practical politics. They do not look merely to the theories of political writers; they turn rather to the practical side. Their place in the political world is not merely to advance theories, but to do something practical to uplift humanity. Although at times our party- may make mistakes, they are prepared to remedy them. Who suffers most from mistaken legislation? Is it the man with the well-filled pocket, the man with large landed interests, or the man who has great wealth- at his command ? Do any of them suffer from legislative mistakes as much as does the man who has to depend upon his muscle for his livelihood, who has to fight for his. position amongst his fellow men, whose existence is on the verge of starvation? Mistaken legislation must vitally affect such men. All that the Labour movement seeks to do is to give such men the birthright that they have been denied, and which they can never hope to get as long as. advocates, of the teachings of Malthus and those who fortify the position they take up by such teachings prevent them from obtaining it. Even in the Old Country, with all the advances that it has made, there are thousands of men, as well as the whole of the women folk of the. community, who are denied a voice in the determination of who shall make the laws of the land. The first principle we lay down is that every man and woman is to be considered a human being, equal in the sight of man, as well as in the sight of God,, and that all should have an opportunity to determine what remedial . legislation should be undertaken for the uplifting pf humanity. Look at the condition of affairs in the days of .Malthus. England was then _ in the throes of poverty, die like of which, has never since befallen her. Thousands of her people were dying of starvation by the roadside. The only remedy which the wealthy at that time could offer them was the damnable, devilish doctrine of Malthus - they could only . tell them that their Creator was practically responsible for their misery and degradation. We happily have ‘ been able to remedy that state of affairs, and to-day we -have reached such a standard that the anti-Socialists, who are looked upon as the hope of the Conservatives, not only in Australia, but in the Old Country, have to throw the teachings of Malthus to the winds, when the test of intelligence and fact is applied. I welcome this further indication of progress on the part of those who took up that line of thought, and .who to-day are prepared to accept certain State operations, that have_ proved serviceable to the general community,- even if they do come under- the heading of Socialism, and are condemned as such. Within the small space of three years, honorable members who went before the electors and denounced the Labour Party and the social reform movement as socialistic - who denounced the Labour Party as being’ animated with hostility to Christianity and to modern civilization - are prepared to claim that they are sensible Socialists. I hope that their good sense will grow, and that the time will speedily come when they will Be prepared to support legislation which will remedy - as far as we can hope ‘ by legislation to remedy - the conditions that destroy the lives of innumerable fellow creatures.
– What about the antiChristian socialistic Sunday school at Broken Hill, established by Tom Mann, the Labour organizer of the honorable member’s party?
– He is not.
– If the honorable member will give a moment’s consideration to the attitude which the party he represents takes up towards a great number of the poor unfortunate people who are ground down under harsh conditions, he will find himself wondering why so many can look beyond the mere instruments of the Christian religion to the Great Founder of that religion, and still have faith in it, despite the contradictory lives and actions of many of its professed teachers. I know that the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member’ for Parramatta, and others, were at one time in this movement
– But never associated with the irreligious portion of it.
– They have turned their backs on it. But I ask them to exercise a little Christian sentiment in dealing with those who remain in the party, even if they do believe that they are mistaken. Let them -credit them with not being actuated by base and degraded motives.
– The honorable member might himself exercise a little of that spirit.
– I am prepared to do so.
– There is no evidence of that.
– I am prepared to welcome the honorable member’s advance along the line of progress. I remember with considerable gratitude the pioneer work undertaken by him as leader of the Labour Party at a time when he was considered to be its rising star. The opinions to which he then gave utterance constitute some of the best propaganda work that the movement has to-day. I only regret that he cannot see his way to continue along the same line. That, however, is his business, and not mine. I respect his opinions.
– I am not aware of any change. If the honorable member’s party choose to jump about, I cannot help it.
– The honorable member must have been made aware in some mysterious way of a marvellous change on the part of some of his old opponents who now sit behind him and are looking to him as an armour-bearer in their great fight against the social reform movement’. I well remember the time when the honorable member for Lang was a leading advocate of the single tax. In those days the Conservative forces of New South Wales regarded the single tat as the great opponent they had to fight. The single-taxers then occupied in the political world much the same position as the Labour Party occupy to-day. There was nothing that the Conservatives could say of the honorable member that w.as too bad. I believe that he is still honest and earnest in his advocacy of the single tax, but he has fallen amongst the Philistines, and when my honorable friend and those who think with him seek to push their single tax theories to the front again, they will find that their strongest opponents are those who sit with them to-day.
– I candidly believe that the. honorable member is far more canny politically than is the honorable member for Lang.
– I have had a little experience. When I last visited my electorate, I was shown one of what appeared to be a series of “ chain letters “ that were in circulation there at the last elections. These chain letters are a new method of political warfare. The substance of the letter - I do not give its exactwords - was this : “I know that you have been a great supporter of the Labour movement and of Mr. Brown. So have I. But he is no longer a free-trader and a Labour man. He has joined the Socialists, as they are termed in Germany, a body opposed to the Christian religion and to good government. In France they are called Communists.; in Russia, Nihilists; in Ireland, Fenians, while behind the movement- are the Jesuits,’- who wish to dominate the world. If ever they do, then good-bye to religious and civil freedom.” The writer, who is well known to me, was perfectly honest, and did not originate those views. But his credulity having been traded upon he was made the’ vehicle of their expression by others opposed to the labour movement. I have discovered that good religious people, who would not originate a lie, such as that men like myself wish to break down the Christian religion or to loosen the marriage tie, will take advantage of - one, by repeating it, salving their - consciences by saying that they are not its authors, and that no moral responsibility attaches to them in its repetition. The honorable member for Yarra has referred to the Malthusian opinions expressed by the paid agent of the Employers Federation. The matter is dealt with in the Age of 1st December last. Mr. Hewison, who claimed to be one of the originators of the Women’s National Association, but who had evidently got into its black books, said, in addressing a meeting, that he had done the preliminary work of organization, but that the League had afterwards employed some one who had changed the whole tone of its political work, so that, instead of opposing Socialism, on individualistic and economic grounds, it was trying to injure the Labour Party by, asserting that its members would loosen the marriage tie and destroy religion. He said that he ha.d told the League that these tactics were a mistake, and if persisted in would not be successful. He was asked to see Janet, Lady Clarke, on the matter and she told him that this cry- was thought to be a good one, and that it should be repeated. She said, “ We wish to stick to it, and. as we do not want to lose your services either, we ask you to hold your tongue about it.
– Some of the members of the -League repeated the charge at the Sydney Conference lately.
– The honorable member objects to be identified with the statements of Mr. Tom Mann and Me Brisbane Worker.
– I. repudiate the extreme statements of my own side; but the leader of the Opposition, prior to the last general election, repeated all over New South Wales statements such as those I have objected’ to.
– That is not so. He certainly did not’ repeat the charges about the marriage tie.
– He repeated others.
Mr. -Dugald Thomson. - What are they?
– I have no wish to be unfair; my statements are correct. It has been said quite recently that the Labour- Party has never repudiated this charge ; but at a Conference held’ in Melbourne, .in 1905, the following resolution was carried on the motion of Mr. D. McDonald, M.L-A..,. of New South Wales, seconded by the Reverend Mr. Culliford -
That this Conference repudiates with indignation the charge levelled against the Australian Labour movement- of endeavouring to weaken the sanctity of the -marriage tie, ‘and to sap the foundations of religious belief. And we furthermore declare it to be our ‘firm conviction that the success of our efforts to improve the national condition of the community will result in the elevation and not in the degradation of marriage, and enable the sublime teachings of the Founder of Christianity to be brought home as a living reality to the vast number to whom in the misery* and privation which society as now constituted has engulfed them, they remain but mere abstractions.
I do not charge the members of the antiSocialist party with having pursued the tactics of the Women’s National Association; but they should tell the Association that it is not using weapons which will ultimately advance its cause, The honorable member for Flinders gave these ladies very wholesome advice when, at their recent Conference in Sydney, he told them that they should accept the fact that the misery anddegradation against which the Labour movement is a protest exists, and should do something practical to alleviate it. When they try to do so they will unlearn a good deal of their anti- Socialism and learn something of Socialism.
– Yet many members of the Labour Party have branded the honorable and learned member for Flinders as a reactionary.
– They may have grounds for doing so. His advice on that occasion” was, however, very seasonable. I reiterate that the Labour movement is not bound by any set of political writers or thinkers. It has its own special programme, which it puts before the community for approval or rejection, and which it is prepared to stand by. It is ready to learn from all writers. The objective lays down that it is the purpose of the party, as. I hope it will be of all parties, to cultivate a healthy patriotic feeling among the Australian people. Even that statement has been misconstrued, and some honorable members . assume that people cannot be patriotic towards Australia and at the same time patriotic towards the. Empire. They think that Australian patriotism necessarily spells antiImperialism, but the man who has not learned to be patriotic to Australia, which he claims as the land of his’ birth or adoption, does not know the A BC of patriotism to the Empire. The next statement in the objective is that the party shall aim at nationalizing those great industrial functions which are in danger of becoming monopolistic, and which affect such large sections of the community. The Labour Party prefer to have those functions controlled in the interests of the community rather than for the profit of private enterprise. In that connexion the party take no action without consulting the community. The stamp of approval must be placed by the people on any project for nationalizing an industry or monopoly. The programme under which the party is working during the lifetime’ of this Parliament may be briefly summarized as follows : - The maintenance of a White Australia; nationalization of monopolies ; oldage and invalid pensions ; Tariff referendum; progressive land tax; restriction of public borrowing; navigation laws; citizen
Defence Force; and Arbitration Act Amendment. The scheme put forward by the last Inter-State Congress for the next Parliament will, if adopted by the dif- ferent State Congresses, be as follows-
– It has not to be approved by the State Congresses in this instance. It is binding if carried by a two-thirds majority.
– The State bodies will have something to say with regard to it, and their views willhave weight with the members for the different States. The programme for the next Parliament, if adopted, will be. The maintenance of a White Australia; new protection; nationalization of monopolies; graduated tax on unimproved land’ values; citizen Defence Force ; Commonwealth bank ; restriction of public borrowing; navigation laws, and Arbitration) Act amendment. With regard to the proposal for a National Bank, the honorable member for Darwin has done immense service to the party and to the community generally. He has presented a scheme by which Commonwealth and States can combine to establish a strong National Bank that will conduct the financial operations of both, and be a sound recipient of the earnings of the great toiling masses of the community. In the newspapers of yesterday or to-day I read that a similar institution in New Zealand has lent the enormous sum of £9,000,000 for the development of the Dominion since it was established, and has never lost a penny. There are many other directions in which an institution of this kind could exercise valuable functions for the community. Unfortunately, the private banks are capitalistic corporations, from whose operations the small men, especially the small land-holders, suffer severely. The whole tendency of their policy is to make the small estate part and parcel of the large estate, and it is largely because of their operations that we are faced with the present land monopoly and settlement difficulties. I hope that this matter will receive attention from members in all parts of the House, and that as an. outcome of it the Commonwealth will have at no distant date a strong National Bank that will be representative of Commonwealth, and States, work harmoniously, and discharge important functions for the development and progress of the community.
– The Government ought to agree to report progress -at this stage without closing the Budget debate, as the honorable member for Darwin, who has gone to an immense amount of trouble in preparing a speech, has gone away in the belief that the honorable member for Calare would occupy all the afternoon. The honorable member for Darwin is the- only other member who desires to speak, and it would be a pity for the Government to shut him out.
– We must get on with business. The honorable member will have another opportunity.
– He cannot have another opportunity in a full financial de”bate. The honorable member for Calare cut his speech down by half this afternoon, and no one expected that the debate would be brought to a conclusion so suddenly. The honorable member for Darwin has given as much attention to the financial question as has any other honorable member, and has some valuable information to place before the House. He has been consulting with the Treasury officials to work out calculations which will be of great value to us.
– He will have his chance.
– That is by no means certain. There is not likely to be another financial debate this session.
– It is time we got on with business.
– The honorable member and those with him have had their say. Only the other evening honorable members on that side were making arrangements to keep the debate going in’ order to allow one of their members to speak. I was approached in the same way.
– Is that the time that the members of the honorable member’s party were on the chain and tonguetied ?
– That is like the bulk of tha honorable member’s misrepresentations. I can only say that the honorable member for Darwin has helped the Treasurer on a number of occasions.
– The honorable member for Darwin will have his opportunity.
– The Prime Minister now says that the honorable member will be given an opportunity, but the hon.orable gentleman must know that there is no possible opportunity this year.
– I know no such thing.
– With the Defence Bill, and other measures on the notice- paper, we shall have quite enough to do to get through by Christmas; and then, of course, there will be a recess for some months. I enter my protest on. behalf of the honorable member for Darwin, and, apparently, that is all that I can do.
– I understand that the custom is for the Chairman to call alternately on honorable members on either side, and the honorable member for Darwin gave way to me this afternoon, on the understanding that the debate would be adjourned until the beginning of next week. It was in view of that arrangement that I cut my remarks short, knowing as I do that the honorable member for Darwin has gone to considerable trouble in preparing a financial address, with special reference to a Commonwealth bank.
– If I commence and conclude my speech now, I understand that that will terminate the general roving discussion.
– But I desire to speak.
– The honorable member will have his opportunity.
– I have already had an example of the Treasurer’s promises, and I place no reliance on them.
– What is the” hon’orable member’s point of order?
– You, sir, have already ruled that I shall have an opportunity to speak, but the Treasurer has just said that, if he speaks now, the general debate will be closed.
– We are in Committee of Supply, and I. shall follow the instruction of the House, and place the broadest possible interpretation on the Standing Orders in this regard. If the Treasurer speaks now his speech will not close the debate.
– I do not propose to speak at any great length, but only to introduce my remarks, and then ask leave to continue them on Tuesday. I am anxious to close the debate, and in spite of the courteous, kindly, and gentlemanly remark of the honorable member for Hunter, I shall take my own course. My only desire now is to deal with a few figures quoted by the deputy leader of the Opposition. I do not in any way wish to prevent the honorable member for Darwin from speaking. I did not know that there was an arrangement between that honorable member and the honorable member for Calare ; but I know that the honorable member for Darwin this morning told me that his remarks would not be lengthy, and that he would not make them to-day. I take it that, after we have disposed of the first item, honorable members will be confined to the items immediately before the Committee, but I have no objection whatever to the honorable member for Darwin, or the honorable member for Hunter, exercising their full privilege of speaking. Statements were made the other night, mainly by the deputy leader of the Opposition, in regard to the investment of money. With my officers I have taken -I shall not say pride - but considerable credit for not allowing money to lie idle, and on that point the deputy leader of the Opposition said that money had lain for very many months without earning interest, until he had goaded the Government, and compelled, them to invest the money.
– I did not say that at all ; I said that there was some money, which had evidently lain for a long while without earning interest.
– I could have told the honorable member that, with the exception of a few small amounts, handed over to adjust expenditure made by the officer in charge, no payments have been made by the Agents- General until July last. In that month the first payment was made to Captain Collins of the balance of Commonwealth moneys in the hands of the Agents-General in accordance with instructions issued by this Department some time previously. These balances are, approximately : New South Wales, £3,000 ; Victoria, £22,000; Queensland, £2,000; South Australia, £400 ; Tasmania, £400. It is expected that the whole of these amounts will be shortly paid over. These are amounts that have been lying in London in connexion with the accounts between the Commonwealth and the States. In August, 1906, £15,000 was placed on loan to the market. The amount in loan, which varied from time to time, was as follows: -
– They were invested.
– Were they lent on call to swell the market?
– They were lent to the banks so that we might obtain interest upon them.
– Lent on short dates ?
– Yes. In June, 1908, the amount was £74,000, and in August, 1908, £187,000. The rates of interest varied from 1 per cent. to 5½ per cent., and the total amount of interest earned to 31st August, 1908, less commission to the Bank of England, was £7,201 14s.10d. On the 30th June last the trust fund investments amounted to £53,000 and during July £350,000 was placed on fixed deposit. The fixed deposits now total £543,000. Parliament met on the 16th September last, or long after the date when most of that amount was placed on fixed deposit. The honorable member took great credit for having forced the Treasurer, as representing the Government, to invest these amounts, but with the exception of the deposits made within the last month or two the whole of this money was invested before the present session opened.
– Will the honorable member point out where those earnings are shown ?
– They appear in the revenue. I am dealing now with the London Accounts.
– But they do not appear in the accounts.
– I think that I shall be able to point out to the honorable member where they do appear. There are still several other matters to which I wish to refer, but as honorable members are anxious now to catch their trains I propose to continue my remarks on Tuesday next.
Mr. HUME COOK laid upon the table the following paper -
Lands Acquisition Act. - Land acquired under, at Adelong, New South Wales - for postal purposes.
House adjourned at 4.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 October 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19081030_reps_3_48/>.