3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took thechair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. BOWDEN presented a petition from Robert Laurence Moore, of Lithgow, New South Wales, praying the House to consider the question of compensating him for loss and damage sustained by the admitted negligence of a postal official.
Petition received, and (on motion by Mr.
– I do not think that the honorable member requires an answer.
– It would appear from the regulations that old-age pensions are not to be paid under Commonwealth administration except at post-offices. In my electorate are a number of old persons, living 12 miles from a post-office, and it is very difficult for them, by reason of infirmity and other causes, to get to it. Under State administration, the police, when on patrol, were instructed to pay pensions in these and similar cases. Will the Treasurer allow that system to continue? The matter is of great importance, not only to those on whose behalf I have asked the question, but, doubtless, to many others.
-I shall have pleasure in causing inquiries to be made to see what can be done in these cases.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK laid upon the table the following papers -
Defence Acts -
Military Cadet Corps - Regulation No. 13 Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 75.
Military Forces - Regulation No. 482 (a) Added (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 74.
Debate resumed from 13th July (vide page 1 130), on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That the Government does not possess the confidence of this House.
.- One of the most striking features of this debate seems to me to be this, that it has been almost entirely confined to the affairs of the past, and has borne but very slightlyupon the concerns of the future. That might be an appropriate state of things for an old, decaying nation ; but it is not a healthy characteristic in the political affairs of a young nation like Australia. Before I enter upon some rather controversial topics, I wish to say that I saw a great deal to admire in the manner, in which the late Prime Minister, the honorable member for Wide Bay, administered the duties of his high and responsible position ; and I am happy to say that his Ministers generally, with one or two rather’ serious acts by way of exception, displayed, as I thought, a degree of efficiency and ability which is deserving of the fullest recognition. I also think that the irritation which has been displayed by my honorable friends has had some basis of justification. It is rather annoying, after giving five or six years of solid support to receive five or six months of unsubstantial support in exchange. But we must remember that our friends opposite are not made of the ordinary political clay.
They must remember that they represent the highest traditions of political disinterestedness and patriotism; that to them office was an infliction, and that they desire nothing more than the opportunity of serving others in great public undertakings. I rather regret, therefore, that my honorable friends have recently shown the ordinary characteristics of ordinary politicians. One of the most serious complaints which have been made from the other side is a fear as to the future of Liberalism in Australia under this new fusion of parties. They point to one or two individuals upon this side of the House as representing a policy of Conservatism, and they profess to be gravely alarmed as to our political future. Considering that the leader of the present Government was looked up to until recently by them as one of the strongest exponents of the most advanced Liberalism in Australia - considering that for six years the honorable and learned Prime Minister was the- guide, counsellor, and friend of the Labour party - surely they should rejoice that this advanced leader in Liberal politics has been reinforced by some honorable gentlemen who at former periods were in a state of more or less antagonism to him. The belief opposite seems to be that the one or two gentlemen who are supposed to be Conservatives will direct the Government. That is a perfectly natural feeling on the part of those who have been accustomed to direct Governments for such a lengethened period of time; but I feel that the result will be, not the weakening of Australian Liberalism, but in the direction of strengthening” it. Indeed, I believe it is a mere political trick of the most obvious kind to endeavour to describe any party, either in the Federal or in the State arena, as a Conservative party. There is no such party in Australia. There is no country in the world where the people are less paralyzed by reverence for the past. There is no people in the world who have fewer fears as to the future. If I were compelled to point to a community which represents political progress in its most rapid and fearless guise, I should point to the political community of Australia. Our friends opposite go so far as to accuse honorable members on this side of favouring a policy of starvation. I regret the attempts which are being made to create a class feeling in the politics of Australia.
– Who started it?
– Wherever started, any. such attempt represents, not the highest, but the lowest, form of political controversy. I suppose “there is no one in this House who has to forget more than I have to forget in order to sit where I do. For seven or eight years I had the dubious privilege of sitting upon the other side, but during that long period I am not aware that I filled the air with many lamentations. When my honorable friends profess such horror at sudden withdrawals of polical affection. I remember a time when I thought the delightful ardour with which the present Prime Minister regarded me cooled in an altogether too rapid and mysterious fashion. But if I sought for sympathy, for some expression of moral reprobation, I sought it in vain in the direction of my honorable friends. Their political conscience has become suddenly tender. When the Prime Minister reverted to his old love, Labour took the erring head to its bosom in a rapture of perfect reconciliation. The Prime Minister has one great virtue. I do not know in the public life of Australia a man who possesses a more loving and affectionate disposition, but that disposition has, of course, the defect of its qualities, and there is no doubt that the Prime Minister, during the last few years, has been guilty of a series of political attachments equally sudden and equally amorous. But when my honorable friends seek to attack the honorable gentleman - and I think the very able and learned member for West Sydney left nothing to be said in the shape of indignation, invective, or satire- I cannot help remembering that the Prime Minister can advance two pleas which are familiar in the divorce courts of the country. The first plea is one of condonation. When the Prime Minister having suddenly left them for me, suddenly left me to rejoin them, he was received back, as I say, in a spirit of entire forgiveness. That is his plea of condonation. Then he has the further plea of cruelty and desertion. After three years - the second term of three years - of the most devoted and faithful service, the honorable member was driven out of the- political wigwam of the honorable member for Wide Bay into the wilderness, without a word of explanation. At that time, when the Labour party sought to displace the Deakin Administration, some of our friends thought we should go behind the Ministry and save them. But I remembered trie delightful anecdote with which the Prime Minister recently amused the Labour party, and which bore on the aboriginal method of contracting matrimonial alliances by brute force. I said that in order to bear this beauteous one - I mean the Prime Minister - triumphantly into our camp, we must adopt the free use of the club. The club has been used ; and we rejoice in the new alliance which has been contracted between the gifted leader of the present Administration and the united Liberals of Australia. So far as I am concerned, in saying these things I have said everything I have to say with reference to the past. There is only one basis for any loyal and honest political fusion. At all times it is a strain, and sometimes a great strain ; but there is only one basis on which this fusion can be justified, or on which it can succeed, and that is the basis of forgetting the antagonistic feelings of the past, endeavouring loyally to join forces in advancing the public interest. Personalities soon recede into oblivion, just as personages soon dissolve into dust. There are only two great objects worthy of public ambitions and parliamentary service, and these are to advance, in the best possible way, the interests of good government, and to advance, in the best possible way, sound principles of legislation. I believe that the union which has been arrived at on this side of the House is calculated to promote those great national benefits. For that reason I hope, whilst exercising a spirit of perfect independence, to be able to give the present Government thoroughly loyal and earnest support. I cannot forget that there are in and behind this Government a large number of my own old friends and supporters. When honorable members seek to draw some artificial line of Liberalism, as the honorable member for Gippsland did the other night. I should like to ask them what line of Liberalism divides men like the Prime Minister, the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the Minister of External Affairs, from men like the Minister of Defence, the Attorney-General, the Minister of Home Affairs, and the PostmasterGeneral?
– There is no line !
– There is . no real line. Once the fiscal question is set aside there is no substantial line dividing the Liberals whom I have named. When my friends opposite become so impatient as to the sinking of the fiscal question, which has been agreed to in this case, may I remind them that there is no party here which has sunk the fiscal question so persistently and so scientifically as the Labour party of Australia has done. Is it not marvellous that ardent Free Traders like the honorable member for West Sydney, Senator Pearce, the honorable member for Grey, and, once, the honorable member for Wide Bay, should be able to co-operate loyally for so many years with the most rabid Protectionists in the Labour party? If they had not done so the Labour movement would have been impossible; and, surely, they can allow their political opponents the same privilege?
– So long as the right honorable member avows it !
– The honorable member for Coolgardie is another one to whom I might have referred as a sound Free Trader; and surely, if my honorable friends opposite, in the pursuit of high political objects and, great national changes, to which they attach importance, have been able to work amicably together, the same privilege, with the same objects ‘in view, should be allowed to honorable members on this side of the House. May I be allowed to say that I listened to the speech of the honorable member for Gippsland with great pleasure? It was a speech of real ability, animated, I am sure, by honorable feeling. But may I also suggest to that honorable member that, as in the case of too many gentlemen whose politics have been fashioned in Victoria, the term Liberalism would appear to be defined in his view by the geographicalboundaries of his State? Liberalism is altogether too broad a term, and represents too great a principle, for any such limitation. Liberalism was not invented in Victoria ; Liberalism in Australia is the child of the great Liberalism of the Mother Country, and the child of Liberalism throughout the nations. One of the points about this fusion which recommends it most strongly to me is that, for. the future, the term Liberal in Australian politics will have a broader meaning and a more generous sound - that this consolidation of Liberal forces will, I hope and believe, work effectively in our future political life. May I say, in all sincerity, that, in my deliberate view, aided as it is by a considerable degree of political experience, that if there is one party which’ should not lament this new development it is the Labour party of Australia?
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear.
– That is the party which for so many years occupied a position in this Parliament altogether unworthy of its strength’ and its ability, and, if it has a future, equally unworthy of its future. Surely my friends opposite will feel a greater degree of satisfaction in standing together shoulder to shoulder with a leader of their own choosing. Whether we regard the matter from that point of view or from another, we are now on the threshold of a stage of Australian politics which will reflect greater credit on all parties. To show how awkward the honorable member for Gippslands definition of Liberalism is, I may point out that if there is any one principle to which he devotes his undoubted abilities, it is the principle of Protection. If the honorable member went to reside in the Mother Country, who are the men with whom he would find himself associated in the political struggles there? He would have to join the Tories of England. This reflection upon some of us is equally a reflection upon honorable members of the Labour party who hold similar fiscal views. The fact is that Protection, which may be in the estimation of many patriotic men - and in the estimation of most nations it1 is - a patriotic policy, is not one that can ever mark the line between one set of advanced political thinkers and another. It has never done so.
– No cheers from the Government benches now.
– The honorable member who excites my greatest admiration, is the honorable member for Hume. Great men like Gladstone could evolve from a position in which they were the hope of the Tories into another in which they became the hope of the Radicals of England. In the course of a long, active, fearless, and honorable public life, they could work conscientiously from one extreme to the other, without any suspicion of insincerity or of mercenary motive. That very distinguished public man, who is now, “unfortunately, shattered in health - Mr. Joseph Chamberlain - described an evolution in a precisely opposite direction. He began as one of the most advanced Radicals in England and ended as a trusted Conservative leader. That was an evolution in an opposite direction, yet who would endeavour to cast discredit upon either of those dis tinguished men, because, in the course of a useful and intense public life, their views altered? But the one great statesman of the world, against whom no such reproach can be levelled, is the honorable member for Hume. If his own version of his political career be the correct one, he began as a fossil, and a fossil he remains. I know the honorable member too well, however, not to be aware that that does not justly describe his public career, and I trust that, notwithstanding the strength of the antagonism that prevailed between us for many years, there is no element of personal bitterness in our fight.
– No, but I brought down the right honorable member every time.
– If the honorable member did, that only shows what a rogue elepHant can do when he gets his feet on you.
– I remember the right honorable member on one occasion did something in regard to his leader.
– I hope that the honorable member will allow me to say a word or two. May I remind him that in the course of eight and a half years of Federation he has had six and a half years of high Ministerial office?
– That is nothing.
– Is there no point at which the honorable member’s appetite can be satisfied ?
– I do not take office for the sake of filthy lucre.
– Order !
– Is there no stage at which the honorable member is prepared to give others a chance?
– Then the right honorable member is merely seeking office?
– Yes, he is after the money. I never go for that:
– We all admit that the honorable member for Hume is the one disinterested figure in national politics-
– That is the truest statement that the right honorable member has made.
– And that he enjoys a corresponding reputation in all quarters of Australia. I wish to show that the honorable member for Hume, to whom I have never devoted very much attention, is really one of the great statesmen of the world. No other public man has ever performed, a larger number, of political somersaults than he has done; but I am bound to .give him credit for having nearly always fallen on his feet. I can remember the time when the honorable member was a confirmed Free Trader.
– I was never a Free Trader.
– I mention these matters only because-
– The right honorable member is now going into the past.
– It is time that some one did so.
– I have listened in this House year after year to allusions to the past without taking notice of them. I intend, however, to take some notice of them on the present occasion.
– The right honorable member said that he would not do so.
– Why drag up the past ?
– Because I am not made of the pure political porcelain that is to be seen on the Opposition benches; I am merely a. man with the ordinary feelings of humanity. The honorable member for Hume was “a member of a Government in New South Wales that proposed a 5 per cent, revenue duty.
– Twenty-two years ago.
– Yes, but that is where the evolution comes in. The honorable member desired to make us believe that evolution had left no marks upon him. As a matter of fact, however, lie was a member of a Free Trade Government which, with a deficiency in the finances, proposed a revenue duty’ of 5 per cent. An accusation was made that they were sneaking in Protection, but the honorable member and his Government emphatically repudiated the statement.
– The right honorable member said that the proposal meant Protection.
– When I deal with the honorable member I endeavour to get as near Holy Writ as possible for my authority. Here is the report of a speech delivered by Sir Patrick Jennings, the head of the Government of which he was a member, in regard to the proposal to impose a revenue duty of s per cent -
We have not put a sufficient amount of duty on any of these articles to “ sneak in :’ Protection. “We-
And the word “we” included my honorable friend - disavowed Protection at the time -
Sir Patrick Jennings was referring to thelast election- -
We disavow it now.
Was the honorable member and his Government sneaking in Protection under cover of declarations of that kind ?
– That is a very cowardly way of trying to prove that I was a Free Trader. I was a Protectionist all the time.
– The honorable member should “take his gruel.”
– r hope that the honorable member for Hume will allow us that freedom of speech which he claims
– Then the honorable member should quote words from my own mouth, and not the words of others.
– We find that on the occasion in question, the honorable member’s leader - and we know that loyalty to his leader is the honorable member’s strong point - said -
I am not here to fall back from what the avowed policy of the Government has been all along, and will continue to be as long as we remain in office.
I can account for the honorable member’s sudden conversion to the policy of Protection. Up to this time Free Trade had been the policy of all political parties in the State. A few months later - at the elections, at the beginning of 1887 - Sir Henry Parkes raised the Free Trade flag, and it became necessary for the honorable member for Hume to evolve with startling rapidity. He then evolved into Protectionism. To show how mixed, fiscally, the honorable member became a few months later, let me repeat something which he said on the 3rd May, 1887.
– Twenty-two years ago !
– The honorable member is slow in all his movements, and takes time to evolve. Referring to Sir Henry Parkes, he then said -
He upset all his previous declarations that lie would accept nothing from Victoria, but. in reality, he was instructed by the people of that Colony, which, unfortunately, is Protectionist, and, so, far behind New South Wales.
– At that period it was true.
– It is only fair to say that the honorable member was then half grub and half butterfly, because, in other parts of the speech, he enunciated the soundest Protectionist principles. There is another matter in regard to which he has performed a striking, and, I think, meritorious, evolution. I am not impugning the sincerity of his conversion ; I merely say that he is a far more healthy political transformation than he imagines himself to be. The question of giving equality of electoral power was before the New South Wales Parliament, and the strongest opponent of the proposals of the Government of the day was the honorable member for Hume. He said, in reference to the Seats Redistribution Bill-
One great objection I have to this Bill is that the distribution of seats is to be on the basis of absolute equality of representation.
He pointed out that in New Zealand and in Victoria the people in the country had a much larger share of political power than those in the cities. He showed what he thought should be the difference between a man in the country and a man in the town by saying -
I think that three electors in Sydney should lui ve only the same voting power as two in the country.
– Hear, hear; but let the right honorable member give my reasons. They are on record.
– I am speaking of a principle, not of the honorable member’s reasons. I thought it was a most sacred principle of Australian Democracy that each man and woman should have precisely the same share of political power ! To the honorable member’s observation, Sir Henry Parkes made this reply -
That is a very undemocratic note to strike.
The honorable member voted against the Bill, on the ground, amongst others, that the principle of equality of manhood was recognised. The honorable member is now one of those who believe that the utmost freedom should be given to men to combine in political associations for the promotion of their own interests, whether in or out of the Public Service. Upon that he is now sound. But when he was Secretary for Public Works in New South Wales, and Minister for Railways, prior to the appointment of Railways Commissioners, a railway association was established. The question whether there should be such an association within the Public Service was keenly debated, and the honorable gentleman, when challenged upon his attitude, was careful to explain that the only terms on which he would recognise a railway association were that its members must not deal with rates of pay or hours of labour.
– Hear, hear !
– An industrial association without power to deal with rates of pay or hours of labour ! That is one of those robust explanations of a real Tory principle which emanated from the honorable member in those times.
– Did not the right honorable member support me?
– I never supported the honorable member in his life.
– In what year was the occurrence just referred to?
– It was about the same old time. If there is a subject upon which the honorable member is now strong, and in regard to which he has endeared himself to the women of Australia, it is female suffrage. That he regards as the sacred and inalienable right of female humanity - now ! But, in 1890, when an Electoral Bill was introduced, the honorable member declared that he could not accept female suffrage.
– Hear, hear. I stated afterwards the reasons why I had changed my mind.
– Changed his mind ! Surely the honorable member never did that ?”
– Have I not said that the honorable member falls on his feet after each of his somersaults. I am not imputing anything else to him. Another subject upon which he is now emphatic is the right of poor workers to protection from their employers. But when, on the 2nd September, 1890, there was a discussion in the New South Wales Parliament as to whether a sailor or his relatives should be allowed to recover at law if injury or death were caused to him by reason of the unseaworthiness of the ship he was on, the question arose whether recovery should be possible if he had not given notice before he went on the voyage that the ship was unseaworthy - a thing which an ordinary sailor could not be expected to do. But this is what the honorable member thought on the subject. He said that the unfortunate sailor -
Would know whether he was going to sea in a rotten ship, and, if so, he should give notice at once. There ought to be protection for theemployer in cases of that kind.
– You coward.
– I am quoting the honorable member’s words.
– Who passed the law to stop that business?
– I ask the honorable member for Hume to withdraw the remark which he has just made.
– If I have said anything unparliamentary I withdraw it; but if you will allow me, sir - and I shall not do it unless you concur - to speak of the matter to which the right honorable member is referring, I shall add that I introduced the law which prevents rotten ships from going out of Newcastle and other harbors.
– I take this opportunity to mention that, when honorable members are called upon to withdraw a remark, it is proper for them to do so without adding an explanation which may, perhaps, be” intended to have the effect of altogether destroying the worth of the withdrawal.
– - I wish to give the honorable member every latitude in the matter. In spite of his efforts subsequently to secure the seaworthiness of vessels, he then thought that if a sailor went away in a vessel that was unseaworthy, without giving notice of its condition, the employer should be protected against any claim.
– That is not correct.
– The honorable member had not then arrived at his present state of evolution. The words which I have read were uttered on the 2nd September, 1890, and are to be found in the New South Wales Hansard reports of that date, page 3376. I do not, like the honorable member, make vague charges, imputing all sorts of misconduct to others, without giving any authority. Perhaps the most remarkable proof of the honorable member’s - I shall not say insincerity, but evolution - is this : When the great Federal movement came on, he was one of the leading Protectionists in New South Wales. Yet he joined in a fiscal truce. To do what? To come under the leadership of Sir Edmund Barton, who was then fighting the battle of Federation !
– I did not do anything of the sort.
– This is a case where the. press may be at fault. It is only fair to say that.
– I, not Sir Edmund Barton, was Premier.
– I remember now that the honorable member shifted Sir Edmund Barton. He performed a very dubious manoeuvre. Instead of acting as the loyal supporter of Sir Edmund Barton, who was his leader, he suddenly established a room of his own, and Sir Edmund was invited to walk downstairs, while he walked upstairs. We are told now that the honorable member, before he was able to displace me from the Premiership in New South Wales, gave solemn assurances to the Labour party of the day as to the obedient service he would render if they would be good enough to vote him into power.
– That is not correct. Not one word that the right honorable member has stated in regard to myself and Sir Edmund Barton is correct.
– It is all absolutely true.
– What was stated by Mr. Nielsen, now member for Boorowa in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly?
– He was not at the time a member of the New South Wales Parliament.
– I know that he was not; but he afterwards became a member, and made a public statement in the Assembly a few days ago. Other people besides members of Parliament sometimes know things. If the honorable member for Barrier, who was at the time a prominent member of the Labour party in New South Wales, will say that there was no sort of understanding of any kind with the honorable member for Hume before the party determined to put him in power, it will be enough for me.
– I know of nothing official. I know of nothing from the Labour party, whatever may be said of individual members of the party.
– There was nothing at all. The right honorable member was put out of office because he deliberately paid ^369 to a member of the House.
– I ask honorable members not to convert this speech into a dialogue, and to be content to leave any corrections which they may think ought to be made until the right honorable member for East Sydney has finished.
– The other night the honorable member for Hume made a great attack upon me, as though I had been an enemy of the early closing movement, and he its champion.
– So I was.
– The line I then took- and for a very good Liberal reason - was this : I considered that the hours of employment in all shops “should be strictly regulated and limited. But I did not want to play into the hands of the big shopkeepers of Sydney by closing the little suburban shops. None knows better than the honorable member for Newcastle that there was a great dispute as to whether all shops should be closed at a fixed hour, or whether there should be such a reform in the hours of labour as would enable the man whose wife, perhaps, attended to a shop whose trade was done mostly in the evening, to keep it open a little longer. All the big shopkeepers of Sydney went for the proposal of the honorable member for Hume, because it crushed out the small shops in the suburbs. I mention that to show that there was room for legitimate difference of opinion in the matter. Now I wish to refer to the honorable member’s greatest exploit. That was in reference to Federation. The honorable member joined this great fight and this fiscal truce to enable the battle to be won for Federation by Sir Edmund Barton, but he was opposing Federation all the time himself.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– Does the honorable member say that he never opposed Federation?
– Yes; but I did it openly, for two reasons.
– Of course, and I opposed it at one stage for three. The honorable member was a leading champion of the anti-Bill agination, and then calmly walked into office, where he remained for six years afterwards, as a loyal child of Federation. No one objects to that. I simply point to it as a case of patriotic evolution. I come now to a recent point. The honorable member produced the other night a long list of what he said were anomalies in the Customs Tariff that must be immediately rectified.
– And I am going to move in that direction shortly, also.
– I hope I shall be allowed to proceed.
– I hope the honorable member will be allowed to tell the truth.
– The honorable member tries hard not to be vulgar, but he never succeeds. He was fearfully in earnest about the Tariff when’ I led a Coalition Government. The Tariff was the burning question of the day, and various Christmas dinners were said to be in jeopardy. But within a short time afterwards there was a project for a Government consisting of some remnants of the honorable member’s friends, and I think a majority of the Labour party. It came to nothing, but there was a. project of that sort. Where would the honorable member’s list of higher duties have been in a Government which included the honorable member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Coolgardie, the honorable member for Barrier, and Senator Pearce?
– I could not have passed the Tariff without the help of the Labour party.
– May I say that to the people of New South Wales? Can I say that the honorable member for West Sydney helped the honorable member “for Hume to pass his Protectionist duties?
– The honorable member can say what he likes, but it is true that I would not have got the Tariff through without the help of the Labour party.
– The Labour Protectionists were to be at liberty to carry out their views to the fullest extent, but I’ do not suppose that my honorable friends opposite want to make out that the Free Traders of the Labour party are fiscal atheists. Surely they do not say that the Free Trade members of that party are mere political shams, who, under cover of a profession of one principle, would treacherously bring about the triumph of another? I would not say that about any member of the Labour party. I am happy, to say that I have always been able to give the members of the Labour party, personally, every credit for their independence and public spirit. I have never had any personal quarrel with any of them.
– Who could quarrel with’ the right honorable member?
– That is what I say of them, but the worst of it is that I get nothing but amiability from them. However, I would rather be on those friendly terms with my fellow members than occupy any office in this Parliament. That is mv idea of the pleasure of public life. I do not propose to range over the whole field of politics on this occasion, but I think I ought to refer briefly to one or two of the great questions of the day.
– The right honorable member has not done with me yet, has he?
– Is there anything left of the honorable member?
– I only ask that the right honorable member will be here when I reply to him. I will scarify him.
– I hope to be able to enjoy that pleasure, and I will not interrupt the honorable member.
– What about the New South Wales tramways?
– I am obliged to the honorable member for Lang for the reminder, but I wanted to spare the honorable member for Hume three or four other things. The honorable member would now shrink with horror from the project of vesting either our railways or our tramways in a syndicate of capitalists, but there was once a strong agitation in Sydney, represented by a number of private individuals, who wanted to take over the tramways, and had, I believe the money ready to do it. Who was the champion at that time of the yndicate of capitalists who wished to run the public trams of that city ? The honorable member for Hume.
– And Mr. Jack Want.
– Mr. Want has gone to his last account.
– He and I were together. I said so the other night.
– I do not think any one ever accused my lamented friend, John Want, of being a Radical in New South Wales politics.
– He was one of the greatest.
– Then, on the question of the Sydney trams, the honorable member was something else. He backed up that attempt of a syndicate to transfer the trams from a public to a private ownership.
– Twenty-four years ago.
– I am only speaking of the political evolution of which a man is capable. We had before us one of the most delightful specimens of instantaneous evolution the world has ever seen when we were debating the choice of a Capital site. The honorable member at that time was favouring four sites at the same time ! They were Albury, Tumut, another with some unpronounceable name, and Tooma. I think Tooma was the fourth string.
– The honorable member is wrong again.
– I do not know the names of these places, but the honorable member certainly advocated several sites in his electorate. He voted for Albury as the only site for the Capital of Australia, although for weeks before, and for weeks after, he was striving for Tumut. That is a double-faced sort of evolution to which I did not think the honorable member would commit himself. Notoriously, he was asking the House to adopt one site, and when Albury was put forward on the first ballot, one of the first votes, if not the only one for it, was that of the honorable member himself. Yet he had no more idea of standing up for Albury than he has of going to heaven. It is’ only fair to say that, in referring to the honorable member’s changes of public opinion, I am simply placing him on the same pedestal as one of the greatest men of recent years - William Ewart Gladstone. It is not necessarily a reflection on a public man to say that his views have changed. I believe that on more occasions than one my own views have changed. I wish now to glance briefly at one or two of the leading matters before us. The two great Departments with which the Federation was intrusted apart from the Customs, were those of Post and Telegraphs and Defence. In the administration of those two Departments the Federal authority has proved an abject failure. I do not want to put the blame on to this shoulder or on that. But, looking back over the past seven years, I say that if there is one fact more apparent in the public eye than another, it is that the Federal Parliament and Government have been absolutely incapable of placing the Post and Telegraph Department upon a sound basis. Now that we have a solid, powerful party on this side, now that the Prime Minister has the honour of leading so large a number of men, all of whom, I believe, he will find loyally following him - with the independence which we naturally possess as members of a Liberal party - now that he has the power, now that he is surrounded by the colleagues whom I see before me, I devoutly trust that that Department will be the subject of one or two reforms. In the first place, the service must be made efficient. In the second place, the revenue must be made sufficient, and in making the revenue sufficient, those who use the tele- phones most should pay the most. The one reform that is wanted to make the telephone service efficient, and to put it upon a proper financial basis, is that those people who use telephones to such an enormous extent in their business affairs, should be required to pay a proportionate amount for the services rendered. There is another principle, in harmony with the one I have just put forward, which ought to be kept in view. In adjusting the burdens of that Department, a sharp discrimination should be exercised in favour of settlers in remote districts. The pioneer class of Australia, who are out in the bush, cut off from the comforts of great centres of population, I would treat with the utmost liberality. I pass away from that subject to the subject of Defence. I think we shall all agree, without endeavouring to locate the blame for the unfortunate position, that the Department of Defence is another which has remained in a state of absolute inefficiency. When I spoke, a few months ago, looking upon serious danger to Australia as an affair of, perhaps, ten years hence, I was ignorant of the startling developments which have since come to light with reference to, if not the greatest power, certainly the greatest military power in the world. I confess now, in the light of knowledge which has come to me, that I cannot put off for ten years, the grave dangers to Australia to which I referred. I feel that they are more pressing than I thought they were, and I give the honorable member for West Sydney every credit for seeing much further ahead than I, or most of us, did, The honorable member for years has had upon the business-paper a notice of motion which I still think may be, perhaps, going too far ; but in the light of the facts as we know them to-day, I cheerfully acknowledge that the honorable member took a course for which he deserves public thanks. He deserves every credit for remarks which he made, but which I, at the time, thought to be entirely overstrained. The fact is that the question of defence can no longer be treated theoretically ; but has become one of immediate and practical importance. I am, glad that an Imperial Defence Conference is to be held. Some of us who are not military or naval experts, can only learn as other laymen do, and the more we learn of the question the more clearly do we see that Imperial defence is just as much an Australian question as Australian defence is an Imperial question. The true dangers do not lie in these remote seas; the decisive battle will not be fought here, but near the very heart of the Empire. The first thing we have to remember is that the fate of the British Empire will be decided in a few hours, many thousands of miles away, by means of terrible engines of war, which cannot be manufactured at a moment’s notice. We have to face this fact, and I congratulate the Minister of Defence upon being, I believe, the first in Australia to express himself in favour of holding a Conference. It is the simple truth, I think, that the Minister of Defence, at a time when he had no idea of the fate in store for him. made an earnest plea for the holding of an Imperial Defence Conference. But there is one lesson- we do not need to go to an Imperial Conference to learn. There are one or two simple principles by which we can test questions of military administration. Nearly the whole merit of the administration of our Defence Department has consisted in the number of valuable minutes written by Ministers. We have the most beautiful schemes and magnificent projects on paper, but they never materialize. But we have to remember that if we are really going in for the business of war, and preparations for war, we must have something beyond mere skeleton schemes of defence. Our regiments of infantry and artillery must not be without the best of weapons and proper equipment, or even without reserve weapons and equipment, in readiness for the wicked waste of war if that calamity should befall us. Anything less will never mean defence, and can result only in disaster. Overlapping the Commonwealth and State domains, are several great questions. There are the questions of finance, the industrial powers of the States and the Commonwealth, and immigration. May I take the liberty of saying that I suppose there is not a more earnest believer in immigration ; but I have watched with very great dislike a process of exaggerated statement which has amounted to positive deception. I do not desire to see people lured to Australia on false pretences; I do not desire to see the lowest methods of commercial advertising applied to the great affairs of this country. I feel that this great national necessity is in serious danger of being discredited by the questionable methods which are being employed in some quarters. I am glad to see that the Minister of Defence has taken up in real earnest the question of physical culture, which lies much nearer than some of us think to the heart of the problem of the defence of this land. But there is a still higher form of enterprise, either of State or Federal concern, and that .consists in the development of the mental resources of Australia. When shall we realize in the actual affairs of government that the greatest factor in the future of this Continent, is not to be found in our mineral wealth, the richness of our soil, or the size of our territory? The real wealth of Australia lies more within the mental powers of the people than in any other sphere, and I should like to see some sort of change which would have the result that there could not be superior ta.lent in the most obscure and distant home in the bush which State enterprise could not reach, whose path it would not smooth. The greatest task of all in the building of this nation is the task of developing to their highest pitch the intellectual possibilities of the people. In regard to the Northern Territory, I desire to repeat the statements I have made on previous occasions. I have looked very carefully at the provisions of the agreement, and I am quite prepared to repay to South Australia every penny that the Northern Territory has cost her. But I absolutely decline to fetter the Commonwealth in this transaction with any scheme of railway policy. That introduces an element into the transaction which, so far as I can at present see, will meet with the strongest opposition from me.
– Then South Australia will keep the Northern Territory !
– We wish her well. I certainly think that South Australia is entitled to every penny that the Territory has cost her; but I am not willing to tie the Commonwealth to ‘the construction of 1,100 miles of railway leading from nowhere to nowhere.
– Regarded in the light of defence, the honorable member will find that the railway leads to the front door of Australia.
– Any Federal argument in favour of any aspect of the agreement will receive the utmost consideration at my hands ; I am simply guarding myself against this agreement being made use of for the purpose of effecting some internal purposes of State railway service. If there is any Federal justification for the railway I shall say no more, because then the work might be absolutely necessary. It is right,- I think, to intrude for a. moment on what may be considered within the domain of State politics. Honorable members opposite have in their platform a very strong plank, which may be brought into service in a revenue producing shape, but the avowed intent of which is to carry out the work of breaking up the big estates of Australia. I do not think the Commonwealth has the constitutional power to do this; but, although a member of the Federal Parliament, I feel I am entitled to say, in the most public way, that those large landed estates must either be taxed out of existence or resumed out of existence. Without any reflection on the owners, many of whom have done a great deal to build up the industrial progress of Australia, I consider that the time has come when these estates must be transformed into holdings suitable for the purposes of single families. I do not favour the taxing process, and I shall give one or two reasons why. In the first place, as coming from us, for what is really the supreme purpose, I think the taxation is beyond our powers.
– I take it the right honorable gentleman is referring to large estates near centres of population ?
– I do not pretend to enter into any details, and I am merely using general terms.
– Did the right honorable member not say some time ago that we had the power?
– We have the power of taxation - I do not question that for a moment. We have the power of direct taxation, which includes the taxing of land just as much as it does the taxing of incomes. The only point I make is that the breaking up of large estates is a matter for the political evolution of the States themselves - that it is not a fiscal question, but a land question, and should be taken up by the States. But I would say that those in the States who do not take up this question in a serious light, do not deserve for a moment to hold the power. My objection to the exercise of the taxing power is, first, that, for the object of breaking up estates, it is beyond our province, and, secondly, that it is altogether too slow and unsatisfactory a process. The next question is that of the policy of resumption ; and I entirely believe in that policy. But I have no hesitation in saying that, as it is being now carried out, it is a. weak and foolish policy. In the first place, it is altogether too slow ; in the second place, it will allow the evil to grow again; and, in the third place, it sets up the values of lands which have not been resumed, as against the State itself.
– When will the right honorable member join us?
– I desire to show my honorable friends opposite that my methods are absolutely diverse from theirs. I am at one with them in recognising the gravity of the evil, and in recognising that it is a curse which should be removed from the national prospects of Australia. I wish to say that my proposal, if I had the opportunity to submit one, would follow roughly these lines : In the first place, the policy of resuming one estate after another is singularly weak and inconclusive, for the reasons I have mentioned. Most of these estates have been built up against the policy of the law - many of them have become large estates by a manipulation of the declared land policy of the country. It is easy for me, not being in State politics, to say these things, but I take the full responsibility for my utterances. I should like to see an Act passed in the States declaring the existence of these large estates to be contrary to public policy - declaring that every one of them will be gradually resumed, and that if the owners will not voluntarily subdivide, so as to unlock those estates for the benefit of Australians, and of people coming to this country, the States will themselves unlock the lands. I desire to leave to the owners the alternative of dealing with the lands in their own way.
– Where is the right honorable gentleman’s red flag?
– When an honorable member has strong views as to a state of things which is not good for the country, I think it is his duty to make no secret of those views.
– Look at the solemn faces on the Government side !
– All I can say is that I have ten times more hope of seeing this thing done under Liberal auspices than under Socialist auspices.
– Does the right honorable member refer to the present Government when he talks of~” Liberal auspices “?
– I regret to say that a large multitude assembled again to-day to listen to a continuance of the speech of the honorable member for Gwydir, and that they have been bitterly disappointed.
– I do not think that is quite correct.
– In view of my previous remarks about physical culture, let me say to my honorable friend that I never saw a more magnificent proof of physical culture than the honorable member gave us during those memorable nine hours. My only regret is that the mental equipment was not commensurate with the physical training.
– I have in my hands at this moment proof to the contrary.
– I’ hope the honorable member will forgive me if I have wounded his feelings. But to return to the land question, what, may I ask, is at the root of the evil? What has been the main animating feature of land owning and the aggregation of large estates? At the heart of that aggregation is the magnificent opportunity that it offers to reap wealth out of the national energies and the national development. I think that in any Bill such as that I haw mentioned there should be a clause providing that the value of the land to be gradually resumed shall in no case exceed the value at the time of the passing of the Act. That would take the heart out of the practice of holding on to the land, and for the future, at all events, we should have none of the increment derived from the employment of the energies and wealth of the State going into the hands of those who possess that which is the main factor of all human wealth and national prosperity. I wish now to refer to charges that have been made by the Opposition against honorable members on this side, implying that the forces of the new fusion will be used for the purpose of aggrandizing the wealthier classes of the community.
– Look at the Employers’ Federation.
– May I suggest to the honorable member that it is most unfair to stigmatize a whole party by the name of a particular office that one member of it may occupy? How intensely indignant members of the Labour party are when a quotation from Marx, Bebel, or some other eminent Socialist, is said to represent their views. My honorable friends have often just reason to complain of the use that is made of such writings.
– The right honorable member has played his part in that sort of thing.
– On the contrary, I have always taken the opposite view. I have always endeavoured to keep the fight against Socialism free from any injustice of that kind, because I know that there are views expressed by leading Continental Socialists that are entirely repugnant to the beliefs and policy of the Labour party of Australia. It is equally unfair to brand a whole party with the fact that some particular member of. that party happens to be this or that. Just as we have in this great Liberal party some who lag too far behind, so my honorable friends of the Labour party have among them some who go too fast. What do the Socialists say of the Labour party? Do they not denounce its members as facing-both-ways - as contemptible shams, pretending to believe in Socialism, but not having the pluck to declare themselves? My honorable friends had better look nearer home; they will find supporting them at election time a number of anarchists. Yet who would dream of branding the Labour party as anarchists because a few anarchists support them as against us? It would be grossly unfair to do so, and it is equally unfair to attack any other great party on similar grounds. It is a mean way of trying to carry on a political fight.
– It is done by a member of the honorable member’s party now.
– We have not the easy way of manufacturing a political conscience that honorable members opposite have. They are the creatures of a political Litany enforced by Athanasian penalties. The planks of a large platform are read out to them one by one, and they are asked to take their choice. They are told : “ If you accept every one of these planks, just as we have put them to you, your calling and election is sure ; but if you will not accept all these planks, if you will not accept them as the voice of your political conscience and your political judgment, you must be everlastingly damned.” That is the position of the Labour party. Their policy and their brains are found for them : their conscience is found for them, and if they stray a single hair’s breadth off one of those planks they fall into the sea of political perdition.
– Would to heaven some one would find a policy for honorable members opposite.
– May I point out what an easy sort of view my honorable friends have when they .speak as they do of my honorable friend, the member for Fawkner, who happens to be president of the Employers’ Federation? My answer to them is that he was president of that Federation when a majority of the electors in his constituency returned him to this House. There is one employer to every ninety-nine workers in the Commonwealth, and what a manly, fearless policy it is to gird at each of these isolated individuals as a child of Satan, and to speak of every worker as the unspotted child of righteousness ! Imagine what I could do with material of that kind if I were on the other side ! At the last general election my opponent, Mr. West, polled remarkably well. I have never had a Committee for twenty years - *-
– He will poll better next time.
– Let us hope that he will. I know that I shall do so. I shall see to that. Honorable members opposite talk of the resources of plutocracy being at the disposal of our candidates, but in connexion with the great contest in East Sydney at the last general election, I was astonished to see the streets filled with motors, cabs, and omnibuses, all for the supporters of the unspotted son of righteousness. I am sometimes described as the friend of the capitalist, and of the employers - mv enemies have always so described me in the political arena - but at the last general election, I had not a vehicle working for me until about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, when some one sent along a couple.
– The right honorable member’s friends had plenty.
– But they did not send them. Unfortunately the children of mammon supplied motors for the opposition candidate. After all, the sooner we recognise fairly and manfully what is the real line of cleavage between honorable members opposite, and those on this side of the House, the better. The real line of cleavage is the line between those who believe in development by private enterprise as against those who .believe in development, in the industrial world, by State monopolies. That is the line of cleavage. There are, on this side of the House, men who are just as genuine in their love of Australia - just as keen in their instincts of humanity - as is any honorable member opposite. But a broad line divides us. The question that separates us is, whether the development of Australia on lines of private enterprise is the right method of development, or whether the industrial development of Australia along lines of
State control, is the proper one. There is a broad principle involved, and it is upon that the battle must te fought. I was suspected of some sort of disposition to run counter to the fusion ; but there is no man in Australia who ought to be. prouder of the fusion than I should be, since I laid its foundation in the battle that I fought before the electors three years ago. It was then that I called for an alliance between Free Traders and Protectionists, sinking the fiscal issue, in order to fight what, in my opinion, was the greatest battle of all : the battle of those who believe in the development of Australia by private enterprise as against those who believe in development by State monopoly. Whilst there are wrongs to be redressed, I believe in using to the utmost the power of Parliament to redress them; whilst there are abuses which ought to be suppressed, I believe in the right and power of Parliament to suppress them. But if honorable members study the genius of the human race, in its last analysis, I think they will find that the evolution will be, not towards more and more State interference, but towards less and less. I can imagine a time of elevation and expansion in human destiny, in which, of all artificial contrivances, that of the State will least promote the genuine happiness and welfare of mankind. I wish, in conclusion, to offer a few remarks that I hope will be considered by honorable members on all sides of the House, and I think they will allow me to presume so far as -to make the suggestion I propose to make. Whilst I can quite understand the resentment shown by members of the Labour party on the occurrence recently of what to them were startling changes, I hope that that personal aspect of the fight has passed away. Since we are on the threshold of the greatest battle ever fought in Australian history, we might well be content to fight that battle outside when the proper time comes. In the meantime, we might all for once recognise the interests of the great masses of the Australian community, and in the few months that are left to us this session endeavour along lines of broad patriotism - not dealing with questions that arouse keen party conflict - to do something for the benefit of the whole community in connexion with questions of pressing urgency and importance.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, and to refer to several points in respect of which the right honorable member for East Sydney misrepresented me in the speech that he has just concluded. The right honorable mem ber had a brief prepared for him by the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I prepared no brief for him. The statement is incorrect.
– The right honorable member went back to the years 1885 and 1887, and accused me of then being a Free Trader, and of making statements that showed that I was a Free Trader. As a matter of fact, however, he did not quote one statement made by rr.e to the effect that I was in favour of Free Trade. He quoted remarks of Sir George Dibbs or Sir Patrick Jennings, but he did not quote mine. I was in two Ministries before the fiscal question arose. When Sir Patrick Jennings proposed duties of 5 per cent., it was the second occasion that duties of that kind were proposed in New South Wales. I think some such duties were proposed years before, but of this I am not sure. I was a Minister, but not Treasurer, in the Government of the day. The honorable member has not proved that I was ever a Free Trader. I never was a Free Trader after the fiscal question was raised.
– The right honorable member said that the honorable member was in a Free Trade Government.
– He said that I was a Free Trader. He stated, too, that I was in favour of selling the Sydney tramways. He did not explain that, at the time, very few lines were in operation, that what was proposed followed the Victorian lead, and that then we had nothing else to guide us.
– It was a’ very bad lead to follow.
– I was in favour of selling the Sydney tramways, because the Victorian tramways were giving a good service under private enterprise.
– The honorable member soon regretted what he had done.
– Yes, and I have never since spoken in favour of the proposal. The right honorable member said that I had received a deputation from railway employes, and refused to acknowledge their union. That is not true.
– The honorable member must not say that.
– It was not correct, as the records will prove.
– What I said was that the honorable member would not allow the association to deal with rates of pay and hours of labour.
– - It is about twenty years since the application was made to’ me, the deputation being introduced by Mr. Schey. ‘ I think I agreed to all its proposals but two, which were afterwards agreed to. That was my action in regard to a new question, about which I had then little knowledge. The right honorable member misrepresented me. He spoke of the proposal to impose duties of 5 per cent, as a Free Trade proposal. He forgot to say that, later on, the Dibbs Government imposed duties of 10 and 15 per cent. , which were regarded as Protectionist, and that ever since I have been in the van of the Protectionist cause. He stated that I voted against a Bill to prevent rotten ships from going to sea.
– Nothing of the kind. I read from Hansard the honorable member’s own words.
– Why not move that Hansard be burned?
– I again call attention to the gross irregularity of interjections while personal explanations are being made. I hope that honorable gentlemen will remember this.. I should regret very much to take further action, but I shall be compelled to do so if the standing order is not respected.
– The right honorable member said that I voted to compel seamen to give notice, before going to sea, that their vessels were rotten. The provision for which I voted required sailors who knew that their ships were rotten to give notice of the fact before going to sea. If a man did not know that his ship was rotten, how could he give notice? In 1897, following on the right honorable member’s five years’ term: of office, I passed the most stringent Act to prevent rotten ships from being sent to sea. I did that without his assistance. One or two rotten ships may since have been purchased, to be sent to sea and sunk, but in the year before the Act was passed no fewer than eight such vessels had been sent, out from Newcastle and lost. The right honorable gentleman referred to the Early Closing Act, in connexion with the passing of which he fought me night after night. I should not have passed that Act had it not been for the assistance of the Labour party of New South Wales.
– I supported the honorable member all through.
– - The right honorable member said that I intrigued with the Labour party to put him out of power.
I did not do so, and. I have repeatedly denied that I did. The right honorable member was put out of office because ho broke a solemn promise not to pay a certain member, who is now a senator, the sum of £369-
– The honorable member must not introduce new matter.
– The Labour party joined with me in putting the right honorable member out of office, for no other reason than because he had broken his promise to the House. He accused me of having played fast and loose with Sir Edmund Barton. There are those here who know what happened. I never played false with any one. Sir Edmund Barton was not the fighting man who was then needed in State politics. He led for a month or six weeks, but there would have been no real Opposition under his leadership, and therefore the party chose me, not because I intrigued for the position, but because I was ready to take forceful action. I think that I have now pretty conclusively explained the matters wherein I was misrepresented, and, in conclusion, sir, I can only point to the satire of calling the party opposite the Liberal party
.- I I have never felt more disappointed at anything which has taken place under Federation than at what has taken place here during the last few weeks. During the five and a half years I have occupied a seat in the House, I have been disappointed at the small amount of business which has been transacted. Why? Because of the system of party politics we have; the excess to which party politics are pushed, and the frequent introduction of New South Wales politics into our deliberations. I recognise that it is very difficult for any one to follow the honorable member for East Sydney. He always attracts a good house by reason of the humor he introduces into his speeches and the ability he displays in many things, especially in quoting from Hansard extracts which suit his particular point, and leaving out those things which do not, misrepresenting, by that method, statements which have been made. I feel at somewhat of a disadvantage knowing that the entertainment for the day has come to an end, and that the audience is getting rather tired of listening to debate upon the present position of public business. If the Commonwealth is to achieve the progress and prosperity which should distinguish a young country, the House will have to exclude from its deliberations personalities and State politics. And just as we are not expected to refer to another place in connexion with the Parliament, so I consider that it would be a very good thing if we were prohibited from dealing here with State politics and the history of Australia.
– Who began that in this debate?
– I do not desire any interjections from the honorable member, because I know his ability at putting speakers off the thread of their arguments. He is a very old politician, and very skilful in the art of interjecting and defending his own party. It is not for me to say who introduced State politics and historical allusions into this debate. I know that a lot of blame is attached to the Labour party for “ stone-walling.” I know that, for mere party purposes, the Labour party is accused of obstruction by certain newspapers. When I sat on a Ministerial bench for four days and four nights, without being able to go to my home, who was obstructing the business of the Commonwealth? Many members of this Ministry were then obstructing the present Prime Minister. Ifhe at that time was right, how is it that the then Opposition have gone over to his side? Is it because they have been attracted by the fruits of office or power, by the loaves and fishes? Or was the party I was. then supporting wrong? If we are to conduct the affairs of the Commonwealth with business method the sooner we get rid of many of our present practices the better. A short time ago the honorable member for Ballarat was sitting on the Opposition bench, and when the Fisher Government brought down a GovernorGeneral’s speech of thirty-two clauses, he said that it was only intended for the shop window, that it contained many clauses which could not be dealt with during this session. But the other evening he laid upon the table of the House a memorandum containing thirty-four proposals. If the speech was intended for the shop window, was not his own memorandum also intended for the shop window, rather than for practical purposes? It only shows how some men change their view with their position in the House. When a man is sitting on the Opposition bench he will say anything and everything against the actions, the motives, and the policy of the Administration, but as soon as he gets a place on the Treasury bench he will bring forward a policy containing a number of similar items, as the Prime Minister has done in his memorandum.
– T - That is the curse of party politics.
– It is the curse of party politics, and until the people awake to a sense of their responsibility, and to the amount of taxation which is put upon them by reason of party politics, the system will be continued. Unfortunately, we have to sit on one side of the House or the other, because there is no middle position. I may be accused of sitting on a rail or doing something of that sort, but it does not matter to me. I believe that every honorable member should accept the responsibility of his own action, and should not be bound hand and foot to one side or the other. A short time ago the honorable member for East Sydney twitted the honorable member for Hume with being a Free Trader, because his leader was a Free Trader. Are we to understand that every honorable member who sits on the Government side to-day is a Protectionist because the leader of that side is a Protectionist ? It is most peculiar to hear these taunts flung at different honorable members, because their leader happens to advocate one thing or the other. If we desire to do our business in an expeditious way, so that we may be able to return to our homes from time to time and ascertain the wants of our constituents, we shall have to get rid of a number of these long tedious speeches. In travelling about the country a short time ago the Prime Minister said that the oldage pensions were in danger, as there was not enough money with which to pay them. Yet before he was in office a week or two, and notwithstanding the fact that Parliament was to meet in about a fortnight, he transmitted a cablegram promising a Dreadnought or its equivalent to the people of England, thereby showing that according to his view there was plenty of money at the disposal of the Commonwealth. What is the position? Although the Government have made that offer to the Old Country, we find that our volunteers have not enough rifles to use, that ammunition is very scarce, the inference being that we have not enough money available even for defending Australia as it ought to be defended.
– They could not take one-half of the cadets to the encampment.
– Cadets could not go to the encampment because we had not sufficient funds for the purpose, while we could offer .£2,000,000 to the Old Country. It had not asked for the gift, which was not really needed. Unfortunately, I cannot say much regarding the Postmaster-General’s Department whilst I am a member of the Postal Commission. I propose to deal with a few matters which concern my district, and if I should appear to be parochial, it is simply owing to the fact that I do not wish to deal with the larger and wider question of administration and management at the present time. In my district there is one post-office which shows a profit of £400. The town wishes to connect with another town across the river, and only six miles away, by means of a postal service, at a cost of eight or ten, or perhaps fifteen, pounds a year. But the people cannot obtain that connexion because of the starvation system which obtains. In other country districts the school teachers have offered to take charge of papers and letters for the parents of the children, but the Deputy PostmasterGeneral has gone on the huckstering principle of offering to give the whole of the revenue received to the postmistresses for looking after the service. That, I contend, is a very peculiar attitude for the Government to take up. It was not adopted in connexion with the construction of the telephone from Melbourne to Sydney. I was very pleased to hear the honorable’ member for East Sydney speak as he did in reference to the accommodation’ of outlying districts. When a service is required in Melbourne or Sydney, no question is asked as to whether it will pay. Throughout Queensland there are hundreds of places where the services are not paying, although those places are quite entitled to have them ; yet we in Tasmania cannot get a service costing £10 or £15, because there is no money available, although we are supposed to be able to afford to give £2,000,000 to the Old Country to buy a Dreadnought I have often mentioned the subject of wireless telegraphy. Some two years ago the Government put on the Estimates £10,000 for the establishment of wireless telegraphy stations in Australia, but last year the money was struck off. I asked the then Postmaster-General, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, if it was simply a political placard, or whether he meant business. He said there was no political placard in his Department; but it appearsnow that there was in that instance. Every one who has read what has taken place in the world recently knows the advantage of wireless telegraphy to Australia for shipping purposes. There lie between Victoria and Tasmania King Island and Flinders Island, which have no communication with the mainland. Yet nothing is being done to provide it for them. They have, or are supposed to. have, a mail service once in three weeks, but they have no cable or wireless telegraphy, and if a storm arises they can hold no communication with the mainland for weeks, as I have known to happen in the past. If there is a wreck there, they have no means of notifying the people on the mainland of what has happened. I say, therefore, that the Government were not justified in giving away £2,000,000 when a small service of that kind cannot be provided for the people. Wireless telegraphy has already saved many lives in peril upon the ocean, and is capable of saving many more. We have had an intimation that the Union Steam-ship Company are quite willing to establish wireless telegraphy on the whole of their large fleet as soon as stations are established on the land. Of course, it is of no use on the ships unless there is an installation on the land to communicate with. I trust that at an early date the Commonwealth will establish a wireless telegraphy service for the safety of the people as well as for the benefit of those who live in isolated positions. When I entered the House, I thought that we should deal in a business-like way with questions like that of uniform postage stamps, but recently-, when in Queensland, I, bought a few more stamps than I required, and theyare in my pocket-book still, for they are of no use to me in any other State. A commercial traveller, when in any particular State, must buy only the exact number of stamps that he requires, or make a loss on them. What an absurdity that is in a country which is supposed to be federated ! We know that it is on account of the bookkeeping system which is at present in vogue, but surely the States are not so narrowminded that they will not accept one another’s stamps? This is one of those things that irritate and annoy the public, whereas it would only be a small item for the States to agree upon. A penny stamp should be recognised as a penny stamp all over Australia, no matter what State it is issued in. There are several anomalies with regard to the Tasmanian postal service which should be rectified. In Victoria, the postage on circulars is one halfpenny, but in Tasmania it is one penny, and if a business man in Tasmania wishes to send out 2,000 or 3,000 circulars, he can have the whole of them sent to Melbourne, and posted here at a reduced rate, and then sent to Tasmania. That State does the whole work of distributing them, and gets nothing for it. The Tasmanian business man saves one half-penny on every circular he sends out, but he gives the revenue to Victoria, and the work to his own State. It may be said that that sort of thing would not be patriotic, but every business man likes to do things as expeditiously and cheaply as possible, and under present conditions there is every inducement to Tasmanian merchants to have their printing and posting done in Victoria. This great injustice to Tasmania has been brought before various PostmastersGeneral. No remedy has been applied, and yet we call ourselves a federated community. If we are to prosper, to look upon one another as brothers, with the motto “ One destiny, one flag, and one people,” we should do away with the bookkeeping system, which causes a large amount of expense in checking the business of one State against another, when we are all supposed to be members of one firm. The people of Victoria would never think of checking whether goods were to be sent to Bendigo, Ballarat, or Ararat. The goods come here, the duty is paid to the Customs,’ and divided. When we federated, the bookkeeping system should never have been introduced. It was claimed that it would be useful in showing how things would work. That purpose has been achieved, and now we are spending a lot of money every year to produce a check which is only sufficiently correct to prove that the whole system is of no benefit. We should work in a Federal spirit if we are to have a federated Australia. With regard to the question of the State and Commonwealth finances, I have heard a great deal about State and Commonwealth rights, but, after all, the money belongs to the people, whether it is spent by the Commonwealth or by the States. We are all one, and we cannot be sepa- rated. It is only a question of coming to some arrangement. I cannot see the benefit of having Conferences. The State Premiers should meet first, and agree as to what they want. Then this Parliament, not our Government, should decide what they are prepared to concede to the States. Those two conditions being satisfied, it would be for the Premiers and the Prime Minister to negotiate, and to come to final terms. That is how any business concern would deal with the matter. If one man is dealing with six others, those six first agree as to what they regard as a fair bargain to make, the other man then meets them, and they talk the matter over in a business-like way. If there is a difference of a few pounds, they compromise, and the business is transacted. What is the use of the Prime Minister meeting six State Premiers if the latter have not first made up their minds what they require? All the Conferences that will be held, and ,all the talk that will take place can never remedy the trouble, until the Premiers first meet and decide what they require, and then deal with the Commonwealth in a reasonable and proper manner. There is sufficient wisdom amongst the Premiers, with the assistance of the Prime Minister, to do what is right in the interests of all. We hear a great deal about buildings belonging to the Commonwealth, and others belonging to the States, but they all belong to the people of Australia. It is just as if a man had money in both pockets, and had to pay an account out of one or the other. The appointment of a High Commissioner has been spoken of for years, but nothing has been done. I thought the matter would have been dealt with a long while ago, but long delay has been caused, because one party wanted to send one man, and another party wanted to send another man, and, consequently, the question of this, the most important appointment of all, has been neglected. Many of those who at present occupy the Treasury bench opposed the names of certain men that have been suggested for the position. The establishment of an agricultural bureau is one of the steps which I advocated before I came into this House, and I thought that it would have been accomplished before now. Its establishment is calculated to be of immense value to the people, but while honorable members representing different parties have been fighting each other, the business of Australia has been laid on one side, and nothing has been done in this matter. I’ am very sorry that the members of the
Ministry and members generally on the other side should think it unnecessary to listen to an honorable member from Tasmania. The right honorable member for East Sydney in this House merely represents a constituency, just as I do. Honorable members can walk out of thisCham- ber and go about their pleasures, but when a great gun rises to make a lot of fun, and delay business, they manage to be present.
– S - Shall we call for a quorum?
– I do not care whether a quorum is present or not. I cannot help it if honorable members think no more of the business of the country than to attend here only for pleasure and amusement, and cannot make it convenient to attend when an honorable member desires to discuss political and financial questions of importance. I think, however, that the people of Australia should know how they are represented, and that if honorable members anticipate a “ blackface” entertainment, they can all manage to be here. We have passed a quarantine law, and we are told that quarantine is now in the hands of the Federation ; but if one desires to take a prize beast from Victoria to Tasmania, he will find that the animal must undergo four months’ quarantine in the latter State. It may be half -starved or neglected at the quarantine station while there. When I was a member of the State Parliament, I tried to deal with this question of quarantine. There are a few individuals in charge of the administration of quarantine legislation in the various States who seem to me to put every obstacle they can in the way of the free exchange of animals of all descriptions between the States. At one time in Tasmania, six months’ quarantine was enforced, but in the State Parliament, we managed to reduce the term to four months. I thought that under the operation of a Federal Act, a sensible course would be followed, but I find that four months quarantine is still enforced in Tasmania, in the case of animals transferred from the other States. I think that if animals, after undergoing examination, were kept here for a month or two months, and then put onboard ship with a clean certificate, it should be sufficient merely that they should be re-examined on arrival in Tasmania. But I find that the provisions of the old State Act are still being enforced. This applies to animals of every description. We now find that the authorities in some of the
States are prohibiting the importation of potatoes from Tasmania. We have a Federal Quarantine Act, but all power in these matters appears still to be in the hands of the State authorities. If business men had the control of quarantine in Australia, I am quitesure that they would not permit the present obstacles to the transfer of stock from one State to another to continue. In reference to the present position of political parties, I should like to say that as a Protectionist and a supporter of the last Deakin Ministry, I felt that we occupied a position of power, while we could rely upon the assistance of the Labour party. When the Labour party withdrew their support, the present Prime Minister stated on the floor of this Chamber that he was prepared to support that party so long as they were prepared to carry out his policy. But as soon as we got into recess, the honorable gentleman, and others, commenced to break away from that promise. The Prime Minister has now joined with the party that was then in Opposition, and which, he said, was comprised of the wreckage of a number of other parties. I do not approve of calling any party names in this House. Every honorable member has a perfect right to sit on whichever side of. the House he pleases, to adopt what policy he thinks fit, and to change his opinions, if he thinks it wise to do so. These are matters for himself and his constituents, and are no business of mine. At the same time, as one who regards himself as a Liberal, I feel that the present Ministry and their supporters are not entitled to call themselves the Liberals of Australia. The Government are comprised of many members who can never be called Liberals, and who, I think, would not feel justified in claiming that title for themselves, though I admit that the Prime Minister, and some of those with him, were entitled to be so called. While the Labour Government were in power, the present Prime Minister and the members of his party were in a position, as the centre party supporting theLabour Administration, to control the legislation of this Parliament. The Labour Government could not have passed a single Act without the support of the true Liberal party. Even if the Labour Government had introduced extreme measures - and I have not seen any of their extreme measures - about which so much has been said, they could not have passed them without the assistance of the Liberal party, and, therefore, from the
Liberal point of view, the interests of the country were perfectly safe. That cannot be said now, when the Prime Minister and some of his followers have joined forces with those who used to be in opposition to them. I do not often take notice of what appears in the newspapers, nor am I influenced by what they say. But an article appearing in the Agc of the 14th of May last puts the position as it then existed so clearly that I cannot do better than make a short quotation from it. After referring to various difficulties, and the danger to the seats of certain honorable members, the article continues -
Still, when all these allowances are made, and even when such considerations are emphasized, they do not suffice to excuse the Liberal party permitting itself to be absorbed in a combination of Conservatism and anti-Socialists, where it must become a back number, without power, without influence, and only a disappointed spectator of the drift of high purposes. In this time of stress and strain, when all kinds of influences are beings employed to submerge the Liberal party and its leader, it is the duty of that party more than ever to stand firm in its integrity.
I agree entirely with that statement of the position. I ask why this great change? We were told by the Prime Minister that it was because the seats of certain honorable members of the Liberal party were being endangered by the action of the Labour party in the constituencies. In my opinion, it will be a sorry day for Australia when we are to consider the security of our seats in this House rather than what is right to be done in the interests of the country. I have never considered the security of my seat. I remember that I have been sent here by the electors to do what I consider best in the interests of Tasmania and of the Commonwealth as a whole. I will use what wisdom I have to that end. But I will never support a policy merely in order to save my seat. I should have an utter contempt for any member of this House if it could be said of him that he supported a certain course in politics for any reason of that description. We should always consider the good of Australia, rather than any of our own individual interests. With reference to the fusion that has taken place, I would remark that the word is a peculiar one in politics. One night the electric lights went out in my house. I was told that the cause was that the wires had fused. I wonder whether the Liberal light has gone out now that the Liberals have fused with another party. We have heard many interpretations as to what the fusion means. The honorable member for Lang gave us an interpretation that was altogether different from what I was told when I was asked to enter the Fusion party. The meeting at which the matter was explained to me. was a private one, and I am not one of those who would state publicly what was done at a private meeting. But, at all events, I can say that the version given by the honorable member for Lang was totally different from that given to me on the occasion to which I refer. The question of defence is one of the most important that could be brought under the attention of Parliament. I referred to it on the last occasion when I . spoke as demanding to be dealt with in a firm, strong manner. But under our party system, of Government as soon as one Minister gets used to his office he has to make room for another one. Not so long ago the honorable member for Richmond was Minister of Defence. He was succeeded by a senator. Now the honorable member for Parramatta holds the office. The present Minister has, on previous occasions, stated definitely that he is opposed to the policy brought forward by the Prime Minister and also by the Labour Government. He has stated on several occasions that he is opposed to compulsory training. I do not know whether he intends to adapt himself to the altered circumstances, and to support the principle that he has denounced, but which is now so popular. The Prime Minister stated to the press some time ago that the Minister who has gone to England has been sent there to represent the Government. What the views of the Government may be on this important question I do not know. If the Government representative expresses his own opinions, as explained here and elsewhere in Australia, I doubt whether he can at the same time represent the views of the Prime Minister, and he certainly cannot represent those of Australia. I am glad that it was on the recommendation of the Fisher Government that the Imperial Conference was called. In view of the fact that the Imperial Government invited Australian representatives to be sent, it is to be regretted that the subject was not dealt with apart from party politics. We read in the press, when the present Government came into office that it was their intention to send the honorable member for Richmond to London in company with the honorable member for
Brisbane. If, however, the Government had wished the question to be dealt with apart from party considerations, they would have done a just and righT thing had they sent Home the ex-Minister of Defence in company with a member of the Cabinet. The fact that they sent a Minister unaccompanied showed conclusively that the Government are working the defence question on party lines. That is not as it should be. No matter whether a man be a. Liberal or a Conservative, a Free Trader, or a Protectionist, defence should be considered as a purely national question. The same consideration applies to Australia’s relations with the Empire. There is one thing in connexion with the administration of the Fisher Government of which I did not approve. I allude to the expenditure pf £250,000 which was set aside by Parliament on the understanding that it should not be spent until we met again. The expenditure of that money without consulting Parliament was not a right thing to do. In my opinion, if ships are to be built in Australia, the sooner we begin the better. If we had sent to the Old Country and had brought out some men to teach our own people to build the ships that we require, instead of sending men Home to learn ship-building, we should have followed a wiser course. The men who have gone Home will not be able to learn the whole business of ship-building within the time they will be kent there. If we had imported three or four good men from England, they would have been able to leach our own people far more effectively.
– Who was it that sent the men Home?
– The Fisher Government did, and I do not think that they did the right thing. The motion now under discussion is one of no-confidence in the present Government. I am in doubt as to what the Government intend to give us.
– So are its members.
– Many of the members of the Government have changed their political opinions so often, that I should not be surprised at anything they did. If I thought that it was intended to give us the policy of the old Deakin Government, I should be inclined to support the Ministry to a very great extent. As far as they bring forward such measures as were submitted by the former Deakin Government I, shall support them. But I cannot have complete confidence in a Government that is composed of men holding so many beliefs. I thought at one time that I might be able to sit behind the Government, but when after a three weeks’ adjournment the Prime Minister sent Home an offer of a Dreadnought, knowing the financial position of Australia, I felt that I could not have any confidence in a Government that did such a thing. The Prime Minister should not have sought to put so great a burden upon the people of Australia as to pledge them to the extent of .£2,000,000. For years we have been scraping up every penny to give to the States, knowing their necessities and the difficulty they had in making both ends meet. We have returned to the States several million pounds more than we need have returned, for the same reason. Yet we find the Prime Minister offering to give away £2,000,000 without consulting Parliament. How is this state of things brought about? It occurred simply because a few newspapers started an agitation. It was commenced in Sydney and Melbourne. The Premiers of these two great States were not very warm on the subject. In fact, they were opposed to the project. But, of course, the newspapers began to lay on the whip. A few people in the States then began to agitate, but, excepting in Victoria and New South Wales, the Premiers threw cold water on the project. Mr. Wade and Mr. Murray, however, came forward and said that, if the Commonwealth, or the Labour Government, did not make an offer, they would make one themselves. As soon, however, as there was a change of Government, we saw the reason for the hurried motion which was brought on the other day. When we were in recess, the new Government, knowing that we must meet in less than a fortnight, offered a Dreadnought, or its equivalent, thus placing a heavy burden on the people, though, in some of the smaller States especially, taxation had been stretched to the utmost. Before a Government give away money in this way, Parliament ought to be consulted.
– Parliament will be consulted.
– Quite so; but there is a solid crowd which will vote in favour of the proposal in order to save the skin of the Government - not because they are in favour of such a. gift, but because they fear the advent of a Labour Ministry.
– Would the honorable member not give his mite to the protection, of the Empire ?
– The right honorable member is very anxious about the Empire, but what was the Western Australian subscription to the fund?
– And what did the right honorable member for Swan say in Western Australia ?
– Yes; I do not say one thing when in the State I represent, and another when I come to this House, as the right honorable member has done.
– Why misrepresent me like that?
– The right honorable member is good at interjecting, and prides himself on being able to throw speakers off their track, but he will not succeed with me.
– Do not misrepresent me.
– I advise the right honorable member to fight his battle with the other knight in the House, and leave other members to settle their own quarrels. Honorable members who are in favour of this offer should consult the Tasmanian Treasurer as to the trouble he has in making both ends meet in the State’s finances?
– Tasmania, is more in favour of this gift than is any other State.
– The honorable member speaks as he knows, and I speak as I know; but it is perfectly true that the Tasmanian Treasurer has great difficulty in making both ends meet.
– In the cause of loyalty we must sacrifice something.
– I hope the honorable member has made as much sacrifice for the defence of his country as I have. I have been connected with the Defence Forces for over thirty years, and only the other day passed in class firing, so as to be better able to take my part in the defence of the Empire. Some years ago, the Minister of Defence said that he did not like the Reid-McLean Ministry because it contained too many Protectionists; and I may say that I do not like the present Ministry because it contains too many Free Traders, and men who continually blocked legislation which was introduced by the Deakin Government, and which I considered to be for the benefit of the community. I do not expect any good Liberal legislation from the Government, though I hope I may be disappointed, and, if so, any legislation of the kind will have my support. I cannot understand why, in a House of this kind, so many lawyers should be included in the Ministry to the exclusion of business men. There are seven lawyers in the present Government.
– Lawyers are the best business men in the community !
– We all know that lawyers have but one object in view, namely, to make money ; and they are so shut up in their offices that they do not understand the business relations of the people.
– They are just the men who do.
– The honorable mem ber knows, as other lawyers know, that, if a man asks a question of his legal adviser, he is promptly charged 6s. 8d. - that is the extent of the lawyer’s business view. Had some of the legal members of the Ministry been left out, and others like the honorable member for North Sydney, the honorable member for Mernda, or the honorable member for Denison included, I might have felt inclined to give the Government more support. But business men are thrust aside ; and the results are not satisfactory. I have nothing to say against the Minister of Home Affairs, either as a lawyer or as a member of this House, but what does he know, of public buildings and the other works undertaken by the works branch of his Department? When the honorable member for North Sydney was Minister of Home Affairs, he wished to do away with the present cumbersome method of carrying out public works through the Department of Home Affairs; and that would, in my opinion, have been a good step. This is called the Deakin Government, but I do not so regard it. The Government are practically a unicorn team, represented by the Prime Minister, with the right honorable member for Swan, and the honorable member for Parramatta on either side, and that being so, the Prime Minister cannot be regarded as leading the party or the Government in any shape or form. What do we find ? That a departure has been made from all well-recognised traditions in connexion with the system of responsible government. Hitherto, the invariable practice has been for His Excellency the Governor-General, upon the defeat of the Ministry of the day, to send for the Leader of the Opposition to form a new Administration, and for that individual to select his own Ministers. But no less than three men had a voice in the selection of the Ministers constituting the present Government.
– It was a regular caucus.
– It was another form of the caucus. This circumstance, I think, points to the fact that honorable members are coming to favour the system of elective Ministries. Had the Prime Minister enjoyed a free hand in the selection of his colleagues, I take it that he would not have overlooked the claims of so many of his old friends. But he was bound by the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Parramatta to choose so many Ministers from each party to the fusion. As a result, we have the present Ministry. I venture to say that, if Ministers were asked to commit to writing the planks of their platform, the only plank upon which they would be agreed would be one antagonistic to the Labour party. If they are in agreement upon other planks, a- great change of front must have come over certain honorable members since they occupied seats upon this side of the Chamber. I should like to know where my Protectionist friends opposite would be if the Prime Minister were suddenly taken ill whilst Tariff revision was under consideration, and if the Minister of Defence was called upon to act as leader of the Government. Instead of selecting his old friends and supporters as Ministerial colleagues, the Prime Minister was compelled to include in his Cabinet many honorable members who had endeavoured to block his efforts to enact useful legislation. If they had had their way we certainly should not have upon the statute-book to-da.y many of the most useful measures passed by this Parliament. I maintain that, if we are to have party government in Australia, the Ministry should consist of a party with one policy, and not, as it does now, of political fragments. Seeing that the Government have decided to impose a tax upon the people of Australia for all time in connexion with the proposal to present a Dreadnought to the Mother Country, I cannot say that I have any confidence in them. But if they bring forward measures of which I approve, I shall vote for those measures. There are many other subjects which I might discuss at length. Whatever we, as legislators, may dp, I believe that Australia will prosper. I do not’ know whether I shall be here next year, and I do not very much care. I am satisfied that, if the people could only witness the way in which business is transacted in this Chamber, if they could only realize how precious time is wasted, they would certainly not appoint us as directors of their affairs. When I entered this House, I- was imbued with the idea that honorable members were really the directors of the affairs of Australia, and that it was their bounden duty to manage those affairs as they would the business of a large company. If we did that, if we acted as reasonable individuals and avoided all personal abuse of each other, I am convinced that we should do much to shorten debate and to expedite the transaction of public business. We are now laying the foundation of the Australia of the future, “and I trust that those who have had more education and more opportunities for improving their position than I have had will throw their hearts into their legislative work, so that the result of our labours may redound to our own credit and to that of the Commonwealth. I trust that the remarks which I have made will not give offence to anybody. I regret having had to speak as I have done, but I believe that we should exercise the gifts with which God has endowed us to the advancement of the material welfare of this country, so that its future may be bright and prosperous. I trust that our efforts will be directed to this end, that we shall be imbued with a determination to do what is right for the people as a whole, and that class domination and class misrepresentation will find no place in this House.
– I am sorry that after delivering his little lecture to both sides of the House the right honorable member for East Sydney should have absented himself from the chamber. In the course of his remarks he stated that the Ministry were being criticised because one or two of them were Conservatives. Upon previous occasions I have heard honorable members upon this side of the chamber numbered according to their fiscal beliefs, which they had held some time previously, and not according to the votes they had given on the Tariff. Now, if we reckon Conservatives by the number of Conservative votes which they have cast, I make bold to say that we shall find a majority of Conservatives amongst honorable members opposite, and not one or two, as was alleged by the right honorable member for East Sydney. That gentleman also inquired whether the Labour party thought they, the Conservatives, were going to direct the Government as the Labour party used to do? Has he not been assured by the Prime Minister time and again that the Labour party have never attempted io dictate to him in any way? In making that statement I do not forget that there is one measure which would not have been upon the statute-book to-day had it not been for the Labour party - I refer to the Old-age Pensions Act. The right honorable member for East Sydney further said that it was assumed that Literalism had been weakened by the fusion which had taken place. I do not know whether Liberalism has been weakened, but I do know that Conservatism has been strength ened, and that every Conservative, both in this House and in the Senate, is supporting the present Ministry. The honorable member went on to say that he was sorry that members of the late Ministry were lamenting their defeat. I have only to say that I have indulged in no lamentation, and that, so far as I am aware, the other members of the late Government have done very little. Surely the honorable member would not judge of our actions by what is written of them in the Age. I remember when the right honorable member denounced that journal in this House, and surely he is not going to believe what it writes of the Labour party to-day ! It is more bitterly opposed to us than ever it was to him. And so with the Argus. It may be said that at the present time there is practically only one morning newspaper published in Melbourne, since the one is merely an echo of the other. It suits their political purpose to declare that the Labour party are squealing because they were turned out of office, and they have repeated their misrepresentations of us so often that they really begin now to believe them. We have been told that after the Honorable member for Ballarat applied the political stiletto to the ReidMcLean Administration we were glad to support him once more as Prime Minister. Honorable members know that when sitting in the Ministerial corner I did not hesitate to explain that I supported the Deakin Government, not because of any great love for them, but because I, and our party generally, had a greater dislike for the then Opposition.
– The Labour party liked us.
– I admit th’at we had no objection to some members of the Deakin Ministry, but I did not hesitate to criticise that Ministry just as freely as did any honorable member of the then Opposition. Although the honorable member for East Sydney intimated that, he did not intend to deal with the past - that he would deal only with the future - you must have observed, Mr. Speaker, that in a speech extending over fully an hour and a Half he devoted only five minutes to a review of the future policy of the Ministry, the remainder of his address being directed to a recital of the political history of New South Wales, “and to a consideration of the question of whether or not the honorable member for Hume is more radical in his views to-day than he was some twenty-five years ago. Apparently the strongest accusation he could make against the honorable member was that some twenty-five years ago he was a Free Trader, whereas he is now a Protectionist. That statement, no doubt, was heard with horror by the Prime Minister. The honorable member also said that the honorable member for Hume had brought forward a list of Tariff anomalies. Every one knows that as soon as we had passed the” Tariff Bill, and long before the Labour Ministry came into existence, the honorable . member for Hume stated that he intended to go through the Tariff and to prepare a list of anomalies, with a view to their rectification. Such a statement, I dare say, may be found in Hansard, but, even if it cannot, honorable members will have no difficulty in finding in the newspapers reports of interviews, with press representatives, in which he expressed -his intention of adopting that course. It will be learned with interest by those who are organizing an alleged Liberal League in Victoria that, according to the right honorable member for East Sydney, the Coalition have sunk the fiscal issue. and that they claim that in that respect they are only following the lead of the Labour party. I would reply to the honorable member that we have never sunk the fiscal issue. There is a broad distinction between giving to every member of a party freedom to vote as he pleases on the fiscal issue and a determination by a party, as a whole, that the fiscal issue shall be. sunk. We1 have in this House twenty-six members of the Labour party, and, judging by their votes on the last Tariff, not more than six of that number are Free Traders. There are in this_ House at least twenty members of the Labour party who are free to. support the opposite fiscal policy.
Honorable members on the Government benches, however, are not free.
– Why not include the fiscal issue in the platform of the Labour party, if it is so important?
– We are not elected as fiscalists, but as Labour men, and the newspapers take care to let that fact be known. The Treasurer is aware that the Labour Conference at which our platform is drawn up consists of delegates elected by the votes of all who care to join any of our Labour organizations. Honorable members of the Labour party are not free to insert a fiscal plank in the programme after it has been drawn up by the Conference, and they would not be free to withdraw such a plank from it. The Treasurer, however, is free to insert in his programme any plank that he pleases, and later on to run away from it.
– The honorable member is bound hand and foot.
– No, I am not bound to half the extent that the honorable member is. I shall not say that the Government and their supporters have swallowed their principles, foi some of them have never had any principles 1o swallow; but it is not unreasonable to say that they are prepared to drop any plank in their programme when it suits them to do so, and to pick it up again when they think it expedient. I have no doubt that at the next general election the people of Victoria will be told, if the Coalition Government are still in existence - which is very doubtful - that great prominence will be given by them to the second plank in the programme which the Prime Minister put forward at the Melbourne Town Hall meeting. I refer to the plank of effective Protection - a plank which the Ministry has dropped.
– We have it.
– We have not effective Protection, and the Government and their supporters will learn at the next election that we have not ; the people do not shave the honorable member’s view. Only yesterday a deputation waited on the Minister of Trade and Customs to urge that a higher duty ‘should be placed on a certain item, and when I had the honour to hold that office I also received a deputation which desired to bring under my notice certain anomalies in the Tariff. Notwithstanding that the present Ministry have had nothing to say in this House in regard to the question of effective Protection, I have no doubt that they and their supporters will give prominence to it in Victoria, although that will not be done in New South Wales. Those who mount the stump in support of the Government party in this State will tell us that they believe in the policy of effective Protection ; but does any one imagine that honorable members sitting behind the Government and representing the Free Trade constituencies in New South Wales will make the same statement in that State? We know that they will not. Unlike the Government, the Labour party have one platform for all Australia.
– The Minister of Defence denies that statement.
– Why, the Labour party has a new programme every day. I read of a new one only yesterday.
– That was a State platform.
– Miss Grace Watson prepares the platform of the right honorable member for Swan.
– Then she ought to make him a strong one, because he is a heavy individual, physically. The right honorable member for East Sydney said that the fiscal question is being sunk by the Ministerialists. Does he mean that nothing is to be done to rectify Tariff anomalies? Honorable gentlemen opposite make no reply. It is said that they have sunk the Tariff in imitation of the Labour party’s action in regard to the fiscal issue. We did not sink- the fiscal issue, though we announced ourselves as Labour men first of all. The fact that I was a Labour man was stated on all my bills and cards.
– But the honorable member gave up labouring long ago.
– I gave it up when the men in the factory in which I was working helped me to get into Parliament. I should go back to my trade if I left political life. Would the right honorable member be ready to go back to the work of exploration?
– The right honorable member for East Sydney tried to fasten to the honorable member for Hume the opinions of Sir Patrick Jennings and Sir George Dibbs.
– He afterwards quoted the words of the honorable member for Hume.
– I am speaking of his first statement. If it was right to fasten the opinions of Sir Patrick Jennings to the honorable member for Hume, is it not right to fasten those of the present Prime Minister to the Minister of Defence, and to the Minister :of [Home Affairs, who were elected as Free Traders?
– The right honorable member for East Sydney fastened to the honorable member for Hume the words which that honorable gentleman had uttered, as a reference to Hansard will show.
– 1 do not suppose that the right honorable gentleman would “ doctor “ Hansard, as one Ministeralist did recently ; but he wished to fasten the words of Sir Patrick Jennings to the honorable member for Hume, because they were in the same Government.
– But he afterwards quoted words of the honorable member for Hume.
– If Ministerialists were made responsible for the opinions of their leader, some of them would be in a difficult position. The right honorable member for East Sydney taunted the honorable member for Hume with having declared that three voters in a city constituency should not have more political power than two in a country constituency.
– He then supported, everything that was Tory.
– Well he has become Democratic, whereas the honorable member has cone back.
– It is honorable members opposite who have turned round.
– At any rate, we have not gone back. As a matter of fact, the Victorian representatives, with whom the right honorable member for East Sydney is now sitting, all took an attitude similar to that of the honorable member for Hume. When an Electoral Bill was before this House a few years ago, all the Victorian representatives, except myself, wished to give country constituencies a larger representation than city constituencies. Personally, I could not see that it was fair to give 14,000 men in a country constituency the same representation as 42,000 in my constituency. I agree with what the right honorable member said about the deception of intending immigrants, and I hope that the Ministry will put facts fairly before those whom they are trying to attract to this country. People should not be brought here under false pretences. They should know exactly how things stand before they leave their own country. He also gave credit to the Minister of Defence for advancing physical culture among the cadets. But it was the Minister’s predecessor who convened a conference to consider the possibility of having a medical inspection of the State schools, while the honorable member for Hindmarsh moved a motion in favour of teaching the cadets physical culture, and I, by asking questions, two or three years ago, got the Prime Minister to promise to refer the matter to a Premiers’ Conference. Therefore, the inception of the idea lies, not with the present Minister, but with his predecessor, and with the others I have mentioned.
– Does not a Ministry always steal its predecessor’s clothes?
– At any rate it need not boast about the fit.
– Or misfit. I was pleased to hear the remarks of the right honorable member on the land question.
– He did not go far enough.
– Perhaps he wished to hedge a bit, because he does not know how to suit the company in which he may find himself in the future. He said that the resumption of land at present in operation in the various States was a weak and foolish system. I certainly agree with him, that the aggregation of large estates is a curse. He put me in mind of what the Prime Minister aptly termed the dressing of a shop window. He was dressing his shop window, but in front of the window there was this placard - “ This shop is closed for stock-taking and repairs.” He can dress a shop window with his particular proposals, but he has no power to carry them into effect. He is no more than any other honorable member who sits in the Ministerial corner or on this side. ‘All that he can do is to vote for or against particular proposals which are brought forward. It is all very well for him to ask what will be done on the land question, but he has no more power to exercise than has any other honorable member. He can only use his voice and vote.
– His shop is closed because his political stock has been taken.
– The people have weighed the right honorable gentleman and found him wanting. At the last general election his political stock was taken, and He was passed out as a back number in politics. He returned to the House with a diminished following, and now the three parties in opposition to the Labour party have joined together. Whether that conjunction will prove beneficial or otherwise remains to be seen. The right honorable member said that it is not fair to quote the honorable member for Fawkner as being the president of the Employers’ Federation, or to call this an Employers’ Federation Ministry. Apparently the Employers’ Federation want to make it one, if we are to judge by their reports. We are not judging them by our reports. I acknowledge that honorable members on the other side do not find anything like that from any of our supporters. If I call this Ministry an Employers’ Federation Ministry, it will only be because that body has furnished the proof that it is. I have not taken the proof from anybody else. They have stated that if Socialists are quoted against us, we resent it. It is well-known that the official Socialist party in Victoria, and, I believe, in other States, have always been most bitter in denunciation of the Labour party. At the last State election here they opposed the representatives of the Labour party, but a great number of them have, I believe, seen the error of their ways, and that, of course, is a good thing. I certainly hoped that there would be a unifying of our forces, as well as a unifying of those who are opposed to everything regarded as progressive. We are asked today by the press- What is the use of continuing this debate? That is equivalent to a statement that honorable members have no right to speak to their constituents, or to place their position before the House. I offer no apology for any speech I may make. I have as much right as any other honorable member to speak, and I shall do so whenever I desire. The position of the Ministry should, I think, be challenged. Whether they win or lose, we shall know the exact position of every honorable member who is supporting them. Government supporters will not be able to say, at an election, as a number of them would otherwise do - “ If the Ministry had been challenged, We would have voted against them.” The position of the Ministry is, I admit, a peculiar one.
– We are not objecting to the Opposition challenging us.
– No, but the newspapers are. It is the press which is keeping the Government in office.
– The newspapers have challenged the Opposition in respect of the time they are occupying in this debate.
– I shall take just as much time as I like.
– I did not raise the objection.
– According to their votes on the last Tariff, no less than six Ministers are Free Traders.
– Is that why the honorable member intends to vote against them?
– No. I do not trust the Free Traders or the Protectionists in the Ministry.
– They do not trust one another.
– That is their lookout, not mine. We have often been told here that in the past the Prime Minister had to say “Yes, Mr. Watson,” or “Yes, Mr. Fisher.” But the position to-day is that the Free Trade Ministers and Free Trade supporters have to say, “ Yes, Mrs. Age,” and the Protectionist Ministers and Protectionist supporters have to say, “ Yes, Mrs. Argus.” They are all absolutely dependent upon the newspapers for support and continuance in office. One newspaper to-day is an echo; of the other. It has been said that some Ministers are more pleasant since they crossed the floor, that instead of scowling they are smiling. Some Ministers never smiled before they reached the Treasury bench. It puts me in mind of the well known verse -
There was ayoung lady of Riga,
She went for a ride on a tiger,
They returned from the ride,
With the lady inside,
And a smile on the face of the tiger.
The Minister of Defence is smiling because he has swallowed the Libera] party; the Treasurer is smiling because he also has done some swallowing. I admit that the Postmaster-General does not appear to have swallowed anything, except that which, perhaps, has disagreed with him. The Minister of Home Affairs is just the same as he was previously. Outside the House we have never been doubtful as to the Prime Minister’s attitude to the Labour party. I hold in my hand a copy of the British Australasian for 23rdMay, 1907, which contains a report of what is known as his “deep-water” speech. As it is not a cabled account, as it cannot be said to have been faked by any newspaper here, as it was published in London when the Prime Minister was there, I propose to put on record what the Prime Minister did say of the Labour party, and afterwards show how mistaken he was in his statements regarding the number of Labour members in the State Parliaments.
– He explained that the report of the speech was cabled out here inadvertently.
– The Prime Minister was fooling either the people in the Old Country or the Labour party here. He could not possibly be true to both at once. Either he meant this, or he did not. If the report was cabled out inadvertently, perhaps we did not get the proper strength of the position. Therefore, I propose, in justice to the honorable and learned gentleman, to put on record the report which appeared in the British newspaper.
– The report” appeared in a London newspaper before the cablegram came out here.
– The speech, was addressed to a number of British financiers, and the report is headed “British Capital in Australia,” with the sub-heading, “Mr. Deakin Explains the Position of the Labour Party.”
– The Prime Minister -was induced by a man named Hain to make the speech.
– That has nothing to do with me. The report reads as follows: -
Mr. Deakin attended a luncheon last Thursday at De Keyser’s Royal Hotel, in order to meet a number of representatives of British capital invested in Australasia. Mr. Richard Hain presided, and amongst those present were Lord Vaux of Harrowden, Sir C. Rivers Wilson, Mr. Harmood-Banner, M.P., Mr. F. Faithfull-Begg, Mr. A. B. Leslie Melville, Mr. 1Z. Garcke, Mr. R. Percy Sellon, Mr. J. Cecil Bull, Mr. J. B. Braithwaite, Mr. A. H. P. Stoneham, Mr. A. C. Willis, Mr. A. F. Farish Mr. Beckwith Smith, and Mr. Oliver Wethered
Mr. Harmood Banner, M.P., in proposing “ Continued success to the Commonwealth, and to British Interests Therein,” said that they had met, as business men, to lay before Mr. Deakin certain matters in regard to which they thought he might help them. One of these was the question of making safe British capital invested in Australia. He also thought that investors in industrial enterprises should be treated in a manner that would make it easy to obtain capital here for the development of Australia.
Manufacturers in this country felt the scourge of the municipal trader, and so they had not much to complain of as to the Colonies being worse than the Motherland in that respect.
Mr. Braithwaite said that one of the things which had hindered a free flow of British capital into Australia was the diversity of the company laws in the different States. Labour legislation in recent years in Australia had done a great deal to make English investors timid about placing their money in Australian undertakings.
Mr. Faithfull Begg said that he was interested directly and indirectly in investments in the Colonies, and he was frequently consulted with regard to them. There was, undoubtedly, a widespread sentiment in favour of investing “ under the flag,” if that could be done with equal safety and advantage, to sending money to South America, and elsewhere. After all, he did not think that sentiment counted for very much in this matter! Capital was selfish, and would go where it could get the best terms.
Mr. Deakin, in reply, said that there was no need for him to point out that, besides the central Government, every State in Australia had its own Government, exercising absolutely independent authority over its citizens and its own undertakings. Among those undertakings, as it happened, came the whole body of municipal and private enterprises, the land, and the railways, and all the great industrial associations connected with them. The central Government had limited powers of control over the whole Continent; but, before dealing with the Commonwealth aspect of the situation, he would refer to the chief or most persistent cause of alarm to. investors - namely, what was called the rise and growth of the’ Labour party.- That party had its initiation in Australia at a time of reaction. There had been a great financial expansion, and bankers, in order to find investments for the large amount of money at their command, had encouraged enterprises which would not stand close scrutiny. Then alarm spread, and investors, who have lent money on short terms .to bankers, who had been foolish enough to lend it on long terms, called it in, and a crisis followed. The Labour party had its time of growth and maturity, but at present it was in very deep water as a party.
Mr. Deakin then reviewed at considerable length the position of the Labour party in the several States. He said that an election, in Victoria the other day - the State from which he came - had left that party with only 15 members out of a total of 65. In the Upper House they had, he believed, not a single representative, so that the prospects of Labour legislation were far from encouraging for its advocates.
In New South Wales a coalition had been formed between Mr. Carruthers, who had not a large majority, and the party which he displaced - a party previously in alliance with the Labour party. Mr. Carruthers would be going, to the country in a few months, and there’ seemed to be not the slightest doubt that the coalition of the two regular parties, as they might be termed - under Mr. Carruthers and. Mr. Waddell - would ‘result in the return of a Ministry with a great majority of the Labour party.
In Queensland a Government had been formed out of the Labour party, but it had been defeated, and there was no doubt that that party would not count in the new Parliament about to be elected.
In Tasmania the Labour party had never yet exercised any practical influence, and it did not appear likely to do so.
The State of Western Australia had a short experience pf the rule of the Labour party, but they were defeated and placed in Opposition, and, so far as he was aware, there was no prospect of their resuming their lease of power.
The only State in Australia to-day in which the Labour party was represented by the Ministry was South Australia, where they were in coalition with Mr. Price. He had been informed just recently of events which indicated that within a short time the Labour party there would be in a minority.
To all intents- and purposes, in these several States who had control of the various matters to which reference had been made, there would be, probably before this year closed, “or shortly after, a strong Government entirely independent of the Labour party, even in the popular House. That fact, he thought, disposed in a practical manner of the difficulty of investors owing to any fear of what the. Labour party might do:
That statement is interesting in view of the present position in the various States. In Victoria, there are now twenty-one Labour members in a Legislative Assembly of sixty-five. At the last election, which was brought about for the express purpose of dishing the Labour party, it was the only party that increased its numbers, as it gained six seats. The Prime Minister said that there was not a single representative of the party in the Victorian Upper House, but there have been two representatives of our party there for over six years. I do not know sufficient about the position of the Labour party in New South Wales-
– They had an increase of seven at the last election.
– That is a very fair rate of increase In Queensland, where the Prime Minister said that the party would not count in the new Parliament about to be elected, they are in a very strong position, despite all those who have left them. In Tasmania, where the honorable gentleman said the Labour party had never counted, it has two-fifths of the whole of the representation in the Lower House, more than either of the other parties by itself, and very little less than the two together. In Western Australia the party is stronger than ever. That was the speech which the Prime Minister made ‘as a prophet. When he was away from the party he said it did not count, and that outside the Federal arena we were put in our places. Only a few months ago he described the different parties that’ sit opposite, with the exception* of the party of ten that he has taken over, as the wreckage of the Black Labour party,, of the Free Importing party, of the antiSocialist party, and the Individualist party. But there is now the wreckage of another party washed up with the flotsam and jetsam on the other side of the House - the wreckage of his own party - and hetook them there. I do not blame him for doing so, for it is quite right that all the wrecks should be together. We have been, told that the fusion was brought about in order to dish the Labour party, and that it would last, at any rate, over the next election; but as any Senate candidates returned at the next election will hold their seats for six years, the fusion must last for six years. That means that honorable members opposite have agreed to sink the Tariff for at least that time. Some honorable members may say “ so much the better,” but they will not be able to fool the people into the belief that the arrangement is to last only three years. That being the case, Protectionists, if they intend to support the present) Ministry, must know that there can be no dealing with the Tariff in any way for the next six years. Senator Best admitted yesterday that there was no hope of dealing with it. Is there a combined party opposite, and if so, what are the objects for which it has come together?
– To down the Labour party.
– I believe that is the only reason. The Manchester Guardian, whichcarnes as much weight, politically, in England as any other paper, said of the present Ministry, in its issue of 2nd June, 1909, after receiving a cable that the Fisher Government had been defeated -
The Australian Political Crisis.
The Governor-General of Australia has refused to permit Mr. Fisher to dissolve Parliament, and the Labour Cabinet must resign without a chance of appealing to the country. Wedo not attempt to criticise the propriety of Lord Dudley’s refusal, but it obviously gives Mr. Deakin the power to prevent the Labour Premier appointing the Australian High Commissioner and the Australian delegates to the Naval Conference. Whether Mr. Deakin’s prestige will benefit from a few months in office before the inevitable general election of next year is. another question. Mr. Deakin has defeated the Labour party by an amazing coalition. He himself stands for high Protection and the new Protection, for Federal as against State authority, for compulsory military training, for democratic land reform. Yet he has combined with Mr. Cook’s party, which advocates Free
Trade, and State Rights, is opposed to military training, and represents “ property.” To make the coalition more unnatural, it has been arranged to defeat a party which has taken over all the prominent planks of Mr. Deakin’s own programme. The terms of the coalition are that the Cookites approve Mr. Deakin’s programme, and that Mr. Deakin makes no attempt to carry it out; but, of course, the real purpose of the coalition is to get into office. One cannot help thinking that, however desirable and estimable that consummation, the means will prove unpalatable to the Australian people. Some of Mr. Deakin’s own friends have already broken from him with cries of “ Judas,” and the transaction does look rather unpleasant. It is all the less pleasant because for many years there has been an astonishing reality and sincerity about Australian politics. Without producing any very distinguished political personality, Australia has been singularly fruitful of political ideas and political experiments, and the whole world would be the poorer if that fertility, which is the consequence of sincerity, were checked.
That is the opinion of a newspaper which, at the present time, has more influence in politics in Great Britain than any other newspaper published there. I admit that it does not count out here, but I submit that its summing up of the position is absolutely accurate. It is clear that the Cookites have adopted the Deakinites’ platform so long as they are given adefinite assurance that no attempt will be made to carry it out.
– Why do not honorable members opposite permit an attempt to carry it out ?
– The Postmaster-General will have an opportunity, a little later, to carry it out. One of the objections to the Labour party hitherto has been that we hold caucuses. I admit that the objection is not frequently urged to-day, because other parties have recently been so busy holding caucuses themselves. Objection also has been taken to the Labour party’s pledge, and in this connexion I should like to say that I have with me a copy of a letter, to which I referred in speaking on the adjournment of the debate on the Address-in-Reply. I refer to the letter which was sent to Mr. E. F. G. Hodges by Mr. J. Hume Cook, the member for Bourke, as “Government Secretary.”
– What is the date of the letter?
– It is dated 24th of May, 1906. That was prior to the last Federal elections. The party could not, at that time, have been selecting candidates for the
Parliament to be elected after this. This is the letter in full -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth,
Parliament House, Melbourne, 24th May, 1906.
To Mr. E. F. G. Hodges, Main-street, Box Hill.
Dear Mr. Hodges,
Re Mernda electorate; yours of the 21st inst., addressed to the Prime Minister, has been referred to me for answer. The Government is glad to have your offer to stand in the Liberal and Protectionist interest, and your request for Ministerial approval is noted. It is my duty to inform you, however, that before any candidate can secure the official support of the Ministerial and Protectionist forces, he must be prepared to agree to the following conditions : -
To give an unqualified assent to the fiscal proposals of the Government, and a general support to all other Ministerial measures.
To withdraw his candidature for any given constituency if not selected for it.
If you are prepared to accept these conditions please advise me at once.
Yours in truth,
P.S. - If you are willing to offer your services generally, and without regard to any particular seat, your claims will not be overlooked.
The letter was written about six months prior to the last election, and I direct attention to the fact that it was written on the official note-paper of the Commonwealth Parliament. What right has any member to use official note-paper for correspondence of this kind ? I know that objection would be taken if, from this House, the secretary to the Labour party conducted correspondence on the selection of parliamentary candidates on official note-paper.
– There is not much in that.
– I think that it ought not to have been done. It will be seen from the letter which I have quoted that a candidate desiringto secure the support of the Ministerial and Protectionist forces at that time was required to pledge himself to proposals of which he knew nothing.He was asked to pledge himself to give a general support to whatever measures the Government liked to bring forward, and further, and I should like specially to emphasize this condition -
To withdraw his candidature for any giver constituency if not selected for it.
When I referred to this letter on a previous occasion I had no copy of it with me at the time, but I have since obtained a copy.
– Is Mr. Hodges a member of the Labour party?
– I propose to deal with this letter in my own way, and I shall not be drawn aside unless it suits me. I should like to know who were intrusted with the selection of candidates under the conditions referred to in the letter I have read. In the Labour party, any person who has, for three months, been a financial member of a Labour league, or whose union is affiliated with the Political Labour Council, and who is an elector for a particular district, can take part in the selection of a parliamentary or municipal candidate for that district. But what are we to say of a party in which two or three, or, at most, perhaps, eight or nine, make the selection of candidates, especially in view of the fact that some of the selectors are in no way representatives of the State for which they act ?
– It* is the worst feature of Tammany Hall repeated.
– Before the selection of the honorable member for Batman for the constituency for which he was afterwards elected, I saw the honorable member walking up and down in front of Parliament House, and I said, “ What’s up?” He replied. “ A deputation is inside asking the Government to select me.” That deputation went before the honorable member for Bourke. I have been informed that that honorable member, “Yours in Truth, J. Hume Cook, Government Secretary,” said to the deputation, “ We must have an application from Mr. Coon himself ; and we must have it in black and white that he will never again rejoin the Labour party?
–That is incorrect.
– It is absolutely correct; I make the statement on the authority of more than one person whose word I would sooner take than that of the honorable member.
– It is not so.
– The honorable member does not know. He was not present; he was walking up and down outside Parliament House waiting to hear the verdict. The “Government Secretary” further stated, “ Personally, I am very favorable to Mr. Coon as a candidate,” and he went on to say, “ It really rests with me, gentlemen. If I favour h’ni it is pretty sure he will be selected.” Any one who knows the honorable member will realize that that is the kind of thing he would say - that he would try to put on as much style as possible, and would lead the deputation to believe that he was the great “ I am.”
– The honorable member should write a novel ; his romancing is so good.
– I am stating facts.
– Will the honorable gentleman say whether Mr. Hodges ran as a candidate for Kooyong?
– Last week the honorable member for Dalley quoted the letter to which I have referred as it appeared in the Labour Call.
– Why did not the Labour Call put it all in?
– That I do not know. I have read it all ; does the honorable member object?
– No; the honorable member can read it twice if he likes.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Llanecoorie has entered the Chamber. When the honorable member for Dalley was quoting the letter he said, “Is it not made clear that that letter is a thing of years ago ?” It was not a thing of years ago, it affected the last Federal elections. It does not go back any further than that.
– The honorable member for Dalley thought the letter was written a week or two before.
– He added-
I see that it is dated 24th May, 1906.
– The honorable member might as well be fair. Those who were present know that the honorable member for Dalley was not aware when the letter was written, until I drew his attention to the fact that it was written years ago.
– I was not here when the honorable member was speaking. Apparently there were many interjections, as the report shows that Mr. Speaker had to appeal to honorable members to keep order. The honorable member for Dalley went on to say -
I am pleased that the error has been so quickly corrected, but the incident shows that the Labour Call, which is supposed to be the organ of those puritans opposite, has taken advantage of a deliberate lie, or has made it appear that what occurred some years ago is applicable to present conditions.
Now, in the first place, the Labour Call published the date. It did not mention the fact that the letter was written just before the last election, but any person reading the document must have known that that was so. I do not know whether this procedure was in operation prior to the last election, or will be in operation again.
– It will always be in operation for Labour men who want to get in as Liberals.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that I cannot produce any more letters from him?
– No, the honorable member cannot.
– Very well, we will see.
– The honorable member can search all Victoria for the purpose if he likes.
– I know that men announced that they were the selected Government candidates at the last election. I have before me a journal which I have no doubt the honorable member for Bourke has seen. It contains three photographs of Ministerial candidates for the Senate. There is also a photograph of the Government Whip at work in his office. I shall deal with this publication a little later.
– I did not say that there were no selected Government candidates.
– Who selected them? The honorable member for Dalley tried to make out that the Labour Call endeavoured to mislead. I say that it did not. If that had been the intention, the date of the letter would not have been published. The honorable member called, our party puritans. He has not always called us by that name.
– What the Labour Call left out was that Mr. Hodges applied for selection. A Labour man wanted to get in as a Liberal.
– The Sydney Worker published the letter, but made a slight mistake, which I hope will be corrected. The portion of it stating that a candidate who was not selected would have to withdraw was not inserted. I trust that that error will be corrected, to show the tactics of the Ministerialists. Now the honorable member for Batman sent along a deputation asking for his selection. He will admit that the deputation came from him. This was before Mr. Higgins had been appointed to the High Court Bench. The deputation told the Secretary to the Cabinet that they intended to run a candidate in opposition to Mr. Higgins. The Secretary to the Cabinet stated that if Mr. Higgins was not on the High Court Bench before the election took place the Government would support him. I wish I had been present the other day when the honorable member for Corio said that the Labour party endeavoured to undermine the position of Mr. Higgins. The position was this. The procedure of our party in the State of Victoria is, that when the branches of the Labour organization in an electorate have convened a meeting, to ‘ arrange for the selection of candidates, they call for nominations for the purpose of making a choice. Intending candidates are notified in the press. Every one knows about it. Probably, honorable members saw that I had to nominate a week or two ago for the purposes of the next election. Everything is done in the open. In the electorate of Batman the leagues at Fitzroy and Collingwood, and, I believe, also a part of Northcote, and part of East Melbourne, were represented at the meeting. The Fitzroy section was strongest about not running anybody in opposition to Mr. Higgins. But the Collingwood league, led by the honorable member for Batman at that time, said that they would run a candidate against Mr. Higgins in any case. A meeting was held, and the Central Executive advised that the matter be held over as the election would not be held for two months.
– They did nothing of the sort, and the honorable member knows it.
– I do not, and the honorable member will have an opportunity of refuting my statement afterwards, if it is not true. The matter was held over. There was a break-away from the Labour league in Collingwood, led by the honorable member for Batman. But the bulk of the members who broke away have, as far as I know, with one or two exceptions, gone back to the Labour league.
– How many resigned? Twenty-three.
– If the honorable member says that twenty-three resigned because they desired to oppose Mr. Higgins, r wil’ take his word for it. The honorable member for Corio, in his speech in this House on 25th June, said -
Every time that Mr. Justice Higgins’ name is mentioned in Labour circles throughout the Commonwealth it is cheered, and justly so: indeed, the learned gentleman has been almost adopted by the Labour party, although lie was; always a member of the Liberal party. But E remember the time when the man who is now cheered was opposed, and every effort made by the Labour party to hound him down and deprive him of his seat in the House.
I ask the honorable member for Batman was that true? The honorable member has heard the question, and he may answer when he speaks in this debate. The honorable member for Corio went on to say -
Just before Mr. Justice Higgins was elevated tothe HighCourt Bench, he was faced with a Labour antagonist in his constituency, although he had been Attorney-General in a Labour Government.
The honorable member for Batman knows that that statement of the honorable member for Corio is absolutely incorrect. Mr. JusticeHiggins was notfaced with a Labour antagonist at the time he was appointedto the Bench ; and, indeed, that was the complaint of the honorable member.
– Was it not the honorable member’s complaint also?
– Idid not deal with the matter one way or the other. I was busy with my election, and the chances are that I did not attend the meeting of the executive of the Political Labour Council. The honorable member for Batman has said’ that he was a member of the Labour League which wanted to oppose Mr. Justice Higgins, and that he- the honorable member for Batman - caused a split in the league on the question.
– I did not do anything of the sort.
– But the honorable member was one who “ broke away.” On page 217 of Hansard of this year the honorable member for Batman is thus reported -
The honorable gentleman also said that, at one time, I stood as a candidate for the Collingwood City Council, as one not a Labour man, and was defeated ; but that on the second occasion, when I signed the platform of the Labour party, I was returned. Let me tell the Minister that I never signed the platform.
– Did the honorable member never sign the Labour pledge?
– No; not as a Labour candidate for the Collingwood Council ; and if he can produce any pledge that I have signed, I am prepared -
– To resign?
– Yes, to resign straight away. I was never asked to sign the platform, and I never announced myself as a Labour candidate for the council. If the honorable member can produce any document showing that I was a Labour candidate, I shall take the step I have stated.
Then I have here a copy of a letter as follows : - 196 Smith-street, Collingwood, 26th June, 1903.
I desire to make application for the support of the league at the forthcoming municipal elections. Should I have the honour of being selected by the branch, I intend to stand for Barkly Ward. I may state that I have carefully gone through the various planks of the league’s platform, and am heartily in accord with them, and will be prepared at all times to advocate the same. Trusting my application will receive favorable consideration at your hands.
I am, yours very truly,
– I have read what the honorable member said in the letter. I have a syllabus of the Collingwood branch of the league, from which I notice that on the 29th June a meeting was addressed by members of this House, including myself. On the syllabus is the municipal platform of the party, and across it is written the name of Jabez G. Coon.
– Is that the honorable member’s signature?
– It is the honorable member’s signature, and he will not deny it. When is the honorable member going to resign? I have produced a letter sent by the honorable member, and the platform with his signature attached, and I ask, Mr. Speaker, when the honorable member is going to place his resignation in your hands? On the 28th August, 1903,the
Age published the following : -
At Collingwood, only one Labour candidate out of the three who offered their services was returned.
The honorable member for Batman was returned for Barkly Ward, and the other candidates were rejected. In 1906 the Age published the following : -
The Labour party some time ago invited nominations, but Councillor Coon was the only one who responded, and he was chosen as the party’s representative.
– The honorable member knows that I spoke of thepledge.
– Does the honorable member deny his words as reported in
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was dealing with the statement of the honorable member for Batman that he would resign his position if it could be proved that he had ever signed any document, platform, or pledge, as a Labour candidate.
– More “ raking up “ of old sores?
– On the 28th May last the honorable member for Batman distinctly stated that he would resign his position if it could be proved that he had ever signed the platform of the Labour party. I ask him now, whether he intends to resign, seeing that I have proved, by his own signature right across the Labour platform, that he did sign it. When is he going to resign ?
– Is that the only chance which the Labour party have of securing my seat?
– No. Whether the honorable member- resigns or not, we shall gain it at the next elections. The honorable member stated that if he had the honour of being selected he intended to contest a- certain ward. His letter reads - 196 Smith-street, Collingwood, 22nd June, 1903.
Secretary, Collingwood Labour League. Dear Sir,
I desire to inform you that I will be a candidate at the forthcoming Council elections. I intend to stand for Barkly Ward. Being a member of the League, I considered it my duty to inform the members of my intentions.
Yours very truly,
Jabez G. Coon.
Four days later the honorable member sent the letter, which I have previously read, and on the 29th June of the same year he signed the Labour platform. I do not suppose that the Age would be likely to class him as a Labour candidate if he were not one. Yet the day after the election the Age stated -
At Collingwood, only one Labour candidate out of the three who offered their services was returned. referring to the success of the honorable member. At the subsequent election, three years afterwards, it stated -
The Labour party some time ago invited nominations, but Councillor Coon was the only one who responded, and he was chosen as the party’s representative.
Surely the honorable member sent in a nomination upon that occasion. Certainly the Age was not likely to make it appear that he was a Labour man if he were only a Liberal. That journal would not be anxious to say that the Labour party had gained a seat at the municipal elections if the honorable member had not signed the Labour platform-.
– Did not the honorable member himself say, the other day, that the honorable member for Batman had signed a pledge in connexion with the municipal election?
– If the honorable member for Corio will look up page 217 of Hansard he will see exactly what I did say.
– I have looked it up and I see that the honorable member stated that the honorable member for Batman had signed a pledge or a platform.
– The honorable member for Corio will find no such statement in Hansard, and, I may add, that I have not altered the Hansard proof.
– I am not accusing the honorable member of having done so. My point is that he stated that the honorable member for Batman had signed a pledge.
– Nothing of the sort. What occurred was this. I asked the honorable member for Batman -
Did the honorable member never sign the Labour pledge ?
His reply was -
No; not as a Labour candidate for the Collingwood Council ; and if he can produce any pledge that I have signed I am prepared-
– To resign ?
– Yes, to resign straight away.
He added -
I was never asked to sign the platform, and I never announced myself as a Labour candidate for the Council. If the honorable member can produce any document showing that I was a Labour candidate I shall take the step I have stated. 1 have read the documents to the House, and I have shown that the honorable member’s signature is right across the Labour platform.
– Does that document contain any pledge such as the honorable member for Batman said he had never signed ?
– If the honorable member for Corio were in Court and desired to win his case, I know that he would like to be upon my side of the fence on this occasion. I also hold in my hand a copy of a ballot-paper from the Castlemaine and Maldon Branch of the Political Labour Council. It contains the names of three candidates, namely : - J. G. Coon, F. Moss, J. Sutch. I have also the following letter, which speaks for itself. 196 Smith-street, Collingwood, 25th March, 1904.
Dear Mr. Roderick,
Would you be good enough to inform me when the selection in connexion with your Branch is likely to take place. My reason for asking is the fact that I have been approached lo stand for another scat. But I told the two gentlemen, who are members of the Labour Council, that I would not send in .1 nomination for any other seat until the vote was taken. Of course, Mr. Roderick, you will understand I am not on the spot, anc! am not in a position to get the latest information. I have received several letters from Maldon this week offering me solid support if selected. However, as I stated at the meeting, I am quite prepared to leave the matter to the judgment of the members.
With kindest regards and best wishes to yourself, and also the ladies- who looked after us so well on the night of meeting.
Yours very truly,
Jabez G. Coon.
– I wrote that letter. I do not deny it.
– The point which I have endeavoured to make is that the honorable member stated that he would resign his position if any document could be produced showing that he had eva’ signed the Labour platform. I contend that I have produced the incriminating document.
– Why does not the honorable member produce the pledge which he promised to produce?
– I have produced a copy of the Labour platform with the signature of the honorable member for Batman right across it. That copy was torn in halves when it was upon the other side of the House to-night.
– That was an accident.
– I believe that it was.
– The honorable member for Melbourne stated that he would resign if he could not prove that I had been a member of the Labour party, but he has not done so.
– For the second time to-day three honorable members are carrying on most objectionable conversations while another honorable member is addressing the Chair. I must ask them to desist.
– I will now leave this matter to the honorable member for Batman and his constituents. I have not the slightest doubt that many of them will be surprised at his offer to resign, and I shall expect to hear from you, sir, before the conclusion of the sitting, that his resignation is in your hands. The honorable member for Corio in speaking-
– A good man too.
– I did not catch the interjection - I was almost saying the inane interjection - of the honorable member for Corio. Speaking in the House on the 25 th June last, the honorable member in referring to Mr. Justice Higgins said -
But I remember the time when the man whois now cheered was opposed, and every effort made by the Labour party to hound him downand deprive him of his seat in the House. Just before Mr, Justice Higgins was elevated to the High Court Bench, he was faced with a Labour antagonist in his constituency, althoughhe had been Attorney-General in a Labour Government.
That statement is absolutely incorrect. There was no Labour antagonist to Mr. Higgins at the time of his elevation to the High Court Bench.
– Why, the honorable member for Batman had been selected as his opponent.
– The honorable member for Batman was never selected as the Labour candidate. Further, if he were the man- who was endeavouring to hound Mr. Higgins out of public life - well. I shall leave him to the honorable member.
– I did not say that the honorable member for Batman hounded him out of public life, but that the Labour party attempted to do it.
– The honorable member for Corio stated that Mr. Higgins was faced with a Labour antagonist in his constituency. That is just as true as were a number -of other statements made by the honorable member during the course of his speech.
– I agree that it is equally true.
– The honorable member is out of order.
– Surely, sir, I am not to be attacked without having the opportunity to respond?
– Honorable members appear to be possessed with the idea that they can correct by interjection what they deem to be. errors in the speech of an honorable member who is addressing the Chair. It is utterly out of order for that course to be adopted. The proper time to correct a misapprehension is when the honorable member has completed his speech. It is then open to any honorable member to make a personal explanation.
– The honorable member for Corio distinctly stated that -
Just before Mr. Justice Higgins was elevated to the High Court Bench he was faced with a Labour antagonist iri his constituency.
That is absolutely incorrect, and the hon; orable member for batman will indorse my statement. I shall be greatly surprised if the honorable member for Corio can point to a statement in any newspaper to the effect that there was any Labour candidate against Mr. Higgins.
– Unfortunately I cannot interject.
– The honorable member can neither interject nor speak. During the course of his speech the honorable member said that he had carefully perused the official report of the Political Labour Conference, held at Brisbane last July, and, that being so, he was doubtless aware, although the House was not, that the resolution carried in regard to the question of patents was not correctly printed in the list of resolutions appended to the report. In his anxiety to endeavour to “‘besmirch the Labour party, however, he availed himself of a typographical error, and did not give the Conference credit for carrying the resolution that it did. The resolution actually moved by Mr. Lamond, of New South Wales, and seconded by Mr. Ward, of South Australia, was as follows -
That the existing Patents Act should be amended to provide that no letters patent should protect any patent after the expiration of two years from registration, unless the article patented shall be then manufactured in the Commonwealth.
The honorable member did not read to the House the proviso, “ Unless the article patented shall be then manufactured in the Commonwealth,” although he must have known that there was such a limitation.
– That proviso appears in the report?
– It appears in the body of the report, but not in the resolution as printed in an appendix to the report. As the honorable member said that he had carefully read the report, he must have known that those words formed part of the resolution, but he availed himself of a typographical error to make it appear that a si II v resolution had been carried.
– The proviso does not make it much better, does it?
– Not from the honorable member’s point of view.
– I mean from the point of view of inventors.
– I do not think that such a proposal would, if adopted, do any material injury to inventors. It would certainly be advantageous from the point of view of the workers, and I should like to know whether the Ministry propose to provide in the Bill to amend the Patents Act that letters patent granted in the Commonwealth shall not hold good after a certain number of years, unless the article to which they relate is manufactured in Australia. Does the honorable member for Corio believe that a man should obtain a patent in Australia in respect of an invention, secure the local market for all time, and at the same time make no attempt to manufacture in the Commonwealth the article to which it relates ?
– The honorable member “should press the Treasurer for his opinion as to that.
– He says that it does not matter.
– One would think that one had always lived only for oneself, and that the Labour party were the only people who had done any good for others.
– The honorable member for Corio, in the course of his speech, also stated that, at the instance of the Richmond and Hamilton branches, the State Labour Conference, held in April last, decided that the following new plank be added to the platform -
The establishment of State farms, mines, factories, and shops, for the purpose of affording employment, under Government supervision, to citizens requiring it, the employees to be, as far as possible, the consumers of the wealth they produce and to receive as wages an equivalent of the net total produced.
He endeavoured to make light of this resolution, declaring that it meant that a journeyman, butcher would be_ paid for his labour by receiving something out of the. butcher’s shop.
– The honorable member suggested that he would receive sausages as payment.
– And sausages are just as much a mystery as the honorable member for Corio is.
– How would the lawyers be paid under that system ?
– The resolution applies only to those who produce something useful, and I do not know that the lawyers produce anything except trouble. Any one can see at a glance what was the object of the Conference in passing the resolution. We are told that the chief objection that honorable members opposite have to the Labour party is that the members of it have to go to outside bodies for their instruction ; that they are not allowed to vote on any question without receiving directions from outside. That is an absolutely incorrect assertion. I have been a member of this Parliament from its inception, and have never been told by any branch, league, union, or executive - or by a member of any such body - that I should vote in a certain direction. But what is the position of the present Ministry? What action was taken in framing their programme, and more particularly in regard to that portion of it relating to the new Protection? When the Ministry was in process of formation, Messrs. Joshua, Hogg, Beale, and Farleigh, according to a press statement which has never been contradicted, conferred with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, and the Treasurer, and at the close of the Conference Mr. Joshua informed representatives of the press that they had been able to fix up things very nicely, and yet these men complain that the Labour party is amenable to outside influences’! If, when the Fisher Ministry was in process of formation, delegates from the Political Labour Executive of New South Wales had visited Melbourne for the purpose of directing what the Ministerial programme should be, what would honorable members opposite have said? If the Trades Hall Council of Melbourne, or of any of the other State capitals, had carried resolutions declaring that1 we should embody certain proposals in our programme, ‘there would have been at once an outcry that we were amenable to outside influences. Nevertheless, we are told that members of the present Ministry consulted with outsiders in regard to their new Protection policy. They had a conference with employers, but the employes were not consulted. Are the workers entitled to no consideration? Would the honorable member for Maribyrnong, whom- I am sorry not to see in his place, consult the licensed victuallers as to how far an amending Licensing Act should go? Of course not. He would know that they would not be prepared to go very far. Yet this Ministry is prepared to consult the employers as to how far the new Protection legislation should go. As another instance of its readiness to consult outside bodies, let me quote from the progress report of the executive committee of the council of the Victorian Employers’ Federation, which met on Monday last. According to the Age of to-day’s date -
The report noted the success achieved by the deputation from the Employers’ Federation to the Postmaster-General, protesting against the extreme telephone charges imposed by the Labour Government, and which resulted in the appointment of two expert accountants to go into the financial side of the question, while, for the present, subscribers remain under the old terms and conditions.
The Employers’ Federation virtually says that, ab its dictation, the Ministry has abandoned the rates of the Fisher Government, and gone back to the old terms. Then, in regard to the action of the banks in charge ing id each for the cashing of postal notes, according to the Age of the 8th inst., the Postmaster-General, after listening to the secretary to the associated banks - said the explanation given showed the subject in a new light altogether. He did not, in view of the representations now made, intend to take any further action, unless the Chamber of Commerce or some other traders’ association made further complaint.
Ministers have said, incorrectly, that the Labour party is amenable to outside influence, whereas, as a matter of fact, they themselves are continually running after the Employers’ Federation, Chambers of Commerce and kindred institutions to get! their advice. The right honorable member for East Sydney declared that some arrangement must shortly be made regarding the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States. What does the Ministry intend to do about that? It is going to’ consult the Premiers on the I 6th August, and then bring forward its policy. It has; no financial scheme of it’s own, but must’ go, cap in hand, to the Premiers, to learn what they think should be done. In regard to its general policy, the Government’ no doubt intend to follow the lead of the press. At a meeting of the Victorian Employers’ Federation, held on the 26th May- - I quote from the Argus of the followingday - it was resolved to adopt the following resolution of a conference of delegates fromthe Chamber of Manufactures and the Employers’ Federation -
That this Conference is not averse to an amendment, if such be necessary, of the Constitution to provide that all the States shall have Wages Boards, such Boards to be in the first instance established ‘ by the States themselves; and that failing such establishment, and” only after due and sufficient notice shall have been given, the Commonwealth shall have power to appoint such Wages Boards and to execute their awards.
I thought that the amendment of the Constitution was a question for thewhole people, not for the employers only ! Apparently the employers must be asked whether Parliament may move in the matter.
– Have not the employers the right to express their opinions?
– As much right as any one else.
– That is what they are doing.
– They are doing more than that. One of the first resolutions carried in this Parliament, eight years ago, asked the Governments of the States to give us power to enact industrial legislation. That resolution was come to unanimously, but none of the States has acted on it. Are we to adopt the views of the Employers’ Federation, and wait until all the States take action, allowing the slowest of them to keep back the more progressive ? The boot trade is one in respect to which new Protection might well be made operative. The making of boots is an industry in all the States, though the large factories are chiefly in Victoria and New South Wales. In three of the States wages have been fixed by awards of Wages Boards or the Arbitration Court. The rate fixed in Victoria is £2 8s. per week for the worker of average skill, and the Judge of the New South Wales Arbitration Court, in awarding the same rate to similar workers in his State, said -
If at any time during the existence of this award the minimum wages in the boot trade in Victoria shall be, by any Wages Board determination, raised above the minimum wages above stated, then the minimum wages payable underthis award shall bethe amount so fixed in Victoria, provided that the minimum wages under this award shall be at rates not higher than as follows.
Then follow particulars of rates. Judge Heydon declared that if he had had the power to fix wages for all Australia he would have allowed a minimum wage of £2 14s. per week to the bootmakers. Subsequently the matter was dealt with in Queensland by a Wages Board, which fixed the weekly wage at £2, instead of £2 8s. In New South Wales the Judge, having access to confidential documents and the profit and loss accounts of the various firms, said thathe would award a weekly wage of £2 14s. if Victoria would bring her weekly wage up to that point; and whenever she does the rate in New South Wales will rise automatically.
– The employes on the Wages Board in Brisbane have appealed to the Minister against the award.
– I trust that they will be successful.
– They are being robbed of 14s. a week.
– They are being deprived of at least 8s. a week compared with the bootmakers of New South Wales and Victoria. This is a strong case to show the need for uniform industrial legislation. Does it cost less to live in Queensland than in Victoria or New South Wales ? . Is it any better to live in the former State than in either of the other two States? At any rate, there is not a difference of 20 per cent. in the cost of living. The boot operators in Victoria and New South Wales have no right to be receiving 20 per cent. more than their brethren in Queensland. I have not a copy of the award of the Western Australian or South Australian Court. I know that there is not an Arbitration Court or Wages Board in Tasmania. According to to-day’s newspaper, the Australian Boot Trade Federation have written to the various manufacturers in New South Wales, Victoria, and the other States, but not a single manufacturer in New South Wales or Victoria has agreed to meet the representatives of the men, in order to fix a rate for all Australia. All this is staring us in the face, yet we are asked to allow the determination of these questions to be left with the States. We are asked to allow the boot operatives of Queensland to suffer a loss of 8s. a week, and not to put out a hand to help them. This is one of the cases which demonstrate that this Parliament should have the power to intervene. To my mind, it proves that there is immediate need for an alteration of the Constitution to empower a Judge of the Federal Arbitration Court to fix rates of wages throughout Australia, instead of having different rates prevailing in the various States.
– Each State ought to be the best judge of its own conditions.
– Probably the honorable member is not acquainted with the operation of a Wages Board. That beautiful Act which was passed at the instance of the honorable member for Flinders provided that seven members of a Wages Board had to be on one side before an award, could be obtained. That Act has been amended, like most of the measures which he introduced, and that provision was wiped out. It also provided for an Appeal Court, which has not been wiped out. If Tasmania fixed a wage of 36s. a week or less, would it not be an incentive to every manufacturer to go to that State? The’ only thing which would stop manufacturers from taking that course would be a strong trade union.
– The Inter-State Commission could.
– When is it likely to be created? What time is the honorable member going to allow to elapse before it is brought into operation? How many years is he prepared to allow the men in Brisbane to receive 8s. a week less than the men in Victoria or New South Wales? In other words, how long does he intend to punish them ? The States have to agree to the surrender of this” legislative^ power, and dees the honorable member think that the Legislative Councils are likely to give their consent?
– I do not mean as to the employes, but as to the States.
– I am quite prepared to believe that the honorable member does not know anything about the employes.
– I know as much as the honorable member does.
– Like every other honorable member on the Opposition side, the honorable member’s consideration is with the employers.
– All the virtue is on the Opposition side.
– The honorable member is right. Honorable members on the other side will not consider the interests of the employed. There is another phase of this question which even the employers in New South Wales have complained of, and that is the great disproportion of boy labour employed in the trade in Victoria. According to the Act passed at the instance of the honorable member for Flinders, and amendments thereof, manufacturers are allowed to have an unlimited number of boys in their factories. That state of things could not be prevented, even by an Inter-State Commission.
– My honorable friends have the Factories Act.
– We cannot alter the State Factories Act.
– The State is as good a judge as is the honorable member.
– Is the’ honorable member aware that in Victoria a man has to possess £2,000 worth of property before he can stand as a candidate for the Legislative Council ?
– The Judge is bound by the Act.
– Without an amendment of the Constitution, the Inter-State- Commission could not deal with State matters, except under certain circumstances.
– It could, if the States liked to give to us the power to legislate.
– In one of the factories in Victoria, there .are twelve boys employed to one man. Does the honorable member think that that is a fair proportion to obtain? No wonder the boot manufacturers in New South Wales complain about what goes on here!
– It does not need a Federal Arbitration Court to alter these things ; the State can act.
– How are we to get uniform conditions unless we have one body operating over the whole area? The Employers’ Federation are prepared to allow sufficient time to the States to act before it is willing that the Inter- State. Commission should be empowered to take any action in the matter. Let me quote a few figures here to show the employment of boys in . the boot trade in this State. According to the report of the Chief Inspector of Factories for 1903, 988 boys and 1,998 men were employed. By 1907, those boys should have grown into men, and there should have been a fair increase in the number of men employed ; but’ the increase was only 79, the total number of men in the trade being 2,077. If one-half of the boys who were employed in 1903 were taught properly, and have remained in the trade, an equal number of the men employed in that year has been pushed out. According to the last report of the Chief Inspector, which was issued about this time last year, t.,379 boys were employed, showing an increase of .391, as against an increase of only 79 in the adult males. Is it proposed to trust to the Inter-State Commission to alter that state of things?
– There is no need, because the States can do so.
– As it affects only the workers, of course ‘the honorable member thinks that there is no need for the InterState Commission to act; but if it affected the employers and some Chamber of Commerce, or, to use the words of the PostmasterGeneral, some traders’ institution made representations to this Government, then the thing might be altered. I think that one reason in favour of altering the Constitution so as to empower the Federal Arbitration Court to deal with industrial conditions was the judgment given in the Broken Hill case, as it affected the smelters at Port Pirie. Mr. Justice Higgins said that it was quite enough1 for a man to work six days a week. When I learned the Ten Commandments, sir, there was one to this effect : “Six days shalt thou labour,” but the directors of Broken Hill companies say that that commandment is wrong, and that their men should labour seven days a week, or 365 days a year. What do honorable members on the other side propose to do about that ? Do they propose to leave it to the Inter-State Commission?
– To revise the Ten Commandments ?
– Perhaps the Commandments are not up to date enough for the people who support the Ministry, and it may be that they will propose to strike out the word “six” and insert the .word “seven.” What would have been said if a trade union had fought in the Law Courts to break one of the Commandments? A few remarks would have been made by the press on the subject, but I have not heard a word from honorable members opposite with regard to the action of the Broken Hill Proprietary directors in fighting the men upon that question. We have been asked why the Deakin party have joined the fusion, and one reason given is that their seats were being attacked by the Labour party. Some of them think that that is a good and sufficient reason for breaking away from their pledges. The Age published, on 15th July of last year, an article to this effect -
One of the most exquisite of political contradictions is when an advocate of Party Government denounces the system of party pledges. Yet that is what we are treated to in the organ which holds a brief for Party Government. Apropos of the Labour pledge, we are told that that pledge “ undermines the foundations of Parliamentary institutions.” The reason given for this absurd statement is that every man ought to enter Parliament with an open mind on every question, to parley and argue, and finally give his vote wherever he may see the greatest weight of logic. Needless to say, we hold no brief for the Labour party, or its pledge, or anything concerning it. But everybody is interested in wishing that even the most petrified Conservative should hold rational views at least about his own party. The idea that any party pledge, however rigid, can undermine the foundations of Parliamentary institutions “ is founded . on absolute ignorance of what Parliament is. The party pledge, so far from being a subversion of Parliament, has been for a couple of centuries the very basis of it. Every party has a pledge - the pledge to support its own programme. And it goes, of course, quite without saying that when a candidate’ is elected on a given pledge, he is no more free to break that pledge in Parliament than is a man free to break his promise of marriage.
Those are the views of the Age on pledges such as those honorable members no doubt gave to their constituents. They plead that when the Labour party were supporting them they did not oppose the members of the Labour party, but take my own case. Have they not always opposed ‘me? I did not ask for immunity from Ministerial opposition, nor did “ I get it. The Age, of 15th December, 1903, just before the general election, published a list of those for whom it desired that the electors should vote. I do not know whether the Deakin Government, at that time, had any party pledge, or whether their supporters had to sign an undertaking to withdraw their candidature if not selected. At the top of the ‘list the Age said -
Electors who desire to uphold Protection and” support the Preferential Trade policy of theDeakin Government, and who are opposed to’ Socialism, should vote thus.
And for Yarra they advised the electors tovote for my opponent, as they had every right to do. I had supported the Barton.. and afterwards the Deakin, Government for two and a half years, but did I squeal ?’ I did not say a word.
– Why did not the honorable member join the Deakin party ?
– According to their lineof argument I should have joined their opponents. Their paper opposed me for all it was worth. I remember preparing adiagram at the time showing the amount of space which the Age had given to my speeches during the campaign, and theamount it gave to those of my opponent. Mine looked like a little ‘black spot on a white piece of paper, whilethe other resembled a Collingwood footballer’s guernsey, black and white all the way down. That paper gave columns to my opponent, and practically nothing to me. I was returned, and” for three years, with the exception of thetime the Watson Government was formed, and the few months that the Reid-McLean
Ministry lasted, I supported the Deakin Administration again. Yet at the end of that time the Liberal party supported my opponent. At any rate, the Age said they did, for, in a leading article on the 10th December, two days before the election, it announced, “ Mr. Vale runs as a Ministerial candidate.” It had been advising the people how to vote in the Yarra electorate. I did not squeal, although they opposed me, but I came back and supported that party until last November.
– Who is squealing?
– Ministerial supporters say that they have gone over because they are being opposed in their constituencies. I did not go over when I was opposed.
– But the honorable member could not leave his own party.
– I need not have supported the Deakin Government, but it is part of the political history of this country that the Labour party supported them and kept them in office. Perhaps the honorable member means that the Labour party caucus compelled me to support that Government. Nothing of the kind.
– Why did the honorable member do it, then?
– Because I believed in them more than in the men who were on the “other side. When we oppose members of the Liberal party they say that they have never opposed us, and I have instanced my own case, in which they did oppose us.
– Does the honorable member say he could refuse to support a Government after the caucus had decided to support them?
– The caucus never decided to support the Government. Some honorable members who have never been in a caucus profess to know more than those who are in it, but of course that does not apply to the honorable member for Parramatta. Many people accept as gospel truth that which appears in the press, or from people who have never been inside a caucus.
– Does the honorable member say that as a caucus the Labour party never decided to support the Deakin Government ?
– I have already answered that question.
– As a caucus, they decided to put them out of office.
– As a caucus, we thought it was about up to them to go, as they were doing nothing. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh reminds me, in the division on the question of a Postal Commission seven members of the party voted on one side, and I suppose eighteen or nineteen of us on the other, and that was a vital question with the Government.
– The caucus does not determine regarding the life of Governments.
– The pledge and programme of the party are on record in Hansard, and, as one of the executive officers of the party from the time it first met until last November, I do not think it has taken a vote on half-a-dozen occasions as to what it would do on any plank of the platform, because it was so unanimous.
– Why was a caucus vote required to put the Deakin Ministry out, if honorable members opposite were not bound bv a caucus vote to keep them in?
– We have been told that the Liberals have never opposed Labour men.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong said so at Footscray.
– I: never said that we never opposed Labour men. I said that we had not opposed Labour men who had supported us.
– The Liberals opposed me at the last election.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the Protectionist Association opposed him?
– They were not the Liberal party.
– They were the Liberal party. Is it not a fact that the honorable member was on the list of the association as their candidate?
– 1 was on the list of the Protectionist Association, but’ the Age supported my opponent, and honorable members will agree that the Age more nearly represented the Liberal party than did the Protectionist Association.
– We did not control the Age, but we had some say -in the action taken by the Protectionist Association.
– The Age said at the time that there was to be a three-cornered contest for Yarra, that I’ had been bitterly opposed to the Ministry, and added that in that constituency “ Mr. Vale runs as the,
Ministerial candidate.” The honorable member for Maribyrnong was in the Ministry at the time; will he say if that is- a fact?
– No; I was not in the Ministry. I did not ‘join the Ministry until after the elections.
– I thought the honorable member was an honorary Minister in 1906.
– The honorable member for Yarra is quite correct, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong was acting as a Minister at the time of the elections.
– I was not on the Ministerial list of candidates, according to the Age, and that newspaper bitterly opposed me.
– I did not refer to the Ministerial list.
– I know a little about politics and Labour members in this State, and I know how the Age has opposed Labour members. I take the case of Mr. Lemmon, the honorable member for Williamstown in the State Parliament. Since his first election he has been opposed two or three times by a Liberal. Mr. Billson, of Fitzroy, has been opposed four or five times. Mr. Warde has been opposed by a Liberal at Flemington four or five times; Mr. Anstey has always been opposed by Liberals for Brunswick. Will the honorable member for Maribyrnong say that the Liberals have ever supported Mr. Anstey? How many times has Mr. Prendergast been opposed by the Liberal party for North Melbourne? Mr. Elmslie also has been opposed by Liberals for Albert Park. Yet members of the Liberal party have the audacity to say at some of their meetings that they have never opposed Labour members.
– That reference was only to Federal politics.
– When time after time it has been shown that Labour men have been opposed by Liberals, have we not a right in return to oppose them? The honorable member for Maribyrnong must know what has occurred. When the Labour member for South Melbourne in the State Parliament died, the honorable member contested the seat against another Labour man. The honorable member also, when a Labour member for Footscray died, contested that seat as a Liberal.
– And he won it against a Labour man.
– The honorable member won it against a Labour man, and that is proof sufficient that he has opposed ‘the Labour party.
– It was the Labour man who opposed me, and not I who opposed the Labour man.
– That is pretty good* when the facts are that it was a Labour man who had held the seat, and after his death the honorable member contested it as a Liberal against a Labour man.
– A pledged Labour man never held the seat for Footscray.
- Mr. Hancock held that seat.
– Not as a pledged Labour man.
– Order ! This dialogue must cease.
– He was a member of the Labour party at the time when there was no pledge exacted. The honorable member for Maribyrnong, I know, attended a conference at the Trades Hall with the object of breaking down the Labour pledge. The Trades Hall people today know better what should be done. They have insisted upon pledges, and so have led to the formation of a stronger Labour party, not only in Victoria, but in every State of the Commonwealth. I have said’ that the Age more nearly represents the Liberal party than does the Protectionist Association, and that is proved by the fact that at the last elections, if a candidate, selected by the Protectionist Association and the Ministry of the day was not also selected by the Age he was defeated at the polls. Mr. Roberts was selected by the Ministerial party to. contest Balaclava.’ I suppose that he was a pledged man, in accordance with “the conditions contained in the -letter which I read this afternoon. He lost his deposit because the Age selected some one else. Mr. Miller was the selected Ministerial candidate for Fawkner, but he was not selected by the Agc, and he lost his deposit. The Ministerial party ran three men for the Senate, Messrs. Atkins, Styles, and Ramsay. Two of those candidates were not on the Age ticket, and they had absolutely no chance. Mr. Atkins, by a close shave, saved his deposit, and Mr. Styles, who was on the Age ticket as well as on the Ministerial ticket, finished 15,000 vote* behind our second man, although we had no daily newspaper barracking for us. We have been told that the Labour party are vote-splitters, but I remind honorable members that we gave the present honorable member for Gippsland a clear run against the last representative of that constituency. Of course, Mr. Wise won the seat. We gave Mr. Nicholls a clear run for Flinders, against the present member for that con:stituency. Mr. Nicholls -lost the seat, although the honorable member for Maribyrnong, r believe, went down to Drouin to speak for him. We did not interfere between Mr. Palmer and Mr. Kennedy and the Conservative candidate won. Again, honorable members know that the present member for Corio was delighted to learn that we were prepared to give him a clear run against Mr. McCay. We did not split the votes in that constituency. If we had been prepared to split the votes in those constituencies neither the present member for Gippsland nor the present member for Corio would be in this Parliament. Personally, I prefer the present member for ‘Corio to Mr. McCay, because he is not so hard a man to fight. It was my intention to go into other matters at length, but I will, in the circumstances, omit some. I must, however, briefly refer to the question of a land tax, and to some other subjects. We were told by the right honorable member for East Sydney this afternoon that some system would have to be adopted to enable people to settle on the land. I have before me a copy of a letter - it has been mentioned before in this House - written by a Mr. Ritchie, of Hamilton, asking for £1,000 to be subscribed for the purpose of opposing the honorable member for Wannon. We learn from a subsequent letter that £joo has been handed in. Now, if there is one district in Australia where there is a necessity for a land tax, it is the Victorian Western District.
– Cheap land can be obtained in the Wannon.
– It all depends upon what the honorable member means bv “cheap.” I believe that there is some ‘land in the neighbourhood of Koroit which has been sold at ^125 per acre for farming purposes. That is cheap,’ is it not?
– Land can be obtained for £5 and j£6 per acre.
– The land at £125 is cheap in comparison with other land at £5 per acre.
– We have been told that the Labour movement is not as strong as it used to be. The honorable member for Hunter said last week that the strongest men are leaving our party. Did he refer to the honorable member for Perth ?
– Perhaps he referred to the honorable member for South Sydney.
– The honorable member for South Sydney has not left the Labour party, and has no intention of doing so. He intends to retire from politics, as is well known, but that is not on account of any difference with the Labour party.
– Why is he retiring, then?
– I do not mind telling the honorable member privately, but the reason has nothing to do with the Labour movement whatever. I think that most honorable members know that. The honorable member for Hunter was not in the first Federal Parliament, but probably he is aware that the only members who have left our party have been Mr. Ronald, formerly member for Southern Melbourne ; Mr. Dawson, formerly a senator from Queensland; and Mr. Barrett, formerly a Victorian senator. Are these the “ strong men “ that the honorable member for Hunter referred to?
– Did they leave of their own accord?
– I think they left for a variety of reasons.
– What happens to a man who leaves the Labour party of his own accord ?
– As a rule he goes out of politics. He does if we have any say in the matter. I venture to say that if honorable members opposite could deal with the four members who formerly sat with them, but who are now in Opposition, they would do so at the next election. In that respect, they are in precisely the same position as we are. I remember Senator McColl congratulating the miners on deciding not to take political action last year. But since then a new ballot of the miners has been taken. The Postmaster-General will no doubt be glad to know that last year there was a majority of 600 Bendigo miners against political affiliation. This year there is a majority in Bendigo of nearly 100 in favour of that course. In Chewton and Rutherglen, as the honorable member for Indi will be interested to learn, a majority of 100 against political action has been turned into a majority of over 100 in favour. At St. Arnaud, the honorable member for Grampians will, perhaps, be pleased to learn, the miners have turned a majority of twentythree against political affiliation into a majority of twenty in favour. In Ararat, which is also in the constituency of Grampians, there was last year a majority of forty-four against political affiliation. This year there is a majority of seventeen in favour of that course.
– Will the honorable member now give us the figures for the Torrens electorate for the last two elections.
– I have not got them. But, as you know, Mr. Speaker, the Torrens electorate at the last State election returned five Labour members. It returns five Labour members to-day. The newly elected member is a Labour man. Further, it has to be remembered that a by-election is sometimes harder to win than is a seat at a general election. I am also informed that at the last general election the Labour party in Torrens had the assistance of the great Liberal newspaper of Adelaide. At the recent election, that organ was against us. But our party in South Australia have been able to do what we have always done in Victoria. We have increased pur strength, not because of any support which ‘the newspapers have given to us, but in spite of most bitter and unscrupulous opposition. Does any person dream that there would have been a fusion in Federal politics if our party had remained at the strength which it possessed in the first Parliament, when we had only sixteen seats out of seventy-five? The reason for the fusion is the remarkable growth of the Labour party. Out of the sixteen Labour members who sat in the first Federal Parliament, fifteen are here to-day. There were fifty-nine other members in the first Parliament. Where are they now? Thirty-four of them have gone. Some have died, some have left Parliament for other reasons ; but if we are to believe the honorable member for Wentworth, when a man leaves Parliament, he does it because he wants to leave his party. The fact that stands out is that we have increased our strength from sixteen to twenty-seven. In the Senate, we have a proportionately greater strength, and we hope to be still stronger after the next election. There is a Liberal organization at work in Victoria. I have before me a clipping from the Age newspaper in relation to it. As the Age is a supporter of the Liberal party, it must be inferred that the gentleman who made the statement which I shall quote, at North Fitzroy, on the 28th of last month, represented the views of the Liberal party. The chairman of the meeting was Mr. F. O’Neill, and he made the remark that -
The Labour part)’ did not want to have any duty on pianos, but they were restored to the schedule through the effort of Mr. Coon, and one of the first results of that is that a factory has been built in Richmond.
A member of the audience interjected, “ What about Joe Cook?” The chairman said : “ The Liberal party has swallowed Joe Cook, who has swallowed its programme.” What are the facts in connexion with the piano duties ? The Labour party did not oppose those duties, which were never removed from the schedule, or, if they were, it could only have been on the initiative of a Minister, and not on any action taken by a private member.
– I submitted the motion for the duty.
– Yes, I know; the’ honorable member for Batman did not move that the duty be restored, and, having looked through Hansard, I cannot see that the honorable member did more than I did myself - vote. If there is one private member who deserves any credit in connexion with the piano duties, it is the honorable member for Newcastle, who worked veryhard in their support, as he did in the support of other items.
– I suppose that is why Mr. Beale is working so hard for the Labour party !
– I have no doubt that Mr. Beale will do in the future as he has done in the past; that is, do his best to “down” the workers, as he did during the Victorian railway strike. I have here the Labour Call of last week, which contains a record of the whole of the divisions taken in this House in connexion with the piano duties. If honorable members remember, there was a proposal for a fixed duty, and an ad valorem duty, and the fixed dutywas abandoned, leaving a duty of 40 per cent. The honorable member for Lang moved to reduce that duty, and his motion was defeated by one vote. Was it by a vote of » a present Ministerialist that the motion was defeated ? Twenty-nine of the present Ministerial party voted or paired for a reduction of the duty, and only fourteen of them voted against the motion, whereas eighteen members of the Labour party voted against the motion, and only six for it ; in other words, the Labour party were three to one against any reduction, whilst the present Ministerialists were two to one in favour of a reduction. The honorable member for Dalley moved that the duty be 30 per cent. in the general Tariff and 25 per cent. in the preferential Tariff, and this was agreed to on the voices. When the schedule went to the Senate, what did the Labour members there do?
– The honorable member must not refer to what takes place in another Chamber.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong, speaking at Footscray, said that a new piano factory was being erected in Richmond, and that but for the vote of the honorable member for Cook in reducing the duty, another factory would have been started in Sydney. The duties on pianos left this Chamber at 30 and 25 per cent., and came back at 25 and 20 per cent. ; and amongst the votes for the lower duties were those of two men who were recommended by the Age as Protectionists at the last election. Will the honorable member for Maribyrnong state that fact in his electorate, instead of throwing the blame on a member of the Labour party ?
– That does not answer what I said; we tried to replace the duties, and would have done so but for the vote I have mentioned.
– The honorable member did not say that at Footscray, according to the report.
– Of course I said it.
– I shall make it plain at Footscray that the reduction of the duty was not owing to the vote of a Labour man.
– And I say it was.
– I believe that some honorable members who were returned to this House as Protectionists voted for the lower duties ; but the honorable member for Maribyrnong said not one word against them, throwing the whole of the blame on a member of the Labour party.
– That is no answer.
– Then I do not know what the honorable member would regard as an answer. At the same meeting the honorable membersaid -
The Old-age Pensions Act was introduced, as promised by Mr. Deakin years ago, and passed by the Deakin Government. Now the Labour members were claiming that the Act was their measure.
A Voice. - It was passed with the help of the Labour party.
– The Labour members assisted. It was their policy, and there was no virtue in assisting.
What are the facts? There would have been no Federal old-age pensions to-day had it not been for the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– Rubbish !
-Will the honorable member believe the Prime Minister or the Age? On 19th March, when the honorable member for Wide Bay, the Leader of the’ Labour party, introduced a resolution dealing with old-age pensions, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie said, as reported in Hansard -
Ministers say now that, if the Conference of Premiers agrees to their financial scheme, they will provide old-age pensions at once but that if that scheme is rejected, we must wait until the Braddon section expires.
– That is so.
The Premiers have not adopted the financial scheme of the Government, and the Braddon section has not expired, and yet we have Federal old-age pensions.
– That is as unfair as the rest of the honorable member’s comments.
– It was pointed out afterwards that that interjection was not intended to convey the meaning the honorable member puts on it.
– If the Prime Minister, or any other honorable member, will find me the quotation where that was pointed out, I shall be pleased to read it.
– I have pointed it out before, only two nights ago.
– Then I have not seen the report.
– The honorable member for Dalley moved that old-age pensions be instituted this year, and the Labour party all voted against it.
– The honorable member is wrong. The Age of the 26th June, 1908 - the newspaper to which the honorable member for Maribyrnong owes his political existence - contained the following: -
For example, it is certain that neither the Old-age Pensions Act nor the Royal Commission on postal affairs would have been passed last session had it not been for the insistence of the Labour party.
– So I say, too.
– The honorable member said no such thing. On the words of the Prime Minister and the Age, I say that if the Labour party had not insisted, the aged poor would not be receiving Federal pensions to-day.
– How did the Labour party insist?
– Let the right honorable member ask the Prime Minister. I say that when Mr. Fisher submitted his motion in favour of old-age pensions, it was not the intention of any other honorable member to take similar action. How was the money with which to pay those pensions provided? By means of the Surplus Revenue Act. How many honorable members opposite voted in favour of that measure? Why, thirty of them voted against it. Would the aged poor of Australia to-day be receiving at least 000,000 a year more than they previously received if honorable members opposite had had their way?
– We thought that the Surplus Revenue Act was illegal.
– And the States thought so, too. They fought the measure in the High Court, and were defeated.
– Dees the honorable member say that that Act provides the whole of the money that is necessary for the payment of old-age pensions?
– I say that if the Surplus Revenue Bill had not been passed, sufficient funds would not be available with which to finance old-age pensions. The only person who is entitled to credit for his action in that connexion is the honorable member for Wide Bay, the Leader of the Labour party. To him is due the entire credit for having shown the way in which old-age pensions could be paid at least eighteen months prior to the expiration of the Braddon section. The honorable member for Flinders voted against the Surplus Revenue Bill.
– But not against the payment of old-age pensions.
– Of course not. Much as some honorable members opposite would have liked to vote against the Old-age Pensions Bill, they dared not do so. But instead, they voted against the measure which was necessary to provide the money with which to pay those pensions - an infinitely worse action. I can respect an open enemy, but I cannot respect honorable members who voted against the Surplus Revenue Bill for the purpose of killing the old-age pensions scheme, and who had not the courage to stand up and publicly avow their intention.
– That statement is just about as unfair as the remainder of the honorable member’s remarks.
– I can assure the Treasurer that I have no desire to be unfair. I have merely stated the position as I view it. Many honorable members used the Surplus Revenue Bill as an excuse for delaying the initiation of a Federal system of old-age pensions.
– The Surplus Revenue Act provides only a very small proportion of the money required to pay those pensions.
– The greater proportion of it is provided by that Act. It is not my intention to delay the House any longer. This afternoon the right honorable member for East Sydney declared it was not his intention to deal with the past, but, as a matter of fact, practically the whole of his remarks were devoted to the past. In my opinion, the well-being of the inhabitants of Australia was better safeguarded by the late Ministry than it is by the present Government. I do not think we can look to honorable members opposite for any system of land legislation which is likely to promote settlement.
– Let us leave the matter to the States.
– Yes, let us leave it to the States, with their Upper Houses. Some honorable members affect to believe that the present Ministry will give them new Protection. As a matter of fact, every opponent of the Factories Act is to be found upon the other side of the Chamber. Why does the Employers’ Federation subscribe to the principle of Wages Boards? Simply because it believes that those Boards represent the lesser of two evils. I believe that the only way in which we can obtain an effective system of new Protection is to be obtained by an amendment of the Constitution. The newspapers of this city are constantly exhorting us to get on with the business of the country. But when the Prime Minister proposed a three-weeks’ adjournment of the House, and the Opposition suggested that an adjournment for two weeks would be ample, the press supported the plea of the Government that a fortnight would not be too long to enable them to prepare their measures. Yet, if any member of the Labour party now dares to express his opinions, he is accused of blocking business. We have been told that this motion will be defeated by a certain number of votes. Whether that statement Se true or not - r-
– The honorable member knows very well that it is true.
– If some honorable members disregard their principles, and vote in a certain direction for the purpose of saving their seats, I have no doubt that it will be defeated. But the reason underlying their action will be a desire to stave off the evil day as long as possible - the day when they will be called to account for having broken the pledges which they gave to their constituents at the last general election.
– By way of personal explanation, I should like to correct the inference which is to be drawn from certain remarks by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. He referred to a letter which I wrote about three years ago to a Mr. Hodges, and he endeavoured to induce the House to believe that that letter was typical of the communications forwarded to every other candidate seeking the support of the Government at that time. That is an entirely wrong construction to place upon it, and, therefore, I propose to state the facts.
– We have two other exactly similar letters which were forwarded to two other men.
– The honorable member has not. The facts are that prior to the general election in 1906, Mr. E. F. G. Hodges wrote to the Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin, asking that he might be selected as the Government candidate for Mernda. At that time I was acting as secretary to the Cabinet, and the letter was referred to me for an answer. As a result, I forwarded a reply, of which the honorable member for Yarra has read a copy.
– It is a correct copy.
– I believe that it is an exact copy. At the time that letter was written, it was believed that Mr. Hodges was a member of the Labour party, and as, in duty bound, I had to protect the Government from securing the return of candidates under false pretences-
– This is rich.
– Mr. Hodges applied to be Selected as the Government candidate for Mernda. In reply to his application, I gave him a dose of the political medicine which the Labour party administers to its candidates, by asking him if he were willing to stand down if not selected. He did not reply to my letter, but, apparently, as the result of it, withdrew his candidature for Mernda, and a little later came out in his true colours as the Labour candidate for Kooyong. We have it on the authority of the honorable member for Yarra that no person can become a Labour candidate unless he has been twelve months a member of some organization affiliated with the Political Labour Council.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is now proceeding beyond a personal explanation.
– That is a part of the matter to which the honorable member referred. However, my point is that Mr. Hodges, when seeking to be selected as a Government candidate, must have been a member of the Labour party, as shown by the fact that he subsequently became the Labour candidate for Kooyong, a neighbouring constituency, and that he was endeavouring under false pretences to obtain the nomination of the Government for the constituency of Mernda. In such circumstances, it is my duty to expose the sort of Tammany tactics which these gentlemen apparently adopt in order to secure, election to this Chamber as Liberals, only to desert the Liberal party at a later stage, and to join forces with the Labour party, to which they always belonged. It was done in another case.
– Is that part of the honorable member’s letter correct in which it is stated that all persons seeking selection as Government candidates must do the same thing.
– I do not know whether or not a correct copy of the letter has been read, but I stand by what I wrote. I repeat that Mr. Hodges, knowing that he was a member of the Labour party, tried to secure selection as a Government candidate, and to get into this House under false pretences. If these Tammany tactics are the tactics of the Labour party, the sooner they are exposed the better.
– It were better that the honorable member had left that unsaid.
– I have more to follow.
.- I rise with some diffidence to address myself to the question before the Chair after the extraordinary speech of the honorable member for Yarra, but I feel it my duty to make some reference to the attack which he made upon me.
-Order! It is quite impossible for the honorable member to proceed whilst honorable members are moving about the chamber, and speaking in loud tones.
– At one time I was a member of the Labour party, and when it no longer represented the workers I saw lit to discontinue my connexion, with it, I paid up my dues, and resigned. I desire to read a statement made in this House on the 28th May last, by the honorable member for Yarra, who said1 -
The honorable member for Batman had to sign a promise that he would not stand for the position, in order to become eligible for selection by the Committee.
He was then suggesting that I had to sign a certain document in order to secure the nomination of the Literals for the Batman constituency. The honorable member for Boothby interjected, “ So he signed the pledge ?” and the honorable member for Yarra continued -
Yes, that is so, according to the statements of those who were present at that meeting.
I give that statement a most emphatic denial. At no time did I sign a pledge as a Ministerial candidate. I was never asked to sign a pledge, and I did not sign one. So much for misrepresentation No. 1. Let me deal now with the second misrepresentation. The honorable member is reported in Hansard, to have interjected, in the course of a speech made by me on the same date -
Did the honorable member never sign the Labour pledge ?
I replied -
No ; not as a Labour candidate for the Collingwood Council ; and if he can produce any pledge that I have signed I am prepared. . . . to resign straight away.
The honorable member has produced tonight a Labour platform card with my name written across it, and he has sought to tie me down to that as a pledge signed by me. As a member of the Central Executive of 1 he Political Labour League, the honorable member knows full well that my selection as a candidate of the Labour party would not be indorsed unless I signed its pledge, and the municipal pledge I did not at any time sign. I come now to misrepresentation No. 3. The honorable member produced to-night a letter which was written in 1902, but which was misdated j 903. It was written at a time when I was in no way connected with the Labour party, but the honorable member has repeated to-night a speech which he rehearsed a few weeks ago at a meeting held in the Collingwood Town Hall - a speech made, not in the interests of the country, but with the object of downing me. And this is the attitude which the honorable member adopts towards one who was at one time the chairman of his election committee, and was selected to move a resolution in favour of his candidature at all his large meetings. I was the chairman of the honorable member’s election committee when I was one of the representatives of a ward in the Collingwood City Council. That council, by the way, is the most democratic in .Victoria, and yet there is not a pledged Labour man in it. The Labour party have an opportunity at the forthcoming municipal election to endeavour to secure the return of five candidates, but they have decided only to challenge my reelection, and to allow all the other retiring councillors a walk-over. In connexion with that municipal election, the honorable member for Yarra will have an opportunity to air his eloquence on the public platform.
– The honorable member is a Labour rat all the same.
– A few days ago the honorable member for Hindmarsh stated that I went cringing -and crawling to the Labour party to secure immunity from opposition.
– 1 did not say that.
– The honorable member said that I wished to rejoin the Labour party. As a matter of fact, I have never sought to rejoin the party, and have never approached any one acting on behalf of the party with that object in view. It is true that the honorable member for Hume once suggested that I should approach the AttorneyGeneral in the Labour Administration - the honorable member for West Sydney - and the Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, with a view of securing the withdrawal of the Labour candidate selected to oppose me. I told the honorable member, however, that I would not do anything of the kind, and I did not. The honorable member for Hindmarsh inferred that I endeavoured to secure immunity from opposition on the part of a party that stoned me at the last election ; that broke up nearly every meeting that I held, that howled down the Prime Minister, who spoke at one of mv meetings, and covered up, after midnight, every notice that I had had posted. Is it reasonable for the honorable member for Hindmarsh to accuse me of trying to re-join a party that played such tricks on me? At the last general election, I was opposed by a Labour candidate, Mr. Solly, who resigned from the State Parliament in order to fight me. The result of the election was that I secured 7,098 votes as against 6,617, polled by the Labour candidate, 330 secured by Mr. Painter, who stood on the same platform as I did, and 151 polled by Mr. Vernon. In other words, I defeated the selected Labour candidate by 481 votes. At a Labour Conference held on the 17th March last, for the purpose of selecting a candidate to run in opposition to me, Mr. Lloyd, a member of the Collingwood branch of the Labour League, suggested that I should not be opposed, and Mr. Miller, ex-President of the Trades Hall Council, suggested to the Conference that steps should be taken to expel him from the Labour movement for having dared to make such a proposition. The honorable member for Yarra saw fit to accuse those on this side of the chamber of having broken their pledges. I have not broken one of mine, though I should have had to do so had I supported the Fisher Government. I was returned after the strongest fight against a Labour candidate which any Victorian representative had to make. The Ministry of the day determined, on the 27th November, 1906, to support me, but the Age selected me only on 12th December, the day of the election. I said on the 4th December last that I would not support the Fisher Ministry because of its attitude in regard to the fiscal question. I stated- Hansard, volume xlviii., page 2743 - that -
I was returned as a Protectionist in opposition to the Labour party, and the Labour leagues in my own electorate to-day are selecting a candidate to oppose me at the next general election. I do not complain of that, but I do complain of the stand taken by the Minister on this question.
Earlier in the day I had asked the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in view of the fact that tenders are being called for the provision of ventilating fans in the General Post Office, Melbourne, he is prepared to give an opportunity to Australian manufacturers to tender? At present the latter are debarred.
The honorable member for Coolgardie, who was then Minister of Home Affairs, replied -
At present I am not advised as to the position ; but may have the information later on.
I then asked the Prime Minister if he was prepared - to announce what is the fiscal policy of the Government - whether they are Protectionists or Free Traders ?
To which he replied -
The Government will have no hesitation in declaring their policy at the proper time.
It may be thought that the policy of the Ministry was declared in the Gympie speech. But when the honorable member for Wide Bay, after speaking of the great progress made by Australian industries, referred to the fiscal question, he merely said -
The Commonwealth Parliament has power to deal with Customs and Excise. It has . power to put on a protective Tariff. Australians have, rightly or wrongly, settled on a policy of Protection for Australia.
Rightly or wrongly ! Surely the Ministry claiming the right to lead a national Parliament should have a definite fiscal policy.
– Has the honorable member’s party a definite fiscal policy ?
– I am speaking for myself, not for any party. The honorable member for Wide Bay was silent as to the attitude which his Government would take regarding Protection and Free Trade. But speaking in Melbourne on 1st December, at a conference of manufacturers, he said -
The Conference would not have been able to present such a full-hearted report of progress had it not been for the fulfilment of the policy of his right honorable friend, Mr. Deakin, at the last Federal elections. To Mr. Deakin and his party Australia was indebted for the protective policy which had enabled the Commonwealth during the last year to make such marvellous progress in its manufacturing industries.
But at Gympie he made no declaration of policy regarding the fiscal question. The reason can be understood. He had in his Ministry the honorable member for West Sydney, one of the bitterest opponents of Protection in this House, the honorable members for Barrier and Coolgardie, and Senator Pearce, all Free Traders’, and the honorable member for Boothby, a shandygaff Protectionist. The honorable member for West Sydney, speaking in this chamber on 28th August, 190.7 - honorable members will find his remarks recorded in Hansard, volume XXXVIII., page 2484 -
Every one knows that I am a Free Trader. I have never hesitated to declare myself in favour of Free Trade, whether the policy has been popular or unpopular. . . . The greatest crime imputed to the Labour party in the New South Wales Parliament, was that it had sunk the fiscal issue, which we have never regarded but as of secondary importance.
The honorable member says that the Labour party has always regarded as of secondary importance a question affecting industries employing 250,000 persons, and distributing wages to the sum of -£19,000,000 per annum. He added -
The Free Trade members of the party have always voted for the lowest duties possible. I have always stated that I did not consider Protection desirable.
Then he stated, at page 2488 - 1 wish now to state my attitude on the Tariff.
It is one that I have always maintained. I do not think that Protection provides more employment for the people. I have never thought that it does so.
Yet I am told that I broke my election pledges by ceasing to support a Ministry containing’ an honorable member who had stated that Protection does not increase employment. The other day the honorable member for Kalgoorlie said that he had no fiscal sins to answer for, that he was neither Protectionist nor Free Trader. I find that in 122 divisions he voted for Protection sixty-six times, and for Free Trade fifty-six times. When the honorable member for Calare was speaking on the Budget on the 4th September, 1907, he said -
As honorable members are aware, members of the Labour party have no particular fiscal faith. . . . To-day I am sorry to see that the Opposition are not led by a gentleman who is pledged to Free Trade principles as the fust plank in his political programme.
He regretted the fact that on the Opposition benches, there was riot an honorable member pledged to Free Trade, so that they could have ousted the Ministry -on their Tariff proposals. The honorable member for Hume does not say, “Hear, hear,” to that sentiment.
– I did not hear what the honorable member said. I do not like backsliding Protectionists.
– I have not a great deal of faith in backsliding Free Traders. I intend now to quote an extract from the Barrier Truth, which I understand is the only Labour daily newspaper. Writing on the 21st September, 1906, it said -
Here, in Broken Hill, efforts are likely to be made to introduce the fiscal herring into Laborism. So far as individual expressions of opinion are concerned, and as long as they are confined to mere opinions, we have no right to object. If a Laborist believes conscientiously in Protection, the Labour platform in no way prohibits him from doing so. Nor does it stop him from giving utterance to his ideas as often as he pleases or wherever he pleases. If, again, a* Laborist has foreign trade beliefs there is no reason why he should be afraid to enunciate those beliefs. The Labour platform does not say that he should >>ot be a foreign trader.
I have heard some honorable members state that they do not like being classed as foreign traders, but the Barrier Truth says that a Labour man can be the representative of the foreign” trader, that, if he likes, he can be in favour of sweated labour from other parts, female labour in Japan, and long hours in Germany and elsewhere. The honorable, member for Hume, says, “I am in favour of new Protection, Factories legislation, high wages, and short hours,” but at the same time he is prepared by his vote and speech to allow sweated goods from other countries to come into Australia.
– Rubbish, and the honorable member knows it.
– I believe that the honorable member is an authority on some things, and therefore I propose to quote from the Sydney Bulletin, which he told us the other day he considered is one of the best newspapers in Australia.
– So it is.
– I am glad to hear that.
– It does not support the honorable member now though.
– In its issue of the 24th June, 1909, it wrote in these terms -
The foreign trader in the Labour ranks was always an anomaly and always a traitor. His special craving was for the free admission of the goods of any kind of nigger or other undesirable who was willing to work twelve hours a day for a shilling or eighteenpence. If the Australian workman, toiling ‘ eight hours per day for one shilling or so per hour, could not produce goods which would enable them to sell in free and open competition with the cheap article of the nigger or other foreign undesirable, the only theory that the foreign trade alleged Laborite had to offer was that the Australian should take less wages or work longer hours.
That quotation is taken not from a Labour newspaper or the Age or the Daily Telegraph but from a journal in which the honorable member for Newcastle believes. I ask him if he believes in that conclusion about the foreign trader.
– But it does not convert the honorable member.
– Lyne. - Let the honorable member go back to his constituents after the exposure to-night and ‘see what they will say.
– I am prepared to go back to my constituents and - to be returned.
– The honorable member is not game to go to them at once.
– I have not the least doubt but that my majority will be increased if I should have the honour of a visit from the honorable member to my constituency.
– I will go down all right. I will help the honorable member out as fast as I can. After the exposure to-night he should resign.
– When the honorable gentleman gets a seat on the Treasury bench he does not care very much about resigning it. I remember him stating that the Labour party would get the backwash of public opinion for turning him out of office.
– They will kick out the honorable member and a few more too.
– I shall now show that Protection does increase employment.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– The conversations that are taking place between honorable members must cease.
– I propose to quote statistics with regard to New South Wales.
– I am sorry to have tb take this step, but the honorable member for Hume, immediately I gave a certain direction, disregarded it, and continued the conversation to which I had objected.
– I did not tear what you said, sir.
– Then I ask the honorable member now to observe that these conversations, so highly irregular and so disturbing to the honorable member who is speaking, must cease.
– In New South Wales on 31st December, 1907, there were 4,387 factories and works, showing an increase, as compared with 1906, of 526 j the hands employed were- males 66,66’], increase 6,688; females 20,527, increase, 2,684; total, 87,194; increase, 9,372. That shows that protection has increased employment in New South Wales as well as in other States. The late Prime Minister, the honorable member for Wide Bay, recently challenged the honorable member for Maribyrnong to produce a record of any vote which ‘he had given for free trade. I produce the record to show that the honorable member for Wide Bay voted for Free Trade, when he and other Labour members, and the House generally, knew that a certain class of machinery was being made in Australia. I refer to rock drills. Those who voted for Free Trade on that item included the honorable members for Calare, Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie, Maranoa,
Grey, Darling, and Barrier, all Labour members. Those who paired in favour of Free Trade included the honorable member for Wide Bay, the honorable member for Perth, and the honorable member for West Sydney, also Labour members. Every one of them on that occasion voted or paired for Free Trade, with the result) that a number of men have been thrown out of employment. That was one case.
– What was the vote taken on ?
– The question was “ That the item be free,” and it was carried on the casting vote of the Chairman of Committees, the honorable member for Kennedy, who is also a Labour member. Those honorable members, who claimed to be in favour of new Protection, shorter hours, and higher wages, were prepared to tell the miners of Bendigo, Broken Hill, and Western Australia that their sons could go down into the deep mines and work for their living; that they would allow the importers to flood the markets, and throw the young men of those places out of employment, and that, instead of being engineers the miners’ sons could be miners for all they cared. On the night that division was taken, I stated that not a single miner had asked for the duty to be taken- off rock drills, but the importers were represented here, and won the day. Honorable members who were sent here to represent the- workers thought of the importers first and voted Free Trade on that item. I come now to the question of wire netting. I had the honour and privilege of receiving a letter signed by 200 workmen of Lysaght’s wire netting works in Sydney, thanking me for the efforts I’ had made on their behalf. When in Sydney, I was informed by -the manager of that firm that not a single Labour member had ever visited the factory or made inquiries. The duty was taken off by misrepresentations, and not one of the Labour members went to the factory or knew anything about the works or the wages that were being paid there. I went to the factory to obtain information to refute the statement, made by the honorable member for Calare and others, that the men in Lysaght’s wire netting works were not being paid a sufficient wage. I now produce the firm’s wage list, which is open to the inspection of any honorable member. It shows that at the time some of the men were earning £3 10s., and others £3 per week. But what can we expect when the honorable member for
Yarra, who was Minister of Trade and Customs in the late Administration, and who boasts that he is the pure merino, that he is the only champion of the workers, and that he supports a policy of shorter hours and higher wages, stands up in this Chamber as the champion of prison-made goods, and urges that those men should be brought into competition with prison labour? That honorable member expressed the opinion that the men who were toiling outside should be thrown out of work by this Parliament granting a bonus to wire netting made in Pentridge. The honorable member knew at the time that these men were going to be thrown out of employment, but he said that the prisoners at Pentridge should get a bonus for making wire netting. From pages 12178’and 1 2 1 79 of Hansard, 5th June, 1908, I find that the honorable member said -
T fail to see why prison-made wire netting produced in Australia should be prevented from participating in the proposed bounty.
The honorable member, as late head of the Custom’s Department, while knowing of the issue -of a regulalation prohibiting the importation of prisonmade goods, was prepared to subsidize prison labour in order to allow it to enter into competition with free labour. Speaking on the same question, Sir William Lyne said -
It would compete with the industry established in New South Wales.
The honorable member for Parramatta, the present Minister of Defence, said -
I rise chiefly for the purpose of offering my sincere congratulations to the secretary of the Labour party in this Parliament upon his magnificent attempt this afternoon to sweat down the wages of the wire workers of Australia by bringing them into competition with bounty-fed prison labour. ,
The honorable member for West Sydney, who was Attorney-General in the late Labour Government,* said, on the same question -
I cordially echo the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta in denouncing in the most enthusiastic way the attempt of Victoria to compete by means of prison labour with the free labour of the State. I represent.
It was not the State of Victoria, but the representative of the workers, from the democratic constituency* of Yarra, that sought here to champio’n prison-made goods in competition with the products of free labour. Yet the honorable gentleman will shortly be telling the workers in my district to vote against me because I was against the workers. I say that, if I stood here as the champion of prison-made goods, I should expect at the next election to reap my reward, and I should get . it outside, and not inside, of this Chamber. I want to say that 120 men were thrown out of employment at Lysaght’s wire netting works, as a result of the remission of the duty. When the honorable member for Hume introduced the Tariff, the duty he got carried was the means of reducing the price of wire netting from .£36 to ,£31. To-day there is no Protection in that industry, and I am given to understand that, as a consequence, the farmers have to pay more for their wire netting than they otherwise would have to pay. What did the Fisher Administration propose to dc with respect to the question, of new Protection, on which the honorable member for Yarra spoke so strongly?” New Protection could have waited for the next three years, so far as they were concerned. Their only* desire was to get to the country. Yet they told the workers, “You can only get the benefits of the new Protection from us.” I venture to say, without the least fear of successful’ contradiction, that the last Administration were anxious to secure a dissolution and go to the country. They knew that, if they did secure it, there could be no new Protection carried, because there could, in that event, have been no immediate amendment of the Constitution. If honorable members require any proof of that, they have only to read the speech of the late Prime Minister1 in November last. When making his Ministerial statement, he told the House that there was no hurry about the new Protection, because a Bill had to be framed and passed six months before a general election. Amongst other things, he said that honorable members were not desirous of going to the country, and as he had no wish to irritate them it was net his intention to bring on such a measure at that time. The workers are told that honorable members on this side are against the new Protection and Factories legislation. We can thank the late proprietor of the Age newspaper, Mr. David Syme, and the present Prime Minister, for Protection in Australia. By whom have proposals in support of the new Protection been put forward in this Chamber ? Has it been by members of the Labour party? No. The first to submit such a proposal was Mr. Justice Higgins, when member for the constituency which I now have the honour to represent; the next was1 the honorable member for Maribyrnong - neither of these gentlemen was a Labour member - and the third was myself. All were members of the Liberal party. I Had the honour of submitting a motion in this Chamber, soon after my return, that, in order that the workers should receive equal Protection with the factory owners, this Parliament should ask the various States to give it power to deal with the question of new Protection. I venture to say that, so long as the present Prime Minister is at the head of the Commonwealth Government the workers will have to expect the same benefits at his hands as they have received in the past. No one can gainsay the fact that there is no man in this House, or outside of it, who has worked harder in the interests of the workers, and none who has championed the cause of Factories legislation, in season and out of season, more effectively than the present Prime “Minister, the honorable member for Ballarat. We are asked to believe that the honorable members for West Sydney, Barrier, and Kalgoorlie are in favour of the new Protection. In the States of New South Wales and Victoria there are 7,000 women employed in the shirt-making industry. 1 propose to read some evidence which I have taken from a report presented to the House of Commons last year in connexion with this industry. I shall quote briefly the evidence given by a couple of employed in that industry in the Old Country, in order to compare the conditions there with those which prevail in the same industry in Australia. This is the evidence given by one woman -
What trade are you engaged in ? - Shirt maker.
You are married, I think? - Yes.
What family have you? - Six children.
How m.my of them are young? - They are all young, the eldest being fourteen.
What is your husband’s occupation? - A labourer.
Is he in. work? - He ;;ot into work about three weeks ago, after being out about three years.
Has he been ill ? - No, he is quite strong.
How long have you worked at shirt making? - About sixteen years.
May I ask if you are a quick worker? - Yes, very quick.
How much can you earn per day at your work? - I average 10s. per week - from 9s. to 10s. per week.
How many hours per day will you work in earning that? - Between 15 and 16 hours. I am sometimes up at six o’clock, and I work till ten at night.
I will quote the evidence of another witness. She was also a girl engaged in the shirt trade in England. She was examined as follows : -
You are in the shirt finishing? - Yes.
Do you work at home? - Yes.
Do you make shirts throughout, button-holes, and buttons. Is that the best class of shirts? - Yes, for trie best class we get 8d., and others 5d. per dozen.
That is all done by hand? - Yes.
That is not work that could be done by machinery ? - No. It is all done by hand.
At 3d. per dozen, how much can you earn
II week? - You cannot earn more than about 5s. or 6s. a week, and then you have to sit up_ from six in the morning till twelve o’clock at night to earn that.
Here was a girl who made 84 buttonholes for jd., whilst the wages board in Victoria has laid it down that such a worker must be paid rs. gd. The members of the Labour party say that they stand for the policy of new Protection. But they do not stand for the old Protection. They are prepared to allow shirts made under the conditions that I have described to be imported into this country in competition with shirts made by -our own women and girls who are paid 120 per cent, higher wages. The honorable member for Yarra took credit to his party on account of old-age pensions. He said that the old men and women of this country would not have had old-age pensions had it not been for the Labour party.
– They would not, either.
– What did the Labour party do in connexion with invalid pensions? Did they propose to pay them ? Did they make any reference to the subject? While the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was sitting in the Ministerial corner last session, he chided the late Administration with having proposed invalid pensions merely as a placard. He represented that it was simply a matter of make-believe. The Labour party were in power six months and could at any time, by proclamation, have commenced to pay invalid pensions. But they made no attempt to do so. No provision was made for paying them. The present ‘Leader of the Opposition, in his Gympie speech, simply made a passing reference to the subject. He said in effect, “ I regret to say we are not able to pay invalid pensions yet.” Not one single word was contained in the GovernorGeneral’s speech respecting invalid pensions. If the Labour party were in earnest on the subject, why did they not make provision fortheold men and women who are invalids, whoshouldhave been receiving these pensions to-day? It surprises me to find that though the Labour party was in power for six months they did notthink that this matter wasof sufficient importance to receiverecognition. At thesame time theyhad£7 50,000in the Treasury upon which they could operate at once. Surely the first dutyof the Labour Ministry was to have started the payment of these pensions : by Proclamation.
– What is the Government which has the honorable member’s support doing in the matter ?
– I havenot , thehonourto occupy a seat on the Ministerial bench at thepresent moment, and therefore I donot know. But whenhonorable members opposite talk about old-age pensions I am entitled to ask why the late Prime Minister did not take the responsibility of saying at Gympie, “ Ibelieve that invalids should receive pensions, and am prepared to commence the payment of them on the 1st July.’’ But no! He simply regretted that his Government couldnotdoit. What was the trouble? Was there no money available? Was the ex-Prime Minister afraid of the difficulty of financing old-age and invalid pensions? Yet thehonorable member forYarra takes credit tohisparty inconnexionwith this matter. As a matter offact hisparty simplybrushed it aside. Instead, the late Cabinet said, “We are going tobuild a bush capital.” That was their Firstplank. They wanted to secure the supportof theFree Tradepress in NewSouth Wales. On that question the late Government weresolid. The Federal Capital was to be a Ministerial project.
– The honorable member is against it.
-So was the ex-Minister of Home Affairs before he became a member of the late Ministry. On the 23rd October he said, in his place in this House, that the questionwas not of sufficient importance to be dealt with, and moved that the Bill under consideration be read that day six months. Yet at Gympie, the ex-Prime Minister made it a point that the bush capitalproject was the most important questionof the day which should be settled At the earliest possible moment. Everyone of those ex-Ministers who voted against the proposalpreviously were preparedto furtherthe Yass-Canberra project. Why? For the purpose ofretainingtheir seats on theTreasurybench, and obtainingthe support ofthe Sydney Free Trade press. If authority berequired for thatstatement, I needonly refer toanewspaper which championstheLabour party, namely the Sydney Bulletin, which said that the Labour Ministry, when inpower, tookthe shortest cutthat any Ministry in the Com monwealth had taken to win the support of the Tory press of New South Wales.
– That is what wassaid by, the newspaper which the honorable member forHumedescribesas the best in Australia; andthe same publication expressed the opinion that the members of the Labour Administration backslided more quickly on theirprinciplesthan even Sir Thomas Bent, and that it was nogreat loss to the country when they left office. I desire now tosay straight out that I am dead against immigration. I amin favour, in the first place, offindingwork for our ownpeople, and, secondly, of spending themoneynow devoted to immigration in saving a large number of lives which are now lost to the community. During thelast seven yeans 67,000 children in Australiahave died under the age of twelve months, and, according to Dr. Dunbar Hooper, who was appointed by aprevious Administration as a representative of the Commonwealth at a Conference in Brussels, some 3,000 of these lives could be saved every year. It as our duty,instead of spending£20,000 in bringing immigrants here under misrepresentation, to devote the money to saving thoselives, and also in combating the scourgeofconsumption,which, in thesame period, has been responsible for24,000 deaths. It is estimated that the presence of this diseasecosts theCommonwealth something like£ 100,000 per annum ; and I ampleased to say that the ex-Prime Ministerhas, on more than one occasion, referred to the necessity for some steps being taken in this connexion. I shall on all occasions freely vote money if the opportunity offers, for theprevention of these great annual losses.I now desire to draw attention to the vote which, on 10th November last, displaced theDeakinAdministr ation. No Governmentwas ever,I think, displaced ina briefer speech, for the words of thehonorable member for WideBay on thatoccasion numbered only ninety-two. No one knows why the DeakinGovernment were removed -nota wordon the point hasbeen said by the ex-Prime Minister orany of his followers.
We have been told that in the opinion of the Labour Government the Deakin Government did not move fast enough; But I ask: How fast did the Fisher Government move? The Labour party said to the Deakin Government : ‘ ‘ Here are your Estimates; do you propose to increase the salaries of all the higher officials? If you do not take your Estimates back. you shall not remain on the Treasury benches.” But did the Fisher Government re-model the Estimates? As a matter of fact, not a single figure ‘or line was altered - not a single salary was reduced. All the officials in the higher ranks were given increases, while the men in the lower ranks received no recognition. And how did the Fisher Government carry on the business of the country? As soon as they got into recess they went from one end of Australia to the other denouncing the men who supported them. Their first act was to conciliate political leagues in the various constituencies ; and we had the announcement that, if the Government were turned out of office, honorable members would be sent to their masters - the electors - at the earliest possible moment.
– But honorable members did not go to the electors !
– That was not the fault of the Government, and, in my opinion, only the members of the Ministry desired to appeal to the country, the rank and file of the Labour party having no desire in that .direction. Then I am accused of having broken my pledges, and been called upon to resign. The honorable member for Yarra produces a card, and says to me, “Resign now.” . They want my seat. But let me tell the honorable member foi Yarra that whether I resign my position or not, the Labour party cannot secure my seat. They had the chance of a lifetime at the last elections, and they “ missed the bus.” I was elected to this Parliament upon a definite pledge, and a definite programme, to represent the great mass of workers in my constituency. When I shrink from doing my duty, when I cease to represent the men and women who sent me here, I shall cease to enjoy their confidence. But up to the present time I am quite willing to place my record in this House against that of “ any of the twenty-six pledged members of the Labour party. I am prepared to rely upon my record in Hansard, and I venture to say that there is not. one man in the Labour party who has done more for the workers than I have. I do not stand here as the representative of the “foreign trader or of sweated labour or of prison-made goods. I am here to advocate equal opportunities for every man and woman in the community. I believe that the policy which the Prime Minister has placed before us will receive the indorsement of the people of Australia. When honorable members opposite are prepared to occupy eight or nine hours in delivering speeches for the purpose of blocking progressive legislation, I would ask them whether their action is calculated to provide employment for the workless amongst us. Not a bit of it. Their only concern is to raise a bogy by declaring, “ Look what the supporters of the present Ministry have done to us. They have turned us out of office.” Why do they not accept their defeat like men ? Why did they go to the Collingwood Town Hall, and exclaim, “ Look at your representative who has broken his pledges. We did not expect to gain office?” But they got there, and it took a team of bullocks to drag them from the Treasury bench.
– The honorable member’s action marks the end of his political career.
– It will take fifty men like the honorable member to terminate my political career. What did the Labour partydo in Collingwood at the last election? They had a supper prepared, and engaged a brass band to play “ See the conquering hero comes,” for “ Fighting Bob.” But when the poll was announced, “ Fighting Bob “ was found to be 500 votes behind me. That gentleman then said : “ Well, if I cannot beat you at the polls I am prepared to fight you. Will you take your coat off?” When he could not defeat me at the polls he challenged me to fight.
– What did the honorable member do?
– I kept out of his way. Later on, what did Mr. Solly say upon the public platform? He said: “This is a mere bagatelle so far as I am concerned. It is a matter of indifference to me that I have been defeated.” But he added : “ I am in a position to keep my wife, and that is more than the successful candidate can do.” When Mr. Solly could not get even in any other way he uttered that cowardly insinuation. Those honorable members who talk so much about representing labour, merely represent them- selves. I have no apology to offer for my votes, I ami proud of them. ‘ I said on 4th December last that I was opposed to fiscal atheists, and the Labour party Free Traders, and I have since said that I am opposed to any party that is not prepared to find work for pur workless. I was opposed to the representatives in the late Administration who were foreign traders, and who had not the courage to proclaim the Invalid sections of the Old-age. Pensions Act at the earliest opportunity. I am opposed to those honorable members who do not think that the invalids of Australia should receive some recognition. When the members of the Labour party were prepared to sink their principles for the sake of gaining office, I, as a true Democrat, and representing the workers, ceased to support them any longer.
– I do not intend to. allow such an epoch in the history of this Parliament as the fusing of two old parties to pass without offering a comment or two. I shall, however, ‘ endeavour to avoid the Billingsgate in which some honorable members have indulged, although I admit that each speaker has been provoked to say things of a recriminatory nature - a circumstance that is quite understandable. With regard to the fusion of political parties which has taken place in this Parliament, I have nothing to say against those honorable members who thought it was necessary for them to sink their party pledges for the good of the country. Doubtless that was the view entertained by most of them; if not, their action is open to other imputations. My contention is that when a party considers it necessary, as a party, to sink its principles - when it thinks it desirable to coalesce with another party - it should at least seek the sanction of the people for what it proposes to do. If its members do not seek that sanction, they are open to the imputation of being self-seekers, or of having taken action merely to serve their own purpose. I make no such imputation against the- Government and their supporters, but I say that they are open to such a charge. My conception of Democracy is that when a representative of the people thinks fit to sink his principles it is only fair to Democracy that he should go before the people, and ask their sanction for what he has done. In this connexion the Government and their supporters should think well of the writer who has said that consistency is the doctrine of- fools. They should inscribe that dictum on their banners, and it ought certainly to give - their some consolation. I have heard it whis pered that honorable members opposite do not care to go to the country at the present juncture, because they consider that the people are not in a fit frame of mind to receive an appeal from them. Possibly that view is entertained by some honorable members opposite. If it is, they evidently assume that something has occurred to stimulate action on the part of the people in a direction which would prove disadvantageous to the fusion. If that be so, they are not ignoring the fickleness of public opinion - assuming that it exists - they are simply putting off the evil day, hoping, no doubt, that when, in the ordinary course of events, they have to go to the country public opinion regarding the fusion will have changed. We have been charged with only pretending to desire to go to the people. ‘ Personally, I should be delighted to do so, because, if the policy on which I was elected is not to be carried into effect by this Parliament, I have no desire to be a member of it. Our allegiance to the late Deakin Government has been described as “ similar to that of the Liberal party to the present Ministry. There is, however, a very material difference between a fusion and an alliance, such as ours was. As I understand the fusion, it means the sinking of the .individual opinions of both parties and a. blending of them into the. form of a compromise, such as we are supposed to have in the manifesto issued by the Ministry. That was not the attitude that we adopted in regard to the Deakin Administration. We simply allied ourselves with them, on the distinct understanding that, whilst their course of action met with our approval they should have our support, and that as soon as it ceased to do so, our support would be withdrawn. No such arrangement has been made by honorable members opposite. They were divided, not only on the fiscal question, but on matters of even greater importance. It has been said to-night by several honorable members that the division of opinion existing among the two parties to the Coalition with regard to the fiscal question is no more to be condemned than is ours. There is, however, a distinct difference .between the position of the Labour party and that of honorable members opposite. The honorable member for East Sydney sought to show that there was very little difference between the treatment of the fiscal question by the present fusion and the attitude of the Labour party in regard to it. As a matter of fact, however, the members ofour party have not agreed to, sink the fiscal issue; we have simply agreed that the members of the party shall be free to vote as they please in regard to it. The honorable member for Swan asked tonight why we did not. include the fiscal question in our platform. We have not done so for the obvious reason, that we are not agreed upon it. We include in our platform only those planks on which we are in absolute agreement. We have agreed to differ on the fiscal question, but the fusion have agreed to sink it, and, in. so, far as they have undertaken to do so, they have proved unfaithful to the trust reposed in them by the people. Although, most honorable members opposite may consider that they were justified, in the best interests of Australia in sinking their principles, I repeat that, having determined to do so, they should have gone to, the public, their masters, and have sought their indorsement. To refrain from doing so at the present juncture, lest public opinion should be against them, is worse thancowardly. They fear the fickleness of public opinion, yet do not hestitate to endeavour to take advantage of it, believing that public opinion in regard to their action will have changed, and that they will come off better at the polls later on. Some of those participating in the fusion have declared that it was brought about because our party declined to refrain from opposing the Deakin party at the next general election. It has been said again, and again bymembers of our partyand it cannot be repeated too,often-that we have no power to control outside organizationsin the selection of candidates for Parliament. We have no more power over theminthat respect than they have over us. Our agreement with them is in black and white,and is drawn up before we enter this House. Before a Labour candidate goes before the public he has indorsed his party’s policy,and, knows exactly where he is. There is no occasion, to call in any one to advise us. Our partyis, not conducted on. such loose lines. The people are in a much better position when they are represented by a party the members of which ate. bound to a definite platform, which is submittedin blackand white to the electors, than they are when they arerepresented by men who are not so pledged.
Having pledged ourselves to a definite platform, we are free from our so-called masters. When that platform is altered we participate in the work of amending it, and if we do not indorse the alteration we have no right to submit ourselves as candidates supporting the policy of the Labour party. It will thus be. clearly seen that we are not controlled by outside influences, and that there is not the slightest necessity for such control.It is purely optional for honorable members of the Labour party to consider or to refuse to consider, any outside Influence that may be brought to bear upon them. I do not know of any outside influence being exercised upon us, and I should decline to be so influenced. It would be a distinct interference with the liberty of the subject if any combination in Parliament, dictated to any combination outside as to the candidates to be run at an election. Any half-dozen citizens may run a candidate. If they make a foolish, choice, the general public will put them right. If the honorable member for Ballarat has not in the view of the public merited blame, he will be kept in public life, even though a section may run a candidate against him. It is a very weak argument in support of the fusion to say that the Labour party intends to oppose the. Liberal party at the elections. If the Liberals are the strong, men they are supposed to be, they need not fear opposition. In any case, they should take the, stand that they advocate a certain policy, and will, if keptin Parliament, carry it out, taking their chances of opposition at the elections.If the. public do not want my policy, I do not want to represent them in Parliament. That is. my attitude. No fusion would have any attraction forme under a threat of opposition. As to the organization of the Labour- party, I claim that it is “ broad based upon the people’s will.” It is more broadly based than that of any other party in politics. The rank and file of the community, those whom the conditions of society affect more vitally than any other class, the men without inheritance, have drafted our policy in their own interests, and therefore in the interests of the nation. The programme of the Labour party is the programme of those who are the backbone of the nation. Others may join with us, but it is the people at large whom we represent. Our organization properly claims the attention and merits the support bestowed on it. The automatic functioning of Democracy is its great feature. It corrects its own errors, and provides the only effective way of securing society against class domination of any sort. No matter what section may draft a policy, that policy cannot stand without the indorsement of the whole community. For honorable members opposite to talk about sectional influence and class domination is ridiculous. We cannot dominate without the sanction of the public. Parliament drafts policies, but the public must indorse them. The members of the Labour party are the servants of the public, and subject to the will of the people to the same extent as other members. I have a word or two to say upon the programme which the Government has placed before the House. New Protection is not to receive the liberal treatment at the hands of Ministers which it would have received from the Fisher Government. For one thing, it is not proposed to consider the consumer. There is no mention of him. All that is proposed is to take cognizance of the working community. But as the workers are consumers too, it is essential, in any scheme of new Protection, to protect the consumer as well as to protect the worker, and the employer. No definite measures are promised. In fact, the Government seems disposed to transfer its obligations arid trust to a Board which will be beyond the control of Parliament. I am prepared to admit that it would be advisable to place those controlling a nationalized industry outside the pale of immediate politics. But when, not the running of a special industry but the supervising of all industries, in other words the seeing that all play fair, is the matter in hand, the Government cannot afford to transfer its obligations. The Parliament directly representing the people should be the supreme factor in seeing that the affairs of the commercial and industrial world are conducted as they should be. We cannot afford to intrust the interests of the community to a Board vested with supreme powers. I am a keen believer in the new Protection. Were I otherwise, I should be unworthy of my position. I agree with an old writer who calls’ that nation the wealthiest which nourishes the greatest number of human beings. No doubt honorable members opposite are as desirous as I am of the welfare of the community, but we differ as to the way in which it can best be attained. The fact that some of our politicians have a long past has given rise to many of the speeches which we Have heard during the debate. It has made me pleased that my political past is short, but I hope that when it comes to be as long as theirs, it Will not afford food for such discussion and recrimination; Political parties in this House differ largely as to methods. The Labour party is of opinion that in the interests of the individual, andso that the greatest number of human beings may be benefited and properly nourished, monopolies should be nationalized. The right honorable member for East Sydney, on the other handy thinks that we should devote all our energy to encouraging and stimulating individualism. We agree that until the individualism becomes oppressive, it is well to let it alone. Butonce it does become oppressive, we hold that we must nationalize. Do I understand that the Government are now agreeable to an adjournment ofthe debate?
– Yes; I said at the outset that the honorable member could have an adjournment at 11 o’clock.
Mr.CARR.- I ask leave to continue my speech to-morrow.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Mouse adjournedat 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090714_reps_3_49/>.