3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The House met at 2.30 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor- General .
The Clerk read the proclamation.
Mr. Speaker took the chair, and read prayers.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly.
– To assert the inherent right of the House to proceed with business before taking into consideration the speech which has been delivered by His Excellency the Governor- General, I move -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the imposition, assessment, and collection of a progressive land tax upon unimproved values.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the second reading be made an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
– Is there nothing in the Standing Orders to prevent the passing of this Bill through all its stages in one day ?
– It is the parliamentary custom to introduce a Bill at this stage, but not to proceed further than its first reading.
– I understand that this is a purely formal measure?
– The introduction of a Bill at this stage is in accordance with parliamentary forms.
– Is it customary to fix the second reading of a formal Bill at this stage?
– It is customary to fix a date for the second reading of a Bill introduced at this stage. As to what the Bill is, I have not to express an opinion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Audit Acts -
London Account Regulations - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 131.
Treasury Regulations Amended - Clause 96 (f) (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1908. No. 134.
Transfers of Amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council - Financial Year 1908-9 -
Dated 19th December, 1908.
Dated 8th January, 1909.
Dated 9th February, 1909.
Dated 5th March, 1909.
Dated 1st April, 1909
Dated 23rd April, 1909.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1908 respecting Contract Immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Immigration Restriction Acts -
Return showing, for 1908 -
Persons refused admission to the Commonwealth,
Persons who passed the dictation test,
Persons admitted without being asked to pass the dictation test,
Departures of coloured persons from the Commonwealth.
Naturalization Act - Return of number of persons to whom certificates of naturalization were issued during 1908.
Ordinances of 1908 -
No. 12. - Supplementary Appropriation 1908-9, No. 3.
No. 13. - Marine Board.
No. 14. - Pearl and Beche-de-mer.
No. 15- Wild Birds.
No. 16. - Timber.
No. 17: - Supplementary Appropriation 1907- 8.
No. 18. - Supplementary Appropriation 1908- 9, No. 4.
Ordinances of 1909 -
No. 1. - Supplementary Appropriation 1908-9, No. 5.
No. 2. - SupplementaryAppropriation 1908-9, No. 6.
Meteorology Act - Provisional Regulations re Sale of Publications - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 5.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under at -
Coff’s Harbor, New South Wales- For Postal purposes.
Enoggera, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Kyamba, New South Wales - For Commonwealth purposes.
Newcastle, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Singleton, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Wentworth Falls, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Yass, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Land at Shark’s Bay, Western Australia, leased to State Government.
Public Service Act -
List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service,1st January, 1909.
Recommendations in cases of Appointments, in the Department of Home Affairs, of-
Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Nos. 138, 262, 145, 146 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 125.
No. 41 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 6
Nos. 156, 257-61 - Statutory Rules 1909,
Nos. 209, 213 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 45.
Regulations Amended -
Nos. 138, 262, 145, 146 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 26.
No. 41 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 50.
Bounties Act - Regulations (Provisional)
Amended - Statutory Rules1909, No. 49.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulation 6 (2) (a) Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 127.
Customs Act -
Regulation 130 Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 126.
Regulation No.101 Amended - Statutory Rules1909, No. 14.
Excise Act - Sugar Regulation 21 Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 27.
Manufactures Encouragement Act - Provisional Regulations -
Statutory Rules 1909, No. 15.
No. 15- Statutory Rules1909, No. 48
Patents Acts -
Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 2.
Provisional Regulations Amended, Nos.1, 32, &c. - Statutory Rules1909, No.19.
Public Service Act -
Recommendations in cases of appointments, in the Department of Trade and Customs, of -
Sugar Bounty Act - -Regulation 12a (Provisional) - Statutory Rules1909, No. 43.
Public Service Act -
Postmaster-General’s Department -
Recommendations in cases of -
Appointment of -
Durant, J, H., to Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Victoria.
Promotion of -
Brent, T. G., as Senior Inspector,1st Class, Melbourne.
Huffer, H. J., as Senior Inspector, 1st Class, Melbourne.
Howe, P., as Senior Clerk, 2nd Class, Central Staff.
Kayser, J. A. S., as Clerk, 3rd Class, Central Staff.
Vardon, J. C. T., as Chief Clerk, Central Staff.
Williams, F. C, as Accountant, 2nd Class, Brisbane.
Woodland, C., as Inspector, 3rd Class, Queensland.
Post and Telegraph Act -
Regulations Amended, &c. -
Postal - Packets; Parcels Post, as to Posting ; Telephone - Nos. 55, 58 - Statutory Rules 1 908, No. 117.
Telegraphic - Shipping Intelligence, General Postal, No. 17; Parcels Post, Redirection ; Telephone, No. 28 - Statutory Rules1909, No. 24.
No. 80- Statutory Rules1909, No. 37.
No. 23 - Statutory Rules1909, No. 38.
Postal - Registration; General Postal; Miscellaneous - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 42.
Defence Acts -
Provisional Regulations -
Landing of Sailors and Soldiers from Foreign Men-of-War, &c. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 31.
Military Cadet Corps - Regulations Amended R.1-R. 14 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 34.
Military Forces -
Regulations Amended -
Nos. 516,526- Statutory Rules 1908, No. 128.
No. 11 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 129.
Nos. 6, 57, 165. 609-614 - Statutory Rules1909, No. 7.
No. 185 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 8.
No. 564, 567,569,575 - Statutory Rules1909, No.9.
No. 33 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 16.
No. 141 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 17.
Nos. 2, 3, 4 - Statutory Rules,1909, No. 22.
No. 68 - Statutory Rules1909, No. 23.
Nos.179,180, 191 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 25.
No.110a - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 40.
Substitution of “Chief of the General Staff” and “QuartermasterGeneral “ - Statutory Rules1909, No. 4.
Regulation110a Added, and Financial and Allowance Regulation No.98 Amended - Statutory Rules1909, No. 35.
Financial and Allowance RegulationsAmended -
No. 143 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 10.
No. 143 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 12.
No. 64 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 33. Substitution of”Chief of the General Staff “-Statutory Rules1909, No. 3.
Naval Cadet Corps. - Regulations - Statutory Rules1909, No. 28.
Naval Forces -
Regulations Amended -
Nos. 55, 64 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 13.
No. 148- Statutory Rules1909, No. 46.
Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended -
No. 51 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 130.
No. 49 - Statutory Rules1909, No. 39.
The Clerk laid upon the table
Papuan Lands Privately Held - Return to an Order of the House, dated nth December,1908.
– I have to inform the House that, at the summons of His Excellency the Governor- General, I attended in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to deliver his opening speech, of which for greater accuracy I have obtained a copy, though, I presume, it will not be considered necessary for me to read it (vide page 5).
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That a Committee, consisting of Mr. Roberts, Mr. Hall, Mr. Frazer, and Mr. Catts be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to both Houses of the Parliament.
That the Committee do report this day.
The Committee having retired, re-entered the Chamber, and presented the proposed Address-in-Reply, which was read by the Clerk, as follows : -
May it please Your Excellency -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I move -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
I recognise that the Ministry, in doing me the honour of asking me to submit this motion for the consideration and, let us hope, the adoption of the House, followed the ordinary custom of giving that opportunity to the last man to be elected to the Chamber. If, during the course of my remarks,I happen not to follow the custom ordinarily observed in submitting similar motions to the House, I am confident that honorable members will do me the honour of believing, at all events, that the departure is not due to any disrespect for those who have preceded me in discharging a like duty, but is made under the belief that at times a change may be acceptable. The labour movement, if I understand it at all, develops the very highest and best individuality in every man, provided that individuality is compatible with the general good. That is in marked contrast to the form of individuality to which we raise, I hope, reasonable objection - that shown by some persons who acquire wealth by the poverty of their brethren. Consequently, if in submitting this motion. I do not follow the ordinary custom it will be recognised that in my view some slight alteration may be acceptable to honorable members and the responsibility will attach entirely to myself. I should like to express my regret that the honorable member for Kooyong is not with us to-day ; for I sincerely hope that his severe illness will be of short duration, and that we may have the pleasure of soon witnessing his return. I can extend my sympathy also in the direction of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. We remember - some with pleasure, others, perhaps, in no pleasing mood - the able and vigorous address with which he last favoured us, and regret sincerely that he should have been laid aside so long as the result of the energy he then displayed in the conscientious, discharge of his public duties. Let me say that I can conscientiously regret the absence through illness of the honorable member for Kooyong, notwithstanding that we have been recently on opposite sides in respect of an industrial trouble. I take this opportunity of expressing my sincere regret that after the decision of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration the directorate of the Broken Hill Proprietary should have thought fit to victimize certain citizens of Australia for no other reason than that those citizens, acting in conformity with the laws of their country, had taken office in certain associations of workmen. I should not like at this juncture to say anything severe, but I feel that with few exceptions it will be agreed throughout the Commonwealth that such conduct is reprehensible. I hope that unions and associations of workmen, being legal institutions in Australia - and practically throughout the Empire - and their officers therefore entitled to respect and consideration, it will not long remain in the power of any private individual to say that although the law is conformed to - that although the individual has broken no law or rule of his country - he can still be so victimized that the bread is taken from his mouth and the mouths of his wife and children. When I remember the Australian Federation of Employers and remember, too, their black list which circulates throughout the Commonwealth, I cannot but repeat that the victimizing of these citizens’ is most reprehensible. Honorable members will not expect me to cover the whole length and breadth of the Speech with- which His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has been pleased to open Parliament. I have scarce had time to read it-
– Did not the honorable member obtain an advance copy ?
– I have scarcely had time to read it in the light of being able to debate it with the honorable member for Corio. It is possible that in other directions honorable members will not be too severe when they remember that the Speech was read but a few moments ago, and that necessarily one of such a lengthy character, embracing as it does many and important subjects, requires serious and careful consideration. There stand out in it four or five items of marked! importance, to which the attention of honorable members may be briefly directed. I do so, not that I presume that they will follow in my footsteps, but because they appear to me to be of paramount importance. We cannot fail to recognise that the Ministry during the recess have been particularly attentive to their duties.
– - -Travelling round the country.
– Spreading the gospel.
– Spreading sedition.
– I believe that the people of Australia like their public men to tour the Commonwealth ; they like to know and see and understand them, and I am confident that it is the duty of public men to know and understand the people. How is that possible if honorable members remain secluded? But perhaps seclusion becomes some honorable members more than publicity. The Ministry have displayed an energy and determination that future Ministries will desire to emulate. At any rate they have full confidence in the policy that they have submitted, and they have not been lacking in detail in submitting it to the consideration of the country. I wish here to offer in public my congratulations to them for their energy and determination, and for the confidence they have displayed in their policy, and to express the hope that it will not be long before we see that policy put into operation. There stands out in this speech one prominent feature - that Ministers have recognised the obligations of the Commonwealth, and have expressed their intention, as clearly as, I think, it can be put in a speech at the opening of Parliament, that those obligations shall be honorably and fully met. They have shown that, particularly with respect to finance, we shall not in the future, as in the past, be prodigal only to find prodigality in return where the money has been going, while unduly restricting expenditure in national directions where it is urgently required. There is also in the speech a recognition of the value and necessity of taking over the control of the States debts. We have had considerable discussion about the subject, the papers have teemed with proposals regarding it, and past Ministries have been prolific in suggestions, but scarce anything of a concrete character has yet been submitted that is likely to find favour with the people of Australia. I welcome the advent of a Ministry which practically says that it is prepared to take over the States debts, and discloses distinctly the fact that that course will result in a saving of very many millions of pounds annually to Australia. It is regrettable that persons in responsible offices in the various States should, notwithstanding the possible saving, still so persistently refuse the terms offered them, and refuse even to submit proposals of a character likely to be acceptable to the people generally. But if there is one proposal more important than any other, to which we might direct our attention, it is that of immigration, for bound up with it are two other proposals - that of finding land for those who emigrate to our shores, and that of defence. The three questions seem inseparable. Juggle with words, how- you may, decry one proposal how you like, the three are inseparably combined. You cannot with justice to yourselves, or to the immigrants, ask them to come here unless you can give them conditions superior to those they propose to leave - unless you can reasonably say to them that there are in Australia opportunities of employment, for putting their mental and physical abilities into practical operation, so that they may obtain for themselves and those dependent upon them a living a little superior to that to which they have been accustomed in other parts of the world. At this juncture, I regret to note that, while other parties are putting forward prominently the subject of immigration, they are forced at the same time to admit that there is no land available in Australia for immigrants, and that there are thousands of people to-day - bona fide farmers, capable men, born in our own country, with some little capital in addition to their practical experience - hungrily seeking land and unable to obtain it.
– Send them to the West.
– Distant fields are always green. Singularly enough, despite the fact that Victoria has a population of only a little over 1,300,000, people are leaving this State because they cannot obtain land. Does the honorable member assert that the land in this State is being put to proper use when there is no land available? Do we indulge in legislation of a national character? Is it just, is it honorable, is it creditable, shall I say to the Parliament of Victoria, for instance, that her sons, her yeomanry - and in this connexion I. recall the well-known lines -
But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride,
When once destroy’d can never be supplied - should be seeking land in other directions, going east or west as the case may be? The honorable member knows as well as I do that there are millions of acres of land in this State monopolized by a few persons, whose superfluous wealth is not always used in the direction in which it might be used. The honorable member is like others who refuse to put into operation anything of a practical character, and who, when spoken to on this particular subject, invariably say, “ Go east, go west, go somewhere else, but touch not the cancer at hand.” That is practically the situation. Fortunately, however, this Parliament, at any rate, is representative of the whole of Australia, and what shall we say to those men? An honorable member representing a portion of Victoria may say, “Go east,” or “Go west,” but what shall the Federal Parliament say to those who in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, or South Australia, are crying out for land? You can name no land of a suitable character upon which there is a reasonable hope of finding even a pittance and which is put forward by any State Government for application for which the number of applicants does not exceed by scores, by hundreds, the number of available blocks. What shall we in the Federal Parliament say to those men? Can we send them to any particular spot? Shall we not touch the trouble? Shall we not endeavour to put into force legislation that we may reasonably hope will have the effect, not merely in one particular sandy, portion, but over the whole of Australia, of opening up the available lands now monopolized by a few persons, and notput to a truly effective use - of opening them, not only to those whom we have here now, ready and able to occupy them, but also to the thousands who are willing to come here andput their practical experience into use for the benefit of Australia? It seems to me that when honorable members continue to employ cries of that description, say-, ing, “Go east,” or “Go west,” refusing to touch the difficulty in their immediate centres, and looking always at the fields and pastures that are far away, they are neglecting a public duty, and that neglect must reflect seriously upon them, if not at the present moment, at any rate, in the immediate future. I, as a Labour man, am indeed anxious to see the population of Australia increased by men of our own colour - our own kith and kin, I say emphatically, in preference, but men of our own colour, certainly. I believe - indeed, I know - there is room for them in Australia, and that there are opportunities, if our various legislatures but recognise the difficulty and apply the surgeon’s knife. I know that immigrants could be suitably settled on lands to their own benefit, and to the benefit of the Commonwealth, particularly for defensive purposes. And so I say again that the three subjects, while they may come for the moment under different headings, are inseparably bound up with each other, and that immigration is, I shall not say a practical impossibility, but is approaching a crime until we are prepared with lands on which to settle the immigrants - until we have brought about the opening up of those lands, I hope by means of a progressive land tax. Following on that will come the establishment of a defence force of a character likely to meet any attacks that may be made on the Commonwealth. When I look around for anything of a tangible character from the gentlemen who are almost violent in their opposition to a progressive land tax, I find that for a number of years they have been crying out for immigrants - that this has been one of their leading subjects. The honorable member for Ballarat quite recently deplored what he thought was the absence of prominence given to this subject in the speech of the Prime Minister. On looking back over the records I find that for some seven years the honorable member for Ballarat has held office as a Minister of the Crown in the Commonwealth ; and the only practical outcome in this direction is a submission of a proposal to’ the States Premiers or the States Parliaments that they shall provide the lands while the Commonwealth provides the men.
Mr.Batchelor.- And the bulk of the States never replied.
-I do not know whether that be so or not, but they should have had the courtesy to reply, if only in a letter of acknowledgment.
– I am not talking of mere acknowledgments.
– With the States Parliaments constituted as they are - each subject to. and practically in the grip of, a Legislative Council composed of land monopolists - there is no more probability of that proposal being accepted or bearing practical fruit than there is of a man flying from here to England. I venture to suggest that after a trial of some years, and, with a knowledge of how the Legislative Councils are composed - with a knowledge of the bitter and strenuous opposition every Legislative Council has shown to the opening up of the lands on a reasonable basis - it is not merely futile, but it is knowingly playing with the subject of immigration, and with that of the acquisition of land, to put forth such a proposal. It seems to me that the honorable member for Ballarat has frankly acknowledged that the subject of immigration and the land policy are inseparably bound up together ; and that, therefore, it would be neither fair nor honorable to introduce immigrants unless land is available for them. Notwithstanding this, the ears of the public are continually tickled with the same old proposal, which is the only one that those in opposition to the policy of the Labour Party have seen fit to submit; and I repeat that this is not merely futile, but knowingly playing with the subject. I venture to remind the honorable member for Ballarat that, while there is an admission - a frank admission, shall I call it? - that immigrants should not be brought here unless land is available, and that, while there is an amusing proposal submitted to the States Premiers, nevertheless efforts are being made to attract immigrants. It necessarily follows that the persons responsible for this, while they admit that land is not available, are acting neither creditably to themselves nor justly to the immigrants. We have had some very sad illustrations of persons coming to Australia, and finding that the rosy pictures painted by paid advocates in England and elsewhere are not quite “up to sample.” They have found that the stories told, and that the advertisements, as is not uncommon with advertisements, are scarcely borne out in realization. Sad to say, some of those immigrants have returned to the old world ; and I venture to think that the manner in which they will speak will be an advertisement of a character that this country can ill-afford, and will counteract to a verylarge extent the pictures painted by those who are attracting people here, without considering as to what is likely to be their fate on arrival. The recent agitation in a certain direction for immigrants seems to have started some twelve or eighteen months ago. If I remember correctly, a gentleman of the name of Morgan came here from some part of England, as representing the Chamber or Association of Manufacturers; and he distinctly state.d in his public utterances that for the employing section - with whom he was apparently more intimately associated - to be successful, they must have, not merely a sufficiency, but a surplus of labour. Though honorable members may be indifferent to what that means, we ought not to be indifferent to the sufferings of the surplus. If manufactures cannot be carried on unless there be a surplus of labour - which means that a section of human beings shall starve continually, knocking at the door, and asking for employment at whatever wages the owner chooses to give - we are neglecting our duty, and showing an. indifference to suffering which ought not to be countenanced by public men in Australia, at any rate. Only a few days ago I noticed that Dr. Arthur was proceeding to England for the purpose of advocating immigration. That gentleman, with his painting of all manner of patriotic pictures, and urging the need for immigrants, failed to rouse any enthusiasm in the minds of his listeners, who were the members of the South Australian Chamber of Commerce, until in his last few words he put the matter to them as a business proposition. Almost immediately his auditors seized on the “ business proposition,” because it meant that they would have a surplus of labour; and some commercial knowledge seems to start and end with the consideration of how little can be paid in wages, and how many hours men can be employed for the small pay. I repeat that the subject of immigration is inseparably bound up with that of a land tax. We require such legislation as will open up millions of acres now monopolized by a few persons, to the detriment of the many, and to the injury of the country. It is only by that means that we can populate Australia, and it is only with population that we can properly defend our land. I am not yet acquainted with the details of the Ministerial proposals relating to defence ; but, in my opinion, every male in Australia should have a knowledge of drill and the use of the (rifle, and should be disciplined, so that, should the occasion arise, he may be a potential force for the defence of his country. When there is need for defence, a disciplined army is in every way preferable to a patriotic rabble, which is what our people must be if they remain undisciplined, and without skill in the use of firearms and weapons of warfare. But I am not prepared to compel men to leave their avocations to acquire the rudiments of drill, nor do I know to what extent the leader of the Opposition has modified his views in that direction, though probably we shall soon be enlightened on the subject. I am prepared to commence by drilling our boys. When Australia instituted compulsory education, the Parliaments did not drag men’ of twenty-five or thirty from their work to the schools. We regretted that part of the population did not enjoy the advantages of early education, but we thought it sufficient to confine our schooling .to the boys and girls. I suggest a similar commencement in regard to defence. Putting my views into concrete form, I would say that -we might start with boys at the age of ten years, and subject them to drill compulsorily until they reach the age of nineteen years. This nine-year period I would break up into three equal portions of three years each, devoting the first to preliminary drill, the second to advanced work, with the use of small or dummy rifles, and the third to training in the handling of real guns, the acquiring of field experience, skill in scouting, and general knowledge of mili tary work, to enable the lads to assist in the defence of the country should any attack be made upon it. There might also be a militia force ‘which men over the age of nineteen -could join. Had I the power, I would abolish the present volunteer force ; and I know of no man in military service, with the exception, perhaps, of some of the volunteer officers, with whom I am not in agreement on the subject. A volunteer force and a militia have never worked together satisfactorily. I would suggest the establishment of a militia,, in which men could serve for five years after finishing their period of compulsory training. It would be similar to that in which we now have three years’ service. For men who had gone through the militia, there might be a semi-reserve force, which they would join for a period of six years, by which time they would have reached the age of thirty years. Then, while every male in the community might not have gone through the militia and reserve forces, there would be none who had not received compulsory training of a character enabling him to assist in the defence of his country. Though I do not commit myself to agreement with these proposals in detail, I am glad that the Ministry has put forward defence proposals. The cost will be a little more than the estimate of the cost of the proposals put forward by the last Administration. While the Deakin Government found itself unable to finance a militia of 23,000 or 24,000, or, if we include the volunteers, a force of 30,000, on an annual expenditure of ^800,000, it proposed to create a defence force half-a-million strong on an expenditure of £1,100,000. ‘ But we remember with deep regret that, having expended a few pounds in New South Wales in welcoming the American Fleet, it could not find funds to provide the ordinary Easter Encampment for the forces of the State. Therefore, we may reasonably conclude that its estimate was illconsidered, and put forward merely for the purposes of the moment. Some of us were prevented from speaking on the Defence Bill last year, and I therefore take this opportunity to express my deep regret that the late Minister of Defence, when introducing his Bill, used words insulting to the officers under his control. His remarks were of a character to reflect upon him discreditably, for they applied to officers who could not reply to him, and who were wearing a dress for whose details he was at the moment solely responsible, since matters of dress are controlled by regulations, which a Minister can at all times alter, if he so desires. I intended at the time to reply to the remarks which I considered insulting, and I now express my regret that they were uttered, suggesting that in future the honorable member should not make such references towards men prevented from replying by the rules which govern their service. I understant tthat during the last few days the subject of New Protection has proved a stumbling block to certain persons, and I may presently ask the leader of the Opposition how he has been able to leap the abyss between the position which he at one time adopte’d and the acknowledgment of these principles, even though in his innermost heart he may think them capable of little or no practical effect. It is regrettable that when the Tariff was being passed, certain manufacturers publicly promised that they would support the benefits of protection to those who were working for them, and that, having obtained high protective duties, by which they are daily and hourly gainers, they have. turned about, and not merely repudiate their promises, but, with a venom which beggars description, seek by divers means to use their influence to strangle the party which desires that the bargain to which they were parties shall be carried out in its entirety. It is a matter for the deepest regret that these persons hold their honour so lightly that they regard their promises as not binding, and that the commercial men of Australia should remain under the stigma of the charge that, having by their promises gained from the Legislature protection which is increasing their wealth, they scornfully repudiate their part of the agreement, and shamelessly attempt to do everything that would prevent its having effect. Despite the opposition to them, I believe that the principles embodied in the New Protection are acceptable to the people of Australia. I note that there is no possibility of fusion amongst parties opposite without the recognition of these principles; that the socalled great Liberal Party makes them a permanent plank. According to a speech given at Hobart, the honorable member for Ballarat claims sole, credit for the promulgation Qf the idea of New Protection ; at any rate, if we are to believe the statements in the public press, almost every honorable member has now acknowledged that its principles are good and just.
– There is nothing new about it. It is the old Protection.
– It is an addition to the protective policy which, I understand, my honorable friend has now full)’ and freely accepted for the term of his natural life. I regard it as a necessary and indispensable addition, and hope that, at the next elections, a large majority will be returned to this House pledged to give effect to proposals for protecting the working men, working women, and working children of our factories equally with the manufacturers, who have been dealt with liberally, and even with excessive generosity, notwithstanding that their wealth is such that they might reasonably have been regarded as capable of defending their own interests. I hope that there will not be denied to the scores of thousands of workers the protection which Parliament has already extended to the few, and which those few are trying to prevent being extended to the many. I have doubts a.s to the efficacy of the proposals which we are told are to be put forward by others. But whether they succeed or fail at the present moment. I have no doubt that as the result of an appeal to the country we shall succeed in placing upon the statutebook, to the enjoyment and pleasure of scores of thousands of our fellow-citizens, the policy that we know as the New Protection. We have submitted to us in clear, unmistakable terms a definite policy, and during the whole of the recess I have failed to discover any opposition to that policy. I wonder if that fact has been noted in other directions. Has it been noted that while there has been plotting and’ counter-plotting, marching and countermarching, fusion and confusion, there has not appeared in print - so far as I am aware - any definite and clear objection to the policy put forward by the Fisher Ministry. Whatever may be the outcome of the conferences that are taking place, even now, in the dusk of evening, I have not yet seen a definite objection to the leading features of the Ministerial programme. Was there objection to compulsory defence? If we look at the papers to-day we find that that objection has been swept away. The party led by the honorable member for Ballarat acknowledges through its leader that the policy of defence put forward by the Ministry is a practical one for which they deserve commendation. It has been accepted, too, I am informed, by other honorable members. The New Protection, once the horror of honorable members opposite - once denounced in terms that almost violated the Standing Orders-
– As a “ madcap scheme.”
– As a “madcap scheme “ - is now accepted. Speaking at Bendigo on 31st March last - not very long ago - the leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Parramatta, is reported to have made a proposal - and as the report appears in a Conservative newspaper I take it that the honorable member will approve of it - as against “ the madcap scheme of the Labour Socialists ‘ ‘ in respect to the New Protection. Has the honorable member now accepted it?
– Their scheme? Certainly not.
– Has the honorable member accepted the principle of the New Protection ?
– The honorable mem-, ber has never heard me denounce the principle of the New Protection.
– Then we may take it that the honorable member has accepted the principle. If we all approve of and agree with the principle of New Protection, why slay the Ministry that- proposes to introduce that policy ? What a curious situation confronts us. There has been no spoken opposition - or if there was any opposition it has been swept away - to the Ministerial programme. The leader of the Opposition now admits that he has accepted the principle of New Protection, although less than two months ago it was to him a madcap Socialist scheme. The Ministerial defence policy has also been accepted. What is meant in the compact by the words’ “ Federal finance “ I do not know. That statement of principle is charmingly vague, but it has also been accepted. I presume that every honorable member irrespective of party believes in “ Federal finance.’’ If that is so, we are again unanimous’, and there is no opposition to the Ministerial programme. Then may I ask once more, why all this fusion and confusion? Why all this marching and counter-marching? Why all the plotting that has been going on recently in the dusky twilight? So engrossed were those at the ‘Conference with their proposals that not even the sparks of the process of fusion could give them sufficient light, and they had to adjourn. Returning to the fact that there has been no objection to the Ministerial programme, I should like to point out that the honorable member for Parramatta is reported to have said -
He objected to the Labour Party being in office at all.
He did not know why he did so, but he objected. It was another case of “ I do not love thee, Dr. Fell.” Despite his many years of Ministerial experience in New South Wales, and his official position in this House as leader of the Opposition, or what was known as the Opposition, the honorable member objects to the Labour Party being in office, but is unable to say why he does so.
– I did say sot as a matter of fact, and very plainly,, too.
– The honorable member is reported to have said -
The very fact of it being in office was a negation of the representative principle-
– The ‘honorable member’s party numbers only 20. Shall 27 give place to 20 ? For some years there sat on the Treasury^ benches a party numbering 15. Was that a negation of the representative principle?
– It was.
– Then I ask the honorable member which section of this House is going to sit on the Treasury benches unless there be a throwing overboard of all principle, unless there be an utter disregard of the pledges _and promises given to constituents, unless there be an exhibition of political spinelessness from which this country ought to be free? Shall it be the party to which the honorable member belongs - a party of 20? Shall if be a party that sometimes sits in the Op; position corner, but is not at this moment there? Shall it be the party that now sparsely occupies the Ministerial corner? Shall it be the party, numbering at the outside some fourteen or fifteen members,, who have been weighed In the balance and found wanting? Or shall it be the party, numbering 27, now in office? That is a proposition with which the honorable member for Parkes may deal when next he favours us with one of those masterly addresses for which he is famous. To say that it is a negation of the representative principle that the ‘ largest party in the House should hold office, is, to put it mildly, a regrettable juggling with words. One honorable member is, I take it, as representative of the people as is any other. Each has to submit “himself to a defined constituency, and has to abide by the result of the voting. To the extent to which the people vote, so he represents them. To the extent of the numbers who vote for him, so he is a representative here. Since there happens to be a party numbering 27 - the strongest in the House for the time being- it seems to me that we approach the truly representative principle as closely as possible in the circumstances by that party holding office. Unless, as I have said, there is a throwing overboard of principle, no other party in this House is eligible, even on the showing of my honorable friend, to occupy the Treasury bench. He went on to say, speaking of the Labour Party that “ it did not represent the people.” May I ask the honorable member how he represents the people any more than does any one man elected as a member of our party? These statements by the honorable member are mere terms that may tickle the ears of an average audience. They may go down at packed meetings, and may be approved by the ticket-holders; but I venture to say that when dragged into the light of day, and heldup for debate or refutation, honorable members will signally fail to uphold them or any similar remarks made at such meetings. I venture to remind the honorable member that each and every member of the House is equally representative with any other. All are elected by a similar method; and if we have the largest numbersfor the time being it is our due that we should hold the position now occupied by us. In explanation of the statement that Labour members do not represent the people, we have the following statement by the leader of the Opposition-
This had been illustrated twice recently. The first occasion had been at the Premiers’ Conference when, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister of Australia declined to discuss matters of finance as between himself and the State Premiers.
I beg to ask the honorable member again when the Federal electors gave us. a charter to discuss Federal finance with State Premiers. The Prime Minister would have been lacking in dignity had he followed the deplorable example set by his predecessors, who repeatedly at those conferences gave expression to opinions, and were as repeatedly turned out on the doormat, sitting; there while the States Pre miers replied in language not too courteous.
– Is there an allegation as to their discourtesy on the last occasion ?
– There is as to several previous occasions.
– I am referring to. the predecessors of the Prime Minister, who went to the various conferences, expressed their opinions, and were as repeatedly laughed at by the State Premiers. It would have shown a lack of dignity for the Prime Minister to follow that example, and the fact that he did not so act scarcely constitutes an excuse for the inaccurate statement that the Labour Party do not represent the people. Then the honorable member for Parramatta says that the second reason relates to the attitude of the Prime Minister upon the proposed gift of a Dreadnought. Because the Prime Minister did not accede to the suddenly raised cry for the giving of a battleship of the latest type to England, we are told that we do not represent the people. Is the honorable member for Parramatta still prepared - shall I say as a potential Minister - to make the gift ofa Dreadnought to the United Kingdom out of Federal finance? That is a reasonable question. The honorable member stood on platform after platform and flagellated the Labour Party for their refusal, smiting them hip and thigh, and stating practically that because of their refusal to accede to the cry of the moment they did not represent the people. I ask the honorable member now, not in a packed meeting, among ticket holders, or in a little corner where he is amongst his friends, but here on the floor of the House, in open debate, and in the proper place, “ Is he now prepared to give a Dreadnought to England in existing circumstances?” Failing a reply from the honorable member, I wish to tell him that as a politician he scarcely knows his own mind two weeks on end, for while he then prominently supported the proposal, today there is an ominous silence.
– Not at all ominous.
– Then the honorable member should do me the honour of replying to my question.
– The honorable member will get his reply in good time.
– Perhaps the honorable member is in a position somewhat similar to that of the right honorable mem- ber for Swan. He was another who was prepared to give a Dreadnought, and I think submitted the proposal in his customary flowery language, with several quotations about Nelson, and the Union Jack, and the dear Old Flag. Yet somehow, when he was hurrying over to the fusion negotiations a couple of weeks ago, and was interviewed in Adelaide by one of the gentlemen of the press, his reply was - “ Yes, I was in favour of it a few weeks ago, but at the present I cannot say what I am prepared to do until I see my friends.” Similarly, the honorable memmer for Parramatta is not prepared to say what he can do until he sees his new leader. Singularly enough a portion of the interview granted by the right honorable member for Swan in Adelaide took -the form of denouncing the members of -the Labour Party because of their lack of independence, their inability to do anything without consulting each other, and their working in unison to an extent that he said was inimical to the interests of the State. Yet in the same interview he had so far left his independent mind’ behind, or perhaps got it so mixed up in the folds of the flag that he was waving, that he was unable to say then what he was prepared to do about giving a Dreadnought. Coming back to the point, on the 31st day of March, according to the honorable member for Parramatta, this Ministry did not represent the people because they would not give away a Dreadnought. To-day the honorable member - to use his own language- does not represent the people because he is not prepared “to give away a Dreadnought.
– Who says I am not prepared to do it?
– Logically, by the same process of reasoning, if on the 31st day of March certain men were not representative -of the people because they refused, then manifestly the men who refuse to-day are not representative of the people. I am giving the honorable member back his own words. Those men scarcely know their own minds for two or three weeks, yet they claim to be the representatives of the people and deny that title to other men, who, despite the outcry of the moment, declined to take that form of assisting in the defence of the Empire. Yet those’ are the only two reasons that the honorable member for Parramatta could advance in the whole of his. searching address for objecting to the ,Labour . Ministry holding office. The real reason was, as a matter of fact, put very plainly in the Age, which to-day is master of the situation. I offer my sincere con.gratulations to that powerful paper. It has not merely brought the Opposition down to the ring-bolt, but it stands to-day on top of its local contemporary, and on top, also, of the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph, the Courier, and the lot of them. The whole of them have been brought down to the ring-bolt, and the Age stands to-day absolutely master of the situation, dictating terms as never previously David Syme dictated them. I do most sincerely and without adulation or flattery offer my congratulations to that newspaper for the masterly manner in which it has succeeded. A leader in the Age of yesterday or to-day shows clearly that the Opposition is prepared for anything if only it can put the Labour Party out. I would like to submit the question to the people of Australia on that basis. If the Opposition can find no reasonable objection to the various planks of the Labour Party’s platform, if it cannot give publicity to its reasons for seeking to put the present Ministry out other than the fact that it merely wishes to turn them out, that is an attitude which will .scarcely appeal to the people of Australia.
– Did the Labour Party give any reasons for turning the Deakin Government out ?
– We were not asked to give reasons. I am now respectfully asking the honorable member for Parramatta for some explanation of his intentions. We merely said to the Deakin Government, in language that could not be cavilled at, that so far as we were concerned support was withdrawn. The Ministry, with the assistance of the Opposition, seemed to collapse, but I wish to say on their behalf that they sought an opportunity for discussion by submitting a motion that would have permitted it, but that the Opposition to a man prevented discussion, and so prevented the Labour Party from giving expression to the reasons for their action. Probably the Opposition did not desire it. It was not in their tactics at that particular moment. There has been some talk of fusion. If I mav bring “ alliteration’s artful aid “ to my as~sistance, I would say that in the preliminary efforts the usually diplomatic Deakin dived desperately down into the dark depths of coalition decline, and came back with despair writ large upon his face. Then the usually cautious Cook .came “cheerfully across the 500 miles of intervening space to find coalition consolation, and went back with consternation on his face, for he had failed, whereupon the fretful Forrest forced his way into the proposals, and returned foiled. It is a comical position. I scarcely remember, in my political career, extending as it has over a number of years, anything more comical than the desperate desire of the three honorable members not to put a policy before the country, not to find fault with the Labour policy, not to explain in any way how it was inimical to the interests of our country, not to submit anything definite in its place, and not to give a reason for their action, but simply to come together in this particular manner to put the Ministry out. The honorable member can talk round the subject from week end to week end, but there exists no other reason than that. All this business of plot and counterplot is merely to put another Ministry out of office.
– Was there no plotting when the Labour Party put the Deakin Government out?
– Were any reasons given?
– No. Presumably the reasons were so palpable that even the men then in office did not require them to be uttered. Certainly the Opposition declined by specific motion to allow us to give our reasons, in that they-I will not say gagged us - but prevented a motion being submitted that would have permitted discussion. Now we have the curious feature of the defeat of Deakin, the consternation of Cook, and the failure of Forrest. Apparently those honorable members had some qualms of conscience, and were considering their constituents, and had some thought for the principles they had previously professed, for with all their practical knowledge and political experience they were unable to come to a satisfactory understanding. Apparently the whole thing was at an end until other gentlemen came on the scene. Their constituents were not consulted, but one or two manufacturers were broughtin to assist the process of fusion. It might almost be said that they were called together over a little Joshuaspirit, and as they appear to have been under its controlling influence at the particularmoment, I hope that in their interests it will not have the “Boomerang” effectit is very likelyto have. But not even the spirit was sufficient to do the dark , deed,and so a little music was brought in. Tothe sweet strains of
Beale’s music, and under the mellowing influence of Joshua’s spirit, this process of fusion was taking place. I can understand very well how the politicians would be listening acutely for fear that any one should be objecting to what they were doing ; and that, on hearing a voice through the keyhole saying, perhaps, “What about our country?” the right honorable member for Swan, with that customary indifference of his, would pass it away, with “Tut! tut! let’s have another Joshua.” If the mellowing influence of the Joshua was not sufficient, I can understand the leader, who had protected the musical instrument, saying, “ Strike up another tune, Octavius “ ; and I can imagine what the tune would be - a favourite old tune, and the use of it on such an occasion an insult to it - in the interests primarily of the honorable member for Parramatta, namely, “ Crush them, crush them, one and all.” That is evidently what was played ; and for what purpose? For the purpose of strangling in its infancy the Labour Ministry, which they dare not attack in any other form. It seems to me somewhat discreditable that politicians of their experience, not having succeeded, should allow themselves to be persuaded from the path of rectitude and duty, and from the promises that they gave to their constituents, by the interested statements of two or three citizens.
– Employers !
– Employers, strange to say, were supposed to be formulating proposals for the benefit of the workmen.
– After the honorable member had given the employers big duties.
– The honorable member will admit that, so far as I am concerned, I had no hand in that. The thrust, I admit, in some directions is deserved; but the honorable member must be reminded that those at whom he thrusts were justified in believing that the manufacturers of Australia would prove honorable men, and adhere to their promises, and that their efforts would be directed to now protecting the workmen, as they had previously been directed to protecting themselves. Now the parties have come together - nameless. I do not know, I am sure, what the name of the united parties is to be; and they are without principles, unless we accept the very much watered down proposals as putforward in the Melbourne Argus of yesterday. Those proposals mean that the Opposition, who previously were noted for their free-trade principles, have now accepted straight-out protection as the settled policy of the country.
– There is a champion free-trader in the Ministry.
– I am not forgetting that fact. I was going to ask how that pledge, which, we are given to understand, is in writing, will suit the right honorable member for East Sydney? After a life devoted to free-trade propaganda, is he now - I shall not say in the decline of his political years, or otherwise - going to give his consent to the policy of protection, and not only accept that as the settled policy of the country, but agree that, in all future alterations of the Tariff, he, the honorable member for Parramatta and other gentlemen who grace the benches opposite . will be prominent in supporting an increase in the duties?
– Is the honorable member not a party to the fusion ?
– I am not a party to that, anyway.
– Does the honorable member assure me that he is not part and parcel of that policy, which, according to the Melbourne Age, is the settled policy of the fused party - protection, New Protection, and compulsory training? Will the honorable member, who appears to object to my quoting from the Age, accept the Argus? In the latter newspaper it is stated that Mr. Deakin put into writing his views, and it appears that, firstly, the Tariff is to remain intact; secondly, that anomalies are to be rectified; and, thirdly, that, in the event of any emergency raising Tariff issues, they are to be dealt with from the protectionist stand-point. Will that suit the right honorable member for East Sydney ?
– The honorable member will find no such words in any agreement I have arrived at.
– I am grateful to the right honorable member for replying. I do not say that I am pleased to hear the statement, beyond being pleased at hearing a frank utterance from any member of the House. But this settlement has been put out to the public, and up to the present time no acknowledged leader has taken the trouble to deny it. For all public pur poses, this is the primary and most important proposal - the one on which fusion started, and on which it has presumably taken place. Does the honorable member for Franklin agree with the idea that any subsequent consideration of the Tariff shall be on the principles of protection ?
-i can assure the honorable member that 1 never saw the agreement, except in the newspapers.
– Then the newspapers have misled us. Is the fusion not complete? Is there still chaos? I notice that some honorable members of the Opposition are absent, still negotiating; and I presume that the right honorable member for Swan is enforcing his view that his party shall have at least two portfolios out of the spoils. They are charmingly disinterested these gentlemen ! They merely desire a truly representative Government, but one of the conditions is that they shall have two seats on the Treasury bench.
– The honorable member will remember that the Labour Party were not quite satisfied about the allotment of portfolios.
– Let us come back to the point. Does the honorable member accept fusion on the ground I have stated ?
– This is not a catechism.
– No, but I wish to know whether the fusion is all right One of the most important members ofthe Opposition has definitely told us that there is no such proposal in any agreement he is prepared to accept. Which local newspaper, the Age or the Argus, is under a misapprehension ? Are they both under a misapprehension, or are both, in conjunction with honorable members opposite, prepared to say anything until the Labour Ministry is out? We have a vivid recollection of a recent agreement ; and I am quite sure that the right honorable member for East Sydney is not going to allow himself to be trapped into a second one of a similar character. I must ask the right honorable gentleman’s pardon; I do not know whether he was trapped into that agreement or not, and I withdraw the words. The abnegation of the honorable member for Ballarat was very carefully planned;and, although he apparently intended to be very prominent on that occasion in putting somebody else in, he was, according to the book written of the late Mr. David Syme, equally prominent at Ballarat in giving notice to quit to the gentleman with whom He had come to some form of agreement, or compact, or fusion, to put him into power for the short term of eleven months. I venture to think that, under the circumstances, the present agreement will be of a more binding character, and will be more carefully scrutinized ; and that, whatever may be said by newspapers, the right honorable gentleman will not be too hastily led to the slaughter.
– Does the honorable member riot think eleven months rather a long time compared to that some other Ministers have had?
-I amnot comparing the periods ofMinisteriallife.
– Like the present Government, I had a good share of recess.
– Apparently the fusion business is not quite settled, despite what we are told to the contrary.I do not know whether those who are negotiating are under the influence of Joshua or music, but, apparently, they are still trying to fix up these little proposals. If they do fuse, I should very much like to know what their name will be in the future. If I may suggest a term they will,I think, be known as “ Infusoria “ ; and if it be not offensive to honorable members connected with the fusion, I should like to read how that word is defined. We are told -
It consists of a class of minute, mostly microscopic, animals -
– I am out of that at any rate !
– I understand the right honorable member to refer to the word “ microscopic.” He has to remember that this is a process of fusion. Honorable members opposite are in the melting pot, and do not quite know what they will be when they come out. The definition reads:-
A classof minute, mostly microscopic, animals, so named from being frequently developed in organic infusions, provisionally, regarded as the highest class of Protozon. They are provided with a mouth.
– They will swallow anything.
– It continues-
They are destitute of pseudopodia, but are furnished with vibratile cilia. Most are free swimming, but some form colonies by budding, and are fixedto a solid object in their adult condition.
Perhaps my honorable friendcomes under the heading of a solid body, and it may be that the others will affix themselves to him. We are told that -
The body consists of an outer transparent cuticle, a layerof firmsarcodecalled the cortical layer, and a central mass of semiliquid sarcode which acts as a stomach. A nucleus, which is supposed to be an ovary, having attached to its outside a spherical particle called the nucleolus, and supposed to be a spermatic gland, is embedded in the cortical layer. Contractions of the body are effected bysarcode fibres. The cilia, with which most are furnished, are not only organs of locomotion, but form currents by which food is carried into the mouth. Reproduction takesplace variously. They are divided into three orders, Ciliata -
I think that that term would apply to the honorable gentlemen in the corner on the right-
Suctoria, and Flagellata, in accordance with the character of their cilia or contractile filaments.
Honorable members opposite may fuse, and in the process of fusing sparks may be emitted, but, if I may venture into the realm of prophecy; the permanency of the fusion will be that of a spark. I know of no coalition of the kind intended which has not resulted disastrously tothose concerned in it. Napoleon marched his army to Moscow, but while he andmost of his. marshals got back, very many of his mem were left behind. Those who are how following their leaders in an attempt to bring about a fusion, which, according to the Age, is for no other purpose than to strangle the Labour Ministry; may ultimately find themselves left behind. The honorable member for Ballarat told us quite recently that party politics are settled; hot by compacts between individuals; but by appeals, to the people of the country! No statement could be more pointedly in denunciation of the attitude which he is how adopting; I venture to remind the House that he may have been speaking prophetically. Whatever may be the history of the next few months, an appeal to the people cannot be deferred beyond next February or March, and, although the leader of what was the Opposition refuses to reply to a question asked in this Chamber, sortie of his followers may then find it impossible to refuse to reply to the questions of the electors
– I have told the honorable member that his question will bereplied to.
-Whenthe time of which I am speaking comes, we shall have the decision of party politics to which the honorable member for Ballarat referred. I hope that it will be such as to place on the
Treasury bench a Ministry supported by an absolute majority, whose members will be bound together by a national policy which they will not fear to expound in any company or in any place, and, united in the love of their country, not merely fused to turn out a Ministry. It seems to me that the tide may turn as honorable members opposite do not expect. I may remind them, without egotism, that, while eighteen years ago there was not a Labour member in any Parliament in Australia, there are now in the various Parliaments 183 or 184 Labour members. During the life of the Labour Party its representation in Parliament has increased, on the average, by about ten members each year, and a similar increase in the representation in this Parliament next year will bring about the result for which I hope - the establishment in power of a Ministry supported by a strong majority, pledged to give effect to national legislation. I wishnow to refer to some words spoken last night by the honorable member for Ballarat. in putting forward the Liberal policy which is about to be accepted by the Conservatives. He spoke clearly and calmly, but with his customary indefiniteness, so that even the Age says this morning that he might easily have been more explicit. Perhaps these glorious generalities will be more easily disposed of in the future than precise statements. Although a few weeks ago the honorable gentleman soundly rated the Labour Ministry in regard to its programme saying that it was all very well to dress the shop window, but goods must be marked in plain figures, when, in his turn, he makes a statement of policy to the public, he is told by the newspaper which has always been most kind to him that he might have been more explicit, that he should mark his goods in plain figures, proving him to be guilty of that for which he blames us. The statement with which I wish to deal is the denunciation of the Labour Party as governed by a dominating caucus. He said that we in this Parliament do not represent the people, or used similar words calculated to injure our organization. I remember that after he had spoken in like strain on another occasion, he came here and partly apologized for the words he had used.
– He made a full apology.
– So far as I heard it, it was a part apology to the members of the Labour Party then present, who were pre pared to debate the matter with him. Notwithstanding his flood-like eloquence in denunciation of the Labour caucus, the honorable member is at present occupied in establishing a similar organization. He has stated that ‘his party requires not merely organization, but some firm, strong control, so that if candidates are not to be selected according to the critical methods of the Labour Party, at any rate, confusion at elections, by the nomination of two candidates for the one constituency, will be prevented. He desires an organization to control the members of the party, and to dictate to them in a manner in which the Labour organization does not dictate to its members. Every man in the Labour Party is free to, do what he believes to be best inthe interests of the country. Although I am a Labour member no other member of this Chamber is more independent. The only thing that binds me or any other Labour member - and the honorable member for Ballarat, notwithstanding that he continues to repeat his misrepresentations, is aware of the fact - is the pledge honorably given to the electors. No man ought to be bound by more than that and no man by less.
– Is it not true that the honorable member signed a pledge to do as an outside organization demands?
– No. The statement is a wilful and malicious lie, which has been put forward by liars from one end of the country to the other.
– It is a lie.
– I ask the Minister to withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw it.
– I have given a pledge to my electors, just as I would ask the honorable member to sign a promise if I were intrusting him with any employment.
– And the honorable member would require a witness to his signature, too.
– I should have the signature duly witnessed before allowing him to undertake the work which he had engaged to perform. While I regard it as the duty of every man to give full effect to his promises in business and social life, so it is the duty of every man to give full and honorable effect to his political pledges. But neither I nor any other Labour representative is bound to do more. Each and every party has its caucus, and meets secretly and in precisely the same manner as does the Labour Party. I presume, too, that each party abides by the decision of the majority. The caucus of the Labour Party has absolutely no power over any one member, and this is so wellknown to the honorable member for Ballarat as to justify, not a raking, but a scathing reply, if one felt disposed to give it. When he speaks to the contrary he knows that each and every member of our party is free to do as he thinks fit. If he thinks it is best to abide by the resolution of the majority he does so, and if he does not he suffers no penalty.
– Will the honorable member tell us what the pledge really is?
– It is in print.
– Here it is; the honable member may read it for himself. I am afraid that by merely listening to its being read he will scarcely comprehend it. I wish to repeat that the methods of the Labour Party are open to the world, and that if - just as was the case when the honorable member for Ballarat, a few days ago, declined to give information for tactical purposes to the press - everything that is done is not published at that moment, the party is but acting in conformity with the method of every other section of the Parliament. The caucus has absolutely no power. We simply unite in the interests of our country, and do our best according to our lights to give practical effect to our views.
– That will not do. What about the statement that the caucus “plays the tune” and Mr. Fisher has to dance to it?
– If such a statement was made it was not true.
– There are some 2,000,000 males in Australia, and we are told by the honorable member that one of them has said that the caucus “ plays the tune “ and we have to dance to it.
– The Age “plays the tune” in the case of the honorable member for Fawkner, and he has to dance to it.
– The honorable member for Fawkner will take my assurance that the person to whom he refers has made an incorrect statement. May I remind the honorable member that Mr. Beale apparently is now “ playing the tune,” and that the whole of the Opposition, the Corner Opposition Party, and the Liberals are dancing to it–
– The public know that tune, and they approve of it.
– That remains to be seen. I do not wish to detain honorable members any longer. Replying to statements respecting the independence of Labour members and their attempts to do their duty, may I say briefly that we have had submitted to us a defined, clear, and definite policy, unmistakable in its national character ; and that throughout the last five months - despite the ability and eloquence of honorable members of the Opposition - there has not yet been published a definite objection to any one line of that policy. We have now proposals for bringing together various parties for the one and only purpose of putting out the Ministry. We shall have the knowledge that, if it goes out, it will go out on principle. We shall have the knowledge that if it is made to leave the Treasury bench for the time being it will leave it with the flag flying, and that on the first occasion that there is an appeal to the country we shall be able to put to the test which tune is more acceptable to the people - the tune of a clear and a national policy, or the tune of fusion, merely for the sake of grasping the Ministerial benches. The process, evidently, is not quite over; the leaders are at work and the music is still tingling in their ears. In the circumstances I may perhaps with greater confidence submit for the consideration of honorable members, in the hope that it will meet with acceptance, the motion that the Address-in-Reply to the opening speech of the GovernorGeneral be approved by the House.
.- It is with pleasure that I rise to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to a Speech which I think has in it proposals more calculated to truly affect the people of Australia than has any that has yet been submitted to this Parliament by a representative of His Majesty. It is with pleasure that I note the progress that the Ministry has made regarding the Federal Capital, and in this I thought I should be joined by honorable members opposite. The situation to-day, however, reminds me of that described in a novel that I read some years ago. Honorable members may recollect the story told in Zangwill’s great novel, “The Premier and the Painter,” of a very simple individual who, becoming Premier, set to. work to carry out the promises that had been given on the hustings. As soon as he undertook to fulfil those promises the agi tators who had been asking for their fulfilment tried to -bring about his death. That seems to be the position in regard to the Federal Capital. A number of honorable members who usually sit in Opposition, but who, I am informed, at the present time are engaged in their caucus deliberations, have been agitating for some time, and have lived largely upon the* alleged wrongs that have been done to the Mother State. They have complained continuously, and, I think, with good cause, that year after year the settlement of the Federal Capital question has been deferred, and that New South Wales, instead of having the Capital, as promised, has been steadily cheated out of it. To-day we have in office a Prime Minister who has set himself to the task of giving what they say should have been given years ago, and, like the agitators in the novel, these honorable members are afraid that their stockintrade will disappear if the promise is fulfilled. That being so, they are seeking as quickly as possible to despatch the Prime Minister who promised, and has so far fulfilled the promise, to give New South Wales the Capital.
– Does not the Speech set forth that negotiations regarding the Federal Capital are coming to a successful issue ? If that be so, why should we complain ? It is the honorable member who appears to be annoyed.
– I am not. On the contrary, I am glad that the position has been changed, and that the Capital Site question will soon be settled. On the other hand, the honorable member and his party are dissatisfied. They are anxious to destroy the Prime Minister who has done something to settle it, and to substitute for him one who has done so much to put off its determination.
– Is not the honorable member aware that the honorary Minister - the honorable member for Hindmarsh - said that the Government was in no way responsible for the choice of Canberra?
– That statement does not in the least affect the position. The honorable member and his fellow representatives of New South Wales on the opposite side of the House know that once the Federal Capital question is; settled five-sixths of their stock-inhtra.de will go. It is for that reason that they do not wish it to be settled. They are anxious that the honorable member for Ballarat should once more be installed as Prime Minister, and that there should- be further delay. We have heard a good deal regarding responsible government in this country, and have been told how necessary it is that it should be re-established. I venture to say that we have witnessed during the last three months an exhibition of responsible government the like of which has not occurred in Australia before, and would not have been seen if the present Prime Minister had not been in office. We have heard also a great deal regarding the presentation of a Dreadnought to Great Britain.
– The Opposition are silent about that matter now.
– They are, indeed ; but when the proposal was hot - when the hysteria was at its height - every member of other parties was demanding that the Prime Minister should at once cable to the British Government the offer of a Dreadnought. For the first time to’ my knowledge in the history of Australia, a press-organized proposal of this kind has been defeated. In the past, if the Age, the Argus, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sydney Morning Herald decided that something should be done it was straightway done.- Fortunately we have now in office an honorable member who has at least allowed Parliament an opportunity to settle the .question. I trust that, whether the life of the Fisher Government be long or short, the precedent which it has established will be followed by those who succeed it - that others will follow the principle adopted by the present Ministry of allowing Parliament to do its own business, and refusing to permit that business to be done by a. few newspaper editors. We cannot say now whether or not there is to be submitted to the House a motion regarding the presentation of a Dreadnought to the British. Government. The one question concerning which honorable members who were negotiating for fusion are apparently unable to agree, now that they have had a conference, is whether they will do that which they all said ought to be done. They are prepared to do many things which they all declared ought not to be done, but, although they agreed that a Dreadnought should be presented to the British Government, they are now singularly silent on the subject. The ex-Prime Minister, in the great oration that he delivered last night, was strangely silent in regard to it. Representatives of other States have not the experience that we have had in New South Wales. There we have had in existence a Dreadnought Fund
– In Queensland £168 has been subscribed by twenty persons.
– In New South Wales, we have had a unique experience. There we have had a fund created for this purpose, and a press agitation has been earnestly engaged in pumping life into it. Public servants - not Federal but State - have been shame: fully dragooned into contributing, having been practically forced on pain, not exactly of dismissal, but of injuring their prospects with their superior officers, to give money to the fund. A number of meetings have been addressed by the right honorable member for East Sydney and by the leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Wentworth has given £100, while the honorable member for Parkes gave a lot of good advice, which I understand was absolutely gratuitous - in fact, it was without money and without price. The movement started off with a number of gentlemen saying that they would give £10,000 and £20,000 each, but not one £10,000 has turned up - apparently there is a difference between promises and gifts.
– The honorable member is not justified in saying that.
– I am absolutely justified. Despite all this effort, they have not succeeded in getting sufficient to represent 3d. in the £1 on the cost of a Dreadnought.
– I challenge the honorable member to prove his statement.
– It is not hard to prove. Let the honorable member -inquire at the bank how much there is in the Dreadnought fund and he will find that what I have stated is correct. The men who made promises apparently have no intention of giving the money.
– In the small town of Scone they have a thousand pounds in the bank.
– I have no doubt that the men who promise these small amounts get into the habit of giving them. I bring the matter up now in order to say that those who have charge of the fund ought to be honest enough to announce that the thing has utterly failed, so as to prevent poor people, who believe that they are serving the Empire by giving, from throwing away their money on the fund. It is time that the promoters of the fund honestly admitted that it has been a failure. The shillings cannot be returned, an.d the £10,000 contributions will not be made.
– It has been a great success, and I suppose the. honorable member dislikes it for that reason.
– If after all the eloquencethat has been expended on it the subscription of 3d. in the £1 towards the cost of a Dreadnought is a great success, I make the honorable member a present of it.
– I challenge the honorable member to prove that Mr. Dangar has not put up his £10,000.
– I should like to have the promise that if that ,£10,000 is still at Mr. Dangar’s credit it will be placed to mine.
– Mr. Dangar is one of my constituents, and I know him to be an honorable man.
– I do not suggest that it is the honorable member’s influence that is preventing him from giving the £10,000. But as he has had his photograph in the paper and has obtained the advertisement it is time that he gave the money or announced that he no longer intends to give it. But the movement has failed, and properly failed, and those who are responsible for it ought to have the decency to admit it and close the business up.
– The thing is dead. Why speak disrespectfully of the dead?
– I come not to praise it but to bury it. If there is one thing I have rejoiced over during the life of this Parliament it is the refusal of the Fisher Ministry to be led into the gift of a Dreadnought. No more unnecessary proposal has yet been made. Had it come from responsible officers in Britain there mighthave been some necessity for it, but coming -as it did as the inspiration of a few irresponsible newspaper owners who desired to usurp the functions of Parliament and to drive the Ministry into the business, I am very pleased that it has failed.
– It has not failed.
– Then upon that the honorable member and I will differ.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity of voting on the question.
– Will the honorable member see that his new party gives us an opportunity of voting on it ?
– I shall be very disappointed if the honorable member has not the opportunity.
– If the honorable member remains with the party that he is now connected with, he will be very disappointed many times before he is much older. I ask honorable members to consider for a moment the actual position. I confess that I feel some difficulty in speaking of the matter, because, as the honorable member for Maranoa suggests, it is like speaking of the dead. We were assured a little while ago that a new situation had arisen by which the supremacy of the Empire was threatened. According to press representations it was made to appear that there was p possibility of an attack by Germany, and that Germany had taken certain steps that made her growing fleet a menace to Britain’s supremacy of the sea. The fact is that, so far from the building of Dreadnoughts taking place, practically nothing of the kind had occurred, and that there was no fleet in existence, nor even a proposal made by which a fleet could be brought into existence, in Germany that was likely to (endanger the supremacy of that of England. It is true that the Germans built more slips, and prepared more docks for the building of ships, but it is not true that they built more ships,’ and because of that we are asked to come forward with, the gift of a Dreadnought. When I look at the position of Britain to-day, at her wealth, and what she has done in the last five or six years, I cannot but be satisfied’ that we are part of an Empire possessed of vast resources, and able to take care of its” heart without any assistance from us. I would ask honorable members to note that since the close of the Boer war the British Government have mot only reduced the income tax-
– They have reduced an income tax which was put on specially for the war.
– I merely ask honorable members to remember that those are resources which are available if necessary. Since the close of that war, the BritishGovernment, while building Dreadnoughts out of revenue, have also reduced the national debt by ,£60,000,000, while the German Government in extending their naval policy have gone deeper into debt. In other words, if Britain had been content to allow her indebtedness to remain as it was at the close of the Boer war, she could in the last five years have built over thirty Dreadnoughts, and paid spot cash for every one of them. We are asked at this stage to borrow a couple of millions from Great Britain, and then give it back, in order to prop that great Empire up. I need not detain honorable members further on this subject. We ‘may have an opportunity of debating it again on some definite proposal, and I only hope that we do. To turn from the hysteria connected with the Dreadnought proposal to the well thought out policy of the Fisher Ministry on naval defence is like turning from chaos to order. The proposals put forward by the Ministry have not been thought out merely by one or two newspaper editors, but have been the subject of continuous discussion by the Ministry and the public. I venture to say that if there is one subject upon which the Ministry stand to be congratulated, one fact which will differentiate them from their predecessors, and probably from those who will come after them, it is that during their short term of office they have done something to establish a navy for Australia, and not merely talked about it. Whether they go out this week, next week, or next year, it will stand to their credit that they did not merely talk, but put their beliefs into reality, and that their proposals are indorsed by the leading naval authorities of the world. I rejoice that the present Ministry have not only prepared to meet foes abroad, but are making ample preparation to meet the foes in our own country. I allude to the land monopolists. The proposals of the Government may be stolen by other parties. We have already seen labour propositions embodied in the programmes of rival parties, but we shall not see the proposition for a graduated land tax embodied in the proposals of honorable members opposite. This fact, at least, will differentiate us from those who oppose us - that we will, if left in office, strike a blow at the land monopolists of this country. I need not weary the House with arguments to prove that land monopoly is bacl. Almost every man in the country admits it now. The right honorable member for East Sydney in recent speeches has gone so far as to admit that land monopoly is very bad. A number of other honorable members on the same side say the same thing; but the land monopolists may well smile when they only hear declarations that, land monopoly is a bad thing, and see no proposals brought forward to end it. The present Ministry stake their existence, I understand, upon the carrying into effect of a graduated land tax, and surely it is time that -something was done in this direction. When one remembers that 729 people in New South Wales own over 22 million acres ‘ of land, and that of 23 million acres of wheat land in New South Wales only 3,000,000 acres are under cultivation to-day, we realize that it is necessary to do something to throw open the land to landless people. However much honorable members opposite may copy the Labour Party’s methods and programme, I venture to say they will not copy us in this particular. I do not wish to detain the House, because I feel that already sufficient attention has been devoted to the moving and seconding of the AddressinReply. But I should like to refer briefly to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Ballarat last night. In that speech the honorable member is reported as saying : -
I say that when some of your representatives go into a room, and a division is taken, say, amongst21 members of Parliament, supposing 11 vote on one side and 10 on the other - all voting according to their judgment and conscience - the 10 come out no longer as representatives of the people. They come out as delegates of delegates. They come out as the representatives of eleven otherrepresentatives. (Cheers.) Where is your freedom ? Where is your independence ? Where is your liberty?
I cannot believe that the honorable member for Ballarat did not deliberately state - well, I-
– An inaccuracy.
– I think that “ inaccuracy” is the right word. The rules of Parliament, I understand, forbid my suggesting a very much smaller word which much better describes what it was the honorable member told.
– Does the honorable member say that the statement is not accurate ?
– I say that “ inaccuracy “ is a very mild word to use.
– Does it express the meaning ? Let us know what the honorable member means.
– I shall tell the honorable member outside what I mean, if he wishes me to repeat the statement. The ex-Prime Minister knows as well as any man in the country that Labour men are not pledged to sink their individuality in any way whatever in caucus.
– We have heard that before - prove it.
– I shall read the pledge of the Labour Party, which shows what we undertake to do when we sign it. The pledge is as follows : -
I hereby pledge myself not tooppose the candidates selected by the recognised Political Labour organizations, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Australian Labour Party’s platform, and, on all questions affecting the platform, to vote as a majority of the Parliamentary party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.
– Do not almost all public questions affect the platform ?
– No. I have the platform in my hand.
– What of the Dreadnought?
– The question of a Dreadnought does not affect the platform.
– But the Labour Party would vote solid on the Dreadnought question.
– I dare say we should. The proposal is so obviously absurd that we should all vote against it, though it would be quite open to any of us to vote in its favour if we had the chance. Seeing that the honorable member has put £100 “into the business,” he ought to give us a chance to vote on the question. What we pledge ourselves to do is to vote solidly on those questions which we have put to the electors. For instance, we were elected to support a graduated land tax on unimproved values. We went to the country and advocated that tax, and are bound to support it ; and, therefore, we do not ask for liberty to vote against it. We say that to vote against what we were sent to advocate is not “ liberty,” “independence,” or “ freedom,” but dishonesty. We are not people who at one stage describe New Pro- tection as a bad thing, and then exercise “liberty,” “freedom,” and “independence” to support it. We do not come here saying that free-trade is good, and then sign a pledge to support high protection.
– The honorable member is stating what he has himself described as an “ inaccuracy.”
– We do not know that it is an inaccuracy, because we find it so stated in the honorable member’s own newspaper, the Melbourne Age.
– Ought the Labour Party to be judged by what the newspapers say of them? If so, the members of the Labour Party ought all to be hanged.
– It is easy for honorable members opposite now to laugh at the Age, but the honorable member for Wentworth will very soon learn that the creator can demand from the creature a good deal of respect.
– Labour members respect their Leagues.
– Not as the honorable member respects the-
– Are Labour members not the creatures of the Leagues?
– No; the honorable member knows that we are returned by the votes of the people on a policy we put to the people - the Leagues have no control whatever over that.
– Labour members told the people they had sunk the fiscal issue, and yet they placed heavy burdens on the working classes, and supported a Protectionist Government.
– I not only did that, but on a hundred platforms I told the people that if they returned me I should vote for protection ; and when I came here I did so. On the other hand, the honorable member for Robertson told the people he would stand for free-trade, and–
– AndI did so.
– And now the honorable member is about to put the honorable member for Ballarat into office again. The honorable member for Ballarat, in his speech last night, also said -
Once you take away the individual right and responsibility of the citizen to use the judgment God has given him, and for which he alone is responsible, free from dictation from the outside, you take a step which means the destruction of political liberty and politicalrighteousness:
For seven or eight years the Labour Party supported the honorable member for Ballarat, and I suppose that all that time we were taking steps to do away with “political liberty” and “political righteousness.” It seems, on the honorable member’s own showing, that so long as he is at the front we may drive the country to perdition ; but if he ceases to be Prime Minister for a little while, the hunger for office returns, and those “ wrongs “ are to be permitted no longer.
– He was willing to coalesce with us.
– I believe it would be letting out no secret to say that the honorable member was willing to coalesce with us a little while back. He went on to say last night -
It is not that that step alone will accomplish it; but once you have taken that step and forfeited your judgment, anything else may follow.
I confess that when I first entered this House, while not feeling at all certain, I had hopes that there were principles which differentiated the ex-Prime Minister from honorable members who sit opposite; I thought I should find a sensible difference between the alleged Liberalism on this side on the part of the gentlemen who followed the honorable member for Ballarat and the Conservatism opposite. But my eyes have been opened. So far as the fusion is concerned, I wish success to those who desire to bring it about.
– That is an “ inaccuracy.” Does the honorable member really wish the fusion success, because, if so, he ought to join?
– I do wish the fusion success, because I like to see our enemies walking into a trap. When we have only one opponent left, it will be easy to sever the head.
– That is what the honorable member calls success!
– Yes. In the efforts at fusion I wish the right honorable member and his friends every success. I ask nothing better than that those who may be opposing me shall be supporting the right honorable member for East Sydney, the honorable member for Flinders, the right honorable member for Swan, and the honorable member for Parkes, to say nothing of the present leader of the Opposition. Let us separate the sheep from the goats.
– That is just what we are doing.
– We see to-night that the goats are on the left hand and the sheep on the right. We shall at least have what gentlemen opposite desire, namely, the two-party system of government. Of that we on thisside do not complain, nor do I think we shall have any reason to complain when the people have been appealed to as to the result of our action here.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook), adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That, until otherwise ordered, this House shall meet for the despatch of business at Three o’clock on each Tuesday afternoon, and at halfpast Two o’clock on each Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, and at half-past Ten o’clock on each Friday morning.
House adjourned at 5.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 May 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090526_reps_3_49/>.