3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 6th July (vide page 861). on motion by Mr. Fisher -
Thru the Government does not possess, the confidence of this House.
.- I shall do my best to comply with the request made by the Prime Minister yesterday, bycurtailing my remarks as much as possible, and confining them strictly to the terms of the motion. Honorable members must therefore excuse me if I do not dip. deeply into the records of the past, reading numerous and lengthy quotations from newspapers and other sources, such as we have been treated to during the currency of the debate until now. In proposing* the motion, the Leader of the Opposition stated that the Government and those be. hind it do not represent the views of the majority of the people, and that, therefore, he wishes to bring the House before the country as soon as possible. I- hold, on the contrary, that we, on this side, represent a majority both of those inside and outside the House. The honorable member also complained that the Labour party was put out of office before he had an opportunity to explain its policy to the House. It seems to me that there was no need for explanation. The policy of the party had been known to every one for a considerable length of time, its programme being merely the setting forth of propose tions which the Labour leagues had already adopted and incorporated in the platform of the party. Furthermore, I understand that the members of the Labour party expressed a desire to be in Opposition. Why, then, are they complaining so bitterly now? The fusion at which they carp is easily justified. In my opinion, it will result in an era of settled and good government. It has, for the first time in the history of this Parliament, divided the -House into two parties, and ma.de what is known as responsible government possible. When the last elections were being held, it was thought that, the Tariff once settled, there would be nothing to prevent all those who - were not elected as . Labour members from coming into the one camp. That has now happened. The present juncture is a most critical one. We have to deal with questions which are important, not only in their immediate bearing, but especially as they concern the future. If the financial question, for instance, is not settled in a manner equitable to the Commonwealth and the States alike, friction must be created, which may make it impossible to have anything like true Federation in Australia for many years to come. From a. Government composed of moderate and progressive men, I see the best chance of obtaining a fair financial arrangement. There will be no crippling of the States, and the State authorities will not take fright at what will be proposed, as they have had reason to be frightened by some of the propositions which have emanated from honorable gentlemen now sitting on the Opposition benches.
– The States will never get such favorable terms as I proposed to give to them.
– I am alluding to the proposition of the Leader of the Opposition, that the States should receive a fixed sum of£5,000,000 per annum. The people expected, when voting for Federation, that the Commonweal th. Parliament would deal with finance, defence, immigration, and other questions of national importance in . a national spirit, and I welcome the fusion, because I think that it will make that possible. A Government composed as the present Government is will prove an effective check on the extreme and Socialistic planks in the Labour, party’s programme ; and, at the same time, open the way to progressive legislation.- When a motion such as this is launched by a leader of a party, we have, before we can support or oppose it, to see what that party is aiming at; and, to my mind, the aim of the Labour party is Socialism. Some members of that partv have distinctly declared themselves to be Socialists ; though many of them have said they are not of that school ; but the party as a party is merely what the Political Labour Leagues like to make it. When those Leagues meet, and there is a majority in favour of a particular plank, that plank becomes part of the programme ; and members who are not prepared to sign the new platform must retire, there being many others ready to take their places. If members of the party are not absolute Socialists, they vote for measures which pave the way for the introduction of that baneful system. It is easy to prove that Socialism is behind the Labour movement in Australia, as I have already shown ; indeed, the very notice-paper of the House, during last session, contained many Socialistic propositions by members of the party.
– We all admit it.
– One plank of the Labour party,I believe, was at’ one time the nationalization of all means of production, distribution, and exchange : but that has been watered down now to the nation alization of monopolies.’ But can any sane person believe that, if the Labour party were successful in nationalizing all monopolies, the system of nationalization would stop there. The system must go on until everything is nationalized ; and to support this contention I shall read what the honorable member for Barrier said, speaking about the time of the last elections.
– There is no need to support the contention ; we all admit it.
– I am showing why I oppose the motion before us, coming as it does from a party the members of which believe in Socialism. The honorable member for Barrier said -
It is based on social growth. It is the common holding of land and the means of production and exchange, and the holding of them for tbe equal benefit of all.
The honorable member for South Sydney, at a Labour League Conference, held just before the last elections, said -
The sooner it was made clear that the movement was socialist in its trend and intentions (he better. It would be the wisest thing to make it a sinequa non that those who came into the party were Socialists.
Even more telling are a few words uttered by Mr. Scullen, who was then opposing the present Prime Minister at Ballarat -
He did not wish to deceive his hearers in the slightest degree, but his party was leading direct to Socialism.
That gentleman is now, I believe, a paid organizer by the Labour associations; and the quotations I have read show that if there are members of the Labour’ party in this House who disown Socialism, there are members of the party outside, at any rate, who intend to make it their aim. When one thinks of such questions as new Protection, immigration, and other measures of the sort, which are accepted by’ honorable members on both sides, one. is struck by the contrast between the way in which the’ present Government intend to deal with them, and the way in which they are. regarded by the Opposition. As to new Protection, there is . an effort by the Government to bring the policy into operation by providing that each State shall have its Wages Board, or Arbitration Court, which shall be the judge as to all local industrial conditions ; whereas the Labour party desire an alteration of the Constitution, whereby there shall be placed in the hands of the Federal Arbitration Court the power to interfere and deal with practically all the industrial life of the Commonwealth.
– -Not all!
– It practically amounts to that. I hold with the present Government that the best judges of proper conditions of labour are the local tribunals. These have a better chance of dealing fairly as between employer and employed, and securing good wages, which, after all, is the object of the new Protection. I cannot see why there should be the alteration of the Constitution desired; and, in my opinion, there must be some ulterior object in the demand of the Labour party for new Protection. The method which the Opposition would employ is a fillibustering method, as compared with tha.t which the present Government would adopt to meet the difficulty. Another contrast is shown in the way in which the Opposition regard the question of immigration. They will have no immigrants until there is land for all the people coming in ; and that, I regard as a delightful bit of veiled opposition to a. policy which is urgently required in Australia. If anything is required to-day, it is people of the right sort, not only to fill up the empty spaces, but to enter into all forms of industrial life. So long as the right people come in, there will always be plenty of room for them j they will be no burden on the community, and there will be no displacement of the workmen already here. Such immigrants would soon acquire wealth in a country that offers so much to people who come to it with good character and a desire to get on. In this connexion the Labour party are always talking about a land tax, on which to base an immigration policy. They are also going to obtain revenue from the same source. When asked how they would finance any large scheme put forward by them, they invariably answer, “ By means of a land tax.” In this way they propose to obtain the most diametrically opposite results. When the tax was first advocated, we were told that it would lead to the subdivision of large estates, and that it was not likely to produce much revenue. But honorable members of the Labour party now contend that it would be a heavy revenue-producing item. All the land alienated,- or in process of alienation, in Australia to-day does not amount to more than 61 per cent, of the total territory, and while this reforming party intend to direct a land tax at that proportion, no one knows what they are going to do in regard to the lands remaining unalienated. It seems to me that a progres sive land tax would not lead to the subdivision of large estates. I have listened most attentively to every honorable member who has touched upon this question, and have heard from the Opposition no cogent reason for believing that the tax would have that effect. Some honorable members have said that they would impose a heavy tax on unimproved land. If they ‘ found that the tax did not lead to the subdivision of large estates and therefore went on increasing it until it amounted to something like is. in the j£i, they would certainly bring about the disruption of the estates. In that way, such estates would undoubtedly be confiscated, because their total annual value would be eaten up. Honorable members opposite might just as well talk of taking the land from the owners as to propose to filch it from them in that way.
– We do not propose that.
– The Minister of Defence is the only member of this House who has advocated that.
– The land tax in operation in New Zealand has not led to the subdivision of large estates, for there are more large holdings there to-day than there are in Victoria. New Zealand certainly has a larger .territory than Victoria, but honorable members of the Opposition are never tired of pointing to its position as a shining example of the wisdom of imposing a land’ tax. The objections to such a tax are legion, but I do not intend to say more at present than - that I have heard nothing in, this House to show that it would lead to the subdivision of large estates. Since its advocates have failed to prove that it would, I do not think that I am called upon to make any further reference to it. Another subject in regard to which the Government and the Opposition are in direct conflict is that of defence. The question may be divided into three parts - land, coastal, and deep-sea defence - and the point of difference between the Government and the Opposition relates, not to land or coastal defence, but to our first line of defence, that of our ocean-borne commerce. From a statement made some two or three months ago by members of the present Opposition, I gathered that their desire is to create a deep-sea navy for Australia. In other words, they would say to Great Britain. “Do not trouble about the Southern Seas. We shall guard them with battleships of our own, and so preserve commerce routes for the Empire.” Such a proposal has much to recommend it, but there is a still better scheme for effectively checking any hostile raid - a scheme which I think must appeal even more strongly to the patriotism of the people, not only of Australia, but of the rest of the Empire. It would also give us better value for our money. After we have made adequate provision for land and coastal defence, Ave should contribute our share to the maintenance of an Imperial Navy. That Navy would be controlled by one central authority ; all vessels composing it would be built according to certain approved types, and a uniform system would be followed in training the men who manned them. This would not interfere with the full development of shipbuilding or of maritime pursuits in Australia. Indeed, it would open up a far better field for ambitious Australians, since they would not be confined to ships that would be practically chained to these seas.
– - -Will the honorable gentleman tell us what he thinks of the two schemes ?
– Both are good, but I think that an Imperial Navy as our first line of defence, would ‘be the test for Australia. If Great Britain is to retain supremacy of the sea she must maintain the two-power standard. Until recently she has been able to keep up that standard, but shipbuilding in some European countries is now proceeding so rapidly that it is clear that within a few years more strenuous efforts must be made. The people of Great Britain are now contributing 18s. per head to the cost of defence, but an even more strenuous effort is necessary if the twopower standard is to be maintained. It would seem that such a standard is absolutely necessary, and if Great Britain is unable to maintain it, surely the rest of the Empire should be prepared to assist her to do so. In that “ai we should secure a navy large enough to protect all the interests of the British Empire - a navy which would possess advantages over and above those of a purely Australian Navy. Surely it should be the desire of Australia to remain a partner in the greatest national partnership the world has ever known.
– Does the honorable member advocate the gift- of a Dreadnought every year?
– No. The adoption of the system I have suggested would be far better than spasmodic offers of a Dreadnought. .It would mean continuous Imperial action, and would lead to the creation of a navy of the extent and calibre requisite for the absolute protection of the whole Empire. How could an Australian Navy protect the trade routes of the Empire ? Australia’s trade alone amounts to something like ^170,000,000 per annum, and surely that is worth protecting. But what chance should we have of protecting it with an Australian Navy as compared with a grand Imperial Navy which would be stationed along all our trade routes. While our trade remained within a hundred miles of Australia it might be safe, but could we hope to protect it a thousand miles from the Australian, coast, say, for instance, on the South African route?” fit seems to me that we must agree that, so far as our first line of defence is concerned, the Imperial, system that I have mentioned promises the best results, and I am glad that the Government intend to give effect to it.
– Does the honorable member propose that we should increase the subsidy ?
– We should not only increase the subsidy as time went on. but also the number of Australians who go into the British Navy, where they secure the best possible training.
– Is the fusion policy to increase the subsidy ?
– I an: not in possession of all the details of the Government policy, but I am here because I know from their manifesto that they intend to give due effect to the Imperial side of the Defence problem. We heard a great deal from the Leader of the Opposition, when proposing the motion, about the offer of a Dreadnought. It seems to me that the Government have done a very wise thing, and I am struck by the difference between their action and the action of the late Government in laying hands on ^250.000 that had been put into a Trust Fund bv Parliament orr the word of a Minister that it would be kept intact until Parliament directed how the money was to be employed. The present Government have pledged the country to an expenditure, let us say, of something like ns.,000,000 without any authority, but they have done it in a constitutional way. The are ready to take the consequences of their action, and are risking their existence as. a Government upon it. There is no comparison whatever, as some honorable members opposite seem to think, between that and the act perpetrated by the late Government. If, after a Minister has given an assurance that money put into a Trust Fund will not be touched until Parliament has decided how to spend it, his successor does not consider himself bound by that promise, all confidence in Ministerial utterances in this House will be destroyed, confusion will be created, and business will no longer be conducted according to the best methods of British parliamentary history. That sort of thing is utterly different from pledging the country to an expenditure of ^2,000,000 in the gift of a Dreadnought, because the Government have to carry that through the House or go out of office. I am in favour of the gift of a Dreadnought chief! v because it gives a fillip to the feeling of Imperialism which H am glad to see growing throughout the Empire.
– Then the honorable member is against what was done by the last Government?
– I am certainly against their action in seizing that money, because they had only two months to wait before Parliament met. I could have understood their taking action if it had been a matter of great urgency or if some despatch requiring secrecy in the interests of the State had come from the Colonial Office, but to. allege as an excuse that they are not bound by the promise of their predecessors is simply to flout the House, and certainly lowers my opinion of the administrative power and ability with which I was once ready to credit the other side.
– The present Government, when they offered a Dreadnought, had only two weeks to wait before the House met.
– -But the House has a chance to deal with the matter. In the other case, Parliament did not have a chance to meet before the fund was drawn upon.
– Nothing of the kind.
– -The honorable member’s Government ordered two or three torpedo boats, and proposed to take that money, or a portion of it. to pay for them.
– Why was not the House consulted about the offer of a. Dreadnought in the first instance?
– Because the Government took action on their own authority, and the House has a chance to back them up or not, as it chooses. If it does not back them up, they cease to exist as a Government.
– In the one case, a definite promise was broken, in the other it was not.
– That puts the position in a nutshell. If the sort of administration to which I have referred is approved of by honorable members, then apparently any sort of administration will do for them, but I hope it will not suit this side. I am glad the Prime Minister took action as quickly as he did in offering a Dreadnought. We have marked evidence that the spirit of Imperialism is growing, in the fact that it is now proposed to have an Imperial land force, in the proposal to hold a Defence Conference in London, and in the recent Press Conference. It is also evidenced by the fact that for many years past, whenever Great Britain has been in trouble, any assistance required has always been spontaneously offered by this and other parts of the Empire. Those instances show that when the people .are thus appealed to, not only their heart but their reason responds. “When the public really grasp the idea which underlies Imperialism, we shall have a cement that will bind the Empire tighter and more naturally than anything .at present in existence, and which will long preserve it. The best authorities place the beginning of the British Empire about 1606, when English “people founded the colony of Virginia. It grew rapidly during the seventeenth century, and even more rapidly during the eighteenth. It has been a great agent of civilization wherever it has extended ; it has spread justice, and it has conferred freedom. We should be proud to maintain it in all its greatness, and one of the best ways to achieve that object will be to instil the spirit of Imperialism into the people. I hope that our delegates at the Imperial Defence Conference will be able to infuse into all the delegates from the other parts of the Empire the same spirit as animates them. If so, we shall have Canada and South Africa, which has lately become united, also desirous of playing their part in Imperial affairs. In time we shall probably have an executive body controlling those affairs. When we get that, and every member of the Empire is doing its part, the Imperial system will be safe. The British Empire will then be able to offer a united front to its enemies, and will continue from century to century maintaining and improving its position. I hope that the reasons which I have given will appear to others, as they appear to me, to justify my action in voting against the motion of want of confidence.
– I suppose that even the representatives of the people must occasionally consider the interests of those who sent them here. Indeed, my experience is that the majority has always been ready to pay attention to those who are its masters. At the present time, however, we are being told by Ministerialists, and by the newspaper organs which support the Government, that the terrible party of which I have the honour to be a member is retarding legislation which should be passed in the interests or the people. I confess that, if there were the remotest chance of such legislation being passed, not a moment of the time of the Parliament would be occupied by me. But it is well known to all that this debate was inevitable, and not a waste of time. In the interests of good government, it is necessary to have an expression of the opinions of those who are supposed to represent the people, though in most cases they do not. What hypocrisy it is to characterize the present debate as a waste of time !
– Does the honorable member desire a dissolution?
– Certainly. I know that if a general election were held, 1 should be returned by a thumping majority. The Government, and the press which supports it, are trying to make the people believe that we, on this side, are wasting time by preventing the introduction of necessary and beneficial legislation. As a matter of fact, however, Ministers should be thankful to us for what we are doing. They know, and we know, that they will not be ready, for six weeks to come, to present legislative proposals likely to benefit the Commonwealth.
– Is that why the motion was proposed?
– Certainly not. As the Government and its servile majority are aware, the Labour party will do nothing to help them, and, of course, does not expect their assistance. This Parliament is a dying one, and, at the best, cannot do more than square its finances, and make better industrial arrangements for the future than we have had in the past. The Treasurer has admitted that he cannot present his Budget until towards the end of August, which is seven or eight weeks hence. This, we have been told, is to be a session of finance. Of course, every session is to be more important than its predecessor; that is the usual clap-trap for the occasion, and the Government is repeating it now. Ministers tell us that they are determined to deal successfully with the financial question, and that to it will the energies of Parliament be chiefly devoted. There is also the great . industrial question to be solved. With that I am more concerned, I do not pretend to be a financier. Having been reared in a workshop, and not in a bank, my forte is not finance. But many of those who are supposed to be financiers seem to me to be not much better versed in finance than I am. At any rate, whatever financial knowledge they have is concealed from their fellow members. I know, however, that the workers and the commercial and business men in the community desire a settled industrial policy. Both those who have money invested in either small or large businesses, and their, employes, wish to know how they are to stand in the future. Seeing that the two great questions of the session are involved in financial and industrial legislation, and that we cannot expect any financial proposal for another six or seven weeks, while there is no hope at all of obtaining useful industrial proposals from a Ministry constituted as this is, there would be no waste of time . if the debate occupied much longer than it is likely to. The Government programme speaks of the appointment of an InterState Commission. The only merit of that appointment would be that it would provide good billets for a number of persons. As a matter of fact, it will be so expensive that the Treasurer will have to seriously consider how it can be financed. Then the powers to be given to it are to be so large as to practically make this Parliament useless. As a matter of fact, I think the public would benefit, rather than be harmed, if we did shut up for a time. The appointment of an Inter-State Commission would, in no sense, benefit the workers. Ministers must admit that I have no wish to say nasty things,, but I am constrained to ask how my constituents, can expect beneficial- legislation from a Government whose Ministers hold views so contrary that it is next to impossible, especially in industrial matters, to fix upon any point of agreement between them. In my opinion, the Government does not possess the confidence of the House. Nearly half of its supporters sit behind it, not in the hope of passing legislation which will” benefit Australia, but to . save their political skins. They know that they have to fight the Labour party, and to make themselves safe at the coming election they have agreed to a fusion, no matter what its effects may be upon legislation. We are told that we are squealing because our Government were removed from office. The supporters of the Government, and the Government themselves, know well that men who are highest in the Labour party might have enjoyed the sweets of office long ago, had they so wished. As a new man, with no chance or hope of office, I think I may say that men in our party who are recognised as strong men of the House might have become Ministers had they thought fit.
– No hope !
– The honorable member knows that there could have been a coalition of Liberals and the Labour party, and that the latter could have dominated by numbers both in the House and in the Ministry. Honorable members opposite have been saying, both inside and out of this House - and so have the newspapers that support them- that the Labour party are squealing; but, as a matter of fact, it is not a squeal of defeat, but a howl at the treachery that has been perpetrated. While the Prime Minister is not a member of our party, I, for some twenty-two years, have regarded him as a politician and an individual whom I personally could respect. I have been abused, by those who, it now appears, knew better than I did, for the strong support and sympathy I extended to the honorable gentleman ; and I have to admit now that I was wrong - that what they said the honorable gentleman was capable of was true, and that what I expected from him as a man and a politician I might expect in vain. I have wasted some months in reading Hansard in view of this particular debate, so that I might be able out of the Prime Minister’s own mouth to prove that he was not what my friends said he was ; but I find that it is possible to make anything one likes from his utterances. I might say that a speech of his meant a certain thing, but he could refer me to something he had said just prior, and, if that failed, to something he said after wards, or might tell me I had overlooked a comma or misconstrued his meaning. I have, therefore, to admit that I cannot bring evidence out of the Prime Minister’s own mouth to prove that my friends’ condemnation of him was wrong. I am now speaking of the honorable gentleman entirely as a politician, but in the future I shall endeavour to think of him only as a person with all his known graciousness. Quite lately in this House I mistakenly interjected that I wished I were endowed with his eloquence. In a farce which . I once saw, the low comedian said of the leading lady, “Oh, she says nice things so nicely” ; but the Prime Minister goes one better, and can say, not only nice things, but nasty things, nicely. It is of no use my attempting, by quotations from the Prime Minister’s speeches, to prove that the stand he takes now is one he should not take ; but I should like to refer to one or two remarks of his during the debate on the no-confidence motion moved by the right honorable member for East Sydney, in regard to the financial policy of the Deakin Ministry. The speech the Prime Minister then made was only another splendid piece of eloquence, piled on others which we have heard, but the outcome of which has always been nil. The honorable gentleman, in the course of that noconfidence debate, said -
I am not standing here to point the finger of reproach at any one. In this House we all have to accept our share of responsibility in an extremely difficult situation.
Even then the honorable gentleman was looking forward to a more difficult situation than that which had arisen. At this stage of the speech the then Leader of the Opposition interjected -
I shall put on a band of crape for the Prime Minister !
To that the Prime Minister replied -
I am sure the right honorable member would1 do that with the greatest of pleasure ; and it would cause no tears of mine.
The present Prime Minister, it would appear, never had any desire or wish for office, although, strange to say, he has been in office almost continuously. The honorable gentleman continued -
May I point out that this is one of those occasions on which we may freely and frankly consider a situation that is usually outside the scope of our debates.
The honorable gentleman has said that often ; there never has been a situation that he did not consider extraordinary - one that had never occurred before. He went on -
If any one in this House can show a better solution of the problem of parties than at present exists, I, for one, am not going to be an opponent of the proposition.
It will be seen that even during that debate - with all the bitter anathemas that were hurled at him from this side - the honorable gentleman was preparing himself for the future, so that, when any proposition were made to him, he might again take the mantle on his shoulders, and continue as Prime Minister of Australia. At this point the honorable member for South Sydney interjected -
This corner will not be !
This inferred that we then felt, as we feel now, the position not to our liking. The direct Opposition is our proper place, where we feel we can do more in the interests of the public; hence the present motion. The Prime Minister continued -
Exactly. Here wc have, at least, four parties - ,
The honorable gentleman admitted that there were four parties - and it is highly desirable, in the interests of Parliamentary business - in the interests of its dignity and order - that all groups should, if possible, come within two main parties. No one disputes, or denies that view. It is obvious. But, on the other hand, there must be, at any particular juncture, some governing principle which really separates us into those two divisions.
What governing principle separates the two parties in the House to-day? Who but the honorable member for Bendigo, even since the time I came into the House, “has fought the Prime Minister from his position in the Opposition corners? It was only on very rare occasions that the honorable member for Bendigo extended any help to the Democratic legislation which the Prime Minister was endeavouring to pass with the support of the Labour party. How have the mighty fallen ! Victorians at one time looked on the honorable member for Bendigo as one of the Democrats of the State; but only on one occasion do I remember his extending any support to the Liberal Prime Minister, and that was when the right honorable member for East Sydney submitted his motion of no-confidence. At that time the honorable member for Bendigo evidently was of opinion that the financial policy of the Government was all right, because he voted against the motion.
– He wished to look further ahead.
– Exactly. It is not hard to see why he could see no reason for voting against the present Prime Minister. At that time the honorable member for Bendigo was sitting in the Opposition corner, the members of which could not agree on a policy ; and the honorable member for Parramatta and the right honorable member for Swan failed, to bring about a fusion of parties, thus leaving the right honorable member for East Sydney on his “lonesome.” The honorable member for Bendigo possibly saw that if that motion of noconfidence were successful he would not be in the Ministry, and, therefore, he supported the present Prime Minister. What is the great dividing line of principle’ between the honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Bendigo? If such a line existed then, surely it must exist now. As a Victorian I know that the political opinions of the people of Bendigo and Ballarat are identical, and I well remember the attitude qf the different parties at the last general election. The honorable member for Bendigo was then opposed to the honorable member for Ballarat.
– The honorable member on his re-election showed his friendliness to the Deakin Government by sitting in the Opposition corner.
– I told my constituents that I should sit there if re-elected.
– Unfortunately for all of us the people of Australia have an excellent political memory, and even if they had not they would find in Hansard a full report of any statement made in this House. Some honorable members also have an unfortunate habit of preserving newspaper reports of political speeches, and although the Labour party have not the support of a daily newspaper, the honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Bendigo must admit that there are in this State newspapers entirely in sympathy with them, both politically and personally. That being so, we mav assume that reports of their utterances which appear in those newspapers are fairly accurate, and when’ such reports are not contradicted we must accept them. In days gone by the present Prime Minister and the Postmaster-General were considered to share the same political opinions, and since they are now in the one Ministry, it must be assumed that they are still in agreement. When we find, however, that for a period of two years the honorable member for Bendigo fought strenuously against almost every proposal submitted by the Deakin Government, what are we to think ?
– I did not. I voted on the Tariff no less than 175 times with the Deakin Government.
– And how many times against them ?
– As a Protectionist, T. have no pleasure in recalling the many occasions on which the honorable member was not present in this House to vote on Tariff questions. As Chairman of the Tariff Commission, he was regarded as one of the staunchest Protectionists in Victoria, but in some cases he neither voted nor paired in favour of the Government. During the consideration of the Tariff, the honorable member for Hume, as a member of the Deakin Government, sat here day after day. and night after night, doing the work of three Ministers and fighting for the policy of ‘Protection, while the present Postmaster-General, on many occasions, was not present to give him the assistance that he might well have expected from him. I say without fear of contradiction that there is in reality a great dividing une between the Prime Minister and the PostmasterGeneral. ‘ It existed during the life Df the Deakin Government - when the honorable member for Bendigo sat in the Opposition corner - and it exists to-day. Whilst on the surface it would seem that their differences have been smoothed away, there is in fact, as the Prime Minister himself has said, a clear cut issue between them. It existed eight months ago, and it still exists. On the occasion to which T have already referred, the present Prime Minister said -
If that principle does not exist, the alliance is merely artificial, and is not only not worth the paper it is written on, if it be written, or the word spoken, but is absolutely injurious.
The right honorable member for Swan interjected, “ That is about the position, is it not?” and the right honorable member for East Sydney, who occasionally gets in a cutting interjection, inquired - -
What is the principle which groups the Government and the Labour party?
The Prime Minister continued -
I quite agree with my right honorable friend, the member for Swan.’ I say that unity - that is to the extent of having two parlies in this House, for there must always be at least two - is highly desirable. But, all the world over, the modern tendency appears to be to depart further and further from the old system, under which there were only two parties, although many minor divisions. The old system appears to have gone; it has gone in Great Britain and France, is gone, or going, in Germany, and is threatened even in the United States, in spite of the vast machinery which makes it so difficult for independent parties to spring up. lt seems to me, therefore,, inevitable that we shall have to deal with more than two groups or parties, whichever we mav term them.
– There are far more now on the Government side of the House.
– That was the opinion expressed by the Prime Minister in October last, and he was evidently .preparing to get away from his own utterances. He continued -
Then there arises the almost irresistible temptation to endeavour to form a majority which shall be able to carry on the Government of the day in some kind of unity.
He was preparing for some sort of unity -
We have seen that tried in several of the States lately with by no means brilliant success.
In the midst of his many Federal duties the honorable gentleman finds time to keep himself conversant with the details of State politics, and no one knows better than he does what has been the outcome of fusions in State Parliaments during the last few years -
Where the union is not Vital or permanent, or where it arises out of a contingency, it will cease on a contingency.
I wonder what are the feelings of honorable members sitting behind the Government as to the possibility of a contingencyarising even during the life of this Parliament, to say nothing of what may happen after it “is dissolved. With’ their knowledge of the present Prime Minister and of the component parts of the party.. now behind him, how can honorable members really have any confidence in the Ministry ? The honorable member for Robertson smiles in that genial way peculiar to him, and I am reminded of the opinion which he recently expressed through the columns of a certain newspaper in regard to the present fusion.
– I still have that opinion.
– It is shared by others sitting behind the Government. We point to that fact in support of our contention that no waste of time is involved in .the submission of such a motion as that now under consideration. We are offering certain honorable members opposite an opportunity to candidly say ‘ to their constituents that they have no confidence in the Ministry. There are some nine honorable members sitting behind the Government who, while* having no sympathy with the Labour party, have still less for the Ministry. They know that we are honest and candid in regard to the opinions that we hold, and that the Government behind whom they are sitting are simply humbugging them. .Whilst they may profess to have no sympathy with us, I am satisfied that when communing, one with another, they admit that we know what we want and mean what we say, whereas the Government do not honestly intend to propose any legislation that will be really beneficial to the people of Australia. So, while the outcome of the present motion may not prove our assertion, there is every evidence that the Government have not the confidence of the majority of .the members of the House. It may be said with truth that at no time during the existence of the Federal Parliament has any Government had the entire confidence of a majority of the House, but previous Governments have had it on cardinal principles, or they would not have remained on the Treasury’ bench. Even on primary principles, however, it is not true of the present Government. Getting down to the primary ideas of honorable members on that side, they have really nothing in common, and, according to the views which they put before their constituents at the last election, there are about four parties among . them now. The right honorable member for East Sydney, who had a large party behind him at that time, and his lieutenant, the honorable member for Parramatta, and another estimable gentleman and a strong advocate of that party’s views in the person of the honorable member for North Sydney, all claimed at the last election that they were fighting, not only the Labour party, but every man who was in any way associated with the Labour party in politics. Bitterly as they fought us at that time, they knew well that they were fighting the whole of the following of the honorable member for Ballarat. Yet now there sits behind the Government a composition including the party from Western Australia - the right honorable member for Swan and his following, which consists of the honorable member for Fremantle - and parties from Tasmania and South* Australia. The right honorable member for
Swan and the honorable member for Fremantle fought our party bitterly at the last election. In fact, the right honorable member for Swan might have had a walk-over but for his energetic interference in the political situation in his State. He was looking for a fight and got it. I do not know, from what I have heard since, that he appreciated that fight too well, for when he got a thundering blow he objected. The right honorable member must have thought there was a likelihood of his being knocked out in the fight, because he appealed to the electors of Swan to remember how he had served their fathers and their grandfathers. His appeal was quite pathetic. I remember reading in a Western Australian newspaper - not a Labour paper, but one which supported the right honorable member, and had nothing but friendly remarks to make on any act of his, no matter how foolish - how the right honorable member appealed to his electors to be allowed to continue to serve them in the Parliament of Australia, in memory of the services which he had rendered to their fathers and grandfathers in the past. I hope that at the next election he will have to appeal to the great grandchildren of those who returned him before, and will not meet with so much success as on the last occasion. But the politics which he and the honorable member for Fremantle advocated then, and the pledges which they gave, had nothing in common with the politics and pledges placed before the people of New South Wales by those honorable members who were then sitting with the right honorable member for East Sydney iri Opposition.
– We were both opposed to the Labour party
– I admit that, but, apart from that one little sandfly in the ointment, they had nothing in common, as was proved in the House afterwards when the right honorable member for East Sydney moved a motion of censure on the Deakin Government, and the members in the Opposition corner refused to follow him. To prove further that there was nothing in common between the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Fremantle on the one hand, and the honorable member for Ballarat and his following on the other, when the Leader of the Labour party informed the honorable member for Ballarat that that part could no longer support his Government, Hansard shows that when the vote was taken not one member of the direct
Opposition or from the Opposition corner crossed the Boor to keep the honorable member for Ballarat in power.
– That was when the mistake was made.
Mr.MATHEWS.- I am an infant in politics compared with the honorable members who were then sitting here, but I could never have made a mistake of that sort. No one believes th.it those gentlemen made n mistake at that time. The bitter-sweets of office farmed the only consideration which retarded them, and glued them to their seats when the opportunity arrived to prove the truth of their claim that the only clear-cut issue between them and the Deakin party was association with the Labour party. I do not know whether it was the attendants, or the thoughts of the sweets of office that did it, but there was a let of glue along these benches oh the day when that vote was taken. Some of them rose, but in their cases the glue seemed to possess some of the properties of gutta-percha, and drew them back again. The only member who admitted on that occasion that they made a mistake was the honorable member for Kooyong, who said afterwards that he should have crossed the floor. Therefore, the honorable member for Ballarat was correct at that time when he said that only some large principle could1 keep them apart. There was a great principle that kent them apart then, but where is it now so far as regards the Deakin party, or the Reid party, or the party ot thirteen leaders who then sat in the Opposition
– Why did the Labour party desert the honorable member for Ballarat at that time?
– The right honorable member must admit that what the Labour party did on that occasion was fair, square, and above board. We said we could no longer support the Government for many reasons. They had not our confidence at that stage.
– The Labour party gave no reasons for their action.
– There are just as old political birds in this party as the right honorable member. It is a pity that he and the honorable member for Ballarat did not possess the tact and common sense of the Labour party on certain occasions, because both of them have given so many reasons for their actions that all their time is occupied in explaining those reasons away. They think they have deluded us and the people outside, but a great deal more explanation is required from them before they can bring that about. The honorable member for Robertson is still smiling, but they will have to give him a lot more explanation as to why the present fusion took place before he is satisfied. When the honorable member for Ballarat was discussing the question of whether the union of parties would be permanent or not, the right honorable member for Swart interjected -
The Prime Minister must look out, then !
The honorable member for Ballarat then said -
We have before us warning examples, not to bc set aside, which show that in the endeavour to form two parties, or to form one party sufficiently strong to have a majority, there is very often danger of falling into traps or pitfalls
The honorable member, who can always look ahead, knew that, yet strange to say, he fell into them time after time, or at least we thought he did. The right honorable member for East Sydney was rather of the opinion that he did not fall into a pitfall, but mounted on to a scaffold so as to bludgeon somebody who was underneath him. The honorable member for Ballarat added -
Pitfalls not less serious than those which are confronted when each group or party acts for itself.
He, therefore, admitted that there were more dangers and pitfalls in fusion than when each party acted for itself. Yet, after uttering that warning, he went into the fusion. It is only the Prime Minister, and perhaps the right honorable member for Swan, who can do that sort of thing and continue to live politically. The honorable member for Ballarat went on -
So that what we have to ask ourselves in this House is whether this motion -
The motion moved by the right honorable member for East, Sydney - - or any similar motion we can at present table, is’ likely to divide us in such fashion that v/e. shall be more useful to the public who sent us here, more at ease, and more efficient as law makers.
And the right honorable member for Swan interjected -
But like the Israelites of old, the Labour party are a peculiar people.
The right honorable member knows from fighting them in the West that the peculiarity of the Labour party is that they always say what they mem Other parties are peculiar in not saying what they mean. The peculiarity of the Labour party, however, suits the right honorable member less, because he could not engineer so successfully where they were concerned. We know that he is the grandfather and father and uncle of the present fusion. To use his own words, “he was not sent to Sydney with Sir Robert Best to bring about the fusion, but he went there.’ ‘ Whatever may happen in the future, the right honorable member for Swan must take the whole blame. It was he who went to New South Wales with Senator Best, and proposed fusion to the honorable member for Parramatta. The Prime Minister, who has been blamed, has again left himself a loophole of escape.
– Apparently they all claim parentage, now that the child is a healthy one.
– Yes ; but when it becomes sickly, none of them will acknowledge it. The honorable members for Maribyrnong, Bourke, Batman, Laanecoorie, and a few others, had nothing to say in the bringing about of the fusion. They were not considered.
– Why should they be?
– They are nonentities. That, I suppose, is the reason that they were not considered.
– They are not making half as much fuss about the matter as are the members of the Labour party.
– We are ‘making a fuss about it because we are determined that the electors shall know how the fusion came about. The honorable member for Riverina told us yesterday, and the honorable member for Gippsland agreed with what he said, that they knew nothing about the proposed fusion beforehand; that they left a meeting of the party at which it was unanimously resolved that there should be no fusion. When the fusion was brought about, all but four of ‘the Liberal party abandoned their principles to obey the dictates of a caucus of three. The Labour party has been called the caucus party, and its members have been told that they must obey the decisions of the caucus. But in the caucus I, like every other member of the party, have my say. On the other side, three members arranged everything. It is honorable members opposite whose brains are cramped, and whose tongues are tied. When the right honorable member for Swan and Senator Best came back with the marriage lines drawn up, if not signed, there were five honorable members, in addition to the four who have not joined the fusion, who were opposed to it ; but, inasmuch as there would have been a majority of only one against the Fisher Government, and a consequent dissolution, had they come over to this side, they were bludgeoned into joining. They, then sold the interests of their constituents in order to retain their seats a little longer. They were bludgeoned into compliance with the wishes of the leaders of the fusion by the threat that if they did not join, candidates would be run against them.
– I do not think that that threat was made.
– I know who were to be two of the candidates. One is a gentleman who, at the time of the last election, was chairman for one of the members of this House. The five honorable members to whom I have referred did not go over straightaway. They were bludgeoned severely, and lay on the floor thinking for a time. Finally they crept under the mantle of the honorable member for Ballarat, hoping thereby to find shelter from the storm at the next election. That is a secret of which many honorable members were not aware. I doubt if even all the Ministers know the strenuous efforts and barbaric methods which were used to bring certain honorable members over to the right way of thinking We are not all born heroes. I used to imagine myself one, until an occasion arose which showed me that I was a man of only ordinary strength of mind and muscle. The occasion to which I refer proved that the honorable members of whom I am speaking are not heroes. They showed themselves only too willing to accept the support of the voluble tongue of the honorable member for Ballarat and the leaders of the newspaper organs which support him. I say that these five honorable gentlemen have no confidence in the present Ministry, and that if they voted according to their consciences, they would vote for the motion. But to save their political skins they must vote against it. The excuse they make is that the Labour party has threatened to oppose them at the next election. You, Mr. Speaker, were so opposed, but you did not squeal about it. Whv should they squeal? They were able to fight and to win their seats, notwithstanding Labour opposition.
– And we shall win again.
– There is satisfaction in winning without the sacrifice of principle, but it is humiliating to win by giving up all that one should hold dear, politically. I am almost sorry now that, earlier in my speech,I made a similar statement aboutmy election chances. The honorable member ‘for Ballarat, speaking in this chamber, said -
Whatever the Labour party may be termed, its members are here. It consists of men who choose to belong to the party, who are banded by pledges and engagements they have chosen to take, and have a right to take’. We, though wc need not join them, can have no objection to their following what course they like in furtherance of the interests they have in view.
– Is this an invitation to the right honorable member for Swan to come back again ?
– Any Swan song is usually at another and later stage. At present, I am taking advantage of the presence of my right honorable friend the member for Swan - for he is my friend -
The right honorable member for Swan left the honorable member for Ballarat when 1 he latter was so ill that he could not attend to public affairs, and, in consequence, the honorable member far Hume had to do the work of three or four Ministers. ‘ .
– The Swan is a downy bird.
– Yes : but, as I said yesterday, the right honorable member would not have left the honorable member for Ballarat had he known that he would be out of office, for two years. To continue my quotation - for he ismy friend - in order to discuss with him the present situation, seeing that the two of us have known these trials together. They are still before us.
On that occasion the Prime Minister was endeavouring to show that Codlin on that side and not Short On this side was- the friend - was preparing himself for the present situation in this House. The right honorable member for East Sydney said -
Then why did the honorable gentleman come to me with his club the moment I went into office? He might have . given me a few months’ run.
That was apropos of some previous remarks by the Prime Minister about the marriage tie, in which the use of a blackfellow’s club was mentioned. Mr. Reid went on to say that his head had been sore ever since; so that it is evident the Prime Minister had got on a tender spot ; indeed, the right honorable member for East Sydney appears to have been politically de funct since, having subsided to make fusion possible. The Prime Minister went on to say -
How did it begin? We went out of office before there was any sore head, when there was no necessity in a political sense to go, with the main object of leaving the field free for a fair settlement of the questions to be put before the country. That settlement was not at all achieved. There was 110 improvement in the state of parties. Instead of that, some of us, and I . was one, found ourselves trapped into voting a Government out of office that ought to have been allowed to stay there longer.
Every honorable member remembers the occasion when the Prime Minister, with his foot on his chair, and in the pose of a hero, uttered words which every man could stake his life on. accepting. If the words about being trapped meant anything, they meant that, while the Prime Minister and his party were fighting the ‘Cook party for their existence, his sympathies were with the Labour party, and he was preparing a way for the latter instead of the then direct Opposition to supplant him. The meaning was that, if ever occasion arose’ again, he would not be trapped into voting a Labour Government out of office and putting some other party into power - that the honorable gentleman recognised that his political existence was possible only with the support of the Labour party, and that he appreciated that support to such a degree that in the future he would not vote against a Labour Government until they had had a further trial. The Fisher Government were certainly in office longer than the Watson Government, but it must be remembered that during the term of the former Parliament was in session, whereas the term of the latter was mainly in recess - and, by the way, a shorter recess than the present Prime Minister or any other leader would have taken under the circumstances. Despite the words of the Prime Minister, we found that on the first or second day of this session, without giving the Government an opportunity of showing what they could do, he agreed to apply the bludgeon in the form of a motion that “ the debate be now adjourned.” Can we expeet . that any promise the honorable gentleman may give in the future will be kept? Are we justified in saying that the Government has the confidence of the House? The Minister of Defence wears a genial smile, such as I never saw on his face when he was in Opposition ; then his expression was hard and’ his utterances vinegary, peppery, and bitter. Often when
I have desired to annihilate a man with a look or a word, I have wished for the honorable gentleman’s power of expression. We have heard the Minister of Defence charge his present equal-in-all-things leader with the most heinous crimes that could possibly be imagined ; and we have heard him make use of choice language across the table to the honorable member for Hume when that gentleman was holding the fort for the Prime Minister during the latter’s absence through ill-health. We all admired the energy and the action of the honorable member for Hume; and if the press, and others, take exception to some of the scenes that have taken place here during this session, we have to remember how strongly the honorable member must feel the peculiar position in which he has been placed by the action of the Prime Minister. I do not know that I should like to be a subordinate at the orders of the honorable member for Hume, who is a strong man inclined to give forcible expression to his opinions; but even the honorable member for’C’orio, who has admitted saying that he would not follow the honorable member for Hume, must admire that gentleman for the Herculean work he did during the passing of the Tariff, and while the present Prime Minister was absent. And, further, I may, in passing, say that the only weak spot I ever found in the armour of the honorable member for Parramatta was when he made the gracious concession to the Prime Minister at that time. The Prime Minister is the one man in a thousand who’ could get such support and consideration ; but I venture to say that he will never get such loyal support from his present followers as he did from the honorable member for Hume. That gentleman, if he speaks strongly, feels strongly ; and sympathy can be extended to him in the treatment he has received.
– Read something from the Age now ; it will fill in time !
– The honorable member for Dalley himself, and also the honorable member for Parramatta-, have now fallen under the mantle of the Age.
– It will take it all its time to fit me !
– I do not know on how many occasions the honorable member for Parramatta has, figuratively, hurled the Age at me; indeed, on one occasion he told me I was the creature of that newspaper.
– The honorable member is, I think, romancing, but, if I did sav so, I apologize.
– The Minister of Defence was always pleased to make similar charges against his present associate. I cannot help smiling when I think what that great journalist, the late David Syme, would say if he could return from the shades of the departed and see how Joseph Cook has fallen in with the views, and even the Protectionist views of the Agc. I can well imagine the honorable gentleman who has posed as a Democrat, and the Age, which is supposed to be a Democratic newspaper, agreeing as to certain Democratic principles, but it is impossible to conceive of the honorable member receiving the support of that newspaper at the next general election. Although some honorable members may twit me as to the Age, the honorable member for Parramatta cannot do so.
– He will when he is in Opposition next session.
– No. Since the Age has helped him to secure the sweets of office I think that he will be more generous in his criticism of it. I cannot find in Hansard one statement by the Prime Minister that can be used against him. When I have happened upon a sentence or a paragraph in a speech made by him that appeared to place him within my grasp I have found that a littie later on he has explained it away, and left himself free to pursue any course he might desire. In support of my contention that the Government do not possess the confidence of the House, I think it well to read some paragraphs in the brief Ministerial statement submitted to us by the Prime Minister. Short as that programme is it includes proposals that must necessarily involve weary years of consideration. The honorable gentleman declared . that the policy of the Labour party, as- set forth in His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech, was sufficient to engage our attention for years, and he gave that as a reason why he did not propose to waste time in discussing it at that stage. Within a few days, however, he submitted on behalf of his Ministry a programme that would take years to give effect to, and I am satisfied that as the outcome of it there would not be placed on the. statute-book one measure that would be beneficial to the country. I except from that statement the proposals of the Government to extend the old-age pensions system, to deal with the question of silver coinage, and to provide for the construction of docksand ship yards. Apart from the question of the silver coinage we find no proposal to deal at once with the great financial problems awaiting our attention. The Government are not yet prepared to deal with them. Their programme is divided into three sections : industrial, defence, and finance, and we have as the opening statement the following -
The most complex series of measures to be submitted includes those affecting the Industrial interests of the Commonwealth. The pivot of several of these will be found in a Bill for the establishment of an Inter-State Commission, which, in addition to exercising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, will also be authorized to undertake many of the valuable functions discharged in the United Kingdom by the Board of Trade, such as a general oversight of production and exchange, supplying information in respect to markets and openings for trade abroad, and for the- improvement and extension of Australian industries within our borders.
An Inter-State Commission is to be “appointed to deal not only with these matters, but with . many others.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that it would provide billets for 200 men.
– That, I think, is an underestimate if the Inter-State Commission is to do all that is expected of it. Indeed, I think that some honorable members whose seats are shaky would do well to resign with a view to securing appointments on it. This proposal is really one to delegate the whole of the functions of the Commonwealth Parliament to an InterState Commission. Among the many questions to be dealt with by that Commission, we are told, is that of the new Protection. The Free Traders on this side of the House have always been favourable to, and have promised to support, the new Protection. Even the honorable member for Dalley admitted when the Tariff was under consideration, that he was glad to “come in out of the wet” and to get under the shelter of the new Protectionist “umbrella.’’ I may say in passing that we were very thankful for some votes that he cast during the consideration of the Tariff when certain so-called Protectionists ratted on us. For years the Labour party have been preaching the gospel of the new Protection, but we find in the Ministerial programme only the vaguest reference to it. What does it mean? It means that the members of the Deakin party who have joined with the late Opposition, at the request of the Employers’ Federation, the Chambers of Manufactures, and of every ‘organization in Australia representing vested interests, have sold us. After obtaining from us all that they desired in the matter of protectionist votes, they have thrown us overboard. That can be proved by reference to the utterances of some honorable members now sitting on the Government benches. The honorable member for Illawarra and the honorable member for Parramatta have said time after time in this House that the manufacturers were robbers, and were trying to rob the people of Australia.
– Does the honorable member say that I have used that language ?
– In the sense that we were proposing to impose duties to benefit the manufacturers at the expense of the rest of the community. During the consideration of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill, we were told by the Free Traders in the then Opposition that we were proposing to rob the people in the interests of a few manufacturers. I was returned to this House as a Labour man, and every manufacturer in my electorate fought me, and will do so again. On the other hand, those who, when the Tariff was under consideration, sat in the Opposition corner, were supported by the large manufacturers ; but whilst I remained here on many occasions until 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., in order to vote for duties designed to assist the manufacturers, honorable members of the Opposition corner went home to rest. We now find that they are able to laugh at us, and that the Free Traders have assisted to prove the correctness of the assertions they then made. The workers of Australia will derive absolutely no benefit from the coalition of so-called Protectionists with the late Opposition. Am I expected by the Government and their supporters to believe that those who formerly sat in the Opposition corner, but are now sitting behind the Ministry, would vote for anything calculated to benefit the workers? If I am, then they must think that I was born but yesterday. Is the honorable member for Bourke, at the next general election, going to try to cajole the electors to return him by promising that the proposal of the Government in this regard means that effect will be given to the. policy of the. new Protection? On a previous occasion he told us that we desired to go to the country, without even passing a Bill to enable a referendum to be taken on the desirableness of so altering the Constitution as to provide for the carrying out of what we proposed.
– Quite true.
– Who was responsible for that? It was the fault, not of the Labour party, but of the honorable member for Bourke and others of his party, who professed to be in favour of the new Protection. It was due to the action of the five honorable members I have already mentioned, as well as two others, that we were unable to arrange for a referendum on an alteration of the Constitution, to provide for an effective method of new Protection.
– The honorable member has a chance now to provide for it.
– The honorable member and his party offer us an Interestate Commission.
– Hear, hear-. What is the honorable member’s proposition?
– What would that mean to the workers of Australia?
– Exactly what it has always meant.
– Our experience of the Upper Houses of the States teaches us that there is no likelihood of their agreeing to the Commonwealth Parliament being vested with powers that will enable it to provide machinery to put an end to industrial strife, or to arrange anything that will be beneficial to the workers. The present Prime Minister times out of number has invited the Premiers of the States to confer with the Commonwealth Government on various questions, only to be met with the statement that the sovereign rights of the States must be maintained. The States have refused hitherto to part with any of their powers.
– Why should they not refuse to do so?
– Does the honorable member for Bourke agree with the honorable member for Franklin when he asks, in effect : “Why should they not maintain all their rights ? Why should they hand over to the Commonwealth, which is charged with the duty of dealing with Customs and Excise, the power to legislate for the benefit of workers engaged in protected industries?” Is it reasonable- to expect that the State Parliaments will concede to us anything” save that which they are made to concede? The whole necessity for a Federal Act arose from the . fact that the workers in all the States found that the existing State machinery was useless to achieve what they needed.
– The bulk of the Labour party’ were opposed to Federation.
– They were opposed, not to Federation, but to the Bill then submitted to the people. The honorable member and his late leader, the right honorable member for East Sydney, opposed it also. There were a lot of fanatics in Victoria who wanted the Bill and nothing but the Bill ; but the Labour party had more commonsense, and, unlike some of the “others, had no personal axe to grind. The Age only caved in on the last day, so far as the Bill was concerned. The men who run the political machine in that office knew, as we” did, that the Bill was not what it ought to be, and the honorable member for Parramatta was in accord with us, but for entirely different reasons. One would hardly expect him to agree with me on many points, nor, in fact, would one expect him and the Age to agree on many points, as they have done on the present occasion. We were beaten on the question of the Constitution Bill, but, like the practical politicians that we are - for we are not in the clouds like the crowd opposite - we determined to make the best of things as we found them, and I think the Conservatives on the other side must admit that we have made a very good showing, so far as we have gone, in the Federal arena. It was thought, for instance, that the provision for the representation of the States in the Senate, which was to be the States House, would act detrimentally to the Labour party. The Argus, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Sydney Daily Telegraph, all expected the senators who would be returned on clouded issues to be representative of vested interests, but how cruelly were thev deceived ! The Senate contains at present fifteen Labour men. Little did those who formulated the scheme of equal representation of the States in the Senate dream that the Labour party would benefit bv that undemocratic method of election. Yet it has come about. .
– There would have been no Federation without it.
– I would not say that. Tasmania would have had to come in afterwards in anv case, perhaps without any representation at all, as a mere suburb of Victoria. Little did they dream that in six years the Labour party in the House of Representatives would be.twenty- six strong, and still less did they dream that within ten years from the consummation of Federation - and here -my utterance is prophetic - the Labour party would have a majority in the Federal Parliament.
– If that is so certain, could not the party be patient for a little while longer?
– There is liberty in every blow that we are striking at present, and well do the other crowd know it. Why this professed desire on the part of the Government to get on with work? They are not prepared to do work. They will make a pretence of introducing some Bill which may possibly suit a few in the community, but which will -be of no interest to the people as a whole. They are doing nil right, and instead of abusing us, they ought to thank us. We are piling up stuff n gainst them that they wil.l never be able to explain away when election time comes round. The newspapers which support them know it.
– Then that is a confession that the party are electioneering?
– Exactly. We want to have an election now, which the honorable member does not. ‘ The party opposite cherish the hope that the public wi’l have short, memories, and will forget all about -recent events when election time comes round. The honorable, member for Parramatta is not the worst in that .direction. He may POSsibly have an easier mind than most of the others, but man: on the other side ish to delay the appeal to the people. The Ministerial memorandum ‘ states that amongst the duties of the Inter-State Commission - will be those of a Federal Labour Bureau, comprising a study of unemployment and of a scheme for insurance against unemployment.
This from a Government which was forced into fusion by the Employers’ Federation ! -
The Commission will also assist in supervising the working of the existing Customs Tariff in its operation upon the investment of Australian capital and labour in Australian industries, advising the removal of any inconsistencies in its schedules, and also with the further view of developing Preferential and other trade relations within the Empire.
They always put in the word “ Empire.” It is mere lip loyalty, and is not intended in the true sense of loyalty to the Empire as understood by patriotic men -
In the meantime any anomalies that may be discovered in the Customs Tariff Act lately passed by this Parliament will be examined, classified, and dealt with in due course.
This is the sort of twaddle with which the Government are deluding the people outside, and that is the sort of business that the Labour party are keeping back, by sticking up the House and “stone-walling,” as they say. The Government further announce that -
Any divergencies between industrial conditions in the several States which occasion an unjust competition between’ Australian industries in different States will be adjusted by the InterState ‘Commission, with, of course, due regard to all the interests affected - especially vested interests - whether or not the unjustly competitive rates exist under the authority of local industrial tribunals. Correspondence is now proceeding with the State Governments in respect to the procedure to be followed in order to endow the Commission with this power.
Does the Prime Minister candidly expect the State Premiers to assist him or this Parliament in bringing about anything of Federal importance?
– I give it up.
– The honorable member for Echuca did not give it up. That bombastic, fighting gentleman told, us, in his nice, winning way, that the present Government have a better chance of getting concessions from the States than a Labour Ministry would have. The honorable member for Echuca is not so foolish as some honorable members opposite seem to think. They may laugh, but the honorable member knows that what the State Premiers will give will not be really concessions, but will be something that the State Parliaments or the State Premiers care little about. Anything that they care little about will not be of much benefit to those in whose interests industrial laws are supposed to be enacted. As a further proof that the Government should not have the confidence of the House, the honorable member for Dalley, and two other honorable members, admitted that it is an utter impossibility to get any real concessions in this direction from the States, and vet he and the others still sit behind the Government. Notwithstanding all the threats that have been made towards us regarding what will happen to us for assisting the Government to retard business at this juncture, I am willing to stand on any platform in Victoria and justify our refusal to believe that there is anything to benefit the workers in the industrial legislation which the Government announce their intention of introducing. They favour the appointment of a High Commissioner, and announce that- -
To permit a better discharge of the national responsibilities of the Commonwealth, your authorization will be sought for the acceptance of the Northern Territory.
That was one of the projects of the Fisher Government. In the case of this Government it is only words, and they do not mean it any more than the rest of their policy. As a matter of fact, although they begin by saying that from the financial stand-point this should be one of the most important sessions, they know full well that their finances will not run to the taking over of the Territory. That project is one of the few in the programme that would be of real use to the people ; but the Government have not the money to carry it into effect, and as we do not know the financial position, we cannot tell when it will be dealt with. The Government state that -
Among the first proposals of the Commonwealth Treasurer is that embodied in the Bill, of which notice has been given, for amendments of the Old-age Pensions Act.
I hope that, in regard to that measure, no honorable member opposite will refuse to vote the necessary money afterwards. I have a vivid recollection of the honorable member for Bendigo, while agreeing with old-age pensions, objecting to hypothecate money to pay them. Of course he was not the only honorable member who opposed the passing of the Surplus Revenue Bill.
– That was a constitutional question.
– But the honorable member knows that if that money could not have been hypothecated there would have been no chance of paying pensions, while the Braddon blot remained in existence.
– Eighteen months.
– It is proposed now to extend the operation of the Braddon provision, for another five years.
– That is npt correct.
– This Government intends to propitiate the States, so that there may not be opposition to its proposals. The only way in which the .States can be propitiated is by the gift of shekels.
– I suppose the honorable member would wipe out the States altogether ?
– I do not believe in unification, though I do not like the present bi-cameral Legislatures of the States. . It would be sufficient to have one representative House in each State.
– The honorable member would make the State Parliaments of no more importance than municipal councils.
– Whilst I do not belittle the work . of municipal councils, I say that State Parliaments have more important functions to carry out, and their continuance is necessary under the Constitution. I would point out, however, that, while the Commonwealth, by taking over what were formerly State Departments, has reduced the claims on the States, the State Governments and Parliaments have increased1 their expenditure, and continually ask for “more revenue. Like the daughters of the horse leech, they are never satisfied. The States are very ready for the Commonwealth to take over Departments whose administration is unremunerative, but they are not ready to allow us to retain the money necessary to do this. The fusion is an attempt to bring together all parties opposed to the Labour party. It contains the advanced politicians hitherto supported by the Argus, and now taken under the wing of the Age as well. It has the support of the Women’s National Association and the Farmers’ Association. I have at- “ tended meetings of the latter. On one occasion, in a Gippsland township, the assembly was composed of two cockatoo squatters and five or six stock agents, not one farmer being present. Therefore, the title is a misnomer, applied to deceive the farmers.
– In the Labour leagues there are many »men who do not labour.
– I remember the time when Sir Graham Berry and Professor Pearson came back from their mission to the Old Country. That was when the Liberal organization was formed. I remember, too, hearing with pleasure the Democratic utterances of the present Po~AmasterGeneral. I felt that he was a Liberal .
– I am as Democratic now as I was then.
– To my mind, the honorable member is one of the most pronounced Conservatives in Victoria, though he, and the honorable member for Echuca, are both classed as Liberals. The latter entered this House with the scalp of the Age at his belt.
– I have carried it there ever since.
– The Age will never forgive the honorable member.
– If he is opposed by a Labour candidate, the Age will support him. The honorable member for Flinders is another so-called Liberal. According to a report in the Leongatha Star, a newspaper published in his electorate-, he stated at the beginning of May that the fusion of parties, or of a large number of parties, under any one leader would be a most dangerous condition of things. We have a recollection of some of the illiberal political acts which he has perpetrated. Yesterdny the Argus pleaded with the Liberals not to oppose him at the next election. The newspaper was justified in doing this, because the honorable member has always endeavoured to express and give effect to the political views which it publishes, its policy being to “down” every proposal put. forward for the benefit of those who have to earn their living by physical toil. The honorable member for Indi is another socalled Liberal. When the Deakin party was in power, supported by the Labour party, he did not lose an opportunity to harass it. It could not then make any useful suggestions. No Bill brought forward by it got his support. He was especially opposed to Democratic legislation, and was a stubborn opponent of the Tariff. Whenever opportunity arose, he voted against the Liberal party of the day. But now he is a member of the fusion, in the hope of deceiving the Liberals in the Indi constituency.
– Is this in order? The honorable member is firing off nothing but vituperative, vitriolic, oratorical fireworks. He has made astatement which is not correct, in saying that I have consistently voted against the Liberal party. That is not true.
– The honorable member will please to withdraw that remark.
-I do so.
– The question whether the statements of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports are or are not accurate is not one of order.
– They are certainly in very bad taste. I like the truth.
– When I see the honorable member sitting in this House, I am reminded of the lamentation of Buttah Singh, an old Hindoo poet, who, when his country was suffering under a great calamity, wrote -
Oh, Indi ! Indi ! how hast thou sinned, that, in place of thy first born Izaacii the gods have given thee this !
I have never intended at any time to be personal in my utterances, but, on the contrary, have always endeavoured to make it evident that all I say is meant politically. I have never been spared by my political opponents - although most of them are my personal friends - and I certainly have never spared my opponents, nor do I intend to do so.
– The honorable member was never thought of - he is too insignificant !
– I am sorry the honorable member does not agree with my utterances. He happens to be built differently from myself, though that is the fault of neither of us, and may be my party’s good luck. I might have quoted extensively from Hansard to show that the honorable member for Indi has always voted against Liberal legislation; and I do not see why he should not, seeing that that was his intention when he came here. It is strange that the honorable member’s predecessor should have been a Protectionist; but, however that may be, we find that, on the Tariff, the honorable member voted thirty-seven times for and 118 times against the Government ; paired three times for and sixty-five times against the Government, and on sixty-four occasions neither voted nor paired. The only object I have in laying these facts before the House is to show that the honorable member, as an opponent of Liberal legislation, has no right to sit behind the Liberal Government, although, at the same time, there is no room for him on this side of the House. There is a clear-cut issue between the political ideas of the honorable member and the political ideas of the Prime Minister, as shown by their votes; and, by no stretch of the imagination, can the honorable member be regarded as politically Liberal-minded. I feel certain that it will take him all his time to assure his constituents that he is a Liberal in any sense of the word. On one occasion, during a visit to the honorable member’s electorate, I did what nasty Labour members always do, I held a meeting ; and I was, I think, able to convince the people of the town that the honorable member’s views were wrong. However that may be, I repeat that he is not a Liberal politician, and has no right to sit behind the honorable member for Ballarat.
– I knew the Prime Minister when the honorable member was sweeping the gutter, possibly !
– The honorable member for -Indi knows that interjections are out of order, and I ask him to recall the remark he has just made.
– I was very much provoked, but I apologize.
– The proper course for an honorable member is to wait until the Speaker has resumed his seat, before rising to make any remark or apology. The honorable member is continually making remarks which he must know are disorderly. Interjections up to a certain point I take no notice of, but, when they are so frequent as to manifestly interrupt the member who is addressing the House, it is my duty to call attention to them and ask that they cease. I have asked the honorable member for Indi to cease interjecting; and I hope he will do so.
– May I be permitted to say that I would not have interjected but for incorrect statements of the character made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– The honorable member apparently has yet to learn that interjections are just as improper in reference to statements that may be incorrect as they are in reference to statements that are correct.
– Amongst the measures promised by the Government is one’ in which I, as the representative of Melbourne Ports, am deeply interested, namely, the Bill to compensate seamen for injuries received, owing to faulty gear, unhealthy conditions, and so forth, when following their vocation. A large number of seamen live in my electorate; and, of course, any measures which tend to better their condition, will have my support. We know that seamen, when they attempt to obtain compensation, are always, and very naturally, met with strong opposition by the shipping companies. For years, efforts have been made to pass satisfactory Acts of this kind in the States Parliaments, and those which have found a place on the statute-book, while meeting certain cases,have not met all ; and there is always difficulty in fixing the State in which the suit should be brought. The sea-board of Australia must be regarded as a whole, and, therefore, it is only proper that laws of the kind promised should be the business of the Commonwealth Parliament. I cannot hope, however, for any satisfactory Compensation to Seamen Bill from the present Government.
– Why did the honorable member not try to get a measure passed when he sat on the Government side?
– I may say that on three occasions I approached the Government to that end, but, as honorable members know, up to the end of last year, the Tariff and other pressing business monopolized all the time. The Navigation Bill was left unfinished in the Senate, to my regret; because I think that, when the Deakin Government was in power, supported by the Labour party, a good opportunity was presented for legislation of the right stamp. The Senate is, as we know, largely tinged with Labour, and we had hopes of passing a navigation measure on the lines indicated, while I am convinced that any Bill emanatingfrom the present majority of this House will not satisfy those who desire to see that seamen have fair dealing. I shall view with suspicion the Bill when it is presented; and I am only sorry that I have not had a legal training in order that I may ascertain that it will have the effects it should have. As it is,’ however, I cannot hope to pit myself against the lawyers and others in the Ministry, who will support the Government proposal. Then another measure promised is one for the prohibition of inequitable rebates by trusts and combines. This is a Government supported by the Employers’ Federation, the Chambers of Commerce, and similar bodies; and it is only reasonable to suppose that any measures introduced will not be to prevent trusts and combinations in the future, but rather to increase them, and to still further strengthen those already in existence. We know that the Government proposal means something entirely different from what honorable members opposite would have us believe. I come now to the question of defence. Much has been said as to the action of the Fisher Government in expending the sum of , £250,000 which was specially earmarked for defence purposes. There has been what may be described as a howl of indignation on the part of some honorable members, and it has been declared that a distinct promise was given that the vote shouldnot be expended until Parliament had been consulted. I should like to ask the Government whether they consider themselves bound by any promise made by their predecessors. I am sure that they do not, and that they will be disposed to go out of their way to flout any promise made by the Labour Administration. Asa matter of fact, the vote was expended in the direction desired by Parliament, and the late Government gave no promise that they would not spend it without consulting Parliament.
– The honorable member for South Sydney gave a promise.
– He was not the Leader of the Labour party when the vote was passed.
– He was then really a subordinate member of the party.
– Did not members of the Labour party then protest that the vote should not be spent until Parliament had been consulted?
– May be they look up that attitude because they felt it would not be spent properly bv the Deakin Government. This complaint comes with an ill-grace from a Government who, without consulting Parliament, have pledged the countrv to an expenditure of £2,000,000. There is a story told of a boy who, hearing his mother quarrelling with another woman, suddenly said : “ Call her a rogue, mother. She is going to call you one.” That, I think, sums up the attitude of the Government and their supporters in regard to the Labour party’s action in expending’ the special defence vote. The Ministry knew that they had taken an unconstitutional course in making an offer of a Dreadnought to Great Britain, and so pledging the country to an expenditure of £2,000,000, without consulting Parliament, which was then in session, and in order to cover up their own act they made a mountain out of a molehill by constantly harping on the way in which the special defence vote had been expended by the Labour party. Although many newspapers and various political partiec may take credit for having first suggested that a Dreadnought should be offered to Great Britain, the credit belongs reallv to the Age. We know well why it made the suggestion. The Age, although supposed to be the organ of the Liberal party in Australia, is opposed to the Liberal party in the Old Country because it is a Free Trade body. I have read in the Age many splendid articles that would convince most people that its complaint against the fiscal proclivities of the British Liberal party is wellfounded. As a Protectionist I have naturally approved of those articles, and I think it was because of its opposition to the Liberal Government now in office in Great Britain that it was induced to introduce into Australian politics the demand made by the Opposition in the House of ‘Commons that the two-power standard should be maintained. The Age endeavoured to force the Fisher Government to make the offer of a Dreadnought, without asking the leave of the people or the Parliament. They would not do so, and the stand they took is admired even by thousands of those who are opposed to the Labour party. They adopted a statesmanlike attitude, and when it was found that the contributions made by the public towards the Dreadnought fund were not likely to be sufficient to provide for the construction of one, Mr. Murray, the Premier of Victoria, not desiring that this State should lag behind New Zealand, or that the Mother Country should be led to think that we were disloyal, was forced to make the offer that Victoria would join New South Wales in- presenting the British people with a Dreadnought.
– Who forced him to do so?
– The newspapers and their parliamentary sycophants.
– And the Labour party’s leagues forced the Labour Government to refuse to make such an offer.
– We say that the Mother Country does not need such a gift. A country that has been able during the last few years to pay off such a’ large proportion of her public debt as Great Britain has done does not require our assistance. Even if it did, we could not give it. We should have had to borrow the money to pay for a Dreadnought, and in making the offer should have known that we could not afford it. ‘In this connexion, I think it will not be out of place to make two quotations from articles which appeared in the same issue of the Age. On Saturday, the 3rd May, the following paragraph appeared in regard to the State Charity Vote -
In consequence of the heavy commitments against the vote- made by the late Government, Mr. Watt has found it impossible to allow any: building grants beyond those promised bv the previous Administration, or to give any increase over last year’s maintenance grants. Even then he has been unable in a number of cases to allocate the full amount that in the Ordinary course would have been allowed. The allocations of the previous Government were -£6,000 for building grants, an annual increase of £1,500 for the Children’s Hospital, a special vote of . £400 for the Infant Asylum, East Melbourne, and£1,700 for the treatment of consumptives in institutions, making a total of £9,600. Thus nearly 10 per cent, of the total vote had been hypothecated by the promises of the previous Government.
In other words, there could be no response to the cry of the charitable institutions for increased assistance to enable them to provide for the sick, and the aged and infirm poor. In another column of the same issue of the Age, appeared an article under the following headings: - “Australian Dreadnought.” “ Vessel to be Given.” “Decision of Victoria and New South Wales.” “Will Act if Commonwealth Parliament make no Offer.” Could there be a stronger condemnation of the proposal to give a Dreadnought than is furnished by these quotations? In the one case we have the statement that the State Government could not make extra building grants to charitable institutions, and in the other a declaration that money could be found to provide for the gift of a warship to the Old Country. I have more quotations illustrating the loyaltv of some people, who are never tired of talking of their loyalty to the Crown and the Mother Country. In the matter of patriotism, I give way to no man. I was born in the army. My family for seven generations before me were in the army, and I was, at all events, reared in a patriotic atmosphere. In my case, it may be said that patriotism is bred in the bone, and yet I am charged with disloyalty by men who really do not know what loyalty is. I have heard the party of which I am a member charged with disloyalty by position -seekers, whom I should describe in stronger terms, but that I should probably be out of order in doing so. Their loyalty is ever on their tongues, but never reaches their pockets. Whilst we are condemning the Germans for constructing a large navy-
– Who condemns them?
– We hear some honorable members talking of the German navy “seeking our gore,” and we are told that Britain must build more Dreadnoughts in order to keep pace with German naval expansion. Yet, during the consideration of the Tariff, we found that some honorable members would be well pleased if Australia imported all that she required from . Germany or any other foreign country, rather than fromthe Old Land.
Then, again, I find, notwithstanding all the talk about the outburst of patriotic feeling in Britain that the Glasgow Waterworks Committee recently let to a German firm a contract for the construction of iron piping at a cost of some £600,000. Although the members of that committee had the blood of Britons coursing through their veins and talked of loyalty to the British workman, they gave this contract to a firm carrying on operations in Germany.
– We are importing timber from Japan, whilst local mills are closing down.
– The honorable member for one is to blame for that fact.
– No, the ‘honorable member is to blame. He voted against a certain item in the Tariff, because the imported timber in question was cut up in South Melbourne.
-We are all fond of getting in an interjection that cannot be answered on the spur of the moment, and the honorable member knows full well that I could answer the interjection if I had an opportunity to do so.
– Did the honorable member give a Free Trade vote on timber items in the Tariff ?
– I did not, and the honorable member knows that I did not. Let him look up my votes on the timber duties as a whole, and not pick out one item and endeavour to attack me upon it. Returning to the question of the patriotism of some people, let me read the following paragraph -
English engineers are in a bitter mood at the loss of a great contract for the supply of electrical equipment to the Victoria Falls Company. The tenderers in this country were left without prompt financial assistance when they needed it, with the result that the contract has been secured by the Allgemeine Electricitats Gesellschaf t,of Berlin. . . .
The Victoria Falls Company are carrying out some big engineering works, for which certain electrical machinery is required, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. They called for tenders, and, like great patriots, gave Germany the opportunity of manufacturing the goods. Hundreds of similar instances of the patriotic feeling and sentiments which actuate men who are always talking about their loyalty could be enumerated. There is in the Old Country an association known as the “Empire Builders, Limited.” Their idea is good and laudable. It is, with a view to bettering the Empire, to take people from the overcrowded portions of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and place them in Australia, Canada, and elsewhere. They know, as we do, that there is plenty of’ room here if the people have an. opportunity of getting the land, and that there are’ thousands in the Old Country who would like to have a chance to expand themselves away from their present cramped conditions. That association, however, have more sense than we have here; they do not invite people out, and leave them to find land for themselves. They arrange to bring them out here, get the land, and place them on it. That, however, is by the way. What I wish particularly to bring under the- notice of honorable members, especially those who favour the offer of a Dreadnought, and talk so much about patriotism, is the last part of the following extract -
An association, entitled “ The Empire Builders Limited,” was formed in London at the beginning of last year, with Sir William M. N. Young as president, for the purpose of encouraging and assisting by emigration the peopling of the large unoccupied areas of British dependencies, and principally Canada and Australasia. One of the originators of the organization was Mr. W. S. Bromhead, a farmer, who has had ten or twelve years’ experience on the land in this State, and who is consequently well fitted for the work of selection of suitable immigrants for Victoria. He arrived in Melbourne yesterday on board the German mail steamer Zieten with a party of twelve immigrants, the first, he hopes, of many hundreds of British agriculturists to arrive in this State.
So the Empire Builders of Britain came to Australia in a German mail-boat 1 What is a German mail-boat? The answer is supplied in the following extract from the Age of 13th April, 1909 -
News has been received from Singapore by mail of a legal action there on 15th March against the German mail steamer Princess Alice, on account of contraband opium being found on her. The captain was charged with introducing Chinese opium, which is prohibited in the Straits Settlements, to the value of £41 1. The defence was that the captain knew nothing about the consignment, and that as the North German Lloyd steamers were virtually ships of war, the Princess Alice could not be detained, as proposed, by warrant at Singapore.
Every German mail-boat that comes to these shores is a German man-o’-war. They are subsidized by the German Government, and could be used when wanted as an auxiliary fleet. Yet our great patriots, who talk about presenting Dreadnoughts to the Motherland, and the want of loyalty of the Labour party, travel by them whenever they have an opportunity. If they would leave us alone when talking their cant, we should not mind, but they attack us for want of patriotism when we have more true British feeling in one drop of our blood than they have in the whole of their bodies. There are a number of honorable members on the Government side who would not support the proposal to give a Dreadnought, were they not compelled to. Any man who charges me with want of patriotism is not telling the truth. With regard to finance, the Government say -
Finance is in every year a vital question ; but it is no exaggeration to say that the obligations of the next eighteen months render it at present more important than at any period since Federation.
That is what the right honorable member for East Sydney told the Deakin Government last October.
– And the Labour party all remained “ stiff.”
– We were quiet then, but the right honorable member is quiet now. He made out a good case, and what he said was true then, as it is true now ; but he is sitting behind the very men whose financial methods he. then denounced, so that he cannot blame us for our conspiracy of silence. But the right honorable member is not the worst offender. He did tell us that the financial position of the then Deakin Government was “cronk,” but the honorable members who were ‘then sitting in the Opposition corner, and some of whom are in the present Government, did not support him. The right honorable member, while in every other sense he is a fortunate man, is in one particular phase of his life the most unfortunate that I ever met. Whilst others recognise his great ability, as I do, they have never been willing, since the advent of Federation, to sink their little differences and follow him. Although they knew that he was speaking the truth from these benches on that occasion, they were afraid that they might not get their share of the loaves and fishes, and so did not support him. Afterwards, when he quietly and kindly obliterated himself from the leadership, and the question arose of who should lead the party that was to supplant the Fisher Government, the others said, “Reid is out of the way, and that simplifies it to a certain extent.” The right honorable member for Swan, however, would not play second fiddle to the honorable member for Parramatta. We know, as a matter of fact, that the right honorable member left the Deakin Government because he did not like playing second fiddle to the honorable member for Hume. That was the real reason, and it was not the domination of the Labour party at all, as the right honorable member gave out. He might be willing to play second fiddle to the honorable member for Ballarat, but not to the honorable member for Parramatta. The retirement of the right honorable member for East Sydney apparently removed all the bitterness that previously existed between the parties,- but I could never understand why his retirement, any more than that of the right honorable member for Swan, or the honorable member for Parramatta, was necessary in order to bring about a Coalition. All the really nasty things that were said - everything with a sting that was personal, and not political - came, not from the honorable member for East Sydney, but from the other gentlemen who were sitting in the Opposition corner, and on the direct Opposition benches. That is where the right honorable member for East Sydney is unfortunate. His peculiar habit of telling the truth could not be appreciated or forgiven, but other members’ speeches could be glossed over and obliterated. The right honorable member for East Sydney knows as well as we do that the Government have not, and never will have, the confidence of the House. The honorable member for Mernda, who is a manufacturer, now sits beside men who would bring into operation, if they could, laws which -would shut up his factories, but while the statu quo exists he continues to sit there.. It is funny to hear the Government talk about “the anomalies in the Tariff.” The only anomaly that I know of is that the Tariff is not high enough. The only anomaly which the Free Traders recognise is that the duties are too high. Whenever we have to consider the question of reducing duties on the commodities in which the honorable member for Mernda is so largely - politically - interested, I think he will have serious doubts whether the Government, backed up as they are by about twenty-one Free Traders, have the confidence of the majority of the House. Certain honorable members from Queensland, who are not Labour men, and who, so far as I know, have never claimed to be “as good as Labour” men, cannot feel too safe in their positions. I admit that I should not lose any sleep if they. were politically obliterated, but I ask them seriously whether they believe that the sugar industry is safe in the hands of the men behind whom they are now sitting. I do not think thev do. No doubt, while they do not feel very safe where they are, they console themselves with the reflection that if is “ better to have the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” They say. they are not quite sure what the Labour party would do with the sugar industry.
– They are safer with a defined party than with a fiscally atheistic party.
– The Sugar Trust or monopoly as it now exists in Australia is a land octopus. Its tentacles grasp everybodygrower, consumer, and workman. The combine keep their sugar at just such a price that the imported sugar,, after paying the duty, cannot undersell them. Having a monopoly, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company can pay what it likes, and does not give the growers the full value of the cane which it crushes. In my constituency, it pays its workmen wages which would not be considered fit for a black man in Northern Queensland. Some of them get. only 6s. per diem, and, unfortunately, they are glad to get that, because nothing better is offered elsewhere.
– Is there not a Wages Board ? ‘ There ought to be one.
– There is not a Wages Board in this industry, and the company can do as it likes. It has established an insurance fund, to which each man has to contribute so much a week. The institution no doubt commends itself to honorable members as a good one; but the company takes care that none of the men who receive low wages stay in its employment long enough to earn the pensions to which they would otherwise be entitled on reaching a certain age.
– What is done with the money which they contribute?
– It is returned- to them. The pensions are reserved for the highly-paid officers. I believe that at the present time there is something like £400,000 to the credit of the fund, the money being invested in the company’s own business.
– The system is a good one, if properly administered.
Mr.Hutchison. - If there is £400,000 to the credit of the fund, too much is being taken from the men’s earnings.
– The company makes a contribution to the fund, except when the annual payments exceed a certain sum, and then its contribution diminishes, but the payments made by the men, which are not optional, never grow less. Unfortunately, when most of them reach the age of fifty, or thereabouts, they are regarded as so much worn-out machinery, and have to leave the company’s service, certain repayments being made to them.
– On what basis?
– I understand that, they get back what they have paid into the fund, without interest, or that the arrangement is of that nature.
– The honorable member has not been correctly informed.
– My information is from the men themselves.
– The honorable member should give the exact facts.
– I should be -only pleased to do so; but the men themselves are not conversant with the true state of affairs. I, and the representative of the district in the Victorian Parliament, have been trying for years to ascertain the facts, and to do so I resorted to a method which I was sorry to have to resort to. but without success. If honorable members opposite who are interested politically in this concern will get me the information, I shall be very glad.
– There is no mystery about the company’s insurance arrangements.
– Do those who support the company, and are now sitting behind the Ministry, feel that the Queensland sugar industry is, safe?
– We are quite satisfied about it. The proportion of Free Traders is smaller on this side than in the Labour party.
– Perhaps the honorable member now counts the right honorable member for East Sydney as a Protectionist. The supporters of the Sugar Company are sitting behind the Deakin Government, because the Fisher Government proposed to put an end to monopolies, to prevent the robbery of producers and consumers. This is one of the paragraphs of the Governor- General ‘s speech : -
Proposals will- be submitted to you for the amendment of the Constitution to enable Parliament to protect the interests of the consumer and insure a fair and reasbnable wage to every worker in the Commonwealth. In protected and unprotected industries this will be secured through such extension of the industrial powers of the Parliament as may be necessary. It is proposed also to extend the jurisdiction of Parliament with regard to trusts and combinations in restraint of trade, and to provide for the nationalization of monopolies.
The Labour party does not advocate a course of action without endeavouring to give effect to its views.
– So far, it has done nothing. It has had to depend on the Liberals.
– Directly there waa a Labour Government in power, an attempt was made to carry out the planks of the party’s platform. I do not blame those who are interested in the Colonial Sugar Company for joining the fusion, but I ask the Free Traders, and those who have talked so much about protecting the interests of the consumers, what action they propose to take to end this monopoly. I cannot imagine the honorable member for Capricornia saying that he would vote for legislation to wipe out these monopolies and trusts. The legislation for which he would vote would be legislation like the Harvester Excise Act and the Industries Preservation Act, which are practically inoperative. We Labour men are not the only persons who object to monopolies like the Colonial Sugar Company. The grocers and the jam manufacturers - this affects the representatives of Tasmania - and all other users of sugar, are concerned. We wish to know whether the Government intends to introduce legislation to suppress these monopolies. It was the expression by the Fisher Government of the intention to put an end to trusts, combines, and monopolies that caused the fusion.
– The Labour party made up its mind as to the remedy without inquiring into the nature of the disease.
– For a strong disease a strong medicine is required,It would take a very strong medicine to get rid of the monopoly which the Colonial Sugar Company enjoys. No doubt honorable members regard it as peculiar that I should assist the Government by making a long speech, seeing that I know that it cannot proceed with business until the financial position of the Commonwealth is known; and that the Treasurer will riot be prepared to present the Budget until the end of next month. I admit that Budget statements always puzzle me, as, I believe, they do the majority of honorable members ; and the confusion is not removed by the explanations of one and another in dealing with the millions of money. I think that on. one occasion in the State Parliament nf New South Wales, when the right honorable member for East Sydney introduced, a Budget, Sir Henry Parkes said that the balance-sheet presented showed £2, 000,000 too much, Sir William McMillan contended that it showed only £1,000,000 too much, and Sir George Dibbs insisted that it showed £1,000,000 too little. We have here a difference of £4,000,000 in one Budget, according to the opinion of the great financial authorities of New South Wales.
– How did it turn out?
– The Lord above only knows ! In admitting that I am no great financier, I know I shall not do myself much harm with my constituents; and my real concern is as to how the Government, in view of the three or four debates to follow this, including the one on the AddressinReply, will be able to present to the House legislation of benefit to the country.- The greatest factor in the downfall of the Fisher Government was the projected land tax, but 1 do not intend to hold forth on that question. I listened to the honorable member for Riverina, and if he did not convince honorable members opposite as to the necessity for a land tax, it is not because those honorable members are too dense to understand.
– The land tax does nol affect Melbourne Ports, anyhow.
– What point is there in that interjection? If the honorable member said that the land tax will not affect any one who voted for me, he would be quite right; but his interjection scarcely meets the fact. What I got up to prove was, that the Government do not possess the confidence of the House, and I think I have done so. I have listened to splendid addresses by honorable members who have had long years of experience in comparison with my own few short months ; and, while I know that the vote will be in favour of the Government, it is evident that there is no stability in the fusion, and that the Government cannot expect the support of the House as it will be constituted when our differences have been submitted to the judgment of the people of Australia.
.- Much has been said against this fusion o£ parties; but, for my own part, I regard it as the best thing that has happened since Australia federated. The people of Australia had a right to demand some arrangement of the kind in order to put in their proper places those honorable members who are opposed to really sensible legislation. I claim that Federation has been only a farce up to the time of this fusion. In the beginning the Premiers of the different States were appointed as Ministers of the Commonwealth, and that, of course, to a certain extent, federated the Ministries; but the members of this House were never federated before, or sorted out in the manner they are now ; and it is on that ground that I claim that the real Opposition to Federal legislation is in its proper place. Up to the present, it has been a jumbled affair - the passing of legislation, which, in nearly all cases, on reference to the High Court, has been thrown out, until we have become the laughing stock, not only of Australia, but of the world. There never would have been any Federation if the Constitution proposed to allow what has been attempted by the present Opposition, as is shown by the fact that they cannot attain their aims without crying out for amendment of the Constitution. I claim that the Government and its supporters can do, and will do, what the Opposition are not allowed’ to do - that is, represent all parties in Australia. The Opposition are allowed to represent only one party, and on one line, and if they overstep that line, they will forfeit their seats at the next election. I do not propose to quote what has been said by honorable members on one side or the other, as has been done by honorable members opposite, in order to fill up time; I shall not go into ancient history, and declare where the fault lies for what has, or has not been done. It is almost amusing to hear the arguments and statements -from the Opposition benches. The chief trouble of the honorable member for Riverina appear? to be that the Age has “‘gone back” on him - that that newspaper advocated something which he has followed religiously for years, whereas now it has turned round, and is backing up the new party.
– The confusion party !
– The party who have the interests of Australia at heart.
– Like the honorable member !
– Although I never made a profession of it, I have always had the interests of Australia at heart, and have done my best for every one in the country. I claim to-day that if we had more men of business ability in the Government,” we should have more legislation for the benefit of the people. I desire to show that I have in no way altered my opinions by joining the supporters of the present Government, but, rather, that the party to which I have belonged since I entered the House, have strengthened up and brought about this fusion. I say that the Corner party have all through been in the right ; they had the common sense to see that there must be a medium somewhere for the good of Australia between the views expressed by the present Opposition and the views expressed by the previous Deakin Government. It is impossible for any party to do justice to Australia when the members of that party are compelled by a machine to represent only one section of the community. We, on the other hand, can stand here as the representatives of all, and we claim to be able to represent even the workers better than do the so-called Labour members. The Opposition are returned on majority rule, and talk much of that principle, and yet they object to it as applied in this Chamber. One of the best proposals ever made since I entered this House is that of the present Government for the establishment of a Board of Trade, which means more to Australia than many people think. I mean a Board of Trade to deal with, say, the Customs Tariff, and industrial and kindred subjects, which do not call for legislation -every year, but need consideration at the hands of a permanent tody, very often for years, before any enactment can be passed. I claim that the old Opposition. Corner party, to .which I belonged, acted rightly in voting for reasonable protective duties as being best calculated to conduce to the welfare of Australia, and I shall show that such duties have /proved beneficial wherever they have been imposed.
– The honorable member would govern the whole Commonwealth by means of a Board, if he had his way.
– Perhaps such a system would be cheaper than the present one. I have here an article written by Mr. Herbert E. Miles.
– Who is he?
– An -agricultural implement maker, who seems to have a thorough grasp of the fiscal question. Writing of the system adopted in framing a Tariff in the United States, as well as in other countries, he refers to the preparation’ of the German Tariff in this way -
There a body of twenty experts worked five years in the preparation of the German Tariff, consulting in that time, 2,000 other experts. Their inquiry was exhaustive, nonpartisan, semi-judicial. “No proof no protection “ was their requirement. The nicest possible balance was made between all interests, domestic and foreign.
That, to’ my mind, is the way in which a Tariff should be framed, and the proposed Inter-State Commission should consist of capable, earnest men competent in every way to handle such a question. Mr. Miles knew what he was writing about. In referring to his own business, he said -
Take my own business for instance. A 20. per cent, duty would more than cover the difference in cost of production here and abroad. The duty is, however, on many of my products, 45 per cent. In this prohibitive duty lies a congressional permit, amounting to an invitation, that those engaged in my industry should consolidate, form a trust, and, under this congressional permit, which delivers the Home market to us- exclusively, add to our prices the difference between the necessary 20 per cent, of protection and the 45 per cent, given in the law. Intelligent business men are to be expected to make use of an advantage like this, especially granted by Congress, and that is what every one of our big trusts has done.
In other words, 20 per cent, was sufficient to protect the manufacturers in this industry, and those who had to buy their manufactures were called upon to bear the additional 25 per cent, imposed by Congress. Dealing with the Steel Trust, the writer proceeds -
Steel costs as little to produce here as anywhere in the world, as stated by Mr. Carnegie recently. Yet the Tariff on iron bars base sizes was made $t2 per ton, or 80 per cent, of the then cost, and against $1 additional cost for small sizes $4 more was added to the rate, making $16.
– What has this to do with the motion before the Chair?
– I am making this quotation in order to support my contention that the old Opposition Corner party acted rightly in supporting reasonable, instead of prohibitive, duties.
An excessive and trustmaking Tariff is a blow at labour, in that it diminishes hours of work by curtailing the output of the smaller factories, raises the cost of living beyond reason, as is shown on every hand, and lastly, because, by diminishing the profit of old-fashioned competitive employers, it keeps down the wageearner’s daily rate and his chance for a share in the better profits that should obtain.
This article clearly proves that the prohibitive duties imposed in the United States of America have led to the formation of trusts, which have done injury to - the country. Steps are now being taken to substitute more reasonable rates for these prohibitive duties, and the change will be beneficial instead of harmful to the people whom the high duties were designed to assist. We need a Board of Trade to handle and control all Tariff questions, and I am pleased that the Government propose to establish such a body. I come now to the industrial propositions of the Ministry, and claim that in joining the coalition I have not in any way departed from the views I have hitherto held on this question. On 3rd November, 1908, I said in this House -
Coming to the new Protection, I say that the matter is one which requires a lot of thinking about. As far as I can learn, the system of Wages Boards established in Victoria is the best that can be adopted to insure fair treatment being accorded to employes, because, under it, each industrial dispute is dealt with by a body of experts. That system is preferable to the settlement of disputes by an Arbitration Court such as obtains in Western Australia, where it is composed of a representative of the employers, a representative of the employes, and a Supreme Court Judge, who acts as referee.
– As a rule, the Judge represents the employers.
– He represents the Crown. The system adopted in Western Australia is unsatisfactory, because it is not possible for any two men representing the employers and employes to be familiar with all the ramifications of every trade and business. . . I dp not think representatives of employers and employes are competent to decide these questions on evidence. How can they be expected to deal with disputes relating to the clothing industry, the boot industry, the saddlery industry, and the mining industry? It is impossible for them to possess the requisite expert knowledge. The intricacies of some trade disputes are such that it is puzzling even to read the evidence. I consider that the determination by Wages Boards partake more of the character of mutual agreements between persons who have expert knowledge of the particular industries in which the disputes arise. Most of the troubles which we have experienced in the Commonwealth have been due to decisions arrived at by persons who do not .possess that knowledge.
– What is the honorable member .quoting ?
– I am quoting the Hansard report of a speech which I made in. this House last November, and I am doing so in order to prove that my views have undergone no change since I have joined the coalition
– Then the party must have altered.
– I invite the special attention of honorable members to the following -
The working of our Arbitration Courts has not been satisfactory, chiefly because we cannot find any means of compelling the employes te* abide by their awards. . . The Wages Boards, as constituted in Victoria, should be allowed te deal with the whole question of wages and conditions of labour.
If the proposal of the Government is carried out with the consent of the States, and the States themselves adopt a uniform; Wages Board system, with the addition of aFederal tribunal to which appeals may be made, we shall probably obtain something like a workable scheme.
– But if the States did not agree, .what would the honorable member do?
– It will be time enough to consider that point when the States refuse to consent to the proposal of the Government. On the occasion in question I said - ,
It is merely a matter of constituting certain boards to deal with certain industries. The determinations of these bodies would, I think, generally be in favour of the workmen. Of course, it is conceivable that a Judge of the Arbitration Court might suddenly be called upon to leave a temperate climate like that of Victoria to hear a dispute in the interior where similar climatic conditions obtain. But he might happen to strike a very hot day, and his decision might be influenced by the consideration that such days were the rule, and not the exception, in that particular locality. On the other hand, his visit to a tropical region might be made on a cool day, and’ he might be induced to think that men working there experienced no more discomfort than is experienced elsewhere.
– What about the mosquitoes ?
– The honorable member’s interjection reminds me of the story of a mosquito, the telling of which at this stage will not be inappropriate. The story runs that a mosquito once lodged on a bull’s horn, and said to the bull, “ Am I heavy?” The bull replied, “I should not have known you were there had )’Ou not buzzed.” The buzzing to-night is all coming from the one quarter, and these political mosquitoes are making no more impression on me than did the mosquito on the bull’s horn. Let me continue my quotation -
With regard to the proposal that the Commonwealth should control the scale of wages by means of a Judge, .we could only deal with industries which were protected by Customs duties.
That would often put us in a peculiar position. Take, for instance, a firm like Foy and Gibson’s, who sell all kinds of things, and also manufacture. Some of their employes would be under the Stales Wages Boards, and some under the Federal Arbitration Court; yet those people would be working side by side.
That is why I think that industrial legislation should be left wholly to the States, subject to the right of the Federal Government to see that it applied equitably to all parts of the Commonwealth.
– Then the honorable member would allow the Federal Govern - ; ment to ,have some rights ?
– I should allow what lias been proposed by this Government. I have here a report of remarks made by Dr.
Findlay, the Attorney-General of New
Zealand, who has probably had more experience in industrial legislation than any one in the Commonwealth. The report is introduced ‘by the following remarks -
Although he is an ardent advocate of a living or minimum wage system, as artificially regulated by an Arbitration Court, his words constitute as strong a condemnation of that system as any of its most hostile .critics have pro- nounced.
And this is what Dr. Findlay says -
A needs wage is necessarily more or less uniform in the different trades, and this uniformity would produce the same discouragement of superior care, skill, and industry as is found under the present conditions. It is idle to assume equality of industrial efficiency in the workers in all the different callings unequality, and not equality, is nature’s rule; and any law which fails to give an incentive or encouragement to the exercise of superior efficiency causes a dead and heavy loss to the whole community. It causes, indeed, a double loss - first the loss of that additional wealth that would otherwise have been produced, and secondly, in time, the loss from non-exercise of that very superior efficiency itself. We all know what freedom of opportunity has done for progressive people - we all see what the denial of it has done to those Eastern peoples still in the thrall of caste, upon whom a miserable dead-level is imposed by law or custom. Progress demands that extra care, skill, and effort should have extra reward, or you will in time produce an industrial stagnation.
Those are the words of a man who has studied industrial legislation from start to finish. His remarks are straight to the point. No law that we can make will help people if it does away with the incentive to excel. If we could enact the good old system of apprenticeship, whereby each boy who enters a calling, could be made competent, we should do more for Australia than all the Labour unions that ever were formed, and the unions would be ten times stronger if they demanded that every man should be competent before he was allowed to join. My memory carries rr.e back to the time when men had to go through a certain training before they were considered competent or could get the full benefits of a competent mechanic or tradesman. It is the crowd of improvers who dodge from, one trade to another that cause half the strikes and troubles in this country. The unions would be a great success if they could say that every member was a competent man.
– And an honest worker.
– Does the honorable member say that Unionists are not honest workers?
– I never mentioned the words. It would be to the benefit of all if employers who required labour could apply to the Unions to send them so many men, and could be sure that they were competent. The weak point of Unionism at present is that any one may join, whether competent or not. That must and will kill Unionism in the end. The word that should be written up outside their establishments is “competency.” I believe the’ reason why the incompetent are grasped by the hand and asked to join unions is that there are so many more of them. I have another report of a speech which Dr. Findlay delivered upon Labour and the Arbitration Act of New Zealand. He dealt with the question from a Labour point of view. The writer of the report says -
Some believe; others’ faith has been shaken. To this second class obviously belongs Dr. Findlay, the Attorney-General for New Zealand. About the middle of last year he delivered two addresses on Labour and the Arbitration Act, which throw highly interesting sidelights upon the practical working in New Zealand of the principle of compulsory arbitration - the corner-stone of the modern system of industrial legislation. Dr. Findlay is to be commended upon the fair and moderate manner in which he has dealt with the subject, and has obvious predilection in favour of the Arbitration Act, gives all the more weight to the admissions that he finds himself constrained to make. His field of argument, moreover, is the best that an advocate of LabourSocialistic legislation could possibly select whereon to take his stand. New Zealand was the first country to adopt such legislation. She has prospered exceedingly ever since. What can be more natural, therefore, than to assume cause and effect, and to affirm that New Zealand’s prosperity has been due to her legislation? Such an assertion is difficult to counteract, although there are not wanting indications that the prosperity of New Zealand is on the wane.
Since this was written I believe it is acknowledged that New Zealand’s prosperity is at an end for the time being. Thousands of people are out of work, and industrial legislation has really come to the end of its tether. It is further stated that -
It may become apparent in the not distant future that New Zealand flourished, not because of her legislative enactments but in spite of them.
– From whom is the honorable member quoting?
– I want to say-
– Is the honorable member ashamed of the author of it?
– I am under the impression, Mr. Speaker, that I must address you. Both in New South Wales and Western Australia, the effect of compulsory arbitration has been distinctly to increase industrial friction, and embitter the relations between employer and employed. Strikes instead of being decreased have actually been created, and the effect of the Federal Arbitration Court has been. that troubles have been created with the sole object of bringing them to’ the Court. I would instance the timber trouble. They have tried to rake up evidence from all parts of Australia, and to connect it in some way so as to make it a dispute extending beyond the confines of a State. The thing is on a par with the story of the American town that was so healthy that some one had to be killed in order to start the cemetery. Our Federal Arbitration Act has been just about as much use. Any such Act which is inoperative unless a dispute is created to refer to the Court is not much good, and that is why I advocate what the Government now propose. I want something sensible, reasonable, and workable that will allow the States to retain the control of all industrial affairs in the shape of Wages Boards, and all that kind of thing, providing that if they cannot agree, they mav then come to the Federal Court. I will read further what Dr. Findlay said -
It was not the intention of the man who framed, or of the Parliament that passed the Act, that it should be a standard wage regulator. . . I showed that from the use made nf the Act, and for the reasons I gave, the Court has steadily become a State regulator of fair wages in each industry, and, although the wage fixed by the Court is merely the least an employer is allowed to pay, it is in general practice the highest the employer will pay. The result of this has been a marked tendency to a uniform or dead level wage in each trade for all workers, good, bad, or indifferent.
That is where the thing is wrong. We must recognise some means of compensating competency, for this levelling down of the best men to the one dead level cannot be in the best interests of the worker. Men should be given some incentive to rise. An* of us who has a son is always pleased to know that he is rising in his calling, and none of us would appreciate this system of bringing the competent man down to the level of the incompetent. Dr. Findlay added -
I need not dwell- upon the evils of such a tendency.
Further on, he said -
It would be idle to deny that, for reasons it is unnecessary to discuss just now, these Boards have entirely failed to achieve the results Mr. Reeves anticipated. He thought that through the agency of the Boards 90 per cent, of our industrial disputes would be settled - the assumption being that the intervention of impartial conciliation would enable the two parties to come to terms upon the points finally in dispute between them. When the parties gave up trying to settle these disputes - gave up, indeed, having any genuine disputes - but worked the Act for the sole purpose of wage regulation, conciliation really had no place, and the Boards, as they now stand, have become a kind of fifth wheel in the coach of which they were intended to be the most important part - an agent wrested from its true purpose of conciliation into one of expense, friction, and delay.
The proposals of the Government, if carried into effect, would make further- arbitration and conciliation legislation unnecessary. Many members of the Labour party are Socialists, or in sympathy with Socialism. Let me read a very pertinent statement in regard to that political doctrine -
Socialists generally have more faith in human nature than I have. To carry out their ideals they would need to create by making laws a new class of unselfish men and women.
Karl Marx is often spoken of as the most powerful and philosophic of the writers on Socialism. He has said that -
He aimed at superseding the existing forms of governments by a vast international combination of the workers of all nations -
– Hear, hear. A very good idea.
– Will the honorable member let me finish ? - without distinction of creed, colour, or nationality.
Honorable members do net cheer that statement. The very worst terms have been applied to employers and the directors of industries, and ‘yet the opinion is generally held that in initiating and managing an industry a capitalist is charged with the most difficult and important part of the work. One writer has stated -
Often the much-abused employer of labour is using his knowledge of some particular business for the sole benefit of the workman, and is responsible for value of plant, material, &c.
Elbert Hubbard says very rightly of incompetents, speaking of the difficulty which the employer encounters when he asks an assistant to get or do something for him - This incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheerfully catch hold and lift, ure the things that put pure Socialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their efforts is for all? A first mate “with knotted club seems necessary ; and the dread of getting “the bounce” Saturday night holds many a worker to his place.
He says further -
Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his. time in a vain attempt to get frowsy neer-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long ‘patient striving with “help” that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding out process going on. The employer ls constantly sending away “help” that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on. No matter how good times are, this sorting continues ; only if times are hard and work is scarce the sorting is done finer - but out, and for ever out’, the incompetent and unworthy go. It is the survival of the fittest. Self interest prompts every employer to keep the best.
Those are true words. Why, I ask, do not the unionists try to make their members competent? Even members of the Labour party cannot always please their supporters. That is shown by a letter which I have here, which was published in a Kalgoorlie newspaper. The writer says -
Our State Congress lays down as one of its principles and planks, “ Taxation of the unimproved value of land without exemption or rebate.” Our State Congress rejected by a very large majority a motion to grant increased powers in matters of industrial legislation to the Commonwealth Parliament, but our delegates again defied the expressed wishes of Congress and voted to increase the powers of the national Parliament in matters relating to the control, management, conditions, and regulation of our industries.
– Those are the words of ananonvmous correspondent.
– Representatives of this House, who attended the Brisbane Conference, are spoken of as blacklegs by supporters of the party in Kalgoorlie. A great deal has been said on the land question. Hundreds of thousands of acres of good land is available for selection in Western Australia. That is as well-known to the other representatives of that State rs it is to me. That land can be obtained easily and cheaply, and in sufficiently large areas. The honorable member for Echuca has already quoted a. telegram which 1 received from the Premier of the State, to the effect that there are 61,000,000 acres of agricultural and grazing land, that 640,000 acres will be available within the next month or two, and that 200,000 acres are available at the present time.
– How far from a railway ?
– The land is within reasonable distance of a railway, and I may add that over 1,000 miles of agricultural lines have been built in the State within the last five years. That is a considerable amount of work to be done, in view’ of the fact that the Commonwealth Government place a heavy tax upon steel rails. The honorable member for Riverina complained that there are large estates in New South Wales, but the reports of land commissions and other bodies would lead one to believe that many members of Parliament there have at different times helped to build up those large estates.
– The honorable member is quite right ; some of the members of Parliament there have very large estates.
– In the Fremantle Mail of 5th May, 1908, there appeared the following: -
West Australia - “ Has a Great Future.”Pastoral Resources.
A north of Ireland man named Mr. G. Lowry Moore, who recently returned to Great Britain, in speaking of West Australia, says to a press interviewer : - “ Only the fringe of the Continent is occupied, and much of the unoccupied land is magnificent. There is not the least reason why any one should want in Australia. I wish I had gone out there twenty years ago. There are thousands and thousands in Great Britain who would not hesitate a day if they only knew of the possibilities for energy, brains, and capital. “ Western Australia has a great future before it. Make no mistake. Besides the rich mines the State is studded with, the pastoral and agricultural resources are really great, though very little known to outsiders. Many people ‘are more than doing well on the land there. If the mines were to shut down at once - and they still have a long life before them - the State would go on and prosper.”
Everv word of that is true, notwithstanding all the high falutin about land not being available. It seems to me that many people who are looking for land fix their eyes or some estate that has been improved, and expect to get it at from 10s. to£1 per acre, although the original owner, and possibly a son after him, may have spent their lives in bringing it to its present state. It is unfair to abuse people who took up land years ago, and, by their great pioneering work, have made the country what it is to-day. Some honorable members hold the idea that there should be no borrowing for the development of the country, but we must not forget that it took millions of money to bring Australia to its present position. Millions of money created by the discovery of alluvial gold in Victoria were spent in clearing the scrub and making the country which is now available for settlers. That was not borrowed gold, but gold taken out of the earth, and also money made by means of other industries ; and yet people expect to get, for practically nothing, land on the improvement of which that money was spent. I could show, in Victoria, land where there is a clear line of demarkation between the cleared and cultivated land and the forest; and I am convinced that it would take £10 or £15 an acre to put the cleared land in the condition in which it is to-day. If one attempts to clear timber away in its green state it costs ten times as much, as it would if it were allowed to stand, for, say, twenty years. I am quite satisfied that the pioneers of Australia were more real workers than the so-called workers of to-dav. I have been thirty years in Australia, and I could drive honorable members to large areas where the houses, originally erected by the old pioneers, are still standing. Yet we have men coming from the Old Country and complaining that the Government have not cleared land and provided houses for them. Such preparation was never expected by the early pioneers, who carved their way to fortune, and have made Australia a country for us to live in, and, indeed, a country in which many can get a living without working. What I mean is that those pioneers, by their energy and labour, placed the country in such a condition that trade unions could be formed to send representatives to this Parliament who do not work. All of us are now reaping the benefit, not of past labour agitation, but of the pluck and energy of the pioneers. What has been done in the past is open for any one to do in most of the States to-day. and especially in Western Australia. I know of one man in that State who, within the last ten years, on a very moderate salary, has cleared a large area of country and utilized it to such an extent that last year his crop, I am told, was worth £3,000. He has now under crop some 600 acres of wheat, and he has achieved his present position by spending what he could afford out of an ordinary salary in bringing the land under cultivation and making a home. Hundreds of others could do the same, not on the advice of agitators who tell them to go to the Government for assistance, but-
– It is the farmers who go to the Government for assistance.
– When I used the word “ agitator,” I had in my mind the proposal to burst up big estates that have been improved. In some parts big estates may be a menace; but I contend that if land, whether in large or small areas, is put to the purpose for which it is best fitted, there is no ground for complaint. There are immense areas in Australia, fit for nothing but sheep country ; and I think it is a cruel idea to tax all land over £5,000 in value, if it has been put to its proper use. If any land tax is imposed, it should be without any exemption whatever.
– Will the honorable member support a proposition of the kind ?
– The honorable member will not. When speaking on the Budget, on the 3rd November, 1908, I suggested that, inasmuch as Western Australia had received a “ set-back “ in consequence of Federation, that State ought to have some special concession when the new financial arrangements were made. I said -
I trust that when the next Budget is placed before the House Western Australia will receive more consideration than is at present being shown to her. I hope the figures that I have placed before the Committee to-day will prove that that State is entitled to that consideration. Melbourne and Sydney are - acting more as distributing centres than they were before Federation, and as they are so prosperous, they and the members representing them in this Parliament should show a certain amount of consideration for the States that are using all the material that is being made in the larger towns, and so helping to keep those towns going.
I am pleased to know that at the Premiers’ Conference at Tasmania some allowance for Western Australia was agreed on.
– That was the suggestion of the Brisbane Labour Conference.
– The suggestion was made in Western Australia long before there was any Labour Conference in Queensland. According to the Commonwealth Year-Booh for 1907-8, New South Wales then had a surplus of ,£1,865,170; Victoria a surplus of £452,244; Queensland a surplus of £115,301; South Australia a surplus of £[273,872; Tasmania a surplus of ;£7 5 > 389; while Western Australia had a deficit of £[2,365. For this year the total increase in the States revenue is £1,196,863, of which- New South Wales claims £568,328. That being the position, we must acknowledge that Western Australia, which was the only State which entered Federation with a surplus, is entitled to special consideration. We find also in the Government programme a proposal to take over the Northern Territory. All that I have to say in regard to that proposition is that if we do take over the Territory, the agreement should be free from any stipulation as to the route to be traversed by any railway that may be constructed. This Parliament should be free to determine what route should be selected. This proposal affords another reason why, in my opinion, special consideration should be given to Western Australia and Queensland, since both those States are developing large areas of country very similar to the Northern Territory, without the assistance of the other States. The Federal Parliament has seen fit to impose a heavy duty on steel rails, and no one can say that that impost is likely to help Western Australia and Queensland to open up their northern areas. Coming to the question of defence, I feel constrained to refer to a statement made in this House on the 1st instant by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that the offer which the Commonwealth Government had made to Great Britain would tend to increase the unrest now prevailing in India, and would kindle there a blaze that it would be hard to extinguish. It would be just as reasonable to say that the Naval Subsidy that we have hitherto granted is responsible for the trouble in India. There is absolutely no ground for such an assertion. I still hold the opinion that I ex-, pressed in this House on 3rd November last, when I said -
On the Estimates a certain sum is set down for naval defence. Our safety, I contend, lies in the fact that Australia is a British Possession. If to-morrow we possessed a navy half as powerful as that of Great Britain, we should not be in any safer position that we are to-day, unless we had the Mother Country behind us. If we possessed a navy as large as that pf America we should be practically helpless if we .were not sheltered under the. wing of Great Britain. 1 entertained that opinion before the Ame rican Fleet visited these shores.
In addition, I am in favour of doing everything that we can to strengthen our forts, and to assist in our naval defence.
This quotation will show that in the matter of naval defence the Government propose to adopt a course of which I approved as far back as November last -
So long as I am a member of this House, I will not be a party to giving any affront to Great Britain. It is an affront for us to say to the Imperial authorities, “ We are practically going to look after our own defence.” Surely the British Admiralty knows best what is most necessary for the defence of Australia ! I do not think it is right for us to say to the Admiralty authorities, “ We propose to do this, that, and the other.” It would be much better for us if we said to them, “ We should like to do something to help you. What do you advise ?”
Much abuse has been showered on the Government in respect of their action in sending the Honorary Minister - -the honorable member for Brisbane - to England, to take part in the Imperial Defence Conference. As a matter of fact, they have done that which I suggested when 1 said we should ask the Admiralty, “What do you advise?”
As Australians, we have no knowledge of naval requirements. But we must recollect that we are dealing with a nation which has been accustomed to naval warfare from the time when wooden fighting-ships were in vogue until the present, when it is turning out Dreadnoughts. Without any loss of dignity we might consult the British Admiralty in respect of our naval defence, and be advised by them.
I still hold that opinion. The honorable member for Batman interjected, “What do they advise?” I replied -
That is what I wish to know. Personally, I think that we should have training ships stationed at each port. Then any of our boys who happened to become rowdy, could be sent aboard, and taught discipline in addition to something useful. In alter years these lads would be very thankful that the opportunity was afforded them of becoming good citizens. The best men in the British Navy have gravitated from ‘training ships, and in Australia there is certainly a class of boys running about our towns who would make better citizens if they were cleaned, disciplined, and taught something useful. If they are permitted to run wild they will find their way into our gaols. Regarding military defence, I think that the Government propose to start at the wrong end. I believe that the key to the whole position is the compulsory training of our bow whilst they are at our schools and colleges.
The Government are now proposing to do what I then advocated.
If we adopted the -principle of compulsory training in their case, in a very little time we should have an army which would -be quite capable of defending Australia. Whilst they are at school they are at an impressionable age when it is most easy to inculcate lessons of discipline -lessons which once learned they will never forget.
In the matter of defence, we stand in much the same relation to the British Empire as does the citizen to the State in regard to the protection of property. The man who owns a shop in Collins-street or elsewhere is expected to take reasonable precautions ro safeguard it by seeing that the windows and doors are securely fastened. But, having done that he has to trust to the authorities - to whose maintenance he contributes - to insure the safety of his property. In the same way, if we attend to the defence of our parts - if we see to our coastal defences - and make a reasonable contribution to the cost of the British Navy, we shall have nothing to fear. Before Australia could be taken by an enemy, it would be necessary, first of all, for the British Empire as a whole to be vanquished. A great deal has been said as to the offer of a Dreadnought to the British Government, but I am inclined to think that the gift the Government intend to make will not take that form. I should like our present naval subsidy to be increased from £200,000 to £500,000 per annum, and (hereafter increased at the rate of £100,000 per annum until it amounted to £1,000,000 per annum.
– How would the honorable member raise the money?
– It is a matter of finance, and I think that satisfactory arrangements could be made. Our contribution -per capita to the cost of the British Navy is so small as compared with that made by the people of Great Britain that we ought not to hesitate to be more liberal in the matter of our subsidy, and I am satisfied that that will be the direction which the offer of the Government will ultimately take. Coming to the question of the telephone and telegraph service, I understand that it may be necessary to float a loan to enable, many improvements to be made. As a matter of fact, I urged that that should be done in November last, when I said -
If it is necessary, money must be obtained to provide for these services. This policy of trying to do without money and without development is ridiculous. We must anticipate the amounts required by the telephone, telegraph and postal services.’
Although it has been laid down that the Commonwealth must not borrow, still there should be no harm in anticipating our requirements. It might be much cheaper to spend £1,000,000 straight off, and anticipate our revenue for a year or two than to continue muddling on, doing a bit of repairing here, and a bit there, and really throwing away the money.
Whilst on this subject, let me say that I think it absolutely necessary to establish at suitable points all round the Australian coast Marconi telegraph stations. Almost every day we read in the newspapers of cases in which that system has been advantageously used on large ocean-going steamers. I am informed that the new steamers in connexion with cur oversea mail service will be equipped with the Marconi apparatus, and it is absolutely necessary for us to take in hand at once the work of erecting these stations. It is not for us to say where they_ should be established, but we ought to provide money for their construction.
– What would they cost?
– I am not in the habit of making rough-and-ready estimates on the spur of the moment, but the experts will probably furnish the honorable member with the information that he seeks. On 8th December last I urged that a permanent Commission of Management should be appointed, with a staff of experts, to control the Post and Telegraph Service, and I am under the impression that we shall not secure a satisfactory service until that is done. The Ministerial head of the Department is changed so frequently that complications must necessarily arise, and I think that the one way out of the difficulty is the appointment of a permanent Commission or directorate to manage the whole of the service under the control of the PostmasterGeneral. I said in this House in December last -
I doubt whether we shall get better management in (he Department, or whether the public will receive better treatment until a permanent Commission of Management is appointed with a proper staff of expert inspectors. All the big concerns, sucK as banks, are managed on that plan. We hear of no troubles of administration in connexion with such institutions. They seem to be worked without friction. They have their boards of directors and their inspectors continually travelling round to see that the policy of the management is being effectively carried out according to a uniform system.
If such a system were adopted, we should probably have the best service that could be devised. I desire now to make .a brief reference to the proposed amendment of the Old-age Pensions Act. Sir John Cockburn has presented to this Parliament a memorandum, which shows that he has given very careful consideration to the question. Speaking on this subject in September, 1906 or 1907, I . advocated the adoption of a certain system of finance for old-age pensions. Similar systems have been in operation for many years in Denmark, Germany, and other countries.. One of the conclusions arrived at at the International Congress held in Rome in 1908 was as follows- -
In every possible way the sense of responsibility should be encouraged, the workman should pay his own contribution to the sickness insurance fund, the duty being imposed upon the employer, under penalty for default, of seeing that the insurance is kept up, this being made a condition of employment.
I went further. I suggested that a small contribution, should be made by all employes and supplemented by the employer. That could be easily worked out by stamping all wage sheets and making it necessary to give a. receipt for all wages. I should like to ask the Treasurer if he will, when amending the Old-Age Pensions Act, cause the Act to be altered so as to allow all institutions, State or private, to collect the pensions to which any of the inmates would be entitled if living outside such institutions. I find on looking through the Act that if any one in receipt of a pension misbehaves himself, the pension can be paid to a minister of religion, or some one else representing the pensioner, but if a man through no fault of his own goes into an institution, there is no provision for his pension still to be paid, the pension being stopped.
– It is not so in New South Wales.
– It should not be so. in the Commonwealth law. The pension once paid should be always due, wherever the pensioner is. He may be living with his family and receiving a. pension, and if It is necessary for him to go into an institution where he can be looked after, his pension should not be stopped. I hope the Treasurer will consider this suggestion, and that members of the Opposition will assist me in making it law. In the end, some such provision will have to be adopted in Australia. I cannot see that the question of a man getting old has anything to do with it. I think the pension system must be converted into something more like a State insurance. A man of twenty or thirty, with a growing family, may be incapacitated from work, and the fact that he would receive an old-age pension when he reached the age of sixty-five would not be much consolation to him. The system we have adopted is very crude, and in the end we must go back to the methods of some of the older countries that I have mentioned. Sir John Cockburn puts my view forcibly in his report in these words -
It is therefore most desirable that disablement from any source should be covered by insurance. The system should provide for prompt and automatic care of the worker, whether injured by accident or suffering from occupational or other disease.
Those are my sentiments. Now that we are on the track, we should follow it so that the pension will be of real use to a man. Some men at fifty are just as much incapacitated as others at seventy. I notice that there is not much dissent on the part of the Opposition from my remarks on that subject, and so I take it that they are not so antagonistic to that proposition as thiey have been to some of . my other suggestions. If they wish to be fair to the old people, as they try to lead us to believe that they are, they will assist me in providing (that the pension . shall be paid to those who are entitled to it, no matter where they are. .
.- The honorable member for Wimmera was good enough to say that nothing was so calculated to destroy the influence of the Labour party as the ungracious way in which thev went out of office. The honorable member, when he made that statement, could have been neither a partisan nor. patriotic. I take it that when he crossed the floor to vote to dismiss the Fisher Government from office he was actuated by the belief that it was dangerous for the ‘ Labour party to dominate the politics of Australia, and that it would be better for the country that our influence should cease. When an’honorable member holding these views is good enough to tell us that what we are doing tends to lessen our influence, he cannot be either a good partisan or a good patriot, or he would not give us such a hint. Certain sections of the press, and some honorable members opposite, have stated that the members of the late Ministry have been whining a good deal, because,’ to use the elegant phraseology of the Prime Minister, they have been ,: dragged from, the tart shop.” If I have whined since I was removed from office, I have absolutely no justification for doing it. As far back as the beginning of the second session of this Parliament, I expressed the hope, when speaking on the Address-in-Reply, that the time would not be far distant when there would be only two political parties in the House, one representing the wealthy class, the well-fed and the splendidly housed, and the other representing humanity, and the people as a people. It seems to me that that time has come. It came a little sooner than I expected, and I have no reason to complain because my hopes have been realized. I therefore cannot raise a single complaint, because honorable members, who, a few weeks ago, sat on this side, have fused, and dismissed the Fisher Ministry. I have always argued that there was really no fundamental difference, and no vital principle separating the party which called itself Liberal, and the other which called itself Conservative, whereas there was a vital principle separating us from every other party in the House. Consequently, far from objecting to what has been done, I rather rejoice that it has happened, because, to some extent, what I previously hoped for has come about. The right honorable member for Swan, a little before the fusion took place, stated in an interview with the Melbourne Herald that it was necessary to bring it about, because the common interests of the then existing sections of the party opposite demanded it. They had, therefore, interests in common which were antagonistic to those of our party. That bears out my argument that there was a vital principle separating us from them, whereas there was none separating them from one another. The Sydney Morning Herald, when the Fisher Ministry were dismissed, published a leading article to the effect that usually, when one Ministry followed another, there was practically no change of policy, so that it did not matter much what Ministry was in power. But it stated that in this case there would be a reversal of policy; that what the Fisher Government proposed to do would not be proceeded with, and that what it would not do would be proceeded with. Those remarks show that the Sydney Morning Herald holds that there is a vital and distinct difference ‘ between the Labour party and other political parties in this Parliament. But a number of those who call themselves Liberals - I take no exception to the term if they choose to apply it ito themselves - have frequently declared on the public platform that their views differ radically from the. views of those who for years occupied the Opposition benches, and whom they called Conservatives. By so doing they got many electors to vote for them. A fusion has now been brought about, and a. number of the Liberals have told us that the reason for it is that their seats are in danger. The honorable member for Ballarat, speaking at the Brisbane Exhibition, Building, said that he was practically forced into his present position, because the seats of himself and a number of his party were being threatened by the Labour party. Other honorable members have frankly admitted that they were actuated by the same reason in joining the fusion. Honorable members who join with those of an opposite political camp simply to secure their seats have no very high ideal. I have been a member of Parliament for fourteen years, and having breathed the political atmosphere during the whole of that time, can understand some members taking that stand; but it has surprised me to find that the party press, and the organizations supporting these honorable gentlemen, excuse what they have done. The Liberal party is in a somewhat pitiable plight. Its members have shown that they are prepared to abandon their principles, and to swallow any proposals, to secure their political lives. Apparently they would advocate the policy of the political Labour leagues, or the contrary policy of the Employers’ Federation, to save their seats. In this they are lineal descendants of the Vicar of Bray. Imagine what would be said if the members of the Labour party acted in similar fashion ! Had the honorable member for Wide Bay declared at Gympie a policy differing from that on which he was elected, excusing it bv the statement that he had made compromises here and there to give himself a walk-over at the next election, what would the Brisbane Worker have had to say about his conduct? Or what would the Sydney Worker have said of the honorable member for West Sydney had he told his constituents that he had ceased to advocate certain measures in order to secure his seat. I know that if I entered into an alliance with political opponents, or gave votes contrary to my principles, my constituents would quickly tell me that they had sent me to Parliament, not to provide me with a seat in Parliament, but so that I might advocate certain * principles, and that, as I was not doing so, they would get some one else. No doubt it would be inconvenient to some honorable members if the newspapers were to demand that they should be true to their hustings pledges, irrespective of personal consequences. That would be awkward for the mere place hunters, for those who think rhat, having, with a lot of trouble and expense, got into Parliament, they should stay here, come what might. But it would purify the public life of Australia, and raise Parliament in the public estimation, if members, no matter to what party they belonged, were true to their election promises. The honorable member for Robertson said some time ago that the members of the Labour party are not free men.
– That is so.
– The honorable member spoke truly. We are not free to break our promises, or to abandon om principles.
– The Labour party for eight years supported a policy in which it did not believe. The honorable member talks about being true to principles, but the members of the party during the whole of that time put their principles on one side.
– If we abandoned our principles, we should receive the relentless criticism of our newspapers and supporters. No doubt at the next election tens of thousands will vote for the Deakin candidates ; many because they honestly believe that the policy of the Labour party is opposed to the best interests of the country; but they will, nevertheless, despise those candidates, ind feel the greatest contempt for their leader. The Argus on the 28th April last gave a reason for the fusion which, from its stand-point, was very plausible. It said -
Both leaders are anxious for a rapprochemad. There is no secret about it, and the terms will be announced publicly in due time. Tt is acknowledged that the Labour party is at present in a stronger position than it ever has been before, and the longer the Government is allowed to exist the stronger it will become. In short, the wisdom of early action against the Ministry is obvious to all opponents of its policy.
That testimony that each day the Ministry remained in office it would become stronger because it would grow in public favour is one which I, as a humble member of the Ministry, took as a great compliment, coming as it did, not from the Labour press, but from a newspaper bitterly opposed to the Labour party. In Australia no Ministry can live long in opposition to public opinion, and I hope that the time will never come when our Governments will have to depend on soldiers or policemen to keep in power. The Argus on 1 2th May gave another rea«son for the fusion. It then stated that, whilst the members of the Labour party, could address meetings in any part of Australia, other honorable members could not, because they did not know to what party they belonged. I must confess that when I read those words, I thought they were rather rough on honorable members opposite. We on this side may belong to a Tammany Hall, or be. associated with machine politics, but, in any case, we know, and the people know, “ where we are.”
– The honorable member’s party threatened to boycott the press unless it put that kind of rubbish in. - unless it gave the party more space.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Robertson should be so silly. A little while ago, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, at a public meeting, stated that the policy of the Fisher Government was practically the same as the policy of the Deakin Government, with a few extras thrown in. Of course, it all depends on what the “few extras” are; and it is because a “ few extras “ are lacking that I have no confidence in the Ministry. As a Labour party, we advocate a land1 tax; and we know that the Government are not prepared at present to bring forward a proposal of the kind. The question of land value taxation is one not only for the country, but for the city, and I am in favour of a land tax not merely for the purpose of bursting up large estates, but also for revenue purposes. I contend that, as a Federal Legislature, we have a perfect right to resort to direct taxation in order to carry oh the necessary services. I have always held the opinion that if a person possesses a piece of land, and, by his own toil or the application of his experience, adds to its value, that added value should belong to him, and ought not to be taxed by any Government unless driven by the greatest of extremities. But, on the other hand, if a person has land which is increased in value by the energy of the people, by the building, of roads, bridges, railways, and so forth - the added value, it seems to me, should belong not to the owner, but to the people who created the value. I am glad to know that in this view I am supported by people in high places. The Minister of Defence some time ago said - 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.
These axe noble sentiments. I am not prepared to go to the whole extent - though I go a long way - and say that we should not pay for land at all.; and it would be interesting to know whether the Minister of Defence has since gone back on his word. Mr Asquith, the Prime Minister of England, speaking in the House of Commons within the last week or so, said -
Land taxes are not taxes like those on tea and spirits, but are taxes on the communal value added to land by the exertions of the State.
If a gentleman in the high position of Mr. Asquith, is prepared to make a statement of that kind,I see nothing revolutionary or to be afraid of in the proposal for “a-, certain amount of direct taxation for Federal purposes. One reason why the Government have not my confidence and support is that they are not prepared to make a step in this direction. There was a time, I believe, when the present AttorneyGeneral was a very brilliant exponent of the policy of land values taxation ; and I do not know whether he has changed his opinion.
– I have not changed my opinion.
– I am glad to hear that ; and I trust the honorable gentleman will be able to induce his colleagues to impose a tax on land values, instead of resorting to borrowing for certain purposes.
– Does the honorable member think that we ought to invade the area of direct taxation now held by the States, while through the Customs we are raising more revenue than we are spending.
– I was not aware that we were raising more revenue in this way than we are spending. Under the Constitution, we are entitled to one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue, so that, while we depend on this source, we must return to the States out of every £4 we raise. From statements made by those in authority, I understand that, at the present moment, we, as a Commonwealth, are using up the whole of our quarter, and must’ get more revenue from somewhere.
– Will not that provision have expired before we have need for the money.
– We do not know what may . happen in the future; and we ought to do something now. Then, again, I differ from honorable members opposite on the question of new Protection. We ought not to be obliged to go cap-in-hand to the State Parliaments in order that we may protect the people of Australia. We have full power, under the Customs Tariff, to protect employers and manufacturers to any extent; and I simply ask that, without the permission of any State Parliament, we should have a similar right to protect the workers. I should not be content with power to protect only those who are employed in protected industries, because, in my opinion, we ought to have the right, full and complete, to protect any citizen of the Commonwealth,- irrespective of what his work may be, or where or how he is employed. Although we have a bicameral Parliament, ‘ there is no property qualification for either House; and if the wealthymanufacturers and employers may be protected, surely we might be_ entrusted to protect the toilers. Then, further, we ought to have the right to nationalize monopolies ; and I see no suggestion to that end in the statement by the Government. About two years ago, this House, on the suggestion of the Deakin Government, ratified a contract with an English company for carrying the mails between here and England. But, although that tender was accepted, those” interested were unable to ‘fulfil their obligation. It was considered that there were influences in England brought to bear on the company to prevent it from entering into the Australian trade; and the Prime Minister said -
So long as the game - that is private enterprise -
So long’ as the game is played legitimately, it is not a matter with which we can interfere, but if private enterprise stands across the path of public interest for its own selfish gain, the people of this country will be very speedily asked whether they do not feel called uponto take a hand in their own protection.
The Federal Parliament does not possess the power to nationalize any monopoly, no matter how injurious it may be to the people of the Commonwealth ; and, without loss of time, the people of Australia ought to be given the opportunity to say whether we ought to have the power.
– The power ought to be somewhere, and the States do not posses it.
– Quite so. The power, if given, will not be used unless a good case were made out; but it ought to be there, in view of the danger that trusts have become in other countries, and may become here. We say that majorities ought to rule; but, although an overwhelming majority might be returned here, who were of opinion that some monopoly ought to be nationalized, no step to that end could be taken; and the least we ought to do is to ask the people at the next general election to give us the power. I have dealt with three points on which I differ from the present Government, and they are very important points. There are honorable members, and some sections of the press, who hold that the honorable member for Hume, in the vigorous action he has been taking lately against the fusion party is actuated simply by personal spleen and disappointment. I am not here to defend the honorable member. He is well able to defend himself, but I think I shall do him no injustice by referring to a conversation which I had some two years ago with a friend of mine who is also a great personal and political friend of the present Prime Minister. I was spending an evening with the gentleman in question, shortly after the honorable member for Ballarat had become very unwell - so unwell, indeed, that a large number of his friends were very anxious about him. And let me say, in passing, that however bitter may be the political vendetta that the Labour party are now waging against him, we are all pleased that he has been completely restored to health. In the course of my conversation with the Prime Minister’s friend, I think that I” must have said something that was not very complimenary to the honorable member for Hume, because he replied, “Thomas,- I do not think you ought to say that about Sir William Lyne. When Mr. Deakin was so ill, a little while ago, he was anxious to resign the office of Prime Minister, but Sir William said to him, Do not resign. Go away for two or three months. Go to some place where you will hear nothing of politics; try to forget everything about the Federal Parliament, anl in your absence, I shall do my best to carry on the Government.’ “ At that moment the glittering prize of the Prime Ministership of Australia was almost in the hands of the honorable member for Hume. The Labour party had not dissociated themselves from the Deakin party, and many of us would have been even more ready to support the Liberal party led by the honorable member for Hume than we were to support it under the leadership of the honorable member for Ballarat.
– But the Labour party was not the only party in this Parliament.
– Quite so. To the credit of the honorable member for Hume be it said that he refused to seize the glittering prize. But what can we say of the right honorable member for Swan, who left the present Prime Minister in his hour of need? Well do I remember the occasion when the honorable member for Hindmarsh in the course of the debate on the Address-in-Reply, in 1907, attacked the right honorable gentleman who was then Treasurer in the Deakin Government, and who, turning to him said, “ Why do you not pitch into the Prime Minister? He has said more unkind things about your party than I have.” I was sitting close to the right honorable member at the time, and I asked, “ What, do you want Hutchison to pitch into a sick colleague?”
– I do not remember the incident.
– Then I am glad that I looked up Hansard to-day.
– The Labour party have always been pitching into me, and have been afraid to attack the Prime Minister.
– I find, on turning to Hansard, of 5th July, 1907, that the right honorable member for Swan, who was then Treasurer in the Deakin Government, said to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, “ Why does not the honorable member turn his attention to the Prime Minister?”
– The Prime Minister’s health had not broken down at that time. He was in the House when the debate on the Address-in-Reply was opened.
– But not when the honorable member for Hindmarsh was speaking.
– The honorable member is wrong, and is trying to take a mean advantage of me.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member is ; he is absolutely misrepresenting me.
– I know that I amright. Immediately after the honorablemember for Hindmarsh sat down I spoke to him of the interjection made by the right honorable member, and he assured me that he had not heard it; otherwise, he would have replied to it.
– During the debate on that Address-in-Reply, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was attacking me, whilst I was away interviewing the Prime Minister.
– I am talking not of the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, but of that of the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– The honorable member is misrepresenting me, and in a mean way, too.
– I repeat that I am not. It is immaterial to me whether the right honorable gentleman sits on the Treasury bench or in any other part of the House, but since some honorable members have found fault with the honorable member for Hume because he has felt called upon to sit in Opposition, I have felt it necessary to refer to this incident. If some honorable members think they are justified in sacrificing their principles in order to save their seats, I am not surprised that an honorable member, believing that his leader had abandoned him, although he stood by him when he was ill and in difficulties, should speak strongly.” Is it not reasonable that he should speak strongly when he believes that in such circumstances his former leader has abandoned him and has taken to his bosom an honorable member who was prepared to sacrifice him.
– The honorable member for Hume had a lucrative appointment at the time. Why should he have resigned? I resigned my position as Treasurer, and was abused by the Labour party. The honorable member has never given up a good billet in his life.
– The honorable member is quite right.
– I did not hesitate to resign.
– For the first time.
– I did resign. That “is more than the honorable member lias ever done.
– It is not.
– Order !
– An honorable member recently quoted in this House a statement reported to have been made by a Mr. Coulls at a congress held in Sydney, to the effect that he was not prepared to fight for his country ; that he would allow the Japanese or the Germans to take it, and offer no de fence, since he had nothing to defend. I have no hesitation in saying that Mr. Coulls, who made that statement, is a very decent fellow, and that those were not the opinions of the real man. They were no more his honest convictions than they are mine or those of the Prime Minister. I remember some years ago listening to a sermon delivered by a leading Methodist minister in South Australia whom you, Mr. Speaker, know very well, in the course of which he said that if he were unable to satisfy the cry of his children for bread - if he could do nothing to satisfy their hunger - he would be driven well-nigh mad, and should not like to be held responsible for what he might say in such circumstances. Mr. Coulls, who made the statement to which I have just referred, has known what it is to enter his home and to find those near and dear to him short of the necessities of life. That was his experience as the outcome of a very serious industrial struggle at Broken Hill, and it was in such circumstances that he made, the statement. I bave been refreshing my memory by a reference to Hansard as to some statements made in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales by the present Minister of Defence regarding a strike that took place at Broken Hill in 1892. The honorable gentleman said- -
I do not agree with those who have denounced the leaders in the strike. It is always a popular thing to denounce a man who is leading on the losing side. I refuse to believe all that has been said about the leaders in the Broken Hill strike. Whatever has been done by them great allowance must be made for men in their position. Their words ought not to be weighed with such nicety as under ordinary circumstances. Those who condemn those men in a sweeping manner do not know from experience what a strike really means. If they had had, as I have had, experience of a seven months’ strike, their feelings would be very different indeed. I will not condemn in a wholesale way men who are hundreds of miles way, living under very strained conditions.
Those were kindly, just, and noble sentiments, and I am satisfied that every generous and fair-minded citizen of Australia is prepared to make a very liberal allowance for words that are uttered by men in straitened circumstances. Although Mr. Coulls made the statement attributed to him, I should prefer to trust to him to assist to defend Australia in its hour of danger than to rely upon the honorable member for Corio, who quoted his remarks. I would rather trust him to assist to defend Autralia than put mv trust in any man who volunteered to go to South Africa at the time of the Boer war, and on the day set apart for the examination of candidates, did not parade.
– That is a cowardly attack.
– Why did the honorable member for Corio quote the remarks made on the occasion in question by Mr. Coulls? Who is Mr. Coulls that his name should have been brought into this debate? The inference was this : The remarks were made at a Labour Congress, he is a Labour man, and therefore the Labour party are disloyal. I grudge no member and no party any vote or adherent won by the misrepresentation of opponents or by false deductions, because votes so won, adherents so gained, cannot be permanently retained. Happily, the schoolmaster is abroad in Australia, and no party can live merely by misrepresenting its opponents. The Labour party lost votes at the last election because certain members went about saying that we were prepared to interfere with the sanctity of the home and the marriage tie. But we won more votes than we lost because our opponents made those statements. The Labour movement, or Political Labour party as we understand it to-day, entered the political arena twenty or twenty-one years ago, amidst the jeers of the people and the sneers of the press. But we have so made headway that to-day we have been able to make the great National Liberal party of Australia bite the very dust. The Liberal party, a few years ago, had a policy of its own, a programme of its own, a flag of its own, and watchwords of its own ; but that flag has been lowered, that policy is now dictated to it by outside organizations, and others coin its watchwords. Its members have had to do this, in order that they may be saved from annihilation by the onward march of the Labour party. The Liberal party has struck its tent, and has gone, bag and baggage, into the camp of its hereditary enemies the Conservatives, in order to escape annihilation. We started as a Labour party about twenty years ago, amidst the scoffs and the laughter of the parties that for so long had held sway in the political arena. But to-day we have forced every other party in politics to readjust their party lines. We have compelled them to sweep away ancient political landmarks and to obliterate life-long animosities. We have compelled Alfred Deakin, the” idol of Victoria, to eat his words. We have made him in this House do that which, before his constituents at the last general election, and again and again in this House, he said he would never do. We have forced the honorable member for Maribyrnong, who would have us believe that he is not only the apostle of anti-sweating, but the be-all and end-all of the Anti-Sweating League, to become the associate of the honorable member for Parkes, who makes it his boast that he advocates freedom of contract. Sir, there is a greater triumph even than this. We have compelled the honorable member for Bourke, whose immaculate soul stands aghast at the very idea of having anything to do with the Labour party, because in his constituency a Labour league passed a resolution condemning the municipal council for spending money on temperance legislation, to enter into the political fight under the distinguished patronage of the manufacturer, of Boomerang brandy. Those are the victories that in twenty years we have achieved, and, in view of them, I do’ not think that, as a party, we need show any impatience with the progress we have made. Let us but make the same progress during the next ten years, and complete victory must be ours. We have made that advance against the press, because we have had no daily papers to support us ; we have made it in spite of every vested interest, and we have made it against the brilliant orators’ of Australia, because thev have been on the platform against us. We have not had the rhetoric of the schools to help us ; we have only been able to go on the platform and, with stammering tongues, to put our programme before the people. But, in spite of all that, we have made the advances and achieved the triumphs that I have spoken of. That shows conclusively that righteousness is on our side. I have been, with my colleagues, accused of whining’ because T have been dismissed from Ministerial office. I grudge no one his seat upon the Treasury bench. It is an honorable ambition for any member to endeavour to obtain a seat there. If members, when sitting there, are able to carry out the policy that they believe in, it adds charm to the office; but, if they are’ unable to do that, the office is robbed of its chief attraction. I am prepared to admit that if we had been allowed to sit there for some time longer we should probably not have been permitted to carrv out our policy. I believe I look just as happy as does the present Postmaster-General, and I grudge no one his position in the Ministry ; but one member whom I deeply regret to see there is the Minister of Defence. There are those who say that, as the outcome of the fusion, Free Trade is thrown overboard. Others say that Protection has been sacrificed. I care not which of those statements ds correct, because I do not worry in the slightest about fiscalism. Some say that Liberalism has been sacrificed, others that Conservatism has gone overboard. I care not which of those claims is true, because I take no interest in the fortunes of any party but my own; but I do regret to see the Minister of Defence sitting upon the Treasury bench, because he has betrayed the’ class from which he sprang, and to which he belongs. For, although he and i did not enter the State Parliament in the same year, we were elected practically on the same platform, and the miners of Lithgow had the same idea in their mind when they elected him as had the miners of Broken Hill when they elected me. If, when he was returned for the first time by the miners of Lithgow some one had said to him that the time was not far distant when instead of sitting on the same side as the President of the Australian Workers Union he would be sitting on the side of the Employers’ Federation, I venture to say that with indignation he would have turned upon his assailant and asked, “ Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?” The first time he ever visited Ballarat was, I venture to say, as one who was attending the Trades Union Congress, in order that the workers might be welded together to fight their common enemy, capitalism. But the last visit he paid to that beautiful city was as the champion of the women’s section of the Australian National Association. In Australia there is no league which is more bitterly, opposed to the ideals and the aspirations of the Labour Party than is the league under whose auspices the honorable member went to Ballarat om the last occasion. It may be that in his heart of hearts he thinks that in twice helping to dismiss a Labour Ministry from office he was doing that which he believed to be the. best for the people who sent him here, for the community of which he is a member, and for the Commonwealth of which he is a citizen. If he honestly holds that belief it is not for me to Judge him or question his motives. I cannot but express my regret - I avow that it is not in anger, but in sorrow - that one to whom I, in 1892, sent a telegram from Broken Hill, congratulating him with delight upon being made the Leader of the
Labour party of New South Wales, that he whom the miners of Lithgow had taken from the mouth of the shaft and sent into the political arena, should have so disappointed his friends. I express my regret that one to whom the Democracy of New South Wales looked in 1892, 1893, and 1894, with so much hope, pride, and expectancy, has, instead of being with us, permitted himself to be associated with those forces which are ever assailing us, and has become the sworn ally of those interests which, if they had their way, would sweep the Labour party out of politics to-morrow, which would remove every protection that the worker to-day possesses, which would sweep away every privilege that the toilers have wrung from an unwilling and impudent plutocracy, and would once more place us under an industrial despotism as cruel as that of the taskmasters of Egypt and as remorseless as that of the slave-drivers of Carolina.
.- The speech which has just been delivered by the honorable member for Barrier, the ex-Postmaster-General is, compared with other speeches delivered from the Opposition side, very much like a strong sea breeze on a summer’s day. I was very pleased to hear the speech, because it was free from whining and most manly. If you, sir, have watched the debate very carefully you will have noticed that the honorable member apparently takes Theodore Hook as his model. He says that those that weep best weep as mutes. He certainly has not been mute to-night, and he has not wept. I agree .with him that the members of the Labour party, especially those who have not been Ministers, have no occasion to weep. If ever a political party had a good turn done to them it was done to the Labour party when it was displaced from power. In my opinion, it was a bad piece of tactics. I think that those who, to-day, call themselves fusionists forced the position too quickly. If the Fisher Government had been kept in power by an alliance with what was then known as the Deakinites they would have had to do what their allies told them. But they are liberated from all that, arc can now attack the Ministry, live up to their ideals, which the honorable member for Barrier referred to so pathetically, with’ great cheapness to themselves and at no cost to any one, and parade their high virtues, as they never neglect to do, at the next election. The honorable member for
Barrier is to be complimented for another reason. He went out of the beaten track. On each side of you, sir, there is a most intricate instrument. I looked at them yesterday and on the previous nine days. They are put in those positions for the purpose of registering the humidity of the atmosphere. Every time I looked at the instruments after listening to the Opposition, the register was “Very dry.” I am certain, however, that during the last speech the dryness was not quite so apparent. My honorable friends used the Age every time, and that no doubt accounts for the dryness. It has been quoted from by every speaker on that side, except the honorable member for Barrier, who gave the Argus a turn. Too many honorable members on the other side have been leaning on what the newspapers have said. When it suits the idealists on the other side they tell me not to believe the newspapers, but they can themselves use extracts with a good deal of avidity and force. The writers on the Age and Argus are very much like politicians. They accuse politicians of speaking with their tongue in their cheek, but I, a humble politician, accuse the journalists of writing very often with their tongue in their cheek. What the Age has said on one occasion it will depart from on the next occasion. In this age of enlightenment, with easy access to the electors from the public platform the average politician need not fear the press. This is not a pressridden or press-directed age. The journalists certainly take up certain lines of public thought, and just as it suits them they present their views ito ‘the public. But for members of the Labour party to shelter themselves behind the Age is a sign of weakness, an admission that they are prepared to use the old weapon of party warfare just the same as do those whom they have replaced. Suppose, said the honorable member for Barrier, that at Gympie the honorable member for Wide Bay had made a speech for the purpose of securing immunity from opposition here, what would have, been said of him? That sounds very well until it is properly analyzed. The honorable member for Wide Bay could not have said any more at Gympie than he did say, and he could have said no less, because the Gympie speech was only a repetition of what the Labour Leagues of Australia had said two years before. Probably the language in which it was expressed was chosen by the honorable mem ber, and by some of the members of his Cabinet, but I do hot think that I am doing the honorable member any injustice when I congratulate him upon the Gympie speech as an evidence of his powerful memory in being able to repeat so well for the electors the previously-expressed intents of the Labour Leagues. The pathos of the remarks of the honorable member for Barrier approaches very closely to bathos, when we remember that the honorable member for Wide Bay could not, in announcing the policy of his Government, depart from what had already* been written down for him by the Labour Leagues of Australia.
– That is exactly what the honorable member for Barrier was saying.
– No; the honorable member would have us believe that he and other honorable members on the other side are self-reliant. Honorable members opposite are buttressed outside by a very powerful organization. ‘Their programme was an electors’ programme. I must admit that, coming as it did from the people to the politicians, no one could cavil at it. Unfortunately, the reverse of that course is followed on this side. I admit that candidly, both as regards the Deakinites or the allies of the honorable member for Parramatta. What honorable members on’ this side lack unmistakably is a welldefined organization. They may think that by calling up their financial resources, and beating the press drums, they will effect a victory, but, with the exception of one or two unimportant organizations, the party on this side, particularly in view of the programme they have submitted, have no powerful outside organization to support them. Honorable members opposite are indeed very ‘fortunate in one sense, seeing that they have a very powerful organization clamouring for their’ return, insisting upon their privileges, and excusing their mistakes. But they must pay the full price for that, and the full price is the loss of personal freedom. The leagues and Labour Conferences direct their policy. I do not say that they object to the policy, because I know they take a part in framing it, but for the assistance of the disciplined force outside that fights their battles, holds their seats for them, and make excuses for them, they must, as individuals, pay the price. The honorable member for Barrier has said that honorable members on this side hold up the picture only of those who are well housed and well fed - the wealthy classes. That is a statement which every honorable member on this’ side, who has any manhood in him, must resent. The utterances of the honorable member for Barrier represent the height of insolence and impudence in political life. When the honorable member says that we are concerned only about the well-housed, well-fed, and wellclothed, he will allow me to say, ‘ without the slightest restriction on my personal inclinations, that there is hardly a member, on the other side who is not possessed of more of this world’s goods than I am.
– The honorable member said that before.
– And I shall say it again. I resent the statement of the honorable member for Barrier that members on this side are the advocates only of the wellhoused and the well-dressed. Humanitarianism is not confined to members of the Labour party. There are members of the Opposition who are as avaricious as are any honorable members on this side. There are many honorable members opposite who are as desirous of improving their personal position as are honorable members on this side.
– Why does not the honorable member talk politics ?
– I am answering the honorable member for Barrier.
– The honorable member is not. He has mistaken the honorable member’s point altogether.
– I am replying to the actual statements made by the honorable member. I am not dealing with extracts from the newspapers. Ministerialists can defend themselves, but I take the honorable member’s remarks as personal to me, and I defend myself. As a native of Australia, I think so well of my country, and of the class from which I come, that I am glad to be able to say that the Labour party of to-day is not the Labour party of twentyyears ago. The Labour party of to-day is not the Labour party in which the honorable member for Parramatta was such a prominent figure. I agree with the expressions of regret by the honorable member for Barrier that the honorable member for Parramatta has, apparently, removed himself from the direction of those for whom he was fighting.
– They removed me.
– I would never have allowed them to remove me.
– Would the honorable member have signed the pledge?
– No, and I should not ask the honorable member for Parramatta to do that. The Labour party of to-day have, for some time past, been trying to become the Liberal party in the Commonwealth. Twenty years ago the members of the Labour party put on no Liberal uniform. To-day it is only the ardent Socialists in their ranks, who -take up the position that the party occupied twenty years ago. The fact is the present Labour party should always be designated by their correct title as the “ Political Labour party.” They are becoming a political force, and I do not blame them on that account. If they had been permitted to remain on this side, assisted by the Deakinites, they would actually haVe been the Liberal party in Australia. They were drifting into that position. But, placed in Opposition, they have, according to my judgment, escaped very serious consequences. Their Socialist brethren, the advance guard] the propagandists of the Labour movement to-day, were hesitating as to whether they should leave them or not. I feel that the more ardent spirits in the party should be delighted that they are now in Opposition, and able to’ carry on the forward movement. The force they commanded would have been surrendered if they had remained on the Government benches backed up by the Deakinites. Now they -are again in a position in which they can fulfil their destinies, and take up the work of their brethren of twenty years ago. I am willing to admit that, assisted bv their organizations, honorable members opposite have done good work in the political education of the people. The honorable member for Barrier complained that they were not assisted by a mighty press and mighty platform orators, and in doing so the honorable member decried the very organizations to which he belongs. If there are speakers with passion, and orators with conviction and power on the public platform, they are to be found in the Labour Leagues to-day. They are skilled in parliamentary warfare, and are not children. It is of little use for the honorable member for Barrier to say that they have ‘ not the assistance of a mighty press and “ powerful speakers. At the last election the Labour party made strong appeals to the emotions of the electors, whereas the a,nti- Socialists had a coldblooded policy of analysis, which made no appeal to the electors. Though it may have, been well suited to the temperament and ability of such people as the honorable. member for Flinders, it was. not a policy that was calculated to carry votes at the ballot-box. At the next election, so far as I am personally concerned, I shall take good care that an -appeal to the emotions of the electors is not neglected. Last time some of us had to fight with one hand tied behind us. I am not whining about that, but the same will not occur at the next’ election. When we are all on an equal footing in that respect it will be found that in districts where candidates like myself are well known, and where their political lives have been before the electors for their scrutiny for many years, the Labour candidates will not have so easy a time of it as they imagine. I do not care to put matters in a boastful way, but I must be pardoned for saying that I challenge any man in the Opposition ranks to dispute the attitude that I have maintained throughout my political life in regard to social and Liberal legislation. The Labour party, I have no doubt, mean well; some cf them think well ; and a great number of them in the . Parliament of the Commonwealth mouth well. But at the same time I consider that the Labour party do an injury to their own cause in the way in which they sometimes picture matters to the electors. They draw fancy pictures of the contentment _ that reigns in the homes of people at Potts Point and Toorak as compared with the condition of things in the homes of the poor. But I venture to say that there is far more discontent in the homes of the wealthy than is generally realized. I have no fear of the consequences when I make an appeal to the class of people to whom I belong.
– The honorable member ought to be on this side.
– I am “on my own.” Since the honorable member interrupts me, I may remark that I cannot understand why the Labour party should draw the line at the honorable member for Hume. Why should he not be opposed, as well as other members? If he is a good man from the Labour party’s point of view, let him put on the uniform. Indeed, I do not think it will be very long before we shall see him in the uniform of Labour, and wearing a marshal’s insignia of office. Of course, he will not be an ordinary private; he will be an officer.
– I do not want office.
– I do not think that the honorable member ought to have it, after the long years in which he has enjoyed office. I have much more to say, and should be very glad if the House would accord me the permission to continue my remarks tomorrow.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I regret to have to mention a personal matter. I have been subjected to a good deal of misrepresentation at the hands of honorable members opposite for reasons which I cannot exactly understand. I do not desire, for my own part, to indulge in personal attacks. On several occasions recently I have hadto interject, in contradiction of statements which I considered to be opposed to the facts of the case. To-night the honorable member for Barrier made certain observations, which were absolutely unnecessary, unless” his desire was to say something that he knew would pain me. He knew that my feelings would be hurt if he attributed statements to me of a certain character concerning a friend of mine who was at the head of the Government at the time he. referred to. The honorable member said that on the 5th July, 1907, when the honorable member for Hindmarsh was speaking, I interjected: “Why do you not attack the Prime Minister?” whereupon the honorable member for Barrier alleges that he replied: “What! attack a sick man?” Now, as a matter of fact, I have looked up Hansard for the date mentioned, and find that there is no observation by the honorable member recorded in it. If the honorable member made that observation, it is not reported, “and I have no recollection of it myself. I think that if it had been said concerning me I should have said something in reply. Now, fortunately, the day in question is clearly in my recollection. It was the 5th July. 1907. On that day the honorable member for Kalgoorlie made some remarks adverse to me politically, principally in regard to my actions during the general elections in Western Australia. While the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was speaking I had a message from the Prime Minister; the honorable member for Ballarat, that he wished to see me in his room. I went there, and talked with him for a long time. The matters we discussed had relation to business that he had undertaken in London. I always had a suspicion that the Prime Minister sent for me because, perhaps, he thought that I should say something disagreeable in reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoolie. I mentioned that suspicion to my honorable friend, the member for Eden-Monaro. Now I find that on the 5th July the Prime Minister was present in this House. That bears out my recollection, which is in accord with the records of the House. I certainly had no intention of diverting attacks to the Prime Minister when I said: “Why -do you not attack the Prime- Minister?” What I was thinking of was that no one had been more severe in referring to the methods and organization of the Labour party than the Prime Minister had been. That is known to every one. Therefore, I wondered why the members of the Labour party should always be directing their attacks at me, who had not . referred to their methods of organization to such an extent. Having that in mind, I made the remark which has been quoted. But I certainly do not remember anv one saying : “ Do not attack a sick man.” I find that the Prime Minister was present, although I know he was not very well on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th July. It is very unfair that the despicable meanness of desiring to attack a sick colleague should have been attributed to me, and the remarks of the honorable member for Barrier have given me great pain. I should be ashamed to attack one who was ill, and more especially an old personal friend and colleague.
– The right honorable member made the interjection- which I have mentioned.
– Yes; but I did not invite the honorable member to attack a sick man. Honorable members opposite continue to repeat the assertion that I deserted the last Deakin Ministry at a time when the Prime Minister was ill.
– So the honorable ‘ member did. Let him produce the correspondence.
– I am about to read it. I parted with the Prime Minister and my colleagues in that Administration in sorrow, and without anger, as they all know. I have never said anything to indicate that I had any grievance against them.
– Why did the honorable member leave that Ministry ?
– All the facts are stated in the Hansard report, to which I refer the honorable member. It is too long to read now.
– Did not the honorable member leave because he was not made Acting Prime Minister?
– I have, on more than one occasion, drawn attention to the fact that it is due to honorable members making personal explanations, and to the House, that they should be listened to without interruption.
– Every one knows why I thought it necessary to resign ray portfolio. No one leaves a Government with which he has been associated for a long time, except for good reasons. A Minister should put up with a great deal before resigning. But, as I told the House at the time, I found myself, after the elections, bound for honorable personal reasons to retire from the Ministrv. and communicated my intention to the Prime Minister in the following letter, dated 30th July,
1907 : -
My dear Deakin.
I very much regret that I feel compelled to tender, through you, my resignation of the office of Treasurer in your Government. This action is very painful to me, when I remember the terms of intimate friendship which have existed between us for so long, and is made more so owing to your recent illness, from which, however, I am glad to learn you are becoming convalescent. In my opinion, however, the outlook in Parliament, and the necessary observance of my election . platform, leave me no alternative. Assuring you of my personal regard and esteem, believe me to remain, Yours sincerely,
To that, on the same day, the Prime Minister made this reply -
My Dear Sir John,
Your regret is not greater than mine at the sudden discontinuance of our official relations, though of course those which have so long existed between us personally undergo no change.
I hope you will always enjoy the same harmonious associations that have existed in our Cabinet.
I am all the more reluctant to lose the great advantage of your assistance in the Government, which is highly appreciated by all your colleagues, and especially by myself, because there is not, and has not been, anything rendering your attention of your high and responsible office in any way a sacrifice of principle or departure from your election platform. In all such matters one’s own sentiments properly count for a great deal. Each must judge for himself and sensitively what his obligations may demand before taking a step so unfortunate for all of us in the present state, of business, but in respect to which I can only accept your resignation in the same regretful spirit in which you have tendered it.
With kindest regards,
Yours very truly,
I have always looked upon’ and treated the honorable member for Hume as a ‘personal friend. There- has never been any personal animosity, that I knew of, between us. Yet he thought fit recently to speak most disparagingly of me in Sydney, designating me as a traitor who had deserted his chief. But this is what he said when, as Acting Prime Minister, he announced my resignation to the House -
I regret to have to announce to the House the resignation of the Treasurership by my late colleague, the right honorable member for Swan.
Then, having read the letters which I have just quoted, he continued -
I desire to say, on behalf of every member of the Cabinet, that we sincerely regret the step which has been taken by the right honorable member for Swan. He is a gentleman who is esteemed throughout Australia, having held office for many years as Premier of the State of Western Australia, and having been a member of a Commonwealth Ministry, and a colleague of many of the present Ministers almost. ever since Federation began. His relations with the members of the Cabinet individually have been most harmunious, in fact, I may say, in rebuttal of statements which have been circulated at various times, that the harmony has never been disturbed. We have been a united family^ as a Cabinet should be. There are, of course, occasions when Ministers differ, as they must when their principles compel them to do so ; but, although there have been slight differences of opinion, there has never been acrimony in the relations between the right honorable member for Swan and his late colleagues. That fact makes it the more regrettable that he has left us at this time. In view of his past career, and the work he has done for Australia, not only as a politician, but as an explorer of the interior of the Continent, a very large number of people must also regret his determination. It is no doubt an inconvenient time for him to leave, but I am sure that his relations with Ministers will continue as cordial and as sympathetic ns they have been in the past.
After this expression of regret, it is difficult to understand how the honorable member can justify his conduct in calling me a’ traitor. Notwithstanding differences of opinion, I have always regarded him as a personal friend, and what he has said recently is disproved bv the statement which I have just read. The speeches of honorable members opposite in which I have heen so continually charged with having deserted my chief when he was ill, have been so painful to me, ascribing, as they did, conduct quite foreign to my nature, and absolutely without any foundation, that I have felt it’ necessary to make this personal explanation.
– In consequence of the remarks of the Treasurer by way of personal explanation, I desire to say a few words.
-This is the motion for adjournment, and the honorable member may sav what he likes.
– If the honorable member considers that he has been in any way misrepresented by the right honorable member for Swan, he, in his turn, may make a personal explanation, but a personal explanation may not be. debated, even on a motion for adjournment.
– Your ruling, sir, will perhaps curtail somewhat my remarks. The honorable member’ for Swan has read a statement I made when I was acting for the then Prime Minister. I was asked by Mr. Deakin to act for him when he was ill, and it was at that time the honorable member for Swan resigned his position as Treasurer. I endeavoured, and, at least one other colleague endeavoured, to induce him not to resign under the circumstances.
– I saw the Prime Minister on the very day.
– Never mind ; it will all come out to-morrow.
– I delayed the resignation for a week or two.’
– I am saying nothing here, nor did I say anything in Sydney, that I cannot prove. Let me say, in passing, that no very serious trouble took place in Cabinet between the honorable member and other members of the Government ; and what I want to know, and what the honorable member has not told us, is why he did resign.
– I explained at the time.
– The honorable member for Hume must not refer to the personal explanation of the honorable member.
– When the honorable member for Swan resigned, I was compelled to take his position as Treasurer; and then I came to know better than I had known before what the correspondence was, and also the state of the Estimates.
– What correspondence was that?
– The honorable member is out of order in interjecting.
– There was no correspondence there.
– Just now I had to ask that the honorable member for Swan should be heard, and I have now to ask that honorable member to allow the honorable member for Hume to be heard.
– I ascertained that the honorable member had proceeded only a very short distance’ with his Estimates, and, as we were going into session, I was set the hard task of, in a few days, making up for the laxity of the honorable member in this connexion. 1 assert what I have said before, that it was most inconvenient for the honorable member for Swan to resign at a time when the Prime Minister was ill. I shall not now quote the words I used in Sydney, but I shall probably quote them many times in the future. I know that the honorable member, now. that he and the Prime Minister have been brought together again, does not like any reference to the events of the past.
.- Will the Prime Minister be good enough to lay on the table, at the earliest possible moment, the correspondence between the States and the Commonwealth in reference to the Premiers’ Conference, shortly to be held, in which the Commonwealth will take part? I should also like to know whether the honorable gentleman will layon the table the instructions given to the representative of the Commonwealth at the Imperial Defence Conference? .
– As soon as the correspondence is completed, I shall have pleasure in laying it on the table. At present it is passing between the States rather than with the Commonwealth, but will no doubt lead to further communication to the Commonwealth from the Premier of New South Wales, who acts on behalf of the States as a whole. As to any instructions supposed to have been given to the member of the Government who is to attend the Imperial Defence Conference, a member of a Cabinet, under such circumstances, has never, in my experience, received instructions in writing from his colleagues. He proceeds to the Mother Country as a member of the Government to attend a confidential, consultative Conference ; and in the course of that Conference he will, if necessary, consult his colleagues*. When he has advised his colleagues as to any action to be taken here, it- will then be necessary to consult Parliament before effect can be given to the conclusions we shall arrive at, after full consideration of the representations made to us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at11.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090707_reps_3_49/>.