3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is stated in to-day’s Age that I persistently advocated the payment of ,£600 a year to the members of this Parliament. I have never advocated the payment of that sum, because that is merely the pay of an ordinary politician, and, being a statesman, I have advocated the paying of a statesman’s salary, namely, ^1,000 a year. The irreducible minimum was ,£750. The newspaper also states that I asked Australia to go to war with Germany. Nothing of the kind. Being myself born in a Federation, knowing that Australia is an integral part of the British Empire, and being a thorough loyalist and believer in one’ country, one King, one hope, one aspiration, and one destiny, I have advocated the British Empire going to war with Germany unless that country is prepared to submit to., disarmament, or to agree to arbitration, with a view to disarmament. ‘ The Age also states that the Minister of Defence got up while I was “rambling on a Dreadnought.” [ was speaking, not about Dreadnoughts, but about finance, the basis of the universe. Mr. ROBERTS (Adelaide) L2.33I- Yesterday, during an absence from the Chamber which I regret, the honorable member for Perth, under cover of a personal’ explanation, delivered himself of a brief’onology, iin the course of which he was: pleased to mention my name. It seems, characteristic of those who leave the Labour party that they should seek occasions to apologize fox their defection, and that their apology should become the more abject* as their defection is the more pronounced. In the course of his remarks- the honorable member applied ‘to me the epithet, “political adventurer.” It would have been more courageous had he given to the House his authorities for doing so, instead of seeking to cover up his track by refusing to name those whom he says have spoken of me by that term. Had the words been used in South Australia, it would be unnecessary for me to draw attention to the matter, but as, in this Parliament, I enjoy the acquaintance of men whom a few months ago I was not privileged to know, it may be necessary to offer two or three words of explanation. Let me say, first, what my political career has not been ; and, secondly, what it has been. I did not join the Labour party in any State in 1899 following upon the establishment of payment of members, and after its pioneers had paved the way. I did not enter politics upon the inauguration of the Federal Parliament. I did not bitterly complain of non-inclusion in the Watson Ministry, and did not leave the Labour party because of non-inclusion in the Fisher Ministry. My career, as is well known to you, Mr. Speaker, though, perhaps, not so well known to other honorable members, is this : I was a foundation member of the Labour party in South Australia. The party was formed there .in 1891, and for the five years preceding that dale I had filled successfully various offices in a trade union. I contested an electoral district in 1893, as a duly selected Labour candidate, and since then - with the exception of a period in which T resigned my seat in Parliament to go to the South African war - I have always successfully contested seats as a duly selected Labour man. When I add that I have declined Ministerial preferment, and that, but three months before entering this Parliament, I declined the Agent-Generalship of South Australia, I think that these facts will outweigh the expression which the honorable member, in his anger, used in regard to me. When I said, three or four days ago, that the honorable gentleman left the Labour party because of his non-inclusion in the Fisher Ministry, I spoke words which he had himself put into my mouth. He contested the ballot for inclusion in that Ministry.-
– I did not.
– The honorable member’s name went to the ballot on two suc cessive occasions. Finding that the votingon his behalf did not increase, he was obliged to make a virtue of necessity, and withdrew his name. Immediately the final result was’ known he came to me, presumably because I am the youngest member of his party in the House, and informed me that he intended to leave it because of the inclusion in the Ministry of a certain gentleman to whom he applied the words which yesterday he applied to me. I remonstrated with him, and endeavoured to dissuade him, but my remonstrances were of no avail. He assured me that he intended to leave the party, pointing out that there were opportunities for him outside it. I reminded him that the method! of selection was precisely that which he has claimed as his own especial method, namely, the elective one, but even that was of no use, the honorable member finally assuring me that he - intended to leave the party because he found that other good men had succeeded after leaving it.
– An excellent piece of fiction.
– It sounds like the truth.
M.r. MATHEWS- I wish to know if the Prime Minister will, on behalf of the people of Australia, send a cablegram of sympathy to those women in England who have just been imprisoned for making a glorious fight for the liberty of their sex ?
– It is not desirable that questions should be answered while a motion of want of confidence is being discussed. So far as I am aware, it was not found necessary to commend female suffrage to Australia by any such means as window-breaking or assaults.
Debate resumed from 25th June * (vide* page 468) on motion by Mr. Fishes -
That the Government does not possess the confidence of this House. - -
– I do not think I need offer any apology to the House for speaking on this motion. When I rose last week, I did not intend to occupy a great deal of time, and hoped to conclude my remarks on Friday before the House rose. As honorable members know, however, I was subjected to much interruption ; and, not desiring to inconvenience honorable members who wished to catch their trains to the different States, I asked leave to continue my remarks. At the time the House rose, I was dealing with the necessity that had arisen for displacing the Fisher Government, and’ intended to point out later on certain proposals of theirs, which, in my opinion, were quite antagonistic to the best interests of the country. I was dealing particularly with an act of their administration which to me, appeared a .gross violation of a distinct pledge given by the previous Ministry with the concurrence of the Labour party as to the trust fund for naval purposes, and endeavouring to show that, although the Labour party repudiated any responsibility for the pledge, it was none the less one in which they by their voices had acquiesced. In fact, some of the members of the Labour party went so far as to almost speak ex cathedra, on the part of the Government, in assuring the House that not a penny of the money would be touched until ‘it had been voted by Parliament. In support of that view I quoted from Hansard statements made by colleagues of the present Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for West Sydney, who was Attorney-General in the Fisher Ministry, ;ind the honorable member for Hindmarsh, another Labour Minister, both of whom were responsible with their leader for the violation of a pledge to which I was calling attention. There are several quotations I could make; but the addition of one other will suffice to show that I had reason and proof for what I said. On the occasion in question the late Leader of the Labour party, the honorable member for South Sydney, said -
– …. I regard the vote upon this- Bill as distinctly one upon the question of the desirableness of establishing an Australian Navy.
– . . . It is recognised that the matter will again come on for discussion when the Defence scheme is under consideration.
– Only so far as the method of expending this money is concerned. . . . The method of expenditure will come up for consideration when the Bill is before us, and the details are presented. But this, as I take it, is to be an indication of the desire of Parliament in respect of the naval side of Defence. As to details, we have, of course, the general scheme of the Prime Minister, but the class of ships upon which this money and any supplementary sum is to be spent is a matter for future consideration.
Perhaps” I ought to say that the quotation I have just read may be found on page 12090 of Hansard of 4th June, 1908, and 1 read it in order to show that the vote was agreed to on the specific undertaking that not one penny would be spent until the naval policy and its details had been submitted to and received the approval of the House.
– How would the honorable member have spent the money?
– I scarcely know what the honorable member means, seeing that I had no power to spend the money. What I say is that the honorable member for Newcastle, amongst others, agreed to this vote only on the understanding that not one penny would be spent until specific authority had been given after a scheme had been approved. This was the assurance given by the present Prime Minister, and it was acquiesed in by the present Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and others, and by the honorable member for West Sydney.
– I committed myself to no such thing.
– The honorable member has a short memory. He said, on page 12085 of Hansard, that he agreed, “ with the proviso which had been advocated.” The plea that the Labour Government were in no way bound by the action of their predecessors is simply a puerile pretext for evading responsibility. One member of the Labour party went so far as to reprove the honorable member for Wentworth for even doubting the wisdom of accepting the assurance that no money would be spent without the approval of the House j and if there were no other justification for displacing the’ Fisher Ministry this great violation of an unequivocal pledge would be sufficient. I do not wish to take up time by reading further quotations ; but, if honorable member will refer to a speech I made, as reported on page 2402 of Hansard of 27th November, 1908, they will see that I carefully warned the Labour party what they might expect, and that they could not remain in office very long ; I warned them that in assuming office they were taking a seat over a mine in which was a lighted fuse which, at any time, might fire the powder , and blow them up. They knew they had nothing else to expect. If solemn pledges given in respect to the expenditure of moneys voted for trust funds are to be violated with impunity, as happened in this case, it will be for the House to carefully consider the real value cf future pledges of the kind, and to require them to be put in writing, or incorporated in a Bill.
– Does the honorable member object to the proposed expenditure?
– I object to any Ministry violating such pledges at a time when Parliament is in recess, and their action cannot be criticised by the representatives of the people, quite irrespective of the purpose of such violation.
– I made no pledge.
– .That is a mere quibble. The honorable member was a consenting party to that pledge. I hope we shall never have a recurrence of such conduct ; if we do it will certainly go a long way towards bringing descredit upon our parliamentary institutions. I have spoken to this motion because it is not mv intention to join in the debate on the Ministerial statement or the Address-in-Reply. My desire is to accept the invitation which the Prime Minister extended to honorable members to refrain from taking full advantage of their privi- leges in this regard, and to offer their criticisms of the whole of these motions on only one or other of them. Another reason why the Labour Government should have been displaced was f urnished in the speech which they put into the mouth of His Excellency the Governor-General at the opening of this Parliament. That speech contained unification and Socialistic proposals calculated to seriously injure the country. The policy of Socialism, piece by piece, which has been so persistently advocated bv various members of the party, was introduced in the Labour Government’s programme, and was intended, I presume, to be dealt with during this session. I refer more particularly to paragraph 17, in which we have the statement -
Proposals will be submitted to you for the amendment of the Constitution to enable Parliament to protect the interests of the consumer and insure a fair and reasonable wage to every worker in the Commonwealth -
No one can object to that proposal, but the paragraph continues - In protected and unprotected industries this will be secured through such extension of the industrial powers of the Parliament as may be necessary. It is proposed, also, to extend the jurisdiction of Parliament wilh regard to trusts and combinations in restraint of trade, and to provide for the nationalization of monopolies.
We have in that paragraph a proposal to attempt to override the rights of the States - to introduce the thin end of the wedge of unification - and to bring all State industries under the control of the Commonmonwealth Labour party. We were to have a further instalment of their Socialistic principles in- a proposal for the nationalization of monopolies.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member says “hear, hear.” I would remind him that his party has voted in such a way as to bring about the establishment of monopolies. Tariff and other legislation passed lately has been in the direction of establishing monopolies as an excuse for dealing with them later on by the Socialistic system of nationalization. The general public have little idea of the extent to which the Socialistic aims of the Labour party are sought to be furthered by them, both inside and outside this House. We have had from thatparty definite proposals for the nationalization of the shipping, industry, the tobacco industry, the sugar industry, the iron industry, and coal mines. That is a fairly big list to start with. But we have had, in addition, a proposal submitted by a member of the party in another place providing for an alteration of the Constitution, by adding at the end of section 51 the following paragraph -
The nationalization* of .trades or industries with respect to production, manufacture, trade and commerce, which in the opinion of the Parliament, are monopolies detrimental to the public interest, within a State or among the States.
– Is the honorable member opposed to that ?
– I am opposed at all times to State Socialism. I am opposed to monopolies,’ and to legislation by the Labour Party, which would create monopolies. I am certainly opposed to the creation of monopolies merely for the purpose of using them as a Socialistic peg for nationalization. The motion to which I have just referred covers a large measure of Socialism, but I do not know that the electors of the Commonwealth have ever expressed themselves in favour of Socialism. It is a proposal made by a representative of a minority of the people - by a member of a party which is only a small minority in the two Houses, and we are entitled, as the representatives of the majority of the people, to resist such propositions until they have received, at a general election, the indorsement of the electors, who are the real arbiters. Monopolies can be most effectively checked, not by Socialism, .but by freer competition. We also had a pro- “posal by a former Leader of the Labour party to forcibly take some ,£8,000,000 of the people’s savings from the banking institutions, and to use it without payment of interest. I come now to the attitude of the Labour party in the State Parliaments in regard to establishing monopolies. We have been assured from time to time that the State and Commonwealth Labour parties have the same aims and objects. That is borne out. by the proposals of the State parties, which dovetail so perfectly into those of the Commonwealth party. A new plank adopted by the Labour Council sitting in Melbourne in April last was as follows : -
Establishment of State mines, farms, factories and shops, for the purpose of affording employment, under Government supervision, to persons requiring it ; employes to be, as far as possible, consumers of the wealth they produce, and to receive as wages an equivalent of the net total produced.
That is a pretty drastic, step towards the ultimate goal of Socialism - a concrete proposal to substitute for the present system of production for profit a system of production for use. The commercial interests pf the community are to be entirely sacrificed, trading is to be stopped, nobody is to produce for profit, and production, so far as the Labour party can control it, is to be for use, and the products are to be divided amongst those who are engaged in the industry only. The employes are to be the consumers of the wealth they produce, so that none of it is to be exchanged for other forms of wealth. They are to produce wealth only to consume it themselves. What will be the commercial outlook of this country if proposals of that kind are to be seriously entertained ? Undoubtedly, if the party that embodies views of that kind in its platform were returned with a majority it would make a serious effort to carry some of those ridiculous proposals into effect. If they did succeed they would bring about such a condition of affairs that most people, including those on whose be”half such legislation was enacted, would think this a good country to get out of. Singularly enough, whilst the members of the Labour party claim to be the saviours of the country, the only friends of the workers, and the only ones who care about Labour legislation, they are always holding up New Zealand as a shining example of what democratic legislation will do for the worker. But there is no Labour party in New Zealand, and only a’t the last election the first Labour member was returned to the Dominion Parliament. All that progressive legislation which the Labour party claim as being most beneficial to the wageearning classes has been accomplished there without the assistance of a Labour party. That is a great satire upon the work of the Labour party here. All that has been accomplished in New Zealand has been the result of Liberal legislation. After all, the sane portions of the Australian Labour party’s proposals are those which have been abstracted from the Liberal programme. The platform adopted by the New South Wales, Labour party contains the following Socialistic proposals : -
Nationalization of land ; nationalization of any industry which becomes a private monopoly all iron used by the State to be produced from State mines; nationalization of coal mines; State iron works; State woollen mills and clothing factories; State mills for sugar, grain, and other products ; and the establishment of a State export department.
That is a fairly comprehensive Socialistic programme. In fact, it covers what some honorable members elegantly term the “ whole hog “ of Socialism. By the time they have secured., all those things they will have established a complete Socialistic State. And those are not items set down for mere academic discussion by debating societies, but serious proposals for actual legislation. Therefore we, in taking the earliest opportunity of sinking sone of our minor and other differences, in order to prevent the realization of legislation of that character, are doing a distinct service to the country, and acting in the interests of the people at large.
– No doubt honorable members opposite are the saviours of the country.
– It is a good thing for the country that there is a Liberal party in existence, that there are people who can keep their heads cool and see a little beyond their noses, a’<id not become intoxicated with ideas which can only bring about the most deplorable results to the very people in whose interests legislation of that kind is proposed.
– Which is the Liberal party ?
– The pasty opposed to the class and coercive legislation of the Labour Socialist party. I hope I am a
Liberal. I do not think I have any Tory instincts, and may. fairly claim to be as democratic in my political views and aspirations, and also in my votes, as is any other honorable member. I doubt very much whether we can find in the House what is known as the Tory element in British politics. Some honorable members who are regarded by the Opposition as out-and-out Tories will be found much more democratic than are some of their critics. Certainly their principles are much more Liberal than those espoused by some honorable members who sit in Opposition. Many a democratic heart ‘beats beneath a starched shirt-front. Some honorable members may think it necessary to emphasize the fact that one is a Democrat by wearing no collar, or only a soft collar with a red tie, but that is not necessary. Many a good Democrat wears a silk hat and a frock coat. In fact, I have seen some honorable members of the most Socialistic proclivities emulating those fashions. I have given some reasons why it was necessary to make a. serious attempt to unite all the forces in and out of the House which were opposed to Socialistic legislation and to the liberty-destroying aims of the Labour party. An attempt has been made, and let us hope has succeeded, to bring those forces together by the fusion of which the present Prime Minister is the head. What will be the ultimate result of the fusion it is impossible at present to state. But we hope for the best. Certain broad lines of agreement were submitted for the consideration of both parties, and certain proposals were agreed to. When there is a fusion of parties whose members hold widely divergent views, there must be sacrifices, though not necessarily of principle. There must be give and take on nonessential or minor questions if unity is to be obtained on common points of agreement. The basis of fusion submitted to both parties was not that published in the newspapers. According to the Age of 29th May, 1909, the. first proposal read -
No interference with the Protectionist policy of the present Customs Tariff or in rectifying anomalies.
While the Argus of the same date stated that the proposal was -
No interference with the Protectionist policy of the present Customs Tariff in rectifying anomalies.
There is a great difference between the meaning of those two versions. According to that of the Argus, it would appear that there is to be no interference with the Protectionist policy in rectifying anomalies. Nothing is said about the policy as a policy ; only the rectification of anomalies is dealt with. My reading of that version is that if the rectification of anomalies were proposed, the parties to the agreement, of whom I am not one - whatever they might do in regard to the Protectionist policy itself- would be bound to vote for Protection, and the Free Traders would have to swallow their fiscal principles. The interpretation I put on the Age version is that there is to be no interference .with the Protectionist policy itself either directly or ii> the rectification of anomalies.
– Which is the right version ?
– Neither is the version submitted to the party of which I was a member.
– Were those versions submitted to the press by the party leaders ?
– That question would more fittingly be addressed to them. I did not know of these proposals until I read them in the newspapers 1 have quoted. The right honorable member for East Sydney gave the correct version in a statement appearing in the Melbourne Herald’ of 27th May, and the Sydney Morning Herald of 28th “May. -
There has been a misconception as to theprotection clause relating to the Tariff. Trieclause referred to is no interference with the protectionist policy of the’ present Customs Tariff, unless to rectify anomalies.
That statement differs very distinctly from, the two I have read. The ‘proposal submitted to our party provided for no interference with the Protectionist policy of the Tariff unless for the purpose of rectifying anomalies. As the right honorablemember has made this statement to thepress, I do not think that I am guilty of any breach of party confidence in referringto the matter, though otherwise I should’ not have done so. Under the proposal submitted to us, when the rectification of anomalies was brought forward every Free Trader and every Protectionist would’ have had the right to vote according tohis conviction and principles. The proposals published in the newspapers takeaway this freedom from Free Traders. I’ am one of those who insisted most strongly that there should be no ambiguity inregard to the position of honorablemembers as to the fiscal question..
Whilst I thought it. perfectly legitimate to agree to a fiscal truce to effect a combination, required in the public interest, I held that it would be improper and dishonorable to make any surrender of principle. I have given certain pledges to my constituents by which I am bound- It rests with other honorable members, of course, to say what interpretation they put’ on this particular clause of the agreement. I am not suggesting that anything underhand or sinister was done. I did not attend the combined meeting of the two parties, where something may have been done of which I had no knowledge, because I was informed beforehand that the selection of the leader was cut and dried.
– Is the honorable member going to act upon his interpretation of the agreement?
– Certainly. I propose to keep my pledges to my constituents, and to agree to nothing which would prevent me from doing so without further reference” to them. Of course, no other member on this side of the chamber would accept proposals which he thought would place him in a false position.
– Was the version given to the press by the right honorable member for East Sydney that given to the Protectionists before the fusion?
– I cannot say; but it was that agreed to by the party to which I belonged, and was submitted for its acceptance. An alteration, was made afterwards ; although the first I knew Of a revised version was by reading those which were published in the newspapers. I thought that a mistake had been made by the press, which would be corrected next day. But no correction has so far been published, except that by the honorable member for East Sydney. The right honorable member for East Sydney, in explanation of the proposal accepted by the party to which he belonged, said -
Before the fusion, the Free-Traders in the direct Opposition requested Mr. Joseph Cook to make our position under the clause perfectly clear to Mr. Deakin. We pointed out that if any alteration in the Tariff were proposed which raised the fiscal issue as between Free-Traders and Protectionists we Free-Traders held ourselves perfectly free to vote according to our convictions. To make assurance doubly sure, when the united party “met, I then defined, our position . again before the whole of the members of the new party.
I was not present at that meeting.
I pointed out to them that it would be most undesirable to leave any room for future recriminations as to the observance or nonobservance of the basis of fusion. I told them that it must be understood distinctly that in becoming members of the new party we have agreed to a fiscal truce, and if the Tariff question is rc-opened to rectify any alleged anomalies, we have reserved our right to vote in accordance with our own convictions and those of our constituents.
The fiscal truce is not to last during the present Parliament only, but during the next one.
In that statement there is no ambiguity. The proposal which we were invited to consider, and which we accepted, is stated clearly. I have quoted the passage so that it may be published in our records, because, as time passes, the circumstances surrounding arrangements of this kind are often forgotten, and it is desirable to have reliable data for reference.
– Surely the honor.orable member does not anticipate that it will be necessary to refer to this agreement later ?
– Accidents happen in politics as elsewhere; one can never tell. I do not wish to create the impression that I think that anything underhand has been done. There may have been a subsequent arrangement, resulting in the proposal which I have read being communicated to the press. My attitude to the fusion is one, not of antagonism, but of friendliness, tempered with caution. I propose to support it, if the accepted terms of the compact itself are observed, when I think that the best interests of the country will be promoted by the legislation proposed, and if its proposals do not conflict with the direct pledges which I have given to my constituents, or with my political principles. I do not think I should be expected to do more, and when it is stated that I am taking a stand as an independent, the words do not correctly define my attitude. When I used the word “ independent “ on Friday, I merely meant acting independently in the sense that I was free to exercise my right of criticism of the proposals of the Government, or any other proposals not immediately covered by the agreement for the fusion of the parties. I do not commit myself body and soul to the fusion ; that is to say, I am not prepared to indiscriminately support the Fusion Government in any and every circumstance. I must be guided by principle and conscience in giving the Fusion a general support.
– In this matter the honorable member is sticking to his big brother, George !
– Undoubtedly, and I think he is on sound ground. I was surprised to see no reference in the Government programme to an early effort to deal practically with the Federal Capital question.
– There is a reference.
– Then it escaped my notice. This is a matter, in my opinion, of extreme urgency, which should be dealt with at the earliest possible moment, in the interests of not only New South Wales, but of the Commonwealth generally.’ I cannot help noticing that, since the fusion, there have been persistent attempts on the part of a section of the Melbourne press to defer the settlement of this question, on the ground that it is not necessary to proceed with it, seeing that we are doing very well as a Parliament where we are. I object to the pernicious influence sought to be exercised by the Melbourne newspapers, and especially by the Age, which I regard as one of the most mischievous publications in the whole of the Commonwealth, and certainly antagonistic, at all times, to the State I represent. While I never forget that I am a Federal representative, I always insist on my right to prevent any assaults on the interests of New South Wales, -and we have seen various indications of a desire on behalf of the Victorian press to aim a blow at that State whenever opportunity occurs. The Age is the arch enemy of New South Wales. Under the circumstances, the sooner we are removed to a Federal Capital, the better it will be for the community, because we shall then obtain something approaching a Federal atmosphere.
– We shall then have the impartiality of the Sydney Daily Telegraph. , Mr. JOHNSON. - Speaking without prejudice, I think I may say that the tone of some of the Sydney newspapers compares very favorably with the tone and attitude of ‘ some of’ the Melbourne newspapers; at any rate, so far as I know, there is none of that antiFederal spirit so observable in the leading journals of Victoria. We, as representatives, are accused by the Melbourne newspapers of being actuated by ‘ a parochial spirit, but, as a matter of fact, if we desire to see a true parochial spirit, we have only to read the Melbourne press and to listen to the utterances of some 01 our representatives in the border constituencies of New South Wales, who take their cue from the Melbourne newspapers. The idea in the minds of the newspaper proprietors of Melbourne seems to be that Federation was instituted in the interests of Victoria, and particularly in the interests of Melbourne and the Melbourne press. It is necessary to keep careful watch, even in view of the present fusion of parties, and see that no undue dominating influence is exercised by these newspapers on Commonwealth legislation. I sincerely hope that the present Government will seek to settle the Federal Capital question at the earliest possible moment, in order that our politics may be free from the baneful influence to which I have referred.
.- The late Sir Henry Parkes once remarked that a well-known politician in New South Wales reminded him. of a mole burrowing in the ground - he could not be seen for the dust he made. It strikes me that in connexion with the present political situation, a good deal of dust has been stirred up with the plain object of diverting attention from the serious issue before us. Even before Parliament met, we had the press stating what the Labour party were going to do, but I am sure that no one can say that there was any correctness in the forecast. We were told that the Labour party were going to resort to all sorts of obstruction, and, even now, the pr’ess of Melbourne has the impudence, under a large cross-heading, to charge us with “ stone-walling.” This is really a reflection on our party, because I think that, if we desired to “stone-wall,” we could do very much better than we have done up to the present. As a matter of fact, we have notgone beyond the bounds of ordinary business; but, if occasion did arise, we should perhaps be able to show what a’ true “ stone- wall “ is. The honorable member for Lang has long been known for his connexion with the Free Trade and Single Tax party, to which he adhered with great loyalty ; and it is highly interesting to find that gentleman now barracking for a great Protectionist leader, and supporting a Government of this kind. Two other honorable members have spoken from behind the
Government, and the Prime Minister may be congratulated on the evidences of loyalty thus given. It strikes me that we shall have to go a considerable distance ere the Prime Minister will be able to justify his words that this fusion is not a mere coalition or union for a Parliament, but a permanent union of the people of the country. We have yet to find evidence of that loyalty which is necessary to a real fusion ; and, in supporting the motion before the House, I in.tend to briefly give-some points of the history of the present political development, so far as they appear on the surface. It is quite evident that there has been a great deal of secret negotiation; the honorable member for Lang has told us a little of it, although he was “not quite there.” It is not at all clear exactly what took place, but we shall no doubt ascertain in time. Honorable members are fully acquainted with the change that took place last session, when the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Parramatta, tried his hand at wooing the present Prime Minister, who, however, was very coy and shy of entanglement. When the House went into recess, honorable members will remember the great crossheadings in the Melbourne Age, booming the tour of the Prime Minister in Tasmania, and throughout the continent, which they described as a “great Liberal a-wakening.” But the term “Liberal” is used by the Prime Minister in a very different sense from that used by the newspaper I have mentioned; and I propose to show what the difference is. No one can complain of the Prime Minister stumping the country, and trying to rouse his party ; but there was an effort made to weld together the different elements in the House as a combination against the Labour party. For a considerable time, however, no success followed those efforts. I shall read the programme presented by the Prime Minister to the country during his tour, and presently compare it with that now before us, making due allowance for revision, and so forth.- The Labour party have their objective, and, of course, other parties follow their example, and must also have an objective. This was declared in the case of the Prime Minister as -
The union of all Liberals, men and women, throughout the Commonwealth, in one party, to secure in the Federal Parliament liberal legislation for the development of Australia on a democratic basis.
That is not at all an objectionable idea. The remainder of the programme was as follows -
Matters went on without any special change until the late Prime Minister, the honorable member for Wide ‘Bay, delivered his policy speech at Gympie. That honorable gentleman presented something like thirty different items in his programme, including new Protection, land and absentee tax, effective Federal arbitration, old-age pensions, to be paid in July, invalid pensions. Australian Navy, finance, no borrowing, High Commissioner to be appointed, compulsory military training from the ages of ten to twenty years, medical inspection of school children, encouragement of volunteer rifle clubs, nationalization of the iron industry, taking over the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island, dealing with the question of the Federal Capital, the transcontinental railway, immigration, an amendment of the Old-age Pensions Act, a Commonwealth note issue, and legislation affecting bills of exchange, marine insurance, bankruptcy, electoral and Public Service reforms, navigation, seamen’s compensation, and Customs. That programme was received with acclamation by the people of Australia. I have felt the pulse of the public at some twenty-six meetings that I have addressed - fourteen in Tasmania, and twelve in New South Wales - and every reference I made to the Fisher Government’s policy at those gatherings was received with applause. Even the press could not criticise our proposals; they simply asked how it was proposed to find the money in order to give effect to them. Then, again, I found that the suggestion that we should give a Dreadnought was received with derision, and I venture to say that that is the experience of every honorable member who has had an opportunity at public meetings to test the feeling of the people. The policy of the late Government was no sooner announced than an underground scheme was set on foot. That policy struck a blow at vested interests, providing, as it did, for a graduated land tax, which would hit the big estates, and for the nationalization of monopolies. A big effort was therefore made to bring together the other parties in -the Parliament, in order that the doom’ of the Labour party might be sealed; and steps taken to prevent it from carrying any of these proposals into effect. No attempt was made to condemn the Government policy ; our opponents knew better than to do so. They simply determined to undermine our position. One of the first steps taken in that direction was an attempt by the Employers’ Federation to nobble the present Prime Minister. That honorable gentleman was invited to meet the Chamber of Commerce in Sydney, and a secret circular was sent out by .the Employers’ Federation to insure a packed meeting. We know what followed. Messrs. Farleigh and Beale were deputed to visit Melbourne, and a modern Joshua appeared on the field and commanded the sun of progress to stand still. Mr. Hogg, of the Chamber of Commerce, was the fourth representative appointed to carry out negotiations, and those gentlemen worked hard to secure sufficient influence to induce the honorable member for Ballarat to agree to a fusion of parties. The matter was put in the hands of the right honorable member for Swan, who ultimately succeeded in winning over the present Prime Minister, and the fusion was soon brought about. I propose now to make a quotation from that ,great Liberal newspaper, the Melbourne Age, as clearly emphasizing the situation at the time of which I speak. Up to the 14th May, the possibility of a Coalition appeared so hopeless that the right honorable member for East Sydney said, as reported on 6th Ma)r -
I deplore the fact that our opponents find it possible to work together whilst we of the Protectionists and Free Trade parties find it apparently impossible to do so.
Very great pressure must therefore have been brought to bear to bring together these two parties so strongly in conflict. In a leading article which appeared in the Age of 14th May, we find this statement -
One thing becomes abundantly clear- that any Government formed by Sir John Forrest and Mr. Joseph Cook must of necessity be Conservative. It will not embrace more than a part of the Liberal programme. Sir John Forrest himself is understood to be ready to adopt the Liberal platform in its entirety. But it is known that Mr. Cook will not do so. He has strongly objected to new Protection and preferential trade. Sir John Forrest is known to be eager for power, and he will make modifications to meet Mr. Cook which Mr. Deakin could not make. But in that case it is very difficult to see how the Liberal leader can lend any countenance to the projected fusion.
It will thus be seen that, in the opinion of the Age at that time, any fusion of the kind proposed would tend to Conservative rule. In the same article, we had the statement -
There are those who- say that the differences between a Cook and a Deakin are slight as compared with those between a Deakin and a Fisher. But that is just the reverse of the truth. The reason why the Deakin Government was able to hold office so long by the help of the Labour party was just because on nine points out of ten the Liberal and the Labour policies are the same. Consequently, the Liberal leader’s difficulty with Labour is not in a matter of policy. It is that Labour, even while in a kind of loose alliance with Liberalism, has proclaimed itself the relentless foe of its own allies in the constituencies. Liberals, therefore, must fight Labour in the electorates, whatever they may do in Parliament. It is, of course, exceedingly difficult to induce Liberals to support a Labour party in the House when that party is sapping and mining all the Liberal seats “in “the country. This is really where the political shoe pinches. And in .the irritation it produces we must have very much sympathy with the Liberal party and its leader. Still, when all these allowances are made, and even when such considerations are emphasized, they do not suffice to excuse the Liberal party permitting itself to be absorbed in a combination of Conservatism and anti-Socialists, where it must become a back number, without power, without influence, and only a disappointed spectator of the drift of high purposes. In this time of stress and strain, when all kinds of influences are being employed to submerge the Liberal party and its leader, it is the duty of that party more than ever to stand firm in its integrity, and the decision of Mr. Deakin to efface himself as leader means the virtual effacement of the party whose fortunes were intrusted to his care.
At this time the honorable member for Ballarat proposed to stand aside. He did not care to lead the contemplated Coalition, but the pressure brought to bear upon him was so great that he was ultimately squeezed into it. The honorable member has said that the only excuse which his party had for declining to support the Labour Government was that it would not grant to some of his followers immunity from opposition.
– lt was because Labour would not work with him.
– It was a question, not of Labour working with him, but of his working with Labour. We had worked successfully with the honorable member for nearly nine years. Our party, comprising twenty-seven members of this House, and a larger proportion of the members of another place, supported the Deakin Government for years, but when the Labour Government took office he declined to support them. He was in agreement with their policy - as a matter of fact, he has never yet spoken against it, but he would not support them.
– Has he not condemned a Federal land tax and the nationalization of monopolies?
– He has never spoken against a Federal land tax. He has simply said that he would not propose such a tax at the present time, but would allow the matter to stand over until the’ next general election. At the next Federal election he said he would declare in favour of a graduated land tax.
– Where did he make that statement ?
– Every one knows that he has made it. I come now to the complaint made by the Liberal party as to our attitude in regard to the constituencies. We claim that we conduct our business on democratic lines. Our platform is drawn up not by politicians, but by the people - by organizations, leagues, and unions, comprising many thousands of the electors. In New South Wales, for instance, there are some 86,000 registered trade unionists, so that those who speak of the unions as comprising only a few men have no knowledge of the real facts. The honorable member for Ballarat has always publicly advocated that politicians should create a policy and that the people should follow them. That is an autocratic stand to take up, and is altogether wrong. We contend that reforms should be initiated by the people themselves, and that policy has been adopted by us. When honorable members of the Deakin party urge that we should induce our followers to grant them im munity from opposition they ask us to do something which we have no power to do, and which, if we had, we should decline to do. It is absolutely wrong in principle. It is for the people themselves - the leagues, organizations, and constituencies generally to determine the matter for themselves. What right have we to compel the leagues and other organizations outside, as suggested by the honorable member for Ballarat, to grant the Liberal party immunity from opposition, if they are not inclined to do so? We have provided for adult suffrage, and should not deny to any individual the right to vote for any candidate he pleases. If that right is to be denied the electors, why do not the Government bring in a Bill to prohibit the electors choosing their own representatives ? It is only because the Liberal party thought that the people would not recognise the fallacy of such a proposition that the Deakin party made it. The same complaint was made by the Age, as if we should be justified in throwing over the principles of a life-time. It is an absolute admission that the honorable member for Ballarat cannot depend on a majority in any of the constituencies to support him. If the honorable member for Maribyrnong, for instance, cannot get in if Labour runs a candidate, he can only get in by Labour support. There is, therefore, no majority in the constituency that really supports the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and the same may be said of the honorable member for Bourke, the honorable member for Batman, and other Government supporters who have been so long associated with the honorable member for Ballarat. Then they put forward in their platform proposals to secure majority rule. If they have a majority, they have nothing to fear from what any local league may do. To put that kind of statement before the people as a- justification for the sacrifice of principles is most ridiculous. It will not stand a moment’s examination. You must either coerce the electors by denying them their rights or allow them to make their own choice. Then we are told that we, as members of Parliament, have great influence, and that if we gave the local. bodies advice they might take it; but they cannot expect us to go to the different constituencies and speak in support of members whom we regard as being often unreliable. Our experience has been that the “ good as Labour “ man, as he calls himself, has been anything but reliable” at a crisis, when we were going to make history by a vote.
On such occasions he has .gone over to the moderate or timid crowd every time and everywhere.
– What does the honorable member complain about?
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong did it himself on one occasion. I am showing the hollowness of the excuse put forward for the fusion, that the Labour party outside - which is not the party in the House, because we do not control it, and have no right to control it - puts up candidates against members of the Deakin party. No one has a right to control the electors but themselves.
– It is not the electors; it is only a section of the electors.
– The electors have a right to control themselves, and any section of them has a. right to control itself. The electors have a right to put forward twenty candidates if they choose. The section which we call the straight Labour section in a constituency has as much right to be represented as have other sections, especially the admitted minority who call themselves Liberals. The fact of the matter is that because no, other excuse for the fusion could be found that one has been put forward.
– It is a cowardly excuse at that.
– It is cowardly, and it is also an admission of their failure - an admission that they are out of date, and that’ the world has gone ahead of them. It is also an admission that they have been neglecting organization. The honorable member for Ballarat found that out. He went round to organize the Liberal party, but apparently did not meet with sufficient success, or great influences were brought to bear upon him to bring about the present situation. I have not quite finished quoting from that great organ, the Melbourne Age, because, it occasionally does contain most able articles, that on the facts are unanswerable. On the 15th May the Age stated -
The one thing which stands out conspicuously in the present political situation is that the Leader of the Liberal party is preparing once again to split that party into two sections, and thus virtually wipe it out of existence. Of course, Mr. Deakin does not contemplate this. No one suspects him of an act of deliberate treachery to his own party. But any one who opens bis eyes can see plainly that that must be the immediate result of any fusion with the Conservative parties of the Corner and the straight Opposition.. At present the Liberal party in Parliament is fifteen strong. This has come about through the defection of men like
Mr. Sampson, Sir John Quick, and Sir John Forrest, and Messrs. Fairbairn and Wynne, all of whom were returned as members of the Liberal party. However, the party, as is said, is now only fifteen strong. The recent campaigns of its leader in Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland were undertaken for the sole purpose of consolidating Liberal strength in the next appeal to the country. The party has recently adopted a political programme for the immediate future, and all this was done in full accord with Mr. Deakin, its leader, on the understanding that he was determined against coalescing with Conservatism, except on the understanding that the Liberal programme is to be made the basis of any new combination. All these facts are so well known, so recent and so fully accepted that no possible dispute can arise as to their accuracy.
Suddenly the whole situation is changed like the flash of a cinematograph. And the changes are made by the Liberal leader without any consultation with his party. Mr. Deakin announces that as he cannot get the Leader of the Opposition to agree to the Liberal policy, he has given up the idea on his own account, but has commissioned Sir John Forrest to undertake the task, making the best terms he can, on the understanding that should Sir John Forrest strike a bargain with the direct Opposition, he (Mr. Deakin), while taking no personal share in it, will counsel such of his own followers as may choose to join the new combination. It is quite well known that nothing Mr. Deakin may do or say will induce the solid body of Liberals to go over and follow a Conservative Government led jointly by Sir John Forrest and Mr. Cook. To do so would be to play the part of rank treachery to the electors who sent them into Parliament. It is inconceivable that Messrs. Wise, Mauger, Hume Cook, Chanter, Coon and Salmon and Sir William Lyne could dream of such an alliance as that mentioned. They could not meet their electors after such a shameful volte, face, and such a turning of their backs on all the professions on which they gained their seats. Indeed, it is notorious that most of them have already let this be known. If, then, these seven Liberals refuse to stultify themselves in the manner which their leader is suggesting, what becomes of the Liberal party? Mr. Deakin may carry seven or eight with him into the Conservative alliance, but only at the expense of annihilating at once his own party and its central and dominating position in the Parliament. On the consummation of such a movement as fusion under a Forrest and a Cook, there would no longer be a Liberal party, a Liberal leader or a Liberal platform. All the recent work of organization and consolidation would be cast to the winds, and that not bv the consent of those who have been engaged in it, but solely by the deliberate act- of the man who was trusted as its leader. A more unthinkably absurd outcome of the situation cannot be conceived. It is political suicide in its most degrading form
– That leader had its effect.
– It was an absolutely true forecast. The fact is that the Age had lost faith in those whom it had intro- duced into and kept in political life, and who would never have seen Parliament but for its support. Four members of the Liberal party stood true, but, as was forecasted by the Age in those two consecutive issues, the Liberal leader, who went round organizing the party on a definite platform, split his party, and that is not the. first occasion on which he did it.
– I wish to direct attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– Whatever may be said about the Age, it did put up a big fight against the betrayal of the Liberal party which has undoubtedly taken place. On the 17 th May it wrote -
Whatever else Mr. Joseph Cook is, and however hungry he may he for office, he at least sturdily maintains the Conservative Free Trade stand against the new Protection. He will not hear of it, even in the way of compromise. After eight or ten hours under the persuasion of Sir John Forrest and Senator Best, he went away to a public meeting of the Conservative Women’s League and declared himself an unyielding opponent of any amendment of the Constitution which would give to the Commonwealth the power to safeguard the wage rate. That right at present belongs to the States only. The Federal Government is able to give protection to the employer, but not to The employ 6. The national programme makes it a first duty to extend this power to the National Parliament. To the true Federalist it is a monstrous proposition that such a right should be withheld from the Commonwealth. To the Protectionist it is the very essential of his creed. It is amongst the vital planks in the proclaimed programme “of the Liberal league. It is a distinguishing mark of Liberalism…..
Labour, with all its drawbacks and limitations, is in possession, and is pointing the path of progress. If it is to be displaced, it should not be in order that a period of political stagnation should supervene. Mr. Deakin has himself said, “A combination merely to defeat the Labour Government would be a compact barren and unnatural.” And yet that is what is apparently being connived at in his standing aside and deputing Sir John Forrest and Senator Best to do what he himself has no stomach for. We have a right to demand that these negotiations shall cease, and that the Liberal party shall have its rights restored and be consulted. If that party is to live, as it must live, it will direct its own course, and not be placed in leading strings.
In the issue of 25th June, the Age said -
Everything that Sir. Fisher said about the anomalous character of the coalition may be quite true. And everything that Mr. Hughes subsequently quoted from the Age in denunciation of a “ fusion “ on any but Liberal lines stands quite unalterable. The natural allies in Parliament should be the Liberals and the Labour party. Mr. Hughes quotes this with a flourish, as if it were not a severe reflection on his own party, which stubbonly refuses such alliance. The culpability for failing in this natural alliance - an alliance which might have proved so profitable to the country - lies not with Liberalism, which was always willing, but with Labour, which was adamant against co-operation.
The blame must rest upon that party which definitely refused to form an alliance. I have quoted briefly the proposals for legislation which the Fisher Government put before this Parliament. I have done so in order that it may be seen that the promises publicly made in the Gympie speech, and other addresses delivered elsewhere, would have been kept had the late Government had an opportunity to give effect to them. Nothing has been said in criticism of the policy of the Labour party. The reason for putting it out of office is one which the honorable member for Ballarat has declarer! to be insufficient. That he has been swallowed up by the Conservative elements in this Parliament justifies our contention that he has gone back on his principles. I have briefly indicated how the Employers’ Federation worked to bring about a fusion by sending round circulars, so as to pack meetings of the Chambers of Commerce with ‘ ‘ the right-thinking persons,” and in other ways. Messrs. Hogg,. Farleigh, Beale, and Joshua meet in secret caucus with the leaders of the new party. Like the witches in Macbeth, they danced round the cauldron containing the ingredients for the fusion, and, from the nature of those ingredients, we know that there must have been a great deal of “ bubble, bubble, toil, and trouble “ before any result was obtained. Mr. Joshua, when interviewed subsequently, speaking on behalf of all four manufacturers, said -
We have been for two hours in conference with Mr. Deakin, Mr. Joseph Cook, Sir John Forrest, and Senator Millen. At the conclusion these gentleman were good enough to say that we had been of considerable assistance in elucidating several points, principally relating to the Tariff and industrial legislation. If I were asked for an opinion, I should say that, as a result of our deliberations, matters were brought sensibly nearer a conclusion, I won’t say in what direction.
The new Protection which this country is to get is to be framed bv the manufacturers and employers. That is the outlook given to the masses bv the policy of the present Government. The Age said”, some years ago, referring to the honorable member for Ballarat -
No augur can tell what Mr. Deakin’s politics may be to-morro’w, or in what strange combination lie may figure the day after. Consistency is not expected of him.
He has’ become the leader of a combination with whom, judging by his public utterances, he is not in sympathy. We all admire his personal qualities and eloquence, but he has always been given to running after strange alliances, which have never been successful. Whenever the two great Victorian newspapers have been acting together, the welfare of the State has suffered injury. Years ago, the Age, speaking of the Gillies-Deakin coalition, said -
From the Service Coalition, we got but misery and disaster. From the Gillies-Deakin Coalition, we have a heritage over which the colony will mourn or curse for many a day.
A little later it said -
Conservatism has brought the country to the brink of ruin.
Then, again, it said -
We have on the one hand hordes of unemployed, and on the other vast areas of land applied to only primitive purposes.
The honorable member for Ballarat commenced with the idea of making two parties out of what he called the “three-eleven” arrangement, and opened his arms to receive either the Labour party or that then led by the right honorable member for East Sydney. Having secured an alliance with the latter, he at the last moment seemed to fear the marriage, and shunted the bride on to Sir George Turner. Then followed political assassination. The honorable member got his knife into the contracting parties. Now he appears to have committed political bigamy, and I am afraid that the desire of one of his spouses to have her own way, and the caustic tongue of the other lady, may drive him to suicide. I do not see that the combination can do any good. The chief reason why the Labour party contends that the Government should not possess the confidence of the House is that the parties which it leads have abandoned their election pledges. Let me read the published platform of the fusion -
– That is not correct.
– The honorable member must prove his statement. That platform appeared in the two newspapers which are supporting the Government, and there has been no correction or contradiction of it. It was reported that the press received it from the parties concerned.
– The version given by the honorable member for Lang, is the correct one.
– He corrected only one word, and I am willing to accept that corle:.1017. The Age has shown that it was a complete volte face for those led by the honorable member for Ballarat to join with notorious Conservatives, who, for years, have been sitting in opposition. To do so, they abandoned the principles on which they were elected. When a member has changed his political views, he should, if he wishes to remain in Parliament, appeal to the people for their sanction to the change. Members have no right to sell their principles, as honorable gentlemen opposite have done. There were eight planks in the platform which the honorable member for Ballarat put before the country, but the fusion platform contains not a word about Federal unity or preferential trade. Preferential trade was one of the proposals on which the Deakinites went to the country, but it has now been thrown overboard, as has the principle of Federal unity. The reason for this is shown very clearly. Then there is another plank, which the Government are introducing, no doubt to placate the honorable member for Parramatta and others who are always speaking on behalf of the States, instead of leaving their interest to be put forward by themselves. We find that the Liberal leader has sacrificed the two principles of Preferential Trade and Protection ; and my object is to convict the Prime Minister, and those who follow him, of a volteface. In regard to new Protection, no consideration whatever is given to the consumers, although that was a point on which much stress was laid at the elections, and during the recess, by the honorable gentleman. It was a point discussed here, and emphasized very strongly and I remember the late Leader of the Opposition, the right honorable member for East Sydney, insisting on the protection of the consumer as well as of the manufacturer. Then we have the Liberal leader dropping the White Australia and the immigration planks. We can only read by signs and actions; in fact, we see that the Government will not trust any Minister to speak lest he “ lets the cat out of the bag.” Some little light is thrown on the situation by the honorable member for Lang; but it is quite probable that he was not at the meetings, in case he should tell too much.
– That is a base innuendo, quite unworthy of the honorable member !
– What I state is the fact. The Government apparently propose to hand over every tiling but defence and postal business to an Inter-State Commission. We find nothing in their programme about economy of administration; and, in: deed, I do not see how they can speak of economy in view of the way in which they propose to give money’ away. Then, apparently, the Government have thrown over that important and sacred plank, the direct responsibility of members; and there must be some reason for all those changes. Doubtless, however, we shall have the honorable member for Maribyrnong saying that it is the great Free Trade party of New South Wales and other States, and the Revenue Tariffists, who have sneaked in under the banner of Protection. I challenge anybody to show that what I am saying is incorrect in any way ; and I assert that practically six out of eight planks have been dropped. The programme we have now is not that of the old Liberal party, but that of the new fusion - of Joshua and others, who tell the fusion what is to be done. Then I ought to point out that in the programme there is not a word about State debts, which, with the party now swallowed up by the Conservatives, used to be a burning question. The Prime Minister has adhered to only two of his own planks, and even these have been amended or altered, and evidently now bear a meaning different from that attached to them by Protectionists.’ The Prime Minister knows that he never would have carried the Tariff but for the help of the Labour party, the members of which had adopted the policy of new Protection ; and if the honorable gentleman now touches the Tariff, he will have to depend on the support of members like the honorable member for Flinders, who, coming into the House as a Protec.tionist, voted against the Government duties eighty-two times, paired against them twenty-eight times, and neither voted nor paired 108 times. That representative voted against effective Protection 218 times, voted for the Government duties fifty times, and paired for the Government duty ten times, out of divisions totalling 287. ‘ The programme of Protection has been sacrificed absolutely by the Prime Minister. It is not claimed that the Tariff is absolutely perfect ; such a contention would, I am sure, not be made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, the honorable member for Batman, the honorable member for Hume, or the Prime Minister.
– Do not forget the honorable member for Corio.
– The honorable member for Corio does not count. He ran very nearly on the Labour platform last election, and was almost ready to sign the pledge ; and it is not surprising that, when he held a meeting recently, he should be met by about six of his followers and a hundred or more of the Labour league crowd. However, he proceeded to denounce the latter as parasites and Tammany people ; and we Know what the electors will do when a representative takes a course of that kind. The Prime Minister, as I have already pointed out, boasts that this fusion is not merely for a Parliament, but for all time ; and, of course, that means, as every member of a fusion expects to be returned, the placing of the fiscal policy in their hands. The object of the fusion is to prevent split votes, which would give an opportunity of success to the Labour party ; and the latter are opposed simply because they are the Labour party. Under such circumstances, what outlook have the Protectionists in Australia, seeing that they depend on a party the majority of whom are absolutely opposed to the policy? In an address, which some honorable members seem to find amusing, the honorable member for Corio made a sarcastic reference, which he applied to the Labour party, but which, in reality, can apply only to the party to which he now belongs. The honorable member said that if the Labour party consisted of thirty members, and twenty-three were Free Traders, the balance of seven could be compelled to vote Free Trade. That applies with full force to honorable members opposite, but it cannot apply to the Labour party, no member of which is bound on the fiscal question. What chance has the Prime Minister, and his len or eleven Protectionist followers, against the thirty-two Free Traders and Revenue Tariffists, who now constitute the Government supporters? Yet the Fusion party are pledged to go to the country unitedly, and stand bv each other.
– Does the honorable member claim that the Labour party as a body voted for high protective duties?
– My claim is that we have adopted the policy of the new Protection. We propose to give the local manufacturer the Australian market provided that he pays reasonable wages and does not overcharge the consumer. That is a concise definition of the new Protection which we favour, and it will be recognised that since we have adopted that policy we are the only truly Protectionist party in the Commonwealth Parliament. The Protectionists of the Coalition have no chance of securing effective Protection or any improvement of the present Tariff, and they have also thrust aside the principle of preferential trade. A majority of the members of the Coalition party are opposed both to Protection and to new Protection.
– When the Tariff was under consideration the majority of our party voted for just as high Protection as did the great majority of the Labour party.
– A majority of the members of the present Coalition voted for revenue duties. The right honorable member for Swan, for instance, claims to be a Protectionist, but an examination of the division lists will show that his votes on the Tariff went more or less in the direction of revenue duties.
– The Labour party have no fiscal policy.
– On the contrary, we are the only party with a safe fiscal policy. We now have on the Government side of the House a Revenue party, the majority of whom are opposed to Protection. Those who desire the growth of Australian manufactures, and the observance of Australian conditions of labour in connexion with them,- must now look to the Labour party ; there is no other party that they can trust. No objection was taken by the Deakin party to “our policy, and the late Govern ment was turned out of office, not because of any want of proper administration, but solely to enable a majority against the Labour party to be obtained in this House. As a matter of fact, the fusion was brought about by the monopolists - by the big land owners and all those who have been fighting Labour, both industrially and politically, for many years. Their desire .was to prevent a blow being struck at land monopoly, and they have certainly succeeded-. What do the Government propose in regard to the new Protection ? I do not imagine that they will do anything to give effect to their proposals-
– Will the honorable member’s party let us?
– The Government will never do what they are aiming at if I can prevent them, and I do not think that the country will allow them to do what they propose. Much useful legislation has been passed, but if the present Government are to remain in office there must be retrogression. Ministers would have us believe that they have completely changed, and that we have reached the political millennium, but we know that changes do not come about so rapidly. Let us look at their co-called -new Protection policy. They are going to ask the States to allow them ‘to set up an Inter-State Commission, with power to look after production and exchange, to find new markets abroad, and to extend local industries. Those four duties would in themselves keep the members of the Commission busy, but we find that they are also to run .a Labour bureau, to study unemployment, to deal with the Tariff and anomalies in the Tariff, and to arrange for uniform conditions of industry. We are not told whether they are going to find employment for the workers^ but if they are to study unemployment they must associate with the bond fide unemployed. As to the proposal that the Inter-State Commission shall arrange for uniform conditions of industry, or, in other words, abolish unfair competition, I would remind the House that there are two ways by. which that may be done. In the first place, the rates of wages paid throughout the Commonwealth may be reduced to the level of the lowest prevailing in any one State, or they mav be raised to the highest standard observed in any State. I do not think that the Government are likely to select as members of the Commission men who will be prepared to raise wages; on the contrary, I think that they will select those who are prepared to bring about a reduction of wages. The InterState Commission is also to conduct an agricultural bureau and to deal with immigrants. In short, so many duties are to be intrusted to it that scarcely anything will be left for the attention of this Parliament. On the face of it, the proposal is an illconsidered and ridiculous one. When the appointment of an Inter-State Commission was originally suggested, the intention was that it should consist of three men, but it would be impossible to find three men capable of dealing with all the questions which it is now proposed to refer to it. The P.rime Minister did not explain how all this work was to be done by the Commission ; he simply read the Ministerial proposals and proceeded to divert attention to the proposition of the Labour Government, that the Constitution should be so amended as to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to deal with industrial matters. It was certainly not our intention, as suggested by the honorable member for Ballarat, to take steps to secure absolute Commonwealth control of all industrial matters. We proposed, not that the States should be stripped of their existing powers in regard to industry, but that steps should be taken to enable industrial matters to be dealt with under a Federal system of arbitration, which would not interfere with any State system which was working smoothly. The present Government, however, propose the creation of one central body to attend to all these great questions.’ I defy any one to prove that the scheme is workable. It means a cumbrous central organization having numerous branches, which must add enormously to the cost of administration. That I dare say is the reason why we find in the Ministerial statement no reference to economy of administration. The Government know that by providing all these billets for their friends they must add materially to the cost of administration. The party on the Government benches cannot be correctly described as a Coalition, because it really comprises many parties. It is a mixture of individualistic units, no two members of which are in agreement on any one topic. Having thrown over-board Protection as the chief bone of contention among them, they have spread over the Ministerial statement a mass of proposals so stated that it is impossible to understand what they mean. I propose now to show who are behind and actually controlling the Government. We find sitting behind the Prime Minister the honorable member for Flinders, and I shall indicate what reason there is for the working classes to hope for any consideration at the hands of such a Ministry. They have thrown over the new Protection, and abandoned any desire to protect the consumer. The commercial classes can form any combine they like, because the Government are backed up by the Employers’ Federation. No sooner did we carry out our promise to the manufacturers to guarantee them the Australian market on condition, that they paid decent wages, than they took action in the Law Courts, and upset the Excise provisions. This Government is a Government to aid monopoly. It was put into power, and is supported bv monopolists, and it is appealing to the monopolists to return it again at the next election. The big land monopolists are already planking down their hundreds to insure the return of those who are opposed to this party, which is now the only Democratic party in the House. There used to be other honorable members with Democratic tendencies, but they have sold themselves, and are now in the heart of the enemy’s camp. Our experience of the honorable member for Flinders in Victoria is widely known. One action of his - the introduction of the Coercion Act - will live for ever in the memories of the people of Australia. That was one of the most autocratic measures ever introduced. In fact, it had no parallel in the world. Can the man who could conceive of bringing in that measure be any friend to labour? I can give other instances. There used to be a very good Factories Act in Victoria providing for Wages Boards. When the honorable member for Flinders was Premier of Victoria, he destroyed the value of that part of the Act. A Wages Board consisted of five representatives of each side, with an independent chairman, and a simple majority used to decide the question. That did not suit the honorable member. He introduced a provision requiring a seven-tenths majority, so that the employers had to gain over two of the employes, or the employes to win over two of the employers. Honorable members know the position in which employes on Wages Boards have been placed. Many of them have lost their jobs, and been boycotted for their actions on Wages Boards, so that the effect of that provision can be realized. Then the honorable member created an
Appeal Court from the decision of Wages Boards, so that the lawyers could come in and ruin the unions with their heavy costs. He introduced also the “ reputable employer “ standard, admittedly a difficult thing to interpret. In one instance in Melbourne, where a miserable sweating wage was paid, the only “reputable employer” that could be found was one who paid what was acknowledged to be a very low wage, but under the law introduced by the honorable member for Flinders, he had to be taken as the standard. Of course, as a representative and agent of employers, that was the very kind of thing aimed at by the honorable member. One of the most outrageous provisions, however, was that there should be absolutely no limitation of apprentices. Every one who has studied industrial questions knows that there must be some limitation, because without it many employers would do all their work with boy labour, the Australian youths, fresh from school, being very quick and intelligent, and soon earning very fair wages. Under that system, the apprentices do not get their training, as they ought to get it. from proper expert workmen.
– In one factory in Melbourne to-day, in the boot trade, one department has twelve apprentices to one man.
– The honorable member for Flinders took great care to have no legal limitation of apprentices, and then, lest there should be reasonable conditions in country districts, he knocked out the provision that the Act should apply to shires, and so confined- its operation to the metropolitan districts. Now let us turn to the honorable member for Fawkner’s record. He is reported as follows -
On behalf of the members of the Federation, he could say that though they understood that the present Wages Boards had mitigated sweating in certain trades where women were largely employed, they did not believe in the principle of wages being fixed by Act of Parliament, and only accepted the Wages Boards as the lesser evil of several proposed panaceas for the settlement of industrial strife.
That is to say, the employers would not have any of these things, but would go on rejoicing in sweating their fellow men, if they were allowed to do so. In fact, they would continue to introduce into their businesses practices to which,’ in other circumstances, they would not subject their fellow- men. In this connexion, I would like to emphasize an important fact. You will have noticed, sir, that in all the laws governing mankind, individuals are dealt with and punished for any breach of them, but it is different in the case of companies, or corporations, as the Americans call them. If ever we deal with the Companies Act, this is a point that should be remembered. When a board of directors governing the affairs of a company - and nearly all business is now carried on by companies - meet together, they do things as a Board that would be positively revolting to their manhood as individuals. They will say, as a Board, “ We are sorry to have to do this, but the shareholders expect it. We are here to make this business pay.” Then they treat their workmen and others in a way that no individual employer would be guilty of. In short, under the company system, a new kind of ethics has been introduced. So organizations such as the Employers’ Union take up an attitude collectively which as individuals they could not justify. They are opposed to everything that will improve the conditions of the workers. They are opposed to industrial peace, unless they can secure it by freedom of contract. The honorable member for Fawkner sits behind the Government, and has considerable influence with them. His views are in keeping with the statement of the President of the Chamber of Commerce the other day, that he was against a reduction of the working hours below forty-eight per week. They would not favour forty-eight hours if they could get a lot more. When the building trades of Melbourne had a strike to secure a forty-four hours week, and when their demand was about to be conceded, the Employers’ Federation intervened and coerced the builders to refuse it. Their secretary, Mr. Walpole, said that while forty-four hours was reasonable for that industry, they would have to give way on other things if they gave way on that. That is the attitude of the body which now governs the Government, and whose guiding hand the Government must obey. If they do not, they will be put out, and some more confidential circulars will be posted round by the secretary of the Employers’ Federation to form a new political organization. I have here a report of the InterState Conference of Employers’ Unions, from which I propose to quote some of the resolutions, but I wish first to account for the striking out of the White Australia plank from the platform that the honorable member for Ballarat submitted to the country. We know that the honorable member for Parkes has always opposed any restriction upon coloured immigration, and would admit all the coloured races of the world if he had his way. One of the members of the present Cabinet was for many years a member of the Black Labour party in Queensland, and we have no evidence that he has changed his views. The President of that Conference said -
We are importing machinery from America -and Great Britain, and why not import labour? I do not care whether it be coloured or white.
If matters had been allowed to stand -as they were in Queensland under proper regulation and management, a great benefit would have resulted to Australia as a whole.
Those are the sentiments of the gentle(rr.an at the head of a powerful organization representing all the capitalists and employers of Australia - the body that has been the principal cause of every big industrial disturbance, from the maritime strike in 1890, which it engineered and organized, down to the latest trouble. The members of that body said, “Hear, hear “ to those sentiments of their President. They were opposed to the White Australia policy, and would like to bring back the kanakas. Those are the people who are going to frame the new Protection proposals and look after the interests of the working classes. This is one of the resolutions passed at the Conference -
That the Conference urge upon all employers -and others of the Commonwealth of Australia the necessity for the maintenance of freedom <of contract.
That, very fittingly, was proposed by Mr. John Darling, and heartily approved of by the Conference. Freedom of contract means an absolute refusal to recognise trades unions, which have been a powerful weapon in the hands of the working classes to secure justice. Both here and in the Old World they have done a great deal to improve the lot of the workers. If that body of employers had their way, there would be no workers’ organizations, and no collective bargaining, but everybody would have to take what the employer offered him, and be civil. I cannot understand how any man could have the courage to stand up in any public gathering and openly oppose the improvement of the lot of the great mass of the people who produce the wealth of the country, and upon whom the employers have to depend for their living. The Conference also opposed the White Australia policy, declaring that “ the present Immigration Act was a bar to the progress of the Commonwealth, and hurtful to Imperial sentiment.” They also declared against legalizing the eight hours day. They have always been opposed to any shortening of the hours of labour ; but I have quoted sufficient to show their attitude. That is the body whose representatives assisted the Government to frame their new Protection proposals. We have the novel experience of a millennial period, where the secretary of the Anti-Sweating League, who, according to newspaper reports, has .done a great deal to abolish sweating, is dominated by the Federated Employers’ Union. The honorable member may shake his head when I say he is dominated by them, but they are the power behind the throne, and it is to them that he will have to look for support, because there is no chance of honorable members on the Ministerial side being elected unless they are backed up by the reactionary forces. They will not get the votes of Labour men this time on the plea that they are as good as Labour men.
– We shall get hundreds of them.
Mr.- SPENCE. - It takes a good deal to enlighten some of them, and make them think, but the volteface iri this case has been so self-evident that there is no fear of the result. I strongly condemn the action taken by the Government in offering a line-of battleship to the Imperial authorities without the consent of this Parliament. Many things may be justified on the score of urgency, but that excuse cannot be pleaded in this instance, because Ministers could have easily waited a week or two for the reassembling of Parliament.
– Their action has been approved all over the country.
Mr-. SPENCE. - We shall find out later whether that is so or not. The Government, without consulting Parliament, has pledged the country to an expenditure of -£2,000,000. I claim that this action was not justified by the existence of a great national emergency, and that, in any case, there was no immediate urgency. I do not disregard the fact that Great Britain is charged with the defence of the Imperial shipping, but there is no evidence that another great nation is preparing to make an attack upon us. In support of that statement I have one or two quotations to read. About two years ago a body of press representatives visited Germany, and travelled through the country. One of them, Mr. Sidney Low, afterwards published this account of the manner in which they were received and treated -
Great, therefore, was our surprise to discover . that we were being made the objects of a really striking demonstration, in which representatives of all classes were concerned. The occasion was seized to show us, and through us our countrymen, that Germany is not univerally hostile to us, as some English and some German writers contend ; that, on the contrary, the most influential sections of its population are friendly ; that the fire-eaters, who are s’tirring up strife and bitterness daily, do not express the thoughts and wishes of the vast majority of Germans; and that these latter, so far from welcoming the project of a quarrel with England, with enthusiasm, would regard it with the utmost repugnance and dismay. Exceedingly to our astonishment, we found that our tour was being turned into a sort of triumphal progress, that the newspapers were filling their columns with accounts of our doings, and firing off a salvo of “ leaders “ in our honour at each of the towns we visited ; that ceremonial and municipal entertainments were being everywhere prepared for us on a scale of lavish magnificence; and more than all, that we were receiving gratifying tokens of goodwill, not merely from those we met at banquets and receptions, but from those we encountered in the streets and public places. We discerned no trace of coldness or hostility anywhere; on the contrary, smiles and cordial salutes, and hearty handshakings and handkerchief wavings were our portion in some towns, and politeness and amiable interest in all. That these tributes could be due in the smallest degree to any personal qualities of our own, we . could not be vain enough to imagine. We were made much of because we were supposed to represent, in a higher degree than any of those other British commissions or delegations which have been seen in Germany, the people of Britain as a whole. The Germans said to us, as pointedly as they could : - “ Go home, and tell your readers that we like them, that we want them to be friendly to us, that we wish to keep friends with them, whatever they may hear to the contrary.”
That shows that the German people have no desire to provoke such a serious thing as a war between themselves and Great Britain. Then, in a recent issue of the Melbourne Herald, there was published a statement, alleged to have been made by the Kaiser to an interviewer from the Shipping Truth, to whom the Kaiser said -
You English make the one big mistake of always imagining my people are seeking to spoil your trade supremacy on the seas. All my people want is a share of it - of course, as large a one as possible. That I and my people are sincerely desirous of having nothing but the amicable relationship with the English peoples may not be believed in your country, but we are used to be misunderstood. It is strange, and a source of great regret to me that, notwithstanding my protestations and the official statements of my Ministers, it should still be possible that your people should cherish so deeply hostile an attitude to my people itv their trade relations.
He goes on to say that the shipping competition accounts for a good deal of thefeeling between the two countries. Let me also quote what Senator Sir Josiah Symon has said on the subject -
I was in England during the progress of thenaval scare. It was apparent the whole business was worked up for party purposes by the Tory newspapers and Tory opposition. No responsible person with whom I spoke doubted the supremacy of the British Navy, nor is it doubted” that its absolute supremacy is essential. That its strength must be maintained is unquestionable. Supremacy of the sea need not have the meaning which some German extremists could interpret for it. But it does mean supreme in its power to defend the Empire, and resist aggression. It does not mean that we are out with abroom for our mastheads, determined to sweepall foreigners off the surface of the sea. But its significance is such that no one will threaten theintegrity of the Empire, with impunity. The question of the immediate construction of eight instead of four Dreadnoughts, irrespective of whether experts did or did not advise that they were necessary, was immediately seized uponfor party purposes, in my opinion. Whilst willing that Australia should, if necessary, give not one, but a dozen, Dreadnoughts (if we could), I think that the two millions or more that a Dreadnought would cost might be better spent in establishing or strengthening our own naval forces and Imperial defence in some other way, or it might be by largely increasing our annual contributions towards the cost of the portion of the navy more immediately concerned in the defence of these shores. A little while back it was cabled to London that Mr. Deakin was all fora Dreadnought or nothing. Now it would seem that he is for a Dreadnought or something else.
Since then, on the 26th June last, a cablegram has been published in our newspapers; stating that -
Speaking last evening at the National Liberal Club, Sir Edward Gray, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, referred to Great Britain’s foreign relations, and. declared, “There isnothing under discussion by Germany and Great Britain that is likely to cause difficulties.”
My contention is that there was no justification for the scare in the Old World, which was a political move, just as herethe action of those who profess to regard the matter as one of great national urgency was a move to strike a blow at the Labour party. That party, however, is ledby a man who kept his head ccol, and! who had taken a more effective way to defend Australia than the holding of big meetings. A list of the names of those who assembled on the platform at theSydney Town Hall shows that the meeting held there was a party move. Theexcitement engendered on these occasions- is a danger to the welfare of the country.. When the present Government, without the authority of Parliament, offered a Dreadnought to the Imperial authorities, it got 1 rebuff, being told as plainly as it could be told by the authorities of a great and dignified nation, speaking to the representatives of an important part of the Empire, “We do not want a Dreadnought.” They accepted in its stead the alternative proposal, nebulous though that is. Later on, we shall probably find that the British Admiralty has advised us to spend our money, as the Fisher Government proposed to do, in providing for our local defence by .building up a navy here to co-operate with the British Navy. The Government has sent a gentleman to England to represent Australia at a “Conference which the ‘Fisher Government had a big hand in bringing about, so that the best arrangements may be made for the defence of the Empire. Those who have spoken about the disloyalty of the Labour party will find, when they come to analyze the acts of the Fisher Government, that we are thoroughly loyal, and that in that Government we had, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, Ministers possessing the courage of their convictions.
– This Parliament will never know what views are put before the Conference. Does the honorable member approve of politicians being sent to such a Conference ?
– I do not. I should now like to read the following quotation from a very excellent article on the delusion of militarism, written by Dr. Jefferson, in the Atlantic Monthly :- -
Like many other diseases, militarism is contagious. One nation can be infected by another until there is an epidemic round the world. A parade of battleships can kindle fires in the blood of even peaceful peoples, and increase naval appropriations in a dozen lands. Is it possible, some one asks, for a world to become insane ? That a community can become crazy was proved by Salem, in the days of the witchcraft delusion ; that a city can lose its head was demonstrated by London, at the time of the Gunpowder Plot; that a continent can become the victim of an hallucination was shown when Europe lost its desire to live, and waited for the end of the world in the year 1000. Why should it be counted impregnable that many nations, bound together by steam and electricity, should fall under the spell of the delusion, and should act for a season like a man who has gone mad. But it is not true that the world has gone mad. . The masses of men are sensible ; but at present the nations are in the clutches of the militarists, and no way of escape has yet been discovered. The deliverance will come as soon as men begin to think and examine the sophistries with which militarism has flooded- the world. . . . The militarists are peace-at-any-price mcn. They are determined to have peace even at the risk of national bankruptcy. Everything good in Germany, Italy, Austria, England and Russia is held back by the confiscation of the proceeds of industry carried on for the support of the Army and Navy.
He says further -
Much has been written about the horrors of war ; the time has come ‘to write of the horrors of an armed peace ; in many ways it is more terrible than war. War is soon over and the wounds healed. An armed peace goes on indefinitely, and its wounds gape, and fester and poison all the air. War furnishes opportunity for men to be brave; an armed peace gives rise to interminable gossip about imaginary goblins and dangers. Tn war, nations think of principles, but in an armed peace, the mind is preoccupied exclusively with devising ways of increasing the efficiency of the implements of slaughter. War develops men, but an’ armed peace rots moral fibre.
These are only short quotations from a very excellent article, but it shows the dangers that may arise. It is quite true that the burden of these armaments on the nations of the world is becoming terrific; and we know that a w’ar between the two great nations which have been mentioned would be a terrible catastrophe. It is recognised that in Prussia the people are a fighting community, and that they have a large ‘sum hoarded ready for war, and it is also true, as the Kaiser is alleged to have said, that great capitalists are interested in such a turn of events. Under the circumstances, there is always an element of danger, and we on this side of the world, although we are a peaceful people, and have declared against militarism, must be prepared not only to defend our own shores, but to assist in the defence of the heart of the Empire. It is a very serious thing to lend any encouragement to the excitement produced by the cry of war, and I charge the newspapers with attempting to raise a cry of the kind. A gift of ^2,000,000 would represent an enormous burden for Australia, and would render us all the more helpless in the matter of defence if trouble came. England really does not want the assistance offered, because there, and also in Japan, for instance, the necessary funds can be raised by means of an income tax, and we must not forget that to build a vessel of the kind here would cost about 10s. per head of the population, as against 9d. in either of those countries. Even from the point of view of sentimental effect, the offer was ill-advised. We ought not to be overwhelmed by such appeals as have recently been made, and which may lead to unjustifiable waste of human life, energy, and treasure.
– The honorable member is trying to work up excitement now.
– I am astonished to find the honorable member where he is. His party was the most unanimous in the House, and I am surprised that he should permit it to be swallowed up by the nondescript crowd on the Ministerial benches.
– I can go alone, whereas the honorable member cannot.
– The honorable member ought to be on this side of the House, even if to get there he had to swallow the new Protection policy. Glancing at the question of finance, I have to point out that, since Federation, there has not been the slightest attempt on the part of the States to curtail wasteful expenditure. New South Wales has been more extravagant than ever. The indebtedness of Australia has increased in that time by some £39,000,000 ; and yet we have the Government taking its guidance from Joshua Brothers, organized employers, and others responsible for this state of affairs. Several proposals have been mentioned by the Government which involve borrowing, although the debt of Australia is enormous, represented, as it is, by State, municipal, and private loans, the interest for all of which has to be paid by the Australian worker, using the word in its broadest sense. In addition to the Dreadnought expenditure, and a suggested loan for postal requirements, we have to face the taking over of the Northern Territory, and the building of a transcontinental railway, the latter of which is estimated to cost about .£4,000,000, and the former ,£1,000,000 or ,£2,000,000. All these proposals appear to me to represent utter recklessness on the part of the Government.
– But the honorable member was in favour of Budgets embodying these proposals.
– It is not a question of what I am in favour of ; what I object to is the throwing away of money in order to placate, the honorable member for Parramatta. We cannot afford to throw away money on a Dreadnought which is not wanted, and i charge the Government with wilfully breaking through all constitutional methods in the offer they have made. The best thing we can do is, to a large extent. relieve England of the care of Australia by preparing for our own defence.
– The honorable member is boss of the biggest army in Australia today - the Australian Workers’ Union. !
– And they will be found excellent regiments if they are required for the defence of Australia. But these men - and they number 44,000 - are against any expenditure by the Government on a Dreadnought in the way proposed. The workers, too, are against the Government; and it is certain that no country would tolerate .an Administration such as that which now presides over the Commonwealth. While saying that, however, I am not at all sorry there has been a fusion of parties. Over and over again. I have contended that there are only two parties in both States and Commonwealth ; and that fact has not been lost sight of, although the Labour party worked very well with the Deakin Government in an alliance. As a matter of fact, this fusion is about the best thing that could happen to the Labour party. I have been studying the history of that party somewhat in detail recently, and I commend that history to the Prime Minister and others who have declared that we are always more antagonistic to those with whom we have been in alliance. That statement is not true in fact. In very many cases, in connexion with both Federal and State politics, Labour organizations have granted immunity to those working with Labour. When the Labour party in the Parliament of New South Wales held the balance of power, and was in alliance with the Reid party in 1895, it did not oppose the Reidites.
– It did oppose our. men.
– No. We ran together on the great question of fighting the Upper House and imposing a land tax.
– Still, the Labour party opposed our men at that election.
– Not after the dissolution. The facts show that our party has not grown so vigorously whilst we have been working in alliance with others as it has done when we have been in direct opposition. In 1900 there were only 67 Labour members in the Legislative Assemblies of the States, which at that time had a total membership of 428. To-day, however,, with a total membership of 347 in those Houses, we have 129 Labour members. We started in New South Wales in 1891 with 36 members, and in 1900 we had 67 in the
State Legislatures. In this Parliament we have worked with another party, but at each election have gained on all others. Even in Federal politics, however, we have not always opposed the candidates of those in alliance with us. In the Parliaments of Australia to-day, we have a total of 184 Labour members, and we have nothing to fear as a party from the present Coalition. It has led to a clear definition of parties. Had the Fisher Government remained in office they would have had to depend upon the support of some honorable members who are a very uncertain quantity. The whole political history of the honorable member for Ballarat, for instance, shows that he is always restless and uncertain when not in office. Then, again, the right honorable member for Swan is never happy unless in office. One can well understand that, since he was so long in power in Western Australia. The love of office grows on a man, and the honorable member for Ballarat is no sooner out of office than he becomes restless. That being so, we should probably have had unsatisfactory work had the Fisher Government remained in power, and called upon the present Prime Minister and some of his followers to support some of the advanced legislation embodied in their excellent programme. Members of the late Ministry have justice on their side in claiming that a Government should be deposed only on the ground that its policy does not meet with the approval of the country. They were turned out of office, however, solely because they were branded “ Labour.” Such a state of affairs ought not to exist.
– Why did the Labour party oust the Deakin Government from office?
– Because they were going too slowly. The present Government is likely to be ten times more extravagant than the Deakin Government was; but it is evident that it cannot last long. No party constituted as it is could hope to have a long life. It is all very well to say that the Coalition means a permanent fusion of the people, but the people themselves will declare against it. If the Government have so much faith in the judgment of the electors, why are they not prepared to go before them? When they asked for two months’ Supply I was inclined to think that they possibly entertained the idea of going to the country without delay, but in due time, in any event, the people will be able to say whether the policy of the late Government or that put forward by those now in office is best calculated to promote the well-being of the Commonwealth. The Ministry propose to sublet a great deal of the work of this Parliament to an Inter-State Commission, a likely member of which is the honorable member for Parkes. Imagine that honorable member being called upon to conduct a Labour .bureau ! He is an individualist, and is absolutely opposed to trade unionism.
– He has always been in favour of trade unionism.
– I may be mistaken as lo his attitude towards trade unions. I do not wish to misrepresent the honorable member for Parkes, but I know that he is an individualist, and is opposed to the restriction of immigration. Yet he is a probable member of the Commission, which is to conduct a Labour bureau, attend to immigration matters, and deal with anomalies in the Tariff. The honorable member has been a consistent Free Trader, so that the Protectionists know what to expect from him. Another likely member of the Commission is the honorable member for Fawkner, who declares for freedom of contract. The third member may be the honorable member for Flinders. All three are able men, and it is not improbable that they will be appointed to deal with the enormous volume of work to be delegated to the Commission. What have the working classes to expect from a Commission so constituted ? Those who think that they will be fooled as the Government would fool them make a mistake. We look with the utmost confidence to the time when we shall be able to make an appeal to the country. As to the business to be put before us, I recognise that there are several non-party measures, such as the Bill, to amend the Old-age Pensions Act, which ought to be dealt with. I do not know whether the Government will ever reach them, for, judging by the remarks of some of their followers, there is not much loyalty amongst them, and it would appear “that the statement of the Age that the support of the Free Traders is very uncertain is likely to prove correct. We have had an indication that the Government intend todeal only with the financial question this session, and that they will merely fill in the interval between now and the date of the introduction of the Budget with the consideration of a few non-party measures. We shall be able, perhaps, to prevent them from doing any harm The Coalition comprises men who have vigorously opposed and “stone-walled” some of the good legislation passed by this Parliament, and we shall see now whether they will attempt to undo any of it. If they do they will not succeed without a great deal of trouble. I do not wish to be a party to any declaration of warfare regarding ordinary business, but so far as these larger questions are concerned, I may say at once that we do not intend to allow any changes to be made until the country has had an opportunity to say whether or not they are desirable. After the next general election, we shall have a Labour Government once more in office. For the first time in the history of Australia a distinctly Labour Administration has had an opportunity to put forward a Ministerial programme, and that programme differed materially from our ordinary fighting platform, which comprises a very limited number of planks on which our party is pledged to act. and work together. On all other questions, we are free to vote as individuals. The late Government did their work as any British Government would. They met in Cabinet, and framed a bold and more truly national policy than had ever been put before the people. Although we had had several Governments, consisting of the picked men of the States - men of long Ministerial experience - and had passed some legislation of a humanitarian character, it remained for a Labour Government to put before the people of Australia the ‘boldest and most truly national policy that had ever been submitted to them. We had previously in power a Ministry that declared its great object to be the development of Australian industries, yet it did nothing to establish ship-building in the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister said that fiscal ism was only lightly touched on by the late Administration. He overlooked the fact that the Labour Government had not only declared for new Protection, but that the Labour party generally had shown by deeds, not words, their attitude towards the Tariff. He overlooked also the fact that during the recess the Labour Government took steps for the construction of our own little navy in Australia.
– The Labour party have no fiscal policy.
– We have, and the Protectionist members of the Coalition cannot hope to carry any alteration of the Tariff OIl Protectionist lines without our assist ance. Every member of the party formerly led by the right honorable member has declared himself free from any pledge in that regard. The right honorable member for East Sydney, who, although absent, still has influence, and must count in the party, has declared that the agreement does not affect the individual views of honorable members. Judged either by ‘words or deeds, the Fisher Government is the Government that could be relied upon, and the Fisher programme is the one which the country will adopt. The miserable policy which the present Government have put forward is not a programme at all. They really propose to sub-let all the functions of the Government of the Commonwealth to the States and an Inter-State Commission. They will never get such a thing carried, and in the first place they will never obtain the consent of the States to do it. It would be hopeless to ask the country to amend the Constitution in the way that the Government suggest. They must reckon with the Labour organizations, which will put up a big fight all over Australia against any such policy. The consumer is not to be provided for, and combines and trusts are not to be interfered with. There is no proposal to meet the decision of the High Court that questions may be asked under the Industries Preservation Act, but that no action may be taken afterwards to crush the trusts. The Government declares against our policy, .which is to nationalize, and so put an end to any injurious monopoly. It is a Government which backs up monopolies instead of interfering with them. It depends upon monopolists, and upon all the people who -are against improving the lot of the masses. They are against touching the big land-owners. Their plea is that the matter should be left to the States, although they know as well as we do that the States cannot touch the land monopoly question, because the vested interests in the Upper Houses are too strong. The Government will not propose a land tax, and refuse to touch the great commercial combines, and yet we are asked to put our faith in them. They are a mixed team of men with conflicting views, who were brought together only at the last minute - actually on the very day the House met. It was impossible to get them together before. The fusion proposals were pronounced a failure after all the negotiations, that started six months ago, and it was only by the powerful influences behind them that the present Government came into existence at all. Already we see that they do not look a happy family.
– The honorable member never made a greater mistake in his life.
– The honorable member for Indi knows nothing about it. He is about the last to whom they would tell any of their Cabinet secrets, so that we need take no notice of him. But I do take notice of some other honorable members, who have told the House frankly that they have not been swallowed up in the fusion, but are maintaining their own views. It is on those utterances that I base my contention that Protection and the new Protection have been sacrificed, and that preferential trade, and, in fact, everything that the honorable member for Ballarat submitted to the country at the last election and was returned to carry out, has been thrown overboard. Any proposals, that the Government do make to deal with the big interests are useless. Even in administration they began with an act upon which they stand condemned. It was injurious to the welfare of Australia, uncalled for, and wrong in principle, and in doing it they have weakened the capacity of Australia to provide for its own defence. If this Government live I shall have another opportunity of dealing with a number of other matters, while if they go out, we shall forget all about them, and proceed to do sensible business for the country. If we succeed in obtaining an appeal to the electors, we shall at least have somebody -to settle the question, and we need not waste time now upon minor details of the Government policy, with which a great deal of fault could be found, and which requires a great deal more explanation than we have yet had. It was a novel experience to hear the Leader of the Government reading a statement of policy instead of making a policy speech, and then making a light and flippant attack on the party who are now in Opposition. Both the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for Corio paid a great deal of attention to the Labour party. That was an admission that they feared it and knew its strength, vigour, and organization. Those attacks are meant only to divert attention from their own mistakes, to use a very mild term, or their own wrong-doing in sacrificing principles in order to come together with no other object than to defeat Labour. We know why that was done. It was to help on the reactionaries. There seems always to come a time when the Tory reactionaries get into power for a limited period. It gives them a chance of showing how unfitted they are to carry on the Government. All history shows that the capitalistic section of the community is the most unsuited of all for that task. The members of it have a great conceit of themselves. They think that no one can govern the country like them, but they are the most costly and inefficient crowd that can be found to conduct either public or private undertakings. Whenever Labour has had a chance to manage affairs, it has shown a great capacity for economic government and business organization. In neither of the cases where we have had the opportunity of conducting the government of Australia has any fault been found with our administration, and the Ministerial policy which the Fisher Government was allowed to put forward has been more acclaimed by the people than has the programme put forward by any other Government.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Darling on the temperate way in which he has put his views before the House. It was at least refreshing after the screaming we have had -from the members of the late Government because of their defeat. Nothing is so calculated to destroy the influence of the Labour party as the ungracious way -in which they went, out of office. I did think that, knowing that they had not a majority, they would take a lesson from the action of the present Prime Minister when they displaced his previous Government. When their time came to be told that they must cross to the Opposition benches, I expected that they would take their defeat graciously, but they did not. They have been complaining ever since.
– Are honorable members opposite taking their fusion graciously ?
– The fusion falls in admirably with my views as previously expressed from the independent benches, and with the pledges I gave to my electors. Protection has been cited by the honorable member for Darling as one of the main questions endangered by the fusion, but it may be news to the honorable member that the majority of the members of the fused party voted for more effective Protection than the Labour party did as a whole.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– The onus of disproving it lies with the interjector. Protection is safer in the hands of this side of the House than in the hands of honorable members opposite. Instead of complaining because they were put out of office ; instead of asserting that the Prime Minister has deserted his principles - and that, of course, is incorrect - the Labour party should consider themselves under a debt of gratitude to him as a great party leader, for giving them an opportunity to participate in passing legislation which has been to the advantage of Australia.
– And which the honorable member opposed.
– I voted for the legislation which appeared to me, as an independent member, to be best for the people. While the Labour party were backing up the Prime Minister, and helping him to pass what, in some cases, was useful legislation, they had a say in shaping the destinies of Australia. While they were in office themselves they had an opportunity to misuse some of their administrative privileges and powers. But now that they are relegated, for the first time in the history of the Federation, to the cold shades of Opposition, they find themselves powerless. Probably that accounts for “all their complaints. They occupy now the position which as a minority in the House they should occupy. The essential differences between the policy of the present Government and that of the Labour party consist of the latter’s schemes of nationalization and the proposed imposition of a land tax.
– And new Protection.
– There is a commonsense proposal for new Protection in the Government programme. It will leave the State tribunals, which are in close touch with the commercial elements, free to fix the rates of wages within their respective States. The Wages Boards, being composed of equal numbers of employes and employers, are expert tribunals. I have always recognised, however, that there is a difficulty in having distinct tribunals fixing wages in different States, and that this might give rise to variations in the standard of wages. It is, therefore, necessary to have some Court or body of appeal from the decisions of the State tribunals, in order that the wage standards might be harmonised, that one State should not gain an advantage in manufacturing over the others, and that the conditions might be as far as possible standardized. The Government propose that appeals may Ee made to the Inter-
State Commission, where anomalies exist in the determinations of the State WagesBoards, in order that justice may be meted out to all the States. I shall not discuss the Labour party’s impracticable proposalsfor the nationalization of industries. I admit that they have added a number of practical planks to their policy, borrowed from the Liberal party. They thought that by doing this they could make an effective appeal to the practicallyminded in the community. The nationalization of monopolies really means thenationalization of every private enterprise.
– What practical legislation has the party to which the honorable member belongs brought forward?
– The Liberal leader is responsible for most of the practical legislation on our statute-book. The Labour party cannot do more than claim credit for supporting his proposals ; it cannot claim them as its policy. The land tax proposals of the party are double-barrelled. It is intended, by means of a land tax, to aim first at the large estates, bursting them up, and, secondly, at an increase of revenue. Toeffectively burst up the large estates, theproposed tax must confiscate existing values to some extent. Therefore, the Labour party’s proposal is confiscatory. While the main object is to burst up the large estates, the tax is spoken of also as a means for raising revenue for the carrying out of the defence and other proposals mentioned by the honorable member for Wide Bay in his Gympie speech. In October last, the present Minister of Defence quoted a speech delivered by the ex-Leader of the Labour party, the honorable member for South Sydney, in which that gentleman said that the party had pledged itself to an exemption of £5,000 on the unimproved capital value of land, and that the tax should not exceed 4d. in the £1. He declared its mair* object to be the bursting up of large estates, and said that it was of little moment if the small man escaped at the time by reason of the fact that estates of less than £5,000 in values would be exempt. The honorable member for New England has also been very frank on the point, advocating a progressive land tax, with an exemption of £5,000, with the object, first and foremost, of compelling owners to sell, to give opportunities for closer settlement. The honorable member for Werriwa said last session that the Labour party proposed a land tax “ not for the purpose of raising revenue,, but to promote land settlement.” He said that if the tax brought in revenue, it would not be effective for the purposes of the party. ‘ Senator Givens has said that the incentive to the advocacy of a land tax is the desire to abolish “ the blighting curse of landlordism.” Similar sentiments have been uttered by other members of the Labour party. These references show that the first object of the tax is to burst up the large estates. The Leader of the Labour party was also probably driven to put forward a progressive land tax by the need of finding revenue for the proposals which he mentioned at Gympie.
– The imposition of land taxation was determined upon at the Brisbane Labour Conference, so that the Leader of the Labour party had to do this.
– Yes; but he proposed it as a means of direct taxation, as well as a means for bursting up large estates. The honorable member for Corio has shown that 700,000 of revenue would be needed to give effect to the policy of the Fisher Government. I consider that a progressive land tax, as a. means of promoting settle- _ ment, and raising revenue, is doomed to failure. The figures of the Commonwealth Statistician are difficult to follow, because the States have each their own method of compiling statistics, which prevents the making of exact comparisons. But it is possible to estimate approximately the probable revenue from taxation such as that proposed by the Labour party. In Australia, 126,000,000 acres have been alienated, or are now in course of alienation. Of this area, 50,000,000 acres are situated in New South Wales, 26,000,000 acres in Victoria, and the balance in the other four States. For the purposes of my calculation, I have exempted Victorian estates of less than 2,500 acres, and estates in New South Wales ot less than 2,000 acres.
– Are there not in Victoria many estates containing 2,500 acres that are worth ,£5,000?
– Of course, there are some. The honorable member can make his own estimate of ‘the number (which would be exempt under the proposals of the Labour party. Taking unimproved values as a basis, there are picked estates in New South Wales, Victoria, ‘ and Tasmania of less than 2,000 acres each, which are certainly worth ^5,000. But in a calculation affecting the whole Commonwealth they are not very numerous. If honorable members opposite question my figures, let them work out some scheme of their own.
– The honorable member’s figures are fictitious.
– They are those of the Commonwealth Statistician.
– He has given none.
– Then the honorable member has not read his book
– I read it before it was published.
– Altogether there is a taxable area of 73,000,000 acres, held by 4,303 persons, the average holding Being about 16,000 acres. Of this area about 33,000,000 acres are in New South Wales, and 7,000,000 acres in Victoria.
– What is the acreage of Melbourne, and what is it worth ?
– Nearly all the allotments which go to make up the Melbourne metropolitan area are much below £5,000 in value. In New South Wales something over £340,000 per annum is obtained from land value taxation on 50,000,000 acres. ‘ Taking the New South Wales method of valuation, after deducting the exemption of that State, the 73,000,000 acres to which I have referred may be said to be worth £2 an acre.
– In New South Wales land worth less than £240 is exempt from taxation.
– It must be remembered, in criticising my figures, that there are immense areas in the interior of Queensland and Western Australia whose unimproved value is very little. In putting the average value of the alienated lands of Australia at £2 per acre I am probably going beyond the mark. However, I calculate the total value to be about £150,000,000. If from that the exemptions are deducted - and they total about £21,000,000-there is left £129,000,000. Taxation on that, at an average rate of 1½d. in the pound, would produce about three-quarters of a million. Therefore, the proposed land taxation would not raise half the amount required to carry out the Gympie policy.
– The New South Wales tax, which is only id. in the pound, used to bring in nearly as much revenue as the honorable member calculates would be received from a Commonwealth tax.
– This year the New South Wales tax brought in less than £200,000.
– There is not a land tax in New South Wales now.
– The levying of the New South Wales land tax has been given over by the Government to the shires and municipalities.
– Last year the New South Wales land tax returned nearly 200,000, and in the previous year 350,000, before exemption in the case of municipal taxation was allowed. The New South Wales exemption is £240, while that of the Labour party is £5,060. Let us now consider the probable efficacy of a progressive land tax as a means for bursting up large estates. New Zealand is always being cited as an example of the good effects which follow land taxation. It has been stated over and over again that the New Zealand land tax has burst up the large estates of the Dominion, with the result that settlement has increased by leaps and bounds, to the great prosperity of the country. Let us now see what New Zealand has done. The Dominion is a little larger than Victoria, and, therefore, has a little more land, and there the Government levy a tax of one penny in the pound, with an exemption up to £500 in value, in addition to a progressive land tax on all estates over £5,000 in value. In 1904 there were in New Zealand, 379 estates of over £5,000 in value, while in 1908 there were 415. In Victoria in 1904 there were 309 estates of over £5,000 in value, and in 1908 there were 231. In New Zealand in 1904, there were 223 estates of over 10,000 acres and under 20,000 acres, and in 1908 there were 248 j whereas in Victoria in 1904, there were 180 estates of such dimensions, as compared with 118 estates last year. In 1908, in New Zealand, there were twice as many estates as in Victoria, of 5,000 to 50,000 acres, and twenty times as many estates of over 50,000 acres. That is the lesson we have to learn from the imposition of a land tax in New Zealand, for the purpose of bursting up large estates. In New Zealand there is a progressive land tax, whereas in Victoria there is not, but the fact remains that Victoria has beaten New Zealand in regard to the bursting up of large estates.
– The honorable member’s figures are mixed ; where did he get them ?
– The figures are all published in the Year-Book. My own view is that a progressive land tax is an absolute failure, so far as concerns the settlement of the poorer classes of the people on the land, in order to put the soil to the best use.
– What does the honorable member propose?
– My proposal is that the State should come in and purchase. I have one or two examples of estates settled under the Closer Settlement Act, and of estates that have been cut up and sold privately in Victoria. Near Hamilton there is an estate of 44,900 acres, of the value of £412,000, which, when subdivided privately, resulted in thirty-six new people being placed on the land. In the same district there is another estate of 25,000 acres, of the value of £187,000, which, when subdivided under the Closer Settlement Act, resulted in 166 new settlers.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I may explain that the closer settlement policy in Victoria prevents the re-aggregation of the estates, by means of a compulsory residence clause = attaching to the freehold. In the case of the Government subdivision the average acreage per homestead is 154, and the average value of the estates £^1,126, whereas, under private subdivision, the average acreage per homestead is 1,247 acres, and the average value £11,444. These are two typical instances of what is going on all over the country. I am not prepared to say that the policy has been put into operation, in real earnest in any of the States ; and I think that there is plenty of room for extension. If we are to settle Australia with that population necessary to defend it, and develop that civilization we look for, we must deal with this great problem.
– That system has been in existence for many years in Western Australia.
– I dare say; and my only complaint is that the States Governments have not adopted the system extensively enough. Of the £250,000,000 borrowed by Australia, some £180,000,000 has been spent in the construction of railways ; and a similar amount spent in the repurchase” of land for settlement purposes - though I am not advocating any such expenditure at present, because I do not think it is necessary - could not fail to be followed by good results. At present I am merely contrasting railway securities with land securities, and urging that subdivision of estates, at moderate rates, could in no case prove a mistake on the part of the States. The proposal for a land tax brings this question of settlement at once within the arena of discussion. Under the Constitution we have to deal with immigration ; and it is necessary that the important question of land settlement should be seriously discussed with the Stale Governments, in order that the necessary areas shall’ be provided. We have already signalized our partnership in the Empire by the readyoffer of a battleship, or some other form of assistance; and, in a little while, there will be a conference between the State Governments and the Commonwealth as to the settlement of the financial question on a basis that will, I hope, allow both to develop the resources of the country in the speediest and soundest possible way. I trust that proper consideration will be given to the work that the Commonwealth Government must undertake in the development of the Northern Territory, the defence of the country, and the construction of transcontinental railways, and also that it will be seen that the States are not crippled in the developmental works they have to undertake in the form of railway construction and water supply, and other important public services. ‘ All these problems are of very serious importance; and I hope that yet another, namely, new ‘ Protection, will be discussed at the Conference, in order that some satisfactory solution may be arrived at, so as to give the workers the justice to which they are entitled. But, however important these questions are, those of immigration and land settlement are really the more vital, and ought to be tackled, so that we may absorb, at any rate, a substantial percentage of the immigrants whom we hope will shortly be brought here through the action of the Federal Parliament. If it is not possible to come to a proper understanding with the States, it may be necessary, as already foreshadowed by the Prime Minister, to ask the people of Australia to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to purchase lands in various parts of Australia, so that immigration may go hand in hand with a reasonable scheme of land settlement. I hope that the Conference will be held during the coming spring, and that it will not only settle the other questions to which I have alluded, but that the Prime Minister will not leave it until a definite arrangement has been made for the various States to make available .areas of land necessary to absorb at least a very substantial percentage of the immigrants that the Commonwealth will endeavour to bring here within a few years.
– Then he will never leave the Conference.
– It may be said that all the good land in Australia is already alienated, and that the continent does not offer great opportunities for settlement. I do not wish to weary the House hy making long quotations, but I shall read a. short extract from the Intellectual Development of Europe, by Dr. Draper, which has an important bearing on this point. He asks -
Why was it that civilization rose on the banks of the Nile and not on those of the Danube or Mississipi? Civilization depends upon soil and climate. In Egypt the harvests may be foretold and controlled. Of few other parts of the world can the same be said. In most countries the cultivation of the soil is uncertain. From seed-time to harvest, the meteorological changes are so numerous and great that no skill can predict the amount of yearly produce …. if dependence” upon the rainfall from the heavens is the only supply. Nor is it sufficient that a requisite amount of water should fall, but to produce the proper effect it must fall at particular periods of the year. In Egypt man is not the sport of seasons, because he has the yearly and regular flows of the great Nile River. Agriculture is certain in Egypt, and there man first became civilized.
The writer also says -
The American counterpart of Egypt in this physical condition is Peru, the coast of which is almost a rainless district. Peru is the Egypt of civilization of the Western Continent. It is an incident full of meaning in the history of human progress that in regions far apart civilization thus commenced in rainless countries.
Here then is a lesson thousands of years old that is not inapplicable to Australia. No other country has perhaps such possibilities of successful irrigation as Australia offers. We have great mountain ranges running along the eastern coastline from which rivers take their rise, coursing through the fertile districts of the southern portion of this continent. And what is being done to develop this country ? At the last general election I strongly advocated that the Federal Parliament should . take control of the great waterways of Australia. However much we may temporize with this great question I still believe that it will be necessary before long to exercise some Federal control over our great and valuable streams that are now running to waste. We have only to look to the experience of other countries to learn what are the possibilities of Australia in regard to irrigation. In twelve States of the United States of America there are under irrigation 15,000,000 acres. Before water was carried on to that land many parts of it were estimated to be worth not more than 5s. per acre, but it will now readily bring from £20 to £30 per acre. Some of those estates are already carrying 750,000 people. As far back as 1890 the present Prime Minister in a work on irrigation in India - a book that has since been described by probably the greatest irrigation expert in the world, as the most comprehensive yet published on irrigation development in that country - showed that there were some 30,000,000 acres under active irrigation and intense cultivation there. That area has since been increased to 50,000,000 acres, and it is estimated that nearly 200,000,000 of the 300,000,000 people of India are dependent directly or indirectly on those irrigated lands. We have in the Northern Territory a third of the area of India., and rivers which, whilst they may not compare with the Ganges or the Indus could nevertheless be advantageously used for irrigation purposes. During the rainy season large volumes of water run to waste that might be stored in reservoirs. There is also a possibility of introducing with success in the Northern Territory the well system, that has proved so beneficial to India as an irrigation agency. The Territory, in short, offers facilities for irrigation, not quite as good as those prevailing in India, but capable, nevertheless, of being so utilized, if the genius and energy of man be applied to them, that a population of many millions may be settled there. The sooner we take the work in hand and provide there a defence of producers, instead of a standing army, the sooner we shall prove our fitness to develop this great continent. Some of the western States of America are similar in climate and character to the arid districts of Australia. We have along the Murray between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 acres which could be brought almost immediately under active irrigation and intense culture. Ten thousand acres under cultivation in Mildura are carrying 5,000 people, and the average production of that settlement is greater than the average production of Australia as a whole. That shows that with irrigation it can carry as many people to the “acre as can land on the Nile, which has been under irrigation for centuries. We have from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 acres lying in the valleys of our large rivers, and we have the credit, the engineering skill, and here and in Great Britain the people with the energy and intelligence to develop that land. It seems to me that all that we require now to lay the foundation of a great and prosperous settlement in those valleys is the exercise of the genius of statesmen and legislators. I hope the Prime Minister will have a full and comprehensive report prepared incidentally on the irrigation possibilities, and primarily on the navigation possibilities of our large rivers. Under the Federal Constitution, wisely or unwisely, the Commonwealth control of our rivers relates only to their navigation. It would be possible, however, for the Federal Parliament to construct weirs along them in order to provide for navigation, and Under sections 98 and 100 of the Constitution it is competent for the Government to appoint a Commission to prepare .a comprehensive report on their navigability. The instructions to such a Commission might well include a direction to report on the irrigation possibilities which they offer.
– Why does not Victoria carry out the agreement she has entered into?
– I am speaking, not on behalf of Victoria, but with a regard for the welfare of Australia generally. I have dealt now with all the questions on which I intend to touch. I have shown that the land tax proposals of the Fisher Government would not have the anticipated effect of settling on the soil people of limited means, who find it difficult to acquire land unless it is offered to them by the State on easy terms. I have also shown that it would not produce as much revenue as the late Government imagine, and that the Conference which is about to be held has large and important duties to carry out. I hope that among the important questions with which it will deal will bethose of irrigation, land settlement, and, if possible, the Federal control of the large waterways of Australia.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has told the House that he is delighted to be a member of the fusion, that he is pleased to be sitting behind the Prime Minister, and that he is satisfied with the Government’s proposals. If that h& so, why did the honorable member remain so long in the Opposition corner when the Deakin Government were in office. Why did he oppose their proposals?
– Because the Labour party were supporting and dominating them..
– The honorable member for Wimmera when in the Opposition corner opposed every proposal that the Deakin Government brought forward.
– Name one that I opposed.
– Is it any wonder that a motion of no-confidence in the Government should be submitted by the Leader of the Opposition when we find that not on iv has the country no confidence in them, but that some of the members of the Government doubt each other. There is no confidence amongst those who sit behind them or beside them. As an evidence of that some members of the fusion will not even take the trouble to attend the House in order to assist the Government. They do not appear here at all. They are ashamed of the fusion, and have never put a foot in this chamber since it was consummated. I am glad they have some sense of shame. The only redeeming feature of Ministers is the sense of shame that drives them from the chamber when they are under the lash of the Opposition. I am glad to see so many of them in their places to-night. It is a remarkable thing that in this same reeking stable we find the professed advocate of a White Australia - the Prime Minister, who has not stuck even to that - and the alleged Democrat, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, harnessed up with the bitterest black labour advocate in the House - the honorable member for Brisbane. The Prime Minister went beyond all precedent, and formed a Ministry of ten, in order that he might be able to include that spotted gentleman in his team. The first act of the Honorary Minister after his appointment, was to rush to the press to ventilate his anti-Australian views with regard to naval and military defence. This was too much even for the Prime Minister, and he brought to book the honorable gentleman, who had received Ministerial office as a guerdon for his decile support of Australia’s greatest political traitor, who sits in that corner.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– Who is the traitor?
– Order ! The honor.orable member for Hindmarsh must not pursue that subject.
– I have heard much stronger language from the Prime Minister, and was not aware that it was unparliamentary to call an honorable member a political traitor.
– I was under the impression that the honorable member simply used the word “traitor.”
– I intended to say ‘ political traitor. ‘ ‘ I can imagine the Prime Minister saying in effect to that docile gentleman, “ You are in our pay, and must do as we bid you, not as you believe you should do.” The honorable member has to follow the Prime Minister no matter what he thinks of his proposals. He is bound hand and foot. I can imagine the Honorary Minister replying, “ As to principles, 1 glory in having none. I want ‘a billet. Your will shall be obeyed,” but probably with the dangerous mental reservation - “ Perhaps.” The Honorary Minister has been sent to England to attend a secret Conference. How can any man who has expressed publicly the views that he has expressed upon the naval and military defence of Australia, advocate the Views which the Government want him to advocate at that Conference? It is impossible for him to do it, and I do not know that he will trouble to do it. We shall never know if he has troubled to do it. I do not wonder at the Age being anxious to have my late Ministerial colleague, Senator Pearce, sent Home as the mouthpiece of this country, to voice the sentiments of the Australian people with the zeal born of conviction, and not with the duplicity and weakness of a hired mercenary. There is Australia’s danger, yet that is the position. Need I say more to show the utter shamelessness and rottenness of a Government who could actually send as their representative, a man who does not share the opinions of the body of which he is a member, and does not hesitate to place his own views before the public? The Prime Minister, when in Tasmania, said at Queenstown, as reported in the Age of 2nd March : -
I have been challenged because I have given the principal place to the consideration of the position of parties. A party is a body of men united in certain common principles to which they desire to give effect. The justification of the party’s existence is that they seek the same things by the same means. If they do that they are such a party as we’ desire to see, because it would be in the popular interest, but if they are but a group of men brought together for social ends in personal combination, that is not a party in any sense of the term. Policy must come before the party, and be the foundation of the party.
I ask the Prime Minister and his colleagues if those on that side of the House are banded together because “ they seek the same things by the same means? “ Do the Postmaster-General and the AttorneyGeneral seek the same things by the same means ?
– Yes, we agree on our programme, which is on the table.
– I am glad the honorable member says so. Let us ascertain if it is so. Rather honorable members opposite are banded together, as the Prime Minister said, as a social group, and their object is to get as many billets as they possibly can for themselv.es and their friends. The right honorable member for East Sydney said at Paddington, on 4th December, 1906 -
He would repeal the White Ocean clause, alter the Immigration laws which compelled a white man to get the permission of a Federal Minister before he could enter Australia under a contract to work, and eliminate the principle of compulsory preference to unionists.
Are those the ends that the PostmasterGeneral and his colleagues are seeking? Do they propose to destroy the White Australia policy, and interfere with the Immigration laws, or has the right honorable member for East Sydney agreed to accent 1he views of the Postmaster-General? Who has made the sacrifice? One or the other must have made it, and one or the other must be a political traitor - false to his principles. Which is it? We do not know the terms of the compact, which was made in secret, but it is impossible for the Postmaster-General to say that he is favour of the White Australia policy, and that he is also “ seeking the same things by the same means “ as the right honorable member for East Sydney. The four honorable members who constitute the remnant, not the wreckage, of the old Liberal party - they represent the true Liberalism, and have proved themselves to be the only Liberals in the House - spoke in sorrow, and not in anger, when they expressed their regret that the Prime Minister had deserted them. I admit that the honorable member for Hume spoke in anger, but he had reason to. He would not have been a man if he had not felt angry at the treatment he received. The three others expressed their greatest sorrow thai they had been deserted, and 1 well remember the words of the honorable member for Gippsland. He said he was glad that the honorable member who- applied the gag that prevented the House from considering the policy of the Fisher Government was not a member of the Deakin party.. He could not believe that his late leader was the man who gave the command to his little weak instrument, the honorable member for Wentworth, to apply the stiletto. What can he think of his late leader to-day, after the Fisher Government have been turned out in the dirtiest and most contemptible manner that ever a Government was dealt with in any of the Parliaments of the Commonwealth ? They were not allowed even to put their policy before the House, to say nothing of having it tested on its merits, and without those who were opposed to them daring to insinuate any charge whatever against their smallest act of administration. The honorable member for Gippsland could not believe that his late leader could be guilty of such contemptible conduct.
– I think that several honorable members opposite were parties to the old South Australian practice once upon a time.
– I never knew an instance in South Australia where a. Government was turned out before the House knew anything about its policy. Not one was turned out before its policy had been freely discussed.
– The honorable member voted to put Ministries out without debate.
– This is the first time in the history of Australia that such tactics were used. The Prime Minister, of course, tells us that his policy does not change. It was the same in 1901 and 1903, and it will be the same in 1950 if he is alive. He never intends to carry anything. He has never tried to carry anything. He talks at large all over the country and all over the Old Country upon defence, but he does absolutely nothing. The moment another Government has the courage to do something, he becomes a fault-finder. He does not say, “Go on; good luck to you. We are delighted to think that you have the courage to do what we feared to do.” Although the Government have snatched a temporary victory, I see the benches opposite swarming with renegades - rats - from the Labour party. They had a new addition to their ranks the other day. I have always looked upon the honorable member for Perth as an honorable and upright gentleman, but I would point out that if any honorable member is dissatisfied with the platform and actions of the Labour parly there are two honorable courses open to him. He may carry out the pledges that he made to those who sent him into Parliament and to those who selected him as a candidate, and whom, in his own handwriting, he undertook to support, or he may resign his seat. The honorable member for Perth has done neither, and the fusion is welcome to him. There is no room in our ranks for men of that character. I see on those benches the honorable member for Bourke, the honorable member for Batman, and even the honorable ‘member for Corio, who went almost upon his hands and knees crawling to the Geelong branch of the Labour party - the party he chooses to denounce to-day.
– The honorable member must not apply such a term to a fellowmember.
– Then I shall substitute the word “cringing.” The Ministerial party is welcome to gentlemen of that class. We have no room for them in the Labour party. We are honorable men, who consider ourselves bound by our pledges, and do not advocate one set of principles to-day and another to-morrow.
– Honorable members are also bound by the caucus.
– I shall presently deal with the misrepresentations about t,he caucus. Those outside the Labour party pretend to know more about its methods than do those inside it. We have nothing to hide, and I shall, to-night, lay everything bare respecting the caucus.
– The Labour party never lets it be known what is done in the caucus.
– I shall let everything be known. The honorable member would not let everything which he has done be known. Were he to lay his .actions as bare as I am prepared to lay bare the actions of the caucus, he could not retain his seat a week.
– That is top thin.
– The honorable member had better not ask me to make it thicker. It is only on the assumption of hypnotic influence, or witchery, that I can explain the fact that- honorable members are drawn to the side of one member who has risen to his position by treachery, and the assassination of his friends. There is no one who can better propose legislation as a fruit fair to the eye, or extol its virtues in more mellifluous language, than the Prime Minister can; but his legislation is always rotten at the core.
– Then, why did the Labour party assist him in passing so much of it?
– The honorable member for Ballarat was a good enough leader for the Labour party to follow for a long time. The honorable member followed him like a little poodle.
– The Prime Minister would have been glad had I so followed him. But, as a member of the Labour party, I had freedom to express my opinions without consulting any one at any time, and I always did so. What was the value of the Harvester Excise Act, passed as part of the new Protection ? How has the union label legislation benefited the workers? Honorable members say that I supported the last Deakin Government; but did I not denounce it, and tell the Prime Minister that his legislation would not be worth the paper upon which it was printed? Did I not say that, if the Government wished to do something for the industrial classes, it ‘should have the constitutionality of its’ legislation tested, so that, if necessary, amending legislation could be introduced before the Tariff was dealt with. The ‘ Prime Minister has stated that the Labour party wishes to carry legislation with a view to raiding the classes to give the booty to the masses. I have never used language such as that, nor. been guilty of such a misrepresentation. No member of the Labour party would do what we are said to wish to do. The Prime Minister and his colleagues, however, allowed the employers to enjoy for eighteen months booty which they had obtained from the Parliament on the promise to treat their employes fairly, in consideration of the passing of a high protective Tariff. I am a Protectionist, and would vote for higher duties than are now in force. But I shall not trust the employers again, nor shall I trust the Ministerialists. In South Australia we were once sold by, the employers, and in Victoria we have been twice sold by them; we shall not be sold the third time. We shall see that the workers get their share of Protection by passing machinery which will give effect to our wishes. We are ready to do what honorable members opposite dare not doj we are willing to protect the employers.
– Honorable members opposite are handcuffed.
– They are tonguetied, shackled, and manacled, as members of the Labour party never have been. Let me point out some of the members opposite who have sacrified their principles. First, Jet me refer to the honorable member for Fawkner. In the Age of 22nd November, 1906, he is reported to have said that he could not sit behind the Prime Minister, because he was always afraid that that gentleman would drift towards Socialism, and that he could not sit behind’ the right honorable member for East Sydney, because he was a Free Trader. There is no place in the House for the honorable member.
– What about the Labour party ?
– The Labour party is anathema to him. I would not sit cheek by jowl with him. I could not, like the honorable members for Bourke and Maribyrnong, tell my constituents that the president of the Employers’ Federation had been laying his head alongside mine, while we devised legislation for their benefit. The Labour party would not have the honorable member for Fawkner, and, as he cannot sit behind either the honorable member for Ballarat, or the right honorable member for East Sydney, he has no right to a seat in this Chamber. What, then, are we to think of his present position ? Can we rely on the utterances of an honorable gentleman who, after making the statements to which I have referred, has, without consulting his electors, become a supporter of the honorable member for Ballarat?
– When he made those statements the Labour party was supporting the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member for Franklin is reported in the Hobart Mercury, a newspaper which would certainly deal fairly with him, and correct any misstatement, to have said that no more contemptible figure than the honorable member for Ballarat during the preceding session had ever existed in a British Parliament. That statement appeared in the Mercury of the 29th October, 1906. I have not said anything stronger than that. Now, however, the honorable member is sitting behind the honorable member for Ballarat.
Can we trust honorable members who- turn about in this way to do anything for the benefit of the workers? Their promises must henceforward be expressed in writing. The electors will require them to sign their pledges in the future, or, more probably, will choose other representatives; The honorable member for Franklin is also reported to have said, on the 19th November, 1906, just prior to the elections, that if he had to vote he would rather support the Labour candidate than the honorable member for Ballarat, who was a weathercock. I hope that the Prime Minister is proud of his supporters. I should not like to be at the head of men who had called me a weathercock, and said that I was the most contemptible figure in Parliament. They make lovely companions, these Labour rats, and those who, although they have -not ratted from the Labour party, do not differ much from those who have done so.
– What does the honorable member for Wentworth say about the honorable member for Ballarat?
– The honorable member for Wentworth is always afraid that the stiletto may flash out at any moment. I believe that he is heartily ashamed of having been the instrument with which the Fisher Government was despatched. I wish now to say a word or two 4n reference to the Dreadnought offer. Defence cannot be provided for by spasmodic effort. I sympathize with those who agitated for the offer of a Dreadnought to Great Britain, as evidence of our feeling towards the people of the Mother Country; but the Fisher Government had to consider plain facts. We knew that the Old Country did not need a Dreadnought, and that to merely offer one would not increase our defences. Great Britain could build a hundred Dreadnoughts if she needed them. What she needs are sailors to man her vessels. If we could provide two sailors for every German sailor, we should do something of more value than the giving of a Dreadnought. I know that hitherto the power and prestige of the British Empire has rested in her navy, and. I have confidence in that navy. The Fisher Government gave effect to its policy before the Dreadnought scare occurred. We all know now that the scare was engineered for party purposes. Suppose a big firm having its main office in Melbourne, and branches in Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, and other places, was affected by a panic, and one of the branches wired to headquarters to say, “Don’t be alarmed, we are sending you £500,” would not the public at once think that the firm was about to fail? Such a message would probably bring about the downfall of _the business which it was intended to assist. There is great unrest in India at the present time, and I am sorry for it ; but those who went about trying to make it be believed that the British Empire was on the eve of breaking up, ran the risk of kindling a blaze in India that it would have been hard to extinguish.
– Keir Hardie tried that.
- Mr. Keir Hardie was never reported correctly.
– What about the honorable member for Indi?
– I would not touch him with a 40-foot pole. For months the Minister of Defence and his late leader, the right honorable member for East Sydney, went about the country denouncing the proposal to establish a navy and introduce compulsory military service. These gentlemen have now changed their opinions. The electors never gave any authority for any change of opinion on those questions; and if a representative does change his opinion, he ought certainly to seek his masters’ approval. As a matter of fact, honorable members opposite are afraid to face their masters, because they know what the result will be. The Labour party have held meetings in every part of Australia; and we have found the people unanimously with us. The Attorney-General dare not speak as honorable members are now speaking about the gift of a Dreadnought if he were in Adelaide, for I can tell him that even the Conservative journal in that city denounced the proposal in trenchant terms as utter foolishness. We have heard a great deal from honorable members opposite, when speaking outside the House, as to whether it is a proper course to present a Dreadnought.
– Or to send fraternal greetings to Germany !
– Why should we not sent fraternal greetings to Germany? Does the honorable member say that German workmen are not worthy of brotherhood ? I belonged to a club in Adelaide, in which are 500 German members ; and better men I never wish to be associated with. I wish that those responsible for the war scare had, instead, sent fraternal greetings to the people of Germany.
– Ask the AttorneyGeneral what he says on the point.
– I believe that the Germans are as highly cultured and as richly endowed with national spirit as any other race.
– The Fisher Government gave more consideration than that given by any other Government to the question of defence ; and, after having had the advice of the best experts, they arrived at a conclusion as to what they deemed to be the best policy. In spite of what the present Minister of Defence said a few months ago, all the authorities are in accord with what was done by the Fisher Government. The Honorable Alfred Lyttelton, speaking at a banquet some time ago, said -
He said that the part which Great Britain’s dominions overseas were to play in the next century was largely dependent on the coming Conference. He was in absolute accord with Canada and Australia in their desire to possess their own navies.
I have heard honorable members opposite trying to twist what was said by Admiral Lord Beresford, but here are the words of that gentleman -
The self-governing Dominions can best help us, not by spending ^’2,000,000 in the construction of battleships to serve in British quarters, but by making efforts to defend themselves. The only way the Dominions oversea can be hurt is by the cutting of the trade routes. . . . The investment of ^2,000,000 in home defence and cruisers which would protect the trade routes would be a better investment than helping to defend Great Britain’s shores.
Lord Tweedmouth is entirely in accord with those views. I suppose it would take the Prime Minister three weeks to explain away to his colleagues the policy which he says has been his for years and years. . I dare say it would take him three years to explain it to the Treasurer, who last night showed himself unable to point out the details of the “ contingencies” in the Supply Bill; and truly such a man is the fittest Treasurer for a confusion Government that could be imagined. The honorable member for Hume could tell about the “muddle which the right honorable gentleman created previously ; doubtless, it will require another Treasurer in the near future to clear away the muddle again. Admiral Bosanquet, the present Governor of South Australia, speaking on the subject of naval defence, is reported -
He said it was of vital importance for a fleet arriving from distant quarters to find men ready to take part in this work. It would be impossible for the smaller type of warships to come across the ocean, and vessels of that kind would be of enormous advantage to a fleet for the defence of Australia. It was along these lines the Commonwealth Ministers appeared to be working, and he would say, “ back them up, and do all you can to make the naval history oi Australia thus begun like that of the Old Country.”
Admiral Bosanquet is a man of years and experience on the Australian station, and no one knows better the defence requirements of the country.
– Does the honorable member claim that this is evidence against our giving a Dreadnought?
– I have here some evidence, which, as it is short, I shall read. We shall have to instil patriotism into British ship-owners before we talk of giving a Dreadnought ; it is not Dreadnoughts we want, but men to man the ships.
– Does the honorable member not know that, at the last Imperial Conference, the First Lord of the Admiralty said that the Navy could get all the men necessary ?
– I shall read some official information to the honorable member -
The loyalty of British ship-owners does not extend to employing British crews. The proportion of foreigners in British ships grows apace. In the event of war the Admiralty could not draw upon the mercantile marine for reserves for the warships, because without their crews merchant ships will be unable to carry food supplies from abroad to the ports of the United Kingdom. And when those crews include, apart from 25,000 men of the Royal Naval Reserve, no less than 37,694 aliens, the position in time of war must be all the more desperate. To leave the merchant vessels with foreign crews in charge would be courting treachery and disaster. And to make matters infinitely worse, the merchant service is so strongly detested by its sailors that they deserted in large numbers. Last official year saw the desertion of 12,000 men, and in one year there was a total unauthorized exodus o* 27,000 men from British ships. These facts, supplied to the Sydney press by Mr. T. W. Moore, secretary to the Imperial Service Guild, show that one of the problems to be solved by Britain in case of war is an adequate reserve force of sailors.
– Does the honorable member think that that disproves the statement of the Admiralty that they can get plenty of sailors for the Navy?
– When did the Admiralty say that?
– Mr. McKenna said there was no difficulty in the matter - that, under the better conditions, more men offered than could be taken on.
– What Mr. McKenna said was that they could get men to man the present warships in time of peace; but I have shown what may happen in time of war.
– Not only Mr. McKenna, but experts have said the same thing.
– All that has been said is that sufficient men are forthcoming to man the present ships in times of peace.
– That is not what he said.
– There is no provision for wastage in war. Does the honorable member know that we could not even horse our land defences at the present moment? That is the statement of the greatest military authority of to-day - that not more than half the number of horses required could be obtained. I hope that, in this connexion, honorable members will peruse the report of a Committee with which I had the honor to work, in regard to the horsing of artillery in Australia, and that they will put the recommendations into practice, because this is a most important point in connexion with the defence, not only of Australia but of the whole Empire. I have perused the memorandum of the Government - this extraordinary conglomeration of words - meant to represent a policy. It is a policy, however, that has never been explained, and it certainly supplies the kind of material to occupy the Prime Minister in explaining it for the next five years - and he will do it well. I find that under the heading of “ Industrial “ an Inter-State Commission is to be appointed to do almost everything under the sun. There has been added to the Government, in order to get one more supporter, a gentleman with whom I should never like to sit if I were a Minister, seeing that his views are so divergent from those of his colleagues ; and if this Inter-State Commission is to carry out all the duties mentioned, the Government will be able to “provide billets, not only for all their own friends, but also for all the friends of the advisers of the Government, ‘ Joshua, Beale, and company. But we refuse to oe fooled any more with this kind of thing. As has been the case with Liberals throughout the world, I find the Prime Minister offering a makebelieve promise - giving something which is of no value to the workers or anybody else, but which means big fees for the lawyers and ruin to the unions.
– That is rough on the late Attorney-General !
– The late AttorneyGeneral did not propose any such legislation; and I have no desire to see laws passed which have no other effect than that of harassing both employers and employed. Do not let us legislate unless we are prepared to make our legislation effective. When the Australian Industries Preservation Bill was introduced in this House I pointed out that it was founded on the Sherman Act, under which - although it had been in operation for sixteen years - not one trust had been dealt with. That is the sort of legislation we shall always get from this Government.
– The honorable member voted for that Bill.
– I did, for whilst I thought it was of no value, I recognised that I might be wrong. I knew, too, that if my belief proved to be well grounded, I should be able to show the people the utter worthlessness of the measure, and that we should then be able to obtain more effective legislation. I shall always vote for a Bill that will not, in my opinion, do what is claimed for it, in order to show the public what humbugs there are on the other side of the House. Are we to obtain new Protection from the Government? No. I propose to quote from a. speech made by the Minister of Defence in order that we may learn whether or not the same old game is to be continued. On the 17th September last, when the Deakin Government were in office, the honorable member said, as reported in Hansard, page 108 -
For a piece of downright political cheatery commend me to the action of this Government on the harvester question.
He went further than that, saying -
I have never seen anything more like political cheating than the action of the Government in regard to the new Protection as applied to the production of harvesters. … I shall be no party to make-believe in regard to a policy which is impossible of realization.
Is it any more possible to-day?
– A great deal more possible.
– It is not only possible, but probable, that we are going to have more of the political cheatery of which the honorable member spoke. Is he going to perpetuate this cheatery, and cheat the workers again ?
– I think the honorable member will find that a workable scheme has been evolved for the first time.
– On the same date the honorable member, as reported at page 114 of Hansard, said -
Unquestionably the new Protection proposals of the Government mean a continuation and an extension of the old Protection.
Has the’ honorable gentleman bound himself to extend the old Protection? If he has not he is cheating us. But he went further, and said -
Let me say that I offer this criticism in the best possible spirit, simply desiring that there shall be no mistake as to my attitude. It seems to me “that my honorable friends are proposing that which is quite impossible.
– I still say that the scheme then propounded was impossible.
– I have not yet finished with the honorable member. We find that, in answer to the question put by me, “ Cannot the honorable member himself find a way?” he said -
I candidly confess that I cannot along the lines he suggests. … 1 tell my honorable friend again that, try as he may, he cannot do what he proposes to do.
The honorable member said, therefore, that new Protection was impossible.
– We are not attempting to do what was then proposed.
– Are we not to have more political cheatery if we allow an InterState Commission to be appointed? Does the honorable member say that that Commission can do that which he has declared to be impossible? He will have some dia- .culty in carrying such cheatery into effect.
– That Commission will provide billets, for three men.
– It will provide billets for three hundred if it is going to do all the work that the Government propose to allot to it. The Ministry are so satisfied that they are going to prove the greatest failure of the century that they actually propose the appointment of a Commission to do work that they ought to be able to do themselves.
– A kind of superior Executive.
– Quite so. The Government are going to appoint a Commission to save themselves the trouble of propounding a preferential trade scheme. We can well understand the reason. There is no hope of agreement among themselves. They cannot agree upon preferential trade, and some one else must do the work for them. The Inter-State Commission is also to establish a Labour bureau. The Government know nothing about such a bureau, and so they are going to shunt its creation on to some one else.
– Neither a Labour bureau nor preferential trade was mentioned in the Gympie speech.
– Nor any other sham.
– There are no shams in the Gympie policy. The Government also intend that the Inter-State Commission shall have the oversight of production and exchange and deal with Tariff anomalies. Ministers themselves dare not touch one anomaly.
– When are these anomalies to be dealt with by the Commission?
– Probably 200 years hence. The Commission is also to study the unemployed problem for perhaps the same period. If within a hundred years it can bring in a scheme that will do away with the unemployed difficulty, it will do something that has not been accomplished’ in a thousand years. The Government do not know how to deal with the question, and they propose to throw the responsibility on the Commission. All that they are going to do is to retain their positions. They say -
Any divergencies between industri.il conditions in the several States whicli occasion an unjust competition between Australian industries in different States will be adjusted by the Inter-State Commission.
What else will be adjusted ?
– What did the exPrime Minister propose in his Gympie speech in regard to Tariff anomalies?
– Does the honorable member or any one else believe that it was the desire of even the Protectionist section of this House that the Tariff should be re-opened until after the next election?
– That is not the point.
– We include in our programme, not shams, but schemes that can be carried out. After the Tariff had l:>een in operation for three years - after we had been able to ascertain its anomalies and how it worked - we should undoubtedly have been prepared to give our industries the protection they deserved and needed to encourage their extension. As the honorable member for Darling put it this afternoon, we are pledged to do that, whilst honorable members opposite are against it. The honorable member for Bourke does not like that statement. What will he say when we tell his constituents about it ? He has been “hob-nobbing” with the honorable member for Maribyrnong, who has done a little local preaching in his time, and who, I desire to say in all seriousness, has not yet learned the simple Bible lesson, that he cannot serve God and mammon. He is now on the side of mammon. He cannot be on the side of the employers unions and on the side of the industrial unions at the same time. Which side is he going to take? Is he going to tell his electors that he intends to work for the industrial unions? What is the honorable member for Indi going to do for the unionists?
– I am employing more men than all the honorable member’s side are, and I have never had a word with them. Labour, however, would ruin them.
– Does the’ honorable member for Maribyrnong say that he can serve two masters - that he can serve the Anti-Sweating League and the sweaters? That is the position that confronts him. We see on the Government benches the representatives of the sweaters and also, if not the present at all events a former secretary of the Anti-Sweating League. Is it not extraordinary to find honorable members so associated, and offering the workers the form of new Protection outlined in the Ministerial statement ? No one knows better than does the honorable member for Maribyrnong that it is a farce and a deceit.
– He would have scorned it a little while ago.
– Certainly, but he dare not express his opinion now. He has simply to follow the Government. We, however, are not deceived. I wish to convict honorable members opposite out of their own mouths. One section of the Coalition may be absolutely sincere, but both cannot be. I should like them all to be present so that I may separate the sheep from the goats.
– They are separated.
– There may be hybrids.
– There is an ass or two amongst them.
– The goats are on the left.
– The honorable member will be on the left all in good time. I do not indulge in generalities or misrepresentation regarding the caucus methods of the Government party ; I am not familiar with them, but I am willing to tell them of our methods. They have not told us. how the fusion was brought about without the knowledge, of the honorable member for Hume. They have not told us how it came about that a number of members of the Liberal party broke all their pledges, whilst one of the staunchest Protectionists and Liberals in the House was not even consulted about the fusion. It is interesting to learn what the honorable member for Flinders had to say a little while ago on the subject of the new Protection.
– It would have been well had every member of the Liberal party signed a written pledge.
Ma-. HUTCHISON.- Quite so. I can assure the honorable member that they are now associated with men who demand pledges from them before they may become candidates. The honorable member for Flinders is reported at page 203 of Vol. 47 of Hansard, to have said in regard to the new Protection -
I do not suppose that we shall hear more of that scheme, and never regarded it as a serious political proposition. I looked upon it as a rather highly-coloured balloon, sent up to amuse a House jaded with the discussion of the Tariff. It has been punctured in a good many places, and is now rather flabby. It will take more gas than the united efforts of Ministers are capable of to make it float again.
But it has floated again, although it is still very flabby.
– It is not the same scheme at all.
– The Government say that their scheme is the new Protection, and the honorable member says it is not. We are glad to know it, and I thank the honorable member for interjecting. The honorable member for North Sydney, for whom we all have the highest respect, and who, I believe, is absent on account of illhealth, stated in an address delivered in Adelaide, as reported in the Register of 3rd March, 1909, that “ the new Protection was only a sham.” He is one of the most honorable members on that side of the House, and he openly and honestly made that declaration. The present PostmasterGeneral told the people at Bendigo on 24th October, 1906, that -
No Ministry would be allowed to make a stalking horse of the Tariff in order to disguise its own weakness and lack of policy.
What are the present Government doing today? They have no policy, and dare not have one. When the honorable member foi Bourke interjected just now, I had lost sight of the fact that the “ confusion “ is to last not only till the next election, but after it, and that every Protectionist on that side of the House has been tied down for the next four or five years, and we do not know how many more years after that. But still, of course, the Tariff is not to be “ made a stalking horse of to disguise the weakness and lack of policy of the Government” ! Those honorable members will be tied down as long as the fusion can possibly be made to last. I am glad to say that in the interests of the manufacturers of this great country it is far more likely that, when the Tariff comes to be dealt with, it will be at the hands of a Government drawn from this side of the House, who will treat it more honestly than it can possibly be dealt with by that side. I come now to the views of the honorable member for Maribyrnong on this question. He is a typical “Protectionist, and I suppose no man in Victoria has worked harder for Protection than the honorable member has. He said on 28th May -
A Labour man is neither fish, flesh, nor good red herring in regard to the Tariff.
I shall quote on that question no less an authority than the Age, which the honorable member regards as the greatest authority in Australia on the fiscal question, and of which he is the creature. The honorable member’s memory must have been short, or the ‘following passage, which appeared in the Age of 11th May, 1909, must have escaped his observation, for if he had seen it he would never have made that foolish statement -
Liberalism could never have put a Protectionist Tariff on the statute-book but for the help of Labour Protectionists. If we glance at the policies of the States of Victoria and New South Wales, the same identical conditions have followed from the coalitions of Liberals and Conservatives against Labour. There has been no Liberal policy in this State for the past ten years.
I wish to call the attention of the honorable member for Wimmera to the statement which follows. I intend to deal shortly with the ridiculous figures which he quoted regarding land settlement. If he had allowed a hen to scratch over the paper, he would have got precisely the same result as the figures which he read to the House. This is the statement of the paper that now supports the honorable- member, and that he has to obey and bow down to, or it will kill him -
We have no land settlement; no land tax. We have just stagnated politically.
And there sit the stagnators, with their policy of stagnation. The Prime Minister said on 20th October, 1908-
We have seen coalitions tried in several of the States lately, with by no means brilliant success.
On the same occasion he cried : “ We cannot be . associated with reactionaries.” Apparently, everything that is bad politically is good enough for the Prime
Minister to associate himself with. He is ready to take renegades from any fold into his fold, so long as’ they do his- behests, so long as he is made the guiding star, and so long as they listen to his beautiful words, words, words, beginning and ending with words, but never followed by deeds. I would remind honorable members that -
When faith is lost, when honour dies,
The man is dead !
The Victorian idol has been shattered. The people have found it out. They have found it to be, in the words of Kipling, a “ bloomin’ idol made of mud.” The have seen what a sham their idol is. When Bret Harte wrote - ‘
For ways that are dark and tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar - he knew nothing about this fusion. I wonder what he would have written if he had seen it? What he said about the poor Chinaman would not have been a circumstance to it. I hear an interjection by the right honorable member for Swan. I have been very good to him- so far, but as he wants me to pay him some attention, I have here a little effort of his. I shall revert for a moment to the Dreadnought question. I intended to deal with if in connexion with the financial proposals of the Government, but I shall mention it now instead. No Perth journal would misrepresent the right honorable member. I wish to say in passing that I find the ‘West Australian the fairest paper in the Commonwealth. Although it will not agree with Labour member’s views, but will slate them, it will always give them the use of its columns, and report both” sides fairly. This is what that paper reports the right honorable gentleman to have said with regard to the Dreadnought question. I suppose he has forgotten all about it. Sir John Forrest turns a cold stream of common sense on the hysterical panic-mongers. This is the statement attributed to the right honorable gentleman -
Before I could subscribe to a contribution of two millions based upon panic excitement, I would wish to know (i) whether the Mother Country considered there was a necessity for assistance ‘as proposed, and (2) how the money would be found.
Is the Treasurer able to tell us now how the money is to be found? We have every right to know. When the present Prime Minister first said he was in favour of the gift of a Dreadnought, and wished us to offer one to the Mother Country,- I said it was his duty first to tell us where we were to find the money. He was in Opposition then, and although it was not the duty of the Opposition to tell the Fisher Government where to find the money to carry out its own schemes, it certainly was their duty, if they made proposals that the Fisher Government would have to finance, and that were not in its policy., to tell the country where they would find the money. Has the Treasurer yet found out where the money is to come from?- The Government know nothing about their own finance, but we know where the money is to be found. It was little short of political brigandage for the Government to dip their hands into the Treasury to the tune of £2,000,000 without consulting the people, and without consulting Parliament, while it was sitting. I never heard of anything so atrocious or unconstitutional .
– We did not do it.
– In his usual manner the Prime Minister shifted his ground a little. When he went round the country, he said that there was to be the offer of a Dreadnought, and the carrying out of the naval policy of the Fisher Government
– He did not use the words “ Fisher Government.”
– He said there was to be the offer of a Dreadnought and a naval policy, and the naval policy of the Fisher Government is the only naval policy before the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister said over and over again that he was in favour of it.
– The Fisher Government took the policy from the honorable member for Ballarat.
– The honorable member is doing an injustice to the honorable member for South Sydney, who, when Prime Minister of the first Labour Government, submitted a naval scheme that has been before us ever since. Hansard will show that .before then not a word was ever uttered in this House by any other honorable member putting forward a naval defence scheme for Australia.
– The scheme was brought down by the honorable member for Ballarat, and the Labour party copied it.
– If the honorable member will turn up the policy speech delivered by the honorable member for South Sydney, as reported in Hansard for 1904, he will find that the scheme that is now being carried out was laid down then. I challenge the honorable member for Bourke to find a single word about a naval scheme from the inauguration of the Federation until the honorable member for South Sydney put his scheme before the House. Some of us have rather good memories, but the honorable member for Bourke has a short one when it suits him. To show what reliance is to be placed upon the Prime Minister’s promise, I wish to deal with the question of the cable service. No doubt honorable members have read the following cablegram from London, which recently appeared in our newspapers -
It was announced that the Pacific Board had decided to reduce their proportion of the charge by half, to 2^., and New Zealand to reduce its proportion by £d., making an immediate reduction in press messages between England and New Zealand to ad. It was expected that the Commonwealth would lower its land charges by -j-d., which would reduce the Australian press messages vid the Pacific to 8£d. It is also expected that if the Atlantic companies and the Canadian land lines make reductions they will be devoted to lowering the press rates.
The Government policy contains a proposal for the cheapening of cable rates. Let me show the value of that. If there is one curse which afflicts this country more than does the land monopoly, it is the cable monopoly. A Deakin Administration was responsible for allowing the Eastern .Extension Telegraph Company to open an office in Melbourne, and thus to take business away from the Pacific Cable Company, which every Government should do all in its power to assist. When the Copyright Bill was before Parliament, Senator Pearce carried the insertion of a clause dealing with the cable monopoly. It was near the end of the session, and I had got so tired of the Government of the day that I felt inclined to leave the House altogether, hoping for better things in the new session. But, as I was interested in the attempt to break down the Cable Combine, I stayed. The Government had promised to support legislation to deal with that combine, and what was my astonishment when I was asked if I would be willing to allow the clause of which I have spoken to be dropped, to enable the Copyright Bill to be passed into law ! I immediately went into the Prime Minister’s room, and asked the Minister if the clause was to be dropped. He said, “ Yes. The whole House is in favour of dropping it, because it is too late in the session to pass it, and it will not do what is aimed at.” I asked, “Then why not amend it?” He replied - and I believe it to be true - that the question was too important to deal with so late in the session, adding, “ I promise you that next year this Government will introduce legislation to deal with the matter.” That was the compact made with me. He wished me to stay and keep a House. Now I have always been here from the moment the Speaker takes the chair until the adjournment, and, of course, I stayed. Next year, the Attorney-General of the day - who is now Mr. Justice Isaacs - laid a couple of clauses on the table, and made a ten-minutes’ speech, saying that the matter with which they dealt was important, and should be considered by honorable members. I have in mv letter-box the notes from which I was going to speak in regard to that legislation, but they have not been used yet, because the Government did not give us an opportunity to discuss it. That shows the fraud that was practised upon us. Is the House aware that if a Labour daily newspaper is started in Adelaide it will be impossible, under present conditions, to get a cable service for it?
– Could it not get a service over the Pacific Cable?
– No. The press cable combination controls all the cable news that comes to Australia. How could any individual newspaper fight such a powerful combine as that? When the Adelaide weekly Herald asked the proprietors of the local newspapers to be allowed to share in their cable service, they were referred to the proprietors of the Argus, who replied that the matter rested entirely with the proprietors of the Adelaide Register and the Adelaide Advertiser. The letters have been published in Hansard, but it might be as well to read them again. The whole correspondence appeared in the Herald, of 28th October, 1905. The letter from the Argus proprietors was as follows -
The Argus and Australasian,
Melbourne, 2nd February, 1904.
In reply to your letter of the 1st inst., asking on what terms you could be supplied with the Cable Association’s telegrams, we beg to say that so far as Adelaide is concerned the matter rests entirely with the proprietors of the Register and the Advertiser as to whether they would consent to another journal there joining in the service, and we therefore refer you in the first instance to the conductors of those papers.
Wilson and Mckinnon.
The manager of the Herald, then received the following letter from the proprietors of the Register and Advertiser-
Adelaide, 17th February, 1904.
In reply to yours of 3rd and 9th inst. inquiring regarding the proposed sharing of our cable service, we wish to explain that the joint Inter-State agreement regulating that service contains a clause, which says, “ that no messages shall be supplied to the proprietary of any newspaper published either in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, or Brisbane, other than m respect of the newspapers mentioned in this agreement, without the unanimous consent of the parties hereto, except to the proprietary of any evening newspaper or newspapers which may hereafter be published in Melbourne.” In conformity with this obligation, we have communicated with our partners in the other States, and we find that it is impossible to obtain the “ unanimous consent,” provided for in the clause just quoted.
L. Bonython & Coy.
K. Thomas & Coy.
Those interested in the Herald then wrote to New Zealand, and obtained this reply -
The Manager, The Herald, Adelaide. Dear Sir,
Our cables are the same as those supplied to the Australian papers. We obtain them from the Cable Association. It is quite impossible, therefore, for us to supply them to any one else.
The Manager, United Press Association Ltd., Wellington, N.Z.
The Herald, in the last resort, wrote, recently, to Reuter’s, asking for a service, and received this reply -
With further reference to your recent inquiry as to .our preparedness to make an independent news service to the Adelaide Herald, I now have pleasure in communicating the purport of our general manager’s reply just to hand. He writes as follows :- “ I am this day in receipt of your yesterday’s letter, in which you refer to the visit paid you by Mr. T. T. Opie with the view of ascertaining whether we should be free to furnish an independent service of cable news from home to the extent of 300 or 400 words per day. In view of existing arrangements, I regret that it would not be possible for us to undertake the service in question, and I beg of you to intimate, with regret, to Mr. Opie that we are not at the present time open to negotiate for an independent supply.”
Is it not dreadful that such a thing should be possible in a free country like Australia ? Although we boast of our freedom, we depend for our cable news from other parts of the world upon a combine which can suppress and distort as it pleases, and which causes great loss to the community. Does the Government propose to deal with this combine? What right has it to say that no one shall share with it in the cable news ?
– Why is not another co-operative agency started?
– To do that would be as easy as to start another Federal Parliament.
– Yes. No man worked harder than did Sir Sandford Fleming to establish the Pacific Cable service. Its establishment cost him a large part of his private means, and a great deal of labour. He was astounded at the difficulties placed in his way. Opposition of every kind was created by the highest officials in the Imperial service, and lies of all kind’s were circulated by the Eastern Extension Company, such as the statement that the depth of the ocean would not permit the laying of the cable. When it was proposed to seize an island as a landing station, America was allowed to step in and prevent that being done, although the territory would have been of great value to the Empire. Sir Sandford Fleming, speaking at the Jubilee Exhibition, so far back as 1887, said -
This is not the first time that a company or an individual has been called upon to relinquish a monopoly found to be inimical to the public welfare. Is it for a moment to be thought of that Canada and Australia are never to hold direct telegraphic intercourse because a commercial company stands in the way? Are commercial relations between two of the most important divisions of the British family forever to remain dormant in order that the profits of a company may be maintained? Are the vital interests of the British Empire to be neglected ? Is the permanent policy of England to be thwarted? Is the peace of the world to be endangered at the bidding of a joint stock company? It was time for ‘the British people scattered round the world to set about putting their house in order.
I ask that this matter should be seriously considered, in order to see whether this or any other Government can set our house in order, and free the people of Australia from a thraldom to which they ought never have been subjected.
– The telegraph company keep eleven lines out of thirteen idle in the Atlantic, so that they may hold the monopoly.
– And thus charge what prices they like.
– What does the honorable member propose should be done?
– I would point out that the newspapers have to pay whatever charges are asked and accept whatever news is given; and if one country newspaper were to accept any special news from the Pacific Cable Company, they would be supplied with no more messages by the other company.
– The country newspapers often use the messages without paying for them.
– And they ought to be able to use the news for nothing. I venture to say that it does not cost the great daily newspapers one farthing for their cable news, but that, on the contrary, they make a substantial profit. Why should we not do as is done in the Old Country ? When I was connected with the third oldest newspaper in the United Kingdom, .the Aberdeen Journal, all that that office paid for the foreign cable news was the cost of telegraphing it over the special wire from London. At 2 o’clock in the morning, the whole of the London daily newspapers are printed and ready to be sent into the provinces, and then the direct wires are set to work, and the whole of the cables thus made available throughout the Kingdom. Why should we allow a monopoly, which declares that no one shall live except on its own terms?
– What does the honorable member propose?
– I propose that we should do away with the copyright in the cable messages ; and I contend that that is only a fair way of dealing with a monopoly which acts in the way I have described. I should compel the big dally newspapers to allow any newspaper to share the messages, if the ordinary prices are paid.
– Would the honorable member reduce the press rate.3 in order to break the combine?
– That would not be of the slightest use. I have no desire to be unfair to any monopoly or combine ; but I contend that every newspaper, and every member of the community, should be put on the same footing. The result of the present monopoly is that no independent news can be published - that untruths sent by cable cannot be contradicted.
– What about cable news leaking out to interested parties before it reaches the public?
– In that matter, there ought to be specific charges ; and, as I have no proof, I do not wish to deal with it. There ought to be absolute freedom in regard to cables, to those who desire to found new newspapers. I shall have a further opportunity of dealing with the question ; and, in the meantime, I ask the Postmaster-General to think the matter over, and see if he cannot compel the press monopoly to sell the news to all who wish to buy. Reuter’s Company, and the other press agencies, can be dealt with by an amendment of the A,nti -Trust Act. The Prime Minister has told us how determined he is that no trust shall rear its head in Australia ; but here we have one that has not only reared its head, but is doing infinite damage. I hope the Government will not introduce such a foolish Defence Bill as they did before - a Bill quite in keeping with all the legislation lately introduced by the Prime Minister. That Defence Bill would accomplish nothing, and prove utterly unworkable.
– It was only intended to make speeches about I
– Absolutely ; it did not even provide for the training of cadets ; and I do not see how we are to expect any improvement under the present fusion of parties. The Minister of Defence knows what a howling mess the Prime Minister and his late colleagues made of the Postal administration. .They had millions of money at their disposal ; but when the late Prime Minister came into office, not one sixpence was left. The Post and Telegraph Department might have been put in efficient order, if businesslike methods had been adopted ; but the State Rights members showed a desire only to placate the States, to the exclusion of great national concerns. Now the Government talk glibly about spending scores of thousands of pounds; and they will have to spend millions if they endeavour to people the Northern Territory ; because there is the debt to be considered, and roads are required in every direction.
– Is the honorable member against that?
– No; but I desire to find the necessary money, and not merely talk about the work.
– How would the honorable member find the money ?
– It is the Treasurer’s business to find the money.
– But the honorable member says that not sixpence was left in the Treasury.
– When the late Treasurer came into office, there was not even money enough to send the cadets into camp ; although the members of the Deakin Government always speak of their great pride in this branch of the defences.
– How much did the Fisher Government leave in the Treasury ?
– Many thousands of pounds, in order to pay old-age pensions. I am not going to blame the present Minister of Defence for anything in connexion with his Department, though I am sure I shall have much to blame him for later on, judging from the speeches we have heard from him. lt may be, however, that the honorable gentleman is going to sink his views in this, as in other matters, and bow to the Prime Minister. One set of views is held by the head of the Government, another set by the Minister of Defence, and a third by the Honorary Minister ; and under such circumstances, what kind of a hotch-potch may we not expect in the Defence Department? We are asked to spend £2,000,000 on a Dreadnought ; but I contend that if such an amount of money were spent in peopling the Northern Territory, it would be doing something for the Old Country and also Australia. The Old Country requires no monetary aid ; we have only to tell her, should the occasion arise, that we require several millions, and we would be given them as cheerfully as we should give them to her in case of necessity. I see that the honorable member for Wimmera is in the chamber ; and I desire to refer for a moment to the jumble of figures which the honorable member placed’ before us in the course of his address. I am sure that no one could make head or tail of what he was driving at; the only conclusion I could come to was that he was endeavouring to show that .there has been plenty of land settlement in Victoria lately. It is well known that in South Australia, 304 persons or companies own 3,545,000 acres of land, while 1,269,704 acres of alienated lands are held by 30 persons or companies; and the position is very little different in Victoria. I ask the honorable member whether he knows that in Victoria there has been a serious decline in the rural population? The records of the Statistical Department show that, between .1884 and 1902, the cultivated farms in fifteen counties declined by 2,352, and that in 1893, the area under cultivation was less than that in T873, while in. 1896 the cultivated farms had declined by 4.000. Does the honorable member know that in 1904 there were 1,849 fewer holdings, as compared with 1884, although there, were 2,500,000 acres more in occupation? Does that look’ as if settlement were progressing ? The land of whole parishes in many instances has been merged in one large estate, the property of one person. That has taken place in a State having an area of 56,245,760 acres - an insignificant territory compared with that of other States.
– Does the honorable member say that those figures prove that the New Zealand land tax has been more successful than has that of Victoria?
– -I am not attempting to prove anything of the kind. The land tax in New Zealand was certainly more successful than the honorable member would have us believe, but it is not such a tax as we propose. It made New Zealand prosperous.
– So that New Zealand is prosperous now?
– Since the death of Mr. Seddon, and the failure to carry on his policy, New Zealand has been going to the dogs. The present Government are going to resort to borrowing just as the Commonwealth Government propose to do, and such a policy will also send this country to the dogs. Before the adoption of the Seddon policy people were leaving New Zealand in thousands, because they could not find’ employment there.
– They are leaving now.
– The moment that the Ballance-Seddon policy was adopted, New Zealand went on the up grade, and a large influx of population took place.
– The expenditure of borrowed money accounted largely for that.
– No. The expenditure of borrowed money has led to the depression that exists there to-day. Does the honorable member know what the land tax did for the Cheviot Estate in New Zealand? Does he know that there is no compulsory valuation in Victoria, although such a system prevails in New Zealand? Does he know that under the Victorian Land Tax Act the richest mile of territory in Victoria may not be subject to a penny of taxation, and that even when we pass beyond that mile, and reach land worth £roo or ,£120 per acre, we find that’ it cannot be valued for’ taxation purposes at more than ,£4 per acre? What pushed New Zealand to the front was not the land tax itself, but-
– The frozen mutton trade.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the matter, and is not prepared to receive information on the subject. It was not so much the land tax as the power of compulsory purchase that caused the land policy there to be successful.
– That prevails in Victoria.
– It certainly does not. Under the New Zealand Act, there is power to compulsorily purchase land at the valuation for taxation purposes set upon it by the owner, plus 10 per cent.
– How is it that the Government of New Zealand have paid nearly as much per acre for land as has been paid by the Victorian Government?
– That has been due to the rush for land. I wish now to show very briefly what would be the effect >of the adoption of the land tax proposals of the Fisher Government. Under the voluntary purchase of land system, which came into operation in South Australia in 1902, over 3,000 persons have been settled on the land. The adoption of the Labour Government’s land tax proposals would lead, not to 3,000, but to 300,000 persons being settled there, and to many hundreds of thousands more being settled, in other parts of the Commonwealth. The Yongala Estate, which has an area of 53)59i acres, was acquired by the South Australian Government in 1902, when its improvements were valued at ?4,513 13s. 9d. It then carried 35,000 sheep, and two or three families. The SurveyorGeneral, in his report for 1907-8, shows that the estate was subdivided into 133 blocks, and allotted to 127 persons. The result is that the present value of improvements on the land is .?33,461 12s., whilst it is carrying 14,942 sheep and lambs, 973 horses, and 964 head of cattle. Last year 15,346 acres were under cultivation, and 9,435 acres in fallow. During the previous season 238,727 bushels of wheat, and 10,358 bushels of barley and oats were reaped from 15,068 acres, and the population, on the estate, including children, is now 615, all in comfortable circumstances. If the Fisher Government’s land policy were adopted, we should settle thousands of similar estates. I want now to show the character of some honorable members opposite. I have here a cutting from a newspaper well known in the Wimmera district. I refer to the Warracknabeal Post, which in its issue of 1 6th March last, gives a report of a meet ing under the following headings, “ Kellalac Mail Service,” “ Indignation Meeting of Residents.” “ Some Plain Speaking,’/ “Mr. Sampson, M.H.R., Criticised.” I think that the report ought to be brought under the notice of the House. It sets forth that the chairman, a Mr. E. Robinson, said -
There was something peculiar about their mail service altogether. As the meeting knew, some time ago they got up a petition and applied for 1 mail from Warracknabeal to Murtoa, up one day and down another. They could not get it. They were told at the time that it was a thing impossible. All of a sudden, they were given this new bi-weekly service from Warracknabeal. They were never consulted about that, or asked if they wanted it. Another thing he noticed was that on the previous Friday night they did not get their weekly papers vid Murtoa. So far as he could make out, there was some underhand work in connexion with that.
The honorable member for Wimmera will know what the underhand work was -
It seemed to him that some one had been at work, and had the papers sent on to Warracknabeal so as to swell the new service. . . Before the Post was started, they were told by_ their representative, Mr. Sampson, that nothing could be done. When he saw, however, that the proprietors of the ‘Post were sending their paper out at their own expense, independent of the mail service, and that the people of Kellalac were dropping the Herald he evidently thought he had better try and get something done or get the Government to do something.
I come now to the most important part of the report -
The chairman said he had received a letter from S. Sampson and Co., which seemed to show that their member was representing the Herald, and not Kellalac, in the matter of the mail service, and that the Herald was trying to get back the subscribers it lost when the Post started. He then read the letter, which began, “ Dear Sir. - Seeing that we have secured a biweekly mail to Kellalac,” and concluded with “ hoping to see you reinstated on our list of subscribers.”
Mr. Armstrong. A lot of us got those.. (Laughter.) I got one the other day.
– It would seem that our member is simply arranging to get his paper to the district, but the district can do without it.
We have had hurled at the Labour party from the Government side of the” House the charge that it is associated-
– What point does, the honorable member wish to make by reading that report?
– I wish the honorable member to admit or deny that the circular referred to was sent out, and to say that he is not using his position in this House to get something that will be to his pecuniary advantage.
– A mean, contemptible charge.
– Does the honorable member deny the charge?
– Are the statements in this report untrue? Does the honorable member deny that the circular was sent out?
– The honorable member cannot reply now to the questions which are being put to him.
– No, sir, but he can interject very freely when he desires to do so. I wish to obtain from him a simple reply to my question. Was the circular issued?
– Order ! The honorable member says that he has made a serious charge, and I think that he ought, in fairness to the honorable member for Wimmera, to recognise that he should be given an opportunity to make an explanation at the conclusion of his speech, rather than seek now to embarrass him.
– Quite so, Mr. Speaker. That is the fairest course to pursue, but I have been speaking for a long time, and in the heat of debate it did not occur to me. This is a serious matter.
– The honorable member has been talking for a long time.
– The honorable member will not accuse me of having failed to deal honestly and fairly with the most important questions before the House. He cannot accuse me of wasting any time. I have heard the honorable member talking for hours in this House, and indulging in the greatest inanities. The honorable member need not think that he is going to cut short my speech. I have never been accused, either in this or in any other Parliament, of wasting time.
– The honorable member is wasting time now.
– It may be necessary to waste a good deal of time before we allow what the honorable member has described as “ cheatery,” and as something impossible, to be foisted on the people. Even if it involves a waste of time, I shall adopt any means to prevent the passing, of the new Protection scheme which is now proposed by the Government, and which the honorable member for Flinders said -was a balloon, and a pricked balloon at that. We shall not have that kind of thing foisted upon us. I deprecate the wasting of time, and hope that the Government will bring forward measures that are really of advantage to the country. They will have my support in that direction, and I hope they will make a start with the Old-Age Pen-‘ sions Bill. When they do something that is for the benefit of the people they will get no factious opposition from me. I hope the honorable member for Wimmera will reply to the charge which I have quoted. Honorable members opposite who hurl charges of Tammany methods at us can find nothing so nearly approaching Tammany as is contained in that report.
– The honorable member has not made it quite clear what the charge against the “honorable member for Wimmera is.
– The charge is that he got a mail service, about which the people of his district were never consulted as to whether they wanted it or not, and that, having: got it, he was reputed to have issued a circular.
– Is that report from the Opposition paper?
– It is a report in the Opposition paper of a speech made by the chairman of the meeting. I shall give what the chairman said, including in quotation marks the words of the circular itself. If the report is not true, it is an absolute libel, and the paper which published it is liable to be cast in heavy damages. This is the report :-
The Chairman said he had received a letter from S’. Sampson and Co. which seemed to show that their member was representing the Herald and not Kellalac in the matter of the mail service, and that the Herald was trying to get back the subscribers it lost when the Post started. He then read the letter, which began, “ Dear Sir, - Seeing that we have secured a bi-weekly mail to Kellalac,” and concluded with “ Hoping to see you reinstated on our list of subscribers.”
That is as much as to say, “ As I have got a mail service for you that you never asked for, and that I did not know you wanted, and seeing that the Opposition paper has been sending its papers out at its own cost, the least you can do is to become a subscriber again to my paper.”
– Does he not say that the service was reinstated ?
– No. According’ to that circular the honorable member for Wimmera took action and is using his success for pecuniary advantage to himself. Those, are Tammany methods, and the charge will have to be refuted or the House will have to take notice of it. I hope that if any honorable member on this side is ever guilty of anything approaching that, the House will deal with him at once, and I will assist the House to do it. Whether honorable members opposite agree with our caucus methods or not, they can charge nothing in the shape of Tammany methods against us.
– If the present conduct of the honorable member is any indication of what he would do if he had the power, it is pretty rough.
– Apparently the honorable member does hot want us to have the power to do honest things. With regard to immigration, it is absolutely useless to talk until two things are done. It is only another sham, or as the Minister of Defence says, another “ piece of political cheatery.” The honorable member is cheating the people of the Commonwealth when he tries to make them believe that it is possible to get any large amount of immigration until the country has been opened up and money has been found to bring the immigrants here. There is no difficulty at all about getting immigrants. We have absolute proof of that. Does the Minister of Defence know a gentleman of the name of Mr. Walter Preedy, who has been the chief land agent in London for the New South Wales Government for the last four years ?
– I know him well. He is a very good man.
– That gentleman writes -
There has been a slump in Canadian immigration. This is Australia’s opportunity. Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen in hundreds are prepared to try their fortunes so soon as we say we are prepared for them. When we inquired for immigrants in Aberdeen, Forfarshire, and other countries, we found plenty . of a desirable class of people awaiting an opportunity to go to Australia. . . . We have been recruiting from the country districts of the United Kingdom, and take only those for whom we can guarantee work. Australia could get 40,000 persons a year from Great Britain if she could’ find them employment. Artisans would come in hundreds if given the slightest encouragement.
What does the Minister of Defence say to that? What a farce it is for the Prime
Minister, the Minister of Defence, and others on that side to prate about immigration, when we could get immigrants in thousands, either as agricultural settlers or artisans, if we could find them’ employment. There is no difficulty about getting immigrants, except that the Government are not in earnest about the question. I ask leave to continue my remarks to-morrow.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090701_reps_3_49/>.