3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 1).
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from his Excellency the GovernorGeneral, -recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
Mr. DEAKIN. - The leader of the Opposition, as anex-Treasurer, is aware of the position in which the present Treasurer will be placed on the 30th of this month if Supply is not granted.. The votes which have been passed will lapse, and there will be no money in hand to pay ordinary, current expenses. I refer, not merely to the salaries of the public servants, which will not become due until the middle of July, but to a large number of incidental undertakings on which day labour is employed, whose . obligations become due day by day. As the honorable member understands these difficulties as well as I do, I shall be glad if he will see his way to allow us to pass a Supply Bill to-day, so that the Senate may deal with it oh Wednesday next. We shall then be in a position, on the first day of the next finan cial year, to telegraph to our officers in the various States that provision will be madefor the payment of the services of their various departments.
Mr. FISHER. - The procedure suggested by the Prime Minister is most unusual, seeing that a motion of want of confidence is before Parliament.
Mr. Deakin. - There are two precedents for it.
Mr. FISHER.- In both those cases theposition was quite exceptional. I do not think that there is any real, urgency for the passing of a Supply Bill, because sufficient money has been voted to meet all expenditure up to the end of thismonth, which concludes the financial year. Therefore, no liabilities which cannot be met will fall due until about the middle of July, and on previous occasions it hasbeen the middle of a month before Supply has been granted. It is true that the Treasurer may have no parliamentary guarantee that liabilities incurred will be met, but he may be sure that necessary services wilt be paid for, as on other occasions. I do not think that a Supply Bill should be proceeded with to-day. ‘ The Treasurer said last night- the statement has since been corrected - that a Supply Bill is necessary to pay old-age pensions on 1st July.
Sir John Forrest. - I thought so then, but I have since told the honorable member that I was in error.
Mr. FISHER. - In speaking to the right honorable member this morning, I told him that he was mistaken, and he admitted that, having rung up the Treasury, he was informed that the necessary money had been appropriated. There is a sum of not less than , £693,000 in his hands fox the payment of old-age pensions.
Sir John Forrest. - I do not know that it is, really. I am- more likely than the honorable member to be right in this matter.
Mr. FISHER.- I do not think that the Prime Minister should press his suggestion to proceed with a Supply Bill to-day. A later opportunity should be early enough for his convenience. The House would grant him any kind of Supply if he would take the proper Constitutional steps to send us before the country, so that we may discover how we. stand.
Mr. DEAKIN.- I shall hand the honorable gentleman the Treasury statement, and ask him to consider it before I again mention the matter on Tuesday next.
– It is stated that markers at the Williamstown rifle butts are being displaced by men who have constant employment at the Newport workshops. Will the Minister of Defence therefore give instructions that, the officer in charge shall show preference to men who are out of employment? I assure him that there are many unemployed in Melbourne at the present time.
– I would remind the honorable member that it is not the practice for Ministers to answer questions while a motion of want of confidence is under discussion. No doubt if he sees the Minister of Defence privately he will obtain a satisfactory answer.
Debate resumed from 24th June (vide page 411) on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That the Government does not possess the confidence of this House.
– I have not yet taken part in the debates of this session, and did not intend to do so until the motion for the adoption of an AddressinReply was being debated. But as the Opposition is now making its main attack upon the Government and its supporters, chiefly on the ground of inconsistency, I think it well to take this opportunity to give my views in regard to certain phases of the action, of those who are opposing us, and particularly respecting the programme of the Labour Party. As fairminded men, the members of that party should be prepared to give the same treatment as they have received. For eight years the party has been the spoiled child of the House, and now expects different treatment from that which it has meted out to others. Although members of the party have been squealing throughout the country because ,the Fisher Government was put out of office before it could introduce a Bill, this motion of want of confidence was moved before the present Government had such an opportunity. Another ground of complaint seems to be that no reason was given for the dismissal of the Fisher Government. But the Labour Party gave no reason for combining with the then Opposition to defeat the late Deakin Government. The vindictiveness and abuse poured out by the exAttorneyGeneral throughout the country recalls forcibly the phrase in which he was described on a previous occasion of the kind as “ screaming because he was being taken away too early from the political tart shop.” The Labour Party is acting a childish and ridiculous part. Children, when they behave in this way, usually receive a good smacking, and I should like to have a hand in smacking the Labour Party. Some of its members are already, by their uproar, squealing in anticipation of the punishment. I have here the official report of their fourth Commonwealth political conference, which was opened at the Trades Hall, Brisbane, on 6tb July, 1908. It is officially published by the Honorable” Mr. Hinchcliffe, M.L.C., Secretary to the Conference, and a member of one of those bodies which the party professes great anxiety to abolish. I notice, too, that the Victorian State Labour Party, at its Easter conference, accepted a proposal of the Hampden branch that a plank of the platform for the next election should be a referendum as to the abolition of the Legislative Assembly. Apparently, it is proposed in Victoria to sweep away both Council and Assembly, notwithstanding that the latter is elected on an adult suffrage. This would leave public matters to be controlled entirely by the secret and unrepresentative caucus which meets at the Trades Hall. The platform of the Labour Party has to be signed by men who do not believe in it, and to be supported by men who have condemned several of its planks. Every one of its good planks has been stolen from the Liberals, and members of the party at times have done their best to destroy them. Labour members are pledged on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a majority of the parliamentary party, may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting. That pledge they have to sign. Should the caucus at any time decide that the fiscal question is covered by the words “new protection” - and new protection must depend on old protection - the party would do its best to secure free-traders by leaving fiscalism and the Tariff alone, because if the fiscal question were made a distinct issue, a majority of free-traders in the caucus would decide the action of the party.
– We have a free hand on the fiscal question.
– If the honorable member signs the platform he has not, because, if twenty free-traders were returned as members of the Labour Party, and the remaining fifty-four members of this House were protectionists, the country would be given a free-trade policy, notwithstanding the obvious declaration of the electorates for Protection. And vet that, party claims to be democratic. There is no doubt that if the Labour Party consisted of thirty-eight members, and they had a majority-
– They will have a majority before any other party.
– False prophets used to be stoned ; now-a-days they are only asked not to make silly interjections. If twenty members of that party of thirty -eight were free-traders, and thirty-eight is necessary for them to constitute a majority of this House, those twenty could insist on a freetrade policy being adopted.
– That is absolutely untrue !
– Will” the honorable member for West Sydney withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, but say that the statement is inaccurate, and that the honorable member knows it.
– It is untrue.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh must withdraw that remark.
– It does not half express my feelings, so I withdraw it.
– I object to the form in which the honorable member for West Sydney makes the withdrawal, because I think it is merely a repetition of the charge. The honorable member says that the statement I made is inaccurate,, and that I know it to be so.
– I did not hear the words quoted by the honorable member for Corio. If the honorable member for West Sydney said the remark was inaccurate, and that the honorable member for Corio knew it to be so, it is merely a reaffirmation of the previous statement, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– If the honorable member for Corio looks at the programme-
Honorable Members. - Withdraw !
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark.
– I say that if the honorable member for Corio will look at the pro gramme in his hand he will see that the statement he made is inaccurate.
– I ask the honorable member for West Sydney to withdraw the words he used.
– I shall say that the statement is inaccurate, and withdraw the statement that the honorable member knows it to be so.
– I am rather sorry, in one way, that I had to press the honorable member for West Sydney to withdraw the remark, because of his conduct on previous occasions when he has been called upon to withdraw. If I withdraw a statement, I do so because I am sorry to have made it in an assemblage of gentlemen, and I do not subsequently repeat it and glory in it on platforms throughout the country. The only occasion on which I remember the honorable member to have finally and completely withdrawn a statement was in relation to the “six potters,” and that statement he withdrew, after a most deliberate speech in the House, in an interview with a newspaper reporter in the lobby. The honorable member, in view of the facts, must be either illogical,, or shutting his eyes to the true meaning of written words, which I shall read -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political Labour organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Australian Labour Party’s Platform, and on all questions affecting the Platform to vote as a majority of the parliamentary party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.
– Read the platform.
– I shall read it too much for the honorable member. At the present moment, the only important point on the platform is -
New Protection. - Amendment of Constitution to ensure effective Federal legislation for new protection and arbitration.
But there cannot be new Protection unless it is based on protection to the manufacturers; otherwise we are resting an apex on a base that does not exist. I repeat that, under the circumstances I have indicated, twenty members of the Labour Party could swamp the opinions of the whole of the fifty-four protectionists returned to the House, and rule the entire country. If honorable members regard that as democracy, and as representing the voice of the people, it is a sort of democracy to which I cannot subscribe. I should like to quote from an article written by Mr. F. Anstey, one of the ablest members of the State Labour Party, who has been defeated for the constituency of Bourke, and will, I think, be defeated again.
– He will shortly be with us here !
– Mr. Anstey may shortly be with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who will -probably be part of the rejected “ wreckage. The article by Mr. Anstey, which is signed, appeared in the Labour Call, the special organ of the Labour Socialists, of 5th November, 1908, and contained the following : -
It is said that “ every question is a Labour question”; that the Labour Party “ must declare its position on every question.” This is something new. Is free-trade or protection a Labour issue? If so, why have we not declared our position? Why have we left every man in every State a free hand? Why have we been avowedly protectionist in Victoria, and anything you like in other States? “Avowedly protectionist,” he says his partyhas been ! This is the man who is to be a candidate for Bourke, one of the most Protectionist constituencies in Victoria. He continues -
Ask free-trade Labour members to carry the protectionist banner, and they will sing a different song to what some of them do on compulsory training for others. Freedom of action on fiscalism. solidarity on militarism, that is their demand.
We have a Tariff that was fought for in the teeth of the opposition of a. number of Labour members, who did not give it that support which, if they believe in the new Protection, they ought to have given.
– Was that why the honorable member went home early every night during the Tariff debates?
– I suppose I should not answer that interjection, although it will get into Hansard, and mav do me considerable harm, seeing that the honorable member is of such authority that his word weighs against any denial I may make. I can. quite see now why it was that the leader of the Opposition at Gympie said that the country had declared for. Protection “ rightly or wrongly.” The honorable member was treading on a volcano ; if he had said “ rightly,” he might have fallen into-the Free-trade abyss, and if he had said “wrongly,” the protectionist gulf would have swallowed his party, and I do not know what would have happened. Possibly he might have found that some of the Protectionist members of his party would cast aside the chains of the political machine, and, like some other strong men, relieve themselves of the intolerable pressure placed upon them.
– Name those men.
– I think I have only to quote from the earlier debates of this House to show that considerable time was taken up by honorable members opposite in the repudiation of men who had formerly been members of their party. It does not matter to me whether the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Bourke, the honorable member for Batman, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and Senator Trenwith were or were not formerly members of the Labour Party ; but the Opposition evidently think it of much importance that some men have in them the love of liberty developed so strongly that they could not bear the chains and ignominy of the organization any longer; indeed, that is one -of the worst charges that the Opposition can hurl against these supporters of the Government. Up to recently the Victorian members of the Labour Party insisted on a Protectionist plank in their platform, but, at the behest of caucus, which is declared by one of the leading members of the party to be an unrepresentative body, those members are evidently preparing to accept whatever fiscal decision may be arrived at by the majority of their colleagues. Formerly Victorian Labour members had to sign a pledge to support Protection, but at present the four members from Victoria - they are dwindling away - are absolutely at the mercy of members from other States who may hold different fiscal opinions. A Victorian Labour candidate may tell the constituents of Yarra, Melbourne, or Port Melbourne that he is a Protectionist, but he has to admit that he. is only so until a majority of representatives from other constituencies, who may happen to be Free-traders, have decided upon the course to be adopted. I am glad to see that the Labour Party desire to stick as closely as possible to the policy of the Deakin Ministry, and to steal as much as they can of the Liberalism it represents. The honorable member for West Sydney openly gloried in it at his Geelong meeting. The Labour Party have adopted almost entirely the plank of the Deakin Government in regard to compulsory military training, as shown by the following extract from their platform : -
Citizen Defence Force, with compulsory military training, and Australian-owned . and controlled Navy.
– The meeting at Geelong killed the honorable member ; and I am sorry to say so, because he is a friend of mine.
– The first sign of friendship is the absence of bitter asides. The honorable member for Hume with, I am sure, all kindly feeling in his heart, refers to an unfortunate meeting in Geelong, where my voice, in endeavouring to speak to intelligent men and women, was drowned by an organized opposition of members of the Labour ranks. It is, perhaps, because of my inability to express myself as fully and carefully as I would have liked, at Geelong, that I am inflicting these remarks on the House to-day.
– Why did not the honorable member have admission by ticket, as did the Prime Minister?
– Had I thought. -there was to.be such a rowdy meeting I might have adopted the tactics of four Labour members who held a meeting at Geelong the previous week, and taken up a compulsory collection at the door. The meeting was well worth threepence.
– At Brunswick there was a collection at the doors before the audience left the meeting.
– The honorable member for Bourke’s tongue should be for ever silent.
– Order ! Honorable members must be aware that I cannot permit such a course of conduct as has been followed during the last few moments. They must have regard for the dignity of the House and the constituencies they represent.
– The meeting was well worth threepence, because on the occasion in question the late Attorney-General fairly excelled himself by abusing even me. I have heard of a modern American who, on visiting Egypt, stood before the Sphinx, with his fingers to his nose, and on learning that the honorable member for West Sydney at this meeting abused me, one cannot help being surprised at the remark.able audacity of these Labour men. My constituents, who think a ‘lot of me, evidently considered it would be good fun to hear Crouch getting a gruelling, and consequently .some of them paid threepence each to enter the meeting. The difficulties of getting an audience were such that their meeting did not start until 8.25 p.m., and I was so anxious to- convert the Labour men that I freely distributed handbills stating that I intended to reply to the innuendoes, abuse, and vindictive statements which constitute the ordinary language of the honorable member for West Sydney. Fully forty Labour men entered my meeting, but I dare say that after hearing my speech, only five Labour men went out ; the rest were converted on the spot. I propose to show why the Labour Party have to agree with the plank in the Deakin platform in regard” to a citizen defence force and compulsory military training. I have here a copy of the official report of the proceedings at the Political Labour Conference, held at Brisbane in July last, and at page 17 I find that the honorable member for Darwin, who attended that conference as a representative of Tasmania, said that Labour - in referring to the question of compulsory military training - proposed to adopt the most diabolical methods of Europe and give the gilt-spurred roosters power to blow a bugle and snatch farmers’ sons, business men’s sons, and Labour men’s sons, and send them to the front.
The honorable member believes, then, that compulsory military training is a diabolical system. Yet, in order to secure the Labour nomination for Darwin, he has had to sign a platform which makes provision for its adoption. If he were a free man, he could stand by his opinions. Then, again, I find that Mr. Holman, another delegate, said he was against the miserable cadet system and the erroneous views which it tended to create on immature minds.
Another delegate, a Mrs. Dwyer, said she regretted that anything legalising murder
– Hear, hear.
– Although not guilty of it, I have been charged with inconsistency, but is it not surprising that the honorable member for Darwin should cheer a statement by Mrs. Dwyer that compulsory military training is a system that provides for legalised murder, in view of the fact that he has signed a platform in which that plank finds a place and which he is forced to support? Mrs. Dwyer said that she regretted that anything legalising murder should emanate from a Labour man. She did not see why military training should be compulsory. Then, again, the honorable member for Yarra was against compulsion, and believed the plank should remain as it was.
– Has he signed the ticket ?
– Of course he has to. He has agreed to the plank of compulsory training, although he is against it. Still another delegate at the Conference, Mr. Anstey, M.L.A., of Victoria, declared against compulsion, but he has had to sign the platform. It was ‘announced a little while ago that he would be a candidate for the’ electorate of Bourke at the next general election, but for a long while he refused to nominate. He held back, and at first I was inclined to think this was due to the fact that he did not want to give up his seat in the State Parliament, and risk being left in outer darkness. I was, perhaps, doing him an injustice. His tardiness in coming forward may, perhaps, have been due to the fact that, having declared against compulsory military training, and having declared that the Victorian Labour men were only avowedly protectionist, he could not bring himself to the point of signing the Federal Labour platform, which makes provision for it. It must have required the efforts of every member of his committee to drag him up to sign the pledge. At page 19 of the report of the Conference, Mr. Anstey is reported to have said that -
The property did not belong to the workers, and if Senator Givens wanted to fight for the man who had the money he should be allowed to do so.
I have here, also, signed articles by Mr. Anstey, which appeared in the Labour papers, from which it would appear that he thinks that compulsory military training is the worst form of defence that could be adopted. But the “ jam pot “ still exists, and Mr. Anstey is the political fly who has been attracted to it. He intends to put his fortunes at stake by standing for Bourke, and he will stand out.
– Whv this laughter?
– The honorable member for Hume’s chatter disconcerts me. If it will only keep him quiet, I do not mind saying to please him and amuse the House that his political career has, throughout, been, marked by consistency and a regard for the highest principles. This attitude of hostility to compulsory training was taken up, not only at the Brisbane Conference, but elsewhere. At a Labour Congress held in Sydney, in April last, a recommendation from the . clerks’” union that the Congress approve of a system of compulsory military training was rejected. The reports show, further, that a Mr. Coulls. one of the Labour delegates from the Barrier branch of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, said -
When this country becomes’ fit to defend then I will be prepared to defend it. I’d sooner be shot in the back than be compelled to defend it as it is. My troubles if any nation wants to come to Australia and capture it ! I don’t care if the Japs take it. I say this because we could not live under worse conditions if any other nation owned Australia.
– -More than one man holds that view.
– That was not a political Labour Conference. More misrepresentation.
– The honorable member will not be shot in the back or the front in defending his country.
– I have not been shot in the back, but in the right flank. _ The honorable member for Wannon who sits on my right says that there are others who agree with the view expressed by the delegate from Broken Hill. Has the honorable member the courage to say that he indorses it? No ! He thinks discretion the better part of valour, and when I put this question to him, he simply twirls his moustache. It is a very pretty moustache.
– What is the honorable member quoting from?
– The honorable member for Corio will never be shot anywhere in defence of his country.
– No. He will run away.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to’ be subjected to a constant fire of interjections, or even to requests for replies to interjections. It is impossible for him to proceed under existing circumstances.
– Do I. understand, Mr. Speaker, that you’ rule that an honorable member is not allowed to ask another honorable member to state from what he is quoting ?
– What I have just called attention to is that the honorable member for Corio was being subjected to such a constant fire of interjections that it was almost impossible for me to hear him, or to distinguish sometimes between his voice and those of interjectors. Such a procedure is entirely out of order, because it prevents the honorable member from making his own speech.. I did not hear what the honorable member for Gwydir interjected; I heard only a storm of interjections coming at the same time from half-a-dozen honorable members.
– May I explain, Mr. Speaker, that my interjection was that a fire of interjections was the only fire to which the honorable member would ever subject himself.
– I was utterly unable to hear what the honorable member for Adelaide said, and that further emphasizes the objection to the constant interjections to which I have called attention. I ask honorable members to refrain from these interjections.
– I understand that the honorable member for ‘Adelaide is rather sore because I have not responded to his interjection that I would never be shot in defence of my country. I hope that I never shall be shot. I would certainly be prepared to defend my country whenever the occasion arose, but it is a mistake for any one to imagine that I have any desire to be shot. In case there is any doubt on he subject, I wish to emphatically declare I am not going to be shot if I can help it. The honorable member’s interjection reminds me that as the representative of Adelaide in this House, he succeeded a great man, the late Mr. Charles Cameron Kingston, and ‘that he poses as “ Kingston the Little.” It is unfortunate that he never misses an opportunity to send forth his shafts of bitterness, and it is well to remind him that the honorable gentleman whom he has succeeded, and whom he ever attempts to imitate and to parody, never went out of his way to give useless offence to an one. Another plank in the Labour Party’s platform is that providing for a graduated tax on all estates over .£5,000 in value, and on an unimproved basis. That has to be read with another plank providing for “ naval and military expenditure to be allotted from proceeds of direct taxation.” The two planks read together are utterly inconsistent, and mutually destructive. While they claim that their graduated land tax applies only to estates over £5,000 in value, and appeal to the small farmers for support, asserting that no revenue will be obtained from the tax, how are they to allot the Defence expenditure of the Commonwealth, which totals £1,700,000, out of the proceeds of direct taxation ? They say that the Defence expenses are to be,,. not paid by, but allotted from, the proceeds of direct taxation, showing that, in their view, the proceeds of direct land taxation are to exceed £1,700,000. If so, is it not a farce and a scandal for the members of the Labour Opposition to go round the country stating that the small farmers will not be affected, and that no revenue will be obtained from the land tax? On page 15 of the valuable little red book - the official report of the Labour Conference - from which I have already quoted, I find that Mr. Grant, a delegate from Tasmania, made the following statement:
Mr. Watson had said that the progressive land tax was not for revenue, but for the bursting up of the large estates.
Although Mr. Watson subsequently denied that he had said that, and claimed that the object of the tax was only incidentally to obtain revenue, that is the impression that Mr. Grant had. Then Mr. Holman, the vice-president of the New South Wales Labour Party, is reported on the same page to have said -
The tax was not really a revenue-producing tax, and whatever revenue was derived from it would bc incidental to the accomplishment of its primary objects.
The honorable member for Coolgardie, who was a delegate from Western Australia, made the following statements -
The necessity of direct taxation did not seem to him a possibility confronting them at that stage….. He would like to see it made clear that it was not the intention of the Federal party to impose a second land tax where the State land tax held good, or vice versa
The honorable member for Coolgardie, therefore, actually wants to apply the land tax only where no State land tax applies, and as the Prime Minister has pointed out that there is a form of land tax in every State, the honorable member evidently does not want a Federal land tax at all. The honorable member for Boothby was also present as. a delegate, and on page 15 of this most valuable report - this little red book that discloses the secrets of the charnel house - he is shown to have said -
It was idle to expect much revenue from a tax of this kind.
To meet the cost of naval and military expenditure from the proceeds of direct taxation, the Labour Party must get more than £1,700,000 from their land tax, and, consequently the admissions of members of the party throughout that debate that there would be no revenue from the tax, with its £5,000 exemption, are nothing but a delusion and a snare, and a trick, in order to get small farmers’ votes. It is plain that as soon as they have imposed their tax, the first thing they will do-
Ministerial Members. - Hear, hear !
– Does the honorable member hear the “ small farmers “ cheering him?
– Small farmers like the (honorable member for Fawkner !
– Hear the contempt being poured by the Labour Party on the small farmers ! It is an echo of the speeches that were made by responsible members of the late Government, objecting to the change of venue of the trial of Tom Mann and others to Albury, where they practically stated that the small farmers would not do them justice. Those Ministers of the Crown, who are now so ready to go up and down the country appealing to the small farmers for support, had at that time so much contempt for them that they declared that they would te prepared to perjure themselves, and violate the oath which every man takes on going into the jury box. The affection for the small farmer has only been developed “ on that side in the last ten minutes, but still any development in that direction is refreshing. A Mr. J. Thorne, from the New Zealand Trades and Labour Council, is reported to have said at the Melbourne Trades Hall, on 21st May of this year, that one of the worst things that they could do was to create small farmers in New Zealand, because they were against the righteous Labour men. These are his words -
The result of the progressive legislation was that where the men in the towns had had to fight one Tory land-holder, who was exploiting the people, they had now to fight twenty little Tory land-holders. The workers and Socialists of New Zealand saw that it did not matter whether they were robbed by one man or twenty.
Mr. Thorne received the thanks of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, and Mr. J. Lemmon, M.L.A., remarked amidst cheers, that he thought Mr. Thorne had taken the right view. The small farmers on that occasion were considered robbers and exploiters. The Labour Party’s sudden extraordinary affection for the farmer shows that even they do not stand still for ever. To show that the ‘.£5,000 exemption was proposed in order to gain the support of the small farmer, Senator Findley, on page 16 of the same book from which I have already quoted, said -
Ry indorsing the exemption of £.5,000 Labour could prove conclusively that they desired to he ip the farmers and were on the side of the poor man.
That smells of votes. They are going to help the small farmer in another way. The
Victorian Labour Council, at its last Conference at Easter, added” some new planks to its platform. One of them was to help the small farmer by the establishment of Government farms in opposition to them. We have always been in a certain amount of doubt as to whether the Labour Party had declared itself to be a Socialist party or not. I have heard the honorable member for Boothby declare that he was not a Socialist, while the honorable member for Barrier has said distinctly that he is a Socialist.
Opposition Members. - We are all Socialists.
– The confidence of the Socialists in their members, however, does not extend to letting them remain in Parliament once they are in. The machine is putting on another screw, for the Socialist League, which is a very strong body at Broken Hill, has passed a resolution that every member before he is elected either as a Labour member or a Socialist, will have to hand in a letter addressed to the Speaker of the House, and containing his resignation. That letter is to be kept by ,the Socialist League of the Barrier to be used against the member as occasion requires.
– If he breaks his pledges.
– The people who are to judge whether he has broken his pledges are a small body of six or seven men meeting in a secret chamber, who are to send a wire to the member two or three days after they have posted his resignation to the Speaker, so as to be sure that there will be no chance of his withdrawing his resignation before the Speaker gets it, calling upon him to come up and meet the Socialists and explain things. I am reminded by the honorable member for Cook that the Socialist League is against the Labour Party. I am aware that the Labour Party have these deeper depths to fathom. In fact, it is rapidly becoming the party of the centre. They have now the Socialists on their own flank. That is the reason why many of them are declaring themselves to be Socialists, in order to conciliate both sides ; but they will have to take a very different line of action if they do not declare themselves to be in favour of the platform of the organization known as the Industrial Workers of the World. I have here some of the literature of that body. To show what the honorable member for Wannon and others .have to meet and how necessary it will be for them to come in out of the wet very quickly and give up the machine, one of these Industrial Workers of the World told me that they are not going to vote for the Labour men at the next election.
– Hear, hear. We don’t want them.
– The honorable member for Cook is a man who does not want any votes. He never looks after votes. He is wasted in this House, and if he put up in New South Wales for the Senate he would sweep the country. To read his speeches, such, for instance, as the one he delivered last night, would be sufficient indorsement of him to any intelligent or fair-minded constituency. My only fear is that he will come to Corio, but as he does not want votes I am sure that the Industrial Workers of the World will not vote for him.
– My speech did not contain as much falsehood as the honorable member’s does.
– I would ask that the honorable member’ be called to order.
– Will the honorable member for Cook withdraw the remark?
– In deference to your ruling, sir, I am compelled to withdraw, but if the honorable member made the statement outside-
– I am quite unable to say whether the honorable member has withdrawn the remark or not. The House ought, at least, to give me an opportunity of knowing whether my direction has been complied with. Will the honorable member kindly withdraw his remark?
– I did withdraw, and I explained that, although the language used was unparliamentary in the House, it would not be unparliamentary outside.
– I cannot accept that as a withdrawal. I ask the honorable member to withdraw without any qualification.
– I withdraw.
– I assure you, sir, that I will not go outside ; the fate reserved for me would be too horrible. I do not wish to be gobbled up in two bites. I have now a quotation to make from the Worker, of the 4th February, 1909. It is a divergence, but this little redoubt stands in the way, and I have to clear it before resuming the general engagement. In a discussion at the New South Wales Labour Congress, one of the ablest members of the New” South Wales Labour Party ridiculed the representative character of the Federal Conference, Mr. Holman saying that - he viewed the Inter-State body as being nonrepresentative, because he found Mr. Spencerepresenting Western Australia and Mr. Catts Tasmania. Then the gathering was held in a haphazard way. It was composed largely of members of Parliament and officials, and when these thirty-six men passed a resolution it was binding on those of the States, and he felt that if some alterations were not made there would* be a split.
There were nine representatives from New South Wales, six from Queensland, six from Victoria, five from South Australia, five from Western Australia, and four from Tasmania.
– Six from Tasmania.
– Two of the representatives of Tasmania were New South Walesmembers. They were the honorable members for Cook and New England. Of these, I doubt whether the honorable member for Cook has ever seen Tasmania.
– That is not true. I was elected by the Tasmanian Conferenceto represent the State.
– Then the honorablemember has seen Tasmania although he comes from New South Wales. New South Wales contains more freetradersthan does any other State, and yet thisConference which met to decide the policy of the party, which, should it obtain power, would become the policy of Australia, and’ which was supposed to represent all theStates equally, gave New South Wales a representation 50 per cent, greater than the representation of Victoria, and 125 percent, greater than that of Tasmania. The honorable member for Cook was in a. fighting mood, and replied to Mr. Holman ‘srude remarks with that grace of diction and courtesy which always characterizehim -
Mr. Catts, M.H.R., considered that this matter should have first been sent to the Federal Party. The . fact was that the State Party wanted to go to the Conference and get its ownway, and if it could not manage that to rat on the Conference.
Mr. Holman’s reply to that was a referenceto “ the current tripe of united Australia.”’ A delegate interjected, “ That is a nice expression to use.” The episode thenclosed. I wish now to show that Socialism was adopted at the last VictorianLabour Conference, and that the Federal’ Labour Party has declared for a most objectionable form of Socialism. The Victorian Labour Party proposes to start farms in opposition to the small farmer. At the Conference held on the 10th April of this year to settle its future programme -
At the instance of the Richmond and Hamilton branches it was decided that the following new plank be added : - “ The establishment of State farms, mines, factories and shops, for the purpose of affording employment, under Go- ‘vernment supervision, to citizens requiring it, the employees to be, as far as possible, the consumers of the wealth they produce and to receive as wages an equivalent of the net total produced.”
If the party had its way, the State would be the only employer. It would be a monopolist of labour, and if a man were dismissed, he could appeal to no other employer, as no other would exist. Should a butcher come along and ask for work, he would have to take what was offered to him. Under this system, when he asked what his wages would be, the official would tell him that he would be paid from the produce of his labour, getting so many pounds of beef, perhaps a- couple of legs of mutton, and two loin chops and some sausages. A tailor asking for wages would be told, “ the job will not run to a pair of trousers weekly, as the Labour Party’s wage is only i2s- 6d. a week, but we can give you a leg this week and the other next week.” If a farmer asked to be paid in money, he would be told, “ We do not believe in coin. ‘ It is the mark of the exploiter. Besides, it has the King’s head upon it. But you may take home so much grass and some hay for the children.” The 2 1 st resolution of the Brisbane Labour Conference was -
That the question of securing representation of the Australian Labour Party at the next International Socialist Conference be referre’d to the convening executive for consideration, with a view to giving effect thereto.
With a view of giving effect thereto ! That is an indorsement of the platform of the International-Socialist Conference. I find that the first meeting of the Conference took place at Amsterdam in 1904, and the next at Stuttgart in 1907. The Australian Labour Party has declared Socialism to be one of its objectives, while the Social Democratic Federation of England, which will also be represented at the Conference to which the ex-Prime Minister and exAttorneyGeneral - possibly accompanied by the honorable member for Cook as representative of, say, South America - may go, advocates, according to Modern Socialism, and its own official platform, among what it considers! immediate political reforms, the abolition.of the Mon archy, and among financial and fiscal reforms the repudiation of the national Debt. The objective of International Socialism is difficult to determine, and I have looked up every book on the subject in the library, and communicated with prominent Socialists and Socialist bodies, but all I can ascertain is this definition from the International Socialists’ Review -
Objective : Socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, to be controlled by a democratic State in the interests of the whole community, and the complete emancipation of labour from the domination of capitalism and landlordism, with the establishment of social and economic equality between the sexes.
Some of the resolutions passed at the Brisbane Labour Conference are worth reading. The Labour Party professedly stands for labour, and that is a noble aspiration. I think that I myself stand for the best interests of the worker. I am a worker myself, and the son of a worker ; and am proud of it. But when I find reactionary principles adopted by the Labour Party, I can only regard those who follow them, and are deceived by the word “ labour,” as being foolish and ignorant in the extreme. One of the resolutions passed at that Federal Labour Conference is the severest attack on the rights of the working men we have ever witnessed. In any trade we know that the chance the worker has is by the exercise of his brains and the application of practical methods to introduce new processes; and he is occasionally able to take out a patent and obtain a return for his research. But the Federal Conference passed the following resolution -
That the existing Patents Act should be amended to provide no letters patent should protect any patent after the expiration of two years from registration.
I know that very often a working man does not take out a patent for a new process he may discover ; but, if he does so, it usually takes the greater part of two years before he is able to find capital to develop it. I regret to say that sometimes, though not always, such patents are stolen; but if the resolution I have read were carried into effect, the inventor would never get any return. In the past the Liberal Party have thought it wise, in the face of the opposition of employers, capitalists, and exploiters - the last is a new word of the Opposition for employers - to give a patentee protection for a period of fifteen to twenty-two years; but the Labour Party would wipe out all our Patent Acts, and need not substitute any other, because protection for two- years would be only an encumbrance on ingenuity.
– Was that resolution carried ?
– I find from the report of the Conference that the President complained of the small attendance, and asked vhether, under the circumstances, they vere going to pass important resolutions ind do business, so that the representative of Tasmania does not appear to have known what was happening. I can only say that the report from which I am reading is the official report.
– That is a resolution lvhich was carried forward to the next Conference for consideration.
– In the report it is under the heading of “ Resolutions.”
– But it was not carried.
– Will the representative of Tasmania at that Conference, or the honorable member for Cook - one or other of them- say that the resolution was not carried ?
– It was carried forward to the next Conference for further consideration.
– Will the honorable member say that that resolution was not carried at the Brisbane Conference in July last?
– It was not constitutionally carried.
– However anxious the honorable member may now be to repudiate it, if he had ventured to go further I could have bowled him out ; but I am not here to discuss constitutional points with him; indeed, it would not be fair to me to tackle a great constitutional lawver like himself. I can only say that the resolution I have read is officially reported as passed at the Conference. Honorable members will be -surprised to hear that at the same Conference a resolution was carried in favour of the introduction of contract labour in the following terms : -
That this Conference objects to the expenditure of any public money for immigration purposes until such time as employment is found . . . for those desirous to. settle thereon.
There are to be no immigrants until employment is . supplied ; and we know that a man cannot be an immigrant until he comes into the country. Then, in view of the tearful indignation of the leader of the Opposition, when he heard that Senator
Pearce was not . going to be allowed to represent the Commonwealth at the Imperial Defence Conference, honorable memberswill be surprised to learn that the following resolution was passed at the Labour Conference : -
That all Australian delegates to future Imperial or Colonial Conferences be given definiteinstructions on specific subjects by the Federal’ Parliament, and that they (the delegates) shall’ not deal with nor pledge the Commonwealthupon any subjects not previously dealt with by the Federal Parliament.
It seems to me that the -appointment of Senator Pearce was rather too hurried in the face of such a resolution ; and we know that he is a bold man who dares todefy the red-book Conference. I am sorry, in one way to have to make these remarks; but I must refer to the declaration bv theleader of the Opposition at Gympie in favour of a maximum wage. For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, the Labour Party had a chance to express themselves as to what they regard as good pay for the worker, and the leader of the Opposition, speaking, not only officially as Prime Minister, but as leader of the Labour Party, said he thought that for skilled artisans and other ‘workers over 20 years of age, 12s. 6d. a week was sufficient. If there is one thing that would lead me to feel that the Labour Party no longer deserve the support of working men, it is that they have becomea one-and-ninepenny-a-day party. The proposal, in my opinion, was an outrageous one; and I immediately drew attention toit in Melbourne. The leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, was not on the spot, and Senator Pearce replied to my communication to the effect that, although the Labour Party proposed 12s. 6d. a week, the Deakin Government had’ proposed nothing. Is that not a splendid justification for the men who depend ore the Labour Party ? Liberal Governments, by whom the Commonwealth has been largely administered, have, always paid their employes, under similar circumstances, on a much higher scale. For instance, every militiaman in camp is paid 8s. a day, or £2 16s. a week for seven davs, and in the arrangement made with the Imperial authorities as to the employment of men on war vessels, the present Prime Minister insisted on 4s. 8d. to 5s.2d. a day for those Australians permanently engaged. Now, however, we are told that 1s.9d. a day is the ideal and ultimate aspiration of the Labour Party. Friends of the workers if you like ! In the same speech at Gympie, the leader of the Opposition expressed the opinion that the rate of 8s. 7d. per day, awarded by Mr. Justice Higgins, was a magnificent proposal, and he lauded that gentleman to the skies. Every time that Mr. Justice Higgins’ name is mentioned in Labour circles throughout the Commonwealth it is cheered, and justly so; indeed, the learned gentleman has been almost adopted by the Labour Party, although he was always a member of ithe Liberal Party. But I remember the time when the man who is now cheered was opposed, and every effort made by the Labour Party to hound him down and deprive him of his seat in the House. Just before Mr. Justice Higgins was elevated to the High Court Bench, he was faced with a Labour antagonist in his constituency, although he had been AttorneyGeneral in a Labour Government.
– He did not rat on his principles on that account?
– I do not think that Mr. Justice Higgins ever did, or ever would, rat on his principles; indeed, I do not know any honorable member on this side of the House who ever did so. Personally, I was elected as a Protectionist, a Democrat, and a Radical; and I see nothing in the programme of the present Government to cause me in the slightest de- gree to deflect from those principles. I go straight ahead, supporting what I think right, opposing what I cannot agree with, and I stated my views to my constituents, and they accepted me without feeling it necessary to ask me to sign any pledge ; but everv promise I gave I keep as though T had signed a pledge. It seems to me that those foxes who have lost their tails are extremely sorry to have been in the Labour trap, and would be very glad, indeed, to find a number of others in the same predicament. I recommend members of the Labour Party to visit the Melbourne National Gallery and look at the newly purchased Burne Jones’ picture, The Wheel of Life. There they will see three or four men bound to an enormous wheel ; these men have nothing to do with the movement of the wheel, but are simply moved by it, just in the same way as the members of the Labour Party are flies on the wheel of their organization. Members of the Labour Party have to sign pledges with which thev do not agree. I believe in compulsory military training. If I did not
I should be free to say so. But I have quoted speeches from honorable members of this House who do not believe in the principle, and yet have signed a platform in which it is embodied. Then, again, I believe in Protection, and the new Protection. Any honorable member on this side ot the House who does not believe in those principles is at perfect liberty to say so’. He deals fairly and freely with his constituents, and they do the same with him. Amongst the Opposition, however, there are honorable members who do not believe in Protection, although they have signed a platform, and have to accept the principle whether they approve of it or not. They are mere atoms in the grip of a great machine. Victims of the machine struggle and writhe, but cannot free themselves from it. They cannot leave it, and the position,in my opinion, is becoming intolerable even to some members of the party. Why is it that the ex-Prime /Minister, the honorable member for South Sydney, is not here to-day? Did he not find the domination of the Labour Leagues overbearing ?
– Why does he propose to withdraw from the arena of politics at the close of this Parliament ? Is it that he finds it impossible to stand by a system that crushes out a man’s independence, strength of intellect, and freedom of conscience, and conviction ? One of the things that is really destroying representation and democracy, is this machine, with its small coteries of men meeting in a secret chamber, and rigorously excluding all but the representatives of their own press. I need say no more. I was born free, and am going to preserve my freedom. I regret that I have occupied so much of the time of the House, and am grateful for the attention that I have received.
.- The remarks made by the honorable member, who has just resumed his seat, recalled to my mind the statement of a learned Judge, that, in certain circumstances, a man might be pardoned for perjuring himself in order to preserve a woman’s honour. That limitation upon perjury, however, has been extended by the honorable member, who apparently believes that honorable members are justified not only in misrepresenting a party, but in wilfully perjuring themselves in order to justify their betrayal of their constituents.
– That is not a nice remark to make.
– The honorable member has been laughing immoderately at statements made by honorable members on that side of the House in regard to principles of the Labour Party - statements that he must have known were absolutely incorrect. I do not propose to follow the honorable member for Corio in all his references to individuals who are alleged by him to express the opinions of the united Labour Party. I wish only to mention that I am informed he has attributed to labour men remarks made in Sydney by one or two members of the International Socialist party. May I remind the House that the International Socialist party of New South Wales has always opposed the Labour Party, and has run candidates for the Senate in opposition to our men? We shall be quite prepared to accept responsibility for statements, however absurd, made by men who are, or have ever been, associated with our party, provided that the honorable member for Corio and his friends will accept responsibility for the statements of Mr. Walpole, and those associated with him, that marriage is a luxury, &c. It will be difficult to find authority for many of the honorable member’s Statements. Indeed, it would be as difficult for the honorable member to find authority for some of his statements as it was to find him on a celebrated occasion when he volunteered to go to South Africa. It is strange, to say the least, that an honorable member holding such views regarding the Labour Party as he has expressed this morning should have desired to become associated withit. He is here now, has he any reply to make to that statement? If the Labour Party is as bad as he has painted it, why did he wish to join it?
– The honorable member for Corio is suffering apparently from lockjaw. He will not answer.
– Perhaps at the time he had not found out the Labour Party.
– Poor innocent ! I could accept a plea of innocence from the honorable member for Echuca, but the honorable member for Corio had been long enough in politics to be familiar with the methods of the Labour Party before he submitted a proposal that he should be permitted to join with them. His request was not granted. The honorable member is present, and admits by his silence that he proposed to join with us.
– Ask the honorable member ?
– I have, and he is as silent as the Sphinx. Only about four years ago, and since, the honorable member wished to become associated with the terrible Labour Party.
– And crawled to them at that.
– I did not propose to make his position any worse than it is, except by extracting from him the admission that he desired to become a member of our party. He is not prepared to deny that statement, because the truth of it is to be found in this House. And this is the honorable member who has made this morning such extraordinary statements in regard to our party ! Such statements are made by him and other honorable members on the Government side of the House, in order to justify their betrayal of their constituents.
An Honorable Member. - What nonsense.
– Was it the honorable member for Corio who sent the wire, “Will join Fisher, but not Lyne”?
– That point is immaterial. We have the honorable member’s admission by his silence that he desired to become a member of our party. How far have honorable members opposite succeeded in justifying their treachery to their constituents ?
– The honorable member is very much concerned about honorable members on this side of the House.
– Because we have placed’ them on their trial for the abandonment of their pledges. I am afraid, however,, that they have gone so far that it is impossible now to make them wince. They have determined that since they have a majority they will continue, for somemonths at all events, to flout the will of their constituents, and to refuse them the right to express an opinion regarding their betrayal. That remark does not apply necessarily to every honorable member opposite. I believe that- all have had to make some sacrifices, but the Prime Ministerhas certainly abandoned the programme upon which he was returned at the last general election. The position is the same in regard to those honorable members who were closely associated with him - the thirteen who carried on the Government of this country by our grace.
– Not by the grace of the honorable member.
– I frankly admit that for some time prior to the defeat of the Deakin Administration I did my best to bring about its downfall. Nothing better could have happened for Australia than the wiping out of the official existence pf that little knot of members. The Protectionist Party has been merged in the Free-trade Party, and those who are screeching for protection will now have to depend upon the grace of the right honorable member for East Sydney as to whether Joshua should get another 25 per cent, duty on spirits, or Beale another 5 per cent, increase in the duty on pianos.
– The honorable member is doing a lot of growling.
– And the right honorable gentleman has grumbled a good deal. May I ask him to produce a report of any statement made by him in Western Australia in” favour of the gift of a Dreadnought to Great Britain.
– I did not say that I was in favour of it. The honorable member should read what I said.
– At a meeting held in Perth the honorable member moved a certain resolution and then said “ There is nothing in it, ladies and gentlemen.”
– I did not say that. A lot of obstructionists -tried to interrupt me before I had uttered more than two or three words.
– There could have been no obstruction when the honorable member made the statement I have just quoted since it was the first sentence he uttered after reading the resolution.
– That is absolute misrepresentation.
– It is a fact.
– Read what I said.
– Will the right honorable member deny that he said there was nothing in the resolution?
– I said more. I said that there was really nothing in the resolution to which any one could object.
– I will accept the honorable member’s statement.
– Because the honorable member knows that it is true.
– I am sorry to have to ask the Treasurer not to interrupt.
– When an honorable member proceeds to misrepresent another -
– Order !
– I am sorry if I have misrepresented the right honorable member, but I do not think that I have-
– Read what I said.
– I have read it. The right honorable member sent me an edited copy of his speech so that I might read it. He now says he stated that the resolution was one to which no one could take exception. He tells us, however, that the meeting was a rowdy one so that some one must have taken exception to it; but he does not tell us whether he committed himself in any way whilst in Western Australia to the presentation of a Deadnought.
– I did not.
– The right honorable member was wise.
– But I have committed myself now.
– The right honorable member committed the country to the presentation of a Dreadnought, although Parliament could first have been consulted. His constituents, too, had no opportunity of being consulted.
– The honorable member can take all the change he can get out of that when he returns to Western Australia.
– The right honorable member talks about “ the. change,” but he has committed the country to the “ principal.” He ought to have taken up that attitude when he was in Western Australia. My objection to the Government is that they have broken faith with their constituents. The Government met Parliament on a Wednesday, and asked for an adjournment, although the House could have met the next day. As soon as they got safely into their offices for three weeks, without the criticism of Parliament, they turned round and pledged Australia to an expenditure of , £2,000,000, although the general expression of opinion among the people was against the gift of a Dreadnought. They flouted Parliament in doing so.
– Parliament will have to pass it.
– Parliament will be in a nice position in having to pass it, when the honour of the country has really been pledged by the offer made by a Government that does not represent the opinion of the people of Australia.
– The Labour Government pledged the whole of the resources of Australia.
– We did so only to this extent, that we saw the time had’ arrived to make provision ‘ for the defence of the Commonwealth. It did not take our Government long to appreciate that fact when’ they got into a responsible position, whereas the honorable gentleman and his colleagues were thinking about it for nearly eight years prior to that. It was left to the Labour Party, when they obtained a few months in office, to give the necessary orders to bring into existence the nucleus of an Australian Navy. I am opposed to this Government, who have betrayed the trust of their constituents, on many grounds. I am opposed to them on the Dreadnought question, on which they do not represent the feelings of the people. I am opposed to their proposal to sully the name of the Commonwealth by introducing a borrowing system. It is a certainty that they intend to do that. I am opposed to them because they have made no provision in their policy for the taxa-* tion of the unimproved value of land, which at present is’ the greatest necessity of all j and I am opposed to them on account of their paltering with the proposal to introduce the new Protection. How many of those on that side of the House can be said- to be sincere in their professed wish to do justice to the workmen engaged in protected industries? When the Prime Minister or the then Minister of Customs introduced the Tariff, there was an understanding amongst all sections of the House that provision for the payment of suitable wages to the workmen was to accompany the imposition of duties. The Deakin Government proceeded with the Customs Tariff, but as they neared the end of it nothing practical had been undertaken in regard to the new Protection. They then tabled a memorandum, the principle of . which was that Excise duties might be imposed on articles made under the protection of the Customs Tariff, but should be rebated to manufacturers who paid a living rate of wages. Nothing was done in regard to the matter for a considerable time, and action was only taken, I think, on account of the persistent urging chiefly of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. It was then found that the harvester manufacturers were prepared , to defeat the provisions of the Excise law by an application to the High Court. Later, on 28th October, 1908, whilst the Deakin Government were under the control of the Labour Party, or, I should say, getting the assistance of the Labour Party, and when that guarantee “of- assistance, or the support which was being accorded to them, was getting very shaky, they brought down another memorandum on the new Protec- tion, containing this very significant paragraph :-
As the power to protect the manufacturer isnational, it follows that unless the Parliament’ of the Commonwealth also acquires power tosecure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners, the policy of Protection must remain incomplete.
That sounded like business. They went on -
The object of the proposed amendment of the Constitution will be to endow the Parliament of the Commonwealth with a grant of powers to doeconomic justice in the protected industrieswith due regard to the unity of the Commonwealth and the diversity of local circumstances.
It appeared at that time as though theGovernment intended really to appeal tothe people of Australia to grant that powerto the National Parliament That was theproposal in 1908. Now, the position is that, in order to effectively safeguard the interest of the workmen throughout Australia, the members of the Anti-Sweating, League have associated themselves with the biggest sweaters in the country - the Employers’ Federation and their representatives. They are going to save the workmen* from being sweated by associating themselves with the sweater. They will endeavour to secure better wages by associating themselves with the men who never have paid, and never will pay, fair wages-, until they are compelled to do so. They, are going to do all this by the blessed proposal to appeal to the States to grant them the necessary power. Has any one ever heard a more plausible attempt to conceal a piece of hypocrisy than the effort made by the Prime Minister last night in dealing with the question?
– That was prompted by the right honorable member for Swan.
– When the Prime Minister is endeavouring by means of a multitude of words to conceal his real intention, and to make people who do not know him think that they are going to get something from him, he does not require the assistance of any man in Australia. He is amaster at it. This blessed proposal of the Government is to get from the States power to institute improved conditions in the States when the States have refused to do it themselves.
– And Mr. Wade, the Premier of New South Wales, has stated that he will not allow the Commonwealth to do it.
– I should imagine that that is the sort of gentleman he would be.
– He is a very good man.
– I am very glad to hear that Mr. Wade, of New South Wales, receives the encomiums of the honorable member for Batman. Nothing could suit us better.
– The leader of the Labour Party in New South Wales - Mr. McGowen - says that he is a very good man.
– The honorable member need not try to modify or equivocate about it. I am sure Mr. Wade will be pleased to hear the honorable member’s good opinion of him, and the honorable member’s constituents will be delighted to know that he praises Mr. Wade. I suppose they were also delighted to hear from the Prime Minister last night that he is glad to get the support of the Conservatives of Australia. Does the honorable member for Batman feel at home and comfortable in his present company? Does he, the exmember of the Labour Party outside, although I am glad to say he was never a member of it inside, the House, feel pleased with that statement of his leader?
– The honorable member never supported him.
Mr.FRAZER. - No, I did not support him from the day when I heard him in this House - the day on which the ReidMcLean Government met their death at the hands of a political assassin - I have never said this before, but I’ say it now - make a statement that I and twenty other honorable members knew to be incorrect. I said at the time that a man who was prepared to go to that length could not expect any special consideration from me.
– What was the statement?
– The Prime Minister knows all about it, and so do twenty other honorable members. That day settled me with the Prime Minister for ever, so far as his word was concerned.
– What settled the honorable member with his Treasurer?
– My difficulty with the then Treasurer, the honorable member for Hume, was that I thought him to be on wrong lines in dealing with certain Tariff items. I felt that he was doing a big injury to some of the important industries of Australia. I said to him, in regard to the machinery section of the Tariff, asit related to the mining industry, “I am pre pared to give you prohibition on those articles in that list that can be made in Australia, but the other articles, which cannot be made in Australia, I want to see made free, or ‘subject only to a nominal duty.” The honorable member for Hume could not bring himself to my wav of thinking, and he could not convince some of his alleged friends, who have since deserted him, so he chose to take a duty extending over the whole list. He met consequently with my opposition regarding several items which I believed to be of the utmost importance for the development of one of the primary industries of the Commonwealth.
-The honorable member was very wrong.
– That is a. matter of opinion. I am in a position to say that I did not come into the House as a protectionist, and then seek to bring about protection by joining with the free-traders. I came in as a labourite. I have no pledges unfulfilled in regard to fiscalism. I have stuck to the Labour Party, and when T thought they were on the wrong track in supporting the present Prime Minister, I tried to bring them to my way of thinking. I am glad to say that at last they agreed with me.
– The honorable member ought to give “false Coon” a turn.
– “False Coon” will get a turn as scon as I can procure it for him at the hands of the electors, who will be able to deal much more effectively with him than I can.
– If the honorable member is referring to a member of the House, he must withdraw those words.
– I do so, Mr. Speaker, though I was merely repeating the interjection of another honorable member. The proposal of the Prime Minister shows no consideration for the working men and women of Australia. If the States refuse to grant this measure of justice to their employes, does he expect that they will agree to allow some one else to do it ? The statement that the power once given cannot be revoked was modified by the Prime Minister last night. There is nothing in the Constitution to show that it could not be revoked, if it were given, and of that there is not the slightest chance. His next position was that if his proposal were adopted, and the consent of the States obtained, the Government would use machinery already in existence, and thus it would be unnecessary to increase taxation. But he also proposed to create an Inter-State Commission which will have power to control nearly all things. While he said that the Government would use institutions already in existence, he suggested that the Labour Party wishes to bring into existence a new set of institutions. Could anything be. more absurd ? Does he believe that we should duplicate machinery, if existing machinery would serve our turn? The honorable gentleman must see the absurdity of his suggestion. But, apparently, he de- . sires it to be spread abroad that the Labour Party wishes to incur additional expense, while he would be content with the machinery which is in existence. The possibilities of his proposal are nil. It is founded on wrong lines. He has no chance of obtaining the consent of the States, and cannot give relief to the workers. Another point which he tried to make against the Labour Party was that, if we got constitutional power, we should endeavour to use it in respect to every industry in every part of Australia. Apparently he anticipates that Melbourne is for a long time to remain the Federal Capital, because he spoke of our controlling all the industries of Australia from Melbourne. No one has made such a proposal. The most that the ex-Prime Minister asks for .is that in industrial matters the Commonwealth shall have powers concurrent with the States. Could anything be more absurd than to argue that if we obtain a constitutional power we shall at once exercise it? The Commonwealth Parliament has power to legislate in regard to at least fifteen matters with which it has not yet attempted to deal. ‘ The Labour Party proposes to exercise the powers of the Constitution only where the Commonwealth administration would be more beneficial than that of the States. While we seek for power to protect those who are being sweated in the protected industries of Australia, it is not likely that that power would be used more quickly than would be good for the workers. Apparently, the Prime Minister wishes to intimidate those who belong to the State Frights party, or who think of joining it. As to immigration, it would be a farce to bring persons to this country until our land laws have been altered. The Prime Minister, himself has said that in the Old Country there are now more men ready to come to Australia than we can absorb.
– And he has admitted that the States will not assist him in making land available for immigrants.
– Yes. In order to encourage immigration, and make the position of immigrants secure, it is obviously necessary to pass legislation which will require those in possession of the land to use it to its fullest extent, or make it available for others. In order to bring about this reform, the Prime. Minister has associated himself with the great land monopolists of Australia. So, too, have the members of the Anti-Sweating League. With some of them it is not a vital matter whether one programme or another is accepted. Once before, when there was a political crisis, what two or three of them were most anxious for was to secure immunity from opposition at the next election.
– The honorable member for Bourke was most anxious to do so.
– I shall repeat presently something that he has told me.
– As the name of the honorable member for Bourke has been mentioned, I admit that he was one of them. The programme of the Labour Party under the Watson Administration was not of so much importance to him as was the question, would he be opposed by a Labour candidate at the next election if* he supported that Government? ,
– The honorable member will begin to believe that.
– It is true.
– It was a contemptible thing.
– Will .the honorable member for Hume be good enough to withdraw that statement?
– I withdraw it. Cur !
– I ask the honorable member, not merely to withdraw that interjection, but to apologize for having made it.
– At your request, I do so, Mr. Speaker.
– When an alleged honorable member-
– The honorable member must not speak in that way.
– I will say when a member without the honorable - that is not an offence against parliamentary rule-
– That form of words is a direct insult to the honorable member to whom it is applied, and not in order.
– Then I shall merely say that the member for Bourke, sitting in the national Parliament of Australia, when the charge is made that his main concern, when asked if he would support the Watson Government, was whether he would be secured from opposition in his constituency, replies, “You will begin to believe it directly.”
– So the honorable member will.
– The honorable member is taking a most objectionable way of getting out’ of his difficulty. He knows it is true ; but no doubt he will say later on that he denied the statement in the House.
– My attitude cannot be more objectionable than the honorable member’s language.
– Some honorable members have so abandoned all political principle that I am not over-careful about the language in which I refer to them. The four honorable members who are now supporting the Labour Party have been so betrayed by their former associates as to be justified in the use of any language that the rules will permit them to employ.
– Have not two of them secured immunity from opposition by Labour candidates?
– They did not cringe to the Labour Party to obtain immunity from opposition before deciding what to do, as other honorable members did on a previous occasion.
– They secured it before giving any promise of support.
– Nothing of the kind. They are honorable men, who refuse to associate with those who have betrayed their constituents. The other night the honorable member for Bourke said thatthe audience ‘could not leave the Brunswick Town Hall without contributing to the Labour funds.
– There was a plate at the door.
– That did not compel any one to contribute. I am sure that the supporters of the honorable member would get out without paying. Is the Labour Party to be prevented from asking for voluntary contributions towards the work of organizing? The honorable member for Corio said that at Geelong1s. was charged.
– What the honorable member said was that there was a collection at the door.
– He said there was a compulsory charge.
– Yes ; I remember now that the statement was that there was a compulsory charge for admission, not that is. was charged.
– He said there was a compulsory collection at the door.
– There was no compulsory charge, and there never has been at any meeting of the party. Of course, the party accepts subscriptions from friends and sympathizers in order that a good work may be carried on. Quite a number of the gentlemen who object to our methods have been associated with the Labour Party at one time or another in the course of their political career, while others have been prepared to join the party, but have been refused admission. We have seen the honorable member for Corio walk silently out of the Chamber ; he knew the proofs were here. There are “ friends of the Labour Party “ who associate with the party on the platform, but who, in this House, when away from the electors, ally themselves with the Employers’ Federation and sweaters. Apparently those honorable members regard it as wrong for the Labour Party to have a plate at the door for donations, but have not a word to say against clergymen who adopt a similar means of raising funds on the Sunday. Do the Labour Party receive any support from the big squatters and monopolists of Australia?
– From some squatters in Melbourne, and I can quote them.
– Will the honorable member name one?
– Sir Rupert Clarke subscribes to the party.
– He never subscribes except in the case of the honorable member for Melbourne.
– My name has been mentioned, and I object to the untruth- of the statement made.
– The honorable member has no right to say that an honorable member has made an untruthful statement. If the’ honorable member for Melbourne takes offence at a remark made I shall ask the honorable member for Corangamite to withdraw it.
-I was asked if I could name one of the large landowners of- Australia who contributes to the funds of the
Labour Party, and I named Sir Rupert Clarke.
– The honorable member mentioned my name.
– No, I did not ; it was some one else who did so. 1 mentioned the name of a large landowner whom I believe to subscribe to the Labour Party’s funds.
– In any case such a subscription has been alleged only in the case of one person on one occasion ; and I think we may acquit him as a first offender.
– I believe that the honorable member fpr Hume has 150 guineas for the Labour Party.
– I shall have 1,000 guineas before long !
– If there are honorable members who, more than others, ought to preserve the dignity of the House, they are Ministers and ex-Ministers ; and I ask that these interjections shall cease.
– In any case, it does not appear to me to be a very heinous offence for the Labour Party at their gatherings, to ask for voluntary subscriptions in order to meet the necessary expenses. But it is quite another matter to have it alleged that a compulsory charge is made before admission, or that once in the audience cannot depart without paying. It appears that objections are raised to the workers paying their threepenny pieces or shillings, while nothing objectionable is seen in subscriptions paid by squatters of the Ritchie type in opposition to the. Labour Party.
– Does the honorable member mean the squatters in the Labour Partv ?
– So far as I know there are no squatters in the Labour Party, but, if there are, they are prepared to pay their share of a land tax; there are no shirkers amongst them. Mr. R. B. Ritchie, of Blackwood, Penshurst, Victoria, owns 16.940 acres, and I understand that he and his brother hold between them 30,000 acres.
– It is not his brother.
– My authority as to Mr. Ritchie’s holding, is the Hamilton Independent, the editor of which ought to know as much of the matter as does the honorable member.
– The newspaper has made a mistake, because it is Mr. Ritchie’s cousin.
– To what quibbles are our friends opposite reduced ! We are told that these’ two men own 30,000 acres, which, I am advised, is worth from £8 to £10 per acre.
– How much does the honorable member for Wannon own?
– The honorable member for Wannon can speak for himself, and, at any rate, he would not shirk the land tax. I point out that this small puny landholder of- Penshurst is a supporter of the party who object to sympathizers of the labour movement putting a threepenny piece into the plate at the door on the occasion of a meeting; and yet he himself is subscribing . £100 in order to enable an antiSocialist to fight the Wannon seat.
– Only £100?
– Yes. Those big landowners hang on to their money pretty tightly ; and they must imagine there is real danger in the ability and eloquence of the honorable member for Wannon when they make such subscriptions in order to oppose him.
– It will not ruin the subscriber, will it?
– No, none of those gentlemen who have possession of the world’s wealth are likely to leave themselves penniless as a result of their generosity. In a circular issued by Mr. R. B. Ritchie in the electorate of Wannon, the following words occur -
In a large and wealthy constituency like this, where such huge vested interests are at stake, there ought to be no difficulty in getting , £1,000.
I understand that at present the subscriptions have reached , £700 for the purpose of opposing the present representative of the constituency. The circular goes on -
I therefore appeal to you with the utmost . confidence to assist in stemming the rising tide of anarchy. Should you object to have your name published just send a note to the “ Editor, Hamilton Spectator,” stating the amount you are willing to give, and he will acknowledge it as from a “Friend” or “Anti-Socialist.”
This reminds me of a former subscription raised on one memorable occasion in the history of this State, when there was sent out a notification, “ Don’t mind sending your name, just send in the cash.” If the honorable member for Corio and the honorable member for Bourke have a remnant of that feeling that ought to actuate honorable members, they will withdraw the statements they have made and admit their error as to compulsory levies at meetings connected with the Labour Party. I do not say that it would be an outrageous thing if the Labour Party, when about to give an exposition on any question connected with the movement which they thought of value, were to make a charge, because, in any case, no one is compelled to attend. But it is a very different matter to say that a charge has been made, when the fact is the contrary. The honorable member for Corio referred to the decision -of some residents in Broken Hill in regard to a resignation, but, while expressing no opinion as to the merits of the proposal, I say that if those people required any justification they have it in the exhibition we have just witnessed in the Federal parliamentary arena.
– Are there no cases in the Labour Party?
– I know of no members of the Labour Party who, returned to advocate a particular programme, have abandoned that programme as soon as they entered the House. If a man feels that he cannot conscientiously advocate the policy on which he was elected, his only honorable course is to present himself to his masters and ask their opinion. At present there are honorable members exercising their functions here with no thought for the opinions or desires of their constituents ; they simply take the view that there are yet nine months in which the great daily metropolitan newspapers of Australia may be persuaded to throw a, cloak over their iniquities - to justify, explain, and excuse them to their electorates. During the past week or two honorable members opposite were in fear and trembling at the prospect of the people being appealed to ; they showed no enthusiasm then.
– There was no enthusiasm on the honorable member’s side either.
– I have never seen such unanimity on the part of the Labour Party in a desire to appeal to the people.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15p.m.
– I said shortly before we adjourned for lunch that I should have some observations to offer regarding the financial proposals to be submitted by the Government. As-to what they will be, unfortunately little can be gathered from the printed Ministerial statement read by the Prime Minister, and still less from his explanation of it last night. One of the paragraphs in this precious document sets forth that-
Finance is in every year a vital question ; but it is no exaggeration to say that the obli gations of the next eighteen months render it at present more important than at any period since Federation.
Numerous proposals are then indicated - some urgent and some not so - and we are told that -
A new departure is called for in order to provide for the early construction of necessary reproductive works in connexion - with the Postmaster-General’s Department. I confess that I do not know what that means. Although the House is being invited . to say whether or. not the Ministry possesses its confidence, honorable members are not in a position to know whether the Government intend to proceed with a policy of borrowing. The Prime Minister might well have been expected to make a definite statement on the point.
– Surely they will not borrow for defence purposes or to pay old-age pensions !
– We are told that a new departure is called for to provide for the early construction of reproductive works in connexion with the Postmaster-General’s Department. Surely we have been in session long enough to have from the Prime Minister an explanation of the intentions of the Government in this regard. Some years ago I predicted that as the financial possibilities of the Commonwealth were limited under the Braddon section, and we were returning to the States money that might well be used for Commonwealth Departments, while at the same time taking over Departments, the transfer of which was not urgently necessary, we should be confronted with financial embarrassment before the expiration of the Braddon period. The Prime Minister, who for seven out of the eight years of the Commonwealth’s existence has been a member of different Governments, now tells us that one of the transferred Departments - that of the PostmasterGeneral - is in a chaotic condition, and hints that, although Parliament has already passed a resolution in opposition to the principle of borrowing, we must raise a loan in order that that Department may fulfil its functions.
– Or else return less to the States.
– We were told by the Treasurer in the Deakin Administration that we should be only slightly overdrawn in 1910. If we have reached the margin, how can we, during the existence of the Braddon section, return less to the States ?
– Whether we borrow for these works or not, the money will have to come out of the pockets of the people of Australia.
– Quite so, but my point is that the policy of successive Treasurers in Governments led by the present Prime Minister has been such that we are now told that in order to bring the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to a reasonable state of efficiency we shall have to borrow, although we have returned to the States millions which the Commonwealth might well have utilized.
– We have fresh taxation open to us.
– Do the Government propose fresh taxation?
– I do not know. They ought to provide for defence out of direct taxation.
– I am glad that we have one convert to that principle.
– I am not ‘a convert. I have always held that view. Old-age pensions and defence must be provided for by means of direct taxation.
– The honorable member’s party have been supporting a Government that has been doing all this.
– While the party with which I am associated may have to accept responsibility for having been in such bad company, I cannot be charged with having given the late Government an unconditional support.
– A good many of the honorable member’s party in 1901 voted for Sir George Turner’s Loan Bill.
– Only two.
– The fact remains that as the result of the administration of successive Governments led by the present Prime Minister, a loan apparently is to be proposed to enable a Department of the Commonwealth to be raised to a state of efficiency. I am not prepared to support a’ loan for that purpose, whilst it is open to us to tax the unearned increment and to resort to other methods of taxation. If by means of taxation we cannot raise sufficient to carry on one of the Departments of the Commonwealth in a satisfactory manner, the people of Australia must be in 3 very bad way. Is it not extraordinary that the Government should say that it is necessary to borrow money for this purpose, having regard to the fact that it is evidently so over-burdened with cash that it nas offered to present ^2,000,000 to a people whom the Treasurer himself has said are able to built hundreds of Dreadnoughts, independently, of any action we may take?’ The Treasurer has admitted that he left: Western Australia without uttering a word as to his intention to support such a gift, but he says that he now accepts responsibility for the offer. An honorable member who so misleads his constituents - and there are others on the Government side of the House in the same position - ought to be prepared to go before them and to obtain from them an expression of opinion. 1 shall oppose any loan to bring up a Commonwealth Department to a state of efficiency, as is suggested in the somewhat ambiguous paragraph that I have read. . Nor am I in favour of the proposition made by the Treasurer when he was in a previousDeakin Administration, that we should continue the operation of the Braddon section.
– Does the honorable member think that money should not be borrowed for railway construction works?
– It is certain that in theyears to come, if the responsibility for the debts of the States is to be taken over by the National Parliament, some of tlie assetsof the States will have to accompany that transfer. National administration would, tend to the advantage of the railway systems of Australia. I cannot imagine, however, a set of circumstances rendering itnecessary to seek the assistance of cash oi> the spot to carry on the affairs of a Commonwealth department. Only a few thousands are required, for instance, to give usa satisfactory telephone service. What arehonorable members on the Government sideof the House going to do in regard to thisloan proposal?
– Some of them, I dare say, will do what the honorable member does - speak against it, and vote for it..
– I cannot be charged with speaking in one direction and voting in another. Evidently there are on theGovernment side of the House a number of honorable members who are not satisfiedwith the financial proposals of the Ministry. They claim to be free men, and that being, so, it would be interesting to learn what they intend to do regarding these proposals. The honorable member for Robertson expressed the opinion that the Government ought to go to the country. Hecertainly threw no bouquets at them, and it would appear that he is prepared to assume permanently the role of the Government’s candid friend. When he was asked’/ however, whether he intended to support this motion, the passing of which would force the Government to go to the country, ‘ what did he say? I venture to assert that he will be found voting with the Government.
– The honorable member must think that he is very sore.
– I thought he was last night. I am simply going on his public utterances and his statement that the Government should go to the country.
– He fixes a date - March next.
– No, he says we ought to go immediately to the country. I am in the greatest anxiety about the proposal that will emanate from the present Treasurer, and, possibly, be indorsed by the Government, with regard to the future financial relations between the Commonwealth” and the States. It is a matter of the greatest and most urgent importance that the national exchequer should not, after 1.910, be hampered to the degree that it is at present.
– That question is a long way above party measures.
– The honorable member is now associated with all those who have hoisted the flag of State rights and State frights in this House - men who have opposed the national idea and ideal. Consequently he cannot complain if we, on this side, who are looking for the greatest possible freedom in financial and other directions in order that the Commonwealth may proceed towards nationhood, say that he is in bad company if he does not agree with the proposals which the Government will submit.
– I shall carry no banner of “State frights.”
– I am glad to hear it, but the honorable member will find that he has a load to carry if he attempts to support some of the proposals of the present Government. The only thing we have to guide us in this matter is the past record of the Treasurer. His past achievements as demonstrated in the financial adjustment scheme which he submitted at Brisbane are eminently unsatisfactory from my point of view, and I look forward with the greatest anxiety to the temporary adjustment which is promised in the document tabled by the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member’s anxiety will be a fearful thing for the country.
– It will be only a circumstance to the anxiety of the right honorable member at the next election.
– The country will appreciate it much more than the right honorable member’s flippancy.
– The right honorable member will have no time to be flippant when he meets the electors. We gave him on the last occasion the busiest time he ever had in his life, and with a. practically unknown boy. Another portion of the Government’s programme seems to indicate that an effort is to be made, after eight years, to deal with the public debt problem, as it concerns the taxpayer. It is stated that -
The future financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth, taken together with their present and future loan obligations, are being carefully considered in principle and in detail in order that a satisfactory and permanent settlement may be achieved.
This energetic Government, that has been in existence almost continuously since the beginning of the Commonwealth, has not, up to the present; been able to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion on the question of whether the telephone service is paying or not, or whether the telephone rates should be increased, and now, after eight years, they have reached the stage at which we are going to get from them a consideration “in principle and in detail” of the important question of State debts. Our national debt amounts to about £250,000,000, with an annual interest obligation of about £9,000,000. We owed £202,000,000 at the beginning of Federation, and that has increased to a little over £250,000,000 now. Yet in the face of that fact, in face of the fact that we have one of the heaviest public debts per head of population in the world, the Government propose to go on the market as a seventh borrower in order to bring one of our ordinary functions of government into a state of efficiency.
– The honorable member should not forget that we have also better assets than most other nations. The debt has been incurred for reproductive works and not for war.
– I am not questioning our ability to meet our obligations, but the important duty at present confronting us is to bring those obligations under one central body which, with our national assets, and our more efficient and economic administration, will enable us to present to the lenders of money in the Old Country such a case for renewal purposes as will save us many thousands of pounds per year on our interest bill - probably sufficient to establish a considerable sinking fund towards the ultimate liquidation of this immense public responsibility. The Prime Minister might well have explained last night what he really means on this question. If we cannot get an explanation of the Government’s financial proposals when a no-confidence debate is proceeding, when may we expect it?
– The Prime Minister took an hour and a-half to explain what he meant.
– He occupied an hour and a-half in trying to avoid the necessity of explaining the absolute barrenness of this document, so far as efficient legislation is concerned - an hour and a-half in trying to show that it contained things which the general public, when they thoroughly understand it, must know will never be realized. The severest criticism of the present Administration and their supporters is contained in their opinions about one another. They are composed of the wreckage of a number of parties, according to the Prime Minister, as honorable members have already heard.
– Many times.
– I remember when the smiling member for Flinders was sitting in this -corner, and the Prime Minister, standing over there, cried to him and his party, “Stop where you are! We do not want to be associated with you, now nor at any future time. Go back to your corner !”
– That was addressed to the honorable member for Fawkner.
– It was addressed to the Opposition corner party. The Prime Minister had all our votes then. The honorable member for Flinders evidently appreciates the capacity of the Prime Minister to adapt himself -to any circumstances. He can denounce us to-day, just as easily as he denounced the Opposition corner party at that time. The people with whom he associates himself from time to time may be cast off, just as he cast off those who followed the .right honorable member for East Sydney, but he must always re main on top. So long as he is in the honorary position of Prime Minister, everything is satisfactory.
– What is that honorary position ?
– We might well have a little inquiry into that matter as soon asthe end of this month is past.
– I hear that it is worth ^2,200 a year.
– It may be necessary at some future date to elucidate the exact relationship between that and other offices in the Ministry. Whilst the Government may be prepared to sit silent under the accusation of having betrayed their constituents, and to make practically no defence, we, as an Opposition, with some appreciation of the pledges that we have giver* to our constituents, have the obligation thrown upon us of challenging them. Whether we are successful or not in carrying this motion, we shall have vindicated the attitude which we have always adopted, of sticking to our pledges and of trying to make others do the same.
– I take it that the motion now before the House is not really meant to be regarded seriously. I believe I am correct in regarding it as having been tabled with the intention of enabling honorable members opposite to give a full exposition of their principles and their grievances, and to prepare electioneering matter to lay before their constituents. I do not think that the Opposition believe they have any hope of carrying the motion. Having the knowledge, as they undoubtedly must have, that it will not be carried, the responsibility will rest upon them to justify in the eyes of the country their action in delaying the transaction of public business. At the same time I must congratulate them upon now living in a political atmosphere of much greater freedom than that to which they have been accustomed for manya long day. I can fully sympathise with them in the exhilaration which they feel in occupying what to members of that party must be a unique, position. I had no intention at first of taking part in this debate, but I wanted to justify, or rather to explain, my own position, for it needs no justification, and so I proposed to speak upon the Ministerial statement recently read to the House by the Prime Minister. As, however, this debate is likely to last some time, and my abstention from- taking part in it would not appreciably curtail it, or save much time, I thought it would perhaps be more convenient to say what I have to say now and probably to refrain from speaking at a later period on the Address-in-Reply or the Ministerial statement. I much regret the tone of many of the speeches that have been delivered in this House. The late Ministry departed from office in a most undignified fashion. We have heard from members of it. and from their sympathizers, an undignified tirade of splenetic abuse. I do not desire to pose as a lecturer to the House, but I would suggest that a form of criticism.’ so much associated with the Dersonal element is likely to lose a great deal of its force with the electors. I make to the Opposition merely the friendly suggestion that they would better attain their object by refraining from so much of the purely personal element, which does not tend to raise the dignity of debate in this Chamber. I come now to the general complaint which we have heard all over the country from members of the Opposition of the alleged unfair treatment that they have received - I do not know whether they include the late Opposition to which I belonged - but principally at the hands of the members of the old Deakin party. The treatment of which the Labour Party is now complaining so bitterly is similar to that which it meted out to the Deakin Government. It is getting a Roland for its Oliver. But in the manner of going out of office the members of the Deakin Administration showed to much greater advantage than the members of the Fisher Administration. They, on the support ot the Labour Party being withdrawn, asked no reasons, but, in a dignified manner, becoming their position, resigned their portfolios. The Labour Government took office in the full knowledge that it could not command the support of a majority, and, therefore, could not carry out the Labour programme. In the light of that knowledge, it proposed merely to continue the work of the Deakin Government, whose Ministers might reasonably have been supposed to be better able to carry out their own policy, being necessarily more familiar with its details, than an entirely new set of men.. But the cat has since been let out of the bag, and we have been informed that the change of Government was a preconcerted arrangement for dividing the loaves and fishes of office between two minorities on the “ turn and turn about” principle. I do not know what the country, will think of such an arrangement. It seems to me to have been subversive of the public interest.
– Does that remark apply to the present arrangement?
– I hope that no such arrangement as that to which I refer would be come to by any party of which I wasa member ; it certainly would not receive my support. It really amounted to a conspiracy, ‘ for mere ‘ personal gain, against the whole community. May I trace the course of events which have led tothe present situation? Late in last year, the then leader of the Opposition - the right honorable member for East Sydney - moved a motion of censure upon the .Deakin Administration because of its unsatisfactory financial administration. He particularly pointed out that no proper provision had been made for the payment of old-age pensions. Ai> amendment, moved’ by the right honorable member for Swan, with a view to shelving, the main motion, was defeated, and, by arrangement with my then leader, I moved” another amendment, specifically declaring the financial administration to be unsatisfactory because of the lack of proper provision for the payment of old-age pensions. The leader of the Labour Party and hisfollowers had been speaking in the strongest terms of condemnation of the financial proposals of the Government, but none of them voted for the amendment or for the motion of censure. Votes speak louder than words, and in voting against the motion and amendment they indorsed the financial policy of the Government, and thus in the most positive and emphatic manner possible declared their full confidence in the Government and its proposals. But within three weeks, although’ the Government had not altered its policy in the slightest, the leader of the Labour Party, from his place on the cross benches,, made a statement to the effect that hisparty had decided to withdraw its support from the Government. No reasons were advanced for that action. The support was withdrawn in the most contemptuousmanner.
– There was nothing contemptuous in what was done.
– The action of the Labour Party was contemptuous, seeing that its allies had brought forward the measures which it had asked for, and were ready to go further in carrying out its policy. The summary withdrawal of support was, under the circumstances, contemptuous. The only justification for the action of the Labour Party would have been that the Deakin Administration had failed to carry out the policy which it had been arranged should be proceeded with, but that had not happened, and the incoming Government actually only proposed to continue the legislation of that which had been ejected. It will take a great deal to satisfy the public that the interests of the country were being considered by that change, or to prevent it from believing that the motive was other than to enable Labour Ministers to enjoy the spoils of office. That that was the motive is evidenced by the character of the speeches which we have heard both inside and outside of this chamber since the defeat of the Labour Government. Nothing but personal revenge is talked of because members have been deprived of their share of the spoils which, according to the arrangement with the old Deakin Party, should have fallen to them, and, instead of enjoying the emoluments of office for twelve months, they have drawn Ministerial pay for only six months. But what about the public interest? That appears to be left out of consideration altogether. Certainly, if the alleged arrangement was made, they have, from that purely personal point of -view, been treated unfairly.
– But, from another point of view, there was no public interest to be served by the keeping of such an immoral compact.
– Exactly. Although the Labour Party appears to think that it acted quite fairly towards the Deakin Administration, its members have assumed a most virtuous indignation on receiving similar treatment. To use a sporting phrase, they cannot “ take their -gruel.” It is political cowardice for them to make the puerile complaints which we hear from them.
– What about the honorable member’s own complaints?
– I have no personal complaints to make, because I had nothing to expect ; and in no action that I have taken outside the House, or in it, can it be fairly said that I have ever departed from either principles or promises.
– The honorable member’s present position in the House is a departure.
– That is certainly not so. My position I shall explain in due time ; I shall not disturb the sequence of my speech to satisfy idle curiosity.
– Later on I shall remind the honorable member of his complaints publicly stated.
– Very good; and I dare say I shall be able to return the compliment with interest. In offering these remarks and criticisms on the question before the House, ‘I desire to avoid anything that can be construed into the nature of personal animus or personal attack. I go even further, and say that I believe that inconsistencies of honorable members on both sides are very often the result of really worthy, and not sinister, motives. I do not always believe that members who are inconsistent, or change their opinions, are not honest in those opinions at the time. It happens sometimes that the point of view changes with unforeseen circumstances. Members of the Labour Party are going about the country complaining of the lack o!: consideration they have received at the hands of the present Prime Minister, and the party with whom he was associated prior to the events which brought about from the labour point of view this lamentable catastrophe; but, in my opinion, the present Prime Minister owes the Labour Party no consideration whatever. During the whole of the time when he was trying to carry out legislation desired by the Labour Party, he was subjected to attacks from platforms in various parts of the country, and u n announcement was made that he was “ to be put to the sword.” No mercy was to be shown to him, nor any appreciation of the services he had rendered to the Labour Party ;” on the contrary, that party were prepared to show the basest ingratitude by opposing the honorable gentleman, and all associated with him, at the elections. Treatment of that kind would not be resorted to, or tolerated by, members of any other political party in any part of the world ; and to show that the Prime Minister owes the Labour Party no consideration I propose to read one or two extracts from speeches made by prominent members of the party at the very time the Prime Minister was receiving their support, and obeying their- behests. I have no desire to pose as an apologist for the Prime Minister - I think he is fairly open to condemnation for deliberately putting himself in inexcusable relationship to the Labour-Socialist party, whose aims and methods he has scathingly denounced - but I make these quotations in common justice. Mr. Heagney, the secretary of the Victorian Labour Conference, when speaking at a picnic, said -
We are practically on the eve of a battle, and we have just held a council of war. Many were inclined to have the enemy -
That is, the Deakin Party - in our service as mercenaries, but the decision has been arrived at to put them to the sword at all quarters. Those who have been inclined to hire the mercenaries are now ready to put them to the sword to-morrow. We shall go forward to the fight as fanatically as Mohamedans
That is a sample of the friendly attitude displayed by the Labour Party and those associated with them; and, in the face of such a. declaration, could it be reasonably expected that the object of such attacks should be inclined to show any very great consideration to those attacking him. Then at Ballarat, on 7th October, 1906, Mr. Tunnecliffe, referring to the Prime Minister, said -
He was the most invidious failure and contemptible fraud who had every disgraced us.
I do not like even repeating such expressions, but it is necessary to give the exact words of a quotation. The use of such language by a prominent member of the Labour Party is not calculated to promote a very friendly feeling on the part of the Prime Minister towards that party, who were his allies. Then Mr. Randolph Bedford, who is associated with the Clarion newspaper, speaking at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute, on the nth October, 1906, said -
The Deakin Party, which only existed by the grace of the Labour Party, was about to die.
We have members of the Labour Party going about speaking in this disparaging manner of the head of the Government which they were supporting ; and yet here, and throughout the country, they complar of a lack of consideration on his part. The marvel to me is that the Prime Minister was able to continue in his position whilst this threatening language was being used towards him. I cannot understand how a man of breeding, culture, and refinement of feeling could continually tolerate such attacks, especially in view of the fact that all the time he was doing his very best to carry their behests into legislative effect.
– Mr. Bedford, before that, had desired to run as a Deakinite candidate.
– That is a very interesting piece of information.
– Mr. Bedford alsowrote to Mr. David Syme asking for the support of the Age.
-I do not wonder that the Prime Minister himself entertained a very poor opinion of the Labour Party. I unhesitatingly say that I had very little pity for the Prime Minister, considering that he knew or believed that the Labour Party was without gratitude or appreciation of friendly help, and was aways prepared todestroy those with whom they had been most closely associated - to poniard those nearest to them, and attack, with the greatest ferocity, those who had the most friendly disposition towards their general’ aims. Therefore the pity that would1 ordinarily go out to him had to be withheld, the more so as he had given utterance to a number of expressions of opinions of the party as a result of a previous alliance, which should have been a sufficient warning to him. I propose to read’ one or two extracts from speeches which the Prime Minister made, showing that, although he believed the character I haveindicated to be that of the Labour Party, he, with his eyes open, entered into analliance with them. Speaking at Ballarat in 1904, the honorable gentleman said -
The time has arrived when it is imperative upon members’ of the general community to take steps to preserve the Commonwealthagainst the sectional aims and interests of the Labour Party, which tend to subordinate the public welfare to their own.
At Ballarat in 1906, two years later, he said -
No caucus, except the caucus of the Labour Party, sought to compel a minority to voteagainst judgment and conscience because a majority of their following demanded it.
In 1906 he also said -
The Labour organizations were fast travelling in the path which, in his judgment, would manifest itself a gross abuse. That party first of all knocked away a little liberty here, a little independence there, and then a little bit of authority somewhere else. What would beleft?
– What is the honorable member quoting?
– I am quoting now from speeches which the Prime Minister made at Ballarat in November, 1906.
– After which he lived officially by us.
– That is so; and he thus forfeited the claim to commiseration which he would otherwise have received:
Speaking at Ballarat, in 1904, he said of the Labour Party -
I would ask you to look at this organization in the light of the construction accepted by the members of every party, and the supporters of every doctrine. Does the real majority at present obtain in Australia? . . . The present mechanism of the Labour Party threatens the independence of the whole of that party and becomes dangerous to the community.
He described their policy as being -
The crude and hasty notions and vain visionary imaginings of those who wanted to rush over a precipice.
Notwithstanding that he held those views, he subsequently accepted the support of the party, and in order to gain it, had .to come to some understanding about placing on the statute-book part, at least, of the programme he had so vigorously condemned.
– The Prime Minister said worse of the honorable member.
– Possibly. I am not prepared to discuss that matter now, although I may say that it is immaterial to ire, since I am perfectly able to justify my position. I am merely showing that he knew the characteristics of the party by whose support alone he was kept in office for a long period. I am in no way bound to the present fusion. I am acting quite independently in the interests of the restoration of responsible government, and whatever I do, with regard to my votes and support of the Coalition, will be a matter for my own conscience.
– Has the honorable member signed the pledge?
– We have no pledge to sign.
– How does the honorable member know that there is no pledge? He says that he is not a member of the fusion.
– I am not antagonistic to the fusion so long as there is no violation of principles or pledges given to constituents. When speaking at Ballarat, in 1905, the Prime Minister said -
Those most closely allied with the Labour Party, those who make the greatest sacrifices for them, who stand closest to them are always the first to be sacrificed by them. . . . the moment one stops or makes a single independent step, he is treated as a bitter enemy After having been apparently trusted, he will be treated as if suspected from the first moment …. that is the treatment that follows alliances with political machines.
He. then pointed out the fate likely to befall those who try to assist the Labour Party to place on the statute-,book measures embodying planks in their platform. He spoke of the methods they employed in dealing with their ‘closest friends, and showed that those who were helping them had no reason to expect gratitude at their hands. He went even further, and showed what must be the inevitable fate of those who assisted the Labour Party. He is now experiencing once more the truth of the statements he then made. Notwithstanding his late friendly attitude towards the Labour Party, he is experiencing now its venomous opposition. He went on to say -
What is more you must swallow everything whole. If, in accepting every article of the programme, supporting every proposal which they put forward, you once endeavour, as many of their own members have proved in this and in other States, to assert your individuality, if you once try to have an independent mind, on other subjects, or in relation to party arrangements, you are a ‘heretic, banned with bell, book, and candle.
I am not making these quotations in their order of sequence, and have now to go back to a statement made some twelve months previously. At Ballarat, on 12th August, 1904, the honorable gentleman said -
Most members are properly governed by a sense of loyalty bred by alliance and action together. You can appeal to their conscience and judgment together, but when you come to deal with the machine, you are dealing with something which has no loyalty, no conscience, and no judgment.
In the same year he also said at Ballarat -
Members who have sat side by side with Labour members in the State and Federal Houses, who had voted for them on every division, and who were a bulwark of strength to the Labour Party in this House went to the country with the Labour pistol to their heads, and the demand “ sign or resign.”
That was in 1904. It is equally a true statement of the position to-day. I believe that among the present Opposition there is at least one honorable member who is in seme such position. According to statements that have been published, one of the late followers of the Deakin Government has had it plainly intimated to him by the Labour organizations in his constituency that if he desires to be immune from opposition, he must sign the Labour platform, and, presumably, the pledge associated with it. Returning to statements made by the Prime Minister in 1905, I find that .he said -
Instead, therefore, of taking the downward path which would lead to political servitude and, perhaps, to social slavery, we want to’ rally to our flag those in favour of responsible government, to restore majority rule, and to maintain that priceless heritage which our forefathers have handed down to us, and which we should preserve or perish.
I regret to say that although since that time an attempt had been made to give effect to the views propounded by the honorable gentleman, which at the outset was successful, it was ultimately frustrated by the action of the Prime Minister himself. It cannot be denied that the subsequent separation of the first Coalition party in this House into additional parties was due to the action of the Prime Minister. That is a matter of history. We all know the circumstances that led to the resignation of the Reid-McLean Administration. We know, too, the prominent part which the present Prime Minister played in bringing about the disruption of that Coalition. It is never too late, however, for the sinner to repent, and the Prime Minister apparently has availed himself of an opportunity to show his repentance of the action he then took. Let us hope that the attempt now being made to restore responsible government will be persevered in loyally, to the best interests of the country. What the Prime Minister said was an expression of sentiment which ought to be indorsed by every well-wisher of this country. I cordially indorse those sentiments and so far as concerns those who have been connected with the Liberal Party from New South Wales hitherto sitting in Opposition, I can say that our desire was to bring about a consummation of those things. So that whatever may be the result of the present fusion movement, the purpose of it is to restore a principle which it is very necessary should be restored, and without which it will be impossible to give p’roper expression in legislative form to the will of the majority of the people of this country. Perhaps one of the worst features associated with the present position in politics is the alleged intention of. the Labour Party - the intention imputed to them by the public press - to refuse under any circumstances to give pairs. If that be their determination, I say that it is one of the meanest, most inhuman, and most undignified methods of procedure that I have heard of in connexion with parliamentary institutions, either here or in any other part of the world. In the bitterest moments of political warfare, no other party, so far as I have been able to learn, has been guilty of expressing a like determination. In this case it is particularly discreditable by reason of the fact that it is well known that some honorable members are incapacitated from attending on account of physical affliction. To refuse pairs to them when it is known that they cannot leave their beds, being prostrated by illness, certainly is not creditable to the humane instincts of those who call themselves the Labour Party, nor is it likely to commend itself to the majority of their followers or to the rest of the community.
– Is not the refusal the same to one party as to the other? Indeed, it is worse for the Opposition, because we are in a minority.
– When our party sat in Opposition we could on several occasions have embarrassed the Government when we knew that there was not a quorum within the precincts of the House. But we declined to take them at a disadvantage, and never on any legitimate occasion did we refuse a pair.
– The honorable member’s party did so on several occasions.
– Honorable members cannot point to a single instance of a refusal to give a pair in ordinary circumstances.
– Did not the honorable member’s party refuse a pair on the Home Rule motion?
– While I was acting Whip I never refused a pair.
– The honorable member’s party did.
– I can quite understand that on a motion of no-confidence, or a question affecting the fate of a Government, or one of much urgency in a party sense, it might be necessary for every, member of a party who could to attend and vote. There might on such an occasion be an indisposition to give pairs. But there is no justification for a general refusal out of motives of revenge or for any other similar reason. To do so is to bring parliamentary institutions down very low indeed. I do not assert myself that the Labour Party has refused to give pairs. It is, however, so reported in the press, and the statement stands without contradiction. I sincerely hope that they have been misrepresented. ‘From my knowledge of several members of the party, and from my cordial friendship with them, personally, I should be very loth indeed to believe that all of them would lend themselves to such procedure. Perhaps at a time of disappointment or anger one or two members of the party may have declared themselves determined to disregard one of the ordinary courtesies of parliamentary life. But I trust that when we resume normal conditions of amity one towards the other these courtesies will be observed. Now I wish to come to some of the reasons why it was necessary that the Labour Party should be ejected from office. It was imperatively necessary in the interest of the country at large. Although prior to the Christmas recess the party took office in the full knowledge that when Parliament reassembled -after the recess they would be met by a motion which would have the effect of displacing them from office, nevertheless they took office, knowing that they could not give effect to a single item in their programme. Their displacement of the Deakin Government was not prompted bv any consideration of public policy. Thev knew that the moment they attempted to bring forward any proposition involving their Socialistic principles their doom was sealed. I told them so at the time. Therefore, rather than risk the loss of office they were prepared to throw over the Labour platform. Rather than surrender the emoluments of office they were prepared to see their policy perish for a period at least. Their programme might perish and their policy go by the board for the time being. They could only carry out the policy of those whom they had ejected from office. All that they could ask for was to be allowed to get into recess, and they hoped that they would then, through their administration, behind the back of Parliament and the people, be able to secure things they could not get on the floor of the House.
– That was for a whole fortnight.
– It rested with them to say whether it should be for a fortnight, three months, or six months. They had only to say to the man they had displaced, and on whom alone they had to rely for support, “ Our desire is to carry your policy into effect, until we get into recess ; . willyou prevail upon your followers to help us to do so?” and that help could not have been refused. Therefore, when the honorable member for Boothby spea’ks of having only a. . fortnight, I repeat that it was their own choice. It might have been three months or six months, or any time during which they were prepared to give effect to the programme of their predecessors in office, which was then on the business-paper. However, all they wished to do was to get supply as speedily as possible, and! get into recess. They hoped then, by acts of administration, and by cunningly keeping their Socialistic objective and projects in the background, to pose before the country as not by any means the dangerous people they were stated to be. They hoped that they would then be able to go upon public platforms and say, “ The members of the Opposition and of the Deakin party have denounced us as a danger to the community ; but see how mild and gentle and harmless we are. We are as harmless as sucking doves.” They hoped, bv these means, to establish confidence in themselves in the minds of many people, who, I think, justly view them with suspicion as being, in their political capacity, a danger to the community. They could play the role of political “ confidence men.” By thus working upon the confidence of the people they hoped, later on, to be able to secure votes under false pretences - so that if returned again by the votes of the unsuspecting electors outside their own ranks, they might bring forward a programme of a much more drastic Socialistic character, the one kept in the background, and at the same time, be able to say that they did so with the approval of the electors, although many of the electors would probable never have suspected that any such legislation would be proposed by those for whom they voted. One of the reasons why it was necessary to eject the Labour Party from office was that the outstanding act of their administration was a violation of a distinct pledge given to this House in regard to the trust fund for defence purposes. ‘ When we were considering the Surplus Revenue Bill, and the proposal to put aside £250,000 to a trust fund for defence purposes, the question was asked, not by one, but by several honorable members, whether it was proposed to spend any of that money before the defence policy of the Government had been approved by the House. The Ministry of the day assured the House that not a pennv of that money would be spent without the authority of Parliament, or until ‘Parliament had approved of a defence policy. A declaration to that effect was made not only on behalf of the Government, but also by the present leader of the Opposition, and one or two honorable members who were associated with him in the Labour Ministry. That-
Ministry took refuge for their violation of the pledge behind the very flimsy pretext that it was not they who had given the pledge to Parliament. It is quite true that they did not give the pledge ; but they were parties to it, and acquiesced in it. It was not merely the pledge of the Government of the day, but of their supporters, and it was a pledge which, I think the GovernorGeneral should have safeguarded-
– That is a reflection upon the Governor-General, and it should be withdrawn. The honorable member must not make such reflections here.
– I could quote Imperial authorities in support of my view of the matter.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw his references to the Governor-General. The name of His Excellency the Governor-General should not be introduced into our debates.
– In withdrawing my remark I should like to say that I did not intend it as a reflection on the GovernorGeneral. I was about to quote from Todd’s Parliamentary Government in the British Colonies, but I recognise that possibly it is inadvisable to make any reference of the kind, and I . withdraw the reference. I should like to call attention to some quotations from Hansard, of statements made in this connexion by honorable members associated with the late Ministry. At page 11415 of Hansard, of 2nd May, 1908, I find that the honorable member for West Sydney, who subsequently became a member of the Fisher Government, in referring to the pledge which I have mentioned, said -
It appears to me that nothing more is being asked than that we should assent to this vote with the knowledge that we shall have another opportunity of considering details, and of vetoing the whole thing if we think fit. That is all that Parliament can ask for. That by assenting to this vote we shall be committed to anything more than that I utterly deny.
It was the Attorney-General of the Fisher Administration who gave utterance to these words when the House was asking for an assurance from the then Government that none of this money would be spent until Parliament was. consulted. Yet he became a member of a Ministry which, in spite of that declaration, appropriated without the consent of Parliament a portion of that trust fund. He said that we were committed to nothing more than putting the money aside as a trust fund, which was not to be touched without direct authority from Parliament, after the defence policy had been debated in detail’ and agreed to. He therefore cannot shelter himself behind the plea that he was no party to giving that pledge to the House.. In the circumstances he was just as mucha party to it as was the Prime Minister or any member of the then Government.
– If ourparty did wrong in using that money, what about the actionof the present Government in offering to spend £2,000.000 on a Dreadnought?
– So far as I know, no proposal has been made to use that fund towards the purchase of a Dreadnought. I am speaking, not of a mere proposal, but of an act of actual administration behind the back of Parliament when Parliament was not in a position to criticise or prevent what was done. That action of the Fisher Government was a violation of a distinct pledge given to Parliament, to which the honorable member for West Sydney had given, not only a tacit, but a verbal, consent, on the floor of the House. A little later on, the honorable member for Hindmarsh reproved the honorable member for Wentworth in these words -
Does the honorable member think that this money will be spent before the Defence scheme is submitted to Parliament?
He asked that in holy horror of the bare suggestion that such a thing would be done. Yet the honorable member became a member of the Ministry which was guilty of a violation of that trust. At that time, whatever his opinion may have been later, he believed that the money was being voted on the distinct understanding that it was not to be touched until Parliament had approved of a defence policy.
– Parliament voted the money to be spent.
– The honorable member should know, if he does not, that it was not so voted ; but was to be held in trust only till authority was given to spend it. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that Parliament did not want the money to be spent until it had approved of a defence policy. Not only we who were in Opposition, but the members of the Labour Party, and every other honorable member, believed at that time that not a penny of the money would be spent without the authority of Parliament. Not a penny of it would have been voted had any other idea prevailed amongst honorable members, and had a definite and distinct promise not been given that it would not be touched, I am certain that no member of any party would have voted for that motion but for that distinct pledge and understanding. I should be glad to obtain leave to continue my remarks on Tuesday next.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I take this opportunity, sir, of directing your attention to an important matter, and of asking you a question. A system has been commenced by a section of the press of suppressing the speeches of honorable members. That practice appears to me to be a degradation to the proprietors, and the reporters, or those in authority in those newspapers. There obtains in South Australia a system of a daily Ilansard issued to the public through the press. In New South Wales, the practice that is now being perpetrated here was begun some years ago, and a Committee, or Commission, was appointed, of which I was a member, to inquire into the matter. I am speaking from memory of things which happened a good while ago, hut I believe that Committee recommended the establishment of a daily Hansard to be is-‘ sued through one of the newspapers by tender, so that it should go every day to as many of the electors of the State as it was possible to reach in that way- The time has arrived when something similar should be done with regard to the debates of this Parliament. Can you, sir, state whether you have power to order the issue of Hansard daily in some such way as was proposed at that time , in New South Wales, and as is done now in South Australia? If you have the power, I would ask you to exercise it. If you have not the power, and the matter has to be decided by Parliament, I should like you to take the question into consideration and tell the House the most approved course that could be adopted for having a morning Hansard. I am not raising this question on my own account, because it does not matter very much to me whether the newspapers report me or not, but it does matter to the electors of the Commonwealth.
If a private institution like the press is going to treat Parliament in the way it is now doing, it is time it was stopped, and time that we found some other means of letting the public know what takes place here. I should like you to inform me of the best way to obtain what I want. I wish to direct the attention of the House - I do not blame any one in the matter - to the attitude that the Government or the responsible officials are taking up with regard to Mr. Baxter, the Collector of Customs in Sydney. He is one of the best officers in the Department, and has given the greatest satisfaction to the commercial public. In fact, the public generally are glad to have such a man in that position. He has nearly reached the age limit, but he is still hale and hearty. There is a provision in the law by which such a man can be retained in the service after reaching the statutory age when he has proved himself an excellent officer and has many years of active life before him. It is often difficult to get a man who is well up to his work, who has never caused any trouble, and whom the public are so satisfied with as they are with Mr. Baxter. The provision to which I have referred might well be put into force in order to retain him in his present position, at any rate while he retains his health and strength.
– It is a question for the Public Service Commissioner, is it not?
– I am not blaming any one, but this is a case where it would be wrong to put the strict letter of the law into operation. Mr. Baxter is not quite 65.
– And he is in full possession ofall his faculties.
– There is no question about it, and the people of New South Wales are very anxious that his services should be retained. In the interests of the public, and in view of the fact that Mr. Baxter is such an excellent officer, I think that the Minister might request the Public Service Commissioner to extend his term of service. The adoption of such a course would be very satisfactory to all parties.
– But his term has not yet expired.
– At any rate he has received thirteen days’ notice to retire.
– Ifyou, sir, intend to take into serious consideration the desirableness of issuing a daily Hansard, I should like you to consider whether it is not advisable to follow the practice which obtains in some of the States Legislatures of the United States. There,” when an honorable member desires to make his constituents anare of his views upon any particular measure, it is the practice for him to put them in writing with or without assistance, and instead of their being inflicted upon the -House, as soon as he rises in his place another honorable member draws attention 4o the fact that his speech has been prepared, and accordingly moves that it be taken as read, printed, and circulated amongst his constituents. In view of the evident desire of certain honorable members that their constituents should be fully informed of their attitude upon various questions, and in language which will do them credit, I beg to suggest that you should take into consideration the desirableness of -effecting a saving of the time of this House and the country by adopting the practice to which I have referred.
– Do not be ridiculous.
– Earlier in the afternoon the- honorable member for Hume was good enough to inform me that he intended to ask this question, so that I am now prepared with a reply to it. In the first place I must remind the House that this matter was referred to the Printing Committee during the first year of the existence of the Commonwealth Parliament. That Committee, after giving it some consideration, saw such great difficulties in the way of circulating an official Hansard daily over the vast extent of this great Commonwealth that it made no recommendation in the direction desired. The issue of a daily Hansard is not a. matter which it is within my power to order. It would be very undesirable if a Speaker were able to take . action which might involve the Commonwealth in a very heavy expenditure, upon his own initiative. If the honorable member for Hume desires to have this matter discussed he can best secure his purpose by tabling a motion in respect of it, and then such a decision will be reached as the House may desire.
Dr. LIDDELL (Hunter) [4.0!.-! hope that I shall not make myself ridiculous in the eyes of the honorable member for Hume when I say that I do not agree with him that an extension of their term of service should be granted to our highly-paid public officers. If an exception be made in their case, I fail to see any reason why it should not be made in the case of men who are not so highly paid, but who are just as honorable, and who discharge their duties just as faithfully. The honorable member for Hume thinks that the services of Mr. Baxter should be retained for the benefit of the Commonwealth. But I would remind him that there have been instances in which public officers have become so accustomed to the forms and regulations of the service that they could not satisfactorily discharge their duties, and yet - simply on account of the length of their service - they have been retained even after they have reached the retiring age. I hope that the Government will be slow to interfere with the regulation relating to the retirement of public officers.
– I am surprised at the remarks of the honorable member for Hunter, because nobody could gather from the observations of the honorable member for Hume that the latter does not favour the retention in the service after the retiring age has been reached, of any officer who is capable of satisfactorily discharging his duties. But if ;a rule is to be enforced it should be made uniformly applicable. The rule governing the matter of the retirement of officials from our Public Service has already been departed from with the sanction of this House.
– It was departed from in one instance with the sanction of the Labour Party.
– I have known Mr. Baxter for a great many years, and I believe that the whole trading community of New South Wales recognise that he is an officer of great ability and strict impartiality. Although he has reached the retiring age it would be absolutely unfair to dispense with his’ services, whilst at the same time retaining officers who are very much older than he is. I repeat that exception has already been made to the general rule. I do not quarrel with that. I believe that Mr. Scott, Secretary to the Postmaster-General’s Department, is an excellent officer.
– ‘I do not.
– Every PostmasterGeneral with whom I have conversed has warmly commended that officer for the manner in which he has discharged his duties. That has taken place on two or three occasions. If .the rule is to be departed from, as it has been, I think that consideration should be given to New South Wales when it asks that one. of its officers in whom it has entire confidence shall be continued in the Public Service for some time longer while he retains the abilities which are so generally acknowledged.
.- What the honorable member for Hunter has said is quite true, because there is a. number of officers who are in a similar position. While I indorse what the honorable member for Hume has said in regard to the Collector of Customs at Sydney, I wish to point out that there is a number of officers who are obliged to retire at the age of 65 years. To my personal knowledge, some of them are in the zenith of their physical and mental powers. They were never more fitted at any time in their lives for the performance of their duties, and it seems a great pity that their services have to be dispensed with at a time when they are really most efficient. If I remember rightly, there is in the Public Service Act a provision under which, in certain circumstances, the services of such men can be retained. Perhaps it might be necessary to amend the law so as to give a little more elasticity to that provision.
.- I quite agree with the statement of the honorable member for Hume that it is absolutely necessary that some officers, after reaching the retiring age of 65 years, should be continued in the Public Service. As it has been mentioned that Mr. Scott has been retained after having reached the retiring age, I think I am justified in stating that it was not done at his request. I am sure that he was asked to continue in the Public Service not merely by one Government, but by several Governments. I . thought it was only right, as his name had been mentioned, to put the House right in that regard.
.- I, with several other honorable members, hope that the Government will not consider the proposition of the honorable member for Hume. It simply means a concession to any officer who has a friend at court ox on an honorable member who will get up and ask for his services to be continued. In Queensland there were several officers in the lower ranks who had attained the age of 65 years. They had no one to speak on their behalf, or to barrack for the continuation of their services for a year, although they had a wife and family to maintain on a very low wage. Theyhad to go out into the cold world. There was no compassion shown to them. If we are to have one rule for a first class officer and another rule for a third class officer, the, House should be made acquainted with the fact. It was decided by the House that the retiring age of a public officer should be 65 years, and I, for one, hope that the provision will be carried out in its entirety. Every representative of Queensland knows how the Public Service was packed with men much older than 65 years, and it was only owing to Federation’ that- it was purged of those individuals. We have a much more efficient service now than ever we had, particularly in the Customs . Department. I hope that the Government will not give this New South Wales officer consideration beyond that extended to any other officer.
– Apparently the honorable member for Riverina thought that I mentioned the name of an officer.
– Oh, no.
– A representative from Queensland said that a. certain officer’s name had been mentioned. The name was not mentioned by me, and I gathered the impression that the honorable member for Riverina thought that I had mentioned the name of Mr. Scott. I did not mention the name of any officer particularly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 June 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090625_reps_3_49/>.