3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
GOVERNMENT TRAWLER: DISTRIBUTION OF FISH.
Dr. CARTY SALMON. - I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if he has any objection to laying on the table a statement giving the names of the institutions in New South Wales and Victoria which applied for fish caught by the Government trawler, and the names of those amongst which the fish so caught were distributed?
Mr. TUDOR.- I have no objection.
ADVERTISING AUSTRALIA : PURCHASE OF THE CLARION.
Mr. BOWDEN - Has the attention of the Minister of External Affairs been called to a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald, in which the writer, Mr. John Hurley, alleges that the Government paid ?50 more than their market value for 7,000 copies of the Clarion recently purchased by it? Can the Minister give the House any information in reference to the transaction ?
Mr. BATCHELOR. -I have not seen the statement, but will inquire into the matter;
PROHIBITION OF BOOKS.
Mr. THOMAS BROWN. - Is ita fact, as alleged in New South Wales, that the importation of certain literature, notably of the Maria Monk character, has been prohibited, and, if so, is this Government responsible for the publication of the Gazette notice containing the prohibition ?
Mr. TUDOR. - The prohibition was published under the authority of, I think, the Minister of Trade and Customs in the Reid-McLean Government ; no action of any kind was taken bv the present Government.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs explain the long delay in the construction of the new post-office at Cessnock, New South Wales?
– I shall be able to give the honorable member the information later in the day. I have teen making inquiries into the matter.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence if it is a fact that bayonets issued to the Military Forces of New South Wales do not fit the rifles for which they were intended, and that the men, when called upon to fix bayonets, cannot obey the order? If this is so, have steps been taken to alter this state of things?
– I am not aware that that is so, but shall make inquiries, and let the honorable member know the result of them.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs have placed in the Library the papers connected with the importation of explosives made by the South African Manufacturing Company?
– I should be pleased to have the whole of the information collected by the Department placed on the table of the Library.
– The Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act provides that no person who has not been naturalized for three years shall be eligible for a pension. There are a good many persons who have not been naturalized for three years, yet have been living in the Commonwealth for more than twentv-five years. Will the Prime Minister, in the amending Bill which it is intended to introduce, allow pensions to be paid to such persons on condition that naturalization takes place at once?
– The draft Bill, which is ready to be laid on the table, provides for the amendment of the Act in the direction suggested, and reduces the period of residence in Australia from twenty-five to twenty years.
– I wish to ask the honorable member for Lang a question through you, Mr. Speaker.
– Does the honorable member realize that he can ask a question of a private member only in relation to business on the notice-paper of which that member has charge?
– My question will not relate to anything on the notice-paper.
– Then it cannot be asked.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Debate resumed from 26th May(vide page 51), on motion by Mr. Roberts -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
.- Mr. Speaker-
– Judas !
– I ask the honorable member for Hume to withdraw his remark.
– I did not refer to any individual, personally. I have a right to say that there is a leading Judas here.
Honorable Members. - Shame !
– Order ! I did not understand the honorable member for Hume to withdrawthe expression.
SirWilliam Lyne. - I shall always be found obeying your rulings, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw.
– I have the honourto inform you, Mr. Speaker, that honorable members on this side of the House have been good enough to accept me as their leader, and to add that when, but a few months ago, from the opposite side, I had the pleasure of congratulating the honorable member for Parramatta upon his accession to this office, I certainly did not anticipate that, in effect, on the motion of that honorable member I should now occupy it, and be indebted to him for the opportunity to continue this debate.
– The honorable member for Ballarat ought to be sad !
– If I may notice, in passing, the disorderly interjection of an epithet which has previously been made, I have to admit that it does not fall with any particular novelty on my ears. I have heard it applied to from four to six members of our party by the same interjector in the last few days, but until now did not know that I should also receive the compliment. The species indicated, whatever it may be-
– The honorable member for Ballarat will realize that it is not customary to refer to an interjection which has been withdrawn.
– I did not understand the interjection had been withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Hume certainly withdrew it.
– The Governor- General’s speech before us is certainly one of the longest on record. I take no objection to it on that score, except as to the discussion invited and the unwarrantable amount of our time that discussion would consume. This Parliament has no time to spare. Some of those proposals are obviously intended not to pass, and most of them are not intended to be submitted to this Parliament. As a whole, the programme is intended more for the hustings than for Parliament, and perhaps may be profitably discussed there. It certainly would be unfruitful to attempt to discuss it here. This, I need scarcely remind the House, is the last session of this Parliament. We are practically in the last month of the financial year; and the finances of the ensuing year will require close and prolonged attention. Whatever else is dealt with, or omitted to be dealt with, the finances, at least, require to be placed on a satisfactory footing before our proceedings can close. In addition, we have almost immediately a Conference called in the Mother Country to which Australia is invited to send representatives. At that Conference proposals of the highest moment relating to the naval defence of the Empire are to be discussed in private ; and it is highly desirable that the representation upon that Conference from the Commonwealth should be in accordance with the view of the majority in this House in order that it may be given effect. We have already, without taking a single item of new business, more before us than we can possibly hope to dispose of. Some necessary - some very necessary - measures must be, I fear, postponed ; and, under the circumstances, the discussion of propositions which, practical, perhaps, under other conditions, are purely theoretical now becomes not a work of necessity, but a waste and misuse of parliamentary time. But, at least, the business before us which we have to discharge - which cannot wait, and which will tax our efforts and our patience - ought to be brought forward with the least possible delay. If its discussion be confined within the narrowest limits we shall, I venture to say, be extremely fortunate if, when Christmas comes, this House has sufficiently paved the way to admit of that appeal to the country which must follow in due course.
– I hope it will come long before Christmas !
– Possibly it may.
– They are not “ game “ !
– Now, I have so far dealt with the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General. I am well aware, however, that the particular emphasis to be laid on parts of that Speech, the portions to be selected for actual treatment, and the special views which the Government entertain in regard to them, will probably require, and should receive, further exposition from the Prime Minister himself. When the honorable member addresses us, he will probably be able to separate the wheat from what I do not wish to dismiss by the name of chaff, though for the purposes of this session the discussion is as foreign as if it were chaff. I hope that the Prime Minister will point us to those measures which he has some reasonable hope of passing, and which require to be passed, and that he will favour us with that exposition of .the views of the Government in regard to them which may enable us to understand why some of them appear in this particular programme. But I venture to submit that debate on those issues must be futile - would lead us nowhere. Members cannot expect their election platform to occupy the time of this session of Parliament. The time can be much better spent, and should he spent, in coming to the point at once - in “ cutting it short.” as I think I hear an interjector say - coming to the issue. We should be told what we are to be asked to deal with out of this long programme, and why, and when. There is another argument that leaps to the eye, even more than any of those I have employed, and it is conveyed by the state of this House. Ministers cannot fail to recognise what prospects any measures they may submit must have. They -cannot fail to understand how the situation must necessarily resolve itself. They cannot fail to see that under the circumstances detailed discussion on their proposals is, or should be, out of court. Let me venture to appeal to honorable1* members on all sides-
– “On all sides”?
– On all sides, to close a profitless debate as early as possible - to confine it within the narrowest limits. I intend myself to set a goad example in this regard ; and to add, if I may, -a special appeal to honorable members on this side of the House, with whom I feel sure the necessities of the case must weigh most heavily, and who realize that, if the business of the country is to be transacted this year, it must be commenced without any further postponement.
– Is the honorable member referring to measures advocated in the Opposition corner?
– I am inviting honorable members to exercise self-restraint, in order that the business of this Parliament may be advanced at once to some important stage.
– Look at the “ wreckage “ behind the honorable member.
– There will be more wreckage presently.
– Yes ; on the other side of the House ; and, by Heavens, there should foe !
– The situation of the wreckage is made visible by the cries of the would-be wreckers.
– What did the honorable member say about the Opposition only three months ago?
– Many wise words that the honorable member would have done well to remember. It is worse than idle to ask this Parliament to continue to beat the air in relation to proposals for measures that cannot be passed while the urgency of the . situation is pressing upon us. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech was intended to serve only one purpose, and it can serve that purpose without making any undue demand upon our time. It was intended that, after it had been read, the archives of Parliament should be opened and that it should be filed there for future reference.
– The honorable member will meet his Waterloo before long.
– Order. Making all due allowance for the occasion, and for any excitement that may exist in the House, I must ask the honorable member for Hume to refrain from interjecting so freely. Interjections seriously hinder the honorable member in possession of the floor, whoever he may be, from addressing himself to the Chair.
– Mav I be permitted, Mr. Speaker, to say that I shall do exactly that which you may direct me to do, and to point out that the occasion is unprecedented in the political history of Australia.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay- Treasurer) [2-53]- - MaY I offer to the honorable member for Ballarat the usual congratulations on his assuming the leadership of the Opposition - a position in which I hope he will long acquit himself. During his brief, trenchant, and somewhat unfair criticism of the proposals of the Government I watched the faces of many of those behind him, and could not fail to observe how they enjoyed his discomfiture. They were secretly chuckling at the situation in which this Parliament finds itself. The honorable member, who has behind him a record of which any man might well be proud, stated that the policy we have submitted to the House was drafted for the country and not for this Parliament. In reply, I would tell him that, whatever may be his view of the position I occupy, the policy submitted by us in His Excellency’s Speech was drafted as the work of the session, and that it was the intention of the Government that it should be carried out. We have no occasion to claim the indulgence of Parliament in order that our policy may be put before the country. We have met every party both in the Parliaments of the States and in the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and on every occasion have been successful. It is true that the members of my party do not represent a majority in this House, but it is also true that until’ a few minutes ago we represented the largest organised section in the Parliament, and by far the largest voting strength in this Chamber. It is likewise true that the honorable member has sitting behind him to-day representatives of constituencies who have pledged themselves to a policy other than that which he has submitted to us. In view of that fact, I should like to ask the honorable member whether in the circumstances it would not be better, not merely to take Parliament into our confidence, but to seek the views of the electors on this question. The honorable member nods assent to that proposal, and I am glad that he does. I shall have the greatest pleasure in saying that both the Opposition and the Government are agreed that we should invite the electors to decide the issue before us. I do not desire that there should be any misunderstanding. I take it that the honorable member nodded his head in assent to my proposal.
– Of course, we must go to the people, and, of course, before we do so we must also do the session’s work.
– There is prevailing in this Parliament a state of affairs the like of which I have never read of in connexion with any other Legislature. The leader of the Opposition - the honorable member for Ballarat - is reported to have stated more than once that coalitions are absolutely immoral.
– It is only when there is a premature divorce that they become immoral.
– If I were in any doubt on the point, I should quote the authority of the late Lord Beaconsfield, who declared that coalitions were exceedingly immoral, and could be justified only on the ground of national emergency or danger. On that ground I am prepared to accept the challenge. But there is no national danger at the present time. There is, however, a political danger - the danger of a number of honorable members who do not represent their constituents being deprived of the positions they now occupy.
– I wish the honorable member would not speak of that subject.
– I quite believe it. I can well understand that the honorable member for Parramatta may not care to speak with the honorable member for Ballarat from the same platform, and that the honorable member for Maribyrnong, too, might not care to speak from the same platform with the honorable member for Parkes. No reflection could be cast upon those who indulged in such a procedure, provided that an intimation of their intentions were first given to their constituents, and proceedings taken in a proper constitutional manner to ascertain their views. May I remind the honorable member for Ballarat that, although he was at pains to point out the state of parties in this House, the reflection lies, not upon this Government, but upon himself.
– I put it as a reflection on the possibilities of the Government doing business, and not as a reflection on the Ministry.
– I well remember an experience which befel my late leader, the honorable member for South Sydney, when he took office as Prime Minister. Notwithstanding the strong and active service which that honorable member had rendered, not only the country, but his predecessors in office, the honorable member for Ballarat, immediately the honorable member met the House as Prime Minister, took the whole of his party into opposition.
– Not the whole of his party.
– Not the whole of them, I admit, but the great majority, of them, went into opposition. We met the House, and went on with business. We were able to carry on business for a .considerable time, but what happened? Although the honorable member for South Sydney had grounds for believing that the honorable member for Ballarat would give him reasonable support, we found very early in his career as Prime Minister that the honorable member for Ballarat voted against him, and voted against a clause of a Bill that was practically his own. The state of the House upon this side at that time was practically the same as it is now, and yet the honorable member for Ballarat has the audacity to argue now that the present state of the House is an indication to determine the fate of this Government. Let me tell the honorable member that the fate of this Government does not concern the members of it one iota. I have not been deceived in what has taken place, and the honorable member knows well that no act of courtesy has been wanting on my part, and no insidious attempt to undermine him in any way has been en- couraged by me. On the contrary, I have done everything that is fair as between man and man, according to my lights, and to the best of my ability, to keep our friendship as green as it ought to be between members representing different views, but the same ideals. That has been my course of action all through, and I make no complaint at all about the action that the honorable member has taken; but I do complain about his statement that the programme put forward by the Government was drawn up because of circumstances and statements that had been appearing in the public press. Nothing of the kind has taken place. The Government intended to put forward a. policy bv which it will stand or fall in the House and in the country.
– I did not say anything to the contrary.
– The honorable member - I took down his words - said that the measures in the Governor-General’s speech were never intended to be submitted, but were intended more for the hustings than for this House.
– I said that, taken as a whole, they were more intended for the hustings than the House.
– That statement is a gratuitous insult to the Government, and is studiously intended to be so. No other leader of an Opposition in this Parliament” has suggested anything of the kind.
– No other but the honorable member would take exception to it. T did not take exception to the honorable member’s design, but do not let us waste time in discussing it.
– Time seems to be a very important element in the situation. Why this sudden desire to save time? Can the honorable member remember a period not very long ago when time was not the essence of the contract? Can he remember a time when this party stood by him in many difficult situations, with danger to themselves, in order to see that he or his party shouldnot be, as we thought, unjustly or unfairly dealt with ? We suffered under reflections from our own people rather than seem to do an injustice, while the honorable member was occupying the Responsible position of Prime Minister.
– Exactly, and we did the same thing.
– Was time then the essence of the contract? No. Any time that the honorable member required for himself or his Government was cheerfully granted by the party that I had the honour to lead. Whatever heat or feeling may be imported into this debate, not a single confidential statement will pass my lips.
– Surely it is not necessary to say that ?
– It is necessary to say it when we find others making use of statements that have been made in confidence. It makes no difference to me what statements they make regarding these matters, but everything that has been spoken in confidence will be regarded! as sacred by me, irrespective of anything that may take place here.
– There are some confidences that I am not going to keep. I shall not submit to be trampled upon.
– I had occasion just now to ask the honorable member for Hume to discontinue his frequent interjections. I am sorry to say that although he intimated his willingness to obey the direction of the Chair, he has not done so. I hope he will do so now.
– I am quite prepared to carry out your wishes, Mr. Speaker.
– I should like to ask the honorable member for Ballarat to state more distinctly what he meant when he said that an important Imperial Conference was about to meet which would discuss issues of farreaching importance to the Dominions beyond the seas, and to the whole Empire, and that it was desirable that this Parliament should be represented by delegates whose views were in accord with those of the majority of the House. Will the honorable member be good enough to say whether he objects to the present Minister of Defence being a representative at the Conference ?
– Not as a representative of the honorable member’s Government. He himself challenged in a public speech a reference to his going to the Imperial Conference.
– Will the honorable member make a statement in plain language as to whether he or his party object to the nomination of the present Minister of Defence as a representative of Australia at that Conference?
– I object to a Government in a minority filling any office or any representative position while under challenge. That is general, and not personal to the Minister of Defence.
– At the time this appointment was made there was nosuch party on that side. The country had no knowledge of any such party, and as the Minister of External Affairs reminds me, this Government has not been challenged.
– Surely if the honorable member knew that his Government were about to be challenged he would not send a Minister to represent them at a Conference ?
– I quite agree with the right honorable member. I may be young, and uninformed in these matters, but I did not understand, nor do I understand now, that that Conference has been convened for party purposes. I never understood that the Imperial Government, acting on the suggestion not only of this Government, but on the suggestion of the Government of Canada and other oversea Dominions, invited the Parliaments to send party representatives. I had no idea that the chief advisers of His Majesty in the United Kingdom had it in their minds that the various parties in this Parliament would readjust themselves in order to select special representatives to be sent to the Conference. I am quite sure that the King and his advisers never thought that such things were possible, and they will learn with surprise that in this Parliament, after a representative has been chosen in the high official capacity of the Minister of Defence)-
– Improperly chosen.
– Does the honorable member say he was improperly chosen?
– Has Parliament approved of a naval policy yet?
– Yes. Did not Parliament approve of a naval policy when it put aside a specific amount of£250,000 for harbor and coastal defence? If there is a difference of view on that point, that furnishes a proper ground upon which to challenge the Government.
– The Prime Minister knows my opinion on that point.
– Why, then, do honorable members opposite hesitate to challenge us upon that ground? If we have done wrong, let the newly-formed Opposition formulate a charge against us.
– What charge did the honorable member bring against the last Administration when he put them out of office?
– When, some months before that event occurred, the honorable member for Gwydir moved for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the administration of the Department of the Postmaster-General, the honorable member for Ballarat, who was then Prime Minister, said that, if it were carried, he would resign office, but withdrew that statement on pressure being put upon him by his supporters, and because of what appeared in the press as to the trouble that would arise if a change of Government occurred before the Tariff, which was then under consideration, had been finally disposed of. The members of my own party know that I did my utmost to prevent the defeat of the Government on that occasion. I said that a large and compact party such as ours should not attack in sections. The party is too big, too important, and too compact; our ideas are too concrete, and our future too well assured, to permit of action of that kind. The leader of the Opposition knows that I told him, without having consulted one member of my own party, that I would do my utmost to get the party to remain behind his Government until the completion of the Tariff.
– It was a great trial to many of us to have to do it.
– The honorable member cannot say that that promise was not performed to the letter.
– The honorable member is now givingthe reason why his party kept the late Administration in office, not why it put us out.
– I am recounting what happened, in its, historical sequence, and shall presently read from Hansard exactly what I said when informing the House that we had decided to no longer support the Deakin Administration. That statement was full, ample, and complete in every detail.
– The point is that, although the honorable member now asks from me specific reasons for taking action against the Administration, he did not give such reasons when in a position similar to that which I now occupy.
– Let the honorable member give us the inward history of what took place.
– I am willing to give the fullest statement; but the best thing to be done is to allow the electors an opportunity to ask candidates for seats in this House whether they intend, if chosen, to stand by their pledges, or to coalesce with others whose principles they have denounced as destructive of the best interests of the country. My pledges to my constituents have been binding on my conscience and on my actions, and if honorable members opposite had been similarly bound we should not have the present state of affairs. The statement which I am about to read was made long after the honorable member for Ballarat had intimated that he intended to resign the position of Prime Minister. I felt it difficult to hold the Labour Party together, and to give to the Government of the day that full support which I thought necessary in accordance with views previously expressed. What I said is reported in Hansard in these words -
I desire to intimate to the House, and to the country, that which I have already privately intimated to the Prime Minister : that the Labour Party can no longer support the Government. I can only say that our relations with the Ministry, personally, have been of the most friendly character. Although from time to time embarrassing circumstances have arisen, we have always endeavoured to co-operate in every possible way with the Government in regard to matters that we thought concerned the welfare of the Commonwealth. There have been situations of embarrassment in which I have always sought, to the best of my ability, to safeguard the interests of the Parliament, and the wellbeing of the country. Whilst I freely admit that we have frequently felt the restraint that a large party such as ours must feel in difficult circumstances, I, personally, have always held that, occupying the position that we do, we must treat any Government situated as this Ministry is in a perfectly straightforward manner. We are taking this course now, because it is, to our minds, one of decency, and of order. The time might come when one party or the other might take such action as would create a crisis, in circumstances that would render it impossiblefor the country to learn exactly how the situation arose. I have endeavoured, whilst safeguarding the interests of the Commonwealth, to restrain within reasonable bounds any adverse criticism, and now that Ican no longer do that, I think that I am performing what is more a public than, a party duty in telling the House and the country the determination at which we have arrived. I have stated our position as plainly as I can, and have only to add that in taking the course which I did during a previous crisis, I had the support of my party, the members of which felt that until at least the Tariff was dealt with there rested upon us the public duty of giving the Government a reasonable support in every situation that a party placed as they were and are might find themselves in.
I ask whether reasons are not given in that full statement?
– I did not find fault with it.
– Then what is all the trouble about now ?
– The honorable member demands an entirely different statement from me. He is not satisfied with a general explanation of the situation.
– Does the honorable member pretend to say that the circumstances are similar ? He, before the occasion to which I am referring, had stated that he would remain in office only until a certain measure had been carried into law. The measure having been passed, and his Government being still in disfavour and embarrassed, I intimated that the Labour Party would not continue to stand compactly behind it. The presentGovernment has been in office for six months, and now comes forward with a programme. Does the honorable member says that Ministers are incapable of properly transacting the affairs of theCommonwealth, and that their programme is underserving of consideration? It will be the action of cowards not to face the proposals which we have put forward. I deny that these proposals are mere placards. The honorable member for Ballarat, who has so characterized them, and every other honorable member, knows well that they are not.
– The honorable member has not yet got to the point.
– Surely I am not to be charged with not wishing to face a difficulty. What is the point ?
– The question is : By what authority did the Government spend the .£250,000 to -which, reference has been made?
– I expected a reply from the front bench, but it has come from the back.
– Why are we not- challenged in respect to that matter, if honorable members opposite disapprove of our action in regard to it?
– Yes ; why is there not a. specific charge brought against us? It seems to be the desire of the new leader” of the Opposition to prevent the discussion of the Government’s programme.
– What is the honorable member doing now but discussing it?
– I am exercising my right to reply to the remarks of the honorable member. Had I not possessed such a right, I should not have hesitated to appeal to the courtesy of the House for per- , mission to do so. Have Ministers, or have I, done anything that should debar us from the opportunity to place our views before the country ?
– What are the Government doing now ?
– We are doing exactly what all other persons in our position would do. I may be in error, and I hope I am, but I understand there is a desire not to allow a free and full discussion on a matter that is of vital importance to the people of the Commonwealth and to this Parliament. Of course, there are no friends like new friends; and when we find the, honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for Ballarat agreeing on a question of this kind, we may surmise that new circumstances have arisen which necessitate silence. Besides, behind silence much may be hidden. But, as the honorable member for Flinders would say, this is no place for things to be done in silence, but one where all that can be said against the Government should be stated in such a way that not only honorable members,- but the people of the country may comprehend what has been done to justify a change of Administration.
– Did the Prime Minister set out all matters very clearly a short time ago when he removed the late Government ?
– I have just read a full and complete history of the .whole circumstances. I do not wish to revert to the position of the Minister of Defence, but I may say that I expressed to that gentleman my opinion that the Conference in England is not a party conference.
– Does not Senator Pearce go Home as Minister of Defence ? Is he not appointed to represent the Government as one of the members of the Government, and does he not go in his official capacity?
– Then he ought not to be submitted to the indignity of being recalled when half way to England. I should not like to expose a man so worthy of respect as he is to such an indignity.
– I am glad to hear the pertinent remark of the right honorable member, but may I remind him that his associate and late leader, the honorable member for Parramatta, is reported as publicly challenging this Government for appointing two of .its own number, and declaring that this is not a party matter and ought not to be considered as such.
– I said that the Prime Minister had many times declared that it was not a party matter, but that, while so regarding it, he had appointed two of his own number.
– I am glad the honor, able member confirms the opinion I have always held that these are not party matters. I am now merely challenging the statement of the honorable member for Ballarat when he holds that the representatives at the Conference must speak for honorable members opposite.
– They must speak for Parliament, was what the honorable member for Ballarat said.
– No; he said they must speak for honorable members opposite. The feeling is that this large and growing party called the Labour Party, must not send its representatives to the centre of the Empire, because of the prejudice of past parties in this House.
– A member of the Labour Party was sent to the Navigation Conference.
– With all due respect, that was a subsidiary conference.
– So is this.
– But it is a subsidiary Conference to deal with matters of the first importance.
– So was the Navigation Conference.
– The Attorney -General would be quite able to take part in any conference ; but we know that a mere Navigation Conference is not to be compared with one called to discuss, though not finally to determine, the whole question of defence of every part of the Empire. Surely the honorable member for Ballarat will not try to cloud the issue in this way.
– The Prime Minister made the assertion himself.
– The only object of the statement of the honorable member for Ballarat is to prevent our sending Home to this Conference an honorable colleague, who is an Australian native, and a man who, as Minister of Defence, has done more in his time to endeavour to reform and put the defences of the country on a satisfactory basis than any previous Minister.
– Does the Prime Minister claim that the Minister of Defence represents all sides of the House?
– The honorable member said just now that it was necessary that any one sent should do so.
– If the Minister of Defence does not represent all sides of the House, he, at any rate, is a fit representative of a very large section of the House. Though, from appearances, he may not be regarded as representing all honorable members, I venture to say that he represents the largest body of electors of Australia. The honorable member for Ballarat said that there were large questions of finance that ought to be discussed by this Parliament. May I ask whether he thinks that he and. his party - those new allies of his - possess all the knowledge of finance in this House? May I remind him that again and again, years ago, I suggested that there ought to be a discussion on the important subject of the finances. What opportunity was given for such a discussion during his term as Prime Minister?
– My Government brought forward two elaborate schemes.
– But what opportunity for discussion was there, except on the Address-in-Reply ?
– Nonsense ! There were the Budgets.
– Years ago I desired that there should be a specific motion submitted and discussed.
– And so there were on our Budgets.
– Inmy Gympie speech I outlined, much more clearly, I think, than any other Treasurer, a finance scheme of far-reaching importance; and I ask whether the honorable member for Ballarat considers it beneath his dignity to make any reference to that scheme?
– I have been criticising it for weeks.
– If the honorable member refers to his Sydney speech, which I chatted over with him in a friendly way, he will admit that it ought not to be the basis of a discussion here.
– Not as its finance was reported.
– I can only go by what is reported ; and sosure was I that the honorable member never intentionally nut the matter in the way published that I declined to make any reference to the speech on the platform.
– I afterwards put all the financial points more elaborately, and they were properly reported.
– I have not seen the elaborated statement published. The fact remains that I set out financial proposals, which may be good or bad, just as they are viewed ; and, at any rate, they embody a financial scheme that we ought to hear something about in the near future. It was with the greatest reluctance that I took what I regard as a very bold step in declaring fora lesser amount to be returned to the States than had been suggested by any previous Minister. I did not do that to curry favour with the States ; and the honorable member for Mernda, who takes a great interest in this matter, must know that, had that been my object for political purposes, I should have offered the States more. I felt it my duty, however, to this young party, and to the Commonwealth and the Parliament, to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and, therefore, I suggested that £5,000.000, or not less than that sum, should be returned to the States for all time, with £250,000 to be distributed over a term of years on a sliding scale to Western Australia. That was the amount which, so far as I could see the Commonwealth could afford. This, it will be noted, is less than any sum proposed by any previous Minister, and yet it is suggested that the offer is made to curry publicfavour. Had that been the aim, we should have paltered and peddled with the finances of the Commonwealth, as other Governments have done. This Government took office in ayear when the whole of the Commonwealth’s one-fourth of the revenue had been appropriated; and I may remind honorable members that the revenue from Customs and Excise and the Post Office has failed to reach the estimate.
– I pointed thatout on every occasion.
– I am not complaining on that score, but merely desire to point out that the estimates of expenditure must of necessity be cut down to meet the revenue. Notwithstanding all the difficulties that had to be contended with, we have exercised the greatest care in administration, and cut down, the services in every possible way consistent with reasonable efficiency ; and the Government, so far from seeking to popularize themselves, have actually placed their supporters at a disadvantage, for the sake of carrying out a sound financial policy during this year. We have been able to put to the Trust Fund for the payment of old-age pensions a sum exceeding the estimate by£90,000, leaving now in that fund an amount, approximately, £700,000. I think the total sum appropriated last year amounts to£193,000 odd ; and then later came an addition of £500,000, giving a reserve, as I say, of nearly £700,000.
– We have in view the public works in regard to which the expenditure was cut down.
– The honorable member for Moreton gives me exactly the interjection I want, though he seems to think it contains a great joke.
– The Government did not spend the money that was voted.
– By rigid and necessary economies, we have been able to do what we said we would do, namely, find money to pay old-age pensions. I should like to know from the honorable member for Ballarat whether he is correctly reported as saying that the payment of old-age pensions was in danger?
– Then I say that that remark is not worthy of the honorable member.
– What I contended was that there was need for making further provision for old-age pensions ; and that the Prime Minister admits.
– Yes. The honorable member for Ballarat claims that his Government was the author and finisher’ of the old-age pension scheme.
– I did not say that at all.
– They may make that claim, and have all the honour and glory of the scheme if they like. Honorable members opposite may claim as much glory as they please ; our sole claim is that we performed a public duty. The payment of old-age pensions will not be endangered by our remaining in office.
Mr.Deakin. - The honorable member has since explained his proposition. I pointed out at the time that I could not understand it. He knows why.
– I have not that point in mind at present. The question is a very important one. We have about £700,000 to the credit of the Trust Fund to provide for the payment of oldagepensions. During the year we have accumulated, £500,000 for that purpose, and surely we shall be able during the first year in which we shall be called upon to pay oldage pensions to set apart a like amount? The first year’s payments may not exceed £1,500,000, and surely we should be able by our taxation proposals to collect another £300,000 making the necessary total available for this purpose? If the Commonwealth coined its own silver, or had the work carried out in England until we had a mint established in the Federal Capital, we should in that way secure a profit of £100,000 per annum. Indeed, I venture to say that in the first year of the new system we should make a profit of £200,000, since the people would demand a very considerable amount of the new coinage. Such a profit, to my mind, would not be extraordinary. Then, again, as I have pointed out, by taking over the paper currency we should be able to make a profit of £100,000 per annum on the capital that would be invested. The honorable member for Oxley smiles. Is he not aware that the paper currency system in force in the State of which he is a representative is that which we propose for the Commonwealth? We find that those who ought to know something about these matters know nothing about them. Does the honorable member for Oxley object to a Commonwealth note issue on the basis of the Queensland State note issue?
– I have not said a word.
– The State note issue of Queensland was inaugurated in 1893, and in my Gympie speech I outlined in detail our proposal in regard to a Commonwealth currency.; As I showed then, silver is merely a legal tender to the extent of £2, so that it may be said that, like paper, it is only a token. The note issue, backed by gold, ought to be in the hands of the Commonwealth: While there is a Government in existence, no private company should be allowed to issue paper payable on demand. For sixteen years the system that we propose has worked satisfactorily in Queensland, and although the bankers in the State Parliament when the Act was passed in 1893 declared that its effect would be to reduce the paper currency in the hands of the people of that State-
– So it has.
– Let me tell the honorable member that, per capita, 50 per cent. more paper is being used in Queensland than in any other State. Although the State Parliament set aside gold reserves, amounting to 25 per cent. of the note issue, to meet any sudden demand for exchange, in no instance has the demand exceeded 12½ per cent. I am assured by the officer in charge in Queensland that 12½ per cent. would cover all the exchange demands made at any time in Queensland. That fact illustrates the absolute confidence of the people in a State as opposed to a private note issue.
– A note has never been dishonoured in Australia.
– Hundreds of them have been dishonoured.
– I would refer the honorable member for Angas to an Act passed in Queensland providing for the issue of Treasury notes to redeem the bank notes of a private company. Would the honorable member assert that those private notes were not dishonoured ?
– I say that they have all been paid up.
– Does the honorable member as a lawyer mean to say that, if a bank is not prepared to redeem one of its notes until twenty or thirty years after its issue, that note is not to all intents and purposes dishonoured? What is the value of a note if it be not payable on demand? I could have brought before the House, had I thought it necessary, many adver tisements by business men offering fifteen shillings’ worth of goods for every £1 note issued by a certain banking institution.
– The point is that the public did not know that the note issue was a first charge or. the assets of the bank, and that there was consequently a temporary depreciation.
– We have made an important financial proposal; and it is well that its chief aim should be understood. When certain banks closed their doors some years ago their note issue in many instances depreciated.
– But there was no question of solvency. The notes were a first charge on the assets of the bank.
– That is admitted, and they ought to be a first charge on the assets of the bank issuing them. But does not the honorable member admit that, although the paper currency of a private institution may be payable on demand, and is a first charge on the assets, including the uncalled capital, of a bank, it depreciates in value with the closing of the doors of that institution ? At the time of the financial crisis working men who were paid in notes in some cases could obtain only fifteen shillings in the £1 for them.
– Any man might be a fool for a week.
– Will the honorable member admit that in. Australia a number of banks have for a time closed their doors, and that others have shut down altogether ?
– I know what I am talking about, since I was a member of a Commission appointed in South Australia to deal with the whole question. Is the honorable gentleman aware that the total note issue is only about 3 per cent. of the currency in Australia?
– That being so, will not the honorable member, as one who has studied this question, admit that there must be greater security attaching to a Commonwealth note issue than there can be in connexion with the issue of notes by small proprietary companies ?
– Not as the statute law on note issue rests. There may be in imagination, but not in reality.
– I beg to differ from the honorable member. There must be absolute safety in a note issue that is redeemable whenever a person desires to exchange it for gold. There is absolute security in the Government control of all currency. To those who talk about making paper money I have nothing to say. Their ignorance protects them. They know nothing about the matter, and it is useless, therefore, to discuss it with them. But in my opinion none of our currency should have passed from the hands of the State. The subsidiary authorities who issue our currency do so only by leave of Parliament, and in’ that way secure opportunities of trading and assisting their own shareholders without the due protection of the people. I have gone into this question at some length, in order that our position in regard to it may not be misrepresented by honest men. I hope that we shall in future hear less of gross misrepresentations. There is much more that I should like to say, and which it might be advisable to put before the people; hut I propose to close mv remarks with a reference to a statement reported to have been made by the leader of the Opposition in a speech delivered recently by him in the Melbourne Town Hall. .He then challenged our party, declaring that the members of it were bound to do the bidding of certain outside organizations.
– Hear, hear.
– Although the honora Die member for Corio says “ hear, hear,” the honorable member for Ballarat shakes his head.
– I did not put the matter in the way that the honorable gentleman has put it. What I say is that small outside committees in certain instances exercise a patronage that gives them an improper control of parliamentary representation.
– I have no fear .for the honour of our party, or of its individual members. I do not address my remarks to those to whose interest it is to misrepresent our party; I am speaking rather to the great honest public outside, who desire to know the facts.
– Is it not a fact that when a Premier of Queensland desired to enter into a coalition with the Labour Party in the State Parliament, the Labour Party there had to forward his letter to the local political labour organization - the Trades Hall Council - the Junta, or whatever it mav be called ? Mr. FISHER.- No.
– That is like most of the yarns that the honorable member tells.
– The letter was read from the platform.
– I cannot say what has happened in that regard in Queensland during the last two or three years; but, after all, these statements are really pitiable, and, it seems, are likely to be repeated in connexion with the history of this Parliament. I attended the first conference held in Queensland to draw up a Labour platform. That was in 1892. I am familiar with the whole of that platform, and can say that I have never been asked to do anything that did not appear on the platform on which I stood before my constituents. I go further, and say to you. Mr. Speaker, as I have said to my constituents, that anyone who suggested or attempted dictation would receive the reply that he had no control over my actions.
– Bitter complaints to the contrary have been made in Victoria time and again.
– The statements made to the contrary are not true.
– Perhaps not to the honorable member’s knowledge.
– I mean regarding the facts. No Labour member is pledged to do anything, or can be called upon to do anything, that, he has not advocated or supported when standing before his constituents.
– That is not the point I, made. I said that the selection of candidates was controlled by small bodies - very small bodies in some constituencies - whose proceedings had been complained about again and again. Then there was the caucus.
– If the issue is now narrowed down to whether the labour organizations adopt the best methods of selecting candidates or not, it is a very small one indeed; but honorable members behind the honorable member for Ballarat had a very different idea. The idea that has been put forward by a number of honorable members, either from ignorance or malice against their opponents, is that the members of this party when elected are controlled and directed from session to session by an outside organization. That is a wilful and malicious misstatement of facts. It has been absolutely and repeatedly denied. I want to ask. my honorable friends opposite why it is that anathemas are always hurled at this party; why there is always an allegation of some great defect in us ; why, accusations of immorality, political or otherwise, are invariably cast at us? Is it because we have stood up for those people who need champions in Parliament ?
– Are the Labour Party the only men who have done so?
– May I remind the honorable member that twenty years ago - long before he came to Australia - his political friends said to us, “ If you have grievances, why do you not go to Parliament and remedy them?” We came to Parliament. We have come in such numbers that we have revolutionized Parliament; so much so, that to-day we find every vested interest, every party of conservative thought, gathering into one group with a view to meeting the advancing storm. May I remind honorable members - and it is a delightful reminder to me - that the working men and women of Australia desire to be emancipated from their present dire struggle for subsistence ? May I remind them of the anomalous condition, of ‘ affairs when the Port Pirie unionists asked to be relieved of work on one day in the week, but could not get the relief ?
– 12s. 6d. a week is the maximum wage the honorable member’s Government offer to a working man.
– The honorable member has a mania on that subject.
– Take no notice of the honorable member. He volunteered to go to South Africa and hid himself when the selection was being made.
-While interjections from the Opposition are very undesirable, still there may be some excuse for them; but I can see no excuse for honorable members sitting behind the Prime Minister supplementing his speech.
– May I remind honorable members that the men at Port Pirie wished to have one day a week with their families, but could not get it ? We were sent to this Parliament by the people to enable us at least to do justice to them. Surely if there is one thing we can agree about it is this. People have sometimes suggested that I cast a reflection on the High Court when they differed from the award of the Judge of the Arbitration Court, but I did nothing of the kind. The Judges of the High Court are carrying out the law, and I cast no reflection upon them; but if the law is against progress and humanity, we are here to alter the law, and
I made reference to the matter so that we might educate the public mind, and get the law altered. Surely ‘ honorable members opposite will agree with me that this Parliament ought to have power to pass a law that will enable the workmen to have one day off in seven, if they so desire it. That has been denied to them. They are compelled by the terms of their engagement to work seven days a week. It has been said that the work could not be so arranged that it could be done in six days, but I am of opinion that by adding one-seventh to the number of men employed, each of the men could get a Sunday, or at least one day, off a week. That is my idea of arithmetic. I trust that the electors of Australia will soon have an opportunity to empower this Parliament to deal with industrial questions in that broad, general, and equitable way which would be justified from a humanitarian point of view- from the point of view of every honest-minded man who desires to see some meed of justice done to the toilers of this country.
– Does the honorable member mean an absolute control of industrial legislation ?
– I do not claim that absolute control should be in the hands of the Federal Parliament, but I do say that this Parliament should have power to do justice to every toiler in The Commonwealth.
– Can that be, without absolute control?
– I think so, although it may not be desirable to undertake all the subsidiary duties of protecting the health or wages or labour conditions of the workers. It is strange that, in the first session of the Federal Parliament, a conservativeminded man like Sir William McMillan stated on the floor of this House, as recorded in Hansard - and, I think, the honorable member for Laanecoorie expressed the same view - that if they had known at the time of the Convention what the powers of the Federal Parliament would be, they would have given to it industrial powers also. Four or five other honorable members supported that view, and, indeed, the Parliament at that time was almost unanimous on the matter. Yet now, when we desire to give larger industrial powers to the Commonwealth, certain honorable members accuse us of trying to undermine and destroy the powers of the States, and going in for unification. We are doing nothing of the kind.
The National Parliament ought to have power to protect the worker equally with the manufacturer. Having the power to impose Customs and Excise duties, we can protect the capitalist, the man who has plenty of money to protect himself and his wife and family for a year without working, but we have not the power to protect the man who may not have capital enough to keep his wife and family for one week from the verge of starvation. Are we to be content with those limited powers because of the cry of unification ? This party will not be afraid to face that question. We think that larger industrial powers are necessary, and that they ought to be direct. We should have the constitutional power to authorize a Judge, after investigating the circumstances, to do justice to the toilers of the Commonwealth. Whatever be the result of the motion to be proposed, this Government will cheerfully accept the verdict, and I am glad to have the concurrence of the leader of the Opposition in the view that, as Parliament has come to a state of uncertainty, the best thing possible is for us to consult the people of the Commonwealth regarding the legislation which is to take place.
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Under the Standing Orders the question must be at once put, and cannot be debated.
– Is this the closure?
Question - That the debate be now adjournedput. The House divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative ; debate adjourned.
Positionof the Ministry.
– In moving -
That this House do now adjourn,
I wish to say that I regard the vote which has just been taken as one of want of confidence in the Government, though ‘[ cannot think that by it the honorable member for Ballarat and his followers desired to prevent other honorable members from making a few remarks upon the situation. I wish to point out to him that when he left office, it was only after days of consideration and debate. The procedure of this afternoon has been introduced into this Parliament for the first time, so that the circumstances are exceptional.
– What has been done is most contemptible.
– There has been a change of front on the part of some honorable members which, to my knowledge, has astounded and disgusted many of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Seemingly there is to be an interregnum, to allow tracks to be covered up; but it was inconceivable to me that what has been done by some honorable members could have taken place. I ask that the debate on this motion may be regarded as a debate on a motion of want of confidence, sothat the representatives of the people may have an opportunity to make public their views of the situation.
– The honorable member does not, I presume, wish me to answer the question with which he concluded his remarks.
– The present occasion is unprecedented in the political history of Australia, and almost in that of the English-speaking world. If I speak strongly on the motion, it is because an opportunity to speak on a previous motion was denied me by the attitude of the young member for Wentworth, who needs a little more sense. I wish to speak as calmly as it is possible about what I regard as the diabolical position in which we have been placed by a
– The honorable mem- ber must not use language like that.
– I apologize for the words. Knowing the arrangements under which support was given by the Labour Party to the late Administration, of which the honorable member for Ballarat was leader, I am astounded at what has taken place. My political life has been, probably, as long as that of any other honorable member, and during the whole of it I have striven to be consistent. I have never sold a colleague, and I have never sold my principles. I would rather cut out my tongue, or cut off my hand, or lose my seat fifty times, and keep my honour, than remain in politics, even as a private member, at the price of personal dishonour. I have been treated as, perhaps, no man has been treated by a colleague.
– The Labour Party seems to have treated the honorable member well.
– If the Labour Party fights me, I cannot help it; I am not going to renounce my principles. The people believe in men who will fight for their principles, even though the support of those principles may cause them to fall. Last session, I was the humble instrument in the passing of the Tariff, which is weaker than I intended it to be. The members of the Opposition corner party, to their disgrace be it said, spoilt that Tariff, and nearly every one of them would lose his seat in Parliament did he not creep into this l ittle den for protection. But some of them will disappear at the next election, as will some of the members of the direct Opposition. I. was able to pass the Tariff, on the promise, given as an honorable man to the leader of the Labour Party, that I would support to the utmost the New Pro- tection, and that the Tariff should not be completed until that was passed. I have my honour to uphold, and no one shall take it from me. I know the arrangements between the leader of the late Administration and the leader of the Labour Party and two or three others, and I know that they have been ruthlessly broken. The supporters of the late Government, being in a minority, it was arranged that the Labour Party should stand behind them to enable certain work to be transacted before action was taken to remove it, and the promise was given that we would then go out of office and give the Labour Party our support so long as its proposals were reasonable. We see now the “reasonable support” that the honorable member for Ballarat and his followers are giving. What has been done is a cowardly thing.
– Thehonorable member is evidently speaking under very strong emotion, but even that will not permit me to ignore any breach of the Standing Orders. He has no right to charge another honorable member with having done what is a cowardly thing, and I ask him to withdraw the remark, and toproceed without using such strong language.
– I withdraw the remark, because I have the greatest respect for you, sir, and so has the House. I cannot have respect for some other persons, to whom I do not wish to speak and with whom I do not wish to shake hands again. The Tariff would not be on the statute-book to-day had it not been for the assistance given to the late Government by the Labour Party. We were fought by the Opposition corner party in a manner which I had better not describe, but which caused me to say to its members that all my influence would be used to put some of them out of Parliament. I shall put them out, especially the honorable member for Flinders, if I can. The country owes a debt of gratitude to some honorable members, many of whom sank their principles in the interests of the country, and passed a Tariff which, though not as good as it should be, will be made better, whether there be a combination of confusionists or not. The present leader of the Opposition has assumed some funny phases in his life. I may say that no man threw his heartmore into his work than I did in helping that honorable gentleman when he was Prime Minister, especially when he was absent through illness ; and yet how has he treated me ? Honorable members know how I fought here night after night, while, on the other hand, the right honorable member for Swain deserted the Government when Mr. Deakin was sick. I was asked - I shall not say begged - by my then leader to give up a position in the Government that I greatly desired, namely, that of Minister for Trade and Customs, in order to take up the position which had been occupied by the right honorable member for Swan. I took that position to help him, and I worked hard in order, as it appears, to be treated as I am being treated now.
– The honorable member never gave up a portfolio !
– I abandoned the portfolio I desired to keep; and on many other occasions I sank my own wishes in order to meet those of the leader whom J trusted. But no more in my life, even if I live a long time ! I call on the protectionists of the country to overwhelm such a man, who will sell them in the future as he is selling them now. It is all very well to say that Beale and company have the Protectionist band behind them in Sydney. I shall teach them a lesson before I am much older !
– The honorable member has a fine opportunity !
– I have; it is the best I ever had in my life. I am untrammelled, and I shall never belong to Joe Cook or his party. When our party were together, at the time of the Watson Administration, and we were strong, great differences amongst us were caused by the right honorable member for Swan and Mr. Octavius Beale ; and the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Deakin, without the consent of his party, recommended three members of our party to join the right honorable member for East Sydney. I fought that proposal, though not as strenuously or as hostilely as I am going to fight now. What was the result? All these three men are out of Parliament ; and I hope to God a great many more will be. For this the right honorable member for Swan and Mr. Beale were responsible, through the supineness of Mr. Deakin; and a similar thing is being done now by the right honorable member for Swan, Sir Robert Best, and Mr. Beale. What has a man in public life to live for if not honesty of purpose and the good of his country ? As for the honorable member for Parkes, though his views and mine do not coincide, I give him every credit for sticking tohis principles.I would rather coalesce with such a man, knowing what to expect, than with things that do not know their minds or what to do. I have known the honorable member for Parkes a great many years, and can, as I say, admire him for adhering to his views ; and I do not like silver-tongued traitors, who act the part of the man to whom I have referred and whom we know of old. When the honorable member for South Sydney, Mr. Watson, a man we all respect, got into power, who put him out ? Mr. Poynton. - The same crowd.
-Yes; though they did not do it quite as they have acted now. The people of the country will not. tolerate such unfair, ungenerous, disloyal, and untruthful action as has taken place to-night.
– Well, perhaps the last adjective was out or order. We shall have those honorable members before the country before long. If ever I fought in my life, and I have done some fighting -thank God I have health and strength - I shall fight in the time that is coming. This is no occasion for mealy words; it is an occasion for strong men with strong principles to put, not only in the cold shades of Opposition, but out of Parliament altogether, men who have no principles.We wish to have an honest Parliament, and not a mixed medley of nobodies who are merely clamouring for office. I am hurt beyond measure when I think of the treatment that has been meted out to a party that, had it stood firm, had the key of every position. That party has been scattered to the winds by the leader whom I once thought loyal. I am not going to mince matters here, but will tell a few truths. Ever since we have been in recess, and after the Prime Minister made his speech at Gympie, my late leader has been hunting round for some excuse for attacking the Government ; and I desired to know on what he could base an attack. As Treasurer of his Government, I know that his proposal was to build, not twenty-three torpedo boats, but six, and yet the honorable member for Ballarat finds an excuse for attacking the Government on the ground that they propose to build twenty-three, and also, I hope, some submarines.
– The honorable member must not tell tales out of school !
– This is a time unrivalled in history, and every tale should be told. Under ordinary circumstances, I should not state these facts, but, within the last ten days, the honorable member for Ballarat has deceived me to an extent I never was deceived in my life before, though I was told I was his principal adviser, and believed it. That is the sort of thing I am not going to stand. I am not a putty fool, if other people are of that substance, and can be moulded as others please. I absolutely disown, and never wish to speak to, a man who has behaved as the honorable member for Ballarat has behaved to the people of the country. I emphasize the statement, which will appear in Hansard, that, within the last week or ten days, I have to my face been deliberately misled.
– The honorable member’ may-
– I do not wish to talk to little boys like the honorable member. I do wish, however, that my dear old friend, his father, had been here, because he would have had nothing to do with that in which his son is now taking part.
– That is not fair !
– It is right; the honorable member’s father was a fine old man, whom I respected and loved. I carefully read the speech delivered by the honorable member for Ballarat at the Melbourne Town Hall ; and in it I could find no reason whatever for the action he has taken. The speech, as a matter of fact, really supports the Ministry, if principles are to be considered; and I do not see why we should be called upon to take part in such action as that suggested by the honorable member for Ballarat, if the policy of which we approve is being carried out. There is no reason whatever for the defeat of this Government, as there was no reason for the defeat of the Watson Government; indeed, the action on the present occasion is ten times more scandalous than on the former. I know that in New South Wales, at any rate, the present Prime Minister, during his visit there, raised himself and the Labour Party fifty per cent, in the estimation of the people, and that there are now joining the Labour Party, many as high in social position as some I see sitting in the Opposition. These men are joining the Labour Party because they have met a Prime Minister who is fearless, strong, courageous, and truthful. [Si .
– The Labour Party-
– Will ‘the hon’orable member be quiet? I hope sectarianism will not keep the sectarian member, Joe Cook, in.
– Leave me alone; I cannot stand this !
– I cannot let the honorable member alone, because he is the bete noire of the whole of Australia. I do not altogether agree with the financial proposals of the Government, but I should like to know how far the late leader of our party is going to turn himself inside out over those proposals? Is he going to do as he does in other matters? I am prepared for anything from him now, and, therefore, I shall not be deceived; and 1 am quite prepared to expect anything from two or three honorable members who are sitting with him, and who have “turned dog” as they have. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to smile, but I see no smiles on the faces of those who belonged to our party. Those honorable members are in the cauldron now, and boiling, and will very scon be eaten, and placed in that oblivion where they ought to have been some time ago. I desire that there should be no delay in regard to the financial proposals. It has been suggested in a smoothtongued sort of way that the whole matter should stand over for five years. But it shall not remain in abeyance with my consent for five years. I shall fight hard to have it settled immediately. If it had been finally dealt with seven or eight years ago, we should have avoided the present trouble. The Post and Telegraph Department would not have drifted into its present position, nor would the States have received the large amounts which, in my opinion, ought not to have been returned to them. If it is to be allowed to remain unsettled, we shall have a continuance of the disasters that followed the action taken again and again against my wishes. I am prepared to map out my own course, and have no hesitation in describing as cowardly, a Ministry that will allow this matter to stand over for five years. Their idea is to put it aside in order to permit of the fusion^ of carries that has taken place, and which must end in confusion. Their object is to allow it to stand over until after the elections. That is a cowardly position to take up, and I hope that the House will not tolerate it. The majority against” the Government on the division taken a few minutes ago was, I believe, only eight; and I think that that majority will be reduced before long. In the circumstances, if those in opposition to the coalition are prepared to work, as I hope and believe they are, we ought to be strong enough, not merely to stop the coalition, but to put it out.
– It is not yet in office.
– That is so ; but I suppose that it soon will be. I can always fight an open enemy, but not a false and treacherous friend. I find it impossible to fight a man who has been undermining me, without my knowledge, while he has been in the heart of my confidence. I can fight a man who is openly opposed to me, and can respect his opinions ; but, I repeat, that I can never fight a false friend, and that I never can and never will forgive one. Sometimes it takes a long time to find out a man, and the longer it takes the stronger and the longer one should fight him when one does. That is my position. I regret it very much ; but I feel constrained to speak strongly. I care nothing for the little gibes and laughter of those who have won. They have won over the death-bed of our party and its principles; they have won owing to the presence of our leading traitor, and other traitors in our camp.
– It is only a temporary victory.
– I acknowledge that. I am confident that the people will stand by those who have stood to their guns and their principles. They did so in connexion with the defeat of the Ministry led by the honorable member for South Sydney. They rejected the men who on that occasion played the part of traitors; but another, the honorable member for Ballarat, who had acted with them, lurked behind others, and did not meet his deserts. I do not wish to go into any minor matters that have been touched on ; but I wishto refer briefly to the proposed Government note issue. An honorable gentleman who has joined my late leader, when Treasurer in a former Administration, sent to England, without the knowledge of his colleagues, a copy of a National Banking Bill. I knew nothing of the Bill until, through the instrumentality of the governor of the Bank of England, I saw a copy of it. When I saw it I was astounded.
– That was always done.
– The right honorable member ordered the copies of the Bill to be burnt when I took over the office of Treasurer ; but I was careful to see that they were not burnt. I have them now.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Hume justified in making a statement that is absolutely without foundation? I did not do what he alleges.
– That is not a point of order. It is a matter which the right honorable member may explain, if he desires, later on.
– I can only say that I heard the right honorable member, in his own office, give an instruction that the copies in the office should be burnt. As soon as his back was turned I told the officers to keep them.
SirJohn Forrest. - No one would believe the honorable member.
– No one has ever found me out in a lie.
– The honorable member has been very lucky.
– Had I been in the honorable member’s company I should have been debased long ago.
– The honorable member has been in my company many a time.
– And the honorable member has sold me just as he has sold other people. I refer to this question of a Commonwealth note issue, because I cannot understand why an honorable member should object to the Government proposal, although when he was in office he was in favour of, and produced, a Banking Bill, which he told me later on he was going to submit to the Parliament. That Banking Bill contained a great deal more than is proposed by the present Government.
– I have not said a word about the Banking Bill or proposals of the Government in regard toit.
– The present situation recalls to my mind a little story concerning a very old friend of mine in the Parliament of New South Wales, who although an able financier, didnot often make a fighting speech. On one occasion there arose in the State Parliament a crisis which I do not mean to compare with that now before us, since, in my view, this is the greatest crisis that has occurred in the political history of Australia. In connexion with the crisis to which I refer, my friend made a very able financial statement, and was followed by another old friend of mine, Mr. Tom O’Mara, who was a brilliant speaker. “Oh,” said he, “my dear old friend Jim has made an excellent financial statement, but this is a time for blood and hair.” And he made it a time of “ blood and hair.” We are going to do the same. The late leader of the party to which I belong has taken the Government to task in respect of their financial proposals. As Treasurer in his Administration I know that he was aware of the condition of the Treasury, and of what I was going to do. He knew that it was my intention for the last six months of the year to finance the old-age pensions. He knew that I had not the necessary funds, and that that was the only course open to me. Yet he now attacks the Treasurer for not giving full particulars as to how he proposes to find the money for that scheme. I think that a Prime Minister should also hold the office of Treasurer, and that in such circumstances as I have disclosed, it is the duty of the Treasurer to direct his officers to curtail expenditure when the funds at his disposal are limited. In that way the present Treasurer has succeeded in placing the Treasury and the old-age pensions fund in a much better position than it occupied when my late leader left office.
– And the votes of Parliament have been ignored.
– I am not dealing with that point. My contention is that we should be prepared to give credit where credit is due. The honorable member for Indi is opposed to a land tax ; he objects to replenishing the Treasury in any way except, perhaps, by dragging money from those who receive only a very small pittance. He wishes to leave free from taxation those who have means.
– That is “too thin.”
– That is what the honorable member desires to do. I am just as strongly opposed as is any one to the imposition of taxation for the mere sake of taxation j but I hold that there should be one uniform land tax applying to the whole Commonwealth. We ought not to have a different land tax in each State. It is the duty of the States to repeal their land taxation laws in favour of a general land tax to apply to the whole of Australia. We have uniform duties of Customs and Excise, and why should we not have a uniform land tax? We are relieving three of the States of a very large payment in respect of old-age pensions, and that -being so, the States should be prepared to relieve r?]-» the people of a State land tax. If that were done we should be able to have a general land tax applying throughout the Commonwealth. I refer to this matter because some people endeavour to make it appear that the sole object of those who propose a Federal land tax is to impose a heavy class tax. I cannot speak as to the position in Victoria, but I know that in New South Wales the number of large estates is a crying disgrace. The honorable member for Parramatta, who is now a colleague of my late leader, belonged in New South Wales to a party that has kept back that State for twenty years. Drastic action ought to be taken to make available for settlement large areas suitable for wheatgrowing and like purposes. Those areas should be made available for immigrants and others, and ought not to be locked up as the honorable member has helped to have them locked up.
– When we proposed in the State Parliament the imposition of a land tax of one penny in the £1, the honorable member was one of its bitterest opponents.
– That tax did no good, so far as the division of large estates is concerned. I hope that the honorable member for West Sydney will presently tell the House of the topsyturvydom of the honorable member for Parramatta. He has ‘already published such a statement in the Sydney Morning Herald, and no on-; has such a record of a revolutionary speech as has the honorable member for Parramatta. Let me say at this stage that 1 was one of those who did not shirk the responsibility of sending troops to South Africa. I was prepared to place the responsibility on the shoulders of my Ministry, and we sent more men to South Africa as a token of our loyalty to ‘the Throne than did any other State, or, I think, all the States combined.
– And yet the honorable member is not in favour of presenting the British Government with a Dreadnought.
– I do not wish to give them a piece of old iron. I desire to do something more practical. There are men, from whose speeches .1 could quote extracts, who opposed what I then did, and who afterwards turned round, and have become, for party purposes, the greatest loyalists that can possibly be imagined. The honorable member for Parramatta made a speech that I should be ashamed of, and that was quoted by the honorable member for West Sydney. It was one that I did not know anything about, and I was surprised at it. I did think the honorable member was a little bit loyal, and not a turnturtle all the time. But the honorable member has been a Socialist and an antiSocialist, a revolutionary and a loyalist, a protectionist and an anti-protectionist. He has been everything, and has boxed the compass. Now, if he could be trusted,1 he thinks he has turned round and become a protectionist again, but I never trust men who have led such a political life as the honorable member has t done. If he, and others with him, get hold of the Treasury bench, God help our Tariff if they find an opportunity to destroy it ; but I do not think they will, because I believe the public would guillotine the honorable member before they allowed him to do it. I admired the honorable member for Ballarat when he stood up in this House and told honorable members sitting on the Opposition side to stay where they were- when he said to the Opposition corner, who proposed to shelter themselves behind us, “ Stop where you are.” That is where they ought to stop now. What did he call the whole of the Opposition but the wreckage of all parties without any policy? He has become the wrecker, and has been .enveloped in the wreckage. He has no policy. He has gone to damnation and perdition with those to whom he referred. That is one of the things that makes my heart bleed. Honorable members know that I am speaking what I feel, and that I feel very strongly, because it is a wrench to sever so long a. political partnership and association. I feel it very keenly. I have had many rebuffs during ‘that time, and have swallowed them all, yet a man who is a man, and not a mouse or a thing, must feel it keenly when he has to sever his association with, not only one or two, but a good many others with whom, he had thrown in his lot, and to whom he has tried to be, and has been, loyal, only to meet with the disloyalty that I have met with. Disloyal men, whoever they are, must expect to receive the contempt which the public’ will always have for them.
– “ When we find men voting against proposals, the principles of which they say they approve, rather than allow opponents to get them on the statute- book, I think we have yet to learn what public spirit is.” Those are remarks uttered in a prophetic spirit by the honorable member for Ballarat on 31st October, 1906, and it is upon this very suitable basis that we may proceed briefly to consider the extraordinary situation in which we find ourselves to-day. The honorable member must excuse me if I pay him more attention than others, because he cannot deny that on this occasion he deserves it. The honorable member has always, in this State, and throughout the Commonwealth, enjoyed a reputation for politeness, generosity, gentlemanliness of demeanour, and fair play, which, I regret to say, an examination of his career will hardly justify. While one under the glamour of his affability was very willing to forget many things, he has so timed his actions that we were barely able to forget the one before he managed to perpetrate a fresh enormity which recalled them all. I may be permitted to congratulate some honorable members whom I see opposite, and who find themselves today where they always were. Those men have always opposed the Labour Party, and have every right to do everything they can to put the Labour Party out of office. To them, who are personal friends of mine, I can only say that I congratulate them now that they are one step nearer office than they were before, because in taking it I do not think they have sacrificed any political principle. A political opponent is a man whom we very often regard, and rightly so, as a personal friend. But there are some political friends for whom I regret that the most copious language in the world does not permit us to select a fitting epithet. In the career of the honorable and learned leader of the Opposition, since he entered this House, has there been an hour that he has enjoyed office and power save by the grace and help and aid of our party? Has he achieved anything in this country since Federation was established but by the help of this party? Is there one solitary law of importance that has been placed upon the statute-book by him save by our aid ? Is there anything, in short, for which he takes credit which is not due to the support of the Labour Party? -For years, both while he was second in command, and since he has been Prime Minister in various Administrations, the Labour Party has extended to him a support loyal and generous beyond the power and reach of criticism. What, then, is the honorable member’s re- cord with regard to ourselves ? A little while ago, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, in criticising the programme of the Fisher Government, declared it to be substantially that of the Liberal Party with a few extras. The programme now of the Fisher Government is, as the honorable member for Ballarat well knows, in substance that which the Labour Party has always put forward. It is a part of its platform, which I say most emphatically he has been content to carry out and to place upon the statute-book. If there is any law that has been passed since this Parliament was established to which the Labour Party has not given a cordial assent, and that he is proud of, let him state if. Has there been a difficulty in which he has been placed from which we have not extricated him? Has there been an occasion when he was in difficulties that he could find any other party to support him? That policy of the Labour Party, which one of his lieutenants declares - and he cannot deny it - is, or was, the policy of the Liberal Party, is the policy of the Fisher Government now. Yet a policy which he was content to support cheerfully for the nine years we have kept him in office he now declares himself unable to consider any longer. We now find him undertaking to carry out what he terms a national policy, and I look around to see the gentlemen who are associated with him in that great work. I see among them the men whom he has always unsparingly denounced. A national policy - and Mr. Irvine ! A national policy - and Mr. Fairbairn ! A national policy, and every reactionary in the Commonwealth is massed behind it. There is not a vested interest in this country now that does not acclaim him as their champion. He stands to-day under the banner of the Employers’ Federation, under the banner of every vested interest, of every powerful monopoly. What a career his has been ! In his hands, at various times, have rested the banners of every party in this country. He has proclaimed them all, he has held them all, he has betrayed them all. Let me ask what has he done for us? What has he done for the right honorable member for East Sydney? It was my fortune to be associated with the right honorable member as a member of the New South Wales Labour Party in the State Parliament for five years. We have often said things of each other which might perhaps with advantage have been left unsaid, but this I will say, that that r>ght . honorable member never gave us his word that he did not faithfully carry it out. Whenever he made a pledge to us, it was carried out to the letter and in the spirit, whether it extended to a small thing or encompassed a large one. We have differed, and we are now in separate camps. But he has never pretended since we broke with him, or he with us, to regard us alternately with that fawning affection, or that intolerant antipathy, that the honorable member for Ballarat, at different intervals, has displayed. The honorable member for Ballarat has thought fit to criticise the policy of this Government. He has done so in a way of which, since he never was at a loss for words, it can only be said that there are no words even at his command, to explain his position and attitude. It is a thing beyond words. It is very fitting that a party which met in comers and hatched in darkness this monstrous combination, and which announced its existence to the world in a Town Hall, to which admission was by ticket, should treat with contemptuous silence the Government policy - a policy which they cannot criticise, and dare not denounce. This policy is substantially that of the honorable member himself, save that behind it this time are men desperately in earnest. And’ the honorable member has capped his action by the application of the gag at the instance of his newest colleague. His new policy, hatched and fathered by the new Joshua, who does not bid the sun stand still, but gathers into one camp the hostile factions that for years have been at each other’s throats, the honorable member for Ballarat will find indeed a boomerang that will hit him when he least expects it. He sits there now and his new colleagues with him. There are no open signs of dissension in that camp yet. The spoils have not yet been allotted. There is an air of hopeful expectancy about these gentlemen. They conceive that the eternal laws of mathematics, which have governed numbers since the world began, can be set aside, and that eight portfolios will go into forty-three in the way that each desires. Their fond hopes are, in the majority of cases, not destined to be realized. But what power has dragged these various factions into one camp ? The honorable member for Ballarat, in the speech which he delivered in the Town Hall on Tuesday night, put forward the “ na- tional “ programme. I have perused that programme, and compared it with the GovernorGeneral’s speech, and I find that, although he has referred to the list of measures in that speech as too long, covering legislation which is beyond the power of this Parliament, there are only two measures which were not in the programme which the late Government set on the business-paper. It is perfectly clear, then, that no measure has been put forward by this Government which is not a proper one for discussion at this stage, more particularly since, if we are to believe these honorable gentlemen, events which have recently transpired render it a matter of vital urgency that the defence of Australia should at once be put on a proper basis. In the report of the honorable member’s speech, I find those delightful xefferences to ‘ ‘ national and ever-pressing ‘ ‘ matters which have distinguished his programmes from the beginning. He begins with a “national” programme, and he thinks “ nationally.” He speaks of “national character and trade,” “sound protection,” the “ new protection,” “ White Australia and Immigration.” And in support of White Australia and Immigration, and the new protection, he has summoned to his aid the life-long enemies of that policy. These men now sit with those who all through their lives have fiercely denounced them as the foes of what they regarded as Liberal principles. He has still behind him the honorable member for Maribyrnong, whose boast has been that he is as good as a
Labour man. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat now finds nothing to say against the programme of the Labour Party, not even that it is visionary or impossible, except that it is too Jong; but he says- that there must be no caucus domination. What malignant power has dragged into association such men as the honorable members for Maribyrnong and Bourke, and those whom they declared to be the friends of a black Australia? Is there an epithet which they have not” hurled against those with whom they now sit cheek by jowl? Have they not denounced them times without number as the enemies of both the old protection and the new ? Was there ever such an immoral alliance as the present? Let me follow the history of its leader for a few moments. In doing so, I find myself embarrassed by the wealth of material, when I dig for instances of inconsistency on his part. I shall not go back into the history of his connexion with State politics ; it will be sufficient to deal with his actions in this Parliament. Let us take his conduct towards the Watson Government. He, in a most public fashion, pledged himself to support that Administration. He shook me warmly by the hand, at the corner of Collins and Spring streets - another kissed1 the man he was about to betray - and he assured me that he would extend to theWatson Government that support which it deserved, and which it had given him. Yet a little later, as he himself has declared - I heard him with my own ears in this Chamber - he drafted the amendment moved by Mr. McCay, which brought about the downfall of that Ministry.
– No ; Mr. McCay was the author of that amendment.
– The honorable and’ learned member has stated that he did not know that the amendment was vital to the existence of the Watson Administration ; but the right honorable member for East Sydney, when, last session, he referred tothe statement that the honorable and learned member had been trapped into voting for it,, said -
The honorable gentleman spoke before he gave his vote, and after the statements I havequoted were made ; and is it not within the recollection of every member of the House that, for days prior, it was known that the fate of the Government would depend upon the vote recorded? Days after the then Prime Minister had stated in the public press, that he proposed to ask the House to go into Committee, and that if the House refused to remove the provision of the Bill to which he objected, he would’ make it a vital question. It was known all over the Metropolis, and all over Australia, that a fight for the life of the Ministry was going on that night; and the present Prime Minister saidthen - “We are not responsible for the fact that the Government choose to make it a vital question.” That is the gentleman who accused me last night, in the face of the House and the country, of entrapping him into a vote which he thought would not displace the Ministry, into a vote which he thought the then Government would not take as vital. . Here is that extraordinarily reckless Prime Minister-
– Oh !
– Common manliness ought to show the Prime Minister that it is not right to accuse others of entrapping him when his own words show the precise position of affairs. Surely the malignity of political differences does not go so far as that. “ We are not responsible “ - who were “We?” My affectionate political wife, Mr” Deakin, and. myself.
– I never was a wife of the right honorable member. ‘
– The Prime Minister is a political mormon. Even the ancient aborigine, to whom. he referred, has no predilection for that promiscuous political intercourse which the Prime Minister enjoys.
Upon what principle are honorable members opposite united? Why do they claim to represent the opinions of a majority of the electors? At the last election the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the right honorable member for East Sydney were leading hostile parties. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat declared the right honorable member for East Sydney to be the enemy of reform, and said that it was he whom he was fighting, and no other. In regard to the statement of the honorable and learned member that he could not support the Labour Party because of its political machine, the
Tight honorable member for East Sydney, on the occasion to which I have just re- ferred, said -
What has been his alliance for the past three years but one with what he then described as a political machine? Even a black fellow would not marry a machine. The Prime Minister on that occasion also said - “ I do not wish to fight machine with machine, but to fight machine politics with the full freedom and independence of a representative of the people.”
The Prime Minister must allow me to point out that whilst the Labor Party were supporting him from 1901 to 1904 there was a wealth of delightful amiability and affection displayed by him in his intercourse with the members of that party.
The heads of the Reid- McLean Ministry were, we were told, equal in all things, and 4hey suffered equally from the piratical sward of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. It was his hand that slew them, and he then came again into power. Honorable members will notice that he always comes into power after he has been entrapped into doing things of whose effect he had not the faintest notion. He frames »an amendment, ignorant of the purpose for which it is to be used. He does so, good easy soul, to assist another over a difficulty in phraseology ; but afterwards he invariably comes into office. He put the ReidMcLean Government out of power and formed an Administration of his own. But in March, of last year, something happened. What that was is worthy of note, because, although he declares that he has never had any particular quarrel with the policy of the Labour Party, he has always objected to our methods. I shall show unmistakably that, while he may have regarded our policy as a little idealistic, he was prepared to swallow it. And as to the machine, the infernal machine, to which he takes exception, he was prepared to swallow that, too. Let us take his attitude towards our programme first. For instance, on the 31st October, 1906, he was asked -
If Mr. Watson is returned with a majority, will Mr. Deakin sit behind him or in Opposition?
To that his reply was -
If Mr. Watson is returned with a majority, I shall sit on the Independent benches.
His remarks on the occasion were summarized as follow :TJ!-
The features of the programme were lucidly dealt with, and the audience were asked to note their practical value. The so-called socialistic issue was a mock issue. It could not concern the next Parliament, and he asked them as practical business men and Australian patriots to look to the great work immediately before them, development of their beautiful land ; the peopling of its far-reaching areas, and the establishment of a naval and military defence system which would permit us, in any circumstances, to peacefully work out our own destiny.
Anti-Socialism, as was shown by the statements of Mr. Reid’s paper, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, was only another way of spelling antiprotection. Anti-Socialism was the new label, but precisely the same old free-trade party was underneath it. The Reid opposition will do nothing for Australian development or worthy of Australia’s opportunities.
The honorable member for Bourke, the echo then, as always, of his rather difficult leader, is spoken of in this way -
The candidate besought his hearers to beware of anti-socialists, who were simply free-traders animated with a desire to do harm. The antisocialist candidate had not the remotest chance of winning the Bourke electorate.
But let us hear the honorable member for Ballarat again -
We stand between the free-trade re-actionaries on the one hand and the socialistic extremists on the other. The free-trade re-actionists endeavoured to deprive us of our moderate supporters by terrifying them with the imminent danger of Socialism.
Mr. Reid has talked more, and promised more and performed less, than any man in Australia. . . . His record in 1904 was one Act, of which he contributed four clauses.
We have had not only the generous but the general support of the Labour Party. No man could have treated us better than the leader of that party, Mr. Watson. . . .
The Bounties Bill was resisted by the Opposition, fought by them, and finally killed and choked by them in the Senate. This is the record we have to show the country. This is the record which the Opposition wish to hide. ,
I shall look forward with the greatest anxiety to see the action of those who call themselves Liberal-Protectionists who are now associated with their absolute enemy, the free-trade reactionary, the leader of the Opposition.
Who sinks Preference sinks closer commercial relations, sinks Commerce Acts - sinks all those things which go together to make industrial greatness and create a great industrial future for Australia.
In the clearest way he accepted our programme of practical reform. It was our caucus and methods to which he took exception. Now we come to his conversion on these points. The honorable member for Gwydir, by one of those flashes of genius which come across us all from time to time, was the instrument of Providence in this matter. Some time in March the honorable member submitted a motion that so disturbed the equilibrium of the Government that the honorable member for Ballarat positively thought of resigning. I ask the House to consider for a moment the kind of circumstances which would induce the honorable gentleman to do that. It must have been, indeed, a grave situation ; it was, in fact, so grave that the honorable gentleman could see no way out for some considerable time. He spoke in accents which any man not deaf to truth could hardly doubt conveyed that he really intended to resign. However, as time went on, he saw a better way ; and in fortyeight hours or so proposals were made to the Labour Party for a coalition. I wish honorable members and the country to understand this particularly. The honorable gentleman, in March last, proposed a coalition with the Labour Party - not a loose alliance, but a definite coalition. The honorable gentleman, in spite of his applying the gag, will have an opportunity of explaining later on, and, therefore, need hot interject.
– Of which Government I was not under any circumstances to be a member - that is all I desire to say.
– The age of miracles apparently is not yet passed, and some portion of the spirit is on me, for I have made the dumb speak. As to the progress and nature of the negotiations the House and the country are no more concerned than to know one or two things. So far as the honorable gentleman was concerned, they went to the point that he was prepared to even stand down and allow the leader of the Labour Party to be Prime Minister - although on that no actual agreement was arrived at - but there were to be four portfolios for the Deakin Party and four for the Labour Party. There was a definite’ agreement proposed; and, if it was not consummated, the blame does not lie with the honorable gentleman and his friends. They were prepared to swallow not only our policy but our methods. They were prepared to contract an alliance with men whom we have lately been told practised the worst methods of Tammany. They were prepared to ally ‘themselves with men whose methods are subversive of liberty, and which make democratic government in this country impossible. Even more, they were prepared to sacrifice four of their own men - to throw overboard anybody and everybody - so long as the honorable gentleman, who has led in turn all parties, might have an opportunity of leading one more. The tongue of the right honorable member for East Sydney is, unfortunately, tied, and we may not claim his assistance in this debate ; but his genial soul is rejoicing, and he is piously thanking God that, amongst other things, there are thorns even in the most fragrant and attractive rosebud. That right honorable member called the honorable member for Ballarat a political Mormon ; and, truly, the honorable member has made advances to all parties, has in turn embraced them all, and has deserted them all. He has now dragged into this great combination some men whom nothing but a miracle can save from the vengeance of the people, and he knows it. There are men amongst them who, if they went before their constituencies as allies of the gentlemen who sit in the Opposition corner, would not receive twenty-four hours’ quarter, and who know that the day Parliament is dissolved is the day before their death. The honorable member for Ballarat knows tha’t; but so long as he is in office, what matters it ? What matters the policy or fate of those who follow him, since he has never attempted to carry out any that was not the policy of those who stood behind him? When they altered he altered ; , when they halted he halted. When they ceased to be useful he deserted them. When their policy ceased to be popular he abandoned it. We pass from this and come to the latest exhibition of the honorable member’s versatility. The Fisher Government came in. Before that event, there was a vote of want of confidence moved, and, during the course of the debate, the honorable member for Ballarat spoke about the loyal support that had been given to him by the Labour Party. He said that when that party came in, if it elected to come into power, he should not complain ; but I ask the House whether the honorable member has since done anything else but complain? What is the action to-day but the embodiment of complaint in deeds? What sin have we committed? Of what act of omission are we accused? Have we committed any act of maladministration, on which we can be pilloried ? If so, let us and the country know.
– What about the telephones ?’
– I was not alluding to acts of administration which have placed r,ne of the most important Departments of the country on a sound, equitable, and business-like basis. I v. ss speaking of acts of maladministration which would justify such action as has been taken to-day - such a combination as we now see before us. If we have been guilty of maladministration of the public affairs of the country, or of corruption and rottenness such as has been hinted, but which none dare put in formal and precise terms, then, indeed, we deserve that every honest man shall range himself against us. We are told that the people are against us, and that majority rule is in danger because of the caucus. But the honorable member - for Ballarat slept securely alongside the caucus for years. It was the cradle in which he lay and was rocked asleep, and his complaints were never violent save at times when the caucus threatened to turn him out. When he was rocked by the caucus it was good, but when he was ejected by the caucus it was bad. Now it is said that rule by majority is in danger. How? Rule by majority is in danger when we see a combination of parties, who at the last election were returned on diametrically opposite policies. The honorable member for Ballarat denounced the honorable member for East Sydney, and said that anti-Socialism was not the cry, but was a mere bogy behind which the reactionary was trying to hide. He declared that Socialism was not the cry, because the Commonwealth Parliament could not indulge in any scheme of Socialism, and, therefore, it was a mere beating of the air to say there was a Socialist Party here. The honorable member said that, and cannot deny it. Now we see him claim that majority rule can only be carried out when there are banded together men who, on every fundamental -principle, were violently opposed at the last election. There is only one way by -which men who, returned on one platform, abandon that platform, can persuade the country that they have any justification. “They must be able to say that the men who -elected them on one set of principles are content that these shall be abjectly abandoned, without pretence, excuse, or reason. They must be able to show, by the most convincing proofs, that the people have released them from their pledges and approve of their apostasy. Or else they ought to stand, as they do, convicted of a shameless effort to get on to the Treasury benches - of a servile deference to some power, whose very nature we do not know, and can only conjecture. The honorable member for Maribyrnong who speaks about caucus methods, to what power does he submit? There was lately an organization formed in these States calling itself the Orange Political Organization. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has lately declared that the Labour Party is a party which is not composed of free men - that freedom is not compatible with Labour Party methods. I say that the honorable member’s very soul is not his own. I say that he no more dare move, or vote, or give an expression of opinion, against the opinion of the Orange Lodge than he dare* attempt, were he on the top of the highest tower in the city, to leap down. He speaks of freedom ! When a member of that body so far forgot himself as to exercise that freedom which he champions as to vote for candidate Crouch against candidate McCay, he was summarily ejected from the lodge. It is from such a source as this we hear about freedom - from the lips of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, who, I say, is the very creature of this organization, and absolutely dare not do that which becomes a man, and express his opinion, if that opinion be against the opinion of his lodge. In the party to which I belong, every man is as good as every other man. We do not permit one member of our party to say to another, “ You were elected on such and such a programme, but, since I have changed my opinions, you must either come over with me, or be marked off the ticket. “ No power can compel one member of the Labour Party to abandon his principles or range himself behind the hosts of monopoly. Will the leader of the Opposition deny that if the honorable member for Maribyrnong, the honorable member for Bourke, the honorable member for Corio, and the honorable member for Batman - who, with some show of justification, have declared themselves Democrats - had dared to vote against the proposed combination their names would have been struck off the
Age ticket? At page 17 of the introduction to the life of the late David Syme, we have the following clear admission, in the words of the honorable member for Ballarat himself, of his exceedingly great power as proprietor of the Age -
The relations between its proprietor and public men were intimate to a surprising degree. He enjoyed their confidence in and out of office, shaping their programmes from time to time, governing their selection of colleagues as incoming Premiers, and enjoying afterwards a knowledge of the inmost secrets of Cabinets often undisclosed to many of the Ministers within them.
Here then is one of the methods by which the flag of freedom has been kept flying in this State. It is in a newspaper editor’s sanctum that the policy of this country has been drawn up. It is at his bidding, and according to his view, that these honorable gentlemen have gone abroad to preach the doctrine of freedom. Free ! They do not know even the meaning of the word. Free ! Does the honorable member for Maribyr- nong say that he is comfortable now ? Why does he not sit with his friends? Why does he not go among those honorable members whom he declared to be the champions of a black Australia? Why does he not sit beside the Chairman of the Employers’ Federation? His place is there. It is under that aegis that these honorable members now come at the instigation of the Age - under the domination of the Orange Political Party, against which not one of them - not even the honorable member for Ballarat, who voted for the Home Rule resolution passed by this House, dares to say a word. It is, ~I say, under this sinister patronage that the great National Liberal policy is to be carried out. These honorable members speak of freedom and caucus domination. I reply that they were willing to embrace us - caucus, platform, and everything else. They were willing to share with us the portfolios of office. They were willing to do anything and everything so long as they might be permitted to hold office. What is still more interesting, they were willing to do this at intervals for years ; they have been willing at any time between the beginning of the last recess and the present moment. What is the true reason for this unholy combination i Is it, as the honorable gentleman has clearly stated, that the Deakinite members of it feared for their seats? It is, then, not a matter of principle at all. These honorable members said that if we would give them a fair run, they would sup- port us. They would have consummated1 an alliance with us, and have supported usup to the last moment, if by so doing they could have secured that. Whether it be right or wrong that we should oppose them, surely it is infamous that a man’s principles,, to which he is pledged to his electors, should be a matter for bargaining of that sort. If I believe that the policy of theLabour Party is right, am I to purchase an hour’s occupation of office by supporting, some other party, merely because it declares that, if I do so, it will not opposeme? Could there be anything more contemptible and indefensible? Yet the position of the leader of the Opposition is this : That he was prepared, even at theeleventh hour, to embrace the Labour Party ; but because the Labour Party opened up nonegotiations with him - took no notice of him ; did not ask him what they were to do ; but simply did that which they believed to be right, without consulting him, or any one else, he was irritated. Such methods.naturally infuriate and irritate a man of his type. He never ventured todo anything without consultation with those upon whose support hewas dependent for every hour of hisoffice. To the eternal credit of the present” Prime Minister, be it said, however, that’ he never consulted any one except his colleagues or his followers. He never went to any newspaper editor or to the Employers’ Federation, or even to Joshua. It matters not to us what this man or thatmay think or say of us. That which well ave placed in the forefront of our programme we shall do, and shall ask no man, save the electors of this country, whether it is right or wrong. If, as honorable - members opposite say, majority rule is in danger, how shall we ascertain whether or not that is so? There is one sure and certain way ; but the passage to it is through cold, inhospitable and desert places. There - is wailing and gnashing of teeth beyond. There will be many who go through the passage that will not emerge alive. Because of that, these honorable members, who talk of the rule of the majority, fear - as they fear the devil, I was going to say, but they do not fear him for they are his - servants - fear, as they fear nothing else, an appeal to the people. And yet, if ever there was a -time when the people desired to have an opportunity to say what they think, it is now. Let those honorable members wholove liberty, and say that we are the foes of freedom and the people, put it to the issue of a struggle, and go before the people. Since they will not let us say here what is to be said in defence of our policy, but cover up in a way that is shameless and unprecedented, their attempt to oust from office a party whose policy they have approved, against whose administration they can say nothing, whose policy they were prepared to adopt, whose methods they have criticised, but have been, for years, in the habit of condoning, let them agree to go before the people. They admit that on two separate occasions, if not more, they were prepared to form a complete and workable alliance with us. They were prepared to form with us a coalition as complete as was that which marked the Government of the right honorable member for East Sydney and the exhonorable member for Gippsland, Mr. McLean. There was to be a sharing of portfolios. I wish to emphasize that point again, so that every man and woman in trie Commonwealth may know that these honorable members were absolutely prepared to go bodily into the Labour camp, to work with us, to hear what w’e had to say, and to support a platform upon which we jointly agreed. In the circumstances, the attitude of the leader of the Opposition, and of his party, is one which, in spite of every effort they may make - and the effort now being made is defeating itself - will go forth to the people as an admission that they have done now a deed of which they are heartily ashamed. I speak now of the generality of honorable members, and not -of any one individual. I know honorable members who now find themselves in company which they detest. In fact, they all detest each other. The honorable member for Maribyrnong does not regard the political opinions of the honorable member for Fawkner with greater detestation -than that with which the honorable member for Fawkner regards those of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. And the honorable member for Flinders ! What are his political opinions? Since when have they -coincided with those of the honorable member for Bourke? Upon what particular principles are they agreed? What sanction have they for this agreement? Absolutely none. It were idle to attempt to say one word of the right honorable member for Swan, save that in him we have the piteous spectacle of a man grown old in the service of the country, who, in his insatiable lust for office, has made one more ignoble -.twist. I shall not say that he has sacrificed any principle. It- were as well to say that as to accuse a corpse of having sacrificed its life. But I do say that he has sacrificed what little dignity yet belonged to him. There these honorable members sit, and I do not wish to say one word more of them. What of the honorable member for Lang, whose touching appeal to the free-traders of New South Wales so lately appeared in the Sydney press? In that appeal he urged that the proposed concession to protection was indefensible. I do not see him here in the body at the moment, but his soul must be tarn with agony when he sees himself surrounded by honorable members whom he has vehemently denounced for many years, and who, so far as I know, he was prepared until yesterday to denounce. That honorable member, too, has condemned the caucus. What power has brought him into such a fold ? To what do we owe the fact that he has signed an eternal truce in favour of protection? Whom should we congratulate in this combination? Who has secured the victory, and at what price? I hold that though no man has been victorious, since men at the mercy of such a leader live only from day to day, yet the reactionaries have the most right to triumph. The cause of Liberalism is hopelessly doomed when it depends upon the daily and hourly support of honorable members who have ever been its open and avowed enemies. If the honorable member for Ballarat be gifted with even ten times the eloquence of Demosthenes there are damning facts that will refute him and stop the ears of the public when he tries to explain these matters away. How will he explain that a party with which for nine years, with One break of eleven months, he was in close association, with which ha was prepared to contract an actual alliance, upon which he had been dependent daily and hourly for office, has been treated as he has treated us? How will he explain his surrender of the citadel of Liberalism to the hosts of re-action? The people will see that he has basely and ungenerously paid us for support given through long years by conduct which no man yet even on his side has ventured to defend, and no man in this country, save the honorable gentleman himself, will endeavour to defend. They will ‘ say there could have been only one reason for this conduct and that it was perfectly plain. The vested interests of this country have been aroused and alarmed. I look over the
Governor-General’s speech and see the cause. We propose to impose a tax on the unimproved value of land. Honorable members opposite say little about that proposal, but it is the main reason for their action. The Labour Party will do this thing, and they know it, and, therefore, their so-called principles have been abandoned, their socalled scruples have been swallowed, and they are now banded together. The great vested interests needed a leader to protect them ; and they have found one ready to their hand. He has persuaded those who called themselves democrats to go over to the reactionaries. He has persuaded the reactionaries, for the time being, to cover their vulpine faces with the wool of the sheep. But the people, when they have an opportunity, will tear that cover off them, and disclose them as they are. And they will sweep into outer darkness, too, those who, professing democracy, have betrayed them. I leave it now to the House and the country to decide between us. I venture to say that in spite of everything that the honorable member and his allies can do, they will be compelled to face their masters before very long.
Mr. CHANTER (Riverina) [5.56).- Immediately I rose, I heard an interjection, “Is this a ‘stonewall? ‘ “ It is not ; but it is an appeal to the members of this House for freedom of speech, which the Opposition has attempted to deny to the representatives of the people. I was prepared to support the motion of the Prime Minister to get on with the legitimate business of which he had given notice, as embodied in’ the GovernorGeneral’s speech. I am one of those who were anxious to get at that business. I have lately been associated with a number of men for whom I had a feeling of personal respect, as well as of strong political affinity. One of their proud boasts, in which I joined, was that at all times they believed in fair play. But now that they have left the party to which I am proud to have belonged for so many years - we have not left it, but have stood by our principles, and it is they who have ?one - one of their very first acts has been to deny to others that freedom of speech and liberty of criticism which they have always claimed, by lending themselves “ to an unprecedented and most shameless effort to gag the representatives of the people, and deny them the opportunity of saying in the only effective manner possible - “ I am in favour of the Liberal policy as enun ciated by the Prime Minister, and approved bv the leader of the Opposition, and I wish to give effect to it.” Like my old friend and associate, the honorable member for Hume, I feel very strongly on this question, and I am going to use plain language. 1 did mv best to point out to the members with whom I was associated what I conceived to be my duty and theirs, and that was to stand by our principles, and not to attempt to get away from any consequences that adherence to those principlesmight entail. [ failed”, and only myself and a few others remain of the great national Liberal Party of Australia. We have been placed in a position in which we ought not to have been placed. History has repeated itself on this occasion. I well recall the time when the Labour Party were previously in power, under the honorable member for South Sydney, a man respected in this House and in the country. I recall also my own action at that time, and the action of those friends who are now associated with me. I remember keenly the dastardly tricks that were resorted to in order to displace that Government from power.
– Order ! The honorable member is too old a member not toknow that those remarks are quite contrary to the Standing Orders, and I ask him to withdraw them
– I used the word “ dastardly “ because I conceive that everything that infringes the sacred principlesof fair play is dastardly.
– I have asked the honorable member to withdraw the statement. T ask him now not to qualify it.
– Certainly, I withdraw it in deference to your ruling, sir, and’ as it is not in order to use the word “ dastardly,” I shall try to find another to meet the circumstances. I will say that the thing’ was done in the most highly improper way, both from a political and personal point of ‘ view. It was done in such a way as todestroy the feeling of pride which every Britisher has at all times in the intention to give fair play even to his opponent, and not hit below the belt. On that occasion, the blow was struck below thebelt. I have no desire now to re-quote thestatements which I made then, although 1 can well remember them, and they are recorded in Hansard.; but I resented asstrongly then as I do now, the manner in which we, as friends and associates, and’ not foes, of a party who had absolutely as- sisted us to give effect to the legislation of the country, were treating them. To-day we had an undoubted right, established by precedent, to debate the great question of the policy submitted to the people by the Prime Minister on the one hand, and criticised by the leader of the Opposition on the other. That policy is now before the public in a concrete form, but the Opposition, by their action to-day, will to a certain extent succeed in closing our mouths as to whether we are going to stand by that policy and by our pledges, or be traitors to the cause. The situation can be viewed in no other light. We were a great party, but we now number only four. I was one of the three who, in the face of all the capitalistic influence, the land-owning interests, and the free-trade and importing interests, raised the banner of protection for Australians in New South Wales twenty-fouryears ago. I have kept that banner flying ever since, and I have on this occasion taken action with my old friend and associate, the honorable member for Hume, because I wanted to see that banner continue to float over Australia. I was prepared to lay down my political life at any time in its defence, and I will not join with any set of men who will drag it down into the dust for the sake of gaining office temporarily, or saving their own political skins at the next elections. I can say fearlessly that no man has promised me on behalf of the Labour Party immunity from attack at the next elections. I say that in their presence, and I know what their wishes are.
– Howcould they promise it ?
– I have known the honorable member for the last thirty years, and I know that God has gifted him with great freedom of speech. I am fighting now for an opportunity for him to stand on the floor of the House and give the reasons why, in his opinion, the policy laid on the table by the Prime Minister should not be given effect to. We do not want this hide-and-seek business. We want fearless, courageous action on the part of the representatives of the people, in order that the country may be shown that the difference betweenthe policy put forward by the Prime Minister and that proposed to be submitted on behalf of the Opposition is practically the difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The real difference is that the Labour Party are getting the plums of office, and the other party want to get them out. This move has been taken for no other purpose ; and I say that it is an unholy act to displace a set of men simply in order to take their places without altering their policy. Looking back into history, a study of the works of any great parliamentary authority will show that whenever trouble arose between the two great political parties in England, no Government was ever displaced except on a difference of policy. But this Government is to be displaced without any difference as to policy. I ask my old colleagues and associates to point to one plank of the policy enunciated in the Governor-General’s speech with which they disagree. I want them to show the country what it is that they disagree with.
– The honorable member will kindly remember that the debate upon the Address-in-Reply has been adjourned, and that no matter relating specifically to that question can be dealt with in this debate.Of course, matters which arose other than in the Address-in-Reply - matters which have arisen in speeches in the country, or in correspondence, or otherwise in the newspapers - I cannot exclude from reference, but I ask the honorable member not to discuss questions which should be discussed upon the AddressinReply.
– On a point of order, mayI state that action of an extraordinary kind has been taken, and ask you whether it has not been customary in the past on the motion for the adjournment of the House to give to members whose mouths have been closed an opportunity to express their views, just as you allowed me to make remarks regarding the Government’s policy that should have been made in ordinary circumstances in the debate on the Address-in-Reply ?
– The honorable member is correct in suggesting that, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, the debate may be general, but there cannot be a specific reference to the AddressinReply, nor may an honorable member deal with any matters of which the House is cognisant only by means of the AddressinReply. I shall apply precisely the same rules to the honorable member for Riverina and others as I have applied to those who have already spoken to the motion.
– I am sure that you will acquit me, sir, of a desire to wilfully break the rules of the House. My experience teaches me that I cannot deal with the Governor-General’s speech in detail, but, reference having been made to it by previous speakers, I think I have a right to discuss it, as the honorable member who preceded me did, in a general way.
– I cannot permit the honorable member to suggest that I have ruled in his case other than as I have ruled in other cases; all my rulings have been in the same direction. I have not heard any other honorable member who has addressed himself to the motion of adjournment refer to the Address-in-Reply, though I have been told that, when my attention was occupied by another matter, such a reference was made. Had I heard it I should have called the honorable member who made it to order, as I have called the honorable member for Riverina to order. He may discuss all matters relating to the two parties in the House disclosed by speeches in the country, reports in the newspapers, and so on, but he may not debate any matter disclosed only through the medium of the Address-in-Reply.
– I know that at times it is almost impossible for you, sir, to hear what is being said, because your particular attention is being claimed by individual members. The Prime Minister was dealing specifically with the question of the finances - a matter of great importance, to which I wish to refer only generally, preferring to take another opportunity to deal with it at greater length.
– The honorable member may discuss the financial question without exceeding the limitations which I have laid down.
– To resume what I was saying, I must repeat that a new procedure has been followed on this occasion. The Standing Orders provide for the closing of a debate under certain conditions, but to-day the adjournment of the debate on the Address-in-Reply was moved immediately after the leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister had spoken - with what other object than to prevent free speech ?
– How was free speech prevented ?
– I am not in the honorable and learned member’s confidence, but I gather from the tactics of to-day that it was intended, by defeating the Government on the motion for the adjournment of the debate, to prevent honorable members from saying what they had to say on ques tions of policy. Should my surmise be wrong, I shall be only too glad if those with whom I have been associated will show me that it is so. I have a duty to perform, not only to myself, but to my constituents, to whom I pledged myself to uphold a certain policy. That policy is embodied in the Governor-General’s speech, and were I to refuse to support it, I should be a traitor to my principles, and, what ismore, to the men and women who honoured me with their confidenceby electing me to Parliament. Notwithstanding that reams of paper and gallons of ink have been used in the endeavour to bring back the two-party system, I think that the attempt has not been a success. At all events, before many months have passed we shall again have three parties - His Majesty’s Ministers and their supporters, His Majesty’s Opposition, and the people - the greatest party - who will have something to say in regard to the present situation. Never during the twenty-four years for which I have been in political life have I gained a seat by reason of any political solit, as the honorable member for Indi did. I have won on my principles, although to stand by them I have sacrificed my life’s interest and my fortune.
– And have become a poor man.
– I am poorer now than I was when I entered Parliament. I am not going to charge my present opponents with deserting their principles. But they have handed them over to whom? To their friends? No; to those who have been the out-and-out opponents of those principles - to those who have declared that no greater curse could be inflicted on Australia than by the adoption of a policy for giving work to Australians by the encouragement of native manufactures and industries.
– That is not true.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– How can those with whom I have been associated expect that their erstwhile opponents will assist them in upholding principles to which they have hitherto been opposed, and which they were elected to destroy ? One of the principles to which I allude is the protection of manufacturers, workers, and producers alike.
– That is an absolute impossibility.
– It is a possibility. We are, to a certain extent, affording that protection at present, but it is capable of great extension. By reading the columns of the Argus we can see what will happen.
– Or by reading the Sydney Morning Herald.
– I know what the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph are. In the Argus it is stated that we now have effective protection, and one or two honorable members, opposite have reiterated that statement. All that they now pledge themselves to- do is to correct anomalies. But we have not got effective protection.
– Not by a long way.’
– As the years roll on, the Tariff must be revised again and again, if we are to be true to our principles. Now when I desire a favour, I approach my friends; I certainly would not expect to get anything from my enemies. Nor would I .hand over to my political enemies the control of the industrial life of Australia. But that is what is now being done. We are told that the present coalition is stronger than the last. The two heads of the ReidMcLean Administration were said to be equal in al! things ; on this occasion my old leader is to have sole power and responsibility. Yesterday, according to the newspapers, there was an attempt to establish a dual control, by making the honorable member for Parramatta his equal, calling the coalition the Deakin-Cook Party. That was not agreed upon, though, as a matter of fact, my old friends and associates might well be described as the “ Deakin cooked “ party. Can the honorable and learned member for Parkes be expected to uphold the principles of Protection and White Australia ? Yet he is one of those upon whom they rely- I have no desire to occupy time, but I wish to justify the vote which I have given, and to explain my position. The people say that there is no justification at any time for a departure from principle. When one is pledged to principles one should observe them, no matter what the consequences may be politically, personally, or otherwise. With all honesty, T. say I deeply regret the step which my friends have taken. On the occasion when the Watson Government were deposed, the door was kept open for the Liberal Party to come back; but this time it will be closed for ever. The great Liberal-Protectionist Party has gone for all time; and in its place has arisen a conglomeration of all the elements - a “ necklace of negatives,” as the leader of the Opposition once said - wreckers of all legislation in favour of Australia. Speaking with a knowledge of some of those men, I again warn my old chief that if he places his trust in them, he will find, as he found before, that they will not be loyal, but will undermine him at the first possible chance.
– That is a nice statement to make.
– 1 can prove it. The honorable member has allied himself with the honorable member for Parramatta ; and I ask whether there is one slide in the kaleidoscope of political life on which he has not appeared.
– He is in the national Parliament now.
– Where honorable men and nationalists should be - men who are not for New South Wales, Victoria, or any other State, but for the nation. ‘ Has the honorable member for Parramatta ever looked beyond his own little constituency, or the environments of the city of Sydney ? History is repeated. The honorable member at one time led the Labour Party, while the right honorable member for East Sydney led the State Government. But the right honorable member for East Sydney said something, I know not what, to the honorable member for Parramatta, to the effect, “ Come away from your fellows, and I will give you place and pay.” That offer was accepted; and from that day to this the honorable member for Parramatta has turned against the principles he then advocated, and is declared, out of his” own mouth, one of .the greatest enemies the Labour Party have in the Commonwealth. Such are the men with whom my friends are associated. They are honorable members - honorable in more than the mere sense in which we use that word here. They are as sincere in their convictions as any of us ; and they are consistent in keeping to their pledges and convictions. But we can have no respect for the man or party who changes principles for office or personal gain. I sincerely deplore the action which has been taken to-day ; and whether it be my fate or not to lose my representative position when the next election occurs, I shall go out of Parliament with the proud feeling that, never in the whole twenty-four years of my political life, have I departed from my political faith, or played the traitor to the people who sent me here.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
.- It is not my intention to take up much time in discussing the motion for adjournment. I regret exceedingly I have not an opportunity to give an explanation of my vote this afternoon. That opportunity has been taken away by the tactics adopted, which I deplore, as I always have deplored any tactics not open and above board. Whether it is my own party, or any other that is in power, I believe we are sent here as honorable men to conduct the business of Australia in a straightforward and honorable manner, and, if we have cause to question any action of a Ministry, to attack that Ministry openly. I contend that, in this case, that plan has not been adopted ; and, therefore, I voted as I did this afternoon, and as I ever shall do under similar circumstances while I have the honour of a seat here. Whether my time here be long or short matters little to me. If it were not for the political opinions I hold, I should not have offered myself as a candidate for the representation of Bass ; but, as a free-trader represented the district, and as I was a protectionist, I thought it necessary for me, or some other protectionist, to contest the seat, and, as I did, win it. I am here as a protectionist, not bound to any party or any section in the House; and although those I have been associated with as strong protectionists in the past have chosen to leave the party of protection and join with those who have always been free-traders, I could not fall in with that arrangement. While there may be a sort of mutual arrangement on a few planks, we know that majority rule is the right rule; and if the majority be conservative or free-trade, protection is not likely to be upheld or advanced very far. Therefore, I could not see my way to vote with honorable members opposite against the party which assisted the Government I supported for so long. I hold in my hand a document showing the good work done by the Deakin Government ; and that work I have always regarded with pleasure. The number of measures placed on the statute-book by the Deakin Government is very creditable indeed for the time they were in office. But who gave that Government the power? The Labour Party,which has been forsaken for a reason which has not been given ; and I submit that a Government and party, the members of which have been associated in the doing of so much good work, ought not to be abandoned without rhyme or reason. The only reason I have heard advanced for the vote this afternoon is the fact that it will have the effect of putting the Labour Government out. So far as I am concerned, I shall never vote to depose any Government until some measure is brought forward of which I disapprove. Whether the free-trade or any other party be in power, I shall assist them so long as their measures are in accord with my principles and opinions. On a question of this kind we should put aside all party and individual ill-feeling.I can differ from any member of the House, or any man in Australia, and yet not “ fall out” with him. If a man be guilty of something I consider mean or contemptible I should not trust him in the future, but, at the same time, I should not feel inclined to “ fall out “ with him. I deeply sympathizewith those with whom I have been associated in the past, in the position in which they now find themselves. They think it necessary for the welfare of Australia to join those who have always differed from them ; and that must be apill hard to swallow. I do not know how they like the company they are in, but that has nothing to do with me, and I have simply to deal with the facts as I find them. Whatever I may say on this occasion will never interfere with any personal friendship I have made in the House, or out of it; nor do I look on this question as one affecting myself. I know that a certain section of the press will, as before, state that I have joined the Labour Party. Ever since I have taken any interest in politics I have always been democratic in my ideas, and was a liberal and a protectionist before there was a labour member in Australia. I still hold those views, and will support democratic measures. Though not a member of the Labour Party - and I never shall be - I do not blame the members of that party for their actions, orthe way in which they transact their business. If the Labour Party had been treated as they should have been, I do not think I should have had so much feeling against some honorable members opposite; but when I find honorable members there making statements, in which they show to put it mildly, a large amount of ignorance - I do not know whether it is anything else or not - in accusing the party of cer- tain actions, I cannot help taking the stand I do. There are many members of the Labour Party, both inside and out of Parliament, whom I respect ; and I contend that remarks by many honorable members opposite have not been in accordance with fact, or right or fair in debating political questions. I have, therefore, always felt a little sore on account of the attacks from honorable members opposite on the Labour Party. There are many observations one would like to make on an occasion of this kind, but we are not allowed to debate the Governor-General’s speech, or enter into a consideration of the proposals of the Labour Government, whether we agree or disagree with them. On another occasion, some time ago, there was a remark made as to having the “ numbers in the bag,” and, though great exception was taken to that phrase at the time, I must say that it now seems as though it was a case of the kind, and that the Labour Government have to go. No doubt we shall hear what measures the other party will bring forward. At various times I supported the Reid Administration, as I did when I considered they were unfairly attacked by the Labour Party, who tried to count them out.
– Is the honorable member not mow sorry he did so?
– No, because I believe that every Government is in power by the will of the majority of the House ; and, so long as the actions of Ministers are straightforward and honorable, and their measures are in accordance .with my wishes and desires, 1 shall support them. On the other hand, I would oppose measures introduced by my best friend if I did not approve of them. In the State House, I always advocated measures, and not men ; and if we had more of that ideal and less of party feeling here, the better it would be for Australia. During the last six months the Labour Ministers have been travelling about Australia, while I think it would have been better if they had been attending in their offices to the business of the country. However, as matters are at present, they are bound to take such steps if they are to maintain a majority ; and, while I consider such proceedings a. mistake, I suppose that necessity knows no law, and that where the public drives members must go, and they apparently conceive it to be their duty to travel and enlighten the public on the country’s affairs.
Under the present system we have so many different administrators that there is no wonder the administration of the Public Departments is not what it should be. Since the inception of Federation, we have had something like six different Treasurers, and eight or nine Ministers of Defence. The present Minister, during the last six months, has worked very hard, and endeavoured to master every detail of the work of his Department. The Government propose that he shall go to England to attend a Conference there, but we are told now that he is not to go.
– I have heard that that is the reason for the action against us. I do not know whether or not that is true.
– Not at all.
– The Minister of Defence, we are told, is not now to attend the Conference in England. In his seat, we are to have an honorable member who will attend the Conference after holding office as Minister of Defence for perhaps a day or a week. He is to be sent home, although he will not have the experience that the present Minister possesses. This is another illustration of the evils of the present system of party government. I hope to see the day when this party system will be done away with, and when we shall have as Minister of Defence, or as Treasurer, the best man for the post in the whole Parliament. It is useless, however, to labour these questions at the present time, and I shall be content to explain my position. I am a member ot the ‘ Liberal Democratic and Protectionist party, and as such am not going to be led into a party where the Liberals will be dominated by a majority holding different views. I intend to retain my independence as a member of this House. I shall offer myself for re-election, whenever the election takes place, and if I am not returned, I shall be content to stay at home and to attend to my own business.
– - I regret that it is only by taking advantage of the forms of the House I can express my reasons for the vote that I gave this afternoon in connexion with the displacement of the Ministry. That action was for two reasons a momentous one. In the first place, I was supporting a Ministry formed by a party to which I do not belong, and, in the second, I was severing myself from the party with which I have been connected in this House since my return, and in the country throughout my life. Two things had to occur before I, as a member of the Liberal Party, could take a seat on the Opposition benches. The Liberal Party had first of all to terminate their connexion with the Labour Party. What is that connexion, and what was its basis? On 27th November last, the honorable member for Ballarat, in a calm and telling speech, pointed out the many blunders that the Opposition made on the famous day when the present Prime Minister moved what was taken as an expression of want- of confidence in the Deakin Administration. The honorable member for Ballarat impressed upon the House the fact that rabid anti-Labour members, contrary to all their professions, had voted on that occasion to put a Labour Ministry in office. Those honorable members retaliated by saying that the honorable member had kept them there. His reply was: “That is a fair statement of the ‘position. We will keep them there as long as they carry out our policy.” He went on to say -
If, in the future, we find chut the proposals of the Government cause us embarrassment, and unduly restrain our freedom, we shall not support it. If its programme places us in a false position in regard to our constituents, or if I cannot control the hostile criticism, of my followers, we must withdraw our support.
He also said -
They- the Labour Party - are free from any obligation to us, just as we were free of obligation to them. They will take the course which they believe, in accordance with their principles, to be most advantageous to the country, and by that they will be judged. In a similar manner the whole Opposition, and also honorable members in this corner, who are not included in the direct Government party, will be properly judged by their conduct as they offer factious resistance to reasonable proposals, or give them the support they deserve. We cannot avoid being judged bv this standard, and we ought to be judged by it.
I fully indorse that statement of the principles of the party. But what is the present position ? I understand that the reason for the severance of the Liberal Party from the Labour Party is that our seats are being attacked in the country. Immunity from opposition was no part of our promise of support to the present Government. We made no such request, because, for one reason, we knew that the Ministry could not grant it.
– And that we would not accept it, even if it were offered to us.
– Quite so. Such an agreement was never contemplated. We did not even discuss the matter. We knew that theMinistry could not grant us immunity from opposition in view of the experience of theparty when the honorable member for South Sydney, as Prime Minister, gave a pledge that was ruthlessly ignored by the Labour leagues in this State. No one would think of asking a Government for that which they could not grant.
– The “ honorable member for South Sydney never promised immunity.
Several honorable members, interjecting,
– The remarks just made across the chamber are more than usually disorderly. Conversations betweenhonorable members on the two sides of theHouse, and not addressed to the honorablemember who is speaking, must entirely cease.
– Why should thehonorable member reveal these secrets?
– There is no secret about the matter. I was not a member of theHouse on the occasion to which I refer,, but I gathered as an outsider that such a pledge was given. If my impression iswrong, I shall not press it. What hashappened since the present Government took office to necessitate the proposed change? We allowed them to go into recess to administer the affairs of the country, and toprepare a programme for the forthcoming session. It seems to me that that act onour part also carried with it the proposition that they should be allowed to submit their programme to the House, and that,, as the honorable member for Ballarat stated on the occasion to which I have referred, they should be judged by their actions, and the programme that they thought fit to bring forward. The honorable member for Ballarat said that if theproposals of the Government - cause us embarrassment and unduly restrain our freedom, we shall not support it.
I have heard no statement as to what particular proposal made by the Government is likely to embarrass us or to restrain our freedom. It seems to me that it was necessary that they should bring down their proposals, and that as reasonable men weshould deal with them on their merits. There are in His Excellency’s speech proposals that I shall not support proposals that I am prepared to vote against, regardless of whether my vote does or doesnot bring about the downfall of the Ministry. But there are others which I and every member of the Liberal Party will be prepared to support. In the interests of the country, it seems- to me that the Government should be allowed to go on with them. I confess I do not know of any act of administration by the Government that would justify our turning them out of office. It is true that [ heard the statement - conceived in the great statesmanlike mind of the honorable member for Fawkner - “ they have raised the telephone rates,” but I can scarcely imagine that as a reason “for displacing the Government of the day. I do not know whether or not their new proposals in regard to the telephone rates are absolutely fair, but I do know that the people residing in country districts will be glad of some arrangement that will enable them to obtain, not exchanges, but telephone, lines in remote isolated parts of Australia where they cannot now be obtained, although the people are prepared to give the necessary guarantees, and to contribute half the cost of construction.
– We cannot obtain them, even in cases .where the people have paid their -proportion of the cost.
– That is so. _ With the exception of the statesmanlike idea conceived by the honorable member’ for ‘Fawkner - and that can hardly be a matter of national * importance - I have heard of no complaint regarding the administration of. the affairs of the Commonwealth by the present Government that would justify our turning them out of office. Then, again, I hold that they . should have been permitted to submit their proposals to Parliament. Our party, as recorded in the public press, some time ago made a request to the Prime Minister to call Parliament together at an early date. I concurred in that request, which was made for the reason that we desired that the Parliament should get to work as soon as possible in view of the great volume of business to be transacted before the close of the session. The Government did not call Parliament together earlier than they intended, and the time at our disposal, consequently, is less than we had hoped to have. Yet how is it proposed to spend that time? Instead of pushing on with business we are to have an adjournment extending over a fortnight to enable a new Ministry to prepare for the work of the session. When it meets the House, I suppose we shall have an almost -endless discussion, on the opening policy speech of the new Prime Minister. That, it seems to me, is inconsistent with the appeal which we made for an early meeting of Parliament in order that the business of the country might be expedited. Let us turn now to the Government programme and see what it contains. It includes a non-party measure dealing with a question of supreme importance that has been awaiting the attention of this Parliament from the inception of Federation, and which I am afraid will be dealt with too late. I refer to the measure relating to the defence of Australia. The Government have made proposals based practically on the lines of those made by the Liberal Party. They are somewhat extended, and I think that the present leader of the Opposition said at Toowoomba that they were a very excellent ;Set of proposals. That measure could be discussed by us from a non-party point of view. It is the duty. of every honorable member to so discuss it. It should be dealt with, without a moment’s delay ; but it is to be set aside and to remain in abeyance longer than it should. That seems to me to be at least one wrong that we should db by further postponing the transaction of public business. ‘ I agree with the views expressed by the honorable member for Bass in regard to the way in which Ministries are made and unmade. I have long been opposed to the proposed system of elective Ministries, because I have doubted whether it would cure the evils at which it aims; but our experience of the last few days has made me a convert to the principle. I am prepared to support al system of elective Ministries, or any other that will put an end to the present system of carrying on the business of the Commonwealth Parliament. It was an unholy alliance that put the Labour Party into power, it is an equally unholy alliance that is putting them out.” There was something more that had to happen before I could take my seat on the Opposition side of the House, and that was that I should become a member of the coalition, combination, or “ fusion,” as it is called. No one has yet defined the difference between fusion and coalition, and “coalition” is good enough for me. At the last general election I pledged myself that I would under no conditions support a coalition between my leader and the then leader of the Opposition. I have also stated, during the last three months, on nineteen or twenty platforms that on no consideration would I support a coalition between my leader and the honorable member for Parramatta. I said that if we were to have a sound, progressive Government, it must be a Government with well-defined principles- a Government firmly believing in those principles, and determined to give effect to them at the earliest moment. Such a party could never be formed from a Coalition Party. I shall never support a party membership of which involves great sacrifice of principle. It has been said that my late colleagues are sacrificing no principles. I am glad to think that they are not doing so, and if the programme as drawn up is carried out in the spirit as well as in the letter, they will not have sacrificed any ; but there is another party to the coalition, or two parties, and they are going to make a tremendous sacrifice of the principles of a life-time. Those men have in this House and on various platforms throughout Australia condemned almost every one of the proposals that to-day they have swallowed. Of course, it may be that they honestly intend to carry out these new ideas, and that they have surrendered their principles and offered themselves up for the good of the country. If they have, this will be known for ever in the history of Australia as the time of the great renunciation; but I. have had too much experience of mankind as a politician and a lawyer to have any faith in the idea that these men are saints come down from Heaven to renounce their principles for the good of the country. I venture to say that the result will be that my colleagues will endeavour to carry out the principles that they have always adhered to and which they believe in, but will find themselves restrained. The position is the most extraordinary that I have seen in the history of politics in this State or in the Commonwealth, because, although I have been only a short time in the House, the study of politics has been my only hobby, and I have followed it closely since I was a boy of fourteen. We have to-day the spectacle of, 1 think, thirty-two members going down on their principles to a little band of ten - a band which they declared in this House and on every platform to be a disappearing party,. Are their actions in consonance with their statement that it was a disappearing party ? It seems to me that some of them - particularly the Victorian members, whom I know best - are in desperate dread concerning their own seats. They got in at the last election by posing as protectionists, and want to get in at the next by posing as Liberals. I for one am not prepared to allow them to cany that flag in my company, and I am afraid that their liberalism will be about as effective as their protection was when the Tariff was under consideration. The whole of those thirtytwo men go down on their knees to this disappearing Liberal Party, and say, “Save us, good Liberals, save us; we willaccept all your principles, at variance with ours though they be.” And still more amazing, they say, “We thirty-two will go down and let you ten have the leader. “ It is not to be an equal-in-all-things arrangement, but the leader is to be taken from the ten, and, I believe - although, of course, I know nothing of this - that the ten are to have an equal number of members in the Cabinet, judging from what I saw in one of the papers. It is a position that I confess I have no faith in, and the action taken today confirms me in the grave doubts I had as to the exercise of the power of thirtytwo over ten, because I am satisfied that none of my late colleagues were guilty of originating the cruel treatment extended to us, their old colleagues, when an endeavour was made to gag us, and deny us the right to address ourselves to the House and put ourselves right with the country. T felt that more than anything that has happened in this House, and I say sincerely that 1 am satisfied that in that matter our ten were over-borne by the other thirty-two. The best proof of that lies in the fact that itwas not one of the ten that moved the gag., but one of the direct Opposition, and certainly they could have selected no more fitting man to do it than the small-minded^ member for Wentworth. I have the most perfect faith in my late colleagues. I parted with them as friends, and I hopeto retain their friendship as I trust they will retain mine. We can differ politically, without being bad friends, and I hope I have said nothing to-day to make our differences a matter of personal feeling. I- believe they have done what they think to be best in the interests of the country, and I am satisfied that they will giveme credit for the same motive. Weon this side are now left as four separate individuals, and can hardly be called a party. The Liberal Party may be said7 almost to have ceased to exist. But I intend to carry out the principles that T pledged myself on the platform to support, . no matter from what Ministry they- come. If the new Government bring in the measures which they profess themselves ready to bring in, and which are in their programme, and if I approve of the details of those measures, I shall support them as heartily as though they came from a straight-out Liberal Government. I have received no promise of immunity from any party in this country. I have never asked it from them. I did not connect myselfat the time of the election with any association - clerical, sectarian, or anything else - except the Liberal Party to which I used to belong and to which I hope I still belong. I am prepared at the next election, without asking immunity from any one, to go before my constituents and tell them that I have carried out my pledges. I may be met with a three-cornered fight or straightout opposition, and be defeated. I shall not regret it, although I suffered five defeats in the interests of my party, and was a long time before I got a seat in Parliament. I was proud to win it in a big straight-out fight, free from personalities - perhaps the biggest fight that was made for my party in Victoria. In winning it, I did what I considered was the greatest good for my party, in defeating the most dangerous opponent that they had. I am prepared now, and at any time, to sacrifice seat after seat rather than sacrifice or deviate from my principles. I shall be, satisfied if I do go down to be able to say “I have fought the fight ; I have kept the faith.”
– I listened to the new leader of the Opposition to-day charging the present Government with bringing in a programme for purely show purposes. Let us ascertain what the honorable member brought forward in the Governor-General’s speech at the opening of last session, and see whether there is any more show and make-believe in what the present Government put forward than in what he put forward then.
– I did not use the words “show” or “ make-believe. “ I said simply that it was far too long a programme to be dealt with this session.
– Let us apply the honorable member’s own terms to his own programme.
– Exactly. But there were two sessions then to come.
– The honorable member brought down proposals for: -
That is the programme which the honorable member put forward for one session, and yet he has the audacity to say to-day that what is. proposed in the Governor-General’s speech this session is for show purposes, and that the Ministry know that they have no means of carrying it out. I was present at a recent meeting in Sydney at which the honorable member based his opposition to the Prime Minister’s Gympie programme on the ground that the Ministry were not able to finance it. I listened in this House last October to the right honorable member for East Sydney on a motion of censure against the Deakin Ministry in regard to their financial proposals, making practically the same charge against the then Prime Minister, and urging with much more effect the same objections as the honorable member himself urged against the Gympie programme. The honorable member wanted to carry out an expensive naval and compulsory military defence scheme, the transfer of the Northern Territory, which would cost a large sum of money, the establishment of a High Commissioner in London, with expensive buildings, and penny postage, which it was estimated would compel him to sacrifice about £300,000 a. year in revenue, together with all those other large commitments to which I have referred ; and yet the honorable member did not bring down one proposal of any description to find the money for any one of them. He did not even propose to procure anything from a land tax. In raising the objection’s that this Government have put forward a programme merely for show purposes, and that they have not provided proposals to raise the money to carry it out. the honorable member must be speaking with his tongue in his cheek, especially when we remember the situation in which he found himself only a few months ago. It appears that the honorable member, having given his word to support this Ministry when it took office, turned round the moment it was in office to find reasons for assassinating it. The question has been asked here time after time why the Deakin Ministry were put out of ‘office last session, and I shall mention a few ot the reasons which actuated me on that occasion. The first was the maladministration of the White Australia laws. While the Prime Minister w’as in London the right honorable member foi _ Swan was appointed acting Prime Minister, and brought in amended regulations which enabled some employers of labour in the northern parts of Western Australia, and also in the northern parts of Queensland to introduce fresh and additional coloured labour under contract. Complaints were made in this House time after time by the honorable member for Herbert’ of the increase of coloured labour in Australia. Yet that Ministry, who were supposed to be pledged to the maintenance of a White Australia, and a sympathetic administration of the White Australia laws, enabled that increase of coloured labour to take place under contract to certain employers. When approached on occasion after occasion at ;the instance of our party, and asked to re;peal the regulations brought in by the right honorable member for Swan, and to prevent the increase of coloured labour, the Ministry absolutely did nothing.
– The honorable member is romancing now.
– The statistics of Western Australia make the right honorable, member’s denials of no effect. The maladministration of the Deakin Government in regard to the laws for preserving a White Australia was a sufficient reason for its expulsion from office.
– Has the administration of those laws been altered since?
– It was altered directly the present Government came into power. The Forrest regulation was immediately rescinded. The ex-Prime Minister cannot deny this charge.
– There has been no alteration of administration worth mentioning since we left office. We had discovered their new devices and caught their first batches.
Several honorable members interjecting,
-While an interjection addressed to the’ member who is speaking is tolerable under certain circumstances, especially if it elicits information, conversations, in loud tones between other honor, able members are most embarrassing, and very disturbing, to a speaker. I must ask honorable members to discontinue such interjections as are now being made. They are far worse than ordinary interjections.
– Honorable members opposite seem to find it difficult to keep the spirit of their agreement to preserve silence. They keep it to the letter by not rising to speak, but they cannot resist the temptation to make speeches by interjection. If the promises on which the coalition has been built are observed in the same fashion, this unholy alliance will break up in the near’ future.’ In the six months during which the Labour Ministry has been in power, twice as much smuggled opium has been discovered and confiscated as was taken during the preceding twelve months of the Deakin Administration, and similar results were obtained from the measures to prevent the smuggling in of Chinamen. What has taken place during the last six months shows that the late Government was not too vigilant in its efforts to keep Australia white. I am sorry that the new leader of the Opposition is not now present, because I wish to say that he obtained from me, when the Tariff was under consideration, a number of votes which were secured under false pretences. Time and again I asked him1 whether, if it were found that the New Protection could not be applied to certain parts of the Tariff, honorable members would be given an opportunity to reconsider particular votes, and he invariably and unhesitatingly answered “ Yes.” Yet no opportunity for reconsideration was afforded. Members of the Opposition, especially representatives from New South Wales, have urged that the present Tariff does not represent the wishes of the public, yet they are now prepared to swallow it without providing protection for the workers in the assisted industries. The new protection which the Conservative Party now accept is such as will suit Mr. Beale, Mr. Farleigh, and other rich employers. When they desired information on the subject, did they consult the workmen interested as well as the employers, as to what proposals would be fair? No. Yet we learn from the daily press that they consulted the representatives of the Employers’ Federation,, who are said to have greatly assisted in enlightening them. The scheme which the honorable member for Ballarat now puts forward is as far from that embodied in his original memorandum on the subject as is the moon from the earth. The manufacturers are to have immediate statutory protection, but when it comes to the workers’ share, all they will be allowed is that they may go in sections to the Courts of the country and fight for their rights against the wealth and affluence of the manufacturing princes. It is men like the honorable and learned member for Parkes, the honorable member for Fawkner, the chairman of the Employers’ Federation, and the honorable and learned member for Flinders, famous for his tyrannous treatment of Victorian Railway employés, who are to frame a new protection policy in the interests of the poor working men of Australia. Another reason why I voted to put the Deakin Government out of office was its maladministration of the Department of the PostmasterGeneral. Notwithstanding frequent complaints, that Ministry continued to hand back to the States money which was needed for placing the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services into good working order, and paying decent wages. It also refused to impose a land tax, to nationalize the iron industry, and to give full political and civil rights to the public servants of the Commonwealth. Those were further reasons why I voted against it. The moment that the Labour Ministry gained office it allowed the public servants of Australia to take part freely, not merely in municipal and State politics, but also in the national politics of Australia.
– Did they not already enjoy that right?
– No; it was given to them under a new regulation.
– They enjoyed plenty of freedom before the new regulation was passed, because the old regulation was a dead letter.
– From the honorable member’s interjection I gather he would restore the gag on public servants. Coming to the fusion, or coalition, which has brought together those whose political principles are as far apart as the poles, I would point out that at the last elections the two new leaders, the honorable and learned member for Ballaratand the honorable member for Parramatta, declared themselves to be opposed on principles vitally affecting the welfare of the Commonwealth. Now the advocacy of those principles is abandoned, without reference to their constituents, and they have rushed into a coalition, not to. give effect to a policy, but to eject Labour Ministers from office, and to get their own heads into the Treasury nosebag. The honorable member for Parramatta has been an advocate of free-trade, though his career has shown that he is at all times ready to throw aside political principles when by doing so he can gain office. When a leading and trusted member of the New South Wales Labour Party, he deserted his party and his principles to accept the position and emoluments of Postmaster-General in a Government formed by the right honorable member for East Sydney. Now, again, he is acting in the same way, and, no doubt, if next week he could make a personal gain by throwing over his present colleagues, he would abandon them without a scruple. Then we have the honorable member for Dalley who has posed as “ as good as a Labour man,”voting with the honorable and learned member for Flinders, the honorable member for Fawkner, the chairman’ of the Employers’ Federation, the right honorable member for Swan, and the honorable and learned member for Parkes, the men who employed the notorious Walpole, who does not believe in marriage for the workers. Yet the honorable member hopes to convince the working men of Balmain that he is a champion of Labour rights. He denounced the honorable member for Ballarat and his party for the vote given in regard to Home Rule, and yet to-day he is prepared to embrace the principles for which they stand. It all shows thatin the past these honorable gentlemen have been merely humbugging the country, using their so-called principles merely as stalking horses. A few weeks ago I read in a Sydney newspaper a scathing attack by the honorable member for Lang on the politicalprinciples of the honorable member for Ballarat - by a gentleman who calls himself an out-and-out freetrader, but who will have to be remarkably clever to convince the electors of Marrickville that he has not acted contrary to the principles which they elected him to support. And this notwithstanding that he has said that he will never be a party to the giving of protection in any shape or form. The honorable member for Nepean, another gentleman who was elected as an extreme free-trader, has . accepted a protectionist leader, and apparently will support protectionist proposals. The honorable member for Robertson, who also has declared himself to be as good as a Labour man, is another of those who are voting with the rank Conservatives of Australia. What price is the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to pay for the support of the right honorable member for East Sydney? “Will the right honorable member be made, High Commissioner in London for this betrayal of his life-long principles? It all looks like a huge political job. Principles seem to have been put up to the highest bidder. One. is to get a Prime Ministership, another a High Commissionership, and so on. The interests of Australia are not consulted. On the 20th October last, the honorable member for Ballarat, speaking of those with whom he is now fusing, said -
At the present time the right honorable gentleman has behind him only the wreckage of half a dozen old sections. He has behind him the wreckage of the free importing party ; the wreckage of the individualist party ; the wreckage of the anti-Socialist party ; the wreckage of the coloured labour party ; all are to be found on that side of the House.
That was at the end of October last year, and to-day he is embracing those men.
– The combination means the wrecking of the Labour Party.
– When’ he talked about the wreckage of the black labour party, I know he looked at the honorable member and another Queensland member sitting opposite now. Cannot we remember, only a few short months ago, when the anti- Socialist Ladies’ Conference was held in Melbourne, the wife of one of the Queensland senators said that if the Liberal Ministry were put back into power - and that meant a Ministry from honorable members opposite - there would be coloured labour in Queensland again within a week? Resolution after resolution of the kind was passed by the ladies of that conference who showed that they were just a little indiscreet, and had not been properly primed, but they exhibited the true feeling of their husbands and those associated with them. Then the honorable member for Richmond, in speaking of the honorable member for Parramatta, with whom he is now associated, said -
I have known the honorable member for Parramatta as a fiscal sinker, as a free-trader, as a labour member, as a protectionist, as a single taxer, and as a Socialist, all’ within a few years.
I do not know what we can call the honorable member for Parramatta now.
– He sheds’ his skin like a snake in the springtime.
– He sheds it every summer. Perhaps it will be interesting to note what the Melbourne Age had to say recently about the honorable member. On 2nd April, in commenting on the speech of the honorable member at Bendigo before the Australian Women’s National League, the Agc referred to the second in command of the Opposition, as follows -
Mr. Joseph Cook has his merits, and one of those merits is that he has just done a service to Liberalism. His Bendigo speech before .the Australian Women’s National League proclaimed him as starched and rigid a Conservative as ever he was. It would not be worth while taking any note of this were it not for the fact that he had previously been angling for an alliance with the Liberals.
What have these “ good as labour men “ to say to that ?
If Conservatives - and this refers to the New South Wales free-traders - feel themselves able to accept all the principles of the Liberal policy of the past - protection at the Customs House and statutory protection to the wages of the worker, bonuses to special industries, an enlargement of the national functions, the abolition of the Naval Subsidy - the creation of an Australian Navy and the settlement of the monetary relations with the States on a basis which will make the national needs predominant - that is well.
We said that Mr. Joseph Cook at Bendigo did a service to Liberalism. This was in frankly taking up the Deakin challenge and proclaiming himself the enemy of all legislative progress, and in thus showing that his ideals fundamentally differ from Liberalism on almost every current question of prominence.
If that be so, who have thrown their principles overboard in order to dip their heads together in the nosebag? The article proceeds -
Speaking of the New Protection, the power to obtain which Liberalism and Labour alike desire to see incorporated in the Constitution of the Commonwealth, Mr. Cook has nothing but ridicule for it. He regards it as “a madcap scheme,” which can never be made operative in this country. .He thinks the fact that the States have the power to give the New Protection is quite sufficient, and that the National Parliament ought not to have it. We venture to say that on that question alone there is such a radical difference between Mr. Cook and Mr. Deakin as should prevent those two men attempting to join hands politically.
What kind of new protection are we to gain from such a coalition? Here is the Age again -
We may take another case in which he has rendered equal service. In the past Conservatism has always been strongly opposed to the creation of an Australian Navy, just as Liberals have favoured it. They have time and again proclaimed their convictions that Australians cannot do anything -in defence apart from England’, and that our true policy would be to quadruple our Naval Subsidy of ^200,000, and place our interests candidly under the protection of the British flag without any aspirations after Australian ships and Australian sailors. There was quite a vital difference between the Liberal and the Conservative on this defence question. The Liberal policy has been to abolish the subsidy, and spend it on the creation of an Australian fleet of coast defence cruisers and torpedo craft. Mr. Cook says he regards it as “ the height of meanness to suggest the withdrawal of the annual vote of ^200,000 to the. Imperial Government “ - the very thing that the Deakin Government did. He further says that he has no objection to an Australian fleet, but it must be part of the Imperial Navy. and under Imperial orders.
What have the lip loyalists of Dalley, Wentworth, and Parkes to say to this statement of Deakinite principles? The concluding portion of this powerful article is as follows -
If we go a little further, and try to get at the Conservative mind on the question of Commonwealth and State finances, we find the same divergence. Mr. Cook looks first of all to the monetary convenience of the States. He would support the payment of at least ^6,750,000 to the States out of the Customs revenue, quite regardless as to whether the Commonwealth has or has not enough money to meet its own expenditure. Faced with the fact of a Federal) shortage, in which the Commonwealth must either tax or borrow to make ends meet, he says - “ Borrow.” In other words, it must give away its own money irrespective of its needs, and contract loans to make up its deficits. We venture to say that, as a political criticism, Mr. Cook’s Bendigo speech is exactly worthy of the Antediluvian party for which it was made. It is everything that is reactionary and unprogressive and un-Australian. It has not a single illuminating note in it. It is the negative of all that a Liberal prizes. And it comes very opportunely to let us know that, whatever else may be done or left undone, it is quite impossible to conceive of any coalition between the Liberal party and the mouthpiece of such an antiquated set of political fallacies as those advanced at Bendigo.
Those are the principles which the Age discovered in those gentlemen opposite, who have been put to the extremity of coalescing for the purpose of turning the Labour Government out of office. It might be interesting to refresh some honorable members’ minds with a few expressions of opinion from the honorable member for Parramatta himself. I first quote a portion of his speech which was delivered in the State Parliament of New South Wales on the question of Australian Federation, and exhibits the honorable member as a republican -
On the broad outlines of the scheme, I should like to say one or two words about the question of Federation under the Crown. I do not know that I am a red-hot Republican - at any rate, not one of those Republicans who say they will do nothing until they can get a Republic. I believe the destiny of these Colonies will be that of a Republic, and whenever it comes I shall certainly hail it, if it does come in a way which will meet the aspirations of the great bulk of the people without any great hardship accruing. I admit that Royalty, as far as the Government of these Colonies is concerned, is almost purely nominal. We are not very badly off under the monarchical system of government after all.
That quotation is quite sufficient to show that the honorable member in his heart believes in republicanism, and yet. lor the purpose of accommodating himself to the views of other people, and of obtaining a position on the Treasury bench, he is prepared to throw his principles overboard, and at the same time to charge others with expressing similar views, although they have not said anything of the kind. That, however, was before Joseph went down into Egypt, and when he had only a few of the many colours which now adorn his political coat -
But the great objection I have to Royalty is that Mr. Labouchere raised to it the other day - that it has such a tendency to the creation of social servility, that it tends to set up orders of being in the State, different castes and gradations in society, and all that kind of thing which is subversive of the great intelligence and education of our time.
Further on, after discussing the United States, the French, and the South African Republics, he says -
I do not want a Republicanism with which such effects of government are associated. A Republic will come in Australia I am firmly convinced, but when it does come I hope it will leave behind the troubles and oppressive conditions now associated with those forms of Republican government which exist, in the countries I have mentioned.
Then, in reference to the Governor-General, he says -
We were told here last night - I think it was by interjection of the Attorney-General - that we must have a Governor-General sent out to us by the Government of England if we are to have parliamentary government. Now, I take leave to dispute that statement altogether. It does not follow at all that to have parliamentary government we must have a Governor-General appointed by the authorities in England.
And later on, he tried to show the difference between loyalty and servility -
It has been asserted to-night that those who dare say a word concerning the operations of our fleet are disloyal to the Mother Country. I repudiate any such assertion. The honorable member who made so much of loyalty to-night was mistaking loyalty for servility. Those who rebel against all servility cannot therefore be called disloyal. I want to say this : The limit of loyalty of any people must always be determined by a sense of obligation to one’s own people.
We have heard this honorable member talking about the confiscatory land tax of the Labour Party. Let us see what his real opinions are on that question. The honorable member referred to the sacred rights of property, and said -
It is the one thing above all others that has cursed this country, and has cursed every other country of which we have any knowledge, and unless it be abolished it will curse these countries in the future as they have never yet been cursed. The initial wrong done to society is in attempting to recognise such a thing as property in land. There can be no property in land in the sense that there is property in houses, or in anything else that men make by the use of their muscles and brain. Property in land is a thing which no man can make, although he may possess it. The only thing that can possibly make privateproperty in land is old legal enactments which have given away the people’s birthright, and are now making it possible for men who never did a day’s work in their lives to pass stringent measures exacting tribute from men who are craving the means of existence. Private property in land is the step to all our other movements going in the wrong direction, and we must retrace it or suffer the evil consequence which will be disastrous to our country and civilization.
– Was this statement made by the new leader of the Opposition?
– It was made by the second in command, the honorable member for Parramatta. He went on to say -
The honorable and learned member was unfortunately emphasizing the sacredness of private property in land. Who made this private property in land, of which we have heard so much? No value at all attaches to land except the value that the demands of people give to it. Nothing that man can do to land can give it a value. It is only when population is surging round a particular spot, and other people want it, that it is acquired. It is a fictitious property in reality, and should be carefully differentiated from other property in every respect.
Further on he said -
Is the practical enlightenment of the nation to be set aside out of respect to this old effete enactment? I say that it is an insult to our civilization to set these rights up as sacred things to be regarded in a sacred light. There is nothing at all sacred about them. The only idea is that of their monstrosity - of amazement that they ever should have been given. The only thing we wonder at is that men should have been so stupid and foolish in days gone by as to barter away the rights of the people.
Despite these statements, we find him to-day surrounded by honorable members whom he then declared to be bartering away the rights of the people, and claiming a property in land to which they had no right. He also said -
Are we in this country, where this kind of thing has not yet been recognised, by the Legislature at all events, to set up this example for those who come after us? It seems to me that if we do any such thing, the time will come when we shall be cursed in our graves for ever having consented to such an iniquitous proposal. . All this of course is done in the name of the sacred rights of property. Governments only exist, we are told, for the preservation of property. The sooner we knock out this old idea, or any idea of property attaching to land, the better for this and every other country. This is the one initial mistake we have made, and until we rectify it things will continue to go wrong. … I do not mean in any crude or ill-digested fashion, but I do say a legitimate attempt must Be made in this time of distress and depression to assist them on to the soil and never mind so much the sacred rights of property.
– Imagine the chairman of the Employers’ Federation working under such a leader.
– I think it is true, as has been said, that, although the honorable member for Parramatta is certainly a leader, he is not the trusted leader of the representatives of the big moneyed men and the land monopolists of Australia. He no more believes in the principles which he has espoused as a member of the Opposition than I do, and if he spoke the truth he would repudiate them. I am sure that at heart he believes to-day in the principles that he advocated on the occasion to which I am referring. But the point is that it suits his personal interests independently of the interests of the country to throw them overboard, in order that he may obtain a seat on the Treasury bench. He went on to say -
The great evil in this country is that, while its industries are declining, there is under the present system of government no possibility of creating alternative employment for the people.
The representatives of the big land monopolists should listen to this-
To put the matter in plain language, the land grabbers and land speculators have this country by the throat.
Mr. - now Sir William - McMillan interjected, “ Why does not that member tell the truth?” and the honorable member for
Parramatta replied, “I am telling the truth, and the honorable member knows it is the truth.” Some time ago I saw a cartoon dealing with the honorable member for Parramatta which I think is one of the most effective that has ever come under my notice. It dealt with two periods in his career. In the first place it depicted the honorable gentleman as taken from the coal mines of Lithgow and returned by his fellow miners to the Parliament of New South Wales. We saw him with his shirt sleeves rolled up, and his trousers fastened with “ bowyangs,” just as he was taken from the coal mines to give effect in Parliament to the aspirations and ideas of his fellow workmen. That was about the year 1891. Then we saw him as he was in 1904, wearing- a frock coat and high hat, and viewing with an air of disdain the workers who had placed _ him in Parliament. He was represented as turning to the mail of 1891, and saying, “ Fancy meeting you.” The honorable member could sustain no greater shock than he would suffer by being confronted bv his own image as first returned to Parliament by the workers of the coal pits of Lithgow. There are other honorable members who were first returned to Parliament by theirfellow workmen, but who have since thrown them overboard, because it suited their personal interests to do so.
– Who are they?
– lt is true that the honorable member for Wentworth does not have very much to do with the tin miners in the northern part of New South Wales, but those who have gone before him had, and, knowing the genesis of his inherited wealth, he should be the last to scoff and laugh when the interests of the hardworking miners of Australia are referred to.
– I rise to order. The honorable member has said the laugh I gave was due to the fact that I despised the workers in certain industries in New South Wales. Since my laughter was solely evoked by the spectacle of an honorable member, so gloriously clad as is the honorable member for Cook, expressing these views, I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether he is in order in imputing such motives to me ?
– I fail to grasp the point of order raised by the honorable member. If he desires to make an explanation later on he may do so.
– The honorable member may explain later’ on his position with regard to the workers of Australia, but I know what the tin .miners in the northern part of New South Wales think of him. When we are called upon to deal with the policy of the New Protection, I hope that he will have some regard for those to whom he has every reason to be grateful.
– Will the honorable member say what he means? It is easy for him tosling mud.
– The honorable member often does that, and he should take a little himself.
– I have never been discourteous in this House.
– Order 1
– I propose now todeal with the views in regard to land taxation at one time expressed by the honorable member for Parramatta. He declared . then that a land tax was designed to tax the “ legalized theft of the country “ ; but to-day he joins with others in seeking to avoid the imposition of such a tax. If there is one reason more than another responsible for the combination to displace the Government, it is the desire on the part of honorable members opposite to save the rich landlords of Australia from a land tax. A Progressive Land Tax Bill is the only measure before the House, and if hasbrought honorable members opposite together to fight for the rich landlords, in opposition to the interests of the masses of Australia. The honorable member for Parramatta, speaking in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, said -
With respect to the income tax, I do not object to that tax at all.
In his present company, 1 do not think he would even be in favour of an income tax; but he said on the occasion to which I refer -
I do object to its taking precedence of a land tax. I admit it is a good mode of taxation, and second perhaps only in effectiveness toa land tax. But am I to be satisfied with thisbeing poked at me when a Government already pledged to a most superior tax quietly ignores it. The income tax as proposed by the Government does not differentiate between incomes from property and incomes from, personal exertion. I subrait it is only reasonable to tax incomes from property to a greater extent than it is to tax incomewhich is earned by the working men of the country ? It practically means this -
The honorable member for Wentwortb might well listen to these words - that the lazy, idle, well-off man is taxed only iis the same ratio and to the same extent as the- very active and busy man.. I submit that if there is any man whom we should encourage and to whom we should give favours it is the man who every day in his life is contributing by his abilities and his qualifications to the building up of the nation, and to the improvement of the conditions by which we are surrounded in our daily life. A great deal has been said as to a tax on incomes reaching a man with landed property. It certainly reaches the man with landed property, but only the landed property he is using. It does not touch the man who holds hundreds and thousands of acres of land which are lying idle, and from which he derives no income. The Colonial Treasurer the other night confessed that an income tax would be derived from these unremunerative lands. How he proposes to obtain it . I am at a loss to understand. That seems to me to be the veriest piece of political jargon that I have ever heard coming from a person in the exalted position of Colonial Treasurer. The income tax will tax incomes from land, but only to the extent to which that land is used and put into occupation. That is not what we want. An honorable member a few minutes ago asked another honorable member if he wished to tax the thrift of the country. It is not the thrift of the country, but the legalized theft of the country that we want to tax - the men who have taken through the medium of land values something which they did nothing to create, who have taken from the people the result of their own flesh and blood, who have taken it bv the machinery of the law, and appropriated it to their own personal use. That is the kind of value and that is the substance we want to tax, and the income tax does not necessarily reach these people. It only reaches those who are -cultivating their estates, but it does not reach the estates that are locked up and which are contributing nothing to the revenue.
– I must ask the honorable member not to read his speech.
– I am reading extracts from a speech made by the honorable member for Parramatta with as little comment as possible, to conserve the time of the House.
– I am afraid that it is all extracts, and no speech.
– I am trying to show that the honorable member has come together with the representatives of the Employers’ Federation and all the great Conservatives of Australia at a total sacrifice of all the principles which he at one time espoused a* sacred.
– Thank God !
– That is what the honorable member said when the last election was over. I heard him speaking today about going before his constituents and about majority rule. I should like to remind him that he only secured a seat in the House as the result of a split vote, and was really in a very great minority. We have heard a good deal about the question of a Dread nought. I claim to be as loyal to the Empire as the shouting phalanx who desire posterity to pay for their present obligations. Some of the loyalists of Sydney, the so-called patriotic men, had the GovernorGeneral in Sydney a few weeks ago, and took him out to inspect the Zoo. They wanted a band to play before him, and called for tenders. Two bands - the Australian Professional Musicians and the German band - tendered. The former asked for ios. a day, and the Germans for 3s., and those patriots, who went to the Sydney Town Hall and voiced their platitudes, posing before the country to get titles to their names, engaged the German band at 3s. a day to play “ God save the King,” and left out the Australian band. That is the patriotism! of those men. You can go round the warehouses in York-street, Clarence-street, and Kent-street, Sydney, and upon the shelves you will find, not British, but German goods. If they can save 5d., they will ‘take German goods in preference to British, and then go down to the Town Hall and dictate to the working men as to how much they should pay out of their hard earnings- to give a Dreadnought to England to defeat the German Navy. Another gentleman in New South Wales gave his name in for £10,000 to the Dreadnought .fund, but I am led to understand that he did not pay -the cheque over. He is one of the large land-owners of Australia. The Narrabri Hospital is in his district, and was short of milk because the hospital cows had run dry. He had 500 head of milking cattle running on his station, and the hospital authorities asked him for the loan of one cow.
– Does the honorable member refer to Singleton ?
– I am referring to a gentleman known as Killarney Buchanan, in Narrabri. Although he could promise ^10,000 to the Dreadnought fund, he refused to lend the hospital one cow to supply its patients with milk.
– Mr. Dangar, who gave £10,000, also gave a hospital.
– Order ! The honorable member will have an opportunity to speak later.
– He gave a hospital to Singleton.
– I must ask that when I give directions they should be obeyed. Otherwise, the proceedings of the House would become utterly unintelligible.
– May I remind the honorable member for Robertson of a quotation about dumb-driven cattle? If he wants to explain himself, let him rise in this House and explain to the working men in his electorate, before whom he spouts. Labour platitudes, election after election, to lead them to believe that he is as good as a Labour man, why he sits on those benches beside the chairman of the Employers’ Federation and all the great Conservatives of Australia. I shall take the first opportunity of explaining to the working men in the centres of his electorate exactly what his position is if he refuses to explain himself. I have no objection to the fusion that has taken place. One of the reasons why I voted to eject the Deakin Government was to compel those parties to come together, because I knew there was not a shred of political principle existing between them to keep them apart, and that their only difference was their desire to gain the Treasury tench. I wanted to compel them to come together, and to stand in their true light before the country as the enemies of the masses of the men and women of Australia.
– The honorable member supported the imposition of a tax on the working men.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong; but is supporting the Deakinites now in the policy of protection, which he told his constituents he would entirely object to. I can stand up in this House, and before my constituents, and explain my position, but the honorable member dare not do it. Honorable members opposite have spoken about caucuses, and untruly about a majority even of one in the Labour caucus deciding what is to be done and all the rest following suit, yet we have seen in the press that honorable members on the other side have objected to the fusion of parties and to the make-believe principles of the proposed programme, but have been compelled by majorities in their own parties to swallow their consciences. Not only that, but at the dictation of one man they sit there as dumb as oysters, and refuse to explain their position to the constituencies which sent them to Parliament. I am glad of what has occurred. We have divided the sheep from the goats. We have heard those gentlemen time after time deploring the idea of any class question being raised in Australia. They have said; “ Do not introduce the question of capital against labour,” but they themselves have now effectively raised the issue, and when we go to the country we shall have the great dividing line of the monopolists and capitalists and exploiters who are against the interests of the masses of Australia on the one hand, and the Labour Party on the other. I for one would ask for no better issue. It has been very much to the detriment of this party in years gone by that there have been conflicting issues before the people to cloud the various policies put before th.em. The sooner there is a straight-out line of cleavage, the sooner we divide those who are for the interests of the masse.s from those who are for the interests of the people who already have more than enough, tha sooner will this party return with an absolute majority to carry its platform into effect, and to sympathetically administer its policy in the interests of the people. If there is. one thing that honorable members on the other side are afraid of, it is that we will have an opportunity to take them before their constituents and see if they will be returned on their present proposals. Nothing would give me greater pleasure, because it would give me the opportunity also of going to the constituencies of some honorable members opposite. I am sure it is only necessary to place their position plainly before the people to bring about their wholesale dismissal. There were honorable members on that side who were not enthusiastic over the Dreadnought proposal, but the leading papers of Australia flogged them with leading articles day after day, pointing out that they were misrepresenting the people, and one after another they capitulated. The Labour Prime Minister said. “ I do not care if all the daily papers of Australia say that I must do a certain thing ; if I think it the wrong course, I shall resist them.” What is it that makes the party opposite the creature of the daily press, and enables us to stand up with our backs stiff against it? Those honorable members have gained their positions by the aid of the press. They are the creatures of the press, and would not have been here but for the press, whereas every seat occupied on this side of the House has been gained in the teeth of the press, in the face of most lying statements and of a whole artillery of libels. When they came into my electorate and begged for an opportunity to report my meetings. I told them they could “go to the dickens” and do what they liked. My constituents have absolutely repudiated the advice given to them bv the daily papers. The Labour Prime Minister has been the first Prime Minister of Australia who has been able to stand up and throw the daily papers back into the teeth of their wealthy shareholders and proprietors when they attempted to dictate to him the policy of the country. Let us get an opportunity of going to the country, and tie up the daily press from advocating the claims of honorable members opposite. How long would those honorable members reign if that were done ? Not twenty-four hours.
– The honorable member went crying to the daily press for space.
– The honorable member is saying what is absolutely incorrect. I never went to the daily press to ask for anything. I repudiated them, but the honorable member is the mere creature of the press. I come now to the views of the honorable member for Parkes, whom no one in his wildest dreams would claim as democrat, on the Dreadnought question. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of last Tuesday the following appears: -
LOYALTY OF AUSTRALIANS.
-P., has forwarded us & copy of a letter which he has addressed to th« Federal Prime Minister “ in order to record and make public the important and gratifying fact that the Australian people are loyal and enthusiastic citizens of the Empire, and in order to expose the injustice of the views taken and expressed by Mr. Deakin when Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and by the members of the Labour Party.” The writer states that within the last month he has addressed ten separate meetings called for the purpose of testing the feelings of the people in’ regard to their willingness to contribute more substantially to the upkeep of the British Navy, as well as to make a gift of a modern battleship to the Mother Coun-try. These meetings were held in’ ten different municipal districts, containing over 65,000 Federal electors of New South Wales. At each meeting resolutions were unanimously carried acknowledging Australia’s debt of gratitude to the Mother Country, and proclaiming their willingness to offer an increased contribution as well as a special gift of a battleship. The writer claims that this is a fair test of the loyalty of Australians, and states that they have been maligned and discredited unjustly in the eyes of the British people by Mr. Deakin and Mr. Fisher, as well as their fellow Labour representatives who voted against a contribution of any amount in 1903.
So in the press of this very week the honorable member for Parkes states that Australians had been maligned and unjustly discredited in the eyes of the British people by the honorable member for Ballarat, whom he is supporting to-night. Is there any conscience in an alliance of this description? Not a scrap. What are they going to do about the Dreadnought offer? They say that we cannot find the money necessary to pay old-age pensions, to give a proper telephone service, and to carry out the ordinary functions of governmentHow, then, will they provide funds for a Dreadnought? Will they have the courage to make any move in the matter? I venture” to say that, when the debate is finished, their constituents will find that their platitudinous mouthings on the subject were so much moonshine.
– - A Dreadnought will be given.
– The honorable member speaks with such assurance as to make me think that that is one of the terms of the alliance.
– A major or a minor term?
– The remark was made in a. mournful key. The honorable member for Fawkner, who is chairmanof the Employers’ Federation of Victoria, showed pretty clearly to-day that he .wishes to remove the present Government because he thinks that they are interfering with vested interests. He objects that they propose to increase the telephone rates. It has been found that some of the large city firms are securing for nominal payments telephone services which cost the country ^30 or £40 a year for labour alone. .
– In Sweden they cangive a telephone service for £2 5s. a year.
– Then why does not the honorable member go to Sweden?
– I wish the people ‘of Australia to have an equally good service.
– The honorable member would like to apply to our working, men Swedish conditions of labour and rates of pay. He desires that they should be taxed to give a cheap telephone service tothe rich business houses in the big cities.. I should like to know whether the new Government will bring back the old rates, or take away again the political rights which the Labour Government has given to the Commonwealth public servants. I think that they will do nothing in the matter. While the honorable member for Robertson and the other Conservatives opposite take credit for objecting to Labour legislation, and gain thereby the support of the wealthy monopolists and sweaters of Australia, they have never dared, when they have had the opportunity, to wipe it off the statute-book. The honorable member for Fawkner has indicated clearly that he objects to a Labour Government because it is interfering with the undue privileges of the wealthy which are paid for by the workers. The representatives of the banks, too, object to “the proposed interference with the note issue. The Conservatives opposite object to the Commonwealth making a profit at the expense of the wealthy shareholders of the banks, who are extracting their profits from the workers of the country. Then, too, a large number of honorable members opposite will, as land-owners, be largely affected by a progressive land tax. In opposing such taxation, they are speaking on behalf of their own interests, not on “behalf of those of their constituents. Has the honorable member for Robertson anything to say about that?
– We have always favoured a land tax. Our party brought in land taxation.
– Yet now that the honorable member has an opportunity to vote for progressive land taxation, he avoids it by voting against the Government. It would be interesting to have published in the daily press a statement of the acreage held by some of the large land-owners on the other side. It would show that in opposing our proposals they are opposing something that affects their own personal pocket interests. There has1 been some talk about the opposition to the return of certain members which is to be shown bv the Labour leagues at the next elections, but the action of those members in ranging themselves with the Conservatives and monopolists of Australia entirely justifies what the leagues have done. It shows that the leagues knew their men. No such opposition is provided for in regard to members voting on this side, and I do not think they will be opposed. Apparently I have said enough to rouse the honorable member for Wentworth to action, and I am glad that we shall be afforded an opportunity to hear his charming voice. One of my objects was to get him to speak, and if I cannot turn a vote, I am glad that my speech will make the dumb to talk. I do not anticipate that the coalition against the people’s party will hold together for long. The interests which are fused are so conflicting that there must before long be an appeal to the people. -
– There are only nine billets.
– Yes, and about nineteen who think that they should be Prime Minister. When rogues fall out, honest men get their due. When these opportunists fall out, Australia will get her due. Honorable members opposite are playing a sort of confidence trick upon each other. The honorable member for Ballarat thinks that he is deceiving the honorable member for Parramatta. The programme is worded in such a way that one hopes to make one thing out of it, and the other another. When it comes to the interpretation of its various clauses, and a protectionist like the honorable member for Ballarat has to convince a free-trader like the honorable member for Lang of the necessity for the rectification of a Tariff anomaly, there will be serious friction. The rock upon which the coalition will split is obvious. Already a late leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for East Sydney, is explaining himself in the newspapers, and trying to make good his position in the eyes of the people. The honorable member for Lang, too, says that he will have nothing to do with protection. Every member of the alliance is trying to convince himself that he is getting exactly what he desires, but in the end they will have no satisfaction, and an opportunity will be afforded, I trust, of placing the whole situation before the people. The constituents of the present Opposition, have a right to say whether they will continue to be represented by political pirates who have thrown their principles overboard, or whether they
Kill replace these men with others who will truly represent their views and the true welfare of the people of the Australian Commonwealth.
.- I do not propose to prolong the last muscular twitch of the decapitated caucus. The display of temper, .bad taste, and inappropriate remarks which we have just heard is not one which I propose to lengthen out ; but as the honorable member for Cook saw fit to attempt to place me in an entirely false position by inferring that I have had dealings, which are not creditable to me, with certain tin miners in the northern part of New South Wales-
– I did not say that the honorable member had had dealings with them.
– The honorable member inferred that I am connected with those who have had discreditable dealings, and I wish to state clearly that I and those with whom I have been connected have always conducted our affairs with those who have worked for us and with us in a way which has earned mutual regard. The honorable member further saw fit to try to make the quarrel one between class and class. He concluded by saying that honorable gentlemen on this side are anxious for the emoluments of, office, after describing us as rich land-owners - people who, in consequence, would not require the emoluments of office.
– I should not have taken any notice of the remark had I been the honorable member for Wentworth.
– I wish to’ answer this question once for all. Honorable members, when they raised the cry that people with some of the world’s possessions have, therefore, no interest in, or love for the working classes, put themselves in a very false light. Could anything be more smug or ridiculous than an honorable member getting up in gala costume and talking, with his tongue in his cheek, of the miner with string round his trousers? There are many on this side poorer than the majority on the other side. The honorable member makes an accusation against some of us, who are not in that position, of having no interest in the working classes. All I can say is that these men are poorer for being in the public life Si the country ; and I challenge the honorable member to say whether he is not the richer for being in politics. This honorable ‘member who talks of political principles, offered to support Sir Hector Carruthers.
– That is untrue.
– I must ask the honorable member to .withdraw those words.
– I do withdraw the words, and say that the statement is inaccurate.
– I understand that the letter containing that offer is still in existence, and has already been quoted in Hansard, and at a later stage I shall again have it quoted. So far as I remember, the honorable member, in that letter, referring to a certain seat in New South Wales, wrote to the Liberal organization of that State-
– I rise to order ! I submit that my denial that I ever wrote to Sir Hector Carruthers offering support should be accepted.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has, so far, I think,’ not referred “to that matter; and I am quite sure he will follow the usual parliamentary course, and accept the denial of an honorable member.
– I was saying that in my recollection of a letter already quoted in the House - and, of course, until it is produced, I accept the honorable member’s denial-
– It was a newspaper concoction.
– I wonder if the original was a newspaper concoction. My recollection of the letter is that in it the honorable member disparaged the Labour Party, and offered to contest a seat in the interests of the party that was opposed to labour in New South Wales. It is possible that we might have had the honorable member’s eloquence and influence on this side of the chamber if the party, had seen fit to nominate him.
.- I am very sorry that the honorable member for Ballarat is not present, because the few remarks I have to make will lose their point in his absence. Perhaps the honorable member for Bourke will ask the honorable member for Ballarat to come into the chamber ?
– I think I had better udi.
– I think it would be tetter to do so, because I’ wish to quote in the presence of the honorable member for Ballarat words of the late Mr. William Shiels, who, as Premier of Victoria, in his place in this House, in 1892, paid a tribute to the Labour Party that it will be my privilege to place on record in Hansard to-night. Those who knew the late William Shiels know that whenever he opened his Hps he .spoke words that burn and thoughts that live ; and his words on that occasion were an eulogy of the party to which I have the honour to belong. The speech was delivered seventeen years ago, on the 18th January, 1892, when the Shiels Government, without the aid of the honorable member for Ballarat, was beaten by a majority of three; and the eulogium was that of a party which from that day has increased at every election in every part of Australia. The words used were -
Sir, I have had to stand with a sword in my hand. I have had to be a fighting Premier. But I carry away from the conflict no bitterness of feeling. I have much to remember in kindness to the House. I have much to remember in lasting gratitude, and I hope that kindlyfeeling will prevail towards myself when I may have to occupy another relation. I know that many faults can be laid tothe charge of my colleagues and myself, but I believe that never can it be said that we did other than, according to our lights, consult what we believed to be the public advantage of Victoria. There are one or two other matters which I wish to refer to. We have been met with a most loyal, unswerving support from a large body of our supporters, and I should feel that I was an ingrate indeed if I did not to-night make them my warmest acknowledgment for that splendid support which they have shown us through good report and through evil report. If I have to discriminate in my praise at ail, I have to acknowledge here, to a party that is under the ban of public opprobrium in some quarters, that never did a Government or the leader of a Government get better or more consistent support than we got from those members who are called the Labour Party. As I have said to members privately, as I have said to the honorable member for Eastern Suburbs himself, in all my experience I never met one of those men pressing any improper demand, and the experience of myself is the experience of my colleagues. Never were they importunate. Never did they place themselves in the position of beggars for favours which it would be unfair to grant.
I am sorry the honorable member for Ballarat is not here, because I should like to ask him if he cannot indorse that eulogium after his experience as Prime Minister with the assistance of the Labour Party.
– He is hiding his head.
– Perhaps his heart is sorry, and his personality is so charming that I would be the last to point the finger of scorn at or say a word of him I would regret. I say that after twenty years’ experience of him, sitting with him in the same House night after night, and day after day, and,’ as one who has quarrelled with him perhaps more severely than any of his friends; and I desire to ask the honorable gentleman, through you, Mr. Speaker, whether, . while he was leader of the Government with the Labour Party supporting him, he did not find us following that splendid rule laid down by Mr. Shiels - that we never made a demand which it would have been dishonorable for him to grant or dishonest for us to accept? On the 20th October, 1908, the honorable member for Ballarat, speak ing of the then leader of the Opposition, the right honorable member for East Sydney, used the following words -
At the present time the right honorable member has behind him only the wreckage of halfadozen old sections. He has behind him the wreckage of the free importing party ; the wreckage of the individualist party ; the wreckage of the anti-Socialist Party; and the wreckage of the coloured labour party all are to be found on that side of the House.
I can indorse that asbeing absolutely as correct now as when the words were used. The honorable member for Ballarat further said -
I do not dispute what the right honorable member says, and am not concerned to dispute it. I have not made the statement in regard to himself or all his following. What I have said is - and it is true - that he has behind him the wreckage of the coloured labour party. He does not find it here.
– To whom does the honorable member refer?
– This is not fair fighting.
– What I have said is per- fectly true. The Opposition side of the House is the refuge of the defeated. That is why, naturally, on the Opposition benches are clustered the wreckage of the parties that have failed in this House.
As it was then, so it is to-night, and Iregret the position of the honorable member for Ballarat. If he desired to give a Roland for an Oliver, who can blame him? We know that he and his Ministers, especially the honorable member for Hume, after last session had well earned a recess; but if we, in the tactics of the moment, seized these benches, we only followed the example of the then Opposition leader, the right honorable member for East Sydney. Most of that honorable gentleman’s time in office was, I believe, spent in recess ; and when to-morrow’s papers blaze forth the news of the day. they can rightly say that this Labour Government spent its existence mostly in recess. That might seem to some people, and to some honorable members, a reason why we hear no speeches from the Opposition to-night.. When the honorable member for Ballarat took the verdict of the House, he left it free for the other side to speak and argue if they chose. The honorable member for Wentworth, who has shown himself so frightfully particular about a personal attack, got up to move a motion to stifle debate; but every member of the Labour Party would have torn his tongue out before doing so. The honorable member with his Oxford drawl, and a Whitechapel crawl, assumes a superiority which Labour members may pardonably resent. The honorable member for Ballarat had a splendid meeting in the Town Hall the other night, but I can assure him that there will be an equally large meeting in the same hall; and I call the attention of the honorable member for Bourke to the fact that if such a meeting is held there will be no admission by ticket; the honorable member will not be prevented from coming. The meeting will be free to everybody, as every meeting of the Labour Party has been.
– There was a . large part of the hall, admission to which, required no ticket.
– That is an old dodge. I am sure that when the honorable member for Bourke belonged to the Labour Party-
– I did not belong to the Labour Party.
– The honorable member sat in caucus time after time.
– God forgive the honorable member !
– He signed the platform.
– That is not true either.
– The honorable member for Bourke must withdraw those words.
– I beg your pardon, sir ; I ought to have said the statement was inaccurate.
– I am sure that the honorable member for Bourke will acquit me of any desire to misrepresent him. and will agree, that the minutes of the Labour Party for 1894 bear the honorable member’s name, along with that of Mr. Hamilton, of Bendigo. I was present when the honorable member came into the room and said, “ We can belong to your party no more; we are going to separate.” He did separate from the party, and he lost his election.
– I have in my hand a copy of a letter in which I refused to join the Labour Party twelve years ago.
– If I cannot prove that you belonged to the Labour Party, I shall resign my seat, if you have the pluck to accept the challenge.
– Will the honorable member please address the Chair?
– If the honorable member for Ballarat at the splendid meet ing in the Melbourne Town Hall, which he addressed a few nights since, had made the declaration : “ I am going to unfurl the flag of Liberalism; I am going to fight for the cause in every State,” I should have said : “ Good luck to him,” for I know of no one who could fly it better. Had he adopted that course, he would not have suffered the misery that he must have endured to-night, while listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Hume, the honorable member for Gippsland, the honorable member for Bass, and the honorable member for Riverina, formerly members of his party, who I am sure, he will admit, are staunch in their adherence to the principles of Liberalism. They can standi “ four square to all the winds that blow “ from the Opposition side of the House. I do not suggest that the honorable member for Ballarat would point the finger of scorn at them. I am sure that he would never so act towards honorable members who have been his true and loyal supporters, and who, conscientiously believing in the principle of protection, will not associate themselves with those who have been the bane of it. There is only one true free-trader in the House, and if the honorable member for Ballarat has done nothing else, it may be said, at all events, that he has spread the net, and that he may perchance educate the late Opposition in the principles of protection. His position reminds me, however, of the story of the Irish soldier who, having captured a man much bigger than himself, called to his comrades, “Come along men, and help me; I have a prisoner.” When they replied, “ Bring him along,” his rejoinder was, ‘ ‘ I cannot ; he is taking me along with him.” In the same way, I think that the free-traders may lead away some of the Liberals of the coalition. The Australian democracy has declared so strongly for the new protection that not even the weaklings in the new party will induce the leader of the Opposition to reduce the Tariff. I am glad to hear that he proposes to ask the House to rectify anomalies in it. I should like at this stage to express my admiration of the efforts made by the honorable member for Hume to remove what has become a sex tax - a tax upon the female portion of the community alone. No such tax can be regarded as fair. The honorable member gave his word that he would endeavour to remove the tax, and he worked very hard to carry out his promise ; but Senator Best, in another place, took a certain action which leads me to exclaim : “ God help him so far as his honesty of intention was concerned.”
– I hope that we shall help him down.
– It was Senator Best who, when a member of the State Parliament, spoke of the unfortunate farmers who could not pay their rents as “ forty thousand defaulters.” I asked him, then, whether he and his partners could, at that time, pay 20s. in the pound. The honorable senator at once withdrew the remark, “but the slur on the farming community remained. I do not know what the farmers will think of his statement when it is quoted from Hansard, and spread over the length and breadth of the land. I have no desire to burden my speech with quotations, but I think it desirable to quote from a speech made by the honorable member for Richmond in this House in 1906. In the course of that speech, the Honorable member said that a question had been put to him by the honorable member for Kooyong, whose absence from the House I regret. I trust that he will- speedily recover from his illness. No one will be more pleased to welcome his return to the House than I shall be, differ though we may in our political opinions. When, as a young man, I was employed in a bank, he used to take my part against the stronger fellows in the office, and a kindly feeling has always existed between us. On the occasion in question, the honorable member for Richmond said -
When I was a member of the alliance, two Conservative members of the present Opposition came to me - the honorable member for Kooyong and the “ honorable member for Grampians will know who they were - and said, “ Look at Mr. Reid and Mr. Cook. They are now aristocrats - they are leading the Conservatives. Cannot you rub the dandy brush over the honorable member for Parramatta and take a few of the labour burrs off him?
Then the honorable member, with that sparkling wit of his, which few can equal, said -
The honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Grampians will know who asked me if I could not put the curry-comb over the honorable member for Parramatta, and make him look a bit conservative. I said that I would do my best if they would deal with the right honorable member for East Sydney. I do not know what happened to the present leader of the Opposition, but I saw the honorable member for Grampians and the honorable member for Kooyong walking out on to the lawn taking wilh them a hay rake and a harvester. I do not know what they wanted with those implements, but I saw them a little later on with a chaffcutter. I wish to show how consistent, how genuine, and how honorable is the deputy-leader of the Opposition in his political views, and how trustworthy he is. I am not speaking personally. These political debates should have no individual aspect. I said that I would do my best with him, but did not take anything with me but a piece of chamois and a corn-cob. I found that he shed his coat very easily. This occurred upon a Sunday. I saw him upon the following morning. He was looking like a Vermont . ram - all wrinkles. I took him down to the basement again, and took a skin off him - a fiscal sinker’s skin. On Tuesday morning I saw that he still presented a wrinkled appearance, so I set to work upon him, and took a free-trade skin off him. I could smell the opium on it. Upon Wednesday he was again wrinkled, and accordingly I set to work and got a labour skin off him. I knew that it was a labour skin, because he said he objected specially to it, and the honorable member asked me to take it away quickly.
The honorable member for Parramatta interjected : “ My leader has never called me a rat “ ; but I am sure that the honorable member for Ballarat has never so described his former colleague and loyal supporter. The honorable member for Richmond replied -
Honorable members opposite have charged me with every political offence, and now they cannot stand an honest, truthful statement. Upon Thursday the honorable member for Parramatta was still wrinkled, and I got a Protectionist skin off him. On Friday he shed a single tax skin, and on the Saturday, as he was still wrinkled, I took a Socialist’s skin off him. Although I tell this to honorable members in an allegorical way, my statement is theoretically true. I have known the honorable member as a fiscal sinker, as a free-trader, as a Labour member, as a protectionist, as a single taxer, and as a socialist, all within a few years. After I had finished with him on the Sunday morning, he looked about as amiable as a snake does in spring time. All this only proves the honorable member’s powers of adaptability, and shows that he is able to feed out of any nose-bag.
I recall the many times that I have listened with admiration to the eloquence of the honorable member for Ballarat - eloquence that leaves no lips as it leaves his. I remember the occasion when the honorable member for Corangamite was half hesitating to cross the floor of the House, and the honorable member cried out : “ Stay where you are; I do not want you.” The honorable member for Maribyrnong joined with me in cheering that remark. How does he feel in his present company? In the right honorable member for East Sydney we have perhaps the most cheery optimist in the House. I have never heard him as leader of the Opposition utter a really cruel or bitter word. That is more than I can say of the honorable member for Parramatta when he held a similar position. Do we not all remember how bitter he was, and how the present leader of the Opposition used to resent his storming and raving? The right honorable member for East Sydney used to say that the Protectionist Party consisted simply of “66 Bourke-street.” In the words of Hans Breitmann I may well exclaim, “ Where is dot barty now ? “ The honorable member for Maribyrnong, who has worked hard and loyally for the cause of protection, would not say that any one of the four members of the Liberal Party now sitting in the Ministerial corner are less loyal to the principles of protection than he is because they choose to remain on this side of the House and refuse to join their late colleagues now on the Opposition benches. The honorable member has doubtless crossed the floor of the House in. loyalty to his leader. A warning has gone forth. The Age has spoken clearly and distinctly. The honorable member for Ballarat has never had a more loyal friend, or a stronger one, to help him than he had in the man who now lies silent in the grave - the man who has left behind him the Age as a monument of his ability and genius. I propose now to address myself briefly to the Dreadnought question. I am neither a. Frenchman nor a German, but I admire both the Germans and the French. The Socialist movement in Germany is becoming very strong, and no better organized or better controlled body of workers is to be found in the world than exists there to-day. If the Germans desire to build more war-ships, is it not impertinence on the part of any other nation to say that they shall not do so ? In passing, I should like to quote the opinion of the Americans with regard to the English people. Let me read a quotation from’ Scribner’s Magazine, which is universally read, and is printed in England as well as the United States : -
Who are the English and what are the English? They. are Saxons, who love the land, who love their liberty, and whose sole claim to genius is their common sense.
Am I not speaking fairly when I ask “Are not the Saxons a German race pure and simple ? “ I believe the best strain in the Anglo-Celtic-Saxon race is the German blood that permeates it. Why did I raise my hat to the German flag in tie New Hebrides, and also to the French flag? Because I was glad to recognise a European flag. With the exception of Europe, this is the only continent that is dominated wholly and solely by white races. Two of the great continents of the world are dominated by the coloured race, and I believe that the race which controls Australia will ultimately control the world. I am therefore glad to see the flags of the various white nations. The bars and stars will stand as a sentinel against danger when the call comes from the East. Their quarantine laws save us from disease. Speaking of quarantine, I somewhat resent an action that has been taken in the recess, but, as that* has not been referred to on the other side, I shall not be the one to speak of the matter. With regard to Dreadnoughts, it seems to me, now that the genius of inventors is being turned to the problem ot the conquest of the air, it is absurd to place so much reliance upon battleships. It puts me in mind of the old knights, who went out laden with armour and a big spear, and mounted on a cart horse, to kill a few men. Everybody knows th,it if one of them fell off his horse, ‘it took two or three men to put him on again. The genius of invention will, I think, make these iron,clads in a little while as useless a,s the old men in armour. When the Stock Exchange in Collins-street was agitating for the presentation of a Dreadnought, it would have been well if the Prime Minister had said to them:, “ I do not care to spend £50,000 to take a referendum of the electors, but if you will subscribe 10 per cent, in Victoria, and 10 per cent, in New South Wales, I will take that as an indication that Australia wants to make the gift, and will pledge my honour as Prime Minister to bring in a referendum and a graduated land tax. Then, if Australia, which owes a great debt of gratitude to the Homeland wants to give twenty Dreadnoughts, I, as Treasurer, will know that the voice of Australia will have said so, and also that I can get the money from a land tax.” That would have settled the matter at once. Does any honorable member assert that to borrow £2,000,000 from England and give it to her again would pay the debt of fealty that we owe to her ? I, as the son of an old English mother, love the Homeland, although I have loathing and contempt for some of its infamous laws. In Great Britain no man can claim a vote on account of his manhood. He can only get it directly by ownership, or indirectly by rental. When every English man and English woman has a vote, there will be a grand sweeping out in that country, and the power latent in the Homeland will spring to the greatness that we all hope to see, although it will never do so under a restricted franchise. I believe it was in 1883 that the British House of Commons, of 630 members, declared by a majority of145 that it was not absurd that a quorum of the House should consist of three members. Fancy three members being entrusted with the destinies of the whole British Empire ! Last session I asked questions of the then Treasurer with regard to the coinage of silver. I wanted at the time to devise a. plan whereby we could build the Federal Capital without borrowing, and without any expense. I saw that it could be done through the coinage of silver, although the price of silver has now risen a good deal above what it was then. I asked the following questions on the 3rd December, 1908, as reported in Hansard, page 2629 -
What the profit would be on the minting of£1,000,000 of Australian silver at the price quoted in the Age of 2nd December, viz., is. 10 5.16d. per standard ounce?
What would be the cost of minting same at the usual rate of 3 per cent.?
What would be the net profit on such purchase after deducting such stated cost or any other contingent expense?
These were the answers -
We could build a very fine Federal Capital for half that sum as a start. -
Gross profit, £1,957,983. Deduct estimated charges (assuming that the coins would be made by the Royal Mint in London) - Coinage (3 per cent. on face value of £2,957,983), £88,739; freight and other expenses (1.4 per cent. on face value), £41,412; rehabilitation in perpetuity (16 per cent. on face value), £473,277-£603,428 ; nett profit (being 45.79 per cent. on face value), £1,354,555.
The first answers which I got from the then Treasurer were quite erroneous, but, ultimately, after insisting upon a proper answer, I got the above figures. That brings me to thequestion of a Commonwealthnote issue, and of banking. Many cheap sneers were cast at the proposals of the honorable member for South Sydney in that direction when he was Prime Minister, and I have no doubt that the same jeers and sneers will be uttered to-day. I remember how the same thing happened in the Victorian Parliament, before the bursting of the boom, when I suggested that no public company should be allowed to pay more than 10 per cent. in dividends, but that all over that should.be put to a reserve fund, and half handed over to the State. If honorable members had only heard the laughs and jeers that came from the fat men at that time, they would have pitied me. But after the boom burst, every one of them, from Mr. G. D. Carter downwards, told me that they wished that my proposal had been made law, as it would have helped to avert the crash. I did not know at the time that the railway companies in Englandwere compelled by law to reduce freights and fares if they paid more than 5 per cent. in dividends. As an instance of how a bank may run for centuries, I wish to quote from The New Encyclopædia of Social Reform, volume 1, page 89, the following information regarding the Bank of Venice, which started in 1 1 71, lasted for 626 years,and was only brought to an end when the victorious armies of Napoleon swept over Switzerland -
Stephen Colwell’s digest of fourteen authorities leads to the following deductions, as will be seen by perusal of his able work :
It proves that there was a national bank of Venice founded on a loan of 2,000,000 ducats spent by the State in 1171, and the bank existed within the memory of living men, a period of 626years, during which time it was gradually enlarged over 700 per cent.
That, in 1423, the 4 per cent. interest previously paid was abolished.
That all promise of reimbursement, other than transfer of credit receipts, was abolished.
That no coin was kept as a specie basis of credit, or for strengthening the nation.
That no promise to pay any coin was made after 1423, for nearly 400 years of its continuance.
That the premium fixed by law of 20 per cent. premium over the Venetian gold ducat, so celebrated for its fineness in export, was areal superiority of legal money of account over the commodity gold, and over gold currency.
That it was not dependent on any promise of convertibility or redemption in gold, as no claim for any gold was acknowledged in the National Bank.
That it continued for nearly 400 years with all these extraordinary attributes, producing no financial derangements and no opposition ; but, on the contrary, grew until it exceeded the money per capita of any nation in Europe, ancient and modern, and was the pride of Venice, the envy of Europe.
That it only fell when Napoleon conquered Venice, when it had reached an issue exceeding $16,000,000 of Government credit or money for 200,000 people, excluding the dependencies of Venice.
Will any honorable member deny that we would be much stronger with a Commonwealth note issue, guaranteed by the Commonwealth, and backed up by every hill - and vale of Australia, and with a further guarantee that every penny of profit would be spent in improving the Federal Capital, or building a transcontinental railway? I will strongly support the proposed Commonwealth note issue, although, as an old bank clerk, I do not wish to reflect on the present banking system of Melbourne. Some of the bank managers were chairing me recently about our terrible Labour Party. They said they would like to bring in laws to amend the party, and I replied that I would not object if I were allowed to introduce some of the Chinese banking laws, one of which was that, when a bank failed, the manager and directors should be decapitated. One result of that provision is that the banks in China do not fail. Tt is my privilege sometimes to be reported by the press. I spoke last Tuesday night for about half a hour, and on Wednesday morning the only report that was published appeared in the Age, to the effect that I advised the people, if they wished to judge the honorable member for Flinders properly, to read the Age for the last month. Need I say any more about the honorable member ? May I congratulate the honorable members for Maribyrnong and Bourke upon their new colleague? If they bring him to a knowledge of the error of his ways, and make him a good protectionist, they will do well. If they make the honorable member for Parramatta a real protectionist, never to break away again, they will do well. If they can remove from the splendidlyendowed brain of the right honorable member for East Sydney his ideas in regard to free-trade, they will do well. But I do not think that, in their heart of hearts, they believe any of these things to be possible. Jeremy Bentham, standing before the Stock Exchange in London, and reading the Biblical words which are carved thereon in stone, “ The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof,” said, “That is a lie ; it belongs to the landlords, and they are not making proper use of it.” The infamous land laws of England, grafted upon Australian conditions, have caused injustice here. I do not deny that there are good land-owners, who declare that, when land is scarce, private estates should be resumed, and who only claim what I am sure this Parliament would always grant, that fair prices should be paid -for property that is resumed. Direct taxation is ‘coming in England, and we shall soon have to follow the British example. It is only by taxing unimproved land values that the Federal Government can raise sufficient revenue to carry out its functions, and free itself from the chains forged by what are termed State rights. Those who support State rights must remember that the people who create this Parliament have not the same franchise in regard to the State Houses. We must have a proper land tax, and I am certain that this Parliament will, in its wisdom, ultimately impose such a tax. But do the honorable members for Maribyrnong and Bourke think that they will ever persuade a majority of their side to support such a proposal ? The honorable member for Ballarat, however, may take heart of grace, because if he brings forward such a tax, those on this side will loyally follow him. They do not mind who leads, when an opportunity is given to make one of the planks of their platform operative. On one occasion I asked Sir George” Turner’s whip, a namesake, if he could name an instance when he had found it necessary to question, me as to how I would vote. No whip ever had need to ask me such a question, because I voted always for the planks of the platform. Similarly, other members of the party will vote to” make those planks effective, whether the opportunity is given by a direct proposal, or by means of an amendment or clause. When we come to have a land tax, I hope that it will be cumulative, so as to cause our lands to be available to the native-born, and thus carry out the desire of the honorable member for Ballarat to throw open our country to all white persons, but preferably to those of the British race, with precedence to Australians. A land tax would open up our lands, and prevent persons from leaving Victoria, which, to the unutterable disgrace of the present State Government, is, as has been shown by the Age, losing population daily. When, as in South Australia, there are over 1,000 applicants for 137 allotments, and hundreds of applications for selections all over Victoria, it is made plain to us that we should followthe example of the old Romans and other nations of antiquity, who, although when they conquered a country they might remove its inhabitants to other places, eventually settled them on the land, to lay the foundations of future greatness. I hope to see a land tax imposed which will make Australia an example to other countries, and will so strengthen us that in time of trouble we shall be able to face any enemy. We should stand, not four-sided to every wind that blows, but encircled by the inviolate sea. The events of to-day have shown the need for elected Ministries. Each Minister should be chosen, not by a party, but by the House. The Labour Party has set an example in this respect to those who appear to be the victors now. We, for the first time in the history of Australia, elected a Government. Let honorable members OPposite insist upon the same thing happening in their case. My vote will always go for elective Ministries.
– The election of a Ministry by the House might mean that the honorable member for Wide Bay and the honorable member for Flinders would sit together on the Treasury bench.
– The honorable member cannot be as astute as I think him if that is his opinion. He knows that the honorable member for Flinders would not have Buckley’s chance of being elected, a Minister. The honorable member for Darwin once told us of a man named Muldoon, in Texas, who had a famous bull, which was as tame as the poodles which some ladies are so fond of, and on gala days was decked out with ribbons. On one occasion, however, it escaped from the paddock, and got in front of a locomotive. After the contest between them, Muldoon gathered up the hair and the horns, and apostrophized the remains somewhat in this fashion : “ Well, matey, while I admire your pluck, I can only say ‘damn your judgment’ “ When the history of to-day comes to be written, some of the wellwishers of the party which is now the dominant one will say in respect to tEe vote which they have given, “Hang their judgment.”
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Has made a statement which, as it reflects on me, I feel I must answer. He has stated that I was on one occasion a member of the Labour Party, and that he could adduce proof of the. statement. He referred to the time of my entry into the State Parliament in 1894. I was not elected as a member of the Labour Party, but after my election Mr. Trenwith, its leader, invited me to join it. I declined the offer, but on being subsequently asked if I, with others who were not members, would attend meetings to discuss matters of importance connected with public affairs, I, after some consideration, agreed to do so. I attended a few such meetings, as did also Mr. Walter
Hamilton, and others who were not members of the Labour Party ; but I never joined the party, and had no intention of joining it. Expecting from what I have recently read in the official organ of the Labour Party that a statement of this kind would be made, I have brought with me a copy of a letter which I wrote twelve years’ ago.
– I have not read the statement to which the honorable member refers.
– The letter is as follows : - 79 Sydney-road, Brunswick, 30th September, 1897.
To the Secretary of the United Labour Party of Victoria, Office 20, Trades Hall, Melbourne.
I am duly in receipt of yours of the 27th inst., requesting me to sign and return an enclosed “ pledge “ to support the platform of the Labour Party, and become a member of the Labour Party in the Victorian Parliament.
As you will already have seen, however, from the reports in the public press, I am unable to comply, having promised that I would not give any pledges fo any sect, society, or association of any kind whatsoever. For all that, my sympathies have been, and still are, entirely with the labouring classes, and what is of more, consequence, my votes in Parliament have ever been, and, if returned again, will still be, given on their behalf in any just demand.
That letter proves two” things. If I were a member _ of the Labour Party I could hardly be invited at the time mentioned to become a member ; had I been a member at the time the honorable member for Melbourne alleges, there, was no occasion to ask me to join it at a later date. As a fact, I have never at any time signed the pledge to become a member of the party, nor have I at any time been a member of the party.
– I should first, in my few remarks, like to refer to the little passage-at-arms between the honorable member for Cook and the honorable member for Wentworth. The former, in his zeal for the cause, drew attention to the troubles at the tin mines. I know a good deal about tin mines’, both as an owner and worker ; and I can assure the honorable member “for Wentworth that when he makes a mean attack on the honorable member for Cook because he comes here dressed in clean clothes-
– I did nothing of the kind ;
I said it was ridiculous of him to talk in the way he did.
– I can assure the honorable member that on any Saturday night or Sunday he can see the tin miners dressed very much better than is the honorable member for Cook; and if tin- miners got a little more fair play from buyers in the way of honest prices, they would be able to dress better still. The honorable member for Cook merely touched the fringe of a great question, which, after all, is that of the fleecing of .the workers of a great part of their earnings. Some honorable members mav see cause for sadness in the present position of Parliament ; but to me it is a time for absolute jubilation. Many years ago our party accomplished a fusion which is now being, emulated by members of the Opposition. We accomplished a fusion of democratic protectionists and democratic free-traders; and to-night we have the glorious spectacle of a fusion of Conservative free-traders and Conservative protectionists, which is an ideal I have been anxious to see consummated for many years. Time and again in New South Wales, I have told the people that there are only two parties in politics - the great democratic Labour Party, and the other party which is arrayed against them of many heads and many sections. Right throughout the different States it has been proved that, while these sections were divided on one or two questions, they were Tories at heart, and now in New South Wales we see the Tory protectionists falling into the arms of the Tory free-traders.
I am proud, however to see one honorable old protectionist, the member for Hume, who has been a fighter for the cause all the years of his political life, sitting in the corner with democrats. Although he does not belong to our party, we have known him in the past history of New South Wales; and I am not at all .surprised to find him where he is. But the Ministry which is about to be slaughtered, owing to the intrigues of the last few weeks, have only themselves to blame, seeing that they have dared to do things merely talked about hitherto. The moment I saw the Labour Party’s policy announced at Gympie, when the first shot was fired towards the cheapening of land, I knew that all the forces and powers of the Conservatives, land monopolists, and financiers would be brought to bear to shift the Government. This combination has been brought about by the daily press; but who has pulled the -strings behind the press? Some time ago the great Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald called the protectionists here all the abominable names they could think of ; but now they call on the creatures of their creation to stand firmly even for the Tariff, so that they may gain their great end - to scotch the Labour Party, and block them from giving the people land and homes. Then when the Prime Minister fired the first shot in favour of clean finances, and proposed a step which could only lead to the establishment of a great national bank for the control, not only of the currency, but I hope of the great bulk of the banking, what could we expect those people to do who are making money in the present financial institutions? They could not sit calmly by and see hundreds of thousands of pounds taken out of their pockets. It is only a few months ago since their kindred in the Old World made gold scarce, causing manufacturers of metals and textiles to pav from 10 to 100 per cent, interest on loans to meet their obligations and reducing the price of wool and’ metals in this country very rapidly. These gentlemen are alive to facts, and see in Australia a party beginning a new era of prosperity for the workers. By the workers I do not mean only wage-earners, but farmers and miners, whether they own their farms or mines or ‘ not, as long as they work in a legitimate way, and every man or woman engaged in legitimate business in the Commonwealth. It is for that reason that honorable members opposite cry out “ To your tents, O Israel !” The old parties have only one mission, namely, to play a game of bluff - to delay, block, and obstruct. With grand audacity, they claim to be as good as Labour men, but really what they mean is that they are as good in support of wealth as Labour men are in support of the great bulk of the people ; and I hope that true interpretation willbe kept in mind. Another opportunity will occur for discussion of these matters in detail ; and I know that those who have been under the burden of intrigue are anxious to reach the consummation of their action. While anxious to speak at greater length, we must all realize the necessity of pushing on with the work of the country. My great regret is that the worthy Prime Minister, who has shown such splendid capacity, along with the members of his Cabinet, is not allowed to show what he can do. The Government have not been given anything like a fair test; but, at any rate, I am thankful to say that in the course of a few short months we shall have to go before the people, our masters. When that day arrives the people of Australia will give the great Labour Party the chance it should have.
– Owing to the manner in which the motion for the adjournment of the debate on the Address-in-Reply was moved, I could not ask a question which I should like to ask now, namely, whether the motion was submitted with the concurrence of the leader of the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 May 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090527_reps_3_49/>.