3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Lord Kitchener - Invitation to visit Australia in connexion with Defence proposals.
Quarantine Act - Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 73.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer for information in regard to something which occurred at Geelong last week, in connexion with the application of a man, named William Hill, for an oldage pension. It appears from the newspaper reports, which are all I have to go on, that the applicant, who was surely entitled to courteous and kindly treatment, was arrested, it is not certain whether by the police or by order of the Police Magistrate. As the occurrence took place under the administration of a Commonwealth Act, will the Treasurer see that a thorough inquiry is made into the matter.
– It is the parliamentary rule not to answer questions while a motion of want of confidence is under discussion, but I may, perhaps, be permitted to state that, happening to pass through Geelong last week, I made casual inquiry into this case, and found that the man referred to was, on his own admission, under the age at which he could legitimately claim a pension, he was destituteand suffering from a complaint requiring expert medical treatment, under proper conditions. The magistrate suggested to him, as his only means of helping him to the shelter and treatment which he needed, that he should commit him.
– To gaol?
– Yes. Commitment to gaol may appear a strange philanthropic action, but that seemed the only way to meet this emergency. However, if I have been correctly informed, the matterdid not go so far until after friendly consultation with the person concerned.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General a matter of great importance and urgency - the condition of the Moree post office. I have received a letter from my daughter, in which she states that chaos practically reigns there. The postmaster has broken down altogether, and office requisites have run out, that is to say there were no telegraph forms or pens for the use of the public. This isthe third postmaster who has broken down during the last two or three years. One postmaster accepted a position at a lower grade to escape the work of the office. During the last three years, the staff of the office, which consists of fifteen men, has been entirely changed. Can the Postmaster-General give no relief? I am tired of appealing to the Department.
– This matter was brought under my notice by the honorable member, and I at once telegraphed to the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, directing attention to the complaint, and asking for an immediate report upon the condition of the Moree office.
Debate resumed from 9th July (vide page 1 090), on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That the Government does not possess the confidence of this House.
.- In continuing my few remarks of last Friday, I have again to impose upon the patience of honorable members, first, because I realize that the present is one of the most momentous periods in the political history of the Commonwealth, and, secondly, because, in all probability, I may not hereafter address them at any length. Had I risen to speak earlier last week, I should have delivered quite a different speech from that which I now am impelled to make. There are times in a man’s life when there comes to him what I may call an inspiration. In the silence of his chamber, a man can best reflect on the serious matters which affect his country, and recall to his memory incidents which had escaped it. It was during such silent hours that I came to the decision to continue along the lines which I had laid down for myself. I do so because the party to which I belong has not been given by the press the liberal treatment bestowed upon other political parties, anything which we may say being rarely reported, and when reported generally mutilated and misrepresented. We cannot get a fair report from the newspapers, whose authorities have dealt with us in, not merely an unpatriotic, but even a scandalous manner. The public press is playing fast and loose with the welfare of the people, whose political, social, and economic education has been intrusted to it. Therefore I offer no apology for my remarks, feeling that I have been forced by circumstances not of my own making into the position which I occupy. Since I spoke last Friday, we have had another instance of the manner in which the press is prepared to treat the members of the Labour party. We know how scurrilous is the language which the newspapers apply to certain honorable members who address themselves to questions of importance in this Chamber, and that the use of such language is becoming more and more frequent. Not satisfied with abusing a sacred trust, the Age on Saturday last published an article advocating the abolition of Hansard, which is the only means we have for putting, our views before the people whom we represent. The press, not satisfied with misrepresenting and calumniating the members of the Labour party, wishes now to deprive them of all opportunity to address the constituents who have intrusted their interests to them. The conductors of the Age are evidently not aware of what has taken place recently in the British Dominions. Up to a very recent date, the Hansard of the British Parliament was compiled, printed, and issued by private contract; but there is now being established a State Hansard, to which there are to be appointed eleven reporters to record the proceedings of the House of Commons alone. While we are watching the progress of the Old Country, and the steps sheis taking to imitate the freer land of Australia, in regard to disseminating the utterances of parliamentary representatives, I tell the Age to beware - that it can carry its venom and vitriol too far. A newspaper may attack the men in whom the people believe, until Parliament, in the protection of its own character, will have to take steps to either hurl from the galleries the men who, under orders or otherwise, do not do their duty, or to establish a daily Hansard, from which the people may know from day to day what is being done in Parliament. There seems to me to be only one ending to the scurrilous and abusive attacks that are made on honorable members who do not happen for the moment to be under the aegis of either one or other of the leading newspapers. I recommend the Democracy of Victoria to cease to purchase a newspaper that will not give a true account of the proceedings in the Parliament of the country. There is one means which could be adopted, and, though it is a means I do not always indorse, we must remember that desperate diseases require drastic remedies. If those who are privileged to report the proceedings of this Parliament perpetuate the conduct to which I am taking exception, there is one weapon we can use - we can appeal to the people not to support a newspaper that does not extend that justice and fair play to which every representative man is entitled.
– The honorable member advocates a boycott, I understand?
– The profession to which the honorable member belongs is a good example of the boycott, because it has more effectively boycotted men from outside than any profession I have heard of in the history of civilization.
– When human life is at stake, too !
– Yes; the men in the profession of the honorable member for Hunter have, in order to make the boycott more effective, absolutely refused to attend patients when these have been between life and death. The honorable member is one who must know what the effect of the boycott has been, when those, of the profession to which he is attached have been guilty of the most inhuman and despicable application of the boycott I have ever read or known of in any part of the world.
– I am surprised at the honorable member advocating the boycott, anyhow !
– The honorable member had better remain silent while I am speaking. If the people of Victoria desire to have a true report of the proceedings of the national Parliament, I advise them to cease purchasing the Age until that newspaper mends its ways, and gives us a fair deal.
– The honorable member has been quoting the Age ever since he started.
– I have never quoted the Age, though others have, because it is always possible to quote that newspaper on either side of the question. The Age, so far as I know, has never been consistent - at one time it has supported the pseudo- Liberal party on the other side, at another time it has been with the Labour party, and at another time it has been right in the bosom of the Conservative party. We can never tell which way the Age is going ; and, therefore, it is always possible to quote from its columns* against any man in the House. On Friday last it was my duty, which I tried to perform to the best of my humble ability, to remove some of the weeds that cumber the political ground, and to point out of what the fusion party is really constituted. In doing that I may have said some things that were hard ; but, again, I offer no apology. I have read the proofs of my speech so far as it is printed, and I have nothing whatever to withdraw or amend - I stand by every word I said in regard to the constitution of the variegated party opposite. Any words of mine with regard to individuals in the House have at all times been uttered more in sorrow than in anger.. I would rather say a good word for a man than I would say an angry word if it be possible ; but, while that is so, and while all through my life I have sought to do to others as. I would be done by, when 3. duty devolves on a representative of the people, he should never shirk it, even though he has to cut to the bone in order to remove the cancer. When the House adjourned on Friday, I was, metaphorically, viewing the ruins of empires - of nations and dynasties ; because it is only by the history of what has occurred that we can judge what is right to be done. I was referring to the history of Sparta, of- Rome, of Florence, of Genoa, and other communities which have perished from the one dread disease, namely, the- monopoly of land and wealth. These two curses, which have ruined every nation whose downfall is recorded in history, are taking root in the grand Empire to which we all belong. Not only here, but, as I said before, in Scotland, men are being thrown off the land who were formerly the yeomanry of that great and progressive country. On the broad acres of Scotland to-day, deer - not rabbits, as in the case of New South Wales - are taking the place of human families. I repeat that twenty years ago, in Scotland, 800,000 acres were devoted to deer parks, whereas to-day 2,500,000 acres of that small country are given over in this way for the amusement and gratification of those who have wealth and leisure at their command. It is all very well to look at these people enjoying the fresh air in the hills of Scotland, while the yeomanry are being practically alienated from their motherland ; but the great underlying evil is that, .when the yeomanry are displaced, the nation is weakened, inasmuch as the men on whom the nation depends are removed. In this way there is being brought about the depopulation of lands from which in days gone by Great Britain obtained her men to fight her battles, and to help to bring the Empire to its present state. This state of affairs prevails throughout the British Isles. Agriculture there has been on the decrease during the last quarter of a century. The yeomanry, from whom Great Britain has drawn her recruits for the naval and military services, as well as many artisans for her great manufacturing centres, are practically being hounded out of the country, while the land is being monopolized for the benefit and pleasure of the rich. Should this not be a warning to us? We have inherited this land from our fathers, and ought to be guided by the lessons of history in determining how we may best carry on the great work intrusted to us. I may, perhaps, be pardoned for referring briefly to some of the legislation that has led to the present position of Australia in respect of land settlement and land monopoly. Many honorable members opposite declare that it would be little short of confiscation to impose a. progressive land tax upon the broad acres held by the sheep kings of Australia. But how did those men acquire their holdings? Almost from the inception of settlement in New South Wales, a cry was raised that lands should be submitted for sale by auction. That meant that men with ready money, banking institutions, and foreign capitalists should be given an opportunity to purchase at the upset price all land that was so dealt with. In those days it rarely happened that more than the upset price was offered. Auction sales were rampant in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania in the early days. Lands was parcelled out to those who had ready money to spare, without any regard for the welfare of the future population of Australia. In New South Wales, under a system of selection before survey - one of the most pernicious systems ever followed in connexion with land settlement in a new country - the eyes of the land were picked out in this way. And by whom ? Those who have represented back-block constituencies in the State Parliament before entering this Legislature know the history of the great estates, and know that they were put together by a series of illegal operations that were practically winked at by the Government of the day, and by Parliament itself, before the. Labour party came into existence. Dummying - another illegal way of acquiring land - was also rampant in New South Wales, while desirable areas were available. As the result of dummying and the practice of selling land by auction, banking institutions, as well as individuals, were able to acquire large areas, and the progress of the country was seriously retarded. Sons of the soil have been denied an opportunity to settle on the land and to obtain the living that they were willing and anxious to earn in that way. In the sixties a law was passed in New South Wales by which men were able to acquire land that ought to have brought from £5 to £20 per acre on payment of as. per acre, and without giving a guarantee for the fulfilment of the conditions imposed in connexion with the sale.
– That was under the intended improvement clause?
– Yes. It seems almost inconceivable that any Government should have allowed land worth from £5 to £20 per acre to be taken up on payment of 2 s. per acre, and without the imposition of any condition with regard to the pay-, ment of the remainder. Yet we are told that men who obtained land in this way bought it, and that they are entitled to hold it, even though the nation fall. When we speak of making an effort to get back this land for the people, we are told that we contemplate confiscation. In Victoria, in the early days, there was in operation a law permitting the sale every quarter of special lands situate near towns, railways, and rivers, at the upset price of £1 per acre. I ask honorable members to imagine the nature of lands near railways, towns, and rivers in Victoria in the sixties. It was some of the best land in the State, and the men who had the ready money to pay £1 an acre for it in those days are, in many cases, the holders of it at this time. And yet, when we propose, by means of a progressive land tax, to enable the people already here - and those who, if we do our duty, will come here - to acquire some of this land, we are told, not only that we are advocating confiscation, but that we are trying to do that which is inhuman. When we look back at the systems under which many large estates were obtained in the early days, we find that, apart altogether from the equity of land taxation, there is justification for the action we propose. In 1862, what is known as the Duffy Act was passed. It introduced into Victoria the principle of free selection before survey, which in its operation in every other State has simply spelt “dummying.” Under it, men who had no money were placed on the land by the banks and other institutions in order to monopolize areas which could not otherwise be acquired by the latter under the existing laws. So we find that “ peacocking “ was very prevalent in Victoria, just as it has been in New South Wales, and large estates .were put together by means of the nefarious laws passed by landlord Parliaments, and by the illegal operations of people who were then utilizing the lands administration for their own ends. The trend of land legislation from the date when those laws were common to all the States is most remarkable. In 1869 we find leases in existence, because during the sixties leasehold laws were introduced in Victoria and the other States. Those leases were granted to men who were not of the squatter class, but the tendency was not only for the Crown to release its hold upon those lands, but latterly has been to convert leaseholds into conditional purchases throughout the State, so that men might have some security on which to borrow in time of need. If there is one straight path for the destruction of the man on the land, one way which is more potent than others to aggregate land into large estates, it is the conditional purchase system.i That is one of the weapons used by the monopolist to acquire the land which a small man may hold under leasehold tenure. Under the conditional purchase- system in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, and to a degree in Western Australia and Queensland, thousands of bond fide men have been tempted to mortgage the areas which they formerly held “under lease, when they obtained freehold titles, and the moment they put themselves in the hands of the banks, the moment they became under an obligation to the monetary institutions, that moment spelt ruin to the majority, and the addition of their holdings to the large areas then held by banking institutions and monopolists. Read the history of men who have taken up land under the conditional purchase system in New South Wales, and see how many of them are left. That system has been simply a means to an end. It has been a piece of legislation which has been used, and was intended to be used, and will be used all the time, for the monopolization of land by monetary institutions and land pirates. The usual course of land legislation is as follows: First, when the squatter cannot get the land, some legislator proposes or Parliament passes a Bill to give a twenty-eight or forty-two years’ lease to people who desire the use of that land, but who have not much money. As soon as they get on to it, and have utilized it for a time with success, they begin- to hanker after the freehold title. The next step pursued by the Parliament is to grant a perpetual lease, which is practically an indefeasible title, but the men on the land are not satisfied with that, because they are told by the banking institutions and by their squatter friends that the dearest right of a Britisher is to own his own home, and to hold the deeds of the land on which he lives. They are led on by that sort of cajolery, until they back up an agitation which finally induces Parliament to abolish the perpetual lease and grant them freeholds. That means the death knell to many a small settler, and the aggregation of still larger estates. We find the state of affairs in Queensland to be no different. The best land, instead of being available for the people to settle on, has been monopolized by those who took advantage of the early laws of that State. Up to the date of its separation from New South Wales the State of Queensland was controlled by the laws of that State, and therefore the same conditions which I described earlier as applying in New South Wales applied in the early days of Queensland ; but after that time we find the Queensland Government making laws for the aggrandizement of land monopolists, and introducing systems which had been proved in other States to be injurious to the welfare of the people. In 1908 they abolished the leasehold system of small holdings as it had obtained in the other States, and restored the old conditional purchase system, with more liberal terms. That is another instance of the machinations of the law in order to bring about the increase of large estates. One attempt was made in that State to do something for the smaller men - those who toil on the land, as distinct from those who make a living simply by holding it. A law called the Co-operative Communities Land Settlement Act was passed in 1893, and amended in 1894, but no action has been taken under it. It was passed ostensibly to bring a number of workingmen together to form a co-operative community, and thereby to work with greater advantage to each other than they could as isolated settlers, but neither the Parliament nor the newspapers of Queensland have educated the people up to the advantages offered to them by that law. It remains a dead letter, after fifteen or sixteen years’ existence. No effort has been made by the newspapers, which are so deeply interested in advancing the welfare of Australia, to point the people the way to co-operative effort, so that they might use the land with benefit to themselves and advantage to the State. I now come to South Australia. My object in these observations is to prove that all through the making of the land laws of the States of Australia, the same pernicious influence has been at work, the same neglect has been bestowed upon this question by Parliament, and the same ruinous laws have been placed upon the statute-book for the disinheriting of the people. I find that just prior to South Australia being granted responsible government, what is known as the “ Wakefield scheme “ of settlement was adopted. A gentleman by the name of Wakefield was sent out to South Australia by the British Government for the purpose of organizing that Crown Colony, and preparing it for selfgovernment which was pending. His mission was to sell the waste or unappropriated lands at a high price, the revenue thus obtained being utilized to secure immigrants, who were to provide hired labour for the cultivation of those lands.
– The price was fixed in London before the country was even explored.
– I am informed by the honorable member for Boothby that the price charged for these lands was fixed in London before the country had been surveyed, and before anything was known as to its quality. The system adopted may be one of the best for laying the foundation of a State, but, in my opinion, it has proved to be one of the very worst in the interests of the people. Mr. Wakefield’s scheme, however, contained, two wise provisions. It provided that no State “church was to be recognised, and that no convicts were to be transported to South Australia. For the latter provision, especially, Mr. Wakefield is deserving of the greatest credit. According to the official Yearbook -
He had observed the evils which in other Colonies had arisen from the granting of large tracts of country to intending settlers, out of all proportion either to their individual requirements or . the capacity of the grantees to successfully deal therewith.
Mr. Wakefield practically lodged that indictment against the effect of the laws under which New South Wales and Victoria had been settled, and as a remedy applied the system to which I have referred. We all know the conditions which obtain in South Australia to-day. There large estates, which should be supporting human beings, are being utilized merely for pastoral purposes. Right in the heart of that State, close to railways, lands which could profitably be used for closer settlement are being kept out of cultivation. I come now to Western Australia where it is said there is land available for all. What is the position there? While yet it was a Crown Colony, the British Government granted to a combine one of the most gigantic concessions that has ever been granted in the history of Australia. It granted this concession to what is -.called the “Jonah” combine, with the result that to-day the whole of that valuable timber, covering thousands and thousands of acres - timber which cannot be equalled in any part of the world - is monopolized by a. combine. The British Government did this without knowing what it was doing. It is one of the burdens which the residents of Western Australia have to carry, and which they cannot remove, because the concession was granted under an Imperial Act which the State Legislature has not power to veto. Again, numerous tracts of country have been granted by the Government of that State to railway syndicates, and others. Large areas are monopolized in this way. The system of selling land by auction was introduced in “Western Australia in 1877, quite early in the history of responsible government. This has ever been one of the means by which the monopolist has sought to gain control of the lands of the country. In 1890, the whole of the Lands Acts of Western Australia were consolidated. Under such circumstances, one would have imagined that the land laws of that State would not require amendment for some time. But what do we find? An Amending Land Act was introduced in 1899, another in 1900, another in 1902, another in 1904, another in 1905, and another in 1906. ‘ Surely the Parliament of that State must be merely playing with land legislation when it is necessary to amend the law year after year over a series of seven years ! Yet we are told that in Western Australia, there is land available for all. If that be so, why was it necessary for the Government of Western Australia, in 1896, to introduce and get passed into law the Repurchase of Crown Lands Act, which provided for the repurchase of estates which had been monopolized in the way I have indicated ? The thing carries its own condemnation upon its face. In Tasmania, too, there has been a scientific system of jobbery perpetrated in connexion with Crown lands. For years that little State has been strangled bv the evils of land monopoly. No less than 70,000 acres of its best lands were alienated from the Crown, on the occasion of the first land sale there, for ^20,000. The first land thai, was sold in that island consisted of the land upon which the capital and the great towns of the State have been built, the land on the river sides, in other words, the land that had all the advantages that Nature could bestow upon it. That land was practically sold for 5s. an acre. Is it any wonder that the land-owners of Tasmania resist the movement to break up land monopoly? Between the years i860 and 1870 thirteen Land Acts were passed in Tasmania. My own experience in New South Wales has been that amending land laws have ever been introduced when the old provisions were played out. That is to say, when the land-owners had worked out one law, and could effect no more monopoly under it, they engineered the passing of a’ new Land Act ostensibly in the interests of small settlers, but when one reads into these amending Acts one finds that their intention was merely to give the monopolists an opportunity ,of acquiring more land than they formerly held. A new system was introduced under the last of the thirteen Tasmanian Land Acts. It adopted the principle of conditional pur- chase. I should like those honorable members who know something about conditional purchase in other States to consider the marvellous conditions which were attached to the system in Tasmania. The only obligation to be fulfilled was that the selector or his tenant must occupy for one years or until the full purchase money was paid. The underlying condition of conditional purchase was that the balance of payment should be spread over a period of years. It was a system which was nominally designed to put men of small means on the land. But in Tasmania the Legislature provided that the man who paid cash should get his land at a premium as compared with the man who bought on credit. Agricultural land under the conditional purchase system was sold at j£i per acre; pastoral land at 5s. per acre. Imagine those prices, and then consider the value of land in Tasmania to-day. Remember also that those who paid cash obtained the land without any guarantee to the State that they would live upon it, without any guarantee of permanent settlement whatever. In fact, the Tasmanian Legislature passed a law whereby practically the whole of the island could have been bought up by anyone who had sufficient money, and the people of the country could have been shut out from their heritage for all time. How did the law treat men who had very little money ? Such a man had to pay 6s. 8d. per acre more than the man who paid cash. The system simply meant that the purchaser who had little or no money would be longing for the day to come when he would be able to pay off the balance of the purchase money due, so as to relieve him of the additional charge of one-third the amount paid by the cash buyer. Such are the laws under which our lands have been alienated. Such were the conditions laid down by Parliaments that were corrupt, by land administrations that were dishonest, under land laws which were iniquitous iri their application, and which have conduced to all the trouble which we, as the representatives of the people, have -to remedy if we are to save this country from the destruction and doom which, must otherwise await it. I have .given a bird’s-eye view qf the land conditions which have prevailed in the States of this Commonwealth in order to show the main character of the laws under which land monopoly has been built up. I have done so because it is necessary to show that, although the land laws of the different States have differed in detail, there has been no difference with regard to the land monopoly which our land legislation has fostered. There has been no real difference in the character of the laws under which we have failed to settle Australia, except that some of the States have had worse land laws than others. It cannot be shown that in any one State just laws have been placed upon the statute-book by those who were intrusted with legislative duties. I will point out one case out of many that have come under my notice. The squatter king of Australia to-day is, I am informed, a person named Fawkner, who has a holding on the Murray comprising 750,000 acres. The average value of that land is estimated by good judges to be £4 per acre. That is to say, this person owns three-quarters of a million acres of the best land on the best river of Australia, having an aggregate value of £3,000,000 sterling, whilst our farmers’ sons are crying out for opportunities to use their muscle and their energy to produce the wealth that the land alone can enable them to produce. I am informed by those who know that this particular holding is so well adapted to the purposes for which it is used that some portions of it will carry a beast to the acre, and that even some of the worst of it will carry two sheep to the acre.
– Is there any chance of getting some of that land ?
– Can it be bought for £4 an acre?
– I said that the average value was £4 an acre. Some of it is being sold at from £6 to £8 an acre.
– The honorable member should take some of us to have a look at it. . I have never seen any land like that.
– I have lived in New South Wales for many years, but until I went to the Upper Murray I did not believe that there’ was land there that would carry a beast to the acre. But honest settlers in the neighbourhood leave rr.e with no reason to doubt them when they tell me that land similar to that of which I am speaking will carry a beast to the acre; and during the drought of 1902, Sir Samuel McCaughey, one of the largest pastoralists in New South Wales, depastured 15 sheep to the acre for three months on Upper Murray land. These facts are related fo me by people who live in the district, and whose information can be relied upon. I have said that the land owned by this squatter king, Fawkner, is worth £$, 000, 000. Not only so, but every year, by reason of the wool crop, his sales of stud sheep, and his surplus stock and other products, he is practically receiving an income of £250,000 a year from his holding. Eventhat is not all. The cattle on the estate are not included in the estimate. The profits derived from the running of cattle on the holding are sufficient to meet the whole of the expenses of management, and the owner is left with a clear income of £250,000 a year from the 750,000 acres of the best land of the country. Men who, like the Prime Minister, speak of the necessity of filling up our empty spaces, and of the danger to the Empire under these conditions, and who, with a knowledge of the conditions existing in every State in the Commonwealth^ will not take more drastic action than the Government propose to take to remedy the evils to which I refer, are not patriots, and have not the welfare of the country at heart, but are merely mouthing patriotism. I can speak from personal knowledge of New South Wales conditions, and I could point to township after township in that great State that is being strangled and prevented from expansion because the surrounding lands are held by absentees, land monopolists, and banks. I refer honorable members to Quirindi, a town on the Liverpool plains, one of the richest parts of New South Wales, as a case in point. That town has no scope for expansion, because it is surrounded by 780,000 acres of land on which sheep are being run to-day. This place is about 200 miles from Sydney. These large estates do nothing for the support and progress of the towns which they surround. All their requirements are supplied by wholesale stores in Sydney. Even the men employed upon them do not patronize the local storekeepers who try to make a living in the country towns. They do not spend their money in the towns for the benefit of the residents, but at the stores established on the stations. We have great stations, managed by men who are paid £100 or £150 a year, a miserable pittance for the responsibilities they assume, and who are coining money year after year from the golden fleece for the enrichment of banks or absentees, for whom this country is not good enough to live in. Many of the owners of these lands have chosen to enjoy the more civilized conditions of Great Britain and other countries, while they draw their incomes from a country which they are assisting to strangle by preventing the adoption of the right means for its protection. I could take honorable members from the south coast of New South Wales to Tenterfield, on the Queensland Border, and back from east to west, and show them what land monopoly is doing in that great State to prevent the development of the country. Yet we have men here who tell us that they are going to leave the settlement of this question to the State Parliaments. They have not the courage themselves to do their duty to the nation. They are not imbued with any desire to give legislative effect to their professions. They tell us that we should give a Dreadnought, or .£2,000,000, to Great Britain, in order to save the country. They tell us a number of other things which should be done to this end, but they will not move one step to do the one thing which will save us, the bursting up of land monopoly in Australia. A day of retribution comes to nations as to men. Men who break natural laws, and refuse to make a right use of the talents with which we are endowed, must pay the penalty sooner or later, and in the same way nations must pay penalties for all neglect of national business. This day of reckoning in Australia is coming faster than honorable members opposite appear to think, yet they sit there, and say that we should leave the settlement of this question to the State Parliaments. God help us if we have to depend upon the State Parliaments to do that which is necessary to save the country and protect its people. I wish to say that in this country, more than in any other I know of, land hunger and land monopoly are found side by side. Everywhere one goes he finds the hunger for land, and with it land monopoly. I have been privileged, as a representative of the people, to travel on two occasions through this Commonwealth in ‘ the performance of my duty. I have not done so to enjoy a pleasure trip, but for an object-lesson and an education. I have tried to qualify myself for the great responsibilities which I undertook when I asked the people to return me to the national Parliament. It is because I have closely observed the conditions existing in the different States and have taken the trouble to secure information at first hand that I feel so keenly the magnitude of the evil of land monopoly. Our laws, as I have said before, have been made by lawyers. If we look into the history of the various States of the Commonwealth, read their Hansards, and note the members of the various State Parliaments and Governments, I undertake to say that we shall find the hand of the legal man in all their legislation. It’ is the curse of our land laws that they have been framed by lawyers for landlords, and not for the people. The lawyers have worked as they always do for monopoly for those who could pay them best. Election to a State Parliament has been for a lawyer not only an education, but an opportunity, and, as a rule, they have not failed to make the best use of that opportunity in their own interests. As a member of the New South Wales Parliament, when the Land Act of 1903 was passed, I found that the only men I had to watch in the interests of the settlers I represented were the lawyers. I forgot for the moment another section, who, if possible, might have been regarded as worse than the lawyers. That section had grown up of recent years and was comprised of men who were known as political .land agents. They were members of Parliament, who, instead of doing their duty to the people free of charge as they ought to have done, inaugurated a system under which they claimed a share of what formerly fell to the lawyers alone. We all know what has been the result of this form of land agency, not only in New South Wales, but in every State in the Commonwealth. We all know the type of man who took up this job of political land agency. Any one with a knowledge df physiognomy or phrenology would as soon trust his child to the tender mercies of a tiger as he would trust the interests of the people to the mercies of an ordinary political land agent. Looking at the position of affairs in New South Wales, the year before Federation, I found in the district I represented, and I mention this as an illustration, that certain nefarious practices were being resorted to. But when I looked up the law under which these people were operating, I discovered a. section which it would require the ingenuity of a Philadelpia lawyer to interpret. After much study, I discovered that the wording of the section which was being used to put the people off the lands in New South Wales at that time and to alienate them wholesale was due to the subtlety of a lawyer. Was it done openly ? No. Was it introduced into the Legislative Assembly ? No ; they did not introduce the provision while the measure was before the popular Chamber, but waited until it reached the House of landlords, to whom the Prime Minister wants to trust the destinies of Australia. At the end of the discussion in Committee a very presentable person - a genial, affable, hail-fellow-well-met sort of man - rose and said, quite innocently : “ Mr. Chairman, I desire to move an amendment in clause soandso in order to express more clearly the phraseology. It will not interfere with the principle at all.” And with the delivery of those few words, which no one seemed to doubt, it was inserted. The Bill was returned to the people’s House, but no one saw the effect of the amendment. It was one of the most deadly provisions ever included in an Act of Parliament in any country. In my district it put more men off the land in three years than had been put on for many years previously. It introduced “a system of land agency the like of which has never been known, even in America, the home of scandals. The amendment was framed by a lawyer, and subtly introduced through an innocent friend who he thought might not be suspected, and thereby an injury was done to the country. Practical men who sold -their land are walking the road with their Blueys as the result of the operation of that provision of a damnable statute. I could go through the land laws, as I have done in the State Parliament, and point out blots and Blemishes, pitfalls and ruinous provisions, put there by members of the legal profession since they have had to do with the framing of legislation. But one illustration is as good as a hundred. When I glance across the table and see a Government constituted of seven lawyers I tremble for the welfare of my country. There were seven lawyers out of ten in the Government of which the honorable member for Ballarat was AttorneyGeneral. There are seven lawyers out of ten in the Government of which he is Prime Minister, and, in addition to them, it includes an ex-land agent. That caps the whole thing. What chance have two laymen in contending against a devil’s brigade of that number? It is a lamentable thing that our politics are drifting into the hands of lawyers and the press. The press is trying to dominate us from the outside, and the legal element is dominating us inside. God knows whether the people will wake up to the enormity of the position or not, but if they do not their latter state will be worse than it is to-day. Every State -law I have read has in its incidence, if not by its intention, perpetuated and extended the monopolization of God’s heritage by the few. And because we know that by these machinations laws have been made and lands acquired we are told by honorable members opposite that we must trust to the people who made such laws. for the salvation of Australia. What is the position to-day ? Are not men trekking from one State to the other right through the Commonwealth ? Are not landholders whose families have grown too large for their original holding, and who are unable to .get any land for their growing sons and daughters, selling out to the land monopolists in Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania, and going where they can. find a larger area? Are they not trekking just as the Boers did from one part of South Africa to another as they were hunted by the enemy of their race? That, in a country embracing an area of nearly three million square miles, and containing only four and a quarter millions of people, men should have to forfeit their homes and seek land in order to employ the labour of their children is a disgraceful thing, and it is not creditable to those who are responsible therefor. Then we come to the recent efforts at closer settlement. I do not intend to give at this stage any mere make-believe, but a few facts regarding the efforts at closer settlement which the new Government are relying upon the States to make. The proper term for what is called closer settlement in the States is “closure” settlement. The value of the land is inflated by reason of the Government being a competitor for the purchase thereof. The price which settlers have to pay for the country they take up, the price which is charged for private land, is of such a character that no matter how early or late they may work they are destined to fall into the hands of the mortgagee, and eventually the land will practically be confiscated by that enemy of land settlement - a monetary institution. Properly speaking, it should be called closure settlement. In my own district several new estates were cut up a few years ago, and the prices’ run up at auction sales. Men who accepted the responsibility of a large liability are struggling under a burden which they can scarcely bear, although only a couple of years have gone by. I am satisfied that there is a value for land beyond which a man cannot make a profit, and that that limit is reached with the bulk of the land that is offered by the Government or private individuals in the form of closer settlement areas to-day. It may not be known to honorable .members, or the public generally, that the larger portion of the land held in the States is not held by the men in whose names it appears, but is practically held by monetary institutions - not monetary institutions which have their headquarters in Australia, but monetary institutions which are directed in out- “ side countries. That is another great and crying danger to the welfare of the Commonwealth. I speak on behalf of the men who are being coaxed into the closure settlement arena. “What do you know of ihe farmer?” is a question which I have often been asked. Some persons imagine that the farmer has no friends on this side of the House. Some of the farmers themselves are being led by the wiles of the Employers’ Union, by the tender- caressing of the squatter class and the monopolistic class - they are being led away to believe that Short is their friend and not Codlin. Tn other words, that honorable members on the other side of the House, who have ever made laws to disinherit them, are their friends, whilst we, on this side, who have ever fought in the State Parliaments or otherwise to liberalize the laws as far as possible, are their enemies. Was ever a bod, of men so deceived as the farming class of Australia are being deceived to-day? Who is likely to sympathize with the farmer, who is struggling by the sweat of his brow to gain a livelihood for himself and those dependent upon him, unless it be the man who knows what it is to toil and has sympathy with those who have to do so? I offer no apology for making an appeal on behalf of the farmer, because my mother was one of fourteen children whom a farm labourer tried to rear on ten shillings a week and skimmed milk obtained from the farm. I have heard the story of the struggles of the farmers in the Old Country. I have been told how hard it was to save the lives of the little ones. My father was a man who had received no education. He never, as a boy, learned to read or write, and never saw the inside of a school. His first occupation was that of a scare-crow, he being employed to frighten crows from the wheat which otherwise they would have destroyed. I come from a mother who had to work in the fields picking turnips, when her fingers tingled with the frost lying on the leaves. Is it to be said that I have not inherited sympathy for those who are struggling on the land? When a boy, I never knew what it was to play at football or cricket, my every hour being occupied with digging, setting, hoeing, weeding, thinning, or harvesting the little crops which my father used to grow to help to support his family of eleven, of which I was the eldest son. I used to have to go out and manure the fields to make the herbage grow more prolifically. My father planted a rotation of crops, beginning with root, and finishing with seed, crops. When the last wheat crop was garnered, he would sow clover and rye grass, to provide food for the cow or two that we depastured. I have stood by the side of a dash-churn, on a three-legged stool, because I was not high enough to operate it whilst standing on the ground, helping my mother to separate the butter from the thick and sour milk. In the winter time, the milk sometimes would not “break” in this primitive appliance, until four hours had been occupied in churning, and I remember how my arms used to ache at the work. Am I to be told that I do not know anything about the condition of the farmers, or that I do not understand what makes a man sympathetic with those on the land? Away in North Wales, I had to take my place at the old singlefurrowed plough, and had not gone far before the share violently struck against a rock, causing thy? handle to hit me so severely on the ribs that I carried the mark for many weeks afterwards, as punishment for my incautiousness in not watching for such obstacles. I also assisted, when a lad of sixteen or seventeen, in reaping with the sickle, and in binding the sheaves, and in earlier days, with my little brothers and sisters, gleaned the wheat left by the hand-rakers, threshed it out with the flail, and took it to the old wind mill, where it was ground to feed the family. All my boyhood days were spent in helping my parents to support their large family. Yet I am told that I have no sympathy with the man on the land ! I know what it is to have to toil to earn a living by the sweat of my brow. Are such men as myself not to be trusted with the interests of the primary producers, while those sitting opposite, who have fattened and battened on land monopoly, and disinheriting the people, are to be looked upon as. the saviours of the men on the land ? Let us consider what has been the progress of settlement in New South Wales of recent years. In 1907 the area under crop there was 3,870 acres less than it was in 1906, while the area under crop in 1908 was 254,074 acres less than in the preceding year. The agriculture of New South Wales, instead of increasing, is diminishing. In. 1908 there were more than a quarter of a million acres less under crop than in 1907. Notwithstanding that the value of agricultural produce was higher in 1908 than in 1907, the total value of the production of 1908 was only £6,587,990, while that of the preceding year was £7. 57550. or nearly £1,000,000 more. Yet we are told that the State is prospering, and that its land is being put to the best uses. What is happening is that the land is passing into the hands of the monopolists, and this will continue so long as the present laws remain operative. Let me now show how the closer settlement administration in New South Wales has resulted. The first estate resumed for closer settlement was Myall Creek, in the Gwydir electorate. It was divided into 134 farms, and cost £162,384, the average cost to those who settled on it being £1,212. Another estate - Gobbagumbalin - was divided into 137 farms. It cost £236,101, and the average cost to each settler upon it was £1,723. The Marra estate was divided into fortyfive farms, at a cost of £77,174, or an average cost to each farmer of ,£1,718. This was the first effort at closer settlement under the administration of the Hon. James Ashton, and the total in his time amounted to 316 farms, at a cost of £475,686, with a cost to the settlers of £1,505. Where is the possibility of a settler making a living who has to undertake such a burden? I mention this to prove what I said before, namely, that closure settlement, and not closer settlement, should be tlie phrase, because it is only a matter of time when the settler will let both burden and land go. I now come to the result of the second -effort at resumption on the part of the New South Wales Government, from 1907 up to date. In the case of Sunny Ridge, there were twenty-four farms, which cost £45,606, or an average cost of £1,900 ; at Walla Walla there were 109 farms, which cost £255,147, or an average cost of £2,340 j at Peel River there were 213 farms, which cost £405,919, or an average of £1,906; and at Boree Creek there were thirty farms, which cost £62,125, or an average of £2,071. The total number of farms was 376, which cost £768,797, or an average of £2,044. In the case of the Peel River Estate, the lands were practically granted without cost to the original owner. Is anything more needed to show how heavy the burden is on the settler? It is well known that if the value of land be inflated by bringing in the Government as a competitor, it is practically impossible for any man to make profitable, use of it. The value set upon the land is not the normal value, but an inflated and speculative value ; and the result is that the man who buys it is only in residence for a. short time, when it passes over to the monetary institutions or the monopolists. I find from the Statistical Bulletin, which is the standard authority in Australia, that the number of new settlers for the five months from 1st January to 30th May this year totalled 679. At this rate, the number for the year would be 1,630 ; and here we have the result of all the effort, and the expenditure of nearly £1,000,000 ! How long will it take, at this rate, to so populate Australia as to make us safe from invasion from Japan or intrusion from the German Empire? We can never possibly attain the independence we should enjoy, while these conditions prevail. Those who took up closer settlement areas during the five months I have mentioned totalled 127, or 305 for the year. The total of new settlers for the five months was 806, or 1,935 f°r the year. What has been going on in other directions? How many conditional leases were transferred? How many of the old conditional lease purchasers have parted with, or transferred, their land during the twelve months? In the year 1907 the conditional leases transferred totalled 10,989 ; so that whilst 1,935 new settlers were placed on the land by the “superhuman efforts” of the Government, over 10,000 conditional purchase leases were transferred. It will Tse seen that, instead of increasing, land settlement actually decreased by something like 500 per cent. ; and this is an illustration of what we are to expect from the States, on which, the Prime Minister tells us, we are to rely. The results I have shown are those of two or three closer settlement laws that have been passed in New South Wales during the last three years, for the purpose of inducing settlement, and the result is, as we see, that, while one man is placed on the land, many more part with their land to the monopolist. In the same Gazette, of the 5th May, in which the conditions are advertised for closer settlement, there is an advertisement calling for tenders for 104,000 acres of wheat land, thirty miles from a railway, on a twenty years’ tenure, under an improvement lease. While the Government are buying private estates for the purpose of closer settlement, they are handing over the balance of the public lands to monopolists on the cheapest form of rental there is under the land laws. Does it need any more to show what I said earlier this afternoon, that the laws are made for the monopolization of land, and that the people are forced to buy from the monopolists, whilst, at the same time, the little Government land available for closer settlement is alienated? Some of the land speculators on the other side of the House - some of the men making a living out of private subdivision - say there is plenty of land, owing to the action taken by private owners. In the case of New South Wales,” I take four recent subdivisions to illustrate my case ; and all these are in the neighbourhood of Goulburn, one of the most prolific parts of the State. These estates, which are within 50 miles of each other, have been subdivided and sold during the last twelve months. The first, the Wheo estate, of 17,700 acres, was subdivided into twenty-seven lots, and sold by auction. Twenty-six of these were bought by adjoining holders, so that so far as settlement was concerned the net result of the subdivision was an increase of one in the number of settlers. Then we have the Kestwick estate of 3,000 acres, which was subdivided into fifteen lots, the whole of which were purchased by four adjoining land-owners. The result, as far as closer settlement was concerned, was, therefore, nil. Next we have the Richlands estate of 8,000 acres, which was also subdivided, and three outsiders purchased blocks. As the result of these three subdivisions, therefore, there were four new settlers. That may be regarded as a marvellous advance in closer settlement under the great institution of private subdivision ; but the other side of the picture has yet to be seen. As a matter of fact, the three new settlers on the Richlands estate displaced twelve tenant farmers and their families, who had been earning a livelihood upon it prior to its subdivision.
In other words, as the result of this private subdivision nine families were left homeless, and were thrust upon the labour market to compete with those already there. Honorable members opposite are living in a fools’ paradise. Like the ostrich, which, when hard pressed, buries its head in the sand, they close their eyes to the true position, and cannot see the danger that threatens. These private subdivisions had the effect of decreasing instead of increasing settlement, and they illustrate my contention that we cannot depend either on the present State system of closer settlement, or on that of private subdivision, to provide for adequate land settlement. There is one other private subdivision to which I have yet to refer - that of the Pylarra estate of 11,000 acres, the whole of which was purchased by adjoining holders. The net result of this subdivision of estates totalling 39,000 acres was a reduction of eight in the number of settlers already on the land in the district. The adjoining holders who purchased so largely may probably find themselves in the same position as men who purchased largely at Government subdivisions, and paid remarkably high prices for their lots. In their case, in some instances, land settlement in New South Wales has proved ruinous. Before the terrible drought of 1902, which struck the district which I represent with appalling force, some of the large land-holders in my electorate spent all their ready money in buying up every acre of land in the neighbourhood of their properties. Land-owners, both large and small, were seized with the disease of land hunger, and when Providence visited them with a drought to teach them, as it were, a lesson, they found themselves with additional land, additional rent to pay, and additional interest to meet, but without food for their stock. The money which they ought to have put by to provide for a time of natural peril, had been spent by them in monopolizing more land, and having no funds with which to purchase fodder for their starving stock, many of them had to go back to the point from which they started many years before. In boomerang fashion, their acts recoiled upon them, and theyhad to pay the penalty. Those who have taken up private land at “high prices may, yet find themselves in the same position. Probably some of them have borrowed money to acquire blocks which need to be fenced, and brought under the plough. Farming and other implements will have to be purchased, and I should rot be surprised if many of them do not find ultimately that they have “bitten off more than they can chew.” They may yet have to pay the penalty of the avaricious man, and may find themselves very much in the position of the dog who dropped the substance for the :shadow. I come now to what is a beautiful satire on the hope expressed by the Prime Minister that the States will take action to liniock the land. For many years the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, and1 some of the. other States have recognised the necessity of establishing agricultural colleges in order that our farmers’ sons, and others, may obtain a knowledge of scientific farming. There are a number of these colleges in the States. In New South Wales we have two or three magnificent institutions of the kind, where many farmers’ sons, and still more sons of land monopolists and monied men, have gone with a view of learning the science of farming. And yet the Premier of New South Wales, when addressing the students at Hawkesbury College recently, advised them not to look to the Government for land, but to the private land-holder. This was a declaration on the part of the Premier of a State with an area of nearly 200,000,000 acres, and a population of about 1,500,000, that the Government have no land to offer the people. He warned- the students that they must look, not to the Government, but to the private land-owner, for an opportunity to put to good use the knowledge they had gained at the college. That advice may be peculiarly applicable to students who are the sons of farmers - to lads who have been sent to agricultural colleges to supplement the knowledge they may have gained upon their fathers’ farms. Such youths certainly have no hope of acquiring blocks from private land-holders. Their fathers, perhaps, have just enough land to enable them to support their families, and, therefore, there is no hope of their making homes for themselves on the soil They must become tenant farmers or farm labourers, working for those who have the land. Instead of verifying the prophecy that was made when these colleges were established, instead of fulfilling the object which we hoped to see achieved, of fitting our boys by education to settle on the land, and use it profitably, those colleges have evidently been instituted merely for the purpose of educating boys to become the farm labourers of men who own the land.
So is the good purpose of one man turned to the evil purpose of another by the machinations of laws of that character. It is a cruel shame. It is one of the blots upon the history of this country that every man must feel ashamed of, when such advice has to be given in a great State to the boys whom we have educated, partially at the State’s expense. I come now more closely to the Prime Minister.
– Where is he?
– He is evidently happy in his new associations, and safe in the multitude of his supporters.
– Perhaps he has to go out to watch them.
– He may possibly have to do that before long. I know of no body of men, with the exception of two or three, that require more watching than do those on the Government side. I have briefly illustrated the condition of the land laws from the beginning of the States, and I have shown what their effects have been. If I had time I could show how much land has been alienated, and its value, and the number of people settled upon it. I have proved how absolutely hopeless it is to expect any increase of population on our land through the laws now being passed by the States. I come now to the hope of the Federal Government - to what the Prime Minister said the other day. I wish honorable members to mark’ his words closely, because this will be an historical part of that speech, a part that he will be sorry for before he leaves this planet, and that many will quote after he has gone : -
If the States will not act. . . . Speaking for myself, and’ with, I think, the support of a large number of honorable members of this side, I believe that, if Australia is to be faced with the choice between an imperfect and insufficient settlement of our rich lands - depopulation, in fact, and national weakness - or Federal legislation in regard to land laws’, Federal legislation will come.
That is the text of the wonderful sermon preached by the honorable gentleman at this table only a few nights ago. He is a man who sees what is wanted, and who has been in State and Federal politics for a quarter of a century. He is a lawyer, and ought to know what our laws contain. He said at Brisbane that he had been a land reformer from the beginning of his history. If he was a land reformer when he began his Victorian Parliamentary career, and if the land laws of this State are a sample of what we might expect from seventeen or eighteen years’ effort - if that is his credential, his testimonial, he has no right lo be Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. No more diabolical land laws, and no more unjust land tax - no greater mockery than the Land Tax Act, which has been placed upon the Victorian statute-book - can be found in any other State in Australia. Such is the gentleman who sat in different Governments in this State, and told the people of Brisbane in my hearing that he had always been a land reformer. That may be true, but he never .reformed the land laws. Perhaps he is still a land reformer in embryo, because he says : “If the States will not act.” How have the States acted up to the present? I have shown, sufficiently for my purposes, the results of the actions of the States in the past, and any honorable gentleman who tells the people to rely on the action of the States in regard to closer settlement, which is so essential to the safety of Australia, is practically fooling them, because he knows that there can be no effective results. Trust the States ! How long does the Prime Minister expect it will be before he knows whether the States will or will not act ? Here are six States, with six Legislative Assemblies, and six Legislative Councils, most of the latter being constituted of landlords - land monopolists. The Prime Minister is a man who proposes to trust the lamb to the keeping of the lion, and asks us to hope for the salvation of the lamb. He knows as well as I do that there is no hope of the States acting. But, even if they did act, how long would it take them to come to anything like a uniform conclusion? In none of the States are the land laws the same, or do they assimilate, and in every State the incidence of land taxation differs. Therefore, on the threshold of our hopes, we are met with serious difficulties, not only with regard to the non-uniformity of the laws, but in the constitution of the Houses of Parliament. All the States certainly have the same franchise for their Legislative Assemblies, but some of the Houses of Lords, or Legislative Councils, are nominee, and others are elective. The nominee bodies are composed of the landlord or wealthy class, while the elective Upper Houses are returned on a special franchise and not on manhood suffrage. What can we expect from a franchise based on a pro- perty qualification except property representation? In those Upper Houses we have an obstacle to anything like uniform action with regard to land taxation during the next twenty or twenty-five years, and no man, however credulous, can expect it to be otherwise. I have heard the Prime Minister himself say that we have not twenty-five years to live as a nation. I have heard him warn the people of the dangers threatened by the rise of that young nation in the East, almost on the northern borders of our continent. I have heard him state that the growing ambition of Germany to find homes for her fast increasing population will not much_ longer be suppressed, and that within twentyfive years from now, in the natural evolution that is taking place among the nations of the world, they will claim the land which is not occupied for those who have no land and who have grown too numerous for the country of their birth. Yet the Prime Minister tells us to look to the States. ‘ “If the States will not act !” I should like that phrase to ring in his ears. He has recently been all over Australia telling us that we must spend £2,000,000 on a Dreadnought to save Australia. The amount of merit in that proposal was well shown by the reply received from the Imperial Naval authorities. They told the Government that the presentation of a Dreadnought to Britain without men to man it and money with which to defray the cost of its maintenance would be useless. The British authorities have informed us’ that the time has now arrived when the necessities of the Empire call for the withdrawal of its Fleet from all those naval bases which they formerly occupied, and for the concentration of its mighty Navy close to the heart of the Empire. In future, therefore, we cannot hope to receive from the British Fleet the protection that we have enjoyed since we first contributed to the Naval Subsidy. Yet we are told by honorable members opposite that the best way to secure immunity from the danger which threatens us is to offer an empty battle-ship to the MotHer Country. The idea is ridiculous. We have now reached the stage of manhood. Now that all the members of the family have entered one household, now that the Australian States have federated so that this Parliament is in a position to legislate for the requirements of the Commonwealth, we have a right to do our part in defending our heritage, otherwise we do not deserve to hold it. What worthy son of a father would cling to that father’s support after he had attained manhood and was able to earn his own living? What worthy son would claim his father’s protection whilst he had a strong arm of his own with which to strike the enemy? So it is with this portion of the British Empire. It is constituted of Britishers who are able - if they will - to mould its destiny and secure its safety. But we cannot accomplish our object by adopting the pretentious methods put forward by the Prime Minister. Why does he say, “If the States will not act?” I submit that his words in that connexion are merely an excuse for that delay which has characterized every Conservative party from the establishment of civilized government. Later on he says -
Speaking for myself-
Fancy the Prime Minister with a Government behind him not being in a position to know whether he speaks for more than himself. Do not his words imply that if the matter were left to himself he would act to-day instead of waiting for action on the part of the States ? If there be one sentence in his speech which clearly indicates that he has done wrong by entering the Conservative camp it is that which I have quoted. Had he remained true to the party which had supported him for years he would not need to say, “ Speaking for myself.” Upon the great question of land reform he could have spoken in unmistakable language, confident of the support that would have been accorded him. But he has chosen his own path, and he will have to travel it. There is no redemption for a man who has gone so far as he has, who has sold himself to the enemy, and who has taken up a position in which he enjoys no power - a position in which he cannot even sign a document pertaining to the government of the country. When I was referring to this matter the other day the honorable member for Balaclava interjected that the Prime Minister of Great Britain also held office without portfolio. At the time, I said that it was scarcely fair to expect me to reply to his statement upon the spur of the moment. To-day, however, I am in a position to say that the Prime Minister of Great Britain also fills the office of First Lord of the Treasury, which makes him the first Minister of State in the country, and for which he receives a salary of £5,000 per annum. He therefore wields all the power that should ‘ be exercised by the head of any Government. I hope that my statement will satisfy the honorable member for Balaclava as to the position which obtains in Great Britain to-day. Continuing, the Prime Minister said -
Speaking for myself, and, I think, with the support of a large number of honorable members on this side;-
Evidently the honorable member for Ballarat has accepted the position of Prime Minister without knowing what are the politics of his followers.
– Does anybody know them?
– At any rate, we might expect the Prime Minister to know them. I have known a number of honorable members opposite for years. Some of them are single taxers. But such strange bed’:- fellows does politics make that we find single taxers sitting cheek by jowl with monopolistic squatters, and both supporting the same Government. Surely such a conglomeration of principles has never been witnessed in any other part of the British Dominions. Evidently the Prime Minister realizes that he has not the support of the Conservative section of his followers, of the Employers’ Union, and of the land syndicators and sharks who formerly sat in the Opposition corner. Some time ago I declared that the thirteen honorable members who then occupied that corner would dominate the politics of those who now sit upon the opposite side of the Chamber. My prediction is being fulfilled. These are the men whom the Prime Minister fears. “ If the States will not act,” he can give us no guarantee that these men will support any land values taxation proposal for Australia that he may bring forward. What a humiliating position for him to occupy ! No Prime Minister has ever occupied such a degrading- position in any Parliament of which I have knowledge. He says -
I believe that if Australia is to be faced with a choice-
Is it not faced with a choice to-day ? Does he mean to tell us that his public utterances in which he repeatedly warned us of the dangers that threaten us, as well as the eloquent speeches which he delivered in Great Britain whilst attending the Imperial Conference, were mere moonshine? He told the people of the Commonwealth that the clanger is here now ; not that it may be here. Australia is face to face with the clanger to which the Prime Minister referred. Here we are, with a handful of drilled men, the mere nucleus of a defence force, without a ship or a torpedo destroyer to ward off any raiding cruisers that might attack our commerce if England were invaded. We are living in a fool’s paradise. The men who own the land of this country, and who believe that it is only necessary to contribute £10,000 towards a Dreadnought to make their property safe, are deluding themselves. Of what value would their land be to them if this country were attacked? Of what value would it be to them if a foreign flag floated over this Parliament House? Unlike the Prime Minister, I say that we have little time in which to prepare. Those who have studied the trend of history are aware of the international changes that have taken place within the last decade or so. There is sufficient in the situation for Australia to take warning by. Yet the Prime Minister Says : “If we are to be faced wilh a choice.” He speaks of there being a choice between imperfect and insufficient settlement - depopulation in fact - and Federal action. I have just been pointing out that all the States are suffering from depopulation. Does the Prime Minister mean to tell me that he does not watch the course of current politics ? Is he guilty of neglecting to study the condition of affairs in our several States ? If he is ignorant of these things he is unworthy of his position and of the trust of the people of this country. What does he mean by saying: “If we are to be faced,” when he knows that we are faced to-day by the choice to which he refers. What a hollow mockery is this that is being perpetrated by a party without a policy and without principles, except those which they have assumed for the purpose of gaining office, power and pay. The Prime Minister went on further to admit “ the national weakness “ which faces us. He said that if the States will not act there must be “ Federal legislation in regard to land laws.” What does he mean by that? Apparently the Prime Minister is not seeking to bring about this Federal legislation himself, but is waiting for five or six years, when, if the States have not done what they should, and the condition of Australia is ten times more perilous than it is to-day, Federal legislation will have to be enacted. Probably the Prime Minister anticipates that if such is not the case the people will rise in their power and demand the expulsion from office of such a number of absolutely insincere and illogical people as now sit upon the Treasury bench. The passage that I have cited from the Prime Minister’s speech isremarkable in the sense that it can be understood. Generally his meaning iscovered up by a quantity of cloudy phrases. Here, however, is something that is plain. English. I do not know how the honorable gentleman got it in, but he managed it somehow. Usually at the end of a four hours’ speech from the Prime Minister, the listener, with the silvery sound of hisoratory ringing in his ears, does not remember anything that the honorable gentleman has said. I took this little gem out of his oration in this chamber in order that I might exhibit to the people of thiscountry the hollow and helpless position, in which the’ Prime Minister of the Commonwealth stands to-day. There was one humiliating feature which did not do credit to the Prime Minister or to his intelligence. He said that he did not agree with imposing a land tax on the alienated areasindiscriminately, because of something that he heard in Queensland. It would not doto take too seriously what one might hear in Queensland from such people as the Prime Minister associated with there. I happened to be at his famous meeting in that State, and heard him speak of the information given to him by his Queensland? advisers. He said that one of the thingsthat made him shaky - and the use of that word made me laugh, because I have never’ yet known the honorable gentleman to besolid - was that some one told him that inQueensland there might be two adjacent pieces of land divided by a fence, whenone piece would be taxed practically totwice the extent of the other on its actual value. He mentioned this to show that an injustice would be done to some people. I suppose that this was one of the fairystories which the Queensland land monopolists poured into his ear. But the case did’ not seem to me to be creditable to the PrimeMinister’s intelligence. Perplexing as theillustration may seem, it is not so perplexing that the ordinary reasoner cannot seethrough it. If two pieces of land are adjacent they must be similar in quality, unless one estate were on the top of a mountain and the other at its foot. If they are alike in quality, they must be alike in value. If they are not alike in quality, they must differ in value. It matters not what anomalies arise from our varying inequitable land laws, they cannot affect the equity underlying the principle of taxing the unimproved value of land. A very novice in politics would not accept a statement such as that referred to by the Prime Minister, and found upon it an excuse for shaking his confidence in the application of a well-known principle, the justice of which has been established by economic writers for centuries past. When I hear the Prime Minister make use of such an excuse, I say that he does not understand the first principles on which the assessment of land is based. He forgets that it is proposed that all land, no matter what its value, . is to be taxed only on its unimproved value, and, therefore, there could be no such discrepancy as he spoke of.
– But there are land valuers and land valuers.
– That is well-known. We know that in Victoria men have valued land at £2 per acre that was worth £12 per acre. Land has been valued at a bagatelle that has been very valuable land indeed. However, I am not now dealing with the vagaries of land valuers, but with the principle of land value taxation. I say that the Prime Minister’s statement to which I have referred does him no credit, and if that is the only excuse he can offer for waiting until the’ States Parliaments do something in this matter, he is on even a more rotten foundation than I had assumed. He tells us that he is not in favour of land values taxation, as proposed by the Labour party, because grazing land used for sheep in the back blocks is of no use for anything else, and would be unfairly taxed under our proposal. It would be taxed only on its unimproved value. If agricultural land close to a river in the back blocks were worth £10 per acre, it -would be taxed at £10 per acre, but if pastoral land adjoining it were worth only £1 per acre for pastoral purposes, it would be taxed on that valuation. It is not only illogical, but a mockery to submit t’o intelligent men such an excuse as that put forward by the Prime Minister. It does not matter about the quality or location of land, when the whole thing is governed by its unimproved value, which is easily arrived at.
Before I leave this question, I wish to put it on record that to-day the farmers are being used by their enemies. The Farmers and Settlers’ Association, as it is called, is neither more nor less than an association of squatters and representatives of banks.
– And land agents.
– Of course, but the land agents are merely the tools of the monopolists and banks. The Farmers and Settlers’ Association of New South Wales and the Farmers’ Associations of Victoria and South Australia, and similar institutions throughout the Commonwealth are being run, first of all, by squatters, land monopolists and banks, aided by land agents. Another face behind the mask is the face of the Employers’ Federation. The farmers are being used without knowing it, and too late will realize the pitfall that is being prepared for them. We find that in New South Wales to-day, Premier Wade, in order, as it is said, to enable the Farmers and Settlers’ Association to be effective, has nominated two of its members to the Upper House, a Mr. Wetherspoon and a Mr. Patten. These men have never done anything to entitle them to nomination to the Legislative Council of New South Wales. There is nothing in their career to indicate that they are likely to make effective politicians. One is a very large land-holder. The other was at one time a school teacher, and, I believe, married a girl who had some land. He worked it for a while, but whether he is now anxious to get off it, I am unable to say. He joined the ‘Farmers and Settlers’ Association, and became its president last 5’ear, I think, after he was nominated to the Upper House. These men have been nominated members of the Legislative Council of New South Wales in order that they may secure free passes by which they can save expense in travelling throughout the State.
– To do what?
– To organize against the Labour party. The Government, by their nomination, have indicated that they believe it is necessary to secure the support of the farmers and settlers at Federal and State elections. They have given these men gold passes to enable them to travel at the public expense to promulgate the doctrine of land monopoly and plans for the destruction of the Labour party. What marvellous work has the Farmers and
Settlers’ Association done for the farmers of New South Wales? At its inception it was established by the small men on the land in protest against the aggression of the squatter and his class. For some years, the institution worthily represented those by whom it was established, but the evil influence of the monopolist got into it, and ultimately overshadowed the views- of the bond fide farmers, who had previously controlled the institution. The result is that !to-day those who are running the show in the Association are doing so in the interests of land monopoly. Let me say that this wonderful institution, under the guidance of its secretary of a year or two ago, inaugurated what was called a Farmers and Settlers’ Co-operative Company, in New South Wales, the object being to get rid of the middle man and the agent, to enable the farmer to reach the consumer directly with his products, and to obtain from them their real value, less the cost of freight. What has been the result? Read the records of the Insolvency Court and the Law Courts of New South Wales during the last year, and it will be found that this Farmers and Settlers’ Co-operative Society was run by Sir William McMillan, who, at one time, was a member of this House- a man who knew more about the quality of calico than he did about wheat, or butter, or eggs, or any other product. These men got hold of the Farmers and Settlers’ Co-operative Company, and the result has been disastrous to many hundreds of farmers. They have mortgaged to the banks wheat which they had received on consignment from the farmers, and spent the money in some way or other. For months the unfortunate farmers have waited for money which never comes to hand. Again, take the farmers who consigned their butter to this company.
– Eleven thousand bags of wheat cannot be found at all.
– If the rats were as prevalent in the stores of Sydney as they are alleged to ‘be in the General Post Office of Melbourne, that might account for the disappearance of a portion of the wheat. At any rate, 11,000 bags of the article cannot be traced, either as having been mortgaged to the banks or otherwise. In addition to wheat, tons of butter, which have been won from the soil by the farmers, have been intrusted to the Farmers and Settlers’ Co-operative Society, for sale. The farmers have had a very salutary object-lesson in intrusting their business to the association. Now, a farmer cannot be touched in a tenderer spot than his pocket. In fact, any man will stand a lot so long as his pocket is not touched. One will make an enemy of any man if he injures his prospects or deprives him of that which he believes to be his property. I should imagine that the experience which the farmers have had of the Farmers and’ Settlers’ Co-operative Society would have been quite enough to prevent them from being enticed into the trap again. “Once bitten, twice shy” should be the motto of the farmers in every State. That the farmers of New South Wales are being used as catspaws by the monopolist and those behind him to pull the chestnuts out of the fire I can prove by evidence and from personal experience. My district is occupied by pastoralists, or, to use a general term, graziers and farmers. I am speaking of a subject with which I have had to deal for nearly the last decade in the State and Federal Parliaments. My sympathy goes out to the farmer who is being fooled into a false position, and who, if he does not mind, will only realize itsgravity when it is impossible to go back. The Farmers and Settlers’ Association did another little thing which is worth putting, on record. Some time ago they started to run a newspaper under their auspices. It has been used as a kind of labour bureau for the purpose of making known where positions were to be obtained amongst farmers by immigrants. Under the auspices of this bureau twenty men were engaged, at a wage of 8s. per week. The newspaper is made use of to procure what is practically slave labour - because it does not yield a return that will provide a man with the food, clothing, and shelter whichbond slaves, used to be supplied within the days gone by. No less thantwenty men were obtained to go upon the farms of New South Wales and workfor the miserable pittance of 8s. per week, together with a little tucker. The Labour party have turned up the records of theState Government, and found that thesemen are immigrants, who, no doubt, willrecognise what immigration means before they have been here long. They have beensent into the back-blocks to work on farmswhich are quite different from those to which they were accustomed in other countries. In order to induce the men to emigrate the-
Government guaranteed that, on landing in this sunny land, they would receive a wage of 35s. per week and their food. But they are receiving only 8s. a week, with their tucker, under a guarantee which should be honoured by the Government. Is not that a lamentable state of affairs? Do honorable members think that we are likely to attract population here by such means ? Do they think (hat when these men tell their friends how woefully they have been deceived and misled, and warn them to take no notice of the lies which are published in order to induce emigration to Australia, it will encourage other persons to follow their example and come here? No, it will prevent the emigration of men who otherwise would come here to establish homes for themselves, and help us to populate the country. Such is the conduct of a State on which’ the Prime Minister depends for salvation. Such is the source to which he looks for our safety in the future. The Government’s guarantee to the twenty men I cited cannot be challenged, because it has been produced. Do I need to go further to convince the House and the country how shallow the professions of the Prime Minister are? No; but whilst on this question I might say that I was not an assisted immigrant. My father had a prejudice against assisted immigration, ‘and at the age of nineteen, paid my passage, and gave me what money he- could spare, leaving me to find my way to Australia. I landed in this country thirty years ago. Through the carelessness of a shipmate, my money was lost, so that I came ashore a penniless boy, without friends. But in less than two years I had sent for my father and mother and family. My father did not like to make me an assisted immigrant, because there were ringing in his ears those old songs which were sung when men used to be transported to this part of the world -
And they yoked him to a plow, to ‘ plow Van Diemen’s Land.
He had heard of the horrors of the voyages made by the convict ships, and feared that assisted immigrants might have to undergo similar privations. Therefore my passage was paid for me by him. But on arrival here, I fought my way so well that, within two years, I had the pleasure of welcoming thirteen of those whom I loved, who came out in the good ship Peterborough. They came out under the assisted immigra tion system, because I could recommend them to do so. My experience was so encouraging, my success so enticing, as to justify them in coming. But what will those who read the letters of the immigrants to whom I have been referring think? Wild not the idea of following in the footsteps of their friends be repellent to them ? In the days when I came out, immigration was a live thing. The Government was assisting immigration by bringing out adults at £5 each, and children at half-price. But the system was being overdone, and the alienation of land was becoming rampant. Therefore, when, in 1881, the right honorable member for East Sydney entered State politics in New South Wales, his trump card was his protest against the wholesale alienation of the public estate. He made the land resound with his denunciations of the wasteful and reckless conduct of those who were administering the affairs of the State. At that time, the late Sir Henry Parkes was receiving millions of pounds per annum as the proceeds of auction sales of public land, and scattering the money broadcast, as politicians know how to spend the public revenue. The right honorable member for East Sydney strongly protested against this conduct. But when I and my family came out, there was land to be got in New South Wales ; there was still an opening for those who wished to settle upon the soil, even though their means might be limited. I have shown, however, how different are the prospects of the immigrants who are coming out now. I ha.ve met many in New South Wales who have been attracted to Australia by the deceptive advertisements of the Government, and I have .met others in Victoria, Western Australia, and Queensland, who have borne testimony to the condition of affairs which I have put before the House. While this state of affairs lasts, the country cannot prosper and advance. This brings me to another point. On Friday last, when I was charging the Ministers for Home Affairs and Defence with having played fast and loose with their principles, with having sacrificed their pledges for a mess of pottage, and although Free Traders, joining a nominally Protectionist Government, they interjected, “ But you were a Free Trader once.” I admit without hesitation that I was. 1 adopted the fiscal creed of my fathers.
– Not a bad creed either.
– In England, thirty years ago, Free Trade was looked upon as the grandest political doctrine. Nearly every Englishman was then a Free Trader. Protection was never discussed, nor was it written about in the press. Consequently, I became a Free Trader by inheritance, just as I adopted my religion from my mother. I was influenced by the environment in which I was reared. When I got to Australia, I fought, as only an enthusiast will fight, for the faith that was in me. I took my part in the work of elections, and helped to secure seats for some of those who afterwards, in the State Parliament, sat on the same side as the Minister of Home Affairs. I was one of those who introduced Sir Joseph Carruthers to State politics, when he first stood for Canterbury. That is one of the things which I regret. But whilst I regret it, I have to thank my connexion with that gentleman for an advantage greater than the error I then committed. By listening to the speeches which he delivered, and discussing difficult points with him. the seeds of doubt were sown in my mind. But, instead of changing from one side to the other in a day as the Ministers for Home Affairs and Defence did, I, for eighteen months, used the recreation which I enjoyed under the eight hours system, in reading every available economical and social work which I could borrow from the libraries or from friends. I was a close student during all this time, before bringing myself to make any change in the opinions which I had inherited from my forefathers. I was still unconvinced when a friend asked me, “ Have you read List’s National System of Political Economy?” I said, “No; I have never been able to get it. It is not procurable at the library.” He lent me his copy, and I read the book, which is one of the finest works on the subject that I know of. I read it as one who was hungry for information, and it caused my idol to fall. I became a Protectionist bv conviction, and have remained one ever since.
– And yet, after all, the honorable member joined a party in which the fiscal issue was put aside.
– Although I joined tHe Labour party, I have done more in this Parliament to carry out my fiscal belief than many who sit in the Protectionist ranks. I adhered to my Protectionist principles while the Tariff was being passed, believing then, as I believe now, that we should get Protection for the worker and consumer, as well as for the manufacturer ; and the honorable member for Illawarra cannot chide me on that ground. I am not ashamed of any page in my political history, so long as that page is produced honestly and faithfully. When the great drought was afflicting New South Wales, my electors, who were suffering seriously, and to whom fodder meant life and salvation, appealed to me to urge the Federal Parliament to take steps with a view to the removal of the duties. As I did not view those duties as being of a Protectionist character, I did what they asked, and I voted here against their re-imposition. I was a Free Trader once, just as I was once a boy, and I thought I had made my position clear to honorable members opposite, who now try to humiliate me before the public.
– There was no attempt at humiliation, but merely a reminder.
– A reminder with a sting in it - a reminder, suggesting that I had been false to my principles and profession. As I said before, I have read the proofs of my speech so far as it is printed, and I see nothing to withdraw or amend. I can assure honorable members that had I said anything unfair or unmanly, no one would be readier to ask the forgiveness of the House.
– Does the honorable member not think that, when he accuses us of changing our principles, we are at liberty to remind him that he has done something of the sort ?
– I have done nothing of the sort. I said that I would explain my position later, and I am doing so now. Why did the honorable member for Illawarra and the Minister of Defence object so sourly to my speech on Friday last? They are both free men, and have the same opportunities that I have to stand up and speak.
– I have too much respect for my constituents to do what the honorable member is doing.
– I know the respect that the honorable member has for his constituents. I know that he shifted very quickly from a constituency when he saw there was an opportunity for entering the Conservative camp.’
– A man who speaks for six hours and three-quarters ought not to have a chance to do so again.
– The honorable member, when on this side of the House, if he did not take six hours and three-quarters to make a speech-
– It seemed like it.
– That is not what I mean, but certainly two hours of the honorable member would be more agonizing to any audience than any length of time that I should occupy. While the honorable member may not have occupied six hours at a stretch, I undertake to say that Hansard will show that he has many times occupied six hours on one day, rising time after time in carping condemnation of the very men with whom he sits to-day.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member has wasted more time of Parliament than any other man within these walls. I say that he has wasted time because he occupied it in mock condemnation of the men who then sat opposite to him. He condemned the Prime Minister time after time in the most scathing, and often, unmanly, terms. I have heard him from his place occupy time in a way that no honest, sincere, orrespectable man would ever attempt to do. And yet this is the person who is to be the judge of what I ought to do for the people I represent !
– I would give any man ten years who made a speech like this !
– Any one can see the honorable member’s object. He is never anything if not underhand - if not doing something that no other man would stoop to. What is he doing now - I may as well get this into my speech - but trying to interpolate somenasty, offensive remarks so as to depreciate the value of what I am saying in theminds of those who will read it?
– Is the honorable member going to circulate this drivel in his electorate? It will kill him, politically, i f he does !
– The honorable member uses his sarcastic tongue, and takes advantage of the protection the House affords, to say things he would not say outside the Chamber.
– Indeed, I would.
– Indeed, the honorable member would not.
– Order ! Will the honorable member for Gwydir proceed with his speech?
– I do not mind interjections when they are pertinent, but when they are simply impertinent I object. I have explained honestly and candidly, and once and for all, that I was a Free Trader; and I shall have no need to refer to the subject again. When I digressed a little for the purpose of clearing certain matters up, I was dealing with the question of land alienation, and pointing out that the right honorable member for East Sydney was one of the first champions to raise his voice in protest against the wholesale disposal of the lands in New South Wales. We all know that for many years the right honorable member stood by the banner he then bore. He took office in the Stuart Administration for a short-time, but, owing to some constitutional error or other, he lost his seat as well as office. However, he came back to Parliament, but we do not find him in office again until he practically succeeded Sir Henry Parkes. From that time he fought gallantly for the land tax in New South Wales - a land tax which has since been in effect wiped off the statute-book.
– It has been passed on to the shires.
– I realize that in many cases it has been passed on to the shires, but not in its entirety.
– The tax is 2d. in the £1 in the shires.
– In some shires the tax is only¾d. in the £1; the honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
– In some municipalities the tax is 4½d. in the£1.
– The Prime Minister has said that, should the States fail to take action to provide for land settlement, he will move in the matter. It is well that, in this connexion, we should glance for a moment at the changes that have taken place on the chessboard of national politics since the right honorable member for East Sydney urged the cessation of the alienation of the public estates. Since then both France and Germany have established themselves in the South Seas. France has taken possession of New Caledonia, although, if we had had in power at the time wise politicians, mindful of the welfare of this Continent, that might havebeen prevented. Then, again, Germany has taken root in New Guinea, and has there a base which would not have been established had the politicians of Australia been alive to her interests. There was a time within my recollection when Australia might have acquired possession of the whole of New Guinea without fear of interference by any foreign Power. But legislators in Australia were then too much engrossed with the race for wealth. They were so keenly employed in manipulating, not only the land laws, tout railway contracts and contracts for the supply of barbed-wire, and’ other things, that they had no time to take action to prevent foreign nations settling within striking distance of Australia. This neglect will probably have to be paid for when our clay of peril arrives. Then, again, since the time to which I have referred, we have had the South African war, which has altered the whole international position. In that war the lives of 100,000 of Britain’s most excellent sons were lost.
– Not 100,000, but 24,000 odd.
– I am speaking, not only of those who fell in action, but of those who were wounded or who fell victims to disease whilst serving in South Africa. A deadly blow was aimed at Great Britain, and the war cost the nation many thousands of lives and something like £230.000,000. That war, however, had to be fought, because greater dangers were looming on the international horizon. England recognised that unless she took action the mistake she had made in allowing Germany and France to nestle down within striking distance of Australia might be repeated in South Africa. The result of the war was that England was crippled for a time.
– I am surprised to hear the honorable member make that statement.
– If England was not crippled for a time by the loss of the lives of 100,000 of her sons and an expenditure of £230,000,000, how does the honorable member make out that she is in need of a Dreadnought now?
– The . honorable member is misrepresenting ‘me. I have never said that England is in need of a Dreadnought.
– In view of the information we have received from the British naval authorities, we shall probably have the same denial from other honorable mem bers opposite. The honorable member may not have said in so many words that England needed the gift df a Dreadnought from Australia, but I believe he left a meeting of the Australian Natives’ Association in a motor car in order to reach the Dreadnought meeting in good time.
– More imagination.
– When a man is in such a hurry to reach a meeting, one would naturally think that his heart is in the object of the meeting.
– That is very funny, but it is utterly incorrect.
– Did the honorable member sign a petition asking that Parliament should be called together at once in order that the proposed offer might be considered ?
– The honorable member is being fed by other honorable members with some rotten stuff.
– Did the honorable member for Laanecoorie give £1,000 to the Dreadnought fund?
– Did the honorable member promise to make such a donation?
– An honorable member who is not prepared to answer a straightout question, save by characterizing it as “rot,” is much in the position of a coward who, while afraid to strike a blow, is ready to apply uncivil names.
– The honorable member has made four misstatements. Does he desire to make any more?
– I have not made one misstatement. In accordance with parliamentary usage I have to accept the honorable member’s denial, but I4 do so with’ regret. It is hard to have *to abide by the rules of the House when one feels that one-
– Having a denial of these four misstatements does the honorable member need more?
-Order. I remind the House of that which honorable members ought to know : that honorable members are not responsible for the speech of an honorable member who is addressing the Chair, and that therefore it is unnecessary for them to seek to make that speech what they would wish it to be. The honorable member is entitled to make his speech in his own way, and if an honorable member objects to anything he has said the proper time to object is when he has resumed his seat.
– I am extremely sorry, sir-
– Does the honorable member object to my ruling?
– No, sir, but I wish to explain why I made the interjection which led to your ruling. The honorable member was conducting his speech in interrogative form, and made four misstatements - supplied to him by the honorable member for Yarra - regarding myself, which I felt should be contradicted at the time they were made.
– I would remind the honorable member that the Standing Orders <lo not take that view of the case. They provide another opportunity, of which I hope the honorable member will avail himself.
– One would imagine that an ex-Chairman of Committees would be familiar with the Standing Orders. To return, however, to the subject with which I was dealing when interrupted, I would remind honorable members that the “little brown man” of the East has awakened from his slumbers. In the eighties the Japanese were beginning to realize that they had something more to hope for than that which they had previously achieved. They had tasted of the benefits of western civilization, and at the close of their war with China claimed an indemnity which was paid, not as such indemnities usually are, but in gold. The Japanese would agree to no other mode of settlement. It was upon that gold payment that the Japanese laid the foundation of their present position. Without that basis for their currency and trade they could not have entered into commercial relations with the other countries of the world as they have since done. It was that war with China that relieved Japan of a multitude of disabilities arising out of her previous currency. I mention this only to explain what many people wonder at - how Japan has arisen so suddenly upon the horizon of nations. On account of Japan’s awakening we were told, and, in fact, still are told, that her little islands were crowded to the full, and that her people were looking for room in other countries, at the time when England “herself ha!d trouble with China in the Eastern Seas.- This was when England had been shocked at the discovery of the rottenness of her Military and Naval De partments during the Boer war. The shock of such a discovery must have shaken any nation’s confidence in its preparedness for war, and that this happened in England’s case is an established fact in history. When England had that trouble in the East, Australia sent a contingent there, as she had done previously in the case of the Boer war. It was at that time that England realized her danger. Japan could not find room for her people in Asia, because Russia was forcing her way to the East, making a railway as fast as possible through Manchuria, and attempting to establish, at Port Arthur, a naval base in Eastern waters. England had for years been harassed by Russia on the frontier of India, but Russia had for a time transferred her attentions from there and concentrated them upon the effort to establish herself as a naval power in the Eastern seas. At that crisis England, to prevent Russia’s onward march, and for her own national salvation, realizing her weakness, entered into an alliance with Japan. That was a masterly and far-seeing action of the British diplomatists. We have to thank them for the short respite that we have had, and will still have for a few more years. By that treaty they were able to cripple, not only Russia, but Japan, by the one blow. Japan is now financially crippled ns the result of her war with Russia. The clearest proof of her inability to proceed with the war which she had waged with success up to that point is to be found in the fact that she had to conclude peace without receiving any indemnity. While she still feels that financial stress, and has adopted Western systems of civilization and a manufacturing policy, she finds that all that glitters is not gold, and that manufacturing alone does not give a nation permanent prosperity. Her people are being brought into touch with Western conditions, and want more wages than they formerly got before Japan became a power. Wages are going up, and strikes are occurring ; her financial position almost overwhelms her, and she has a navy greater than she can support on the production of her people and by the taxation now imposed.
– And all this is in support of a motion of want of confidence !
– Yes, because the honorable gentleman and his colleagues profess to be anxious fo save Australia, but do nothing.
– And because the Prime Minister has put the honorable member for Parramatta at the head of the Defence Department.
– If the. honorable member for Parramatta is capable of receiving any light upon the affairs of the Department that he has been called upon to administer he should remain silent while I explain to him some of the things that he does not understand. Russia then was driven back from the East, and the result of her failure to humiliate Japan brought about internal revolution, which was far worse than the war itself. That internal revolution in Russia has left a bitterness only equalled by the bitterness that remains in Ireland in the minds of the successors of the tenants evicted in days gone by. What with the war and the internal revolution, Russia has been crippled for many years to come. Mark how this episode saved Australia. When Russia was driven back from the East, Japan was able to make way in Manchuria, and obtained room for her population to spread, her commerce to develop, and her sons to utilize the territory which Russia had been trying to monopolize. Whilst England’s diplomacy has obtained a respite for Australia from the conditions that threatened her before the Russo-Japanese war, what are we doing? What do the Government profess to do during this respite? They are simply resting on their oars waiting for that evil day when we shall be overshadowed and overthrown by a foe that we have treated in a way that is not creditable to us. How long will our position of comparative safety last? The treaty with Japan was made only for ten years. While Russia is seriously weakened for several years to come, Germany sees her opportunity, for the controlling influence which Russia, in alliances with France and England, used to exercise upon her upon one side has now- disappeared. Herein lies the secret of the recent German scare. The Germans are no longer overawed by Russia, while France is quiescent, with her ships obsolete, and a navy which is not up to the standard of modern requirements. Germany has, therefore, been forging her way gradually into the Northern seas, and is to-day in such a position that she could launch a fleet to attack England and get back again without being in any way injured by the British fleet. The honorable member for Darwin suggested recently that England should attack. Germany, and get in the first blow. Evidently the honorable member doesnot understand the exact position which Germany occupies in the North Sea. It would be as impossible for Great Britain to attack and defeat Germany as it. would be for Australia to defeat Britain, because Great Britain’s navy would be compelled to follow the German navy through a sort of bottle neck. The Germans would gradually retreat into waters where fortifications abound on every hand, and where mines are laid in every channel. Germany is absolutely secure, and it will never be to the interest of Britain to attack her. If she does so, she will be humiliated. But it is said that Germany is likely to attack Britain. _ Is there any reason behind that statement? I think that there is. The population of Germanyis increasing by leaps and bounds. Today, it numbers 60,000,000, and thesepeople are crowded together upon an areawhich is far too small for them. Germany has developed her arts and sciences, her manufactures, and her industries tosuch an extent that, to-day, she has to look abroad for some place to which she can send her surplus population. Otherwise - owing to this over-crowding - the discontented portion of her populace must eventually rise in revolt. Germany, therefore, has a perfect right to look toAustralia as a field for the settlement of her surplus population. The comity of nations enjoins that no race has a. right to territory which is not effectively occupied. Whilst we neglect to effectively occupy this vast continent, we have noright to demur to the efforts of Germany to free herself from the over-crowded condition which obtains in that country. This: reference naturally brings me to the question of defence, which is one of paramount importance. The Prime Minister has delivered many eloquent addresses upon it, and has carried away thousands of his hearers by his appeals to them to be up and doing. Whilst Russia is recovering from the blow inflicted upon her by Japan,, and whilst the latter is engaged in extending her operations in Manchuria, we aresafe from attack by either of those countries. But the moment that Russia recovers her position and is able to duplicate her railway through Siberia - in other words, the moment she is in a position to strike another and more effective blow at Japan -
Australia will be in a more parlous position than she at present occupies. I am convinced that this is not a parrot cry, but a reality, and the question which we have to consider is - “How can we overcome the difficulty?” The question is one which should interest every Australian. The welfare and safety of our homes are practically in the balance to-day. I do not mean that danger immediately threatens, but we all know that time is required to prepare us to offer an effective resistance to any enemy, either on land or sea. The Labour party have evidenced their sincerity in this matter by ordering the nucleus of a flotilla for the purpose of assisting us to ward off attacks from raiding cruisers. At least, they have done something. They have not been content to merely talk like the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence.
– They have done something, too, which is in accordance with the wishes of the Admiralty.
– What they have done has received the indorsement of the best naval authorities in the Old Country.
– Who are they?
– The Minister of Defence must know who they are, if he has taken the trouble to look up the papers that are in his possession. Both Lord Beresford and Sir William White have indorsed the proposals of the late Government in respect of defence.
– I do not think the honorable member can have seen the papers to which he refers.
– The Minister of Defence is only attempting to prolong my speech. It is cruel of him to profess a desire to close the debate whilst frequently interjecting for the purpose of supplying me with another subject for debate. I could deal with the honorable member himself from now till to-morrow morning, but I have no desire to do so. I repeat that the late Government did something more than order two or three torpedo-boat destroyers. They practically laid the foundation of our future military defence by adopting the principle of universal training. Members of the Labour party have for years past studied this question most minutely, and have given the House valuable information in reference to the form of land defence which should be adopted in Australia. Mr. Fisher indicated that he was prepared to commence operations by training the boy at school, thus providing that ten years hence every man of a certain age shouldbe capable of carrying a musket and of shooting straight.
Sitting susp ended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When we deal in an effective manner with the land question in Australia it is absolutely necessary that we should not fall into the error into which New Zealand fell when she introduced what was at first looked upon as experimental legislation, by imposing a graduated land tax for the purpose of bursting up the big estates. The weakness of the New Zealand system, which is recognised by all students of politics to-day, was this: While the Government made it possible for people to get upon the land, and incumbent upon land monopolists to cut up their large estates for settlement purposes, they made the mistake of not carrying the reform to its logical conclusion by introducing a system of national finance that would have saved the settlers from being at the mercy of the financial institutions. It may not be generally known to the members of this House, or to the public, that in New Zealand there are very few settlers who, as I am assured by my son, who has recently returned from that country, and upon whose word I can rely, can sign a cheque without first referring it to some financial institution or bank. This shows that side by side with an effective settlement policy we must take steps to protect settlersin reference to finance. Unless we run these two policies conjointly, the land upon which people are placed will ultimately be passed back again, per medium of financial institutions, to the class who surrendered it. I say here to the Prime Minister that it is not by a Dreadnought that we shall settle the trouble by which we are faced, except in this sense : that we ought to have at the head of the Government of this country a man who will “dread nought” in his efforts to pass measures which will result in the reforms I have indicated. Now is the time when such a man could matk history, and leave behind him a record that would live for centuries. Have we such a man on the Ministerial side of the House? Is there one man there who, by his past political conduct, justifies us in believing that he is capable of carrying out such a policy ? I say unhesitatingly that such a man is not there. Why do I say that? Simply be cause the history of the members of this
Government shows that they cannot be relied upon. I cannot recognise amongst them one who would be likely to be selected as a man worthy to have a great business concern intrusted to his keeping. For that reason I consider that the Commonwealth has to look forward to possible political disaster in the very near future. This brings me to another subject, which has occupied the attention of this country and of other countries for many years. I refer to Socialism. I am pleased to see that the right honorable member for East Sydney is in his place. At the last election he went about with a club with the object of “downing” Socialism. How unhappy he must be to know, after the valiant fight he put up under the flag of anti-Socialism, that his efforts have resulted in bringing together the Deakin party, whom he condemned, with those who used to follow him. His efforts have resulted in bringing the arch Conservatives into the same camp with those who formerly posed as Liberals. They have resulted in bringing Free Traders and Protectionists “side by side to support practically the policy of retrogression, of stagnation, of leaving things where they are so long as they themselves are left in office. The members of this Government do not care whether any legislation is enacted or not, so long as power, place, and pay are reserved for them. We have seen how they struggled to get there. We have seen how desperately anxious they were to leave the Opposition benches. When men have sacrificed the principles of a life-time for the purpose of attaining that position, what hope is there for the future of Australia from them? I wish to make some reference to Socialism as we know it to-day. All over the world there is unrest amongst the working classes.
– What is the cause of that ?
– It is because men like the honorable member sit on the chest of the people and will not give them leave to move. What have we on the other side ? We have legal sharks, land sharks, mining sharks, and sharks of almost every kind to be found in Sydney Harbor, including the “pointer.” Sharks of every description have preyed upon society since this continent was first settled.
– The Labour shark is the worst of them all.
– I do not wish to suggest that in many respects the honorable member for Bourke is an exception to honorable members opposite, but I will say that they would be better without the honorable member’s company, even for their reputation as sharks. The great question of Socialism is to-day receiving the serious attention of all students of political subjects, but I shall not have time to deal with it in detail. All that I can do is to throw a few side lights on the question.
– I wish the honorable member would throw a somersault.
– I have never been able to throw a somersault. It is the honorable members on the other side who are such capable acrobats that they are able to throw themselves backwards and forwards, and turn themselves inside out whenever they think their political necessities make it expedient. When the right honorable member for East Sydney was going to sweep the polls and plant the flag of anti-Socialism above this Federal Parliament, I find that, speaking at Newtown,
He affirmed that Christian Socialists believed in dispensing charity by putting their hands into the pockets of other people.
In addressing a number of persons at aharbor excursion of the Belmore Liberal League shortly afterwards, he said -
He believed in Christian Socialism, because it meant denying oneself for the benefit of others.
When a gentleman occupying the high and responsible position which the right honorable member for East Sydney held at that time, can so play fast and loose with the credulity of the public, it is an indication of the low level of the men to whom we have now to look for leaders in Australianpolitics. We are told by many that Socialism will practically annihilate the incentive to succeed in the human race.
– So it will.
– When I hear suchremarks from the honorable member, I am* forced to wonder what has killed the incentive to succeed in his nature. We are practically invited to believe that if men have not money or wealth to work for they have nothing to work for. That is to say, that only wealth is worth working for. I deny that in toto. I say that the man who works for wealth alone is barren of all the higher attributes which should characterize humannature.
– The honorable member worked very hard for the extra £200 per year.
– I have never done anything which I should be ashamed of. Toiling for a living outside this House I never worked for wages below the ruling rate. Many a time when I have taken a job, and have found other men working with me at wages below the ruling rate, 1 have refused to start work until the wages paid to all engaged on the job have been raised to the level I claimed as the ruling rate. I came to this Parliament after leaving the State Parliament of New South Wales, in which honorable members, having but small constituencies to travel over, and their homes being in the State in which they are called upon to legislate, receive £300 per year. Coming to the Federal Parliament at a salary of £400 per year, I knew that I was going to be behind if I did my duty by the electors of a large constituency. I therefore had no hesitation when the opportunity presented itself to use whatever ability I possessed, not merely to lift myself, because I should fight for my own rights in any circumstances, but to lift every other member of this Parliament to a level as regards salary which I thought fair. The honorable member for Echuca, and every other honorable member of this House, benefited by the action taken to increase the salaries of members of the Federal Parliament. I do not know why the honorable member should refer to that matter now, but if there is one act of which I have been proud, since I entered this Parliament, it is that I made an attempt to raise the standard of members of this House. Honorable members smile, but I repeat the statement, and it may be regarded in any sense they please. I never yet degraded myself by lying or false pretences as a member of this House; and in connexion with the matter to which I was referring I say that, as a man’s services are estimated at the value which he sets upon them himself, I did my best to see that members of this House were relieved of a condition of necessity so that they might devote their time absolutely to the service of their country. I did not support the proposal for the increase of members’ salaries in order to enable men to give the feeble energy of a tired brain to the service of the country, but in justice to men who are prepared to devote all their time, energy, and ability to doing their duty ac cording to the promises given to the electors who sent them here. If I leave this Parliament, as probably I shall sooner than most people expect, I shall, at least, have the consolation of knowing that I have done something to enable its members to give their whole attention to its work. I was concerned in this matter, not for honorable members only, but for the wives of honorable members. I tried to improve the conditions under which they had to live when their husbands were returned to the Federal Parliament. I wished to secure for them some of the advantages enjoyed by the wives of members of the State Parliaments, who are not left alone as are the wives of members of this Parliament. Many members of ‘ this Parliament are called upon to sacrifice almost all home life. They can only get a run home for a change of clothes as a rule. Their wives are left often alone with the care and responsibility of a growing family. If I were to leave to-morrow, I should not take any credit except for the fact that with the assistance of other men I led these two advantageous reforms. I am not ashamed of having done so. We hold that there is something higher than mere monetary reward for a man who has any humanity in his composition. And in proof of that statement I will give two examples. The manager of the Belgian Co-operative Company, which has done wonders for the workers of Belgium, holds a very responsible position, so far as administration and management are concerned ; but he has never received more than 1,200 dollars per year. Time and again he has been tempted, because of his fine business qualities, by the offer of far larger stipends than he is receiving, but he has steadfastly refused the offers because he loves the cause he is working for, and its success is a higher and nobler reward for him than the mere acquisition of a few more dollars in the service of some other employer. There is one case where a mart sets the comfort and happiness of those whom he serves above mere self aggrandisement. Rochdale furnishes another example of the kind. People who have read anything of the history of Lancashire know that co-operation was established in Rochdale in a very humble way. The small cooperative society which first saw light inthat town has grown to a gigantic concern. It is practically relieving thousands of British workers from the impositions of the middleman, not only in groceries and other similar lines, but also in manufactured goods. Its annual turnover amounts to millions. Yet Mr. Mitchell, the manager of that great institution, furnishes an object lesson with regard to economy of production and the distribution of products. He has steadfastly refused many offers of a larger salary, and by way of excuse he has stated that he values too highly the respect of the Rochdale co-operators. These are two examples which I have taken at haphazard of men who have engaged in the noble work of trying to manage a great industrial organization, and who feel that their reward lies in the work they do, and not in the payment they receive.
– Take the case of inventors, poets and painters.
– My honorable friend reminds me of numberless inventors, poets, painters, and artists, who are never remunerated for the time they occupy on the work they do. They simply labour for the love of art and invention. Do we not know that the monied classes have pirated the inventions of many poor persons who have worked and practically starved, even burning their chairs and beds to achieve their purpose? Do we not know that these men have received practically nought in comparison with the value of their inventions?
– What did the honorable member for East Sydney get for his poetry ?
– He got paid. There are some men who are paid for their poetry - not here, but elsewhere. I have merely cited these two examples in order to point out that there is something higher for men to work for than mere monetary gain. I feel sure that’ the honorable member for Parramatta does not understand that proposition, but he may do so - after a time. I am hopeful that he will live to see that there is something higher to work for than mere place and pay. The only men who say that Socialism will reduce the incentive to success are those who make L. s. d. the be-all and end-all of their existence. These are the only men who profess to believe that Socialism will undermine the aspirations of those who love their work. Many bitter things have been said against the Labour party in politics. Many bitter things have been said during the last two or three years by the honorable member for Parramatta, but I do not propose to quote them. The public know sufficient about them, and why should I add to the burden which he will have to bear at the next election by piling on the agony at this stage? I am sorry to find him in the company of the individualistic crowd - in the company of the honorable member for Parkes, the honorable member for Fawkner, the honorable member for Flinders - who ought to have accompanied Lieutenant Shackleton in his journey to the South Pole, because he would never suffer from the frost - the honorable member for Grampians, the honorable member for Balaclava, a retired lawyer, the honorable member for Swan, who, as I said before, was the primeval emperor of the Western State, and the honorable member for Bendigo, who was taken into the Ministry for the purpose of saving his political life. When we find the former Leader of the Labour party of New South Wales - the man in whom we put our confidence in 1892 and 1893 - in the company of these reactionaries, what are we to think of him?
– He is too good for the Labour party.
– The party who have secured the honorable member for Parramatta are welcome to him; I sympathize with them. They may use him as they intend to do, but we do not want him back - not at this stage, at any rate. I am rather sorry to see him on the other side. In the State Parliament he was once the hope of the Labour party.
– Does not the honorable member think that he has devoted enough attention to me ? I have had three hours of his speech devoted to myself?
– I do not think that the honorable member minds what is said here. Now that he has got what he wanted, nothing else matters. One might talk to him until black in the face without piercing his hide. There is no hope for a man so ready to make changes as he has been. It is said that the hireling will always be a hireling. What cares he for the lambs? I do not apply the epithet to the honorable member ; but one who works for place and power, to the neglect of the principles of a lifetime, and the welfare of the nation, almost comes within the definition. Socialism is a protest against the conditions of modern civilization. Free trade in the bodies and souls of men is not the doctrine of Jesus Christ ; individualism is the worshipper of Mammon. To-day the labour of men and women is bought and sold like mere chattels, such as beef and bread, at the lowest price. To-day, the population has to face the changed conditions brought about by the evolution of industries. From the time when inventions in machinery first came to be of importance in the manufacturing centres of Great Britain, they have taken away work from thousands. To-day, in this country, an iron wheel of tyranny, created by the com.bines, trusts, and rings, grinds out the very lives of our fellow creatures. Because the Labour party ask that something shall be done to relieve the worker of his helplessness, and to put him in a better position, because we advocate the creation of better conditions, we are opposed by the representatives of those who own and control the means of production. Not only do they refuse to look ahead, and to introduce reforms which will make Australia what it should be; thi:y will not allow us to lighten the burden of the toilers caused by the unequal conditions of employment. We imposed a Protective Tariff, believing that we “could also institute Protection for the workers. The Prime Minister, when supported by the Labour party, said that he believed in the new Protection policy. The High Court decided that the Act which we passed to give legislative effect to that policy was unconstitutional, and therefore we’ are where we were. What does the Prime Minister now propose to do ? He, at one time, professed to be willing to submit the matter to a referendum of the people, and to let them declare through the ballot-box whether the Constitution should be amended so as to give this Parliament the power to legislate in respect to industrial affairs. Now, however, we find him at the head of the reactionaries and the Tories of the Commonwealth, practically suggesting in regardto this, as to other reforms, that it should be left to the States. One might think that there had been no Federation. Before Federation, the Colonies used to fight like Kilkenny cats. Jealousies, prejudices, and hatreds dominated their Parliaments, each being mistrustful of the other. The Commonwealth Constitution was adopted to create a body which would deal with matters with which the States could not deal. In supporting the present Government, we are asked to go back to the conditions of pre-Federal days. The action of honorable gentlemen opposite is calculated to cause one to lose all confidence in human nature. They represent the class from which sprung the originators of the Federal idea. Sir Henry Parkes was one of the first to advocate Federation, but he was preceded by Dr. Lang, and after their time, others took up the idea. When the Convention of 1891 met, there were no Labour men; but that natural nobleman, Sir George Grey - the only blossom on the tree which held out any hope of future fruit - expressed the opinion that a Constitution should be framed only by a Convention of representatives chosen by the widest suffrage, by every person in the community entitled to the franchise. The Convention which framed the Constitution was composed, with one or two exceptions, of Tories. Its members hoped that they were creating, in this Parliament, a harbor of refuge for the worn-out politicians who were no longer of use to the State, or tired of active politics and desirous of rest. They did not conceive, im their wildest dreams, that Labour merv would find a footing here. They did not: expect that those who voiced the progressive ideas of the people would be heard within the walls of this Chamber. The Senate was to be the Australian House of Lords, a place where aged and revered politicians would while away their declining; days as do the members in the British House of Lords. But, owing to the operation of education throughout Australia during the past twenty-five years, our youngmen have grown up to read and to reason.. The effect of that education upon thepolitical mind of the community was not reckoned upon. When the first election for this Parliament was held, it was with, horror that it was found that a large number of Labour representatives had been returned, not merely to this Chamber, but also to the Senate. To-day, as election after election is held, those men who predicted that the Labour party would come back reduced in numbers and practically crippled, are disappointed. They are beginning to see that the Labour party has more sympathy with the aspirations of” the people, and more knowledge of their requirements - a keener sense of the dutiesthey owe to those whom they represent - than have been characteristic of the men in the opposite fold. The men who advocated” Federation, and framed and fathered the Constitution before it was placed before the people, are now trying to subordinate its provisions to the necessities of precarious States. When I speak of the men who fathered the Constitution, I do not include the right honorable member for East Sydney, who simply said : “ Yes, I like you,” and then, “ I don’t like you,” and first said he would vote for it, and then said he would not. The right honorable member was evidently undecided about adopting the youngster, and he had no idea that the Labour party were going to hold so strong a position in Federal politics. As I say, the fathers of the Constitution are now trying to allow Mr. Wade and men of his type to determine what we, as representatives in the National Parliament, should decide for ourselves - we, who have to decide, not on what is good for New South Wales, Victoria, or South Australia, but what is in the interests of this part of the British Empire as a people and as a Commonwealth. They are practically forsaking the trust that was reposed in them; and why? Because the Labour party have shown that their Australian and Federal aspirations are more patriotic and acceptable to the people than the aspirations of honorable gentlemen opposite; and now, since the Government and their supporters cannot live in the hearts of the people, they desire to try to live in the pockets of the people. This is, indeed, one of those pictures which will bear putting on the screen from time to time. It is a picture that should be portrayed in the modern method of educating the public by the eye, and should be shown by cinematograph in a manner that will appeal to all who are susceptible to that method of conveying knowledge, so that every one may see the position into which Australia is being led by the former alleged friends of Federation. The Constitution is an instrument made for the Government of a free people. It was not drawn, I think, by the best architects ; the plans and specifications were not perfect - no one maintains that they were - and we could not expect a perfect Constitution for a Democracy from a Conservative Convention. Nevertheless, the plans and specifications, such as they were, were submitted to the people; and, by reason of press and platform influence, and the many cajoleries used by those who desired to see the cause of Federation succeed, the people were induced to vote for a Constitution under which they hoped that they, and those who came after them, would be able to live. Seeing that the plans were not designed by the proper architects, and that the specifications were not drawn in the interests of the people as a whole, it was only to be expected that, as time went on, we should find it necessary to amend the Constitution, so that it would fit in with the desires and aspirations of the people. We have found flaws in it, and what are they? First, we found that, when we tried to introduce the system of arbitration to decide disputes between employer and employed by a judicial body, we were faced with disabilities, and could only carry the law to a certain stage. A Government went out in trying to embody a provision to carry the law further ; and the present Prime Minister forfeited his position under these circum- stances. Then, when we desired to introduce new Protection, we found that we had no power to control industrial matters in the Commonwealth; and this is a flaw which works serious injury to the welfare of the working classes. The Labour party say that when a weak spot is detected, no matter who is responsible, the proper method is to remove it, and replace it with something stronger. The party opposite, however, say that they do not desire the Commonwealth Parliament to have control over industrial legislation - they practically desire to play with the question, by submitting it to the States, asking - what? They propose to ask the States to appoint Wages Boards, and then, if those Boards cannot decide the merits of a case as between Commonwealth and State, that it shall be submitted to a Federal tribunal. -This is to be done when the States so desire, and are ready to do it ; and, in my judgment, that will not be while any of us here are alive. It would be impossible to get six States to view any industrial matter in that uniform way that is essential to the welfare of the workers. To-day we find in one State Wages Boards protecting the workers from sweating, and providing for fair wages, while in another State sweating conditions prevail without control ; and the result is that men in one State are cutting the throats of their brothers in another. There is no barrier to prevent goods being sent from a State, where there is no restriction on the grasping and grinding methods of capital, into another State, to compete with goods produced by men who are employed at reasonable wages and under proper conditions. Then, again, an effort was made to en- lighten the consumer as to where he could purchase goods produced under humanitarian conditions; but we found that this the Constitution did not permit. At every move we make with a view to benefiting the masses, we are met by defects in the Constitution handed to us by those who planned it, and who did not understand the aspirations and needs of the Australian people. We shall never be able to remedy the present state of affairs until fuller power is placed in the hands of the Federal Parliament. I know that the Prime Minister would be with us, but that he dare not now. He is sold body and soul; he is no longer a force in politics, but merely a medium through which others speak. Although Prime Minister, he has no power. He has done that which no other member of a responsible Government has ever done. He has accepted the office of Prime Minister without taking with it any of the powers that ought to be associated with it. Although Prime Minister, he is unable today to sign even a trifling administrative document. All .documents of State affecting the Commonwealth have to be signed by some other member of the Ministry. He does not hold the position of a Minister of State. He is a mere medium, through whom the machinations of the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Swan can percolate. Surely no one will deny that we have reached a humiliating position in this early stage of our constitutional existence. Heaven knows what may happen if we allow this Ministry to control the destinies of Australia for any time.
– The honorable member said all this on Friday last.
– Good things should be repeated ; bad things never. When one wishes to nail down something, one should not be satisfied with putting one nail in the corner, but should drive in a nail through each corner, and, if necessary, one in the middle. In order to emphasize a statement’, it is well to repeat it, so that it may be driven home. Free trade in human souls and bodies is the policy of individualism. The workers in many industries in Continental countries to-day, even where they are in employment, are not living, but merely existing. The whole system applying to the rights of men as employes has never kept pace with the evolutionary changes in the machinery which they have to manipulate. In this respect we find ourselves lagging at the rear of progress, and it is for that reason that I urge that at the next general election, a referendum should be taken as to an amendment of the Constitution by which we shall be able to remove such a blot from that instrument. There is another phase of this question that I cannot allow to pass without notice. It should be the duty and privilege of a Democratic Government to succour the weak, and to remove disabilities that tend to undermine the health of our population. There is an aspect of social life which requires serious attention at the hands of the national Parliament. It is one concerning which most men smile, and do nothing; but the fact remains that there is, on the part of our manhood, a growing tendency, and a growing inability, to perform their duty as citizens. We find not only that we are unable to increase our population by immigration, since suitable land on which to settle people is not made available, but that there is a disinclination on the part of the manhood of Australia to assume the responsibilities of parentage. This is one of the most serious aspects of our social life to-day. When I see the devastating results of the neglect of Governments to provide for the protection of those amongst us who have fallen - those who are the victims of a system ; those who have no hope, and must sink lower and lower in their degradation - I feel that every public man should recognise that it is his duty not only to stand by the strong, but to succour the weak, wherever they may be found. Consider for a moment the race suicide that is going on in this community. It is one of the most lamentable features of our. modern civilization. The care of the nation is in our hands, but what are we doing to put an end to this state of affairs? Here is a duty that has not been seriously considered hitherto by political leaders. Our laws impose a penalty for murder, but there is a system of murder going on in our midst - the murder of those who are unable to speak for themselves- day after day, week after week, month after month.
– And year after year.
– Yes; and well the right honorable member knows it. Is it not a satire on the domestic conditions of to-day that fully developed women - women who have passed the age of twenty-one, should be seen about our streets carrying “teddy-bears” in their arms, and fondling them, and even booking seats for them at theatres ? What greater indication could we have of the absence of the opportunity to rear children for the Empire, and to bestow on them that affection which is part of woman’s nature, than is furnished by the spectacle of young women parading our streets with ‘ 1 teddy-bears ‘ ‘ in their arms. To me it is a cruel injustice which our civilization imposes upon these sisters of ours. The reason is that they must have some outlet for their affections, and the natural outlet is not available to them.
– I draw your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable member’s interesting remarks, to show the women of Australia, some other outlet for their affection than “ teddy bears,” are being made in the absence of a. quorum. [Quorum formed.”]
– I thought the honorable member for Wentworth would be a greater authority than I am upon the doings of that circle in which the modern condition to which I have referred exists. Another national danger which lies at the root of our civilization and social life is the disease which is being spread in a manner which has never before been known. To-day we are filling our blind asylums as the result of diseases that are too vile for me-to mention here. Our female hospitals are being filled, and there are operations by the hundreds where previously there were only one or two. Not only are the women paying the penalty for being isolated so far as their natural aspirations are concerned, but they are being penalized in other ways by reason of those great cancers which are eating out the heart of modern society. But nothing is done. A kind of mock modesty forbids the discussion of matters which affect the health and the very being of our race, and particularly the welfare of our women. These great questions are regarded as of not sufficient importance to command the attention of Federal legislators, and there, again. I lodge an indictment against this or any other Government which neglects to strengthen the position of the people of the Commonwealth by enactments that would minimise or sweep away the evils to which I have referred. We have in this . Parliament many men who are never tired of reading authorities in condemnation of Socialism. I have done very little quoting during this speech, but I wish now to read the opinions of men who were not known as Socialists - some of the prophets of the last century. They wrote long before the developments of this age were dreamt of, and I .wish to throw their light upon the dark places upon the other side of the House. Emerson says - ‘
As long as ever civilization is one of property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us sick, there will be bitterness in our laughter, and our wine will burn in our mouth.
That was not written for the last Federal election, but in the last century, long before the term “Socialism” was brought into the arena of politics, by one of the ablest men that ever put pen to paper. He says again -
Only good profits which we can taste with all doors open and which serve all men.
That is to say, only the profits in which all may share should exist in a proper state of society. Arnold, another great writer of the last century, says -
It seems to me that people are not aware of . the monstrous state of society, absolutely without a parallel in the history of the world, with a population poor, miserable, and degraded in body and mind, as if they were slaves, and vet called free men.
That was the way in which Arnold was struck by that side of social life which, I am afraid, many of the men opposite, like the Levite of old, pass by, as it were, on the other side -
And the hopes entertained by many of the efforts to be wrought by new schools and churches, while the social evil of their conditions is left uncorrected,’ appear to me to be utterly wild.
That is one of the strongest possible condemnations of the professions of those who claim to cure these social wrongs by charity and by the establishment of schools and churches. Schools and churches, with all their usefulness, will not remove those evils unless we have legislators who are prepared to listen to the voice of the poor and the cry of the oppressed. Then Ruskin, a great writer and thorough logician, ‘ said -
To call the confused wreck of social order and life, brought about by malicious collision and competition, an arrangement of Providence, is quite one of the most insolent and wicked ways in which it is possible to take His name in vain.
In other words, that is not sufficient excuse to relieve us of the responsibility which such a state of society imposes upon us. The leisured classes of to-day are in the habit of regarding poverty as the result of an act of Providence which cannot be avoided. The Scripture says “ The poor ye have always with you,” and people in good circumstances are prone to satisfy themselves with the reflection that poverty is a necessary corollary to our civilization an evil which cannot be cured. J!ut what does Professor Thorold Rogers say? He says -
In a vague way they (the labourers) are under the impression that the greater part of the misery which they see is the direct product of the laws enacted and maintained in the interests of particular classes, and on the whole they are right.
To what classes does he refer, but to those who have enacted the laws which have governed the masses for centuries past? What does Professor Smart, of Glasgow - a man who wrote for the purpose of conveying his noble thoughts so that they might be recorded for the guidance of the people - say in this connexion ? He says -
But when machinery is replacing man and doing the heavy work of industry, it is time to get rid of the ancient prejudice that man must work ten hours a day to keep the world up to the level of comfort it has attained. Possibly if we clear our minds of cant, we may see that the reason why we still wish the labourer to work ten hours a day, is that we, the comfortable classes, may go on receiving the lion’s share of the wealth these machines, iron and human, are turning out.
Does anybody require any more convincing proof than that of the equity underlying the policy of the Labour party? If they do, I will refer them to Professor Cairns, an authority of high standing, who is quoted by the greatest thinkers in the world. In his work, Rich and Poor, he says -
Unequal as is the distribution of wealth, already in this country the tendency of industrial progress - on the supposition that the present separation between the industrial classes is maintained1 - is towards an inequality greater still. The rich will be growing richer, and the poor at least relatively poorer. It seems to me, apart altogether from the question of the labourers’ interest, that these are not conditions which furnish a solid basis for a progressive social standing, but having regard to that interest, I think the considerations adduced show that the first indispensable step, toward any serious amendment of the labourer’s lot, is that he should be, one way or the other, lifted out of the groove in which he at present works, and placed in a position compatible with his becoming a sharer in equal proportions with others, in the general advantage arising from industrial progress.
One would have thought that it was from that idea that we had developed the scheme for giving effect to the new Protection. I should like to quote still another authority, not of the International Socialistic type, suda as is generally quoted by my honorable friends opposite, but one of the greatest men of the last century, who lived and worked for the people. I refer to John Stuart Mill, with whose writings I became familiar when a boy. His work on the subjection of women is one of the most uplifting that a man could write. His labours in that direction are bearing practical fruit to-day. I have no hesitation in saying that his writings upon that subject have resulted in the accomplishment of female suffrage. In discussing the relations of society, John Stuart Mill says -
The form of association, however, which if mankind continue to improve, must be expected in the end to predominate, is not that which should exist between the capitalists as chief, and workpeople without a voice in the management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with which they carry on their operations and working under managers selected and removable by themselves.
Mill there points out that the labourer is worthy of a share of the profits he produces, and expresses the belief that the workers will in the future adopt a system whereby the)’ will provide capital by means of co-operation, will employ those who will manage their concerns, a.n3 will dismiss them at their own will. That is the system that must come iri the process of evolution to keep pace with the improvements in machinery. Mill was only a little before his time when he made that suggestion. Again, Mill wrote -
Between Communism, with all its chances, and the present state of society, with all its sufferings and injustices, all the difficulties, great or small, of Communism would be as dust in the balance.
Mill knew the lot of the factory hands and toilers of Great Britain j and he there pointed out that whatever may be the faults of Communism - that is, collective ownership - they would be as dust in the balance as compared with the injustices and inequalities that exist under present conditions. We do not want better guidance than is given by these great men as to the duties cast upon us as representatives of the people. I may quote Mill again on the subject of equal distribution -
Our ideal of ultimate improvement went far beyond Democracy, and would class us decidedly under the general name of Socialists. . The social problem of the future we considered to be how to unite the greatest liberty of action with a common ownership in the raw material of the globe ; and an equal participation of all the benefits of combined labour.
Every one of the writers whom I have quoted indicated what we are aiming at to-day as the solution of the social problem. I will quote one more authority, not a British writer, but one belonging to the United States. Fiske, dealing with the dragon of America, wrote -
The inherited predatory tendencies of men to seize upon other people’s labour are still very strong, and while we have nothing more to fear from kings, we may yet have trouble enough from commercial monopolies and favored industries marching to the polls their hosts of bribed retainers.
How true that is ! There have been Tammany rings which have corrupted politics in America, and which, as this writer observes, have driven their bribed retainers to the poll. The honorable member for Darwin can testify that that is a truthful statement of what takes place in the national and municipal arena. This writer points with unerring finger . to the rings, trusts, and combines that are practically eating the heart out of the American nation. They are also throwing their tentacles round industries in Australia. Yet honorable members opposite tell us that we must sit idly by and allow this state of things to proceed. We know the effect that the great Tobacco Combine has had on tobacco-growing in the Commonwealth. The tobacco-grower is at the mercy of the Tobacco Trust, because there is only one buyer; and unless the grower will sell his product on the buyer’s terms, he must let it rot. Competition is becoming a thing of the past. Those who control industries are combining for the purpose of keeping up prices and eliminating competition. Meanwhile the workers are standing by powerless, and the Legislature, by whom alone the power can be exercised of preventing the operations of these rings and trusts, will do nothing. We are told that we must not aim at an amendment of the Constitution to give us the necessary power to restrain these modern octopuses that are crushing the life blood out of the commerce and industry of this country. But when we find that the policy advocated by the Labour party is ;backed up by such authorities as I have quoted, I ask any honest man or woman whether we want any better support for our principles?
– We can find plenty in Holy Writ.
– There are some good precepts in Holy Writ. One which always recurs to my mind when I think upon this subject is this : “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” But I always add, to bring the precept up to date : “ The lords are the people, not the landlords.” The day will come when the people will come into their heritage in all civilized countries. The people are only prevented from taking control to-day by the duplicity on the part of those by whom they are surrounded. They are misled by a lying press morning after morning, and cannot rely upon the information and the news conveyed to them, because the hirelings of the capitalists are dependent for their fat dividends on the advertisements of those who tread upon the necks of the poor. These journals do not give to the public that which they should give as organs of popular education. Because of this the people are misled, and only because of this is the day of redemption further away than it should be. I have no hesitation in saying that if the people who are affected, outside of those who are enriching themselves at’ the cost of others, will only realize the true position there will be no fusion party after the next Federal elections. We shall, like Diogenes, require a lantern to find any trace of that party. If the workers were wise, their condition would be otherwise. It is because they are not wise, and because they listen to the appeals of the enemy, who comes to them in sheep’s clothing, that they do not take the action which they should take. I say that victory will be ours once the people realize their power and their rights, and demand those rights. Before we can govern this country properly we shall have to establish a national bank. Mr. Fisher, in the speech at ‘ Gympie, in which he put forward the policy of the Labour party, proposed in this connexion only a Federal note issue, a very simple, innocent, homoepathic dose of the medicine that should be given in larger doses, but the financial institutions were on his track at once, and would have annihilated him if they could. We find that since the ex-Prime Minister announced this delicate proposal the banks have practically abolished the charge for exchange, which they imposed in cashing in one State notes issued in another. That charge ranged from 6d. to is. in the £1. Immediately the authorities of the banks saw that the Labour Prime Minister had included a note issue in his proposals they knew that he would carry it into_ law if he were given the opportunity, and in order to appease their consciences they abolished the iniquitous exchange on Inter-State notes that had been charged for so many years past. That was one result merely of the announcement of so simple a proposal as the issue of State notes. I’ look back to 1893, the time of the banking crisis in this country. I have every ‘reason to remember its effects in .New South Wales. In common with many others, I was reduced at the time from a position, of comfort to one of starvation and poverty. I remember that the results of fourteen years’ continuous toil, economy, and thrift on my part were thrown to the winds in one night. If I had not been a young man with plenty of pluck and determination I should have found a resting-place where many others found it at that time, as the result of that cruel crisis which robbed so many of their means. I can remember the mad rush made to the banks in New South Wales when people learned that there was some danger that they would lose all that they had. I saw infuriated mobs of people trampling each other in the effort to reach the doors which were closed against them by the banks, who refused to pay them their own. Old women, trembling and feeble, were trampled upon and crushed in the mad rush to save themselves from the avalanche of distress which was falling upon them as the result of the banking crisis. These are pictures which can never be erased from my mind. I know that bread-winners had carefully put by in these institutions the savings of many years, not for their own benefit, but in order that their wives and little ones might have something if death should call them from their side. I remember that widows and children followed to their graves husbands and fathers who fell under the blow dealt them by that crisis. I remember’ that the little property left to widows and children was sold for a particle of its value in a broken market. I saw the mounds in the churchyards surrounded by children and mothers weeping for those who were the victims of the banking system that exists in this country. Remembering these things, I ask whether the time has not arrived when we should do something to prevent the possibility of a like calamity occurring in the future. I speak from personal experience in this matter. For thirteen years I was practically in purgatory, as a result of the banking crisis. For thirteen years I’ fought to retain an honorable name, and my position as .an honorable member of society, to prevent the brand of the insolvent being placed upon me. Ought I not to remember the incidents of that banking crisis ? What brought it about ? Overcapitalization of the shares of banks, the inflation of land values, and the fact that the securities were insufficient to cover the money . advanced upon them. The earnings of the banks were divided in big dividends year after year amongst the shareholders. When the time of depression arrived and the crops were not up to the average, the banks found that they had not sufficient gold to meet their liabilities, and that they could not meet them. They closed their doors, and in the case of some of them they have not been re-opened to this day. In other cases, though the doors have been re-opened, the money which was intrusted to them fifteen or twenty years ago has not yet been paid. One of the banks is to-day again re-constructing; the money deposited in that bank fifteen years ago is not yet available to the depositors, but they are asked to take shares in a reconstructed bank in which the public have no confidence. Did the State Legislatures, as the custodians of’ the people’s welfare, pass Acts of Parliament after this crisis to prevent the recurrence of such a condition of things? No. To-day the same field is open to the financial shark that was open to him before the banking crisis. We hare usurious money-lending institutions in every State in the ‘Commonwealth that are to-day bleeding people who are in temporary difficulty. Their shareholders are living on the fat of the land, and in the meantime land values are being inflated. We have enjoyed good seasons during the last five or six years, and the prices obtained for the products of the land have never been equalled in the history of the Commonwealth. We are living at the high-water mark of prosperity, the inflation of land values continues in proportion to production and the value of production, and it is only a matter of time when history will repeat itself in this great Commonwealth. God forbid that it should be so, but I fear that we shall again see the toilers, the workers, the middle-class people, who trust their money to these institutions, left bewailing their losses, and we shall have again a crop of the same financial disasters that we had in 1893. No one can know better the results of such a state of affairs than one who has suffered from them. It is not I alone who suffered, because my wife and children had necessarily with myself to feel the pinch of poverty. It is upon wives and children .that the burden falls which makes a man feel keenly - more keenly than he would if it fell upon his own shoulders. And it is because of my sympathy with women and children that I submit that there is no reason why the Government of the Commonwealth, if a disaster of this kind should overtake us, should not be absolutely condemned in the market place for having neglected to take notice of the experience which was to be gained by the previous crisis. I cannot go into the matter of banking to-night. First of all, I do not think it would be wise for me to make the attempt.
– Leave that subject until to-morrow.
– I assure honorable members that I am strictly in earnest in what I am saying to-day. There has been no attempt on my part to while away the time of the House or the country. On this momentous occasion I am trying’ to put on the records of the House what I believe to be necessary for the guidance of those who will come after us. I do not intend to deal with the subject of banking to-night, but if an opportunity should arise to debate with the question of finance, I shall endeavour to give an exposition of what I consider to be essential and necessary reforms in that direction. My next point is very important, so far as the Labour party is concerned. Our opponents on the other side, and throughout the Commonwealth, keep telling the people that we should not be supported because we are bound and not free. We are not bound except to that which we with open eyes desire to bind ourselves. Before we seek to be candidates for election we have submitted to us a programme in black and white. We have all the opportunity which men require, not only to read it. but to digest and understand it. And if we then decide to enter into a contract so to speak with the people whom we wish to elect us, we enter into an honest and open undertaking to carry that contract to its logical conclusion here. Is there anything unfair in a bond of that kind ? Is there anything unjust in an open contract? In past times the curse of politics was that the people were never able to pin down men to a definite policy of reform. Public men fooled the people from the introduction of responsible government until the Labour party came into existence and set an example which is now being followed by other organizations and parties. Since “ imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” we are proud to produce the evidence of the flattery which is bestowed upon us. We, I repeat, are free to refuse to sign the platform, but we are not free to violate it once it has been signed.
– Not unless we leave the carty.
– That is so. How does that apply to my honorable friends on the other side? They have always declared that Free Trade was essential to the welfare of Australia ; that that policy, or principle, or expedient was worth fighting for, that it was the leading plank of their platform. But to-day we find them sitting in the camp of those who do not believe in that doctrine, and professing to be in unison in their aims to alleviate the conditions that prevail in the Commonwealth. Yet they say that they are free, and that we are bond. I remember the time when I, from knowledge that I possessed, and information that I had gained concerning the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department, felt it to be my duty to ask for the appointment of a Commission of inquiry into every branch of the Department. I did not ask my party whether I should move the motion - that was not in the platform I had supported - nor did my party tell me that I was bound and could not take that course. My motion was not supported by the party as a whole, showing that there was freedom for its members to vote against an important proposition which any member of the party might bring forward. But how did honorable members on the other side stand? Many of them did not believe that an inquiry was necessary, because they did not understand the gravity of the position. I do not make that remark disrespectfully, because no one without special knowledge could ever have dreamt that the Department could possibly be in the condition in which it is to-day. I do not blame them for not realizing then the necessity for an inquiry. It was only those who had made a close research who could find any reason for demanding the investigation which was set on foot. Many honorable members on the other side did not agree with the proposal for the appointment of a Commission, but when it came to- the point of voting, and they thought that a defeat of the Government would mean their accession to office, they sat solidly on the Opposition benches. Who were bound then ? Honorable members sat on the Opposition side, not because of a principle which they were supporting, not because they believed in the need for an inquiry, but because they were using my motion for their political purposes, and the possible attainment of office. In that instance, it was shown that the members of the Labour party are more free than are the members of any other party. Would any of those who are sitting opposite dare to cross to this side of the chamber, to vote with the Labour party on a question of principle? No. In the Parliament of New South Wales the remnant of the See party professed to sympathize with Labour; but were they ever found behind the Labour party during a division on a vital issue? No. On every occasion they supported the enemies of Labour. So it is here. I say that we are free, and that is more than members of other political parties here can say. When in the State Parliament,, I knew that corruption was rampant in the administration of the land laws. Many members were plying the occupation of paid land agents. Believing it to be my duty, as a representative of the public, to call for an investigation of the scandals which were afterwards exposed, I urged in the House the appointment of a Royal Commission. The Ilansard debates of the day will show that I then foretold what afterwards was fully proved. Acting as a free man. I stood on the floor of the House, and faced the most terrible opposition that any man has ever had to face. Three of the land pirates were, very able but unscrupulous men. In fighting for the appointment of a Commission, so that the people whom I represented might be fairly dealt with in their transactions with the Lands Department, I had to combat those men. Did I ask my party whether I should move in that matter? No. I took action on my own initiative, and did my level best for what I conceived to be the public interest. The forms of the House prevented me from attaining my object, and the end of the session was too close at hand to enable me to take further action in Parliament. Therefore, I did the best thing I could under the circumstances. I transmitted sworn statements to the Crown Law officers. But, as one of the men involved was a Minister, those papers were not allowed to be taken from the pigeon-hole in which they were placed. However, I lived to see every indictment which I had made proved to the hilt. I lived to appear before the Royal Commission which was subsequently appointed, and was the only member of the Parliament who voluntarily gave evidence before it, telling what I knew, in order that an end might.be put to the maladministration which was stinking in the nostrils of the people. It is said that the Labour members are not free. Could a man be freer than I was in that case? All I got for my trouble was a testimonial from the Judge who presided over the Commission. But it was such as would have rewarded me for ten times the trouble and abuse which I had undergone. Mr. Justice Owen, a man whose opinion could not be bought with money, said, after I had been under examination for two days, and I think that the House and the public will agree that it was a great testimonial : “ Mr. Webster, if you will permit me to say so, I wish other public men would do as you have done, and lay what they know before this Commission. We should then get to the bottom of this trouble. Your action is commendable as that of a public man, and creditable as that of a citizen of Australia.” That is a testimonial of which I am prouder than of anything else I possess. I gained it because, although a member of the Labour party, I was a free man with clean hands, and endeavoured to expose corruption, the like of which has never been unearthed in any Parliament at any time within my knowledge. Then, in this House, what was done in regard to the appointment of the Postal Commission ? The carrying of a motion for the appointment of such a Commission meant the displacement of the Government which I was supporting. But that had no weight with me, in view of the disgraceful condition of a great Department of State. If the Government would not bow to the voice of reason, I was prepared to vote for the dismissal of Ministers rather than sacrifice the interests of the country. Not a man on the other side would have done what I did then. My action on that occasion still further proves that the members of the Labour party are free. But let me show how far from free were the members of other parties in the New South Wales Parliament. On the occasion to which- 1 referred, my speech was punctuated by 178 interjections and eight points of order. The attempts made by the honorable member for Parramatta to cut up this speech, and to interpolate his own opinions, have been as nothing to the “treatment I had to undergo then. My speech was cut up into mince-meat. The object of the interjections was, first, to make me lose my temper, and, next, to destroy the continuity of my remarks, so that no one would understand them, and members would be prevented from following me intelligently. Before the dinner adjournment, the members of the Opposition were cheering my utterances, but during the dinner hour it was rumoured that, on resuming, I would say a word or two which would involve their leader. Before the adjournment, I had attacked only members of the Government. The members of the Opposition believed the rumour, as guilty men always believe any rumour of the kind. A guilty man takes every one whom he sees to be a detective, until he passes by without arresting him. Believing that I ‘would attack the Leader of the Opposition, his followers, who previously had cheered me, jeered and sneered at me - not one, or two, or three, but the whole pack of them. Not one of them was free to do what he thought right. The word had gone round that I was a dangerous man, who had got hold of dangerous weapons, and that if the Government were not assisted to crush me, every one would be exposed. Even members of my own party did not thoroughly understand the position, and some of them were not free, but the occasion proved that there were no free men among my opponents, and that the only party in which there was freedom was the Labour party. Are the members of that party free? Of course we are. There is another matter to which I desire to refer before I conclude; and it is one pertaining to the position of the press. I find in Saturday’s Age - and I think the article very nearly trenches on the privileges of Parliament - what seem to me a combination of a threat and a bribe. I do not think it will have any effect on the gentlemen it is intended for ; but it shows the domination which the press is attempting to exercise over the proceedings of the National Parliament. In the Age the writer said that it was understood that the right honorable member for East Sydney was going to follow myself in this debate, and that it had been suggested he was likely to repeat the candid friend address of Senator Sir Josiah Symon in the Senate.
– The honorable member must not refer to occurrences in another place.
– The article in the-
Age goes on to say -
Mr. Reid’s confidants, however, deny that he has any such intention. The mere fact that Kir. Reid is popularly considered to be in the running for certain important posts which will become vacant within the next twelve monthsis regarded as sufficient to deter him from indiscreet action.
What is the meaning of that ? First of all, the newspaper says to the right honorable member for East Sydney in so many words, “Look here, you must not do what the honorable senator has done in another place,, or you will not be in the running; you will not succeed in getting one of those important posts if you dare to do anything like what that gentleman has done.” What is that but practically trying to dominate this Parliament? This newspaper not only tries to dominate Parliament, and misguide public opinion outside, but it thinks it has the right to arrogate to itself the duty of dictating to a member what he shall do, and to point out that if he dares to do otherwise, he will lose preferment which it, in its wisdom, thinks he is “ in the running “ for during the next twelve months. That I regard as a dire insult to the right (honorable member; and I think that when he speaks he will show that he so regards it. I refer to this matter only because it is one of the disgraceful actions of the press to-day. What is the press? Who are the men who write these articles? If they signed their name not one man in ten would believe a word they write; but because they are able to hide their identity in anonymity, their words are given a weight which they do not deserve. As things are, the press is allowed, as no individual in society is allowed, to abuse men and shoot them from behind the hedge. The time is coming when Parliament and the press will be brought into conflict, and the question will have to be decided for good and all. The time is coming when public men must be protected ; and if public men have not the courage to defend their own reputations from the slanderous attacks of myrmidons of the press, and press conductors themselves, some other more drastic, definite and deadly step will have to be taken than mere regulation by parliamentary control. There is a stage when the worm will turn. There is a time, as it would be with me, when, if efforts were made to practically take away my reputation without justification, my British blood could stand no more; and I should have no hesitation, if the man were worthy of it, in making myself a sacrifice in order to show the people the curse that is amongst us.
I am now coming to my last point.
– Is this the last lap?
– I have not yet touched, except incidentally, that wonderful document, the Government programme, and I do not propose to deal with it to-night. I desire to point out, however, that there is a movement going on amongstus ; and that the people should be made aware of the. fact. The fusion party, and all those associated with them, are everlastingly telling us of the wonderful organization of the Labour party - telling us that the Labour party’s organization is perfect - while their own side cannot wake up their supporters. Now the latter is not the fact, because, since they have all got into one camp, things have changed. ‘A fight is going to be fought in the Commonwealth before the next twelve months are over, which will mean much to the future politics of the Continent. I desire here to read a letter sent to me as a kind of warning as to the tactics adopted by our friends opposite and their supporters. The letter is from a person I do not know, though from an address I do know, and it is signed in good faith. It is as follows : -
The writer does not doubt that a political fighter of experience, as you are, may be relied upon to be pretty well prepared, in a general way, for the tactics of the enemy. Nevertheless, it may not be amiss to mention that the Liberal and Reform League, in fixing their plan of campaign for next election, are making a special set at the Gwydir seat, and the lady member who has charge of this wing of their subscription list, is receiving very handsome contributions towards the Conservative fighting fund for Gwydir.
The writer is merely a young working woman with no political weapon but her vote, and she only sends these few lines in a simple spirit of service to the cause she believes in. She knows that, while professing - per daily papers - a stricken admiration of Labour’s “ splendid organization,” the Tories are by no means standing idle and open-mouthed in the face of that organization. Their own is going on all the time, with the clink of coin added to coin, with the buying up of all the mean, slandering agencies that are ever for sale in the Devil’s marketplace; with the pretty chatter of drawingroom teas, with the false mouthing of such useful phrases as “ safeguarding the home,” “ purifying public life,” and all the other little lures which, in time of political stress, the wealthy woman uses to bind to herself the socially unimportant woman whom, at ordinary times, she would cut dead. So it is not enough that the Labour man hold his own ; he must, each time, make it increasingly his own by a larger number of convinced voters.
Trusting that you will be so kind as not to look upon this as too much of a trespass,
Yours for Australia,
That letter, which is signed, is an indication of the awakening of woman.
– One swallow does not make a summer.
– No; but one social tea-party might make a convert. It is remarkable that the honorable member, who, in the olden days, bitterly opposed women’s suffrage-
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– It is remarkable that the honorable member is to-day practically without an audience to address, unless he calls a meeting of a Women’s Association. God help the women who have to endure it. The Conservative element are using today the very weapons which my lady correspondent says are being used, to her knowledge, and which I know are used only in fights of this kind. I have gone through a contest in which they have been used. At the last general election, the Conservatives endeavoured to down me by misrepresenting my actions in connexion with the land scandals in New South Wales. In order to show that they had no belief in the slanders so uttered against me, however, 2,000 people in my electorate contributed to a fund, and . presented me with the gold watch which I hold in my hand, as well as a testimonial, as a mark of their appreciation of the services I had rendered the man on the land in connexion with the land scandals. Whilst they did this, the Conservative party used the greater proportion of the newspapers in my electorate, and utilized them in printing absolute and wilful misrepresentations by which they hoped to delude the people of Gwydir, and to remove me from Federal politics. The diabolical work of this body of men is beyond comprehension, save by those who have experienced it. If there is one thing more than another that would drive a man out of Federal politics, it is the degradation of his surroundings in the political arena. L have been in the political fight since 1880, when I occupied the position of Financial Secretary to the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales. I have been fighting for the cause ever since, and not always for pay. For many years I fought without monetary reward. I was often money out of pocket, and I sacrificed time and leisure for the good of the cause. I had proved the existence of corruption in connexion with the State Parliament, but when I reached the national Parliament, I hoped to find a more serene atmosphere, and an environment that might leave its mark, so to speak, on those who breathed it, by ennobling them. But, alas ! I have not found anything of the kind. I find that the same old Adam who tempted Eve is still on the Government side of the House.
– Was it not the other way about?
– I am only modernizing the old story. Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden, but Adam is now tempting Eve in the political garden. I wish to warn my fellow members of the Labour party, who are likely to be opposed by the minions of the wealthy classes at the next general election, not to allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security. The enemy is on our track, and is loaded with pelf. His money-bags are going to be emptied at the next general election into the one exchequer. The two parties that have hitherto fought against Democracy - the one under the Free Trade and the other under the Protectionist banner - have at last got under the one umbrella, and their funds, which were less effectively used than they will be, since they had to be spent on two classesof candidates, are now being emptied into a common tray. I warn my comrades that they must take care not to under-estimate the power of gold in the political arena.
– The workers cannot be bought.
– No; but the enemy may delude them. I do not say that our opponents can delude the ladies; but they can’ render it impossible for them to obtain the information which they need to guide them in connexion with their public duty. They can put before them all the lies so frequently told about the attitude of the Labour party in regard to the marriage tie, social life, the domestic circle, and the division of property. At the last general election, some opponents of the Labour party in my electorate were prepared to go to such lengths in their efforts to make converts that if they found a poor man with a few poultry in his yard, they would tell him that if the Socialists became the dominant power, they would compel him to divide his poultry with the man who had none. They went so far as to indicate that Socialists would demand an equal division of everything upon which, they could lay their hands, with the exception of children. They never said that there was to be an equal division of the children.
– In my electorate they said that the children would be taken from their parents, and housed in State barracks.
– They did not go so far as that in my electorate, but I have indicated some of the methods that they adopted to delude the free and independent elector. Itis necessary for our men to see that every barrel is loaded, and that every man and woman who sympathizes with the humanitarian cause has a loaded musket with a ballot-paper inside. We must see that every qualified person is able to use his or her vote at the next election. Many of the, electors have been left off the new rolls, which are supposed to be complete. In one division of my electorate, which contains only two hotels, I notice that there are on the roll five hotel proprietors. That indicates carelessness in compilation. I admit that there are always errors, but there seems to have been less care used in the compilation of the present rolls than in any previous instance within my knowledge. It is not only the duty of every elector who is on the roll to be at the polls and to vote when the day comes to prevent the fusion party opposite from injuring the welfare of this country, but it is necessary for him to see also that the name of every comrade who is entitled to a vote is placed on the roll before polling day, so that he may not only do his duty to his country by registering his own vote, but also take along with him those whose votes would otherwise be lost. I appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs, as a fair-minded man, to see if it is not possible, in the interests of obtaining a true reflex of the opinion of the people at the next election, to correct the many imperfections in the existing rolls, so that when we do come to a fight we shall have, not a one-sided, but a fair contest, with even weapons. That the victory may go to those who are most deserving of it is the earnest wish of one who loves this, his adopted country, Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hume Cook) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090713_reps_3_49/>.