3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
.- I wish to make a personal explanation in regard to the statements made last night by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. His statements are such that, on ordinary occasions, I should not take notice of them ; but, as he last nightchargedme with an action of an unworthy character, I conceive it to be due to the House and to myself to set forth all the circumstances. . Let me begin by saying for the information of honorable members that Kellalac isatownship close to Warracknabeal, andtheonly one in the neighbourhood of that town which does not enjoy direct mail communication with it. At present it is connected with Murtoa, a place some 30 miles south. Five or six years ago the residents of Kellalac petitioned for a weekly mail service from Warracknabeal. The petition was forwarded to the postal authorities, and the request refused.. That was before I entered this Parliament. After becoming a member I asked the Department to again get a report upon the advisability of establishing the service. A report was obtained, and the request again refused. Subsequently, I suggested the establishment of a trial service for a period of three months. The Department informed me, in writing, that it was estimated that such a service would result in a loss of £4 3s. 4d., but that if that sum were made up by the residents the request would be granted. The sum was accordingly forwarded to the Department before the service was inaugurated. A mail connexion was then given between Kellalac and Warracknabeal fora period of three months, and an extra week’s grace allowed to permit of some other arrangement being made, at the end of which time it was discontinued. The charge which the honorable member for Hindmarsh . has seen fit to make is the creation of one of my political enemies, and of a newspaper which supports a Labour policy, and is therefore opposed to the policy upon which I was elected. I regret that these gentlemen have so descended to damage the character of a public man, and have found so ready an in strument for the publication in this House of a trumped-up charge that had no foundation. The people of Kellalac are not connected by mail with Warracknabeal,which is the centre with which theydo theirbusiness, and, as I know on the personal testimony of many, are desirous of the renewal of the service which was discontinued on the ground that a three months’ trial showed it to be unprofitable to the Department. No later than the 28th June I received the followingletter from a reputable resident of the districtwho, I am satisfied, expresses the opinion of the majority of those who live there. He writes -
I have received your letter of18th instant enclosing the communication from the Department re the Kellalac mail service. I saw Mr. D. McLennan in Warracknabeal yesterday, and he says that the payment allowed for the Ailsa service isaltogether too small. We decided that (provided the Ailsa contract allows of a change being made), we would call a meeting in
Warracknabeal of those interested from both Kellalac and Ailsa, and ask the Department to combine the two services. This meeting, however, cannot be held till about 17th July, as Mr. McLennan will be absent at the Farmers’ Convention.
Thanking you for the attention you have given this matter.
Frank W. Rae.
Mr. Rae is a gentleman who can speak authoritatively on this subject. The mail connexion which is being asked for is a public service, to obtain which an agitation has been on foot during a number of ‘years. As I have said, a trial service was given by the Department for a period of three months, upon the estimated deficiency being subscribed by the inhabitants.
Debate resumed from .1st July (vide page 749) on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That the Government does not possess the confidence of this House.
– I assure the honorable member for Wimmera that I should be the last to trump up a charge against him ; but I ‘ am jealous of the honour of the House. What I did last night was to read the report of a citizens’ meeting, not the comment of an opposition newspaper. In an explanatory letter published in to-day’s Age, the honorable .member admits that the circular to which I referred was sent out by his partner. He does not deny its issue. I think that he should have read it to the House.
– Why does not the honorable member read it? Apparently it is a circular which any business firm might send oUt.
– I gave to the House last night the statement reported in the Warracknabeal Post. The honorable member for Wimmera must remember the words which he used to me outside the Chamber’ after I had finished my speech. Those words I can afford to. treat with contempt, while telling him that if he goes too far, he may be sorry. If an honorable member is not guilty of a charge brought against him, he has only to clear himself in the House ; he should not, by the language which he uses outside the Chamber, create the impression that it could be substantiated.
– Does the honorable member suggest that it is proper for any one of us to bring what charge he likes against his fellows without supporting it by evidence?
– I quoted the utterances of residents of the district represented by the honorable member for Wimmera.
– No doubt the honorable member considers it a dishonorable thing that the honorable member for Wimmera should be in business !
– Being in business he should conduct his affairs honorably I have been in business since being in politics, but I am ready to explain any action of mine. I am determined that honorable members shall not use their privileges for their private profit. _ They must not make money out of politics.
– That sounds like a reproof to the Labour lawyers.
– And to the Labour patent agents.
– Does the honorable member for Parramatta support infamous conduct?
– The action complained of by the honorable member could be matched by many things done by honorable members on his side of the Chamber.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh, having brought forward what he designates as a serious charge against the honorable member for Wimmera, it is due to the dignity of the House that there should be no display of feeling, and no interjections which will pi event a full statement of the case from both points of view. I ask honorable members to allow him to say without in- terruption what he has to say, as I am sure they will allow the honorable member for Wimmera to reply to him.
– This is a matter which should be dealt with temperately. I have given the honorable member for Wimmera an opportunity to refute a grave accusation against his honour. A number of those at the meeting to which I have referred received copies of the circular,’ which is said to have commenced, “Dear Sir, Seeing that we have secured,” &c, and to have ended, “Hoping to see you reinstated on our list of subscribers.” The “ we “ stands for the honorable member for Wimmera and his partner. Tn the letter appearing in to-day’s Age the honorable member does not deny that the circular was issued, but he says that his manager, and not he himself, is responsible for it. It was his duty to read it, and, if he thought that it should not have been issued, to repudiate it. Ifhe thinks that his manager did wrong in issuing it, it is not too late now to withdraw and repudiate it, and I hope that he will take that action, and thus reinstate himself in the position which becomes the honour of a member of the House.
– It is perfectly true that the circular referred to was issued by my managing partner, after the mail service was instituted, though I was not aware that it had been issued until I saw the statement in the columns of the newspaper quoted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh last night. I cannot see that there is anything to be withdrawn. The mail service was instituted for the benefit of all those in the district. It was authorized by the Department, which suffered no loss by carrying it out. The circular was issued by my managing partner, in the ordinary course of business. I am glad that, while absent in Melbourne so much, I have a partner who is sufficiently vigilant to look well after the interests of my business.
– The honorable member for Wimmera seems to glory in his infamy. At that I am astounded.
– His statement was of a distinctly low moral tone.
– Will the honorable member explain why the Australian Workers’ Union compels its members to buy the Worker newspaper?
– It does not do so. I ought to know, as I have been on the executive of that body for twelve years, but outsiders always seem to know more of what goes on inside these industrial bodies than the members themselves do.
– Does the honorable member deny that the subscriptions are so arranged that the members have to take the paper?
– Of course I deny it. The subscription which the members voluntarily pay includes the getting of a copy of the paper. Doe the honorable member know that the price of the annual ticket to members of the union was not raised even by a penny, and that the paper was given in ?
– I cannot see that this has anything to do with the business of the House. Will the honorable member kindlyproceed with his speech?
– If honorable members, instead of repeating misrepre sentations from outside, would come to me I would give them all the information, because we have nothing to hide. When I obtained leave to continue my remarks last night I think I had clearly shown from the words of the Prime Minister himself that there was no justification whatever for the fusion.I quoted the Prime Minister’s opinion, that there was no justification for the formation of any party, unless its members “ sought the same things by the same means.” I showed that half the honorable members on the Government side are seeking other things by other means. I regret that the honorable member for Flinders is not present, for I wish to give further proof, from his own statements, that there is no cohesion, and no similarity of principles, to say nothing of views, among honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Flinders stated on 22nd September, 1908,as reported in Hansard, page 203 - i am opposed to any attempt now to increase our powers by an amendment of the Constitution.
It is the intention of the Government, who will shunt everything on to somebody else, if they possibly can, rather than do their duty themselves, to ask the State Governments to give them the power to deal with the new Protection. None of the State Parliaments has the right to hand over such a power to the Federal Parliament. Only one body in Australia can hand to the Federal Parliament any power not contained in the Constitution, and that is the people. I admit that power is given in the Constitution for a Parliament to do this, but that is only after they have consulted the electors. It is not within the power of any State Parliament, without a breach of faith with their constituents, to allow the Federal Government to usurp the functions of the Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts of the States. The honorable member for Flinders is reported in the Argus of 30th October, 1906, to have said, when delivering his election speeches, that -
He did not believe in any community of free people buying its defence by paying tribute money to a Government in which they had no representation.
At Korumburra he said -
No nation ever became great that bought its defence by paying tribute.
He was, therefore, opposed to the payment of a subsidy to the Imperial Government for naval defence. Yet honorable members opposite say that they ‘” seek the same things by the same means,” when they propose to hand over a larger share of our finances to the Imperial Government instead of building a Navy of our own, in spite of the truth uttered by the honorable member for Flinders, that no nation ever became great by paying tribute. The hon- orable member went further. He described the old-age pensions scheme as madness. He said the States should pay pensions. Does he intend to try to destroy the Commonwealth old-age pensions scheme, or was he simply fooling the people at the last election ? He said he would enter Parliament as an independent member, but the Age characteristically summed him dp, no later than the 18th May of this year, in these words -
Mr. Irvine stands for everything the capitalist Wds dear and the toiler detests. There is everything to prevent a fusion of men like the member for Flinders with any party which has just views towards the worker and wage-earner.
What hope have the workers and wageearners from a fusion, with an honorable member who actually took away the rights of citizenship of a large section of the people of Victoria, and would have no hesitation in doing the same again ? Is the honorable member for Flinders “seeking the same things by the same’ means “ as those honorable members opposite, who have been practically elected- through the influence of the Age, and who have voiced the views of the Age year after year, especially in regard to Protection? What do they think of the honorable member for Flinders, who is against the new Protection, and was against the payment of a subsidy to the Imperial Government, and, in fact, against everything that he now professes with his colleagues to be in favour of doing ? Is it not high time that his constituents were given an opportunity to say whether they approve of his divergency from the principles which he professed before them only a short while ago? The honorable member for Bourke is now associated with a man who was said by the Age to “stand for everything that the capitalist holds dear and the toiler detests.” There is everything to prevent the fusion of the honorable member for Bourke with men like that. I hope the honorable member is proud of his connexion. Has he accepted the views of the honorable member for Flinders, or has the honorable member for Flinders accepted his? Which policy is to be carried out ? It is not shown in the Ministerial statement. We have heard so far nothing from the Government with regard to the most important question of finance. We have a right to know the policy of the Government on that question. Not only should it have been placed before us in the Ministerial statement, but the Prime Minister should have given us the fullest information as to what is proposed to be done. Instead of carrying out the policy of his own party, or the scheme drawn up by the honorable member for Mernda - a scheme that could probably be improved upon, but which was at any rate the foundation of the true method of dealing with the State debts - the Government make no proposal to take over the debts. Does that meet with the approval of the honorable member for Mernda? Does he not know that it is a huge blunder to go on mixing up the finances of the States .arid the Commonwealth for a further period of live years? The only effect will be to increase the anti-Federal feeling that is .unfortunately too strong at present. The Government policy is to do everything to placate the States, and to prevent the carrying out of those great works in which the Prime Minister professes so strongly to believe. Where is he to get the money to build the Western Australian railway, or to people the Northern Territory, or to carry out any of those other great schemes that have been simmering in the minds of honorable members for years? These are further away to-day than ever, on account of millions of pounds having been handed over to the States that ought to have been used for our Defence and Post and Telegraph Departments. It is high time we had a Treasurer who knows something about the duties he is called upon to perform, and who is able to tell the House, “ There are the things we propose to do; here is the way to find the money.” The ,£2,000,000 that the Prime Minister has so generously offered to present to a country that does not want it, because the Imperial Government say that the strengthening of the Empire can best be brought about by the creation of fresh centres of strength in the Empire, would have placed the Post and Telegraph Department upon an efficient footing, and made it one of the finest services in the world. The Fisher Government wanted to create a fresh centre of Strength within the Empire by establishing our own navy, and honorable members opposite are going to prevent that. We know, although it is not definitely announced in the Ministerial statement, that the Government intend to adopt the good old policy of borrow, with the same result as has followed in every country where borrowing has been carried to any great extent. The three great curses of a country are land monopoly, borrowing, and absenteeism. There is not a word in the Government programme about dealing with absentees. Absenteeism has been the curse, not only of Ireland and Scotland, but of every country. The Government make no proposal to deal with those men who contribute so little to the revenue of the country, and draw so much of its resources to other lands. Why should they not be called upon to contribute all that is necessary for the defence of the Commonwealth if they pay so little in other directions ? Surely they can afford to pay a good deal towards the defence of property that they ought never tohave been allowed to monopolise? Before dealing with the question of the caucus, as I promised last night, I propose to deal with some of the platforms of honorable members opposite. They cannot hoodwink the House that they represent only one platform. The right honorable member for East Sydney find the honorable member for Parkes have not taken the trouble to put a foot inside this Chamber to support the Government since the fusion was brought about. Does the honorable member for Bourke or the honorable member for Batman, or the honorable member for Corio, believe that the honorable member for Parkes will help them to get the new Protection ? Is he going to burn all the books and pamphlets that he has published about freedom of contract? I saw one of them on sale in a bookseller’s shop in Adelaide the other day for the reduced price of1s. I doubt if it got a buyer, but the honorable member’s feelings and views are precisely the, same to-day as they were years ago. He is a consistent individualist, and to that extent I admire him. So strong is his individualism that he has laid it down in, I think, fifteen planks, some of which I will quote to show the class of men . with whom honorable members oppositehave now associated themselves. If honorable members will look at the Brisbane Daily Mail of 8th July, 1908, they will find that the first plank in the platform of the honorable member for Parkes is -
Is that the policy of the present Government ? The honorable member dare not reply to questions of that kind. Has the honorable member for Parkes said that he is now against free immigration? There is still no reply; but the country will reply when it gets the opportunity it ought to have at once. Is it surprising that there is no confidence in the Government on this side, when we find one Minister and supporter after another uttering diametrically opposed views ? Then the honorable member for Parkes says -
The early removal from the Federal statute1 book of all provisions which prevent the free access to Australia of white British and European citizens and their families, whether with or without capital, provided they are healthy in body and mind, and apparently capable of earning their livelihood.
What Socialistic legislation have we to-day that any honorable member opposite is prepared to amend? ‘ Perhaps the honorable member for Echuca can tell me. Will that honorable member swallow what the honorable member for Parkes advocates? The House and the country have a right to an answer, but the honorable member dare not open his mouth, though he and those with him talk of the caucus methods of the Labourparty. On the contrary, I can speak my mind, as I have always done. Perhaps the honorable member for Moreton will give. us. the information.
-I shall by-and-by.
– And I shall listen with the greatest interest. The honorable member for Parkes goes on to say -
The gradual and judicious amendment or removal from the Federal statute-book of those injurious Socialistic hindrances to the progress and expansion of Australian commerce and industry by which the’ investment of capital, the employment of the people, and the development’ of Australian resources, have been retarded or restricted.
This means away with such Socialism as we now have. With such a platform it will be. impossible to establish an agricultural bureau; and it would mean the destruction of our meteorological, statistical, postal, and Customs departments. I should certainly like the honorable member for Moreton to explain whether he agrees, and is in league, with the honorable member for Parkes.
– I shall: speak for myself, not the honorable member for Parkes.
– The platform of the honorable member for Parkes continues -
The maintenance of popular freedom, the upholding of the time-honoured and sacred principles of individual freedom and private enterprise wherever practicable and Compatible with the welfare of the whole community. . . . A judicious modification of the inflexible and unsound rule laid down by the Labour party, and hitherto followed by all Governments which have depended upon the support of that party - that all Commonwealth expenditure, whether for current expenses of government, or for actual capital expenditure, should be paid from year to year out of current revenue, and the substitution for that hard and fast rule of a more correct and nationally just practice, by which public expenditure for permanent “ capital “ purposes should be paid for out of “ loan “ moneys raised for such purposes, and the resulting obligation passed on, together with the permanent assets by which such loans are represented.
That is the programme of a supporter of the Government. The honorable member for Parkes is going to insist on a borrowing policy ; or has he done, what I do not , believe he could be induced to do, namely, forsworn the views he has expressed ? The honorable member goes on to declare that he is opposed to - duplicating compulsory arbitration machinery, in order to secure a choice of alternative awards in regard to wages and conditions of labour, whilst the awards of the State Arbitration Courts that had not proved satisfactory to trades union standards were being ignored and treated with contempt.
Has the Prime Minister obtained the permission of the honorable member for Parkes to say that the latter will support a union label, or, what is more likely, to declare that we shall hear no more of that proposal ? Perhaps the object has been achieved ; and, after the workers have been led to believe they will get a union label, . the whole project is to be dropped. Could there be any clearer evidence of insincerity on the part of the Prime Minister and his colleagues? When we on this side happen to be strong enough, not only to form a Government, but to carry our measures,’ we may make blunders, though, as a fact, we cannot have made many up to the present, or we should have heard more about them. But if we find that we have carried a measure that does not do what it professes to do, two or three weeks will not elapse before it will be altered and made effective. How different is that from the policy of the present Government? It has taken time and experience to show the country that the Government are not in favour of such legislation as that mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes, and that when they had the opportunity* to pass it, they put it in such a form as to utterly destroy its effectiveness. Up to the present I have dealt only with the platform of the honorable member for Parkes; but there are others. We have a National De- fence League in South Australia, which formerly was popularly known as the “ National Ass.” - so well known as the latter that it was necessary to alter the name - and that body has issued a Federal programme. Honorable members in another place - though I am happy to say not many - and the Attorney-General in this Chamber, received the support of that Association; and here is its programme for 1908 -
To maintain and protect the constitutional rights of the States, and to defend the interests of the States against improper encroachments.
I have never known the Commonwealth Parliament attempt to make any improper encroachments on State rights - indeed, it is utterly impossible to do so in face of the High Court. The programme of the National Defence League proceeds -
To support the continuance of the Braddon clause of the Constitution, allocating not more than one-fourth of the net revenue of Customs and Excise duties to Commonwealth expenditure, and conserving the balance to the States, or, in its place, to support some equitable arrangement, securing to the States an equivalent under such clause.
This is the programme that the Attorney-‘ General and some members of another place from South Australia will be asked to support at the next election. They will be asked to make the Braddon blot permanent, and thus cripple the finances of the Commonwealth. I am sorry that the Attorney- ‘ General is not in his place; but the only sense of shame on the part of honorable members opposite is shown in the fact that they dare not remain to hear the truth.
– That is something to be said for them, anyhow.
– It is something for which the country ought to be thankful. The platform goes on-
To amend the Arbitration Act by providing for conciliation before compulsion, both the Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration to be presided over by the same Judge.
Truly, I never saw such a confusion of platforms in my life ! I have not with me a copy of the Orange platform, nor do I know quite how many platforms there are ; but I have here the Liberal platform which was issued, with a great flourish, a few days before the fusion. I shall not read the eight planks of which it consists, but merely what the Melbourne Age said in regard to them under the headings -
The Official Platform. Democratic Legislation. Protection for Producers, Workers, and Consumers. Universal Training and Local Navy. Far-reaching Electoral Reforms.
At the bottom the Age says - and, mark you, the platform is in black type, which might be taken as prophetic -
This platform may be taken as the irreducible minimum of the party’s demands on the country and Parliament.
And yet, only a day or two afterwards the programme was cut down by one half ! I have no desire to detain the House at any length, but I made a promise last night that I would lay bare the methods of the Labour caucus ; and, at the- same time, I shall show the misrepresentation of honorable members opposite in this connexion. In the Adelaide Register of 6th March this year, the honorable member for North Sydney is reported as saying -
Democracy meant that the rule of the majority should have force in the Legislature, but, with a caucus, there was an extraordinary rule.
I ask honorable members to listen, because I. propose to enable them to know as much about the caucus as I do myself -
There might be a measure brought forward of which forty-nine members were in favour and twenty-five against. The caucus, met, and by fourteen to thirteen decided against it, and the twenty-seven members of the caucus, therefore, would have to vote against it, and the measure’ would consequently be defeated by fifty-two to twenty-two. Was not that an insidious design to undermine the constitutional system?
That is a most unwarrantable misstatement of facts, because such a thing is impossible in the Labour caucus. We are elected on a platform, which constitutes our pledges to the people ; and, if we were to go back on one plank, we should put ourselves in the same dishonorable position as that occupied by some honorable members opposite. We stand by our platform, because we have promised to do so - a promise put in writing, so that the world may understand - and no member of the Labour party dare go outside one of the pledges. What does transpire in caucus? Scores of questions beyond those in the Labour platform come before Parliament ; and the honorable member for North Sydney, like the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Bourke, have led the people to believe that, when any measure is submitted, it is taken into caucus, and, after discussion and arriving at a decision, Labour members come into the House and vote solidly.
– How is a decision arrived at?
– There never was a decision arrived at in caucus yet on any measure outside the platform. . No such measure was ever discussed or voted on.
– Nonsense !
– Does the honorable member mean to say that I am a liar ? When I speak here I tell the truth.
– I think the honorable member is very funny !
– Well, the honorable member is - I shall not say what; but I regard him as a long way beneath contempt. I know that the honorable ‘member for Flinders and other honorable mem.bers will accept my word. It will be supported by every member of the party. In no instance do we take a vote in the caucus on any question outside our platform. Indeed, a proposal to do so would be resented by us. If, however,a measure affecting a plank in our platform is brought before Parliament, we discuss in caucus the best method of giving effect to that plank. We often have different views as to the extent to which a measure may affect our platform, and we take a vote to determine the best method of giving effect to our pledges. Yet we find the honorable member foi Bourke, to whom the methods of the caucus should be no secret, wilfully misrepresenting us. He said recently : -
The caucus system of the Labour paTty interfered with personal liberty and political freedom; and the instance I gave related to the overthrow of the Deakin Government, when, as is well-known, a substantial minority of the. Labour party was against any change ; but, a majority in caucus having determined to put the Government out, all members were compelled to vote the one way.
Will the honorable member apologize to the people for this misrepresentation of the caucus, when I tell him that every member of our party was free to vote as he pleased with regard to the fate of that Government? He went further, and, referring to the Home Rule resolution passed inthis House, said : -
In this case, as in the one I have just mentioned, notwithstanding that several members were known to be adverse to the proposition, yet every one of them eventually recorded his vote in its favour.
When I tell the honorable member that the. question of Home Rule was never mentioned in the caucus, will he apologize to the people for his wicked misrepresenta– tions ? We find in him an honorable member who is caucus-bound, tongue-bound, shackled in every way , arid who dare not express his views as long as the present fusion lasts. . It would appear that what is. a vice on the part of the Labour party is a virtue in the party to which the honorable member belongs. Is he aware that in South Australia the Farmers and Producers’ Political Union and the National Liberal League, which act together, require intending candidates to give a pledge that if they are not selected, they will stand down?
– That is not done in this State.
– What has that to do with my statement that it is done in another part of the Commonwealth? Rerently certain correspondence appeared in the South Australian press. Mr. Charleston, at one time a member of the Senate, and who ratted from the Labour party, is the secretary and organizer of the Farmers and Producers’ Political Union, and he wrote a letter to the press, pointing out that anyone seeking to become a candidate for Parliament had to pledge himself that he would not stand if he were not selected by the union. A few weeks ago a vacancy occurred in the State Parliament, and a practical farmer - a Mr. Hannaford - offered himself for selection. He was a member of the Farmers and Producers’ Political Union, but he had to submit himself for selection, not only by the union, but by the National Liberal League. Another candidate was a son-in-law of Mr. John Darling, and the result was that the city lawyer was selected, and the practical farmer was. compelled by his pledge to stand down. I hope honorable members opposite will, in view of this fact, for ever keep their mouths closed in regard to the Labour caucus, and refrain from further misrepresenting it. I am glad that their caucus is copying our methods, and trust that they will continue to copy that which is good. Let us have no more of this misrepresentation. The honorable member for Bourke, however, would rather repeat than withdraw his misrepresentation of our party. That is a course of conduct to which I strongly object. If I cannot be returned to the House on the convictions that I hold, and by a truthful criticism of my opponents, I do not wish to be reelected. Honorable members opposite, however, know that they could not hope for election if they told the truth of the Labour party. They live on misrepresentation.
– How high is the pedestal on which the honorable member stands?
– Not high enough for the honorable member to stand on and look like a man. I would scorn to deal unfairly with any honorable member. I have now a few comments to offer regarding the tactics of the honorable member for Batman, some of whose constituents I had the pleasure of addressing not long ago. Quite recently the honorable member said that the Labour party’s constitution was “a menace to the country.” Yet this miserable, trembling, wretched creature wished to join our party, and would have Joined it if by doing so he couid make his election sure. He was quite willing to become a member of a party whose constitution, according to him, is a menace to the country, provided that it would enable him to secure his seat. I am glad, however, to say that our party will have nothing to do with such miserable creatures. The honorable member may repeat his misrepresentations if he pleases.
– That was not a misrepresentation. It was a fact.
– Then, again, we had the honorable member for Dalley in this House the other day parading his freedom, and saying that he could not belong to the Labour party, since if he were a member of it he would have no freedom. In almost the next breath he gloried in the strength of the Orange machine, which, he declared, was going to sweep the polls next year. He is bound to that machine, body and soul ; he has taken the most solemn oath that a man could possibly take to act as that machine desires him to do. These are the men who talk of freedom. Is it any wonder that we have no confidence in the Government, and in those who sit behind them? They have done what a few years ago was thought to be impossible; they have created a class war.
– I have shown that the Coalition consists of honorable members whose political principles are riot in accord. Out of their own mouths I have convicted them. They have joined forces to down the representatives of the masses, to create a class war, and to see that the privileges of the monopolists are upheld for ever. Yet they used to charge us with being anxious to see a class war. I regret that they should have banded together for so unworthy a purpose - to “ down “ the Labour party, and to secure for themselves as many positions as possible.
– Did not the honorable member join with another party to “down” the Deakin Ministry?
– Yes, and I am sorry that we did not “down” them long’ ago. If I had had my way, we should have done so. The Prime Minister declared that the Parliament should have been called together much earlier than it was, but as soon as the Fisher Government was assassinated he desired an adjournment of three weeks to enable him to bring forward something of the programme of which he had been talking since 1903. The real reason why he asked for the adjournment was, however, to enable him to bring together his colleagues and as many as possible behind him, in order that he might explain that he was going to attempt to do something, but would really do nothing. If the Labour party were again 10 come into power, they would be able within a few hours to put their policy before the House. The Prime Minister wasted three weeks - notwithstanding that he professed to be anxious that Parliament should meet much earlier than it did in order to bring down a programme, which, he says, dates back to 1903. He will be talking about it in 1950 if he is still alive, for little of it will be on the statute-book if he has to rely on the support of those now behind him’. The Prime Minister has also been guilty of misrepresenting the Labour caucus. Well do I remember the speech which he delivered in regard to it at Ballarat some years ago. Later on, when Parliament met, I dealt with clause after clause of ihat speech, and concluded by telling the honorable gentleman that he had been guilty of misrepresentation that would shame a Turk. I repeat that statement. Why -Joes not. the honorable member go now to Ballarat, and make a speech on the fusion? He dare not. I challenge him to do so.
– If he does hold a meeting there, he will have to issue tickets, and appoint doorkeepers.
– He will have to do more - he will have to see that careful supervision is exercised over the issue of those tickets. I doubt whether he would find in Ballarat enough men ready to attend his meeting, unless he issued some tickets to those who were prepared to express their opinions of the arch political traitor. The honorable member for Ballarat is fond of speaking. Nothing pleases him better than to deliver addresses. But not at Ballarat. I invite him to speak in my constituency, or in the Adelaide Town Hall.
– When is the honorable member going to stop speaking ?
– The Minister of Defence is responsible for my speech. He is the cause of much of it. Were it otherwise, I should have finished long since. I wish the country to know the character of the man who asks me to stop ; the ex- Labour leader, the ex-miners’ secretary, the exProtectionist, the ex-Republican, the ex-Free Trader, and the present Nothinginparticular.
– That is very good.
– I wish to let the country know the character of the honorable member and his fellows. In doing that I have used their own language ; I have been careful not to misrepresent them. .
– The honorable member might well compress his remarks a little.
– As it may console the Minister, let me say that I shall soon bring my speech to a conclusion. The handwriting is cn the wall. ft is only two and a half years since this Parliament was elected, and during that time there have been general elections for each of the Parliaments of the States, and one Federal election, by which the Labour party has gained no fewer than thirty-five seats, its gains being - in the New South Wales Parliament seven members, in that of Victoria six, in that of Queensland six, in that of Western Australia five, in that of South Australia five, in that of Tasmania five, and in this Parliament one. Could there be clearer evidence that the country is in sympathy with the Labour party? I am not afraid of what may happen at the next elections. The other day the Leader of the the Labour party in New South Wales, Mr. McGowen, was reported to have made this remarkable statement -
The total wealth of Australia amounted to £376,000,000. Of this 1,000 persons owned onethird, 3,000 one-half, and 10,852 two-thirds of the wealth. It was recorded in the official Year-
Book of 1904-5 that 553,466 persons owned nothing that could be valued. What a terrible thing to say of a population of 749,300 adults. Yet the State book asserted that we are better off than any other country in the world as far as wealth is concerned. The average earnings of all producers is £63 5s. 8d., and the value of their production £147 6s. Sd., leaving a difference of £84 is. that goes into the pockets of some other person than the producer. Allow from this reasonable interest on capital cost of raw material, and rent of land and buildings, and a very large margin is still left. .
– I have not got my share.
– If the honorable member comes over to this side of the Chamber, we shall help him to get it.
– I understand that every member of the Labour party has his full share.
– I hope so. At any rate, we on this -side are contented, and that is what honorable members opposite are not. What is to be said of a policy which has brought about the condition of things just described, in the richest country in the world ?
– Notwithstanding fifteen years of the Labour-Socialists’ rule !
– What would be the income of each adult if there were an equal distribution of wealth ; would it not be less than ^200 a year ?
– The honorable member can make the calculation for himself. If every member of the community received ,£200 a year, the income of my family would be ,£1,600, so that I could not complain of the arrangement. But we, on this side,” do not talk of “ dividing up.” We have no desire to take from any one a penny of that which belongs to him.
– Does not the exPostmasterGeneral say that he is a Communist ?
– I do not think that any member of the Labour party has declared himself to be a Communist. Christ was. a Communist ; his immediate followers held all things in common. The Minister of Defence is opposed to the policy of Jesus Christ, whom each Sunday he professes to reverence. I wish to carry out that policy, but, unfortunately, the age and the people are not ripe for complete Socialism. Socialism is quite different from Communism. It means that each shall be rewarded according to the work he does, whereas Communism means that each shall receive according to his needs and contribute according to his ability, so far as production is concerned. The system which I wish to see established would not take from any one that to which he has a legal, if not a moral right. If, as the Minister of Defence has rightly said, land monopoly is theft, I would say to the monopolists, “ Steal no more.” ‘ There has been more thieving of land in the Old Country than here. The Socialism which I support would give the workers a better share of the benefits of production.
– Is account taken of the Savings Bank deposits when the statement is made that there are 553,466 persons who possess nothing of value? I think that that can hardly be so.
– I shall look into the matter. I made the statement on the authority of the Leader of the Labour party in New South Wales, who used the figures of the Government Statistician. Honorable members wish to know what we are going to do. Let me read an extract from the works of the late Henry Demarest Lloyd, a great American political economist -
The pioneers who saw a generation ago the thread that would lead us into the free air have now become a multitude. That thread is the thread of Democracy, whose principles must and will rule wherever men co-exist, in industry not less surely than in politics. It is by the people who do the work that the hours of labour, the conditions of employment, the division of the produce is to be determined. It is by them the captains of industry are to be chosen, and chosen to be servants, not masters.
The Labour party is determined that there shall be a fairer distribution of wealth, and that, in this glorious, sunny land, there shall not be created the condition of things which they have in England, a country which has been truly described as “ a paradise for the rich, a purgatory for the wise, and a hell for the poor.” “ The reactionaries opposite might as well hope to stop an Alpine avalanche with a pitchfork as to prevent the programme of the Labour party from being carried into effect. This cannot be done by the unnatural fusion of discordant elements which have no sympathy with each other, and the combination of men who have been aptly described by the Prime Minister as the wreckage of all the parties which have failed in politics. In justice to the electors we should go before our masters, and let them decide the policy of the country. I am satisfied that, whether we go now or in a few months’ time, the constituencies will wreak their vengeance on those who have proved traitors to them.
– After the able speeches of the honorable members for Darling and Hindmarsh, there remains, perhaps, little to be said in castigation of the members of the fusion; but I should not be doing my duty to my constituents if I did not protest against the betrayal of the people’s interests for which they are responsible. When I entered Parliament, I felt it my duty to support the present Prime Minister, because he was about to introduce a Tariff. I supported him loyally while the Tariff was being considered. Although the duties imposed are not quite what I would have had, I am proud of the Tariff as a distinct advance on previous legislation of the kind. While supporting that Government, our party were twitted from time io time with keeping a very small group on the Treasury bench. The question hurled” at us from this side after the Tariff was passed was, “ Why do you stand by them? Are there not other men in the House that you could support?” We were always .constrained to reply, “ We support these gentlemen, because of the alternative.” What would it mean to support the honorable member for Parkes, the right honorable member for Swan, or the honorable member for Flinders? How, then, must the people be astonished, how must the Democrats of Australia feel outraged, when they see those very gentlemen .now sitting cheekbyjowl with those who were then in the Opposition comer, and in direct opposition-? For weeks, in Sydney, a most startling religious mission has been conducted by Chapman and Alexander. Men who have not seen the inside of a church for years have been crowding to the Town Hall to hear something of the great Christian faith. Converts by the hundred and by the thousand are reputed to have been made. Probably the same feeling has reached the arena of politics. If the Prime Minister can assure the country that he has actually converted to democratic views the honorable member for Flinders, the right honorable member for Swan, and other honorable members whom he now shelters under his wing, he has really accomplished more than the Chapman-Alexander mission has clone. But is Australia deceived by the sort of clap-trap that has been uttered on that subject? Let us analyze the situatiOn. I am one of those who have devoted their political lives to the Labour movement. Onlookers usually see more of the game than the players do, and in closely watching the election campaigns I have always noted the fact that the two great factors are the wire-pullers and the people. Honorable members opposite have behind them certain wire-pullers who have worked ever since the birth of the Labour party to scotch our operations and to prevent our ever obtaining a majority which1 would enable us to put into effect our democratic ideals. They have pulled every string imaginable to get certain gentlemen into the House. At the last election they pulled the wires in three directions. They placed men here as Free Traders to block the Labour party : they placed so-called Liberals on. the other side to block the Labour party ; and they put Conservatives into the Opposition corner. The people, fooled by the wire-pullers, elected those men. But today the wire-pullers have gone further. They have absolutely triumphed in the House and flouted the people to such an extent that, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh says, they must see the writing on the wall. I can conceive of nothing that will save those honorable members opposite. It is useless for them to lay before the House a kind of shop window show card to catch the electors. Only a few days ago the Prime Minister accused our party of putting forward an election placard, and yet he deliberately puts up a show card containing sufficient proposals to occupy the time of this Chamber for much longer than the few months at its disposal. “While I admired the Prime Minister from afar, when outside, for what I thought were his great Australian sentiments, I was not long in the House before I began to doubt him. I began to feel that the sentiments which’ he had aroused from afar bv his speeches in this House and at the Imperial Conference in the Old Land had no solid foundation. I found I had been somewhat betrayed, and I became suspicious. To-day I want to thank the honorable gentleman for unmasking himself before it was too late. We see him now in his true form. For a long time I admired what I thought was his sincerity with regard to a land tax. We heard it filtered through our party time after time that he was favorable to a progressive land tax, but that as it had not come before the electors at the last election he did not feel inclined to propose it in the House during the life of this Parliament, and that if he was only left alone it was quite possible that he would launch a progressive” land tax before the electors next time, and come back properly wedded to this party. That was when he was courting our party for a coalition. I thank God that we dodged that coalition, and I am delighted to see the Prime Minister properly unmasked, and in his proper place in this House as the leader of Conservatives and reactionaries. When I admired the Prime Minister for his Australian sentiments I never expected that he would deliberately betray the Australian position as he has done by taking up his present State Rights attitude. When he refuses to introduce a progressive land tax, and mercilessly and heartlessly hands the administration of our lands over to the tender mercies of the Upper Houses of the States, he is committing the greatest act of betrayal that any professing Liberal could be guilty of. Surely he can no longer claim to be a true Liberal. We have seen in every State the absolute obstruction of the people’s rights with regard to land administration year in and year out. If the true’ history of the land administration of New South Wales were written it would be a horror and a blot on our progress that would never be eradicated from the people’s minds. We have a pretended closer settlement policy in New South Wales, but let me give an instance of what happens. In my own electorate one of the biggest estates has been recently attacked by the State Premier. It comprises something like a quarter of a million acres of land granted to a company. Spurred on by the Labour party, the State Government were forced to make some show of closer settlement, and they began with a valuation scheme- to ascertain the true value of the land. The owners, of course, want more than the Government are prepared to offer, and that valuation actually cost the State£12,000. That sum is quietly passed on to the unfortunate selectors who have to take up the land in small holdings, although in another way they may be called fortunate in obtaining land when it is so scarce. That is the sort of closer settlement with which the Prime Minister, who calls himself a Liberal, is pleased. Even then theState Government has resumed only 100,000 acres, well knowing that the settlement of that area will increase perhaps by a hundredfold the value of the remaining land, thus allowing a wealthy company to reap an enormous harvest at the people’s expense. It is very doubtful if that company has ever fulfilled the conditions on which the land was granted to it. That is the sort of thing that the Prime Minister is content to leave in the hands of the States. I understood him to state recently that the State Governments intended to introduce progressive land taxation proposals and fix the matter up, but while I speak in this House thismorning a debate is going on in the New South Wales Parliament, on a motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, censuring the Government for not introducing a progressive land tax. That is a specimen of the way the Prime Minister is flouting the Australian Democracy. He then pleads that the imposition of a Federal land tax would cause unequal taxation in the States, because the States already have land taxes. If we are going to consider the feelings of the States and put them before the interests of the Commonwealth, we ought to get into the State Parliaments and out of the Australian Parliament.
– That is what the honorable member’s party did with regard to the Federal Capital.
– If the honorable member proposes to take up that attitude the sooner he leaves Federal for State politics the better for himself and for Australia. With regard to the Federal Capital, I understand that the Government which the honorable member for Batman is pledged to support intend to make a party measure of the Bill fixing the Canberra site.
– It is our duty to carry out the will of Parliament already expressed.
– That is just what I dreaded - a party measure. It is as well that the honorable member has brought that out.
– There is no party measure incarrying out the will of Parliament.
Mr.FOSTER.- I am prepared to believe that that party will be loyal to its leader and become the champions of State Rights in this Parliament. I do not want to see the States injured in any way, but in anycontest between the States and Australia as a whole it is the duty of those who have been elected to this House to stand by the Commonwealth and not to fool with the State Rights business. By State Rights I mean the claims of State authorities that prevent us from carrying out the true ideas of an Australian Commonwealth. The Prime Minister actually intends, according to the showcard that he has laid before the House, to make an arrangement with the States to continue some financial proposal similar to the Braddon blot. I thought for a time that the Prime Minister was a man who believed in an honorable peace between the States and the Commonwealth ; but there seems to be a determined attempt to precipitate war for at least another five years. Of course, it is very hard to get a good war-cry for election time; and the Prime Minister knows that in sacrificing his Democratic views and pretensions to Liberalism he must manufacture some cry, and what is better than that of “State Rights”?
What better idea, could there be than to get the Premiers of each State to declare “ Beware of the enemies of the States - of the men who advocate unification, and believe in centralizing all power in the hands of the Federation?” Indeed, that cry is already being trotted out, as I have seen in my own State in many directions. The Labour party have over and over again been accused of a desire, for unification, although we have never placed unification in our programme. I am willing to say for myself that if the question should arise of making the States smaller, and giving Australia a better chance, I shall stand every time for Australia, and the cutting up of the States. In New South Wales - to which State only I shall refer - we suffer in our railway policy from a Government ruled by Sydney. There is a railway to Brisbane, and, instead of providing branch lines to the coast, and thus saving a carriage of 300 or 400 miles to Sydney, the Government propose to build another parallel line along the coast. Under such circumstances, it is time we struck some blow at centralization in Sydney, and advocated smaller States, so as to give a chance for the development of the country.
– In view of the credit balance of ,£1,000,000 in New South Wales, surely there is no room for a cn of “ State Rights”?
– Yet the Premier of that State, during the last year or two, has been whining because he could not get enough money to carry on his Government. Receiving money that ought to have been spent on defence, and the reform of the post office, the New South Wales Government have abolished the income tax for the reason that they had too much money. The Prime Minister has evidently taken up the “ State Rights “ cry in dead earnest, and is certainly acting against the best interests of the Commonwealth in advocating the extension. “ of the Braddon section for five years. Let us stand on our national policy. Let us know before the Braddon section expires where we are financially, and thus have peace with the States. Surely, it is a betrayal of “one people, one destiny,” when we find, seven or eight year’s after Federation, that we have not yet evolved that most important step in a nationhood -a proper financial policy. If I required, more evidences of the Prime Minister’s perfidy to Liberalism and - Democracy, I have only to point to his attitude in regard to new Protection. We have a deliberate attempt to block the wage-earners in all our industries from obtaining what is their just due.
– The Prime Minister supported factory legislation in Victoria.
– Then more shame for him, for sitting cheek by jowl with those who are opposed to the unfortunate workers. A man who has been a Democrat and becomes a renegade, has a. bigger fight to fight than he who has never been a Democrat. For instance, against the Chairman of the Employers’ Federation, who sits in this House, I have not a word to say ; but for a man who has pretended Democratic views, and called for support as a Liberal, and who has become a renegade, there can be nothing but denunciation. For my part, I hope that the Prime Minister will get the whole qf the Conservative vote at the next election ; indeed, I am sure he will. But I also hope that he will not receive the Democratic vote which has previously supported him-. When he goes to the electors; he will find that the thousands of votes which went to him from the Labour party will be bestowed elsewhere, and he will also find out how much his association with Conservatism is worth. The proposition for an Inter-State Commission has been ably dealt with by previous speakers, and I take it to mean one thing only, namely, the prevention of the workers of the country from enjoying the full benefit of Protection. It has been hurled at the Labour party that they have no fiscal policy, and that amongst their numbers are Free Traders. That may be, but I can say that every member of the Labour party has pledged himself to new Protection, which, of course, necessitates the old Protection; they have come over bodily to Protection, on the one condition that the promise in regard to the new Protection should be fulfilled. However, I suppose I cannot growl much at the Prime Minister in this connexion, because he frankly admits his blunder and his position. He tells the House calmly and deliberately that, as the Labour party did not ally themselves with him and his party, he has allied himself with the reactionaries and Conservatives.
– And is proud of the fact ! ‘
– Is there any excuse in the Democratic mind for the man who, professing Democracy, allies himself with reactionaries ? There is, not a true Democrat at heart who would dare do such a thing; he would leave politics first. The Prime Minister must ever have had a lurking desire at heart to be Conservative, or he could never have abandoned his professed principles in the way he has. Of course, his example has affected others, and even the honorable member for Perth has seen fit to take a step towards the ranks of Conservatism. If the honorable member for Perth feels that way, I suppose he is quite justified in doing what he has done, but he will have to face his electors shortly, and I can imagine what will happen. The Dreadnought scare was exploded on the people almost like a bombshell ; and it naturally raised the question of Australian defences. The one absurdity which was pointed out when the public press started the agitation, was that the Australian people should be talking of giving £2,000,000 for a Dreadnought when we could not provide sufficient uniforms for our little cadets, or sufficient rifles for our volunteer forces. 1 scarcely like to describe the position of our defences ; but, as a matter of fact, it is a disgrace to those who have held the reins of power since the inauguration of Federation. And who is the man mainly responsible ? Who is the main who has had most power and been most to the front? He is the honorable, member for Ballarat, the present Prime Minister; and at his door must be laid the responsibility for bringing the Defence Department into its present position. Thank God. when the Dreadnought fanaticism reached its highest, we had, as leader of the Government, a marr who could sit calmly by, uninfluenced by the press, or the new-born enthusiasm of anti-Australian men. The late Prime Minister may feel proud, seeing that his name will go down to history as the one ccol, calm man, able to strike out a straight line of duty - amidst all the roar, thunder, and tumult - in the direction of ari Australian defence scheme on a solid basis. The present Prime Minister, at a moment when we are financially weaker than I hope we shall ever be in the future, proposes that two millions should be spent on a Dreadnought . for England, when the money could be infinitely better employed in defending and developing Australia. From the mere thought of a war between Great Britain and Germany the mind shrinks with horror. Carlyle, I think it was. said that war was the sum of all human villanies
– Carlyle also said, “ Wise men, wise obedience.”
– A very good ideaobedience to the best cause of their nation. Just think of a war between England and Germany, which country we cannot regard as we might Russia, or even Japan. Here is a nation which has gone on developing by leaps and bounds during the past few years. It is progressing in education, arts, mechanics, and Democracy, with a population increasing to an enormous extent. It is a nation willing to spring to arms as one man for its nationhood, and, further, it is a nation trained to arms, every ablebodied male being called to its defence. Every representative, whether in a British Parliament, or the German Parliament, should strive for peace ; and I am quite sure that the British Government are not anxious to precipitate war. Of course, a commercial war does exist between the nations on the high seas, but that may be described as peaceful compared with the bloodshed which accompanies war in its foulest sense. As to our citizen soldiery, I feel that neither the proposal of previous Prime Ministers, nor that of the present Prime Minister, goes far enough. Personally, I should like to see the training of men of over twenty years of age ; though, of course, if we started by limiting the age to thirty, we might gradually reduce it. Considering our danger, the age limit of twenty seems to provide rather inadequate means of defence, including, as it does, only youths of sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years of age. Can the Prime Minister, who proposes to present £2,000,000 to Great Britain - a’ present which is not wanted - say that there is enough money to provide training for men from twentyfive to thirty years of age? I do not advocate . the training of citizen soldiery with a view of going to war. I abominate the very name of war, but feel that with well trained and properly disciplined citizens we should have a better and a greater Commonwealth. My brief experience of teaching has convinced me that the one thing necessary to straighten up the young Australian and make a thorough man of him is a course of military training. Some States are already taking action to have a medical inspection of school children to test their stamina and enable advice to be given to their parents as to the best way in which to develop them. That in itself will be beneficial ; but the military training of our boys as they get nearer manhood has a value that none can discount. Even if we have to expend millions in this direction it will be money well spent-, since it will tend to make us a better people and a better nation. There are several serious obligations at the basis of a proper system of defence. I’ contend, for instance, that no party is sincere in its advocacy of defence that is not prepared to support the nationalization of the steel and iron industry, since that industry is at the very bedrock of defence. A Prime Minister to be loyal to the best method of defence must be prepared to advocate the national ownership of the steel and iron industry, as well as of arms and ammunition .factories. I hope in the years to come to find the Commonwealth building its own ironclads, if they be required, and manufacturing everything else that is necessary for land and naval defence. When we touch the question of defence we invariably find ourselves face to face with that of finance. If money is needed to provide for the nationalization of the iron and steel in- dustries, and to train men over twenty years of age, let the wealthy contribute to a fund for that purpose. Let those who have most to gain, who are making the most out of Australia, contribute the most. Let us imitate the British Government and not hesitate to say that if necessary they shall pay a heavy tax upon incomes. If the Prime Minister were sincere in his advocacy of an adequate defence policy, and found that the Government were short of money, he might even be expected to propose a Federal income tax. By doing so, however, he would hit his friends and the wire-pullers on whom he has to depend for support.
– Does the honorable member advocate both a Federal land tax and a Federal income tax?
– I should, if the exigencies of the situation demanded it, advocate both to provide for Australian defence. I would remind honorable members that the progressive land tax advocated by the Labour Party is not solely designed to provide funds for the defence of Australia. Its operation must, in the ordinary course of events, tend to increase our population, and increased population means a better defence. But if money is urgently required an income tax offers a splendid means of raising it. Every one admits the justice of a land tax, but whereas an income tax is paid only by those who have an income, -a land tax has to be paid by a land-owner to whom it applies, regardless of whether or not he obtains any income from his land. That being so, an income tax is the more equitable. The man who holds the land, however, should be prepared to pay his fair proportion to the cost of government. I should not hesitate to ask those who are making the most out of Australia 10 contribute the most towards its defence. Defence is very much in the nature of insurance. The military training of every citizen, the nationalization of the iron and steel and ship-building industries means simply a system of national insurance. It will safeguard those who are making money out of the Commonwealth, and the man who would refuse to contribute to the cost of such a system by way of an income tax would be a poor spirited citizen.
– Our direct taxation is very small compared with that of Germany and Japan.
– That is so. We do not seem to have realized the necessity for insurance against the possibility of invasion. We have heard a great deal in this Chamber as -to the desirableness of immigration, and the honorable gentleman now at the head of the Conservative party has been pleased to include in his programme some illusive references to it. Can it be said that a man is sincere in his advocacy of immigration if he will not support a land tax? Have we any hope of being able to <place a large number of men on the land unless we can break up the large estates? Can we hope successfully to settle people on the land unless we can also provide them with cheap money? We are not even doing enough in this direction to encourage the rearing of large families. Those who advocate immigration, but object to a land tax, as well as to a national banking scheme by which cheaper money will be found for the people, and their monetary transactions safeguarded, are not sincere. One of the greatest objects for which every Democrat must fight is the establishment of a national bank which will control the finances of Australia. We know what has happened to the United States of America for want of such a system. That great country is subjected periodically ti> great financial crises, which plunge thousands of people into insolvency, lt has ^ built up a system of finance, with the pretence of a gold reserve behind it, but we find that the whole of the gold reserve held to-day by the banks of the United States amount only to about 11 per cent, of the note issue. Great Britain and Germany are following the same lines of high finance. Yet when we propose the establishment of a national bank and a paper currency based on the solid bedrock of national security, we are told by some honorable members, who speak with their tongues in their cheeks, that they will support no system that is not based on a substantial gold reserve. We are engaged in building up the Commonwealth, and it is our duty to see that our banking system is such that every man who invests money ‘In Australia, or who banks his savings, will be secure from the dangers of panic resulting from bad finance. We have also in this regard a duty towards the man on the land which we can discharge far better than the State Parliaments could ever hope to do.’ Since he has to contend with droughts and floods, should we not arrange to supply him with cheap money on Jong terms? At present the average nian on the land, when he wants money, has to pay about 6 per cent, for it, but at any time the rate of interest may jump up suddenly to 16 per cent.
– Any man on the land who pays 6 per cent, at the present time is a fool.
– The honorable member is a cheery optimist, and does not seem to know that thousands of farmers are paying 6 per cent, and 7 per. cent.
– Then they will not lie on the land very long.
– Some farmers have to pay as much as 8 per cent, and 10 per cent., but the average is about 6 per cent. Since the honorable member holds the view lhat the people cannot remain long on the land in such circumstances, I hail him as a supporter of the proposal to establish a national bank, which will give men on the land cheap money for .a fixed term. A national bank would be able to grant a man offering good security a loan at 4 per cent, or 4! per cent., with the option of paying off the principal at the rate of i£ per cent, per annum. That would mean more than ho years’ terms. The establishment of such an institution is one of the greatest supports to a young nation that could be devised. We have no occasion to go to Great Britain or France for an objectlesson in this respect. We have only to turn to that . young and great country - the United States of America - which, within a comparatively few years, has achieved a leading position among the nations of the world, and which, we know has suffered endless troubles and difficulty because. the framers of its Constitution did not take the precaution to provide for the nation controlling its own finances by means of a national bank. As far as the making of wealth is concerned, I am quite- willing that the other fellow should go on the land, or. go in for manufacturing ; give me the control of finance, and I will make more than either of them. A few months ago the gold-bugs of Wall-street, acting with others in Germany and Great Britain, by making gold scarce, were able not only to make millions, but even to hit the people of Australia since the result of their operations was a depreciation in the price of our wool and minerals. The effect of their operations was felt in my own electorate. ‘ The tin miners there had been obtaining a reasonable price for their output, but as the result of the corner in gold there was a fall. The price of tin was reduced by onethird, whilst there was a very material drop in the price of. wool. The echoes of the high finance schemes’ in America have been heard in Australia. It, therefore, behoves us to see that the - nation shall have complete control of its finances,- and of its currency. I am delighted that the Fisher Government thought fit to submit a proposal for double currency. With, a double currency in force, the gold monopolists would not have been able to cause a fall in prices such as occurred on the occasion to which I have alluded. As it is, liabilities’ exceeding £2 can be discharged only by a payment in gold, but if we had a national bank and a. double currency it would be impossible to make that currency scarce. When the late Prime Minister spoke of establishing a Commonwealth note issue, he must have contemplated the establishment of a national bank as well. I should object to the Treasury, as- a Treasury, wholly controlling finance. A national bank would have to ‘act in co-operation With the- Treasury, but the latter should not be the national bank. If the Treasury took up the business of banking, it would do so only to meet its own’ requirements ; it would not enter into the commercial world. A national bank should be prepared- to do all the legitimate business which the other banks transact, and to compete with them.’ When the honorable ‘ member for Wide Bay suggested a Commonwealth note issue and a double currency, he was proposing one of the greatest reform’s that have ever been put forward in this House for the building up of the nation on a solid basis. I have noted the proposals of the Government with regard to the unemployed, whom we must consider in connexion with schemes for assisting immigration. The unemployed and the unemployable have created a difficult problem in all the countries of the world. With the man who will not work, and prays to God that he may never find occupation, I have no sympathy ; but one of the cruellest positions in which a human being can be placed is to have to tramp about, day in and day out, looking for employment that he cannot find, although, perhaps, ‘ he has a wife and little ones depending upon him.
– And sometimes a black list against him.
– Yes. It is cruel, inhuman, and unchristian, to tolerate in the Commonwealth a condition of affairs which puts men in that position. We might be disposed to despise Denmark because of the small ness of that- country compared with the Commonwealth j but it has solved the problem, by instituting a voluntary and a compulsory system of finding employment for the unemployed. Any one in Denmark who cannot obtain work through the ordinary channels may apply to the police for permission to work on a cooperative settlement, where he will be provided with a home, food, and clothes, until he can get employment outside. This makes it unnecessary for unemployed to walk the streets, and gets rid of beggars. When any one applies for alms at the door of an Australian house, the householder, if he has a fellow feeling, gives him a coin, or food, or clothing. There is no guarantee that he will not spend the money upon beer at the nearest public house, and often needy unfortunates are turned away, because so many impostors are living on the game. There is no begging in Denmark. If a man is found to be without means of support, and has not voluntarily applied to be sent to the co-operative settlement, he is arrested, and, instead of being sent to gaol as a vagrant, and a stigma placed on his name, which is what would happen in Australia, he is brought before a magistrate, and. after inquiry, sentenced to three years’ work, not as a criminal, but for the recovery of his manhood. The position of these unfortunates is due, probably, not to their own fault, but to that of society ; and in nine cases out of ten, if is discovered that they have really lost their manhood. Through drink, through poverty, and through misery, they have sunk into a state in which they are scarcely responsible for their actions. What is the result of the Danish system ? There are in Denmark no beggars asking for alms, and no unemployed. When men leave the settlement after three years’ training, they get a certificate of character, and have become competent workmen. Why does not the Prime Minister propose the establishment of a similar system here? I do not intend to oppose all the proposals of the Government. I shall support any Ministry in a programme which I think will benefit the country, because it is no part of the dub of an Opposition to “ stone-wall “ evenGovernment proposal. A Government must of necessity occasionally propose legislation favoured by the Opposition. It would be a pleasure for me to stand by the Government programme if Ministers would “go the whole hog,” and, taking the unemployed question in both hands, try to solve it. God knows that in Australia it needs solving. . The British market absorbs tens of thousands of pounds worth of butter produced on one of the Danish settlements. So marked is the success of the Danish system, that Switzerland has imitated it, and so has France. Surely as Christian men we should do something to help those in the gutter. It is all very well to put. forward plans for enabling the wealthy to become still more opulent, and the moderately wealthy to increase their possessions, but we owe also a duty to the dregs of society, to those for whom our social conditions have created want and despair. Can I regard the Government as sincere on the unemployed question, seeing that it is dropping new Protection ? In the face of its bluff, and its attempts to prevent men from enjoying to the fullest extent a rise- in wages, we cannot trust the Government to deal properly with either the immigration or the unemployed question. In New Zealand the late Mr. Seddon led a truly Democratic Administration, which went a good way. ‘ Unfortunately, the pseudo-Liberalists go a certain distance on a track, and just as their efforts are yielding fruit, put a stop to them. It is the glory of a party like the Labour party, which is composed of true Democrats, that it will not hesitate to carry out to the last result any good proposal for the benefit of the nation. I had two years’ experience of New Zealand conditions,’ and saw the drift of things there very plainly. Taking advantage of the Arbitration Court and similar institutions, the employes were able to obtain justice, and this resulted in an increase in wages, some of those who had been getting 7s. or 8s. a day having their wages increased to 9s., 10s., 12s., and 14s- But immediately the distributers’ ring raised prices in all directions, and the landlords raised rents. That is what happens under a half-and-half system of Liberalism. Progressive land taxation has done much for New Zealand, and so has the system of lending Government funds to the farmers at an interest of 4J per cent. Unfortunately, Mr. Seddon - I do not know if he was led aside by the cunning men who pull the wires in finance, some of whom are behind the Ministerial party here - did not do what was necessary in regard to the control of distribution and the establishment of a national bank. To- day New Zealand has as much population as, under present conditions, she can find employment for, and, as work is becoming scarce, many of her people are emigrating to Canada and the Commonwealth. This, the newspapers say, shows that the country is ruined. That is not so. New Zealand still enjoys the benefit of the good legislation passed by Mr. Seddon, but it lacks the national banking system, and a system for the proper control of distribution. When we were dealing with the Tariff, the Minister of Defence, time and again, twitted the Protectionists with having no thought for the consumer. How much thought is shown for the consumer in the present Ministerial policy ? Every member of the Labour party is determined to give each individual in the community what he legitimately earns. We are solid in regard to co-operation. The only way in which the producer can obtain decent prices and the customer . be properly treated is by the adoption of a co-operative system of dealing. That is the method which we shall pursue. It is because Messrs. Joshua and Companyfear it, that they rise in all their might to bluff us, and call upon the Tory press of the Commonwealth, which they practically dominate because of their large advertisements, to block at all costs those who believe in co-operation, and in eliminating the parasites of society - the middlemen. This party stands for co-operation wherever it can be made to supersede private enterprise for the benefit of the whole people. If the
Prime Minister had been a true Democrat,’ he must have gone in -that direction, but he has never done so. I am pleased that the division is so clear and decisive, on that issue. It must appeal to every Democrat as a duty to see that, where wages have risen, and men have been made more successful by loans of money and all that sort of thing, the people shall get their full share of the benefits. No man can call himself a Democrat who will allow the middlemen to rob the wage earner of every rise in wages that he gets by putting up the price of goods. This party has a great battle to fight in that direction, and the people would do well to consider the question of co-operation versus private enterprise. Another proposal of the Prime Minister is to take over the Northern Territory. That is at least one non-party measure before the House. I cannot conceive of any member, even -if he represents all the reactionary forces in the Commonwealth, objecting to the Federation taking control of the Northern Territory at a very early stage. The Prime Minister would have shown more loyalty to Australia if he had proposed to spend two million pounds on the Territory, instead of offering to Great Britain a Dreadnought. That country is like a new State, which holds out to adventurous men, such as were our fathers, the Australian pioneers, sn opening for enterprise and speculation, especially in its mineral resources. I feel amused when honorable members opposite accuse us of wanting to put all industry under State control, and to make every man a wage earner. I speak for myself, as a member of this party, and have absolute freedom to do so, for I am bound only by my pledge to vote for the fighting platform of the party. I am pledged to stand by. its eight or nine clauses, but on all other matters I am absolutely free, no matter what the caucus does. The caucus would never attempt to bind me on anything else. I cannot see how I could ever give a vote for the nationalization of gold mining or mining for precious stones, or, in fact, any speculative mining of that character. I can vote for the nationalization of coal and iron mines at once, and no man is solid on defence who will not strike out for the nationalization of the great steel and iron business, which must necessitate also the nationalization of the coal mines.
– Judging by the returns, there is a good deal of speculation about coal mining in New South Wales.
– There is a good deal of speculation about banking or anything else that men undertake. I do not say that I would leave out mining for gold or precious stones merely because of its speculative character. I would leave it out because we must have avenues for men who will not work for wages. I am one of those who have never cared to work for wages. I was prepared to take the risks on a mineral field or a farm, rather than to take a few shillings per day as a wageearner.
– There is no speculation when the minerals ,are wanted for national purposes.
– Where national purposes are involved, I believe in going on the basis of a sound, solid development. A coal-field can be prospected, and the wealth contained in it can be estimated to a nicety. It is- only a question of getting it out of the soil. It is easy to prospect a great iron blow, even if it consists of a mountain, and to tell what wealth is in it. It is often easy to estimate the value of enormous copper lodes, and great silver deposits, but in gold reef-mining, or alluvial gold-mining, or alluvial mining for precious stones, the proposition assumes a speculative character, and I shall never vote for putting the’ people’s money into speculations of that kind. There are thousands of men who are only fit to be wageearners. They seem, from the cradle upwards, to desire to work with somebody over them. That was never my feeling. I always desired to take the risks for myself.
– The honorable member is an individualist.
– I am a very strong individualist. The reason I believe in Socialism is that it will give the individual a chance to develop. The present system gives only the individual who has wealth a chance to develop.
– The honorable member must have had wealth, because he has done well.
– I believe in wealth, but I regret to say that I did not do well. Fighting for myself as an independent man, and taking the risks, I have, perhaps, less in hard cash than I should have had had I worked for wages. I want to see openings kept for the men who will take the risks for themselves. One such opening lies in speculative mining for a certain number, and another glorious opening is to be found in farming. The man who goes into the wilderness, and strikes out for himself, cultivating the ground and giving wealth to the nation, is a benefactor. Nothing can be more unjust than to accuse us of being whole-hog Socialists, who want to nationalize all the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and run them as a bureaucracy, because I am absolutely opposed to compelling the little farmer to forsake his home, and work on national farms. National farms, to absorb the unemployed, would be a magnificent idea, but I shall never give a vote for nationalizing farming, and bringing in all the small farmers who are such a benefit to the nation.
– The honorable member will let them run farms of their own, I suppose? Some people would not let them do that.
– Most decidedly. I would, but we have extremists in all countries. For instance, Mr. Lonsdale, the old gentleman whom I displaced in this House, is advertised to-day to debate with Mr. Scott Bennett, in Sydney on the question of Single Tax versus Socialism. I respect the old gentleman for” standing loyally to his single tax ideas, but he chose to be an extremist instead of a practical man, hence we have the extremist debating with Mr. Scott Bennett and the practical man in. this House. I suppose I am here to-day because of my practical programme, of which the fact that I have no objection to a man owning his own farm is an evidence. What I do object to, and wilT fight tooth and nail as loner .n* T am in politics, which I hope will be all my life, either inside or outside the House, is land monopoly. It matters little to me whether the man on the soil owns his land or leases it from the Government, so long as I know that the Government gets a return from him either in rent or in taxation, and solong as the Government have the power, as the New South Wales Government have to-da.y, to resume that land if it is required. That is real land nationalization. New South Wales has the power to resume any land whatsoever so long as it pays decently for it, and, of course, it is our bounden duty to pay for what we take. I should think that under the British flag every Government possesses such power. It seems to be a principle of. British law that the land and the minerals in it belong to the Crown. While that is so, we have land nationalization, or the power to nationalize land. I, of course, want to nationalize a little faster ; to get some of the big estates back as quickly as I can, so that they may be cut up and people given homes upon them. To resume only five estates when 500 are needed is to go too slowly, but still we have the power, and it is a good thing that we. have. There should be a sort of honour among public men, even if we oppose one another in party warfare. When it comes to dealing out blows, they should consider one another’s position fairly and straightforwardly, and if the party opposite will fight us on our programme as laid down, on our pledges as we have given them, and on what we have advocated in this House, I shall accept that fight, and return blow for blow in an honorable way. But when they go out of their way to pillory us as “ whole hog “ Socialists, they are playing the game very unfairly.
– Such as in the allegation that we wish to break the marriage tie, and a few other things.
– I am pleased that they have dropped the marriage-tie business, which is now in the limbo of the past. I was beginning, to believe that they had dropped the caucus business also, seeing that they had adopted the caucus itself, and that one of their great methods of bringing about the present fusion was the use of the caucus. , But apparently they still intend to use, as a whip to scourge us with, not the caucus which we really hold, but the caucus .which exists in. their imagination or which they want to put into the imagination of the public. If they told the truth as to what we do as a caucus I should have no objection.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p-m.
– Shortly before we rose for lunch I was dealing with the important question of the Northern Territory. If I could thoroughly trust the administration of the present Government, I should have nothing but praise to offer them for a proposition of this kind ; but, when I look at the composition of the Government, and -at their supporters, I am constrained to remember the maladministration of the lands and mining, not only in my own State, but throughout Australia. The two great interests that will have to be administered in the Northern Territory, outside defence, will be mining and land settlement, f do not know that I need have too much suspicion of the ‘administration, because during my examination of records I found a statement made by tha Minister of Defence, at one period of his history, which might lead us to suppose that he would be more Radical in his . administration than, perhaps, 1 should. The words of the Minister are as follows : -
I do not believe in paying for land at all. I believe in taxing it, and if we tax it to its full unimproved value we shall have no need to sell it - indeed, no one will buy it. When a man wants a bit of land in this Colony he has to go hundreds of miles back into the bush, behind his strong neighbour, who has picked out the eyes of the country. We ought to tax the strong neighbour for every ounce of privilege which he possesses over the man who proposes to go into the bush.
If we could trust the consistency of the Minister of Defence, we might rejoice at his presence in the Government in the face of such a calamity as the return of the present Government to power after the next election. We then might suppose that he would safeguard the interests of posterity ; but I am not disposed to trust him too much, seeing that he has recanted in so many things, including, according to a Melbourne journal this morning, even the matter of Free Trade. Of course, as honorable members will understand, the more honorable members come over to the Protectionist side, the better I shall like them. There is no doubt that the development of the Northern Territory is linked with the question of immigration. In the United States of America the cry of “Go West” gave rise to population; and a similar movement has caused great settlement in Australia. We have now a great State in the Northern Territory, practically unexploited; and, if we make proper use of our opportunity, we shall be able to invite our brothers and cousins in the old land to . settle there. We must construct roads and railways, possibly at the expense of millions, and then we shall be able to call upon people to make their homes and a living there. If people who come are dissatisfied with the quiet, humdrum life of the ordinary settler - if they have within them the spirit f adventure which brought our fathers to the gold-fields - they can be invited to go North, where there is a great mineral area to be opened up, and where there are land values conceived of only by very few here. In my electorate there is a man who holds an enormous area in the Northern Territory ; and he informs me that the main trouble is not too litt’.e grass, ‘but too much grass - too much exuberance of nature - with not’ enough stock and people. Of course, that might to a large extent be said of many of the settled parts of Australia; but it applies ten-thousand-fold in the case of the Northern Territory. What a trust is put into our hands ! I ask the people of Australia whether they will rely on the present Government, with monopolists and others behind them who would exploit Australia for the wealthy only, to lay down a land policy or a mining policy for this great new State? Will they not rather place the power with a party who would develop the Territory in the interests of the whole of the people? I went to Western Australia in the early days of gold-mining.
– I wonder the honorable member did not stay there !
– I did not stay because of the, bad mining laws passed by the honorable gentleman’s Government. The mining laws, when Bailey’s Reward was discovered, were a disgrace to an Australian State. They resulted in the locking up of ten miles square at Coolgardie from bonâ fide prospectors, in the interests of wildcat companies; and we do not desire to see the same in the Northern Territory. Can we trust the Treasurer, and those with him, to administer the Northern Territory, with the result, it may be, of its being locked up in the interests of wild-cat corporations, who gamble in. mining stocks and shares ?
– The honorable member is romancing !
– No doubt it is a romance to gentlemen who fall on their feet and make tens of thousands of pounds. Any man who, by means of locking up leases by the score, has been able to exclude the legitimate miner, and thus create a big banking account for himself, may well regard the whole business as a romance; in fact, it is like a chapter out of Deadwood Dick. The mining history of Victoria., New South Wales, or Western Australia shows that this trouble has always cropped up - exploitation has gone on in the interests of the few who desire to gamble. According to reports, there is in the Northern Territory abundance of room for exploitation by bond fide miners. In Western Australia it was net until the first part of the boom -was over that any advance was made - it was not until there had been battles for months and months that there was any genuine developmentand we have no desire for a repetition of this history in the Northern Territory. appeal to the House and the people not to give the Treasurer and his political associates an opportunity to administer the new State. We are told of the great difficulties that will have to be met in transmitting by railway and so forth the products of the Northern Territory; but to men in a big way., who finance large companies with millions of money, this cost will be only a small item. Probably the produce will be taken down to the coast and there shipped ; and, though this may’ prove expensive, those concerned will be able to afford the cost. Ifthe heart of the Government ‘were beating behind every individual miner, we should soon find smelt-‘ ing works established on the spot. The same kind of exploitation of which I am complaining now goes on in connexion with’ the mining of tin, bismuth, wolfram, copper, and so forth, and the Government ought to see that the miners are not cheated by the middleman buyer. A company in Sydney, for instance, may send a wire to its buyer on the fields, saying that their price for tin to-day is £70 per ton, while, as a matter of fact, it is worth to that company £120 per ton. Thus the miner can be quietly and legally robbed, although he is acting as a pioneer in the development of the country.Under present circumstancesthe miner is compelled to sell to thisprivate buyer; and this sort of thing has been going on for years and years in New South Wales. We ought to see that in the Northern Territory the miner is followed with crushing machinery and smelting works on a. national scale ; in fact, the development of the country would justify such works at a very early stage, because there is nothing more helpful than treatment machinery close at hand. Let us make the newest State of the Commonwealth an ideal one for the real developer, and keep off the hands of the wild-cat man. I do not wish it to be understood for a moment that I have any objection to the legitimate mining company working a concession in a proper way. I hope that millions of pounds will be invested by speculators in the Northern Territory ; all I am objecting to is the monopolising of big areas such as we have seen elsewhere. We must not forget also that the first miners who go to the Northern Territory will be the pioneers, and that, when the easy mining is over, these men with their families will become settlers. The possibilities of tropical production in the Territory are almost unlimited, and settlement of the kind I have indicated should be encouraged - settlement not only by the sons and daughters of miners; but by immigrants from abroad. A few days since whilst travelling in a railway train I met a gentleman who holds a million acres of land in the Northern Territory, and discussed .with him the possibilities of that portion of the Commonwealth. I am not one of those who say that a man should not be allowed to hold a million acres of land if it is available and he wants it. .If a man has capital, and is prepared to take up and develop a million acres it is far better that he should be permitted to do so - that he should use it for raising sheep and cattle - than that it should remain idle. But if we allow men to take up large areas under lease in the Northern Territory we must take care to provide safeguards for the man who is to come later on when closer settlement is possible. We have a noble opportunity in this direction, but are we to trust honorable members opposite with the development of the Territory? Are we to intrust to a Prime Minister who is opposed to a progressive land tax and to closer settlement here, the task of clearing the way for closer settlement in the Northern Territory? The position is so obvious that I cannot conceive of the people at the next general election returning to this Parliament any man who is not pledged to a progressive lan*3 tax.
– Some honorabe members opposite have promised to support a land tax but will not do so.
– The interjection made by the honorable member is a pertinent one. We are now in the final session of a dying Parliament, and may* consequently expect a great deal of pretence. Indeed, many pretences of a regard for Liberalism and Democracy are to be found in the Ministerial programme. But let the people of Australia beware. What can they expect from a party of honorable members who have thrown overboard Free Trade, Protection and Liberalism, and who can fuse and confuse on all the pledges they have given to their constituents? Their sole object is to gain time and play the game of bluff. They play it well. The Employers’ Federation and all the Conservative reactionaries of the Commonwealth know that, as surely as night follows day, so surely ,will the Labour party come into power, not only in Federal, but in State politics. Realizing this, they believe that their only chance is to gain time by a game of bluff. If they had a proper conception of the objects of our party there would be no occasion for them to do so. We are willing to assist and encourage every legitimate enterprise. No business man in the Commonwealth has cause to fear our legislation. We have not the slightest intention to injure any legitimate business man.
– The Labour party do not intend to do anything of the kind, but they will.
– The honorable member will have to devote many years to study before he can possibly comprehend the Labour policy.
– I have.
– Some honorable members are petrified so far as what may be described as the humanitarian portion of their brains is concerned. A man who is born selfish, and who lives for self, cannot be expected to comprehend the doctrines of Christianity.
– The honorable member for Wilmot is the most unselfish man in the House.
– I am speaking not of the honorable member but of his class. He is certainly one of the most kindly men of his class whom I have ever met. But I can conceive, however, of some honorable members having been taught the doctrine of “ self, self, self,” from the cradle to manhood. They undoubtedly mumble every day the Lord’s Prayer. They pray, “ Give us this day our daily bread,” .but it has never been pointed out to them that they should practise what they preach; that a religion that cannot be practised is no good, and that the Christian who attends a Christian church is expected to endeavour to make Christianity a law of the land. Some honorable members opposite do not appear to realize what is expected of them in this regard. How can we hope to make them realize it? A boy needs to be trained from the first in the right path, and when he readies manhood he will have implanted in him the spirit of Democracy, and will be prepared to fight his own battles. It is in this respect that the Labour party stand in striking contrast to those who would retard progress and Democracy. They fear that we would injure them. That fear is groundless. We have -no desire to injure any one, but we shall certainly endeavour to block those who would exploit their fellow men or seek special privileges. The privileges of the- monopolists have been the curse of the United States. That nation in its development has furnished an example to the whole world. The like of its gigantic and rapid commercial development has never been seen, but I believe that it will riot be long before the people there will work out their own salvation.
– The trouble there is that the working men themselves have failed to exercise the franchise.
– If the people of the United States, when they were only 4,000,000 strong, had enjoyed manhood suffrage as we know it to-day, they would have been a much greater nation than they are. Instead of finding inordinate wealth on the one hand and extreme poverty on the other, we should see every one there to-day in the happy position of having enough to permit of his living in comfort.
– Is not the present position due to the fact that the trusts and Knights of Labour in the United States of America have compromised in order to exploit the public?
– We all know that Knights of Labour, Socialists, Anarchists, and a. veritable flotsam and jetsam have been struggling to get out of the thraldom of the trusts; to get freedom to live as a man should live, and to secure a fair portion of the wealth of America which they themselves have developed. But there is no body in America that will compare with the great Labour party of Australia. The people there have not yet recognised the desirableness and the wisdom of bringing togther all who believe in a solid Democracy to fight not with the assassin’s knife or in any way that would hurt the people, but quietly, soberly, intelligently, and consistently by means of the ballot-box. The great delight I have in the Labour party is that we have power to block the trust system that has so operated in America as to cause elections there to be carried on by means of money. Keep the people poor and you can buy them every time ! Our safeguard lies in our effort to make them better off. In America, however, the millionaire recognises that so long as he can keep the bulk of the people poor, he will be able to buy them at his own price at election time. No doubt the monopolists supporting the Government would like to keep the workers here so poor that they, too, would be able to buy them when a general election came round. But one pleasing feature of the Americans is that rich and poor alike join in standing up for their country. I am told by those who have travelled through the States that every Yankee declares that America is the best country on God’s earth.
– Australians do the same.
– Some honorable members opposite have gone so far as to libel the Commonwealth by saying that it is ruined by Labour legislation. They knew that that statement was a deliberate lie, and that when they came into power they would not alter one line of the legislation of which they complained. It is such statements that injure a country in the eyes of the rest of the world.
-To the extent that it follows Labour legislation the country is on the road to ruin.
– The latest convert to Conservatism !
– The other day when travelling by rail in the western districts of New South Wales I met two young men who were discussing the possibilities of land. One of them said, “ Talk about wheat-growing ! We cannot grow wheat like that produced in Manitoba ‘ ‘ ; and presently the other young man said that we could not hope to do what Canada had done. In this way the conversation proceeded for about an hour, when turning to one of these young Australians, I asked, “ Do you come from France?” His reply was “ No, I am an Australian. Why did you take me for a. Frenchman?” Then I inquired of his friend, “Are you a foreigner?” “No,” said he, “I am as good an Australian as youare.” My reply was, “ A man who speaks in such disparaging terms of his own country is disloyal to it.”
– Suppose he was telling the truth.
– Could anything do more to spoil the credit of Australia, and keep the legitimate immigrant out of the country ? I would welcome a million immigrants to-morrow, if they came with sufficient money to enable them to paddle their own canoes. We have plenty of room for men who have money.
– And for men without money.
– Most of the members of this Parliament who came to Australia as immigrants came without much money.
– The honorable member for Wilmot says that Australia cannot do as well as Canada.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable member “ is recanting. Perhaps he will explain himself later. If rumour be true, he will not have an opportunity to do so in this Parliament after the next election. It is said that there is plenty of’ room in this country for immigrants without means, but let any honorable member hump his bluey round Australia, and see if he can get work. It is the unskilled labourer for whom the Governments of the States are angling. He is a useful man when a strike is threatening, and can be used to block rises in wages. I do not Marne the Ministerialists for supporting the introduction of such labour ; that is consistent with their policy ; but I shall fight tooth and nail against every attempt to bring here men without means until there is work for them to do. I shall welcome men with means who come voluntarily, whether from’ Germany or France’, or from England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales. I shall welcome Europeans who will come here and be naturalized, standing under our banner, and making themselves family men. It would be absurd for any believer in a White Australia to oppose immigration. It is evident that we must fill the continent with white men and women, that we must populate our waste places, and increase our popula-tion from 4,000,000 to 40,000,000, if, during the next hundred ‘ years, we are to prevent Asiatic nations from taking our territory from us. We have our own fortunes to make. The Imperial Government has shown itself careless in regard to the Northern Territory. Great Britain has done so well by exploiting coloured labour in India that her statesmen were willing to allow coloured labour to enter the Northern Territory. One can understand the kink in the minds of these men, inhabiting islands of no great size, in respect to the extension of the Empire. _ They see that France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy, and Russia do not contain more- than 3,700,000 square miles, and naturally consider that there is room in Australia for two or three nations. But while they think in acres, we think in miles, and it is our loyalty to the Empire that makes us do this. We see that the British race is cramped in its own islands, and has to send its surplus population abroad, to the United States, Canada, and other places. ‘ We wish the stream of emigration to set in this direction, so that Australia, and not the islands which constitute Great Britain and Ireland, may in time become the centre of the Empire. When we get the numbers, we may reasonably expect that to happen. It behoves us, as Australians, to look after the development and future of the Northern Territory, and not to rely too much on the British authorities in the matter. The advertising of Australia must commence here and now. I appeal, to every Australian, whether he be one by birth or by residence only, to stand up for his country, and to speak well of it on every occasion. If we have not done as well as Canada and the United States, we shall ultimately do as well and better, because we have the necessary resources and opportunities. Those who travel abroad should take every occasion to advertise their country by standing up for it. I myself should very much like the pleasure of foreign travel, to see other countries, instead of reading about them. When we get an Australian sentiment, we shall have the birth of a bright, new, young nation, proud of its nationality. Hitherto the States have pursued a lamentable policy, which has landed the country in a public debt amounting to tens of millions of pounds. I am proud of the Commonwealth Parliament, because it has pronounced against public borrowing. I have told the people that they need never be afraid that this Parliament will increase the public debt by borrowing from the German Jews of London’, pawning the country’s inheritance. But now I see it mooted in the press, and I hear whispers to the effect, that this Gr>vernment is preparing to borrow. We must have money to develop the country. The members of the Labour party may not be skilled financiers, but it is the. A B. C of economics that development is impossible without money. You could not start a farm, a factory, or anything else, without cash. For the development of a continent, tens of millions are necessary. At the present time, Customs and Excise revenue is the main source of out revenue. But have we exploited the other sources? Those who are loyal to Australian interests will have to demand that the Commonwealth shall take, not one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue, but considerably more. The action of the Parliament of New South Wales in remitting the State income tax shows that we are returning to the States more money than is needed for their requirements. I shall be one of those who will do their- best to bring about the re- tention by the Commonwealth of a sufficiently large part of the Customs and Excise revenue to better serve the needs of Australia.
– We do not borrow money; we borrow credit.
– When I speak of money, I mean credit. The business of the world is done on credit, not with hard cash. Who says that there is not enough money in Australia for the development of the Commonwealth without borrowing abroad? Look at the millions in the savings banks, and at the credit which we can get from our own people ! Let us finance ourselves. Let us retain a reasonable portion of the Customs and Excise revenue. That, however, will not be enough to meet the requirements of the years that are coming. We must exhaust all the possibilities of taxation. I do not look upon a land tax as a means of gaining revenue so much as a means for breaking up the large estates and cheapening land. But we shall get some revenue from land taxation, and more from an absentee land tax. It is time that the absentee paid his share of the cost of government.
– Does the honorable member think that a land tax would cheapen land?
– If it is sufficiently heavy, and the valuations are sufficiently honest, it will cheapen land by causing competition among the big land-holders to get their land settled.
– What does the honorable member mean by sufficiently heavy ?
– If the honorable member joins the Labour party he will know. It is not our business to promulgate a land policy for another party. When we assume the reins of office, we shall set forth our policy in detail. I stand firmly for land taxation, because I regard it as the quickest, most economical, and expeditious way of getting at the value of land. If, instead of paying thousands of pounds for valuations, the Land Tax Act contained a section providing for the resumption of land at its taxable value, plus 10 per cent., or some similar percentage, a great deal would be saved in valuation.
– It would be better for the banks.
– It would be better for all commerce and business. I feel that all the honorable members opposite are not lost, and that some may yet be snatched from ultra-Conservatism. A few years ago, some of them were advocating Democracy, and the moral of the Prodigal Son must not be forgotten. They may return to the true fold, especially if rejected at the polls at the next election. We do not wish to injure legitimate commerce or investment, nor do we wish to injure the big land-holders. Our desire is to put an end to land monopoly, and to give the small men a. chance. We wish to put 1,000 or 10,000 men on the land, where there is now only one man. When the possibilities of land taxation are exhausted, we can do as Great Britain has done, and impose an income tax. Notwithstanding that some of the States have income taxes, I do not think that a Commonwealth income tax can be objected to, if the money is to be used for the development of Australia. The wealthy should contribute to this. Of course, there would have to be exemptions. I would exempt incomes under£500 per annum.
– Would the honorable member subject members of Parliament to income taxation?
– Most decidedly, though very little is left of their£600 ayear when they have paid the calls upon them. It is a cheap gibe to draw attention to the. remuneration of members of Parliament, especially when it comes from one who has a big private income, and can follow a profitable business, while still attending to the business of the country. But the man who sacrifices his business interests and stands in this House to fight the battles of his country will find £600 a very small sum indeed. In a national system of banking we should have another legitimate source of several millions of pounds of revenue, and the profits that now go into the pockets of private . financiers would flow into the coffers of the nation, and be available, if necessary, for great national necessities like defence. It is when I deal with questions like these tha’t I feel sorry to see the Prime Minister departing from his old Australian attitude, and taking up his present little-Australian State Rights position. When some honorable members now in this House toured Australia to ask the people to enter into Federation, they indirectly promised that it would mean economy, that one great Parliament would carry out all the great national workof the Commonwealth, and that there would be no necessity for the expensive upkeep of the State Parliaments as they exist to-day- They led the people to believe that there would be no need for fourteen Houses of Parliament, with seven Governors. I challenge the Prime Minister to set to work now in that direction if he is loyal to the promises that were given to the people by the Federationists. Let us abolish the State “Upper Houses to begin with. Why do we need twelve Houses of Parliament in the States? Surely it would be wise to abolish some of them, and economize. For what reason do we require six State Governors? I do not object lo the personnel of those gentlemen, but I do object to the expense of their upk~eep. Those are directions from which hundreds of thousands of pounds might be brought into the coffers of the Commonwealth.
– Is not that expense borne by the States?
– I am astonished at the honorable member asking such a question of intelligent men. When I speak of the people of the Commonwealth, am I not speaking of the people of the States? I am considering the interests of the people as Australians, and not as residents of States. The matter may be looked at from different points of view, but it is the same chap that pays the taxes all the while. No step has yet been taken towards effecting that economy, and our party are pilloried as unificationists and wreckers of the States when they propose that a, start should be made in that direction. It is high time that the people were appealed to for a direct mandate on the question. I challenge honorable members opposite to put it to the people by means of a referendum. If they did, they would soon discover what the people think about the existence of six State Governors and twelve State Houses.
– We have not the power to put that question to the people.
– I should advise the honorable member to take a brain bath before he enters into a discussion of these intricate problems. It is self-evident that this Parliament can put to the people by a referendum any question of national policy, or that affects the Constitution. I am surprised at the honorable member’s inanities.
– We have thirtynine articles : beyond them we cannot go.
– We have the’ right to ask the people to amend the Constitution.
– But not to amend the States Constitutions.
– There speaks a member of the Tory party. He desires to take from the people their right to govern themselves. He shelters himself behind the plea that we. cannot do this, that, or the other ; but is it not high time that we made the people superior to any Parliament? Is. it not time that we so altered the Constitution that the people should have the final veto? There is no such word as “ can’t “ when the people’s rights are concerned.
– There is, where the States Constitutions are concerned.
– When I was a young man of twenty-three or twenty-four I had the honour to attend the Bathurst Federal Convention as a delegate. I went as a listener and a learner, and I heard some of the ablest men in Australia discuss the problem of forming a Federal Constitution. The Postmaster-General won my admiration by the speeches that he made on that occasion, and one honorable senator put in the first work that led to his ultimate election to this Parliament, but the one fact that was borne in upon me, and that remains with me to-day as fresh as ever, was that in all Constitutions the greatest necessity is that the people should be able to alter them when they choose, to fit the necessities of the time. Why should we be bound by dead men’s laws? The curse of legislation in this young Australia is that it has been possible to dig up old Acts of George the Fourth, or other enactments that were passed when men were only semisavages as compared with what they are to-day. Any Constitution should be somewhat difficult of alteration, and I for one do not want to see amendments made too frequently, but the Constitution must be subservient to the people, or how are we to have a true Democracy ? The true spirit of Democracy, as we gradually learn and develop, is to drive out of our path everything that prevents effect being given to the people’s will. When honorable members interject in the way the honorable member for Corangamite did just now, they are simply expressing the Tory sentiments which are in them, and must come out. The leopard cannot change his spots, and that is another reason why the people should at the next election be made aware of the kind of men to whom they are intrusting the destinies of the Commonwealth. When men will assert that we cannot by means of a referendum alter the Constitution or amend some law because it is on the statute-book, it is high time that they made way for the great Democracy which must ultimately rule. I was dealing, before I was drawn off at a tangent, with the question of a loan policy. If ever we reach the day when our burdens of taxation cannot be increased, when we have exhausted all the resources of taxation, established a national hank, conserved to the Commonwealth the profits of banking, and taken over the profits of note issues, then, and not until then, I shall be prepared to vote for a loan, but even then not a foreign loan. I should issue bonds within Australia, and ask the Australian people to lend money to the Federal Government to carry on its business. Everything Ave do in this Parliament, whether in the direction of finance, postal affairs, or other functions, is for the good of the whole people, and they would be mean indeed if they were not willing to pav for it. I heard some time ago a whisper of the magnanimity of our Australian bankers. I learnt that they were quite willing to finance the cost of a Dreadnought, and I think the financiers of Australia, if put to the test, would even stand by this Government in the development of this Commonwealth, and so obviate the need for our going abroad for money. Foreign borrowing at this stage of our history would be a ridiculous policy, arid would grow like a cancer on our nationhood.
– Would not the principle be the same, whether we borrowed in Aus-‘ tralia or England?
– Certainly not. I should not be ashamed for the Commonwealth to owe money to itself. I ‘Should not be ashamed to ask the men who had made this country their home, and who are helping to develop it, to lend us money ; but I shall not be a party to putting Australia any! further in pawn to the London Jews. During my speech I have refrained, with one exception, from quoting extracts, or even looking at the past history of honorable members opposite, because other honorable members have done full justice to that phase of the question.
– The honorable member wanted to be brief.
– I am afraid I could not possibly have been’ brief if I had gone into the history of such members as the Minister of Defence. I have simply endeavoured to put, from my own stand-point, the position that now confronts us. It is sheer hypocrisy for any man to pretend that the policy submitted by the Prime Minister is for this session only. It is simply an electioneering .poster, and it is well that the public should know it. They should be shown the true tendency of affairs, because, after all, true history is a history of tendencies, not of events. In concluding. I should like to apply to the present situation the great discovery of the law of impact made by Professor Bickerton, of New Zealand. That law is an astronomical one. There are supposed to be in the firmament dead suns, or dead bodies, rushing through space. When they collide there is a sudden livening up, and, instead of solid bodies, we get a gaseous formation. We have had in this Chamber an impact of three such bodies. When that sort of thing happens, lesser bodies and satellites, like meteorites and our own moon, shoot off. They are attracted by the main body of the fusion, or go off in an orbit of their own. There has been a similar throwing off of smaller bodies in this House, of which the separation of the only four true Liberals in the so-called Liberal party is an instance. A lot of other sparks have been thrown off in other directions, but so contrary are the elemental sentiments within the. bodies which have impacted - the Free Trade body, the so-called Liberal -Protectionist body, and the Conservative body - so different are they, that we can have no hope of good results from their collision. Although the appearance is large and luminous, the resultant body is in a very gaseous state;; and I predict that when the electors get their opportunity, it will lose all its brightness, and prove to be only a very small sphere - a very small minority in this House.
– I have followed the debates somewhat closely, and T am impelled to believe that the time to end the system of party government has arrived. If we do nothing more during the present Parliament, we should take steps to prevent this continual turmoil and fight. I take it that each honorable member comes into this House imbued with the idea of helping his native or adopted land ; and he must be tired of the “outs’’ ever fighting against the “ins.” I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, would have much more pleasure in controlling Parliament if the Ministry were elected by the House, instead of by cliques, partizans, and parties ; and so far as I know, the first experiment in this direction in Australia was made by the late Government. No matter how honorable members opposite may disagree with our views, they must admit that there must be less heartburning when the Cabinet are selected ir. the way I suggest, and not nominated by one individual. The time has arrived in public life when we should not permit a dictator in a House of Parliament, just as we refuse to permit a dictator on the Throne. With elective Ministries we should not have continual fault-finding. We found the late Leader of the Opposition, and none more strongly, finding fault with whatever proposal was enunciated by the Prime Minister, until one evening I told him that, even if God were to send an angel down to produce a Bill for the Ministry, he would object to the measure. Contrast the demeanour of the Minister of Defence now with that he exhibited night after night during the life of the late Government, of which the honorable member for Ballarat was at the head. Now he is of smiling countenance, and softly spoken words : and we are led to ask whether there is such a mighty difference between the position on the left of the Speaker and the position on the right. In. my opinion this change of demeanour is not justified by the transfer from the leadership of the Opposition to the membership of the Government. If we had elective Ministries any honorable member who had a grievance could assail, not the whole Cabinet, but only the Minister to blame. Under present circumstances, if one Minister be found at fault the whole ‘Cabinet must resign ; and we have to go through nil the tomfoolery of votes of want of confidence, and so forth. The people of Australia have the widest franchise in the world ; and, had they possessed the power they ought, they would have said, “A plague on both your parties ; we people will be dominant, and, by the power of the referendum, control Ministers.” Had the citizens of Australia had the power now possessed by the people of Switzerland, they would, by means of a referendum, have demanded a general election. There were nearly 20,000 adults at the meeting in the Melbourne Exhibition; and I am confident that had a petition been there, asking for a dissolution, 15,000 signatures would have been obtained.
– Would the honorable member give an elective Ministry power to dissolve Parliament?
– Without permission of the House - no. Why should the created have more power than the creator? Parliament is the dominant power to say “Yea” or “ Nay “ ; but if the Ministrythought themselves to be right, they could, if there were the referendum, appeal to the people against the whole combined forces of the House. The honorable member for Bendigo, with his keen, analytical, intellect, will see that what I state is correct. Switzerland is a country of diverse nationalities, with four distinct languages in the twenty-two cantons - German, French, Italian, and Swiss. No one will deny that diversity of language and of custom is apt to cause differences of opinion ; but these four communities are combined, and stand facing the world when their territory is threatened.. Every economist who has written during the last twenty years has paid his meed of praise to Switzerland, which, by a, great American, has been called the schoolhouse of Europe. As an Australian, I claim that we here should have this power of the referendum and of initiative. No one will deny that people without power sink into the depths of degradation - that where the voice of the people is unknown, there is tyranny and injustice. I have no desire to allude to that blot on the civilization of Europe, as represented by Turkey and Russia. Thank God, Turkey is being remodelled; but the late Sultan and the present Czar were well coupled together, and it is not strange that the Daily News and other Liberal newspapers of England are objecting to the reception of the latter in England. However, the Czar is merely a puppet in the hands of the aristocracy, and the people are permitted no voice. If the Government will introduce a measure for the referendum and initiative, their names will be handed down to posterity as benefactors to the country. I do not care to hurl epithets or indulge in slang.wanging and blackguarding ; but I think the saying that politics makes strange bed fellows, was never better exemplified than it is on the Government side of the House to-day. If the people have the power, they will insure good government. To any honorable member who’ is against the referendum, I should like to quote the splendid old boatman who earns his living on the beautiful lake of Lucerne. He said to the distinguished representative of the United States at Berne, that if there be a king, and he is all powerful, he makes the law subservient to the benefit of himself and family; that if there be an oligarchy, w’hich is the government by the few, it will control and manipulate the laws for the benefit of themselves, their families, and immediate friends; but that if there be a true Democracy, with the referendum and the initiative, as in Switzerland, there is real justice. If by any chance a law is shown to involve injustice to the majority, there is all the power to amend it at once.
– Does the honorable member not think that there would be domination by the press all the same?
– When the people are as powerful as they would be with the referendum, they can control the press, and compel the writers of leading articles to sign their names, and not permit the press to be scandalously utilized for the benefit of one party as against another.
– If the writers did sign their names they would not be known.
– I disagree with the honorable member, as the experience of France is to the contrary. In that country the majority of the leading articles are signed, and many of the writers become famous. In fact, many newspapers are started in France, and particularly in Paris, simply because writers become so well known and valued that’ they can always find people ready to find the capital in order to make them managers and editors. If we had the referendum we should be able to decide all those debatable subjects which now take up the time of Parliament. In one operation we could take a referendum on ten questions, and thus do away with all the absurdities, delay, and waste of the bicameral system as carried on, not only in Great Britain, but in every Australian Colony. It might be said that these frequent appeals to the referendum would cause great expense; but I once took the opportunity of inquiring how much it would involve to take the referendum by post in Victoria. My figures were checked by Mr. McCutcheon. who is experienced in printing, and has a seat in the State Parliament ; and, according to him, the cost would be only from £550 to £650. Let us see how many referenda have been held in Switzerland? In
Switzerland less than one question per annum has been submitted to a referendum since the introduction of the system, and each vote has removed a debatable subject from the realms of politics. In Oregon, two have been submitted to a referendum in five years; in San Francisco, two in six years, and in South Dakota there has never been a State referendum, although there have been several on municipal questions. It is explained that the knowledge that the system can be used at any time is really responsible for its not having been called into requisition there on State questions, and that if it were, it would prove expensive. I do not think that it would. The referendum was used by some of the old German tribes almost from time immemorial. The people met under a tree, and voted by holding up their right hand for what they thought would best conduce to their well-being. That method has been carried down to the present day, and I hope I shall live to see my fellow Australians enjoying the right which the Switzer has to determine by way of referendum, whether or not a certain principle shall be placed on the statute-book of the country. I hope to see the day when, if the signatures of one per cent, of the electors of Australia - and that now would be 40,000 people - can be obtained to a request for a referendum, that referendum must take place, and the people themselves empowered, regardless of what may be the view of a Cabinet or of the Governor-General who rules us, to say that a certain course shall be adopted.
– Our present Constitution is the result of a referendum.
– It is a very fine one, but it is not complete. The history of the universe - the history of everything which man is able to appreciate or see - shows that we simply attain one platform to reach a higher one. And so we shall go on.
– At the last referendum the people did not tell honorable members opposite to sit together.
– They did not saythat we should not.
– If a referendum were held to-morrow, there would be an end to some of the parties that now exist. The principle of the referendum should commend itself even to our Conservative friends. I doubt, however, whether there is a Conservative in the House. I regret that the Prime Minister is absent, for I have something to put before him. I have known him during twenty years of political life, and have quarrelled with him severely. I have, however, always appreciated him as one human being can appreciate another who possesses more than the average lovable qualities. I regret that there is not a little more “ devil,” or determination, in him. Had he stood by his own party, I am satisfied that at the next general elections only two parties would have been returned to this House - the Liberal and the Labour parties - and that it would have been hard to say which would be on top. A witty and sarcastic writer has said that although God may forgive, a human being rarely does. Here, in the seat of power, parties cannot proselytize unless one can grant the other security of tenure. The Conservatives can give no guarantee to the Liberals that, by joining forces with them, they will secure immunity from opposition. Neither can we. I should like the Government to adopt the principle of the referendum, and also to propose an amendment of our electoral laws, to insure that a man who is returned to this House will represent a majority of those who went to the poll. That can be attained either by means of the second ballot, or the preferential system of voting, and I trust that an effort will be made to bring it about”. We should then be able to determine which of the two parties in Parliament dominated the constituencies. I shall not go so far as to saythat in such circumstances an honorable alliance could not be made during the life of the Parliament. Unfortunately, it is the constant quibbling that takes place that gives rise to so much dissatisfaction. When the present Minister of Defence, as Leader of the Opposition, used to bellow, as he was so fond of doing, in this House, I was led to think of the advice given by Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, that if you get up early in the morning, determined to find fault with everything, it is astonishing how many quarrels you will have, but that if you set out in the morning with the full determination to see good in everything, and will minimize every evil you see, it is astonishing how much happiness you will have.
– Why does not the honorable member profit by that advice?
– I do, and follow it, except when the honorable member is sarcastic at my expense. I repeat that the electoral law should be so amended, that by means either of the second ballot or the preferential system of voting, every member returned to this House would represent a majority of those who voted in his constituency. As it is, some honorable members represent only a minority. I do not know of one honorable member of the Labour party so situated, but I do know that more than six honorable members ‘ opposite represent only .a minority ; and I dare say that at the next general election, they will find themselves in an even worse position. The honorable member for Bourke, and the honorable member for Batman, who are present, will bear out what I have to say as to a certain Act that was carried by the honorable member for Flinders when Premier cf Victoria. The honorable member had then behind him the greatest majority . that a Victorian Premier ever had. In a House of ninety-five members he had a majority of thirty-five, and with their aid sought to carry two measures that have done more to disgrace and to dishonour Victoria than any two that were ever passed. One of these - and it became law - was the Strike Suppression Bill. I am satisfied that if the honorable member for Bourke, and the honorable member for Batman, had been in the State Parliament when that measure was introduced, they would have voted against it, as I did. Never in the history of Coercion Acts - never during Mr Gladstone’s long political career - was so infamous, so vile, so wicked a Coercion Act passed as that which was introduced in the Victorian Parliament by the honorable member for Flinders.
– Was it not repealed?
– One of the two measures to which I have referred was repealed ; the other was so infamous that even the majority behind the honorable member for Flinders would not agree to it. The last Coercion Act introduced in the House of Commons by Mr. Gladstone was brought in on the very day on which the poor dead clay of Lord Cavendish and Mr. Burke - who were killed by assassins - was buried. Is it any wonder that in such circumstances many honorable members voted readily for a measure so strong and repressive that Mr. Gladstone himself many times regretted having brought it forward? That Act, however, was mild in comparison with the Bill introduced in the Victorian Legislative Assembly by the honorable member for Flinders. I made it my duty to compare the two, section by section, and shall give three illustrations of ‘their nature. Under the English Act, three months’ imprisonment - where imprisonment was the penalty provided - was the maximum ; under the Victorian Act, the punishment was twelve months’ imprisonment. Under the English Act bail was allowed; under the Victorian Act, no bail was allowed. Then, again, under the English Act, ^25 was the highest money penalty imposed, whereas, under the Victorian Act the highest pecuniary penalty was £100 The Victorian Act further provided that any one who dared to help the women and children of the strikers should be liable to imprisonment. Referring to that provision, I said in the State House, “ Law or no law, I shall break it.” And I did. Some of the strikers desired that a Justice of the Supreme Court should be appointed to arbitrate between them, and the Railway Commissioners. Will any ‘one’ say that the Judges of the Supreme Court are taken from a class that is at all representative df the workers ? I think not. The men, however, had such faith in the justice of their claim that they were quite prepared to submit their case to such an arbitrator. The honorable member for Flinders, as Premier of Victoria, however, refused to agree to that proposal, and with the help of his great majority sought to pass the infamous measure to which I have alluded. The honorable member introduced and passed another Bill, interfering very seriously with the liberty of the subject. Under it, public servants were deemed unfit to vote for the election of representatives of the districts in which they lived, and provision was made foi their separate representation in the Legislative Assembly by two members. Public servants in the most remote parts of the Corio electorate had to vote with men in Melbourne.The man in Warrnambool would also have to vote for the Melbourne representative. The thing was so infamous that the separate representatives thus elected pledged themselves to. wipe it out at the first opportunity. For the duration of one Parliament that infamous Act remained on the statute-book of Victoria, and then another Premier, Sir Thomas Bent, to his eternal credit, removed this blemish, this stain, this slur. When he first suggested it, a huge cry was, raised by the newspapers, and the exPremier - now the honorable member for Flinders - made, from his point of view, a magnificent speech against the course which it was proposed to take. But he was edged out of State politics, arid took the suggestion to leave altogether. Then took place an occurrence which is unique in the history of the bi-cameral Parliaments of the world. On the 19th July, the Legislative
Assembly of Victoria voted for the repeal of the Act ; not one of the majority of thirty-five .being left to stand by it. On the 7th August, the Council, the most Conservative second Chamber in the Britishspeaking world, also voted for the repeal ; so that within the compass of four weeks the Act disappeared. Would the honorable members for Batman, Corio, and Bourke have voted for that Act ? Their lives show that they would not. Yet they are now associated with the man who, when he had the power, became one of the greatest tyrants that Victorian politics has known. Of course, in his personal life he is all that one would wish a man and a citizen to be ; but I am sure that his regret is deep that he stained his political record by the introduction, of to infamous an Act. A short time, ago I said -
I wish to ask the Prime Minister before the division is taken whether during the recess he will take into consideration the necessity of taking a referendum whereby the people of Australia will be dominant over Cabinet Ministers, Parliament, and Governor-General.
I do not desire it to be thought that I nave anything to say against the GovernorGeneral. He is one of the brainiest and best men whom we have had in that position, and, by putting the Minister of Defence and others in their places in connexion with the speeches at the Agricultural Show, proved that he is not going to be a catspaw. I do not desire to attack the Prime Minister, but I am sorry for the position in which he is placed. In process of natural evolution Labour must succeed Liberalism, just as in the old world Tories and Whigs have given place to Conservatives and Liberals, and, as the latter are ceasing to prove themselves sufficiently advanced for the times, they are being replaced by Radicals. If Great Britain had our splendid franchise, instead of there being fifty-one Labour members and Socialists in the House of Commons, there would be ‘300. But there no one is allowed to vote except by virtue of property, owned or rented. On the 10th November, 1908, when a motion of want of confidence was moved, the Deakin Government, with the support of the Labour party, was represented by forty-three votes, and the Opposition by twenty-one; a little later, the Deakin party numbered only thirteen, and its opponents forty -nine. I mention these facts to show the Liberals that the time has come when the Liberals ‘ must push on faster or Labour will capture their constituencies. That is the natural course of evolution. The day will come when Labour will dominate this Parliament; and. even then there will be a party still more anxious to advance, and progress will be more rapid than it is today. Unless the Labour party then changes with the times, it will be situated as the Liberal party is situated now. With the permission of the House, Mr. Speaker, I should like to continue my remarks next Tuesday.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Mr. FULLER laid upon the table the following paper: -
Public Service Act-Provisional Regulation No. 262 - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 68.
House adjourned at 3.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090702_reps_3_49/>.