3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. SPEAKER took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. WEBSTER.- I rise in the interests of goodorder and decency. I understand that at the commencement of yesterday’s sitting, when I was absent from the chamber, an honorable member took occasion to usehis position
Mr. SPEAKER.- Is the honorable member asking a question ?
Mr. WEBSTER.- I merely desire to state that I have beefir personally insulted by the action of a member of this House. I consider the course which he took yesterday afl insult to me, to the House, and to you sir as Speaker.
Mr.CROUCH.- The honorable member insulted us by speaking for two whole day’s.
Mr. WEBSTER. - I am glad that 1 was not present when the incident to which 1 refer occurred. Had I been here, I might have come in contact with the jaw of an .ass. But without wishing to return insult for injury, I merely say that I look upon you, sir, as the custodian of our privileges, and expect you to take such action as will deter honorable members from doing what may create breaches of order in the future. Am I to understand that YOU intend to do nothing in the matter?
Mr. SPEAKER. - I do not know what the honorable member wishes me to do. When the incident to which I think he refers took place, I replied to a question asked by the honorable member for Corangamite that I did not think that he expected an answer. If the honorable member for Gwydir will say what he wishes me to do now, I shall consider his request.
Mr. WEBSTER. - I scarcely thought that it would be necessary for me to tell you, the custodian of the privileges of honorable members, that an action such as I complain of should meet with more than the mere intimation that it was not in order. Something further is due to one who has been gratuitously insulted in this Chamber by a fellow member. The matter ought not to be allowed to drop. The insult which was offered might have led to a breach of order. For that reason, and to prevent the repetition of like incidents, it should be made known that you, sir, will not allow any honorable member to gratuitously insult another. I ask for an apology from the honorable member for Corangamite.
Mr. SPEAKER. - The honorable member foi Corangamite is present, and has heard that the honorable member for Gwydir has said that he considered yesterday’s incident insulting. I, therefore, ask him to express regret for what occurred.
Dr. WILSON. - When I rose yesterday to ask you a question, sir, I was not aware that the honorable member for Gwydir was not in his place. All I did was to ask you whether I might do a certain thing. You informed me that it would be out of order to do it, and there the incident closed. The whole thing was intended by me merely as a joke.
Mr. Hutchison. - A silly joke.
Mr. Crouch. - It was a very proper rebuke to the honorable member for Gwydir.
Dr. WILSON. - I did not think that my question would hurt the feelings of the honorable member for Gwydir, as they seem to have been hurt. I am very sorry to have done that. However, I should like to add that honorable members opposite have been fighting those on this side with various weapons-
Mr. SPEAKER-I nsk the honorable member not to extend his remarks.
Dr. WILSON. - What I am about to say is in explanation of the incident. The members of the Labour party have been fighting those on this side with various weapons, and have abused, amongst others, my friend Mr. Sampson. I thought it would not .be out of place to use one of his weapons by way of reply to their attack. But I am sorry that what I said has been taken in the wrong spirit.
Mr. SPEAKER. - The honorable member will see that to express regret that his action has been regarded in a certain way is not to express regret for the action itself, which is what I desire him to do.
Dr. WILSON. - How can I express regret for something which I was not allowed to do ? I. asked if I might do a certain thing, and being told that I could not, went no. further in the matter.
Mr. SPEAKER.- Yesterday I did not take particular notice of the honorable member’s action, because I did not think that any honorable member would regard it as personally insulting. Now that the’ honorable member for’ Gwydir has stated that he considers himself insulted, I ask the honorable member for Corangamite to express regret, not at the manner in which his action has been regarded, but that he gave reason for the feeling of the honorable member for Gwydir.
Dr. WILSON. - I am only too pleased to do as you suggest, six:
Postal Facilities - Public Service Regulations.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
Mr. MCDONALD (Kennedy) [2.38]. - I understand that this is grievance day. ‘.Although I have no special grievance to bring forward—
Mr. Wilks. - Cannot the honorable member manufacture a few ?
Mr. McDONALD. - I gave expression to my grievances pretty fully a few days ago. But there is a matter to which I would direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral.
Mr. Deakin. - Surely it is most unseemly to set aside a motion of want of confidence to discuss grievances.
Mr. MCDONALD. - I am sorry that I have ruffled the Prime Minister; I did not intend to do so. The matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral is the insufficiency of the postal arrangements in the interior. For this I do not blame the present Government more than its predecessors. The Department of the Postmaster-General, however, has shown itself disinclined to extend postal communication to outlying districts, where a service will not pay for itself, and has been discontinuing services which had been in existence for a number of years. The granting of postal communication in the past has materially assisted the pioneers to open up the country by keeping them in touch with the world outside. But the Department now takes the stand that, if services are not profitable, they must not be continued, even though tenders for them may have been called. I urge the Minister to inquire fully into this matter, with a view to discovering a method by which postal facilities can be extended more liberally to outlying districts, and the discontinuance of existing services avoided, If the practice of dealing with mail services in remote districts is to be continued on the ground that many of those services do not pay, I see no reason why the principle should not apply all round. For instance, many telephone services now supplied do not pay, and on the same principle they should be cut off. In the same way I remind honorable members that we lose about ^60,000 per annum on the mail contract between here and Great Britain, but we still carry on that contract. If ve desire the settlement of outlying districts, we must supply the settlers with all possible postal facilities. I have received numbers of letters making complaints in this connexion, and have frequently been in conflict with the Department as a result. I admit that in many cases the authorities of the Department offer good reasons why services asked for cannot be supplied, but, while making that admission”, I believe that if the whole matter were carefully inquired into, it would be found that it would be possible to provide satisfactory mail services for outlying districts without any addition to the present expenditure.
Mr. J. H. CATTS (Cook) [2.42]. - I wish to make brief mention of a matter of some importance.
Mr. Deakin. - It is a most improper proceeding for honorable members to carry on in this way when a motion of want of confidence, moved by their own leader, remains undecided.
Mr. J. H. CATTS.- I shall not detain honorable members for long. I wish to bring under the notice, especially of the Minister of Home Affairs, an alteration involved in a new regulation issued under !he Public Service Act. I refer to regulation 68, which alters regulation 262, under which the Chief Officer may impose a fine up to £3 without reference to the permanent head. Under the new rule the Chief Officer might impose a fine up to /,IO without reference to the permanent head, and without the right of appeal. As one who has had considerable experience of organizations of State servants and their difficulties, I consider that to give the Chief Officer the right to fine up to £10 without reference to the permanent head, and without a right of appeal, is a retrograde step. Our public servants should at least be treated as fairly as the meanest criminal in the community. A criminal who is fined has a right of appeal, but. under the new rule to which I am directing attention, a public servant may be fined up to a maximum’ of .-£10 without any right of appeal. I do not complain so much of the increase in the maximum amount up to which an officer can be fined, as to the refusal to permit the right of appeal. The result of numbers of appeals which have already been heard affords ample justification for continuing the right. I ask the Minister to take the matter into his most serious consideration.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay) [2.44].- Obviously, when a motion of want of confidence remains undecided, it is inadvisable to interrogate Ministers, in view of the fact that they cannot answer questions put to them. I therefore suggest to rr..y honorable friends on this side that until the motion of want of confidence has been disposed of, they should not further proceed with the ventilation of grievances.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 14th July (vide page 1201), on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That the Government does not possess the confidence of this House.
Mr.CARR (Macquarie)[2.45]. - Last evening, I endeavoured to point out what I consider the differences which, separate the Labour party from the present Government and their supporters. I showed that there was a difference in the method of formulating our policies. I pointed out that the policy of the Labour party was formulated by a section of the general pub- lic, and indorsed by a majority of them before we came into this House, and trait, oil the other hand, the policy of the present Government represents a merging of policies which varied” when submitted to the general’ public ; and that the various issues’ upon which the elections were fought by honoraible members comprising the present Government party have been lost in the cloud of fusion. I also showed that there was a difference between the character of the alliance whichexisted bet ween the Labour party and the ptomcnte Deakin party, and, that which exists between the parties comprising the present Government party. Our alliance with the previous Deakin party was merely an understanding on sufferance. The present Ministerial party represents a merging of political views, with some fresh points of policy due to compromises. . 1 shotted that we differed in our treatment 0f the fiscal question. On. the other side, the question, is sunk ; on this side it is not sunk, we merely agree to differ upon it. I might add to what I said last night on the subject of Protection, that, while we have aigseed to remain divided upon it, I believe that before long,, there will be a Protectionist plank included in our platform, based, apon the new Protection principle. I think that at present we are unanimously in favour of the new Protection.
– I am speaking of the fighting platform, which is the only platform I recognise in this House, and which, asa candidate for election, I submitted to the public. I wish to emphasize the Statement I make in this connexion, because the adoption of a Protectionist plank based on the ‘principle of new Protection, will, I think, relieve the members of the Labour party from certain reflections cast upon them hitherto by those who are keen on the fiscal question. Our objection all along to the adoption of the principle of Protection has been due to the fact that we could not approve of a principle, the application of which- really licensed certain persons to exploit the rest of the community. If we can. prevent that effect of Protection, I believe we shall all be prepared to accept a Protectionist policy, based on the principle of the new Protection. I hope to see it a part of the Labour policy in the next Parliament. Onthe subject of the land question, I said that it was the most important matter on which we differ from the present Government. The honorable member for East Sydney last night came some of the way with us, inasmuch as he admitted that the expedients at present being adopted in New South Wales to secure closer settlement are ineffective. But the . right honorable member did not offer anything more effective. His solution seems to be that we as a Government, or the States as separate -Governments, should declare that large estates are against public policy. But the right honorable member knows better than any one that it is of very little use making such a declaration unless there is some penalty attached to compel observation ; and I do not know that he suggested any penalty. He did say som’ething about fixing present-day valuesand forbidding the payment of any increase by the State. That is only part of a proposition that has been rjut forward for some time by economic thinkers, and one the whole of which I indorse. It is simply that all speculative values shall cease, and the present-day values be registered as those in which trafficin the land may be conducted, any increased income from values going to the State. That is an admirable idea, which I should like to see adopted by the Commonwealth.
– What about land which has been improved by clearing or draining ?
– The unimproved value is the economic value which the people collectively give to the land ; and if the honorable member had looked up his political economy, he would not have asked the question. While I admit that land values are. a mark for taxation, under any circumstances, I do not indorse the taxing of land out of value; though I do indorse the proposition’ that present-day values- should remain as the traffkable value, all annual (entails derivable from the increased unimproved value going to the State. . But weare faced, with a greater problem. Our needs in regard to the land question must- be measured by the danger we are in ; and I consider that, as a nation, we are in grave danger. Our possession of Australia is only tentative - that is to say, when those European and Eastern volcanoes, which are now smoking, shall break out, such will be the complication of international affairs that the right of the present Australian people to rule this continent will be challenged. The idea that such a small percentage of the world’s population shall control such a large area will be questioned, and questioned effectively, by those in a much better position to manage and defend this country against aggression; and we shall be asked to kindly make room; and will have no alternative but to do so. The piping time of peace is the time for us to “’ get a move on,” and prepare for the disaster which will surely follow our present indifferent action ; and we can only anticipate that disaster by dealing drastically with the land question. This view of the matter impelled me the other night to say I was prepared to impose a tax as high as rs. in the on large estates. I believe that we shall have to make it absolutely unprofitable to hold land idle if we ave to have the population and the defence we require. I regard the land question as being identical with the immigration and the defence question - as one and the same. Sb grave is the situation, in my opinion, that it behoves us to immediately grapple with the problem in no uncertain way ; and to talk of leaving the matter to the States is only tinkering with it. The States have had control of the lands for fifty years, and are now so diffident about going any further, that there is no alternative but for this House, being more Democratic than the States Houses, to take the initiative. With a Democratic Upper House, such as ours, there is hope for Australia yet. Under present circumstances, I am afraid that this House is not so constituted as to lead us to hope for the necessary legislation to deal effectively with the land problem ; but, with an Upper House, quite as, if not more Democratic than this, there is a possibility of legislation in this direction being passed in time; and I hope that after the next general election there will be no doubt about the matter. We require population badly ; and we can only get it by dealing effectively with our land ; and we can only deal effectively with our land bv making it unprofitable to keep good arable land out of use. as it is being held out of use i-.ow to an enormous extent. To back up my argument, I have some figures here taken from the statistical publications of Kew South Wales ; and I deal with that State as I am more familiar with it than I am with the other States. In New South Wales, 729 people own 23,000,000 acres, or just half of the alienated land, and 6,000 people own 15,000,000 acres. These two classes own 6,700 holdings, totalling 37,000,000 acres, or over three-quarters of the total alienated land ; while the rest of the farmers and pastoralists, seventytwo thousand in number, own 11,750,000 acres. Thus is closer settlement retarded in New South Wales, and, not ‘ only, is it retarded in this way, but’ a remarkable feature of the land problem is that, both in that State and Victoria, despite the boasted efforts to bring about closer settlement by resumption - which even the right honorable member for East Sydney considers gives rise to fictitious land values’, too high for the ordinary person - we find that the aggregation of large estates has gone on to an enormous extent. According to- the figures furnished in the Commonwealth Yearbook, published by Mr. Knibbs, the estates in New South Wales ranging from. 7,000 acres to 10,000 acres, numbered 223 in 1901, and 237 in 1907, showing an increase of 14; estates from 10, 00a acres to 15,000 acres numbered 213 in 1901, and 218 in 1907 ; estates of 20,000 acres to 30,000 acres numbered 139 in 1901. and 156 in 1907; estates of 30,000 acres to 40,000 acres numbered 63 in both years; estates of 40.000 acres to 50,000 acres numbered 40 in both years; and estates of 40,000 acres and over numbered 149 in both years. Thus is the much boasted closer-settlement policy proved abortive. In Victoria, I find that, whereas in 1906 there were 617 estates ranging from 2,500 acres to 5,000 acres, there were 681 in 1908 ; there were 220 estates ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 acres in 1906, and 23 1 in 1908; and there were 116 estates ranging from 10,000 acres to 20,000 acres in 1906, and 118 in 1908. There can be no argument, in my opinion, in favour of the system of resumption and closer settlement, as it is called, when we have such official figures as a result of some years of the policy. The situation being so grave, nothing will meet it but the drastic handling of the land question. The proposals we make as a Labour party are not, in my opinion, strong enough ; indeed, the right honorable member for East Sydney expressed that opinion, but suggested nothing stronger ; and what is wanted is a party strong enough and willing enough to do what is necessary. I do not stand for confiscation. I believe that present-day values, so far as they affect estates of reasonable size, should be allowed to stand until the States are in a position to purchase them, subject to the reservation that the right to fax shall remain, but not the right to tax out the annual return. As to large estates, we have reached a stage in our national history when we cannot afford even to wait for such a law to operate. So dire is our need for closer settlement - so great is the need to make provision for an increased population, so that we may retain possession of the continent - that we cannot afford to consider the interests of the individual in the matter of the ownership of big estates. We have rather to consider the welfare of the nation, and with that object in view must impose a tax on large estates which will make their retention by those who- allow them to remain in idleness - or who do not1 make them as reproductive as they ought to be - unprofitable. That may appear a harsh procedure to adopt, but how much harsher is the condition of affairs that permits 700 people to own half of New South Wales, and to keep the State impoverished, s.0 far as bone and sinew are concerned? In such circumstances we shall be faced with the danger of annexation, when the great nations of the world are at each others’ throats. We all hope that that day will never come, yer feel that it ultimately will. A good deal has been said as to the extreme features of our general platform. I am free to admit that it has some. Just as there are extreme Conservatives amongst the Government and their supporters, so wc have extreme Radicals on this side of the House. The right honorable member for East Sydney wis just in his reference to the differences between us in that regard. The extreme features of our general platform, however, cannot be brought into the realm of practical politics unless the people as a whole indorse them and return us in sufficient numbers to give effect to them. I see no possibility of our passing extreme legislation, even if we were desirous of doing so, since the proposal to impose only a nominal graduated land tax led to our party being at once thrown out of office. There is absolutely no danger from that point of view, but the fact that the ideals of certain men are embodied in our general platform is no detriment to it. The ideals of many good men are far beyond the bounds of present day possibility.
IF or instance, many good Christians, I understand, hope to tee a Heaven begun on earth, but whilst I have very little hope in that direction, I do not cavil at1 those who have, and have set down their view in black and white. When we come to our practical policy, which, in the interests of the people, should -be placed on the statute-book of the Commonwealth, we reach the- bed-rock of common sense. We advocate a policy which must commend itself to the common sense of the people, and lead to our being returned in sufficient numbers to give effect to it. I am not here to boast, but I hope that, should I be returned at the next general election, I shall find myself in this House in the company of so many men who think as I do, that we shall be in time to assist in saving Australia from disaster. I should like now to point out what, to my mind, are the main differences between our policy and that of the present Government in regard to the question of defence. To begin with, we find occupying the office of Minister of Defence an honorable gentleman, who, whatever his virtues may be, holds this record : That he has from the first denounced any attempt to make Australia self-efficient in the matter of defence. He has throughout spoken very slightingly of the efforts of the Labour party to form the nucleus of an Australian Navy. He has spoken of such a navy as a tinpot one, and has dealt sarcastically with our universal service proposals twitting us with the desire to save our own miserable skins, and to refuse to support any further contribution to the cost of the British Navy. An honorable member who looks askance at proposals to make Australia self-contained in the matter of defence, is not fit to occupy the position of Minister of Defence : he is not sufficiently heart and soul with the movement to render Australia capable of defending herself, to be trusted with that high office. If I thought otherwise of the honorable member, and of other members of the Government, I should not support this motion. But I think that the Government, having regard to its personnel, is not likely to endeavour to give effect to any of those high Australian ideals and noble sentiments which fall so freely from the lips of many honorable members. They are not sufficiently at one with the national sentiment of Australia to be trusted with its destiny. The Fisher Government actually proposed that the Imperial Naval Conference should be held.
– What is that?
– We find in the GovernorGeneral’s speech, the following statement : -
My Advisers sometime ago cabled to the British Government suggesting the advisability of a Conference of the self-governing Dominions of the Empire with the Government of the United Kingdom on the question of Naval Defence.
– After it had been decided that a Conference should take place in any event.
– The Fisher Government took the initiative.
– If they were not the first to think of it - I am not so bold as to say they were–
– They were the first.
– The last.
– They were, at all events, the first to take the steps necessary to consummate the proposal, just as they were the first to consummate all the talk that had taken place in this Parliament in regard to our naval defence. They were the first to give concrete form to the often expressed thoughts of such patriots as the Minister of Defence. They felt that there had been quite enough talk concerning these matters, and that it was high time that definite action was taken. They therefore took action almost immediately after coming into office to bring into being a Naval Conference, and to form the nucleus of an Australian Navy, by placing orders for the construction of the smaller craft which, on the highest authority, is best suited to defend our shores.
– Perhaps the honorable member does not know that the Prime Minister of England suggested the conference before the Fisher Government took action.
– The Fisher Government was the first to give tangible shape to the proposal. It is only, in consonance with that action that they should have been the first to give tangible shape to oft-repeated proposals made in this House in regard to the questions of Australian defence, land settlement and immigration. As soon as they took office they set to work to do something in this direction, and it was apparently because of that that the arm of the Liberal pary was nerved to strike a blow at them. They joined with the Conservative party, fearing that the Labour Government, if they remained in office, would do that which other Administrations had merely vapoured about. To complete the farce in regard to the attitude of the Government on the question of defence, the honorary Minister, the honorable member, for Brisbane, has been sent Home to voice Aus-, tralian sentiment at the Naval Conference. I fail to understand how the honorable member could be expected to voice Austraiian sentiment on essential matters.
– He is a native of Australia.
– So far as I have been able to ascertain, his sympathies have been in antagonism to any special development of Australian defence, and have; certainly been antagonistic to that treasured principle of .all true Australians - the White Australia policy. Yet that honorable member goes Home as expressing Austral ian opinion on these matters. He does no! express Australian opinion, and ti.e present Government dared not go to the people before they sent him Home. I believe that at the next election they will be convinced that he does not- represent Australian feeling, but at this stage I can only voice my protest. The difference between our administration on defence questions, and that of the present or former Governments, is that we proposed immediately to do things, while they have been, and are, apparently, quite content merely to talk about doing things.
– Ask the Minister of Defence if the honorable member for Brisbane was given written instructions.
– I should be rather pleased if he had written instructions, for it might save the situation a little. The right honorable member for East Sydney stated that it was only the question of State control as against individualism which separated our party from other parties, but that is by no means the only point of difference. The State control which we propose to institute is only that which will be rendered necessary by abuses ; that is all that we can hope for, although the benefits arising from it may lead subsequently to further State control. That, however, is a matter for the future. Our policy lays it down that we wish to nationalize monopolies, which we all know are pernicious. It is the invariable rule that advantage is taken of the position which any combination of human beings find themselves in to exploit the community. We are out to stop that, and we say an effective way to stop it is to nationalize any industry which has reached that stage. That, however, is not the only line of demarcation between us and other parties. In fact, so far has the State already gone in the direction of administering and controlling industries, even to the taking over of coal mines and running them in the interests of the people, that there are hardly two opinions about the advisability of State interference up to a certain point. Differences of opinion seem to occur only when an extension of the principle is proposed. The points of difference which separate us affect almost every proposition that is before the public, and not the least of them is that with regard to the relationship of the Commonwealth to the States. The speech from the Throne formulated by the Fisher Government announced that -
You will be invited to consider the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, with the view of ‘ equitably adjusting them.
The present Government on that head makes the following very different pronouncement -
Above all, the .approaching termination of the ten-year period for which the Constitution provides a distribution of the Customs revenue marks the close of a critical era, and suggests the pressing importance of this great financial problem.
A temporary arrangement for a term of years to replace the existing distribution, in which the obligations of the Commonwealth are recognised, is being prepared for submission.
The future financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth, taken together with their present and future loan obligations, are being carefully considered in principle and in detail, in order that a satisfactory and permanent settlement may be achieved.
More words ! Ever since Federation was initiated, Government after Government has talked in that way about the relationship between the States and the Commonwealth. The State Premiers and the Commonwealth authorities have met time and again, and the States have always maintained an unyielding front towards the Commonwealth, and declined to listen to reason. Even at the eleventh hour, after having a final meeting during the term of the Fisher Government, they would not come to reason, and the late Prime Minister ultimately said : ‘ Assuming that you do not agree upon something which i.s_ acceptable to us, I ana prepared, seeing that the power vests entirely in the Federal Parliament at the expiration of the ten-year period, to give you £5,000,000 a year for certain, and then., after the Commonwealth expenditure has been met, to divide the balance on a per capita basis.” That offer was merely an evidence of good-will towards the States, and the position was forced upon the late Prime Minister by the fact tha’t the States could not be brought to reason in regard to their financial relationship with the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding that the late Prime Minister issued that ultimatum to the States, and went out of his way to assure them that they would not’ be leftstranded, even if they did not come to terms, the present Government are attempting again to truckle to the States. In fact, they seem to be dominated by consideration more for the States and their financial welfare and interests than for the interests of the Commonwealth. It should not be so, and I’ can hardly think it is so. Indeed, I am prepared to believe that they think it will be better for Australia, in view of the fact that the Commonwealth Parliament is likely to be dominated by the Democratic element, to let as muchpower vest in the States as is possible under the Constitution. I honestly believe that a number of honorable members take up ‘that attitude. In fact, they are extending the principle of retaining all possible powers to the States when they propose to endow the Inter-State Commission with power £0 control a great deal of the industrial and commercial life of the community. In that again they show their fear of the Democratic element dominating this House, because they propose to place beyond the power of the ballot-box those who will have control of matters which vital lv affect the welfare of the Australian people. In the matter of the financial relationships of the Commonwealth and the States, I find that since Federation New South Wales has flourished at the expense of Federation, and that the plaintive cry of the State politicians is due rather to the fear that they will lose their own swords, than to any real apprehension that harm will be done to their particular States. They pray for the continuance of the prestige with which they are now invested as the rulers of the destinies of the States. I suppose that is a perfectly human feeling. The patriotism which sinks those natural impulses is rather rare, and so I shall not revile them. But I must deal with fact’s as they exist on this question, and seeing that the tenyear period under the Braddon clause has almost expired, and that the situation will be entirely in our hands when iti does expire, we should at this stage arrive at a sound decision] The people must choose to-day between their greatness as a nation and their integrity as States. We cannot maintain the States, at their present status, and build a nation at the same time. My personal view is that, instead of Federation, we should have had absolute unification, but we did not get it, and must make the best of what1 we have. Seeing that we have some power in the matter of finance, it behoves the ‘Commonwealth to exercise it to the fullest extent. I said that New South Wales had flourished since Federation at the expense of Federation, and to show that that is so, I may mention that there has been returned to that State by this Parliament something like ^3,000,000 every year since the Union was established. She has had an income of ^3,000,000 in excess of that which she received prior to Federation, and yet every penny of it has been expended, though we have relieved her of many heavy responsibilities. In addition, New South Wales has been one of the most constant borrowers in the Commonwealth. She has borrowed to such an extent that finally her applications for money have become unwelcome on the London market. Some time ago, it cost her £80,000 to float a loan of ^1,250,000. That loan was underwritten at 3 per cent, below par, and, of course the underwriters had to be paid for finding the money. The other day, New South Wales attempted to float a loan for ^3,000,000, but only .£800,000 of it was subscribed, with the result that the following comment appeared in the Financial News -
New South Wales has worn out ils welcome in the money market, and the fiasco should convey an unforgetable lesson.
New South Wales has continued this policy of borrowing, notwithstanding that since Federation she has received an income of 000,000 annually in excess of that which she formerly received. The economies promised at the inception of the Federation have not been practised. Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth the electors were assured that the cost of Federation would be more than set off by the economies which would be effected in State administration. This promise has not been fulfilled. It is true that education in New South Wales has been made free, but it must be borne in mind that the pupils of the State schools there are now required to pay for their books, slates, pencils, &c> and that the expenditure in this connexion represents a good deal more than they ‘ were previously called upon to pay in fees. The expenses of the State Government have not been diminished. There has not been that reduction in the number of State legislators that was promised, nor have the offices of the State Governors been abolished. In addition the Legislative Councils of the various States still remain in existence. All these economies were promised when Federation was in the air, and when certain gentlemen were anxious for “ a higher plane on which to play their more ambitious parts.” as Senator Millen once put it. In those days they were free and easy in their dispensations, but to-day, owing to the fact that Federation has not provided an exclusive field for these so-called superior individuals, they are loth to relieve the States of the powers which should be vested in the Commonwealth Government, if Federation is to be a success. At the forthcoming general elections the people will have to choose between the future of this country as a nation and the integrity of the States as such. The two cannot coexist as they have done. Seven sovereign powers in this country are utterly incom- ppatible with its progress, and the plainer the people, are told this truth the better will it be for them. Honorable members opposite are prone to favour the States as against the Commonwealth, because they fear the domination of Democracy.
– While the honorable member says that, his leader says quite the contrary.
– On this side of the chamber, we do not all think alike. We are not all hobbled and side-lined. A further evidence of the tendency on the part of the Government to represent only a section of the community is afforded by the prompt action of the Postmaster-General in remitting the telephone charges imposed by the late Government. I contend that those charges were eminently fair. It has been proved time and again that under the flat rate system, subscribers who pay only £9 a year for the use of their telephones are in the habit of making an extravagant number of calls. It has been demonstrated that the Post Office is put to great expense and trouble in meeting the exactions of these subscribers, and consequently the very feasible expedient of the toll system was applied to them. But they immediately got the ear of the PostmasterGeneral, and induced him to go back upon the toll system, notwithstanding that all the departmental officers had reported favorably upon it, that every detail had been inquired into by his predecessor, and that the system had been instituted in Sydney with scarcely a complaint. As a. matter of fact many merchants there admitted that it was a perfectly fair and equitable system,. Yet we find the Postmasterr General - ever prone to listen to the welltodo and turn a deaf ear to the indigent - immediately acceding to the request of the large users of the telephone. I recognise that most people are prone to listen to those who fill high places, whilst ignoring those who occupy low places. The Government is composed of Ministers who represent one class of the community exclusively - the ruling class. Only by the most strenuous efforts has Democracy been able to assert itself against the overwhelming influence of the ruling classes - those who dominate society.
– Does the honorable member admit that he represents only one class?
– I do not.
– Then cannot he credit other honorable members with representing more than one class?
– I judge honorable members opposite by their actions. I do not sav that I represent only one class, but I do’ say that I specially represent the class which’ for ages has been disinherited - the rank and file of the community, who are the backbone of the country. I lay it down as my political creed that the,nation which nourishes most human beings is the one which will succeed and will become great. The most insignificant member of the community has a claim for consideration. Universal suffrage recognises that principle. The man who despises any of his fellows “has unused faculties himself,” and is merely “in the infancy of thought,” and some honorable members opposite may fairly be grouped in that category. I do not say that they are not prepared to patronise those who do not belong to the same class as themselves. It has been only by patronage that the working classes have been pacified in the past. I repeat that I specially represent those classes, because they have been the under-dog so long, and because they require special representation. By specially representing them I believe that I am laying more securely than I should otherwise be doing the foundation of national greatness. But I am not prepared to penalize any one. I do not desire to have any injustice’done. All that I say is that our condition in regard to population, and as to our power to hold this country, is so dangerous at the present time that we shall have to penalize the holders of big estates, and that for their ultimate good. Otherwise I am prepared to treat with toleration and justice all classes of the community. I do not represent one class, at the expense of another. But I would oppose such invidious distinctions as have been made by the Postmaster-General. An equitable provision - admitted to be equitable by many of those affected by it - in regard’ to the telephone service has been revoked by the Postmaster-General, and the largest users of telephones, who should pay most for them, have been relieved of an obligation which they should bear. The ruling class hare once again demonstrated their Jove for their fellows, and the special consideration that is extended” to them by those in high positions. The land question I regard as vital. The attitude towards it of the present Government is alone sufficient to justify us in trying to force them to the country. Therefore, I shall always be ready to precipitate an election at the first opportunity. The Defence proposals of the Government are still in the air, although we have reached the stage in Federation when something concrete ought lo be demanded. We ought now to be in a position to take up a firm stand in regard to defence. This Government is not prepared to do so. The Fisher Government was. This Government is hesitating. The Fisher Government did not hesitate. The Minister of Defence is so fearful about, devising a. scheme for establishing an effective defence force in Australia that he endeavoured to induce Lord Roberts to come out and advise him. Lord Roberts, admirable man as he is, by the irony of fate replied that he was so busy endeavouring to induce people in the Home Land to follow Australia’s example that he could not come. We now have to wait until some other high authority comes to Aus- tralia and puts us on the right lines. We do not know how long it will be before that happens. I indict the Government on these counts. They are not grappling with the problems that concern the great masses of Australia. They have grappled only with a few things that concern the influential classes. They have left untouched the fundamental questions which must be effectively grappled with if we are to remain a White Australia and are to retain our identity as an Australian nationality. The White Australia policy is not even mentioned in the manifesto of the new Government. The Fisher Government laid it down in the Governor- General’s speech that - the question of the encouragement of white labour in the pearl-fishing industry is receiving attention.
The Fisher Government thought this to be of sufficient importance to make it part of their programme for the session. The condition of the pearl-shelling industry is a most important one, having regard to the fact that it affects issues that are close to the vitals of the White Australia policy. The people who are employed in it are thoroughly at home in our northern waters, and are quite familiar with them. In the event of hostilities they would be a most effective aid to any enemy. In my opinion, the pearl-fishing industry should be limited to Australians, or to white people whom we can trust. I freely admit that to carry out this policy would touch the vested interests of certain people who have money to lose. But surely we are not prepared to consider a few individuals who have money to lose when the nation has all to lose. It is on these grounds that I indict the present Government. I indict them for their apparent indifference to questions of vital importance, and their apparent consideration of certain sections of the community. I indict them for their disregard of great matters affecting the welfare and the destiny of Australia. I am, therefore, prepared to vote against them at every reasonable opportunity.
– I am really surprised at the action of the Opposition party on the present occasion, because it seems to me that, in view of their own defeat, and knowing that there is a majority of from twelve to fifteen against them, it is a waste of parliamentary time to have a three weeks’ discussion on a no-confidence motion.
– We want to see whether there is a majority of twelve or of fifteen in favour of the Government.
– We could have given the honorable member an answer to that question without the waste of so much valuable time. Parliament costs, roughly speaking, £150,000 a year for management. Having regard to the fact that we meet four days a week, the cost amounts to £750per day, while we are sitting. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Gwydir is very proud of having delivered a speech which costs the country £1,500 out of an annual expenditure of £150,000 - a speech that was not listened to by many, and which was certainly not enjoyed by those who had to listen to it. It has filled many pages of Hansard. I believe that our Hansard is the most expensive one in the world. I think it would be in the interests of the public if it were abolished, and part of its cost given as a subsidy to the newspapers to publish fuller reports of parliamentary proceedings.
– What they liked.
– No. The reports could be regulated by the head of the Hansard staff. The newspapers would be paid for publishing, say, a page a day; the speeches of honorable members would be reported, and our constituents would have an opportunity of knowing what was going on in the House. That, it seems to me, would be much better than that an honorable member should have the right, on payment of a small sum, to get a large number of copies of his . speech struck off and sent to his constituents, indirectly at the expense of the country, because, in many cases, the speech of an honorable member is a loss of public time.
– If that proposal is adopted, we shall obtain a majority at the next election,
– The present is a very cheap way to honorable members.
– It is a cheap way to them, but a very expensive way to the country. When relatives or partners quarrel, they generally become the bitterest enemies. Honorable members on the opposite side have virtually supported a number of the present Ministry for seven or eight years. For that period they were good friends of those honorable gentlemen, but now they are their bitterest enemies. Four members of the present Ministry, belonged to the Government which was supported by the Opposition. Only one member of the late Government passed to the Opposition side ; his late colleagues sit on this side, and support the present Ministry. It seems to me that the opposition of honorable members on the other side is more personal then political. If they could support four members of the late Ministry, and the policy of the present Ministry is practically on the same lines, I do not see any great reason for the strong opposition which is now shown, and especially for this motion of want of confidence.
– Then the combination on the other side is also a personal matter?
– I do not know that it is. We who sit in this corner have been abused right and left for doing exactly the same thing as the present Opposition did; and that is, supporting a Government. For many years, honorable members on the other side supported a Deakin Government, but we on this side are to be chastised and talked at because «e are doing exactly the same as they used to do. I am in the same position as the honorable member for East Sydney. I have had very pleasant relations with a number of the members of the Opposition ; they have always been most considerate to me, and some of them whom I know intimately I look upon as personal friends. I propose now to make a few suggestions. They may be novel, and may not be appreciated, but I trust that they will be considered. There is not the slightest doubt that Australia would be in a dangerous position if a European war arose. I suggest that we should endeavour to have the Monroe doctrine applied to the Pacific Ocean. The United States of America has two seaboards to defend, namely, the Atlantic Ocean, on the eastern side, and the Pacific Ocean, on the western side. Canada is in a similar position. What I suggest is that our Government should approach the United States and Canada, through the proper channel, .with a view to having a fleet of, say, thirty men-of-war purchased on the joint account of the three countries, and used simply for ‘the defence of the Pacific Ocean. The United States owns the Philippine Islands, Hawaii, and Samoa, all being valuable possessions in the Pacific Ocean. It is very expensive for that nation to maintain two large fleets, namely. one in the Atlantic Ocean, and the other in the Pacific Ocean. I believe that, if its Government were approached, they would entertain a proposal by which we could have a sufficient fleet belonging to the three countries stationed in the Pacific Ocean for defence purposes only. If the United States or Canada were attacked on its Pacific coast, the Australians would join in the defence of that coast, and if we were attacked we would ask those two countries to join in the defence of our coast. I believe that my suggestion is worthy of consideration. I do not anticipate that the British Government would offer any objection to a treaty being entered into by us on these lines. It would leave the Mother Country free to deal with any European power which attempted to attack her, and she would be under no necessity to keep a fleet in the Pacific Ocean. We alone are not strong enough to defend ourselves.
– That would involve an alliance between the United States and Great Britain.
– It would involve an alliance, but only as regards Australia and Canada. I feel that Canada is in no danger, because the Monroe doctrine would apply, and the United States would take good care to see that no foreign power set its foot on Canadian soil. We, however, are in greater danger, f think it is worth while to consider whether we cannot, by an alliance with .some power - of course, with the consent of the Mother Country - provide some means for .defending ourselves. Of course, we should be on equal terms with the other parties to the alliance, and should pay our full share of the cost and maintenance of the fleet. The United States fleet which called here had an opportunity to see that Australia is a rich and prosperous country. We are all descended from the same stock, and speak the same language. I believe that .our sympathies are very much alike, because we belong to the Anglo-Saxon race. I believe that, if mv suggestion were ma3e, the United States would not administer to us an ungenerous rebuff. I now propose to say a few words with regard to our finances. Prior to Federation, the total revenue of the States amounted to about £28.000,000, and at the present time it is nearly £35,000,000, showing an increase of over £6,000,000, notwithstanding the fact that the Commonwealth has taken over a number of Departments from them. For instance, the Commonwealth is now administering posts and telegraphs, defence, patents, meteorology, Customs and Excise, census and statistics, old-age pensions, and quarantine. It costs a very large sum to run these Departments, which, as we all know, are not profitbearing. When we come to deal with the question of the Braddon section of the Constitution, we shall have to consider the positron’ of the Commonwealth’ before we think of the position of the States. I am going to make a suggestion to the Government, because I am strongly oppose’d to it borrowing policy. It would be very easy for the Commonwealth to- borrow, but, in my opinion, it would be a very , bad: start to make. I will deal with that question rater.. The cost of running the Parliament and Government of the Commonwealth is about £350,000 a year. That amount is spent on the maintenance and administration of Departments which, if not transferred, the States would have had to carry on. Notwithstanding that fact, and that they have received an increased revenue of over £6,000,000, the States have spent the whole of that sum on other matters, without making any allowance to the Commonwealth for its expenditure on those Departments.I think that, when we deal with the question of the Braddon section, we should debit the States with the cost of oldage pensions. Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland would effect a saving, to the extent of the pensions previously paid in those States. The other States have not introduced the system of old-age pensions, but they all ought to pay their share of the Federal expenditure. To all intents and purposes, we have no sources of revenue outside Customs and. Excise. The suggested land tax is for the purpose of breaking up large estates, and, therefore, it would not be revenue producing, because the moment that large estates were broken up, the return from the tax would be of very Little value to. the Commonwealth. In making any readjustment after the expiration of the Braddon. section, the Government will, I think, have to consider first the Commonwealth expenditure, because the States have already ample powers of taxation, and revenues more than sufficient for all reasonable needs. Year after vent the larger States have had surpluses ranging from £500,000 to £1.000,000. A business man places anv surplus he may have to a reserve fund, but the Governments of the States when they have surpluses get rid of them by grants to municipalities, which could well tax the ratepayers to meet their requirements, and in other ways’. Instead of acting prudently in fat years’, they throw away their money, and put nothing aside for. lean years, or to reduce then liabilities. It is true that one year Victoria paid off £1,000,000 of debt; but this year she has had toborrow in London again. If our public finance is to be sound, we must follow the principles by which . business men are governed. The Commonwealth and the States receive in revenue about £40,000,000 . a year, or nearly 30 per cent. of the annual production of Australia. This is an- immense percentage to take for the purposes of Government. The country cannot well stand much increase in taxation. We have to prepare for the possibility of a war. In war time money goes like water. What we need, therefore, is a reserve fund, or a reserve source of taxation. If we take all we can get from the people in good years, we shall find it difficult to raise as much as £40,000,000 in badyears.
– Are the railway receipts included in the £40,000.000?
– They cannot fairly be regarded as revenue from taxation.
– They are deducted from. the. value of our production. In a good year the production, of Australia, is valued at £135.000,000.
– Were the railways in private hands, the honorable member would take no account of their earnings, in an argument of this sort. Why, then, should he do so, seeing that they are controlled , by the States?
– We have to pay a large sum in interest on our national debt, and the States, instead of trying to economize, are increasing expenditure by duplicating services. In many cases, after Departments have been transferred to the Commonwealth, the States have continued what are practically duplicate services. For instance, after the Commonwealth took control of quarantine, and placed Victoria’s Chief Health Officer at the head of it, the State appointed another health officer at the same salary, so that the total expenditure now is greater than it was.
– The system makes more billets.
– The Constitution gives us power to legislate only in respect to quarantine.
– I think that we could legislate in health matters as well.
Our Quarantine Act goes so far as to provide for the quarantining of. districts within the States, and to prevent cattle and stock from being moved from one district to another. If we cannot retain a sufficient share of the Customs and Excise duty, we should, to avoid borrowing, earmark certain sources of revenue, to provide for oldage pensions. The honorable member for Darwin seems to be the first who suggested the application of surplus revenue for oldage pensions. This he did in 1903. Our surplus revenue, however, is not sufficient’ to meet that expense. Parliament remitted the duty on tea, and the 5 per cent, duty on cotton goods, both of which were revenue producing.
– It did not remit a duty on tea; it refrained from imposing one.
– The Victorian Tariff imposed a duty on tea, and so did the first Federal Tariff, as introduced. Tea has not been any cheaper since the duty was removed.
– It is a little dearer.
– It came down in price upon the taking off of the duty.
– But its quality has been reduced by mixing ; nearly all the tea now sold is blended. The taking off of the 5 per cent, duty on cotton goods has not lowered their price. As a leading merchant told me recently, the sum represented by the duty now goes to . the importers. Any married man who asks his wife will find out that she pays as much. now for cotton goods as she did when there was a duty of 5 per cent, on them. The percentage was too small to make it possible to arrange a reduction in the price of cotton goods commensurate with the duty.
– One of the largest distributers in Melbourne assured me within the last few days that that is so.
– Would the honorable member advocate putting on the duty again ?
– I advocate putting it on, and earmarking it to provide for old-age pensions. It would be better for the Government to receive another £250,000 a year in revenue than to let the importers keep that money. I propose now to say a few words with regard to the Post Office expenditure. Since the Department was transferred to the Common wealth, its revenue has increased by £851,000, while its expenditure has increased by £927,000. That is not good business.
– Last year £350,000 was spent on works and buildings.
– It might be so.
– I advocated a duty on tea and kerosene for old-age pensions.
– I see no reason why we should not have a duty on kerosene as well as on cotton goods. It seems to me that there must be a leakage somewhere, when we find that the increase in the expenditure on the Post and Telegraph Department exceeds the increase in the revenue from that Department. I believe that the real trouble is* due to the fact! that in some of our Departments there is a want of business management. Canada some years ago was in exactly the same difficulty as Australia. The Canadian Post Office was a losing concern, until they put a business man in charge of it, and in a few years that man turned a losing Department into a paying one. We shall have to do the same thing in Australia before we can lick the Post and Telegraph Department into shape and make’ a revenue-producing Department of it. A department with an income of over £3,000,000 a year should be able to pay its way. We are told that it is necessary to borrow money to put it into shape, but I think it could be licked into shape without the borrowing of a single penny. I admit that we might have to postpone some services that are considered necessary. When the various post-offices were run by the States they gave greater satisfaction, and were run more cheaply than under Federation. That is something which I cannot understand.
– The honorable member’s statement is a- severe indictment of the party with which he is associated.
– I have no desire to indict anybody. I am trying to discover where the leakage occurs, and to offer some suggestions which may be considered of value. I have no wish to criticise unkindly anything that has been done. One would imagine that under the Federation the combination of the Postal Departments of the various States would have been attended by economy in working rather than by an increase of expenditure.
– The honorable member must have regard for the enormous development that has taken place within the last few years.
– Enormous development., took place under the State management of the Post Office Department. Our population has not increased to any great extent, and so far as I can see enormous development has taken place only in the expenditure on the Department.
– More conveniences are being asked for every day.
-^-1 was in charge of the Department in Victoria for a few years, and I found that the people wanted as many conveniences then as they want now. Extensions and greater facilities were always being asked for, and granted. There must be something wrong with the management when the unification of the State Postal Departments has led not to economy but to increased expenditure.
– Is if not a well-known fact that Governments make a mess of every business concern they try to run?
– We cannot help ourselves in this case. I see that in Victoria the banks propose to make a charge on business people for collecting postal notes and post-office orders. I think that that is very unfair. In my opinion, the banks are too greedy. According to the newspapers, I find that’ the banks expect to get a revenue of £14,000 per year from this charge for collection. I have calculated that it will not cost them more than £I,000 per year to collect postal notes and post office orders. I had a suggestion on my notes, but I find that I have been forestalled by the Age, that the Government should be represented in the clearing house. That would be a very simple way of dealing with the banks, if they will not take the trouble to send around to the various post offices and collect postal notes and post office orders. The new arrangement decided upon by the banks will mean, not only a charge of £14,000 upon their customers, but a great loss of revenue to the Government, .because people will adopt the practice of drawing cheques for five shillings and ten ‘ shillings for trades people instead of sending postal notes for small amounts, as they do now. The banks do not make a charge for collecting cheques, and why should they make a charge for collecting Government notes, which, I take it, are as good as cheques drawn on any bank. The banks, as honorable members are aware, charge every customer ten shillings per year for keeping his account, and surely the customers have a right to expect something in return. The least the banks can do is to collect postal notes and post office orders for them. I do not know whether honorable members are aware of the fact, but the account charge of ten shillings per year to every customer of a bank, brings in to the banks a revenue of something like £250,000 per year. One bank alone secures a revenue of nearly £80,000 per year in this way.
– That bank must have over 160,000 customers.
– That bank has 160,000 customers. I see no reason why the banks should be so greedy. Time after time when I have visited Sydney, I have had to pay exchange at the branch of the bank at which I, do business in Melbourne, on the notes of that bank. I understand that the banks propose to abolish the note exchange, and apparently they are going to make up the loss of -revenue by the proposed charge on the collection of postal notes. As the new proposals will affect the revenue, the Government should take some steps to prevent it being carried out, either by arranging with the clearing house or by giving the banks some intimation that they have gone far enough. I am going to make another suggestion to the Treasurer, and it deals with a matter in which the banks are interested also. We have to remit to England something like £8,500,000 a year, on which, as a rule, the States Governments have to pay exchange to the banks. The wool exported from this country is worth on an average £20,000,000 per year. That money has, of course, to be sent to Australia. Wool buyers come from England or the Continent with letters of credit on which they have to pay exchange in Australia. Why should not the Government sell in London their bills on Australia, get the exchange on these drafts, and have the money in London to meet the interest payments due there? The wool buyers could have the money here from the Government to pay for the wool purchased. By this means we should save the exchange now charged to the States.
– The honorable member means that the State Government’s should do this.
– No, I think that the Federal Government should do it for them. It is a common thing for the Indian Government to call for tenders in London for the purchase of their bills. Every month one may see in the financial newspapers advertisements calling for tenders for the purchase of Indian Council bills. The Indian Government make a considerable profit on their bills, and we could do exactly the same. I believe that the Federal Government could in the way I suggest make £60,000, and perhaps £100,000, per year. If we remit money we lose two months’ interest on it.
– Why do not the States Governments do this themselves?
– They could do it, but I wish the Federal Government to do it, and make the £60,000 per year. In cases of telegraphed transfers the profit would probably be £100,000. The other dayI sent £50,000 of a trust fund to England, and to telegraph it cost £500, or 1 per cent., and there is not the slightest reason why the Government should not make profits in the way I have suggested. All the wool, grain, and butter money has to come out by drafts or transfer, and we could at least save the exchange on £8, 500,000. If the States do not like to undertake the work, we could arrange it for them, and do it cheaper than it is done at present.
– We have to ship gold home, because it is wanted there.
– That is so.
– There should be an international gold clearing house.
– I have not got as far as that yet. But there is not the slightest doubt that what the Indian Government, do, the Australian Government can do, with gain to the people of the country.
– A good deal of the payments come out in the shape of goods.
– But we have to remit £8,500,000, whether the payments are in goldor goods, and we have to pay the exchange. I said before that I am not in favourof borrowing, and I do not think there is the slightest necessity for it, artless we become involved in war.. A fair agreement couldbe made with the States in connexion with the Customs revenue, and, with the money saved by the taking over of the Departaments, there should be ample surplus left for the States, after providing for all our own requirements. Australia owes something like £243,000,000.
– It is £253,000,000.
– There is a cer tain sum to the credit of sinking fundsj and, though I think the net amount is something like £245,000,000, I shall take the round figure of £250,000,000. How easy it would be for the Commonwealth , without any debt, to go into the market and borrow money ! A loan of £1,000,000 for the Post Office or some other work would be rushed, and the money would be so easily obtained that, before we knew where we were, the Commonwealth would probably owe £50,000,000. There is a desert railway arid a bush capital to be built, and the money that is got easily is spent easily. When anything is said about the indebtedness of the States, we are told, ‘ ‘ Look at the reproductive works we have : there are our railways, which are a fine asset.” But in Victoria, of a debt of £50,000,000 or £53,000,000, one-third of the expenditure is unproductive, and I expect the same proportion runs through the other States. Japan, with a population of 46,000,000 owes £218,000,000; but what are the people of that country doing ? They are taxing themselves in order to clear off that indebtedness in the next thirty years. The other night the honorable member for Darwin told us the indebtedness of the United States at one time.
– It was £800,000,000.
– That indebtedness has been worked off, and we should adopt a similar policy. Here we are, 4,000,000 people, with an indebtedness of £250,000,000 !
– And borrowing is going on every year !
– Quite so. Since 1901,. when Federation Was inaugurated, the indebtedness of Australia has been increased by £40,000,000. I am perfectly satisfied that if the Commonwealth once starts borrowing, we shall get the money so easily that we will very shortly owe £50,000,000, and I do not think a coutitiry with at population of 4,000,000 could stand an indebtedness of £300,000,000 Australia, is a. prosperous and rich country, but an. indebtedness- of that kind’ would spoil any country, however good, and if is possible to tax people- until they cannot pay more.
– Does riot the honorable member think that posterity should bear a share of the burden’?
– That has been the cry for years; poor old “ posterity “ has had£40,000,000 added to his burden during the. last eight years. It is only fair and right that we who get the benefit should pay something to the reduction of the debt. There is a limit to taxation ; and all countries that are heavily in debt become heavily taxed and un progressive. Therefore, I trust that the Government will ‘consider very seriously before they submit any proposal to borrow on behalf of the Commonwealth.
.- After a debate which has been so prolonged, and of such an exhaustive character, it is rather difficult to cover ground which has not already been traversed; but I shall try to find something that has not been said up to the present, and say it as effectively as I can. In the first place; I should like to refer to some of the remarks of the honorable member for Balaclava. It is remarkable to me that such an amount of nonsense, not to say “tommy-rot,” should be talked in reference to the cost of this Parliament and the speeches which are made in it by some honorable members ; and that nonsense is not merely talked here, but is also written in the press. It appears to me that it does not matter whether Parliament is sitting or not sitting, or whether members talk or are silent, the cost is practically the same. We must remember that the salaries of honorable members, like those of all the officers, messengers, and so forth, are paid from year end to year end.. The Hansard staff are. paid for, the. full year, so that theonly extra cost is that of printing. In my opinion, it does not matter whether members, make long speeches or short speeches ; Parliament will sit equally as long and practically the cost will be the same.
– What about using up the human, fibre of the Hansard staff ?
Mr.BAMFORD. - That I am sure, is amatter that does not interest the honorable member, unless he is speaking of his own fibre. However, I shall address myself to thehonorablemember for Robertson presently. The estimated cost of salaries in the Printing Office for the financial year 1908-9is£11,360, and when weadd contingencies such as paper,. . parchment, repairs to machinery, and so forth, we have a total of£17,991. This also includes the cost of all parliamentary papers; &c, in addition to Hansard. We must not forget that this Parliament sits more days during the week, and longer hours each day, than any other Parliament in the Commonwealth.
– Let us close earlier.
– The honorablemem ber, when he sat on this side, did his share of the talking, and took good care that we should not close earlier, though he has adopted a new attitude now.
– I am in favour of closing the sittings at 10 o’clock.
– The honorable member was not previously in favour of such course. We have also to take into consideration the circulation of Hansard. More copies of the Commonwealth Hansard go into my own State of Queensland alone than there are copies of the Victorian Hansard circulated in Victoria. The Federal Hansard circulates in all the States, and also in the United States of America, the United Kingdom,. Canada, and South Africa. It would appear, therefore, that honorable members who speak of the cost of Hansard, and of the Parliament generally, have not taken cognisance of the real facts of the case.
– Does the honorable member think that those who write the articles inquestion care what happens?
– Not. at all. Honorable members on this side of the House have been taxed with wasting the time of Parliament, and one honorable member was referred to yesterday as having made a magnificent effort in speaking for two days.I would remind honorable members that that, speech was an exception to the general rule. Long speeches have not been common on this side of the House, and, as a matter of fact, while fourteen, membersof theLabour party have addressed themselves to the motion now under consideration twelve honorable members on the Ministerial sidehave also spoken to it.
– Where, then is the “ stone- walling, ‘ ‘ ?
– Where is the “stonewall” that we are said ta be putting up? Before the debate closes the number of speeches by the Government andtheir supportens, will probably exceed the number from this side of the House-
Mr.DugaldThomson. - But what has thehonorablemembertosayastothetime that has been occupiedbymembersof his party in making these speeches?
– We have a position to maintain, whereas honorable members opposite are merely sneaking in defence.
– With them it is a case of the least said the better.
– A case of “least said soonest mended.”
– Yet the honorable member has accused our party of having spoken very freely
– The supporters of the Government have occupied nearly as much time as we have in addressing themselves to this question. The honorable member for Balaclava, who made some reference to the Monroe doctrine, has evidently not given due consideration to the question, otherwise he would know that although the whole continent of North and South America is governed by that doctrine, which provides that no foreign power shall have a footing in America, every State in North and South America spends on defence fa’r more than we do. Travelling due east from Sydney, the first port that we should reach on the other side is Valparaiso, and we find that Chili - our nearest neighbour in that direction - devotes about 20 per cent, of her total revenue to defence. The defence expenditure of Brazil is also very considerable. Any one of the South American Republics spends on defence four times as much as Australia does. Notwithstanding the protection of the Monroe doctrine, they find it necessary to do so. Had I intended to discuss’ this question, I should have brought with me some figures in my possession as to the exact amount that each State in South America spends upon defence.
– The defence expenditure of the Argentine is twice as much, as that of the Commonwealth.
– It spends at least four times as much of its revenue as Australia does in this direction. In speaking, of the revenue of Australia, I ha.ve in9 mind, not the revenue of the Commonwealth, but the revenue of Australia as a whole, which amounts to about £38,000,000. Of that sum we expend on defence about two and five-eighths or two and three-quarters per cent., whereas the smallest State in South America expends on defence about 10 per cent, of its revenue, or about four times as much as we do. The honorable member for Balaclava also made some observations in regard to the Postmaster-General’s Department, and appeared to lose sight of the fact that it is not in reality a losing concern. It would be paying its way were it not that it has to provide out of revenue for all new works. In pre-Federal days even the cost of erecting a telegraph pole or of repairing a telegraph station was provided for out of borrowed money. Generally speaking, it was the practice of the States to pay for all new works out of borrowed money, whereas under the Commonwealth the Department has to provide for them out of revenue. Then, again, many concessions have been granted by the Department since its transfer to the Commonwealth. In the first place, very considerable concessions have been granted to newspaper proprietors in regard to the carriage of newspapers and the press telegraph rates. The latter are something like 50 per cent, lower than they were prior to Federation. It must also be remembered that in at least one of the States, in view of the near approach of Federation, a reduction of 50 per cent, was made in the postal rates. That, at all events, was the reduction made in Victoria, and it may be said that it was owing, although not exactly due, to Federation.
– The Department has also become a carrying concern.
– It has. The parcels post system is a great boon to those who reside in rural districts, and there are other concessions that might be enumerated were it worth while doing so.
– There has been a very considerable reduction in the cost of the telegraph service to the general public.
– That is so. Prior to Federation it cost from 3s. to 4s.. to send a short telegram from Queensland to Victoria, whereas to-day the cost is only is. It cost even more to send such a telegram from Queensland to Western Australia, whilst 2s. was the lowest rate charged for a telegram from New South Wales to this Sta;eUnder the Commonwealth Act Inter-State telegrams cost only is. When we are- criticising the Department, we should not lose sight of these concessions ; the credit given to the management df the Department under the Commonwealth should be more generous than it is. I propose now to refer to one or two other matters that have been mentioned during the debate. The honorable member for Corio discovered one of those mare’s nests for which he is noted. He is in the habit of making wonderful discoveries, out of which he makes a good deal of capital, but investigation proves that there is nothing in them. In referring to the pledge signed by members of the Labour party, he endeavoured to show that if the majority of the members of the Labour party in the House were Free Traders, they might carry a Free Trade policy, although a majority of the House was in favour of Protection. Since the principle of the new Protection is now indorsed by our party, the honorable member was most illogical in his argument. A member of the Labour party is elected on the policy that he puts before his constituents, and if he favoured the policy of the new Protection, he would necessarily indorse the policy of the old Protection. The one is the natural corollary of the other ; without the old Protection the new Protection could not prevail. That being so, a member of the Labour party, since we favour the principle of the new Protection, would go before his constituents as a Protectionist, and consequently could not give Free Trade votes in the House.
– Some members of the Labour party have voted Free Trade in the House before to-day.
– I am speaking, not of the past, but of the present. The Labour party, as a party, did not adopt the policy or principle of Protection until the principle of the new Protection was brought forward. Now every member of the party, since he is a supporter of the new Protection policy, must be a Protectionist. The one must go with the other. I repeat, therefore, that the honorable member for Corio was quite illogical in his argument, because under present conditions no Free Trader could be returned as a Labour member. A Labour candidate would have, first of all, to espouse the Protectionist cause.” The honorable member also referred to the position taken up by the honorable member for Darwin, and Mr. Frank Anstey, M.L.A., of Victoria, in regard to the question of universal service. He declared that Mr. Anstey, who, like the honorable member for Darwin, is opposed to war, had declared on the public platform and elsewhere that he was opposed to a system of militarism, yet signed or would sign the Labour pledge and platform, which provides for universal compulsory training. But there is nothing illogical in that. I am just as strongly against war as is Mr. Anstey or the honorable member for Darwin. The latter was taxed by the honorable member for Corio with interjecting that war was legalized murder. What else is war? Any honorable member who knocked a man down with a tomahawk would be guilty of murder, but when he does it in the aggregate, when he is trained for the purpose, when army meets army, and they kill each other wholesale, it is still killing, but it is legalized by being done on a large scale. . Although I am strongly opposed to war, I am entirely in sympathy with the Labour platform in this respect. I am in favour of compulsory training, and of a defence policy which would not be the hybrid thing we have now, but would give us effective protection when the hour of need comes.
– If there is to be murder, the honorable member wants professional murderers and not amateurs to do it.
– I do not believe in the professional soldier, nor do I think a citizen soldiery can be classed as professional soldiers. It must be remembered that our policy would always be one of defence, not defiance. I want to train our men to defend themselves; their wives and families, and their homes, if the hour of need should arrive. That is altogether different from establishing a professional soldiery, which is very often an exploiting soldiery.
– What is the object of war”? Is it to kill men?
– I do not say that that is its object, but the killing of men becomes a necessity of war. I am as much opposed to war as any man can be, and believe, with Sherman, that “ war is hell.” Yet war appears to be inevitable. As a declared Socialist, believing that war is the greatest evil that ever cursed this earth, I still say that it seems to be inevitable, and will be so as long as there is a diversity of languages. Until we have one universal language, in which men can tell each other their thoughts and their aspirations, and can converse with each other upon matters affecting their daily life, because in all countries the daily life is much alike - until that time arrives, and it is still far distant, I am sure Ave shall have war. Another condition making for war is the existence of the yellow press, which foments it in the interests of gentlemen like those on the other side - the capitalists. Every war that has taken place yet has been fought in the interests of capitalism, and every war in the future will be. When, in time, but I am afraid not in my time, there is one universal language, men of all nations will be able to discuss their affairs without falling out. The honorable member for Darwin speaks lay ithe card when iie says . he is iojjposed to w.air, and yet . subscribes ‘.to a policy of defence which is absolutely ; necessary to this -country, as it hasibeen to every other country,
– Ialsoprefer to : be a’t peaceratherthan in pieces.
– The honorable mem, ber for Dalley ‘has gained . a reputation on the battlefield himself. I ‘believe ‘he has charged many a canteen, and at one time had the honour of ma’king ‘his superior officer a prisoner of war. It is an unfortunatenecessity ‘that we must prepare ourselvesto defend this country at a. date perapsnot far distant. Australia should spend agreat deal more than it is doing upon defence. The cost of the army and navy to ‘Great Britain at present is about £60,000,000per annum, or at the rate of nearly thirty shillings per head of its popu- lation. If we spent money at the same rate as does the Old Country, . upon which we are now relying for . our defence, we should,with a population of about four mill Lions, devote nearly £6,000,000 per annum to that purpose, instead o’f . the paltry million and a quarter which we are now spending, and which is totally inadequate to secure us . against the invasion which, I think, must come. . The honorable member for Robertson also discovered a mare’s nest when speaking the other day. He asked, ‘“How are you going to give protection to the worker, and to the consumer, and to the manufacturer, without making the article dearer, which would not. give protection -to the consumer?” The honorable member would not have spoken : in that wav if he ‘had given the question’ much consideration, because all those things might be done readily. ‘In the first irilace, -fhe consumer might have no more to pay ‘for his goods, the manufacturer might get equally as much as he is getting now, and at the same . time the worker, the actual producer, might get more wages and betterconditions of labour than now exist. The reason is that a protective duty in the first place . gives a manufacturer the Home market. ‘Having . that, and being protected against dumping from ‘foreign countries, heis able to sell his article at an actually cheaper rate.
– So dumping does not make . things cheaper?
Mr.BAMFORD. - Dumping does, for themoment,make themcheaper,butif the foreign trader is prevented from ‘dumping, the local manufacturer, commanding the Home . market, has a larger consuming public, and can, . therefore, sell his goods to themcheaper than if he had to contend with maaaufacturers outside.
– They would ‘be cheaperthan thedumped goods’?
Mr.BAMFORD. - They would be, because dumped goods ar.e only brought . in occasionally.
– Then why not Jet the dumped goods an iif they . are dearer, because nobodywilltake them.?
– The honorable member does . not grasp ‘the position. Evidently he does not desire to do so. That was one of the mare’s . nests -which he discovered, and which apparently gave -him temporary satisfaction. But when his contention is subjected to analysis, we find that there is nothing in it. ‘Whilst another ‘honorable member was spea’king, the honorable member made some -reference ‘to the question Of the marriage-fie. He -also spoke upon tKat question in ‘his ‘Own electorate, when -be quoted the opinions of -a ‘certain author. Surely ‘he ‘must ‘recognise ‘that -when he quotes a ‘passage tfrom -any source whatever., without giving it his ‘Contradiction, he indorses it’! If : he ‘were to iread a Libellous statement tfrom Hansard on any public platform without -denying its ; accur.acy. he knows perfectly well that he would render himself liable to an action for libel. I repeat that when !he . quotes a passage from an author upon any question, -unless : he contradicts lit, or declares his disbelief in iit, he indorses it. T think, therefore, h is playing the game low . down to publicly make a quotation of . the kind he ‘did. and then . to take refuge in the plea. ,:I did not say it. 1 merely -quoted it.”
-I have always given honorable members -opposite credit for ndt being as ‘extreme a:s is Morris.
– The honorable member is a political Cinquevalli. He would balance on a syllable and juggle with a quotation. He mustknow that ‘he is playing a most . unfair . game against the Labour party, when, from a. public platform, The says, in . effect, “ This is something which has been printed. The author says so and so,’’’ and does not add, “but I disbelieve it.”
– I told my hearers what William Morrisbelieved.
– A great deal has been said in reference to the pledge exacted by the Labour party from its candidates.
– I think that the honorable member desires to trade upon the marriage-tie question.
– I will give the honorable member more in reference to the marriage-tie presently, when I propose to read a report of some divorce proceedings in high society in Victoria.
– I do not believe in divorce.
– The honorable member for Corio quoted the pledge exacted by the Labour party from its. candidates. 1 wish to say that I adopted the Labour platform without any compulsion. Believing in it, I did not see why I should not sign it. That is a perfectly logical position for any man to take up. If he believes in a. thing, he should indorse his belief with his signature. No honorable member upon the other side of the House would accept the word of another honorable member opposite for anything. Would the honorable member for Robertson lend any honorable member upon the other side of the chamber a five-pound note without having his I.O.U. for it? Honorable members, when they are elected to this Parliament, stand at the side of the table, and not only call upon their Maker to witness that they will be loyal to the throne, and legislate in the interests of the Commonwealth to the best of their ability, but subscribe their names to that declaration. The highest official in the land in the person of the Chief Justice of the High Court, sits in Mr. Speaker’s chair, and will not accept the mere promise of any honorable member. He must have his signature. When the Minister of Home Affairs was sworn- in .only a few days ago, did he take an oath? Undoubtedly he did. So does every member of the Executive Council. The Governor-General would not accept the mere word of the Prime Minister, or of the Postmaster-General, or of any of his colleagues.
– In the House of Commons it is optional whether an honorable member subscribes to the oath.
– I do not know that it is optional.
– The honorable member should read Sir Henry Lucy on the subject.
– How can it be optional when ‘we remember the Bradlaugh case?
– Bradlaugh insisted upon making an affirmation.
– But he had to sign it. Here is the political Cinquevalli juggling again - this time with an oath. This is what the honorable member for Corio said-
– What does it matter, after all ?
– Then, why do honorable members opposite accuse members of the Labour party of being caucusbound, hide-bound, &c. ? 1
– I have never done so.
– I am not speaking of the honorable member personally.
– My experience is that the members of the Labour party change their opinions more frequently than do other honorable members in the House.
– Therefore, the pledge is the more necessary. At the same time, I do not think that any member of the Labour party can be accused of having broken the pledge which he gave to his constituents. One honorable member has relieved himself of the responsibility of following our party any further, but even he has not broken his pledge. The pledge which Labour candidates are required to sign, reads -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political organization, and if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour platform, and on all questions affecting the platform -
That is perfectly clear - to vote as a majority of the Parliamentary party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.
Is there anything in that pledge which any honest man cannot indorse? Apart from the platform to which every man voluntarily subscribes, I say that the members of the Labour party are freer than are other honorable members in this House. Why? Because honorable members opposite who have not signed any pledge, dare not oppose the influential journals which have put them where they are. Even the King himself is required to give a pledge at his Coronation. I hold in my hand a copy of David Syme, which contains some evidence that the right honorable member for East Sydney himself gave a pledge.
– Surely the honorable member does not believe all the statements contained in that book?
– This matter has been referred to in this House on more than one occasion, when the right honorable member for East Sydney has been present, and the statements which I am about to quote have never, been refuted.
– They are indorsed by the present leader of the honorable member for Franklin.
– The book contains a highly eulogistic preface by the Prime Minister. I propose to read a passage from this most interesting work. I dare say that the book is a household volume by this time, and that most honorable members opposite know it by heart. The author states -
Anxious to remain in office, Mr. Reid decided to make terms with the Age. He, therefore made a proposal in writing to Syme (see Chap. XVI.) for the appointment of a Royal Cornmission of five citizens, who should not be members of Parliament, but competent business men, and whose duty it should be to inquire into the working of the Tariff and its effect on Australian industries. Mr. Reid verbally pledged himself to Syme to nominate a Protectionist Chairman and other members to the proposed Commission, and to veto a certain number of names suggested by Mr. Reid, or his colleagues. He also undertook that the Commission should not be appointed until after Parliament rose, so as to give plenty of time for a full discussion for its Constitution, and that it should be supplied with every facility, when appointed, to perform its duties expeditiously.
– The honorable member must recollect that Ambrose Pratt, the author of that book, has a reputation as a romancer. He has written several novels.
– I wish the honorable member would not introduce “Rome” just now. I am going to discuss a matter relating to Rome later on. In any case, “ Rome “ can answer for herself. The book proceeds -
David Syme, believing the offer was made iona fide, accepted it. The event proved that he had miscalculated the Free Trade leader’s intentions. Mr. Reid, notwithstanding his promise, did not wait until the end of the session, but (during one of Syme’s temporary absences from Melbourne) appointed a Commission while Parliament was still sitting, and without submitting the names of its members for Syme’s approval. The Royal Commission thus constituted was (despite Mr. Reid’s written agreement with Syme) an unwieldy body of nine persons, all, save one, politicians and members of Parliament, and some Mr. Reid’s most attached political adherents.
– Does the honorable member really believe that?
– I do. The statements I have read have never been con,tradicted
– I never heard of that before.
– I thought we had all read this book.
– We have not read the letter referred to.
– No; that was up the Prime Minister’s sleeve. I believe that, if the statement in the book had been denied, it was the intention of the Prime Minister to produce that letter.
– He would not do it now.
– Oh, no; not- he !
– The “ boodliers “ have swallowed him.
– At that time the Age used to write leading articles against the idea of parliamentarians being on the Commission.
– That has nothing to do with ray point, which is this : The Age would not accept the verbal pledge of the right honorable member for East Sydney, but insisted on having his written pledge, as stated in this book. Why would not the Age take his word ? Why was the pledge necessary ? Because these people do not trust each other. Nevertheless, they find fault with our leaders, because we are called upon to pledge ourselves to support the platform which we have indorsed and have promised to carry out.
– Will the honorable member read the paragraph, further on in the book, where it is stated that Mr. Syme sent the head of the present Government up to Ballarat to give the Reid Government notice to quit?
– That has nothing to do with the point which I am now making. I have another interesting document before me.
– Has the honorable member the letter referred to in the book from which he has quoted?
– I have not.
– The honorable member should produce the letter.
– Here is another pledge. It consists of a “rule for elections, municipal and parliamentary,” and it states -
Lodges and individual members are not to pledge themselves to any party or candidate until the Institution 01 Lodge has officially, decided.
The inference is that, when the Lodge has officially decided, its members . must pledge themselves.
– What .is the honorable member quoting from?
– I am quoting from The Laws and Constitution of the Loyal Orange Institution of Tasmania.
– It is a yellow document, but the honorable member said, a little time ago, that he did not believe in the yellow press.
– My point is that we have here a political organization which demands from its adherents a pledge in this shape.
– It may assist the honorable member if I say that I have never signed a. pledge in my life, and was never asked to do so.
– Perhaps the members of- the institution referred to have more faith in the honorable member than other people have.
– They have not been disappointed in their faith.
– I think I have now shown conclusively that insistence upon a pledge is not singular to the Labour party. Almost every party, whether it be political or otherwise, demands a pledge from every person who is expected to act in accordance with certain principles which are laid down affecting the policy of the society or organization. Therefore, when honorable members tax us with being pledged they have to admit that we are simply taking a course which is justifiable and is by no means condemnatory of us. We have a right to do it. We are acting perfectly in conformity with our conscience when we subscribe to our party’s pledge, and we are doing nothing which is of ‘ a revolutionary or extraordinary character.
– It was Parnell who first demanded a pledge from his party, was it not?
– It was done long before Parnell’s time.
– The honorable member’s party got the idea from Parnell.
– Practically every member of Parliament in the Old Country gives pledges. Why should we be in a different position from other representatives of the people ? A good deal has been said about the land question. Some of the remarks which Have been made have been of a very forcible character. But there is still something to be said, and I have a few words to add. Honorable members opposite have condemned our land taxation policy, because they say that it is a matter which should be left to the States, and that we are infringing upon State rights by any attempt we make in this direction. Our object in proposing to tax the large estates is to make more land available for our own people, and for those who may come here from outside. For my own part, I must admit that the land taxation proposals of my party are not nearly as drastic as I think they ought to be. Our proposed exemption is too high, and our proposed tax, with a limit of 4d. in the £1, is much too low.
– ‘Would the honorable member raise the amount of the tax and lower the exemption?
– Yes, but still this is our policy now.
– Does the honorable member say that the exemption is too high ?
– Yes, and the proposed limit of taxation is too low. A tax of 4d. in the £1 is insufficient to cover some cases. The proposal of our party is for a graduated tax from id. in the £1 up to a limit of 4d.
– What does the honorable member say the exemption should be?
– I think that an exemption of £3,000 would be quite high enough.
– There should be no exemption at all.
– There are honorable members in this House who would have no exemption whatever. The honorable member for Lang, for instance, who comes here as a Single Taxer, is of that opinion.
– We have no exemption under our land tax in Tasmania, but we graduate pretty heavily. The tax is from Jd. to 2d. on the capital value of land, including all improvements.
– Our proposal does not include improvements. Our tax must be levied on the unimproved value.
– The honorable member will see that in Tasmania the land taxation would be very heavy?
– With the improvements it might! be heavy in many cases. I have not yet seen any proposal which has been made by any of the States. I do not know in what direction the proposal of the Premier of Victoria goes, but I feel quite certain that by the time it has got through the Legislative ‘Council it will have been so emasculated as to be worthless and ineffective.
– If a Federal land tax were imposed, would not the land taxation in the several States be very uneven?
– If both the Commonwealth and a State were to tax the land the taxation would be very uneven. If a Federal tax is imposed, I do not suppose that there would be a State tax, or if there were, it would be levied on estates below the value of the exemption fixed by the Commonwealth, For instance, all estates to the value of£5,000 would be taxable by the States, while all estates over that value would be taxable by the Com- mon wealth.
Mr.Fuller. - An estate would have to carry both Federal and State taxes. That is the trouble.
Mr.McWilliams. - That would be simply taking money from a State to give it to the Commonwealth.
– We do not desire to take any money from the States. We have frequently explained, both on the platform and in the press, that we do not advocate this land tax with a desire to get revenue for the Commonwealth. Our idea is to make the land taxation so heavy that the holders of large areas would be very ready to cut them up into small holdingsfor sale,thus enabling people ‘to settle on the land. It is advocated for economic purposes, and not for revenue purposes. If our policy were effective, it would yield no revenue to the Cornmonwealth, because immediately the value of a portion of land came within the exemption no revenue would be obtained therefrom.
– Do not the Labour party propose to pay the old-age pensions from the land tax revenue?
– No ; that, idea has been mooted here, but is not included in our platform. That is merely the view of individual members of the Labour party, who, of course, are equally entitled with honorable members on the other side to hold an opinion on this question.
– It has been so stated by the Leader of the Labour party.
– Very likely it has been, but I might’ inform the honorable member that in many cases the honorable member for Wide Bay does not lead me. There are many questions on which I dis agree with him. On questions outside the party platform my honorable friend will find just as much diversity of opinion on this side as he will find on his own side. We differ from each other concerning the working out of some questions which are included in the platform. We have each our own idea as to the best method to be adopted to bring about a certain result.’ Consequently we are not bound hardandfast by any rules which may be laid down by any member of the party. I propose to quote from a speech made at Bathurst a little while ago by Mr. McGowen, in order to show how the land policy of New South Wales is operating. The Government of that State has boasted a great deal that it has been able to settle a great many persons on the land under the closer settlement provisions of its law. Mr. McGowen points out that the settlement referred to is more nominal than actual. He cites a number of estates which were cut up and sold, and the amount of settlement resulting therefrom. He says -
Taking the first period from 1904 till 1907, when Mr. Ashton was Minister for Lands, the first estate to be cut up was Myall Creek. This was divided into 134 farms at a cost of £162,384, and’ the average cost to each farmer was£1,212.
Incidentally we are inviting persons in the Old Country to come here and talce up farms. How are persons who come here as assisted immigrants to take up a farm which would cost £1,212? That is an impossibility. Our policy in regard to land, like the policy of the States in regard to immigration, is an absolute farce. Mr. McGowen continues -
Then Gobbogumbalin was divided into 137 farms at a cost to the State of £236,110, the average cost to each settler being £1,723. Thus they saw the cost to the man on the land had gone up from £1,212 to £1,723. Marrar was put up into 45 farms at a cost to the State of £77,174, and the average - cost to each farmer was £1,715. In that period of Mr. Ashton’s policy 316 farms had been provided at a cost to the. State of £475,668, and an average cost to each settler of £1,505.
He mentions a number of other cases which I do not need to cite, because they all tend to show the enormous cost of each estate to the farmer, and how impossible it would be for a man without a. good deal of capital to -settle on any portion of it.
– How would the honorable member reduce the cost price of land in such cases?
– If a heavy tax were imposed, large owners would sell their land at a much lower price than they do now, in order to escape the tax. To my mind, large estates in New South Wales, and elsewhere, have been sold in portions at prices which were much beyond their real value. Every time the Government goes into the market as a purchaser of land the price of it is going up. Speaking on this question, Mr. Holman said -
Relating to that point, he had some illuminating figures to quote which dealt with some private subdivisions which had lately taken place in the vicinity of Goulburn. The whole estate of 17,700 acres was subdivided into 27 lots and sold by auction, and all with the exception of one lot was bought by adjoining holders. The total increase of settlement, therefore, was one. The Kestwick Estate, of about 30,000 acres, was subdivided into 17 lots, the whole of which were bought by four large adjoining holders - total net increase of settlement, nothing. The rich lands of an estate of about 8,000 acres were subdivided. Three outsiders bought lots here, but, on the other hand, 22 tenant farmers, who had been working the estate, were displaced - the net result, therefore, was that nine fewer families were on the land. The Pylarra Estate, of about 11,000 acres, was subdivided, and the whole bought by adjoining owners. Result, no increase of settlement.
– Order. I remind the honorable member that all this matter was read the other day by the honorable member for Gwydir.
– I beg your pardon, sir. I did not hear the whole of the honorable member’s speech, and therefore I was not aware that it had been used by him. The report goes on to show that the policy of the New South Wales Government has, instead of settling people on the land, driven people off it. It. has resulted in the aggregation of larger estates. A little while ago, I heard Mr, C. G. Wade, Premier of that State, make a pre-sessional speech, in which he disclosed the land policy of his Government. He said that in certain cases small townships were evidently being strangled by the accumulation of large estates in their neighbourhood. There was no room for expansion, and he said it was desirable that those estates should be thrown open. His method is to have such lands inspected. If suitable for agricultural or closer settlement”, they are to be valued ; and if, after valuation, the holders will not consent to sell within a reasonable time’ at the price fixed, the Government may step in and sell them. No scheme could be more indefinite than that. First, the Government is to value the land ; then, within a reasonable time, whatever that may mean, if the owner will not sell, the Government may sell at its own valuation. The valuation might be too low or too high, and there is no definition of the term “within a reasonable time.” To my mind, the scheme is perfunctory and unsatisfactory, yet it is policy of this kind that we are asked to indorse as the means of settling persons on the land. Moreover, this law, apparently, is intended to only affect lands in close proximity to towns. According to a statement published in the Age some time ago, when the Victorian Government approached Sir Rupert Clarke with a view to purchasing the estates at Keilor, Lancefield, and Sunbury, which contain 104,000 acres, and, for taxation purposes, are valued at £98,000, or a little less than £1 an acre, the price asked was ,£1,000,000, or about £IO an acre.
– Perhaps one was the unimproved “value and the other the improved value.
– That is not so. It seems to me that the system of valuing now in force is not calculated to promote settlement in Victoria or in any of the other States. I am sorry that the honorable member for Wimmera is not present, because I wish to direct attention to a very valuable work on the land question which has been issued by a member of the Victorian Parliament. It contains a number of interesting maps showing the result of the State land policy. The information has been carefully compiled from the records of the Lands Office, ‘and the writer makes it plain that in many shires population has decreased, rather than increased, notwithstanding the facilities given by State expenditure on railways and other public works. And, while the valu%e of private land has been increased by State expenditure/the holders do not pay more in taxation now than they did formerly. One map shows 28 shires, with an area of 3,046,000 acres. It is stated that in 1871 the population of these shires was 85,330. In 188 1 it had fallen to 75,206; in 1891, to 73,61.4; and, in 1901, to 72,001 - a de- ‘ crease of 13,000 in thirty years. Another map shows eight western shires, whose population in 1871 was 27,231, and in 1904, 29,152 - an increase of only 2,000 in thirty-three years. The most interesting map deals with the Wimmera district, which comprises thirteen counties, in eleven of which the population has declined, although in two there has been a slight increase. This falling off in population has taken place notwithstanding that railways have been made through that district, and that the country is so fertile that it is called the granary of Victoria, more wheat being produced there than ‘ in anysimilar area in the State. In view of these facts, I ask honorable members how can it be rightly contended that the policy of the States will settle people on the land, or improve the condition of those there now? The Age of 17th November, 1906, stated -
Each year there are fewer farmers left in the older settled districts of Victoria. In the Wimmera district, for instance, the area of the original selections was 320 acres, and a settler occupied nearly every block. At present the average farm in the Wimmera is probably over 1,000 acres, and the area of each individual holding is becoming larger, because in the majority of instances the transfer of the land from seller to buyer means that the latter is increasing the area he already holds.
Another map shows twenty-two shires containing 4,000 square miles. In that district the holders in the shires have decreased in ten years from 45,800 to 36,215. The same thing is happening in Tasmania and New South Wales. The number of holdings is decreasing, and their size increasing. One of the most important questions with which we have to deal is the provision of means of defence. But, as things are, we cannot do what should be done. Immigration, too, is intimately connected with . land settlement. The Commonwealth is spending a considerable sum in advertising the resources of Australia, and the States are doing the same, and this notwithstanding the fact that there are great numbers of unemployed everywhere throughout the continent. Every week I get the statement that there ‘ are hundreds of men in my constituency who cannot get work. Yet we are bringing ‘ out, at the taxpayers’ expense, immigrants, for whom there is no opening. It is scandalous that this should be allowed to continue. The time surely has come when if we are to have immigrants at all, we should make some provision for them. I am afraid that it is impossible to find work for them, but if we made our lands available to those who came here, we should be able to secure all the immigrants we want, without going to any expense to introduce them. I referred a little time ago to a matter on which I desire to say a few words. -A new political organization known as Orangeism has recently come to the front. For many years Orangeism has been considered as something sacred. Any attack made upon, and anything said in reference to it, was met with “ T am sacred, you must not touch me’.” It claimed a sanctity which it did not deserve, and which was accorded to it for reasons which I have been unable to ascertain. People spoke of Orangeism with bated breath. They seemed to hesitate to say anything in reference to it for fear of offending some individual or some section of the community. But from what was said by the honorable member for Dalley only a few days ago, it is clear that Orangeism has now come out into the open, as, what it always really was, a political organization of a Conservative character. The honorable member for Dalley claims for it a Radical tendency. But I say that neither its past history nor its present conduct will for a moment permit it to assume that character. I intend to quote the honorable member for Dalley to show that he has himself brought Orangeism into the arena as a political organization. Speaking a few days ago on this question, and referring to the Prime Minister, he said -
If, as some honorable members predict, he simply waits upon the honorable members in the Opposition corner and displays Conservative views, I shall not vote for him any longer. I am backing him now on his past experience, and on his avowal of radical principles, and a radical policy.
I wish to connect this with the programme issued by the party which the honorable member represents in this Chamber. I am sorry the honorable member for Dalley is not present to listen to what I have to say, but as I told him that I intended to speak on this question, I am relieved of any accusation of saying something in his absence which I should not have said if he were present. The honorable member went on to say -
The outside organization, to which some honorable members opposite have referred in terms of disgust, is the Orange Party of Australia.
I do not know that any honorable member has referred to the organization in terms of disgust. They may have referred to it in a way which was not palatable to the honorable member for Dalley, because, in my opinion, its tactics are not such as commend it to the favour of any person regardful of the peace of the community.
The honorable member for Dalley continued -
Let me say openly that I am a member of it, and I believe I took a fairly active part in the drafting of the platform of that gatty. They have come forward with a political platform, and are as keen in political warfare to day as are the Labour leagues of Australia. I wish to emphasize this, because the statement is made by the mouthpiece of this political organization. The honorable, member claimed for it a political character ; he does not claim for it anything pf a religious nature whatever. He plainly calls it a political organization. He went on to say -
These are matters which should be stripped of all disguise, and the party to which I refer make no pretence but come forward boldly as a political party.
I am glad that the organization has come forward as a political party. It is but ohe more to be added to the numerous organizations that are going to oppose the Labour party at the next election. No doubt it is very powerful, but I do not think that the Labour party fear it. We have fought it before, and will be able to tight it again. This society, instead of being a Radical organization, has always been most Conservative in its tendencies, and, notwithstanding what the honorable member for’ Dalley may say, it never has given, and never will give, a vote to any Radical member, or support a Radical policy. Its past history, which I am going to detail shortly, proves conclusively that it was born of a misconception, cradled in disloyalty, and nurtured on rampant Conservatism. It came into being in 1795, superseding an organization that was known as the “ Peep-o’-Day Boys.” At that time, its leaders and foremost men were Tory parliamentarians and Tory members of the British peerage. Nearly every Tory peer in the British Parliament at that time, and up to 1835, was a member of the organization; in fact, it then comprised very few others of notoriety. In .1795, the first lodge was formed at a place called the “ Diamond,” near Armagh. It succeeded, as I have said, an organization known as the “ Peep-o’-Day Boys,” and was sup-, ported solely by the Conservative party. All its adherents at that time were Conservatives. I have here the History of England during the Thirty Years’ Peace, in which Harriet Martineau devoted some attention to this organization. I have said that it was cradled in disloyalty, and I am going to prove it. Many members of this
House are Dissenters, or Non-conformists, and it is a singular thing that at one time Dissenters and Non-conformists were not permitted to become members of an Orange lodge. They were put on the same plana as Roman Catholics. This was because, at that time, the membership of dissenting churches was confined almost solely to the working classes, who were, therefore, considered to be Radical in their tendencies. In the work I have mentioned, Harriet Martineau says -
The institution excluded Roman Catholics and Dissenters, and included the most violent and unscrupulous of the Peers. It numbered 140,000 actual members in Great Britain and 175,000 in Ireland.
It is wonderful how history repeats itself. Harriet Martineau says here -
It expelled members who voted for Liberal candidates.
That is just what has been done by the organization recently in Australia, and quite recently also in England. The honorable member for Dalley talks about the Orange institution as a Radical institution, but a member of the organization who voted in England for Mr. Philip Snowden, the Labour member for Preston, was expelled by the Orange lodge to which he belonged. He went to law about his expulsion. I forget now what the result was, but I know that there was an appeal against the decision given, and I believe that finally the member in question was expelled from the lodge to which he belonged. We have had a similar case here at Geelong. It was referred to in this House by the honorable member for Corio. He explained that a man who had voted for him was expelled from his lodge, and although the honorable member was not a member of the Labour party, he had declared himself in favour of a Radical policy. Where is the honorable member for Corio now ?
– The Trades Hall Council expelled a. man who voted for me.
– I should like the honorable member to stand up in his place and say so.
– I say so now, openly.
– r should like the honorable member to tell us all the circumstances, because I take the statement with a grain of salt. The honorable member for Cook was expelled from his lodge because he gave his vote to a Labour candidate.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong, because the honorable member for Cook courted expulsion.
– That statement is not correct !
– I am not here to go into causes or particulars, but simply say that the honorable member was expelled, as others have been expelled, and that this is only history repeating itself.
– If I quoted the Irish leagues, would the honorable member accept their records as showing the policy of the Labour party?
– Certainly not; I am simply endeavouring to show that the claim that these Orange lodges have now a Radical tendency is not bAe-d on fact, but that they have ever been of a Tory character. In 1835 almost all the Tory peers were members ;’ and the organization came into force in England for the purpose of displacing King William IV., and keeping Queen Victoria from the throne. At that time the Duke of Cumberland, a brother of the King, was an aspirant for the throne, and was Grand Master of the combined Orange lodges. I have here a record of a. letter written by the Earl Grey to the King.
– There are members of the Orange organization in the Labour ranks now.
– That does not alter the facts I have stated. The letter is as follows : -
Downing-street, 19th June, 1832.
Earl Grey presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour of acknowledging your Majesty’s letter of yesterday with the accompanying enclosures. It cannot be necessary for Earl Grey to repeat to your Majesty his opinion as to the permanent establishment of such bodies as the Political Unions, nor of the unjustifiable character of much that has occurred both in speaking and writing in the course of their proceedings. These Unions, as your Majesty is aware, had their origin many months before your Majesty was pleased to call for the services of your present Ministers ; and meetings had taken place, more especially in July and August, T830, at which speeches, not less violent than any that have since appeared, had been made and published, yet nothing had been done to check their proceedings; nor did your Majesty’s present servants, on their introduction into your Majesty’s councils, find a single trace of any measure which had been in contemplation for such a purpose. Karl Grey begs leave also to remind your Majesty, not only that associations of a- similar description have existed in former times, which no law, when such an attempt has been made has been found sufficient to prevent, but that, both before and contemporaneously with the formation of these Unions, other clubs and societies, the organization of which would appear to be ‘ more inconsistent with the existing laws, had been established. Of this description are the Brunswick Clubs and Orange
Lodges, institutions both in their character and proceedings not less dangerous to the public peace, nor less, injurious to the authority of the Government than the Unions which the most active leaders in these societies are the most forward to denounce. The substance of what Earl Grey said in the House of Lords, in answer to the question put to him by the Marquess of Londonderry, is correctly stated in the letter addressed “to your Majesty by His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland. It is in truth no more than a simple expression of the -opinion which Earl Grey has more than once stated to your Majesty with reference to this subject. . . With respect to the reference made by the Duke of Cumberland to the proclamation issued towards the close of the last year, it cannot be necessary to remind your Majesty, that it was directed against ‘an attempt to convert the Unions into armed and disciplined bodies, under the pretext of preserving the public peace. This was undoubtedly illegal ; it was acknowledged to be so : the plan was abandoned ; and the object of the proclamation having been thus accomplished, nothing further was required with a view to the purpose for which it had been issued. That was the position the organization occupied at that time; it was actually trying to subvert the Government of England, and “bring about conditions favorable to itself and the Tory peers. The members were Conservatives to a man, and were incensed at the action of the King in sanctioning the Reform Bill and the Catholic Emancipation Bill ; and this induced them to try to place the Duke of Cumberland on the throne, and to keep Her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, for whom they have since declared the most sincere loyalty, from the succession.
– How does the honorable member account for Disraeli being an upholder of the institution?
– Because he was a Tory.
– Not in his young days
– There are recorded the names of a dozen Tory peers who occupied office in the lodges. The Marquis of Londonderry, who was a high official in the Order, succeeded in bringing the men employed in his quarries into the organization, which went so far as to try to create disaffection in the army, so that a .revolution might be created if opportunity arose. Lodges were formed not only amongst the troops in England and Ireland, but also in Malta, and in New South Wales and Van Dieman’ s Land. We are told -
The subject is establishing Orange clubs among the pitmen on the estates of the Marquess; and his Lordship’s agent and Colonel Fairman had already been consulting about it. Considering the “ popish Cabinet and democratical Ministry. . . .”
Although in conformity with the established religion, the Cabinet was considered Popish, because it had supported Catholic emancipation and the Reform Bill. This Colonel Fairman was Grand Secretary of the movement, and enjoyed the confidence of the Duke of Cumberland and the highest members of the Order. There was a. desire on the part of the Orangemen to secure a newspaper, and we are told : -
Another “ sound paper, as well as the Morning Post,” was wanted ; and the Age had previously been thought of - its “ scurrility “ and “ looseness of principle “ being admitted, but Lord Kenyon not admitting, “ as some do, that the private characters of public men ought to be considered sacred against all attack.” This newspaper, the Age, was at that precise date occupying itself, week by week, with exhibiting the personal infirmities and peculiarities of the Whig Ministers - the baldness, the lameness, the nervous twitchings, the short sightedness, and -so on. Lord Kenyon seems to have considered these things as belonging to private character - “not to be considered sacred against all at- < tack.”
Here I desire to digress to say that another Age is doing the same sort of thing here to-day. It adopts the mean, contemptible policy of holding up to public ridicule the little peccadillos of members of Parliament. If a member of this or any other Legislature in Australia is careless with his aspirates or occasionally makes mistakes in pronunciation, his offence is placarded to the whole Australian world. Even the little mannerisms of the honorable member for Echuca were made the subject of comment a. few days ago by this great newspaper, the Age. which affects to rule the destinies of this continent; and the way in which he stood with folded arms when he addressed himself to this question, was described. Such tactics are disgraceful ; but we find that after all it is merely a case of history repeating itself. The same practice was indulged in in 1835 by another newspaper of the same name. The writer of the work from which I have just been quoting, continues -
But the subject of the moralities of the Orange leaders is too large an one to be entered upon here. The gleanings which might be made from the evidence of the report -
I should explain that this part of the history of the movement is founded on a report of a Select Committee or a Royal Commission which was appointed to inquire into the question of the extent to which Orangeism was affecting the country - would afford material for a curious inquiry, into 4he theory of Christianity held by men whose toast (by the mouth of Lord Kenyon) was, “ Ours is the cause of all friends of Christianity,” and whose most Christian hope was of “ the arrival of a day of reckoning,” when certain “ hell-hounds “ would “ be called on to pay the full penalty of their cold-blooded tergiversations.”
There is a . great deal more on the same subject that I do not think it necessary to read. I simply wish to show that the Order is to-day what it was then. We have the Watchman, the official organ of Orangeism in Australia, adopting the policy that was followed in those days. Honorable members on this side, who are as truly Protestant as I am - and my father was a member of the Established Church of England, whilst my mother was descended from a family of Covenanters - have been opposed by Roman Catholics in New South Wales who have had the support of the Watchman. Why did they receive its support? Because their Roman Catholic opponents represented the capitalistic and Conservative section of the community. The honorable member for Calare and the honorable member for Darling were both opposed by Roman Catholics, who were placed upon the Watchman’s ticket, and received its support.
– That was not done in the case of the honorable member for Darling.
– I have his assurance that it was.
– -His opponent ran as an Orange candidate.
– J. C. L. Fitzpatrick was on their ticket for the electorate of Calare, although Mr. Thomas Brown, who was seeking re-election, is a local preacher.
– I find that Mr. Fitzpatrick opposed the honorable member for Calare, and that Mr. Acton opposed the honorable member for Darling.
– In my opinion, Mr. Fitzpatrick^ name should not have appeared on any ticket.
– The same attitude was taken up by the Watchman in the case of the contest in my own electorate. True, no one was placed upon its ticket at the last general election, but after the poll it congratulated the people of Townsville, which is in my electorate, upon having supported a gentleman who is one of the pillars of the Roman Catholic Church in that town.
– That shows that it is not bigoted.
– I have before me a copy of the Protestant Political Platform, which I do not hesitate to describe as a placard of platitudes. I should like the honorable member for Dalley, who introduced this subject, to point to one sentence in that platform which will bear a Radical interpretation. It is said that we change our policy, but we find that the Orange party have made a change in their programme. At the general election of 1906 they were strongly opposed to the Home Rule movement.
– The honorable member is now practically presenting a petition to do away with our Home Rule.
– No. I want more of it. The tenth plank in the platform of the Protestant political party in 1906 reads : “To oppose the granting of Home Rule for Ireland.” No such plank is to be found in the new platform. Honorable members may well ask, “Why?” The omission is certainly remarkable, and it is due to the fact that some honorable members who voted in favour of the motion for Home Rule passed by this House some years ago, are now members of, or are sitting behind, the Government. That Government, by the way, is receiving the support of the honorable member for Dalley.
– It is not an omission. The platform of 1906 contained a plank relating to a motion passed by this House about that time - a ‘motion that ought never to have been introduced. I asked the honorable member who had charge of it at the time to withdraw it, because I thought that it would cause trouble.
– I give the honorable member credit for being broader-minded than are those who framed this platform. True, he says that he had a hand in framing it, but we know that one man cannot do everything. We see to-day on the Government benches the honorable member for Robertson, the honorable member for Corio, the honorable member for Franklin, the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General, the Minister of External Affairs, . and others who voted for Home Rule.
– What is the matter with them?
– I am merely pointing out that these honorable members are now on the Government side of the House, and are receiving the support of a party which, in 1906, was opposed to Home Rule.
– The honorable member is making a mistake. The Orange party in Australia does not support a member on this side of the House any more than it supports a member of the Labour party. It is probable that Labour men will be on its ticket at the next election.
– Nothing of the kind. They are tied to the Liberal party.
– They are not.
– Order !
– In 1906, the Watchman, under the heading. “ Keep your eye on this list till election day comes round,” published a list of members of this Parliament who had voted for the Home Rule motion.
– The whole of the Labour party voted for that motion.
– And a great many others. The electors were asked by the Watchman to keep their eye upon them, and not to vote for them at the election which was then approaching. Now that many honorable members, whose names appeared in that list, are sitting on the Government side of the House, we find that this subject is dropped altogether so far as the Protestant political platform is concerned.
– The subject of Home Rule for Ireland ought never to have been introduced in this Parliament.
– It is a humanitarian question, and we had as much right to consider it as the framers of this platform had to introduce it into their programme. It was surely as worthy of being considered as the vindication from Continental criticism of the actions of British soldiers in South Africa, which this Parliament undertook, and to which the honorable member for Dalley made no objection. Home Rule deeply concerned our fellow-subjects elsewhere, and its concession would solidify the Empire. It should have no more consideration than any other platform. The grand master of New South Wales is reported to have said, at a public meeting a few days ago, that in the electorate of the honorable member for Nepean the question this time was to resolve itself into one of Protestantism versus Catholicism.
– That is because they are trying to run an Orange candidate.
– I think they are going to run the honorable member, but, in any case, that statement shows that it is their intention to make the question of the election, not a political one, such as fiscalism, land taxation, defence, or immigration, but one of Protestantism versus
Catholicism. The paper which I have quoted has always been opposed to the Labour party. What has been the experience of the honorable member for West Sydney? They put him on the ticket, but he asked to be taken off it, because he did not think it would be creditable to him to be fighting the battle under such a banner as that. The organization used, at one time, to call itself a religious body. It has stripped itself of that garment altogether, and comes out now as a political organization, as it is, and always was.
– It always was.
– Then why did it wrap itself in the cloak of religion? It professed to be a religious organization until the honorable member for Dalley brought the question up in the House, and stated that it was simply and solely a political institution. The; are going to raise a question which should not be raised in any election. When they talk of religion, they do so in such a manner that we cannot mistake their meaning. They evidently desire to be classed as an excessively religious section of the community. They wish to be thought Christlike in their tendencies, and to base their policy on Christian ethics, and yet they go about the. country, as they have done in my electorate, setting family against family, husband against wife, brother against brother, for no other purpose than to gain their’ own paltry ends. That is a contemptible thing to do, and no credit can be attached to those who bring such a question into the arena of politics.
– It is an un-Christian thing to do.
– It is undoubtedly most un-Christian, and I am sure the electors of the Commonwealth will rise to the occasion and show that, they are not going to take any heed of such a question as this. I believe the honorable member for Bourke is already raising it in his electorate, and the honorable member for Batman is raising it in his.
– I never spoke about it.
– In what way am I raising it?
– The honorable member knows in what way, and I know it, too. That, and nothing else, is what those honorable members are depending upon to bring them back into the House.
– I challenge the honorable member to show anything in support of his statement.
– The honorable member is very cunning, but we know what is going on behind the scenes in this State.
– The press published a statement by Mr. Snowball asking the electors not to forget Mr. Mauger -at the proper time.
- Mr. Snowball has been bringing this question very prominently before the people lately, and asking them on every occasion to vote, not for Protectionists’, although he is a Victorian, but for Orangemen.
– Has he’ not a right to do that?
– He has a perfect right to do it, but it is the wrong thing to do in a Christian community. The Rev. Mr. Dillon a few days ago said, at Inverell, New South Wales, that he had been offered the whole of his expenses if he would travel through New South Wales before the election, raising this question.
– By a member of the Federal Government?
– Yes; his statement was that he had been offered his expenses by a member of the Federal Ministry.
– He was referring to the late Federal Government.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that that would be the very last thing any member of the late Government would do. Perhaps the Minister of Defence, if he were here, might be able to enlighten us upon the matter. This question is one which I hesitated to speak upon, but when the honorable member for Dalley brought it up, I had no further hesitation.
– The honorable member for Dalley only replied to the honorable member for West Sydney, who brought it up on the Address-in-Reply.
– I do not recall that the honorable member for West Sydney brought it up, except as an illustration to show the tyranny exercised by this organization. So far as the political platform was concerned, I think the honorable member for Dalley was the first to mention it in this Chamber. One plank in the platform is “to oppose any form of Socialism in conflict with Christianity.” Socialism, as we promulgate it in this Parliament, is based upon Christianity. As the Minister of Defence is now present, I may, perhaps, be allowed to repeat what I said before - that the Rev. Mr. Dillon, speak-, ing at Inverell last Sunday, said that he had been offered the whole of his expenses by a member of the Federal Government to travel through New South Wales before the election to put forward the policy of Orangeism.
– I read that.
– Does the honorable member know anything about it, or who is the Minister that made the offer?
– Is that all the honorable member said before?
– I said the honorable member might be able to enlighten us on the matter.
– I see ; another cowardly innuendo.
– Does the honorable member deny it?
– I am tired of running down the innuendoes and lies that you people circulate. It is time to make some protest against this campaign of viI11.fication. I know nothing about Mr. Dillon or his statement.
– When a statement of that sort is made, either some member of the Federal Government has given that promise to Mr. Dillon, or Mr. Dillon has told an untruth. We naturally ask ourselves which member of the Government would be most likely to do that.
– Would not the best thing be to ask Mr. Dillon whether he is correctly reported or not?
– Oh, no; that would be elementary fairness.
– When honorable members opposite see members of the Labour party abused in the newspapers, do they pause to inquire, whether the newspaper statements are true? No. They say, “Here is what you said upon a certain occasion.” Did the honorable member for Robertson stop to inquire whether the views which he attributed to the Labour party were correct?
– Mr. Dillon is a very straight little man, and if the honorable member will write to him I am sure that he will tell him what member of the Ministry, if any, made the offer.
– I am not in the habit of making wagers, but I am game to wager that Mr. Dillon will not give the desired information.
– It is said that only fools make wagers, but I am willing to become a fool by wagering with the honorable member that Mr. -Dillon will supply the information.
– Honorable members opposite say that there are some forms of Socialism which are opposed to Christianity. Upon the whole, I believe that the Orange lodges are opposed to the Labour party. There are many liberal and broadminded members of the organization who will vote for the Labour party, but, as an institution, it is bitterly opposed to the Labour party. Under a rule which refers to elections, municipal and parliamentary, members of Orange lodges have no option but to vote as the lodge may decide. Talk about the Labour party being a political machine ! Why, it is nothing as compared with the bondage in which the members of the Orange organization are held. The rule in question reads : -
Lodges and individual members are not to pledge themselves to any party or candidate until the institution or lodge has officially decided.
I should like to know whether that ties down a member of a lodge ?
The names of all candidates desiring the vote of the institution, or of any candidate the brethren may think worthy of the vote, shall be forwarded to the. Grand Master, or, in his absence, to the Grand Committee, who shall make inquiries as to their fitness and the probability of their success, and shall obtain from them pledges as to their conduct on questions affecting the welfare of the institution and the objects of its existence. He shall then forward the result of his inquiries with his recommendations to the different lodges of the electoral districts interested.
– That is not so.
– I am quoting from the rules of the L.O.L., Tasmania.
– That has nothing to do with the organization on the mainland.
– The rules continue-
Consequently if a member of the Orange lodge does not vote for the candidate selected by the lodge, he must not vote at all.
– He is simply supposed, as a man of honour, not to vote against the selected candidate.
– I almost think that that is opposed to the law of the country.
– The rules continue-
– How can the lodge tell the way in which . its members vote at the ballot-box?
– I do not know. It certainly was able to tell in the cases of the honorable member for Corio and the honorable member for Cook. It was also able to tell in the case of Philip Snowden in England. No doubt if a man were so injudicious as ro express his opinion in favour of a candidate other than the one selected by the lodge, his action would be regarded as tantamount to a violation of the rules of the lodge.
– But some electors’ promise to vote for a candidate, and then vote against him.
– We have all had experience of that.
– In what year was. that document printed?
– It is not very old.
– It looks pretty “frayed.”
– The man to whom it belonged thought a great deal of it, and, as a result, like some Testaments which we see, it is very much thumbed. I believe that he knows every one of these rules by. heart. But I have here a later document, which is dated 7th January, 1906.
– To what State does it apply ?
– New South Wales.
– Quote it.
– I may quote it in its entirety, because it will be very interesting to have it on record in Hansard. I should like to ask the honorable member for Dalley whether it is not correct to say that a member of any Orange lodge is really bound in honour to vote for the candidate who is selected by the Order? The honorable member is silent.
– Silence gives consent.
– An ominous silence.
– The honorable member for Coolgardie is very insulting. I have already said that when a man takes part in the selection of a candidate, he is supposed, as a man of honour, to abide by the choice. ‘
– He is bound in any case.
– No, he is not. There is no affirmation to That effect at all.
– Though I admit that there are members of the Orange lodges who vote for Labour candidates, they do so because of individual preference or personal attachment, or belief in some plank of the Labour platform. But the Orange organization as a whole is opposed to the Labour party.
– It is an anti-Labour institution.
– Undoubtedly it is.
– No doubt, ever since it booted out the honorable member for Cook !
– The honorable member for Dalley says that he is a Radical. But the fact that he is not is proved by his support of the present Government.In regard to the Socialism which our Labour party and the English Labour party have adopted, I should like to read a few extracts from a little pamphlet called Christianity and Socialism; Opinions of Leading Clergymen. It is written in support of the policy of the English Socialists. Dr. Benson, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury,, said : -
It is the duty of the Ministry (and if of the clergy then a fortiori of the laity) to take up problems of poverty4 not barely as individual kindnesses, but with a knowledge of the subject, and therefore with a pursuance of it as a study.
– Every party does that.
– Does the honorable member .for Fawkner, for instance, study social questions in that spirit?
– Yes, and it is a cruel insinuation to .infer that he does not.
– Does the Employers’ Federation with which the honorable member is connected do it?
– The honorable member for Fawkner said the other day that the employers paid the wages of all the men they employed, and found the money themselves.
– I wonder whether the honorable member for Fawkner recollects the case of a man named Scott in his own electorate who was, I understand, employed by a member of the Employers’ Federation, and who was working for the miserable pittance of 17s. 6d., a week, out of which he had to keep a wife and two children. The landlord came regularly for his rent of about 6s. a week. In desperation, this man killed the three members of his family, and then threw himeslf under a locomotive.
– Is the honorable mfmber sure that the man was connected’ with the Federation?
– I believe the employer was.
– Does the honorable member intend to lay the whole of the social evil at the door of the employers?
– Yes, certainly ; most of it. But let me proceed with these quotations. The Archbishop of York, preaching to the assembled Bishops in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, at the closing service of the Anglican Conference, said : -
Wealth was never greater, poverty was never more stark or grinding. Westward there are streets and squares of palaces, charged to the full with every contrivance of luxury, such as no medieval queen would ever have dreamt of. The terrible evil is this, that our present progress, aggravates both extremes, doubling the pile of the rich and halving the wages of an increasing number of the poor.
– The honorable member is quoting things that will be subscribed to bv members of every party.
– I am not. Show me the plank in the platform of the Orange party that aims at bettering the condition of the working classes. Where is there one sentence in it which aims to give relief to the suffering masses?
– Is the White Australia policy mentioned in it?
– No, it is not.
– The White Australia poliosis the accomplished policy of Australia today.
– That policy is not accomplished by any means. I can point to instances in my own electorate in which the most powerful monopoly in Australia, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in its desire to crush more gold out of its workpeople, employs coloured labour in its mills. Even on the tramways which are under the control of the company the maintenance men are either Japanese or Chinese. Although the company pretends to be loyal to the White Australia policy, it is not so at all. The fact that the company is employing these coloured men proves conclusively that the White Australia policy is far from being an accomplished fact. We shall have to fight very hard indeed in this Parliament and elsewhere to maintain that policy, which is in continual danger.
– If the Labour party were wiped out, black labour would soon be back again.
– It was so stated at the conference of the Australian Women’s National League, in Melbourne, some months ago.
– Yes, and it will be interesting to know what the ladies who are to attend the conference in Brisbane will have to say upon the subject. We know what .they would say if they had the courage of their opinions.
– Only a few days ago Sir Rupert Clarke said that Asiatics were wanted to work in Papua.
– Yes. and the reason for that is that under the regulations made by authority of this Parliament a fair rate of wage has to be paid to the natives of Papua.
– Does the honorable member say that £6 per annum is a fair wage?
– No, but it is more than the employers want to pay.
– The Australian miners get all they can out of the natives of Papua.
– I admit that the are getting too much out of the natives. Dr. Mercer, Bishop of Tasmania, has said -
The Socialistic movement had in it elements that were distinctly on the side of virtue and good, and was largely cultivating the. spirit of sincerity between man and man - a spirit of true dealing one with another. Christianity is bound to treat every one born into the world as potentially a son of God - as one of God’s free men. This implies that we should so order our social organization as to aim at giving, definitely and whole-heartedly, and with wisest use of opportunity., to every human, being an equal chance to live, to enjoy, to love, and to develop. Socialism’s ideal was to lift the burden from the poor. Socialism had its mistakes, its failures, its impassioned utterances, but at bottom it was a movement on behalf of raising the standard of human life.
On another occasion Dr. Mercer made a statement on “Socialism and the Marriage Tie.” Honorable members on the other side have had so much to say about the marriage tie that I feel quite sure that the following quotation will interest them -
Socialists were being made the victims of a movement that unhappily was spreading through society. He publicly rebuked any politician, who, merely to gain a political end, and to get a stick to thrash a political opponent with, accused that opponent of wishing to undermine family life, or to tamper with religion, when, in reality, thousands of his own class had gone much further than any respectable member of the labouring class in the community.
I could also quote the Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Bishop of Stepney, Cardinal Moran, the Dean of Winchester, the Guild of St. Matthew, Lambeth Conference Committee, the Rev. W.I. Carr’ Smith, the Rev. A. R. Edgar, the Rev. Dr. Strong, the Rev. D. Daley, the Rev. Edward Harris, the Rev. Dr.
Hird, the Rev. Percv Dearmer-
– Read all that they said !
– I like to oblige honorable members, but it would take too long to do that. For the information of the honorable member for Dalley, however, I will read what Cardinal Moran said on the attitude of his Church towards Australian Democracy and Socialism -
He thought he did not tread on any one’s political principles when he said that a spirit of genuine democracy appeared to animate the whole of the Australian people. . . . The Pope commended democracy in all its legitimate aims; but, at the same time, he condemned in the fullest way, just as every sensible man condemned, what was known as Continental Socialism. . . . When men said that these decrees of the Holy Father condemning Socialism referred to our Australian democracy, they did not know what they were talking about.
The honorable member for Nepean and another honorable member interjected.-, as I understood, though I may have misunderstood them, that the Socialism which we advocate is the same as Continental Socialism.’
– I would not say such a thing. What I said was that that plank in the Orange platform was made against the introduction of Continental Socialism - any Socialism which was adverse to Christianity.
– During the general election the honorable member was reported as having said something like that.
– This platform is aimed at the Labour party, and consequently the desire is to connect us with a certain form of Socialism. The Socialism which we advocate is commended and supported by such men of light and leading as those whose names I have quoted.
– According to the quotations which the honorable member read, the gentlemen do not support the system, but say that the ideals are high.
– Possibly we are not working exactly in the right direction to realize our ideals, but we are doing the best we can in that direction, and a great deal more, I maintain, than is being done by honorable members on the other side. This issue is merely raised to divide the people. My advice to the workers is not to be guided by this Protestant platform or its adherents or its exponents. During any industrial struggle, we find the employers, Protestant and . Roman Catholic alike, standing shoulder to shoulder, in defence of their interests. So I advise the workers not to be divided by anything which may be stated by the press, who are putting this platform before the country and seeking votes therefor. I advise the workers not to be led astray by a man who goes round and says, “ Mr. Brown is a black knight Orangeman,” or “ Mr. Smith is a Jesuit,” or “Mr. Jones is a Roman Catholic,” in order to divide them, but to battle for their own interests.
– That is not done, but the honorable member has a very vivid imagination.
– The honorable member is inaccurate. It has been done in my electorate; in fact, it. has been done in every electorate in Australia.
– Trie honorable member must be speaking out of a full experience.
– I have had a very full experience in that regard. I know, that everything which can be done to bring about our defeat is done. No matter how contemptible, low, or mean the method may be, it is employed for the purpose of defeating us. The press is instrumental in doing that, too. «
– And my honorable friends always treat their opponents with scrupulous fairness?
– I do not” accuse honorable members of resorting to that sort of thing, but it is done in their interests at every election.
– The honorable member would be sorry to take the responsibility for the actions of all his supporters.
– I would. I am not condemning honorable members because this thing is done - and it is monstrous that it should be done - I am. condemning not so much the platform of the Orangemen as the Watchman, which is their official organ, and which is doing its utmost to divide the people, to set house against house, family against family, relative against relative.
– Does the honorable member ever read the Catholic Press for a change, and see how they talk?
– Yes. The other day I went to a shop near my residence, and asked the news agent, “Have you a copy of the Watchman?” When she replied. “Yes,” I bought a copy, and then said, “Now, please, I want the Catholic Press, as a sort of antidote.” I secured a copy of that newspaper, and the lady who served me almost fell down from the shock of seeing a man take the two newspapers out of the shop without being struck down by lightning. No one should hesitate for a. moment to condemn such practices as are adopted bv the Orange organization. The are unfair, un-Christian, mean, contemptible. No epithet is too strong to employ in condemnation’ of its policy.
– In an article headed “ Striking the Hour,” published in the
Watchman of 22nd April, this statement appears -
In the struggle for religious liberty and the Protestant faith it is imperative that Protestants of every denomination and every political faith stand side by side. The Protestant political party has been inaugurated in Australia to secure, as far as possible, that happy consummation. The declaration of the new platform marks an epoch in the Protestant national life of the Commonwealth. It is a rallying cry alike to all the scattered and organized forces of Protestantism. It is an intimation to the enemies of the Protestant religion that the hour has struck, and that from to-day, as one speaker expressed it at the Grand Council dinner in Melbourne,, the Orange institution and their powerful1 Protestant allies walk into the arena of politics as a distinct political organization resolved toassert and defend at all costs the great principles of loyalty, patriotism, civil and religous liberty. Nothing is to be gained by ignoring the fact that the new policy will involve a long and bitter warfare, a struggle for supremacy against sinister foes, which will test every ounce of endurance, loyalty, and mon courage. Press, politicians, and priests will fight the new organization with every weapon at their command, scrupulous and unscrupulous, but there is no need to fear the issue.
Although it is there stated that the press will array itself against the organization, let me show that the Argus, in its issue of 15th April, indorsed the policy of the institution in these words -
Any effort at political organization which has for its aim the furtherance of sound and progressive principles of government is entitled! to be viewed with sympathy, and for that reason the proceedings of the Grand Council of Orangemen now sitting in Melbourne will be attentively watched. Theirs is a numerous organization, with very widespread influence, and an intimation that they propose now to connect it more definitely than ever before with a political propaganda’ arouses, in the first place, curiosity, and, in the second place, a sincere hope that prudence will direct their counsels, so that what might be a healthy movement will not be imperilled by reaching for more than can possibly be grasped
– That was written before the platform was published.
– The -Argus, the rocognised mouthpiece of the Conservatives of this State, gave the organization its support before its platform was published. That in itself supports my arguments, and shows that the organization is far from a Radical one. To continue my quotation -
We note, with satisfaction, that in the vigorous and weighty speeches delivered at the dinner on Tuesday night there was nothing saidthat need cause disquietude. The speakers are to be complimented on their moderation. Nearly all the utterances heard were marked? by some breadth of view as regards the political subject touched on, and the general tone and temper displayed lead us to conclude that the Orangemen are unlikely to repeat any tactical mistake such as that made, for example, at the last Senate election.
The article continues -
It is not conflict, but unity of ideal and endeavour, which the organization should seek to promote. Narrow sectional purposes would not harmonize with so wide a Federalism as the members of the Orange societies, in conjunction with others, ought to endeavour to promote. Labour Government, having been tried twice in the Commonwealth, has been confessedly a failure -
Has an opportunity been given to ascertain whether the policy of the Labour party is accepted by the people of Australia? The fact that after each election the Labour party is stronger shows that our policy is winning acceptance. The strength of the party will continue to increase, despite these sinister influences - a failure - the reason being that it is disastrous to the nation to intrust the general governing power to a party which admits that it has eyes for one set of interests only.
For what set of interests has this organization eyes? The article continues -
In this connexion we may notice and emphasize a statement made by Mr. Mauger, M.H.R. “ He did not hold that the members of the Labour party were the only people entitled to represent the workers.” The progress of the workers cannot be dissociated, as their political leaders tried to dissociate it from the progress of the community. The prosperit’v and comfort of the wage-earner will be insured, not by attempts to injure or destroy all the interests with which he is economically in co-operation, but by vigorous national government which benefits all classes impartially. What platform the organization will frame cannot as yet be prophesied, nor ought its possible elements to be criticised in advance. It must be suggested, however, that the Conference will be wise if it determines to keep the basis of union broad, and, therefore, refrains from filling its programme with much detail. Too detailed a list of political proposals would not only contain many unnecessary things; it would also furnish dangerous causes of strife. The primary aim of the organization should be to strengthen leadership in Federal politics ; and by giving new strength and courage to the leaders pave a broad road to that unity of purpose which has been so sadly lacking in Federal affairs. An appreciation of Australia’s proper relations with Britain, and the Empire, also of the constitutional relations between the States and the Commonwealth, is bound to be made apparent when the delegates define their common meeting-ground. In this way they will arrive at harmony instead of discord. Further, we are confident that the consultants will keep a really national objective before their eyes, and in’ their attack upon sectional denomination in the form in which we have seen it ambitiously attempted hitherto they will not attempt to replace one wrong by another. Experience in previous electioneering has shown that to oppose narrow purposes with other narrow purposes leads to the failure of Federal hopes, and genuinely national candidates. If, through the efforts of this strong organization, Australia is helped in its ambition to establish a really stable and representative Government, then this week’s Conference will have made history in earnest.
I suppose that by a stable Government is meant the present Ministry, which is hanging on to office by its eyelids -
A good citizen, whether an Orangeman or not, must approve the desire of Orangemen to use their power so that sectional authority may be deposed and in a national Federal party the vitality and energy of Australian politics may be renewed.
The honorable member for Nepean has challenged a statement made by me as to what is to be the issue fought in his electorate at the next campaign. Let me, in support of what I have said read an extract from the Watchman of 18th February, 1909, ‘which has as its cross heading the words, “ The Sectarian Issue.” It is to be noted that the issue is deliberately branded as, not a fiscal or any other polical issue, but the sectarian issue -
The Chairman, in introducing Bro. Bowden, M.P., said that he was acquainted with the district that gentleman represented, and he knew that at the next election the fight would be Catholic v. Protestant. He (Bro. Cullam) had endeavoured to sow some seed in that district. It would be their bounden duty to see that Bro. Bowden got back into Parliament at the next election.
Could anything be stronger than that ? This gentleman admitted that he had already sown some of the seeds of sectarianism in the electorate of the honorable member for Nepean. There was no reference to the fiscal question, the White Australia policy, the nationalization of monopolies, land taxation, immigration, or anything else of that character, but it is openly admitted that it was on the sectarian issue that this man had gone out to sow seed. The “ Chairman “ referred to was the Right Worshipful Grand Master of the Oransre Lodge in New South Wales, Bro. W. E. Cullam. Perhaps the honorable member for Nepean will not, after that quotation, dispute the authenticity of what I said a little time ago.
– Who first raised the sectarian issue in Australia?
– Captain Cook.
– He certainly, brought it here.
– I do not think that he did, though I suspect that a Cook had something to do with it. I fear that in this, as in many other cases, too many Cooks will spoil the political broth. The honorable member for Echuca has asked who first raised the sectarian issue, and I can tell him that it was first raised on the ist of July,
– I asked who first raised it in Australia?
– The honorable member is scarcely old enough, or I should at once attribute it to him, knowing his predilections. I do not think it necessary to read the reply which the honorable member for Nepean made at the gathering presided over by the gentleman whose remarks I have just quoted. The tenor of the honorable member’s reply was similar to that of all the rest of the speeches delivered at that gathering. The honorable member declared that he indorsed what had been said by his President, Mr. E. Cullam, and having indorsed it, there is no doubt at all that he, too, will sow the seeds of sectarianism in his electorate as broadly as he possibly can. The honorable member for Bourke is looking at me very hard, and I may say that I believe the honorable member ploughs the field, and is not guiltless of trying to bring up a crop of this kind on his own account. The honorable member for Dalley also challenged something I said before dinner in reference to this question, and I propose to quote the reply which the honorable member made to an interjection by the honorable member for Yarra. The honorable member for Dalley had said that a man’s religion was between himself and the Creator, and that the Orange institution was a political one. The honorable member drew a’ distinction between his religion and his Orangeism, making each, so to speak, a separate ‘entity. The honorable member for Yarra interjected that the Orange organization had opposed the election of every member of the Labour party, and the honorable member for Dalley replied: “Only of recent years.” There the honorable member by that reply admitted that the organization referred to had opposed the election of Labour members.
– I also contended that it was the backbone of the Labour party in New South Wales in 1891.
– It has altered very considerably since then. I know that here in Victoria, at the last Federal election. many things went to show that the Orange organization is a purely Conservative institution. The organization in Victoria selected Mr. Allan McLean, as against Mr. Wise. They gave Mr. McLean’s candidature the indorsement of the Orange institution.
– Which shows again that they were not bigoted.
– No; it goes to show what I am trying to prove, that there is nothing Radical about the institution, but that, on the contrary, it is strongly Conservative all the time. I, believe that the honorable member for Fawkner also had the< indorsement of the organization against Mr. Smith, who was a member of the Protestant Defence Association.
– Mr. Smith got the votes.
– Apparently he did not get the votes. Wp have two leading members of the organization in this Parliament, who, if any one can possibly be, are identified with Conservatism in this State. I refer to the honorable member for Kooyong, and to Senator Fraser.
– Mr. Knox is a stout Radical.
– The honorable member for Kooyong is stout enough, but I cannot say very much for his Radicalism. Everything goes to show that the Orange organization is Conservative, and not Radical, and I am finding fault with the honorable member for Dalley for declaring here that it is a Radical organization. I wish to quote here a most remarkable statement made by Mr. W. E. Cullam, the Right Worshipful Grand Master of the institution in New South Wales, at the Sydney Town Hall on the 12th July last, which was last Monday. This is one of the most remarkable statements I have seen in print, as coming from any man who calls himself a Christian : -
The Parliamentary Labour party was anxious to become religious suddenly, and had been speaking in pulpits. Clergymen should not allow their pulpits to be prostituted in such a way.
I should like to say that there are members of the Labour party who were associated with churches and Sunday schools before they became associated with the Labour party at all. The honorable member for Calare, for instance, has from his youth been a Presbyterian Sunday school teacher. The same remark applies to others, including the honorable member for Barrier and the ex-Prime Minister. These persons would not allow them into a church at all.
Possibly they would not allow them the right of Holy Communion. Talk of Roman Catholicism and excommunication ! Could anything be more intolerant than the utterance which I have just quoted? It is scandalous that a man should speak in that way of any man professing the Christian faith, let alone ofmembers of the Labour party, who are amongst the whitest men who ever breathed the breath of life. And yet these men are thus spoken of, not because of their religion, not because of any charges made against them, but simply because they are members of the Labour party.
– Is this apropos of a want of confidence in the present Government?
– They are all included in the fusion.
– Yes. I should like to know from honorable members opposite how, up to the present, they have defended the fusion. We have attacked it vigorously, but no honorable member opposite has defended it.
– The honorable member is not attacking it now, is he ?
– Was the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle in defence of the fusion ?
– It was intended to be, I think.
– I dare say it was, but it will be admitted that the aim of the, honorable member for Fremantle was not very good.
– What about the right honorable member for East Sydnev?
– Yes ; what does the Treasurer think of the speech of the right honorable member for East Sydney as a defence of the fusion ? I do not think that that speech was entirely palatable to honorable members on the Ministerial side of the House. I have said sufficient to show that the honorable member for Dalley. in claiming a Radical tendency for his programme or his party, is entirely beside the mark. I should now like to say a few words in regard to honorable members who ousted the Labour Government because they could not get immunity from Labour opposition it the elections. Nothing could be more cowardly than the plea set up by those members, and the press which supports them. For men to say that, in order to guard their seats from opposition bv Labour men, they must throw over their principles, and adopt a policy in which they do not believe-
– They did not say that.
– No, they did not say it, but they did it, which is more to the. point.
– Would no honorable member of the Opposition take a similar stand ?
– I am perfectly sure that no man on this side would ever funk a fight or sink a principle because somebody was going to oppose him. Only a political poltroon will refuse to go before his electors, and, if necessary, go down with his colours flying in defence of his principles. Is there anything in common between the honorable member for Bourke and the Minister of Defence? I can well remember the virulence of the attacks made on the Deakin Government by men who now occupy seats on the Government side. The parties to the fusion do not love each other one little bit, and, when the day comes that they can do without each other, overboard one will go. How can we ever have a virile people when we have a press which indorses this cowardice, and holds up these men as examples of political purity ?
– What is the honorable member complaining about ?
– I am complaining that honorable members opposite refuse to go to the country.
– We will go to the country soon enough.
– But not soon enough for me, though, no doubt, soon enough for honorable members opposite, notwithstanding the support of the Orange institution. If the right honorable member for Swan really believes that we do not desire a dissolution, he must believe that a dissolution would not suit us. But, if that be his belief, why does he not allow us to appeal to the electors? If such an appeal would not suit us, it would inevitably suit the other side.
– We have to do the country’s business yet.
– Not much of the country’s business will be done, because, as the Manchester Guardian points out, although the Cook party have accepted the platform of the Deakin party, the Prime Minister will not introduce the necessary legislation to give it effect ; and if there is any business done, it will not be of a character to be beneficial to Australia.
– The Government are longing to go on with the business, and honorable members opposite will not give them the opportunity.
– Honorable members oppo site have taken up as much time as we have.
– I am sorry to have to call attention once more to the fact that these remarks across the Chamber are irregular, and must not be persisted in.
– Honorable members opposite do not like the truth, because it is unpalatable to them. The Treasurer is now enjoying the sweets of office, from which he was so long excluded by circumstances over which he has no control ; and the Government and their supporters taunt honorable members on this side with being somewhat incensed at being thrown out of the “tart shop.” The honorable member for Darling Downs, the Prime Minister, and other members of the Government, seem to find the “tart shop” particularly attractive. As I was saying, the virility of the people of Australia is in serious danger from their teachers. The press, which at one time was an honoured institution, is now dragging its traditions in the mire. We can never have a people worthy of the name - a people who will fight for their country when the time comes - if the moral tone of the community is lowered by such press articles and arguments as have been used in defence of those members who are afraid to trust their political skins to the electors.
– Why does not the honorable member read the Labour press, and admire it?
– I do not admire any press, except, perhaps, one or two Labour newspapers, which are worthy of commendation. I am speaking of the daily press ; and I say that its teachings are inimical to the best interests of Australia. If these are our teachers, Heaven help us in the day of adversity, and Heaven help those people who are afraid to fight for their honour and principles, and, if necessary, go down, as others have done, with the flag flying ! I had intended to touch on immigration and other questions, but, owing to a cold which affects my throat, I shall take a future opportunity. In . conclusion, however, I should like to say a word or two in connexion with the policy of the Government. The policy is very vague and indefinite, and contains nothing calculated to raise the spirits of the Government supporters or the community generally. It cannot inspire any high thoughts or high principles in the minds of even the most ardent supporters of the Government, of whom, 1 believe, there are very few to-day. There is a very noticeable lukewarmness amongst honorable members opposite; none seem able to rise to the occasion. Not even the honorable member for Batman, whose speech was apologetic and a self-defence from beginning to end, had a word to say in defence of the fusion, except from the point of view of saving his political skin by obtaining immunity from opposition.
– I never asked for immunity, and never desired it !
– Is that not the reason why the honorable member for Batman, the honorable member for Bourke, the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and others, would not follow the honorable member for Hume ?
– The honorable member for Hume got immunity, and that is why he is in opposition.
– The honorable member for Hume did not seek immunity before he made up his mind what he was going to do.
– Poor simple Bill !
– The honorable member for Hume knows his way about, I can assure honorable members. The first item in the Ministerial programme is the appointment of an Inter-State Commission. This is a project that has been spoken of ever since the first meeting of the Commonwealth Parliament, but, up to the present, all the schemes have failed to bear fruition. To-day, however, there is another element - it is necessary, in the interests of the Government, that an Inter-State Commission should be appointed, possibly because there are not at present enough billets to go round. I am perfectly certain that the Inter-State Commission, if appointed, will not be found to be constituted with a view to the interests of new Protection, and will not be likely to . carry out that policy. I have no idea who are the men likely to be selected for the Commission : even though I am looking at the honorable member for Bourke.
– I am looking, too.
– The honorable member may look, but he will not get an appointment. The proposal to establish an agricultural bureau is another method of placating certain disaffected supporters of the Ministry. I dare say that when it is created several members of Parliament will be given appointments in connexion with it. Although some members of Parliament know nothing about agriculture, it does not follow that they should not be eligible for appointment. Then we are told -
An active policy of immigration will be undertaken and expanded in the light of the knowledge made available by the Commission and the Bureau, and with, it is hoped, the cooperation of all the States.
And yet the Prime Minister himself has said that unless the lands are thrown open and made available to the people on easy and reasonable terms, the policy of immigration is a mistake. So far, the honorable member, instead of endeavouring to bring immigrants to Australia, has spent the money under his control in this connexion in advertising the resources of Australia and not in bringing immigrants here. What does he mean by “ an active policy of immigration”? Are the lands more available to-day than they were twelve months or two years ago? Every one will admit that they are not, and consequently I think this reference to immigration in the Ministerial statement is a mere gag, designed to fill up an otherwise imperfect statement. We are also informed that -
An endeavour will be made to cheapen the cable charges between Australia and the Mother Country.
This brings me once more to the position taken up by the Conservatives of Australia. It is well known that the Pacific cable, of which Australia is part owner, is not patronized by the business people of the Commonwealth, for the reason that the Eastern Extension Company transmits cable messages at a slightly lower rate than is charged by the Pacific Cable Board. Our so-called patriots, who contribute their half-crowns and dive shillings to the Dreadnought fund - who declare that Australia must be defended at all hazards, and that they will spend their half-crowns and crowns in defending it - send their cable messages over the Eastern Extension Company’s line, and neglect our own cable, because by doing so they are able to make a small saving. So much for their patriotism and the principles that animate them when they have to choose between the interests of Australia and their own personal welfare. I come now to the announcement in the Ministerial statement, that a Bill is ito be introduced to amend the Old-Age Pensions’ Act. I am qualifying for a pension myself, and I freely admit that this is the one plank in the Ministerial platform to which honorable members on all sides of the House will give their hearty and unqualified support.
– Then why does not the honorable member let us go on with it ?
– I shall conclude my speech in a few moments, and the Government may then go on with that plank in their programme as soon as they please. We are told that -
The negotiations in London, in 1007, concluded early last year, allowing the coinage for the Commonwealth of an Australian silver currency, have been completed.
That is a very satisfactory announcement, and is peculiarly pleasing to me, since I was the first to bring before the House the desirableness of an Australian silver currency. I referred to the question in the first’ speech that I made in this Chamber, and am glad to know that the scheme is at last to be carried out. I trust that the Treasurer will give us a design of a truly Australian .character for our coinage. T have no objection to the King’s head appearing on one side, but I should like the Treasurer to state what design he proposes to put on the other.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– Something typical of Australia.
– The Treasurer’s own head !
– That’ would not do, for no one would know which was the head of His Majesty and which was the head of the Treasurer. We should have a design that is distinctly Australian in character, so that every one may know an Australian coin at a glance. In conclusion, let me say that I felt genuinely sorry for the Prime Minister as he sat with downcast head on the Treasury bench, one night last week, while the honorable member for Gippsland was speaking. He seemed to me to present the most pitiable spectacle ever seen in this House. It is regrettable that a man with his past - a man of his undoubted ability, blessed with great gifts of eloquence, and a wonderful personality - should be in the position that he occupies to-day. His name might have been writ large in the hearts of the people of Australia; yet he has to-day, with the exception of his personal friends, but few political friends in the Commonwealth. I have not only a very great respect, but a sincere liking, foi- the Prime Minister, and
T could not help feeling when the honorable member for Gippsland was castigating him, while he sat with bent head on the Treasury bench, and found a defender in the Minister of Defence, that he was draining the cup of humiliation to its very dregs. That he should have to rely for his defence upon the honorable member for Parramatta was to me most pitiable, and I was honestly sorry for him.
– The honorable member used to support him, but he is now opposing him.
– I have said nothing bitter against him. I regret that he should be in the position he now occupies. He might have done great things for Australia, but in the position that he now occupies-
– The honorable member and his party turned him out of office.
– Not altogether j we simply withdrew our support. If honorable members who were then sitting in the Opposition ‘Corner had desired that he should remain in office it was competent for them to support him. The present Postmaster-General, who then sat in the Opposition Corner, had said at Bendigo that the honorable member for Ballarat was legitimately entitled to the position of Prime Minister, yet he voted for his displacement.
– On a motion submitted bv the honorable member’s leader.
– That motion might have been lost had honorable members in the Opposition Corner had that faith in the Prime Minister that they profess to have in him to-day. Had they given him then the. support which they’ are now according him, the late Deakin Government would not have gone out of office. We should then never have been in office at all. They have now discovered in the Prime Minister virtues which were invisible to them from this side of the House. He is the apple of the eye of the Conservatives, and I am afraid that he is about to give birth to, and carry out, a Conservative policy.
– He will be the nextsacrifice.
– It is still an open question whether he will be the sacrifice or the sacrificer. There is an old saying that a man may do a thing once, and plead that it was an accident. When he turned out the Watson Ministry, it was an accident; when he deposed the Reid Government it was a. coincidence, but it now appears to have become a habit with him. If he has not got that habit under control, those who are now sitting on the Government benches are not in too safe a position. I am sorry that the present situation has arisen, and I hope the Government will accept our challenge to send us to the country at the earliest possible date.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I am aware how restricted I am by the Standing Orders, and I assure you, sir, that this is my first offence in that direction in the public life of the Commonwealth. As I have already spoken on the motion, I am unable to reply to the honorable member for Herbert, and may only refer to any misrepresentations in his speech regarding myself. The honorable member, under cover of saying that I had introduced Orangeism and sectarianism into the House, has made a strong and bitter attack upon the Orange institution. I desire to point out that I did not introduce the question. The reason I have taken this opportunity of replying to the honorable member is that no man is more aware than I am of the keenness with which the Labour party fight, and the manner in which they use their weapons. The facts are that at the beginning of the session, members of the Labour party: then on this side of the House, in speaking on the AddressinReply, almost without exception referred to the honorable member for Dalley, and in doing so, they brought in the very matter which the honorable member for Herbert said he would not have lowered himself to dea’l with1 if the honorable member for Dalley had not introduced it. The honorable member for West Sydney was most notable and pointed in his attacks upon me in regard to that matte?, and if the honorable member for Herbert will take the trouble to refer to Hansard of this session he will find that when I spoke on the 28th May, after four or five days of debate, I drew your attention in the middle of my speech to that fact. I make this statement, not as an apology to the honorable member for Herbert, but in order to set him right in regard to the facts, and in order that he may not, on another occasion, say that ‘ ‘ if the honorable member for Dalley had not introduced the subject he would not have referred to it.” He has been about as accurate in other, matters which he has referred to as he was in his attack upon me. Unfortunately, I have not the opportunity to show where he has been as inaccurate in regard to the particular institution he has referred to as he was in regard to myself. All I can say is that, when the honorable member for Herbert represents me as having taken up, or as having the inclination or desire to take up, the attitude which he ascribed to me, he absolutely misrepresents me, and honorable members on that side who have known me for years can thoroughly indorse that statement.
– When the American colonists fought King George III., they were notresisting the King’s prerogative, they were resisting only the King’s usurpation. We, the Labour party, are not fighting the rights of the Government party, which I christened the fungus party the other day, because there is no certainty that they can stick together. Honorable members can call it the corporation party if they like. We are protesting against their abuse of their privileges. We are protesting against their action - after coming in here, as we did, under certain pledges to their constituents, and fighting upon different sides of the House - in uniting, not for the purpose of benefiting the people, not for the purpose of developing industries, not to advance the cause of scientific investigation, not to better the financial condition of the people of the Commonwealth, not to reduce the rates of interest, to increase production and exportation, and insure the return of a bigger balance to the people of Australia, but for the aggrandizement of power, and for the grabbing of seats on the Treasury bench. Yet they say that it was for a great and exalted purpose. “ Righteousness exalteth a nation,” but hypocrisy is a reproach unto any people. I do not know whether that is in Holy Writ, but if it is not it ought to be. I have gone carefully into their programme. Not one financial speech has beeen made from that side except the one made to-day by the honorable member for Balaclava, and yet the party opposite claim to be the great business people of Australia, and they say that this is to be a financial session. I should not- have spoken to-night but for the fact that the Premiers intend shortly to hold a conference” on finance, and I wish to examine a few of the schemes put before the House, to see what is in them, and to point put to the people that it is necessary for them to put a few questions to their members when their members propose to adopt any particular scheme without’ due inquiry and investigation. It is very fine and large to give other people’s money away. It is very easy to be a popular- Treasurer, but the next question is : “ Are you giving away your own money or somebody else’s to gain that popularity?” We have reached a critical financial position in the history of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Flinders, less than two years ago, pointed out from the Opposition corner, the terrible drift in our finances. Very few men bothered to listen to him, for the moment a man stands up in this House to talk finance, it generally empties.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney did the same on his motion of censure, but the Labour party did not’ vote with him.
– I admit that the right honorable member- for East Sydney did point out some of the facts, but his motion involved the life or death of a Government that we were supporting and that we were loyal to, because we believed that it was true to us. I agreed with a great deal of what the right honorable member for East Sydney said last night. He told the great land monopolists of this country that their 1 ‘ cake is dough ‘ ‘ unless they surrender those lands to the people who are now landless and hopeless. I was delighted with his speech. In fact, it is a pity that the right honorable member does not come over to our side, so that we could elect him as our leader. At any rate, we would make him a partner in the leadership with the honorable member for Wide Bay. One soul saved is worth a number of souls lost, and we are anxious to see the right honorable member come over to our side of the House. The Government have commenced their career by talking about borrowing. Though we continually hear that London is glutted with money, we know, from the experiences of the different States, and from the loans which have been floated by Canada, South Africa, and some of the States of South America, that this is absolutely the worst time that the Commonwealth could go upon the markets of the world to establish the rate which should govern its borrowing operations. As the honorable member for Balaclava very pertinently asked to-day, why should the Commonwealth, after having been established for nine years, become -the seventh borrower in Australia, the seventh plunger, the seventh debt-increaser ? The Common- wealth has no assets which do not belong to the various States. In other words, the assets of the States are simply those of the Commonwealth. Further, the Customs and Excise revenue is pledged - if not by written law, certainly by the unwritten law of honesty - to our debtors in the Old World. It is a pledge that the interest will be paid, and that our creditors will receive sovereign for sovereign, even for amounts which they have never loaned te us. What they really have given us is credit - credit that we could have ourselves if we had the courage to organize a banking corporation and to start operations as the Americans did under the great scheme of Hamilton, who is now recognised as one of the foremost financiers that the world has produced. Australians are good individual talkers, but terribly bad corporation talkers. When honorable members enter this House they do not appear to want to talk about the question which is at the root of all others. Everybody knows that finance is the basis of government - that government, rests upon finance - and that, unless our finances are sound, our whole superstructure must fall. What is the reason that the most successful clergymen to-day are the best business men? No matter how eloquent a preacher may be, if he is unable to finance the pennies of the people, his institution fails. So it is here. Do honorable members recognise that since Federation was accomplished, nine years ago, the indebtedness of the Australian people, who number only 4,200,000, has increased from £202,000,000 to £251,000,000?
– Nearly all that indebtedness is interest-producing.
– I have all the details to my hand. The honorable member will hear something to-night that he has never heard before. Honorable members enter this Parliament, where they can. exercise their great business ability., and yet they are content to allow the affairs of Australia to go on drifting year after year - to continue plunging like horse-racing men and ne’er-do-wells. As long as a ne’er-do-well can borrow from his neighbours and friends he will never bother about obtaining work. But the time must come when his friends will say, “How about that last sovereign I’ lent you?” To which his rep’ly will probably be. “ Oh, that was last Christmas.” Go vernments do not differ from individuals. Politics are public morals, the morals of Tom and Bill multiplied by four millions. Politics do not corrupt men, but men corrupt politics. We have the greatest opportunity that any Government has had in the history of the world to start and utilize our own great credits. Fancy a nation of 4,000,000 people, and possessing an income of ,£40,000,000 annually, having no corporate national institution whereby it can utilize one penny of that power ! The moment revenue passes through our Customs House it is lost. It is handed over to the great private banking corporations. More power to them ! They have the brains, and we are getting the experience. They make profits out of the people’s capital. The people furnish them with the capital, and they merely operate it. What is a banking institution ? It is a trader in debts - a jobber in indebtedness. lt is not a repository for money. It is an institution which exchanges its fructified indebtedness for the fructified indebtedness of our producers and traders in the form of bonds, promissory notes, drafts, cheques, postponed documents, all guaranteed by some legal method whereby it has secured a lien upon the property of the nation. We pick up the newspapers, day after day, and read that the deposits in the banks have increased by so many millions sterling. I have had business people actually telling me that that increase is represented by sovereigns. How can that be so, seeing that there are .£1:61,000,000 on deposit in the banks of Australia, whilst there are only £24,000,000 held in gold throughout the Commonwealth? If we subtract £24,000,000 from £16 r,000:000: we find that there remains £137,000,000, behind which there is nothing save legal documents, mortgages, and various other papers and instruments which give the banks a lien over the property of the country. I do not object to that. But I do object to the Treasurer of this great Commonwealth having to walk down, cap in hand, to the manager of a private1 banking corporation, and to stand upon the carpet of his office and bow to Him. When we realize that this great power is being lost to the nation, the question naturally arises - “How are we to finance the country, to meet our obligations, and cease to be competitors in the open markets of” the world?” How is the nation to carry on its great national works and industries, in view of the fact that within a few years its borrowing power must cease? As the honorable member for Balaclava pointed out to-day, New South Wales has already been told’ that her applications for money have worn out her welcome on the London market. It seems to be that it would pay honorable members to obtain a copy of the life of Hamilton, the great American authority on finance, and to read his banking scheme, under which the States of the Republic were financed. Is it not strange that when the great American War started, in 1861, ‘the United States could not borrow a dollar from the banking corporations outside of. Messrs. J. Cooke and Company, of New York? It was that which induced the nation to issue greenbacks, and which induced the Supreme Court of the United States to declare those greenbacks legal tender in order that the nation might carry on her great war. Yet the ‘ ‘ boodleiers ‘ ‘ of the United Slates took those greenbacks at an enormous discount, and stacked them away until 1879, when the United States Government, under John Sherman, the Secretary to the Treasury, resumed specie payment. Then the banks came forward with their stored greenbacks, and obtained twentyshillings’ in the pound for them, thus making millions out of the United States people.
– How long did Hamilton; s Bank last?
– Until 3832. I admit that it was a political bank. I do not want anything of that kind in Australia. I want to have a national postal banking system, run by bankers trained in other banks. I do not want the institution to be run by men who have had no financial training, because such men can have no better equipment than four or five per cent, of superficial knowledge, and the rest ignorance. Hamilton’s Bank was killed in 1832 or 1.833 bv President Jackson in consequence of the appointment of a clerk at Portsmouth, Massachusetts. He killed the bank so as not to permit it to use its influence to defeat his party at the next election. He withdrew the United States Government deposits. But still, its work remained. The finances of the United States had been put upon a sound basis, and the Sub-Treasury of the United States established, which is virtually a bank, except that it does not lend money direct to the people. I say again that I do not want to establish here such a system as they had in the United States. I want a different system. I want to have a bank which will be a. department in itself, set apart “by the law of the Commonwealth, to act in conjunction with the States. I say that we have to keep the States of this Commonwealth solvent. Every member of this Federal Parliament is just as much interested in the financial stability of the States as if he represented them directly in the State Parliament. In America, every member of Congress looks to see that his State is kept solvent, and every member of this Commonwealth Parliament must see to it that the States are kept solvent if we are to keep the Commonwealth itself solvent. I put before this House and the country a financial scheme some time ago.
– The best scheme of the. lot.
– I have before me now some quotations from authorities in London, and will show presently what some of these English Conservative authorities say about it. It is true that my scheme does not propose to take anything from any particular State and to give it to the other States. There is a considerable difference between my scheme and that of the honorable member for Mernda, which, however, I acknowledge is a very good scheme. All the schemes that ‘ have been put forward are good, but I believe that mine is the acme of perfection, and I am going to tell the House why. I have always, throughout my life, acted upon the basis of not wanting to get something for nothing, and of not wanting to give something for nothing. 1 want an equitable and reciprocal exchange. This scheme of mine proposes to take three- fourths of the debts of the various States, and it proposes to create a sinking fund to liquidate those debts in sixty-six years. It also proposes to give to the States a permanent interest in the revenues of the Commonwealth. It does not propose to separate the States from the Commonwealth. Let us look at the matter calmly. The State of New South Wales, or Queensland, may at some time suffer from an extraordinary famine. We have known such occurrences. I have seen something of the kind in Australia since I came here. A State might have to spend millions on bringing fodder from New Zealand, just as New South Wales a few years ago had to do when the present Minister of Defence tried to get the duty, of £i per ton on fodder removed. If we were to adopt the scheme put forward by the honorable member for Hume, when he was Treasurer - which was the scheme of the honorable member for Mernda, with a few additions - we should in thirty-five years shut out the whole of the States from having any further interest in the revenues of the Commonwealth. If New South Wales or Queensland during a period of drought had to spend millions to feed their people, or to bring in food for their stock, they might in that way swell the revenue of the Commonwealth to the extent of thousands of pounds during that year, though they would have no interest in the revenue so obtained, unless the Commonwealth chose to give them a dole. Now, I object to a scheme founded on that principle. I will explain what I propose under my scheme. May I inquire, Mr. Speaker, whether I may have my scheme as printed inserted in Hansard, without reading it?
– Nothing which the honorable member does not read will go into Hansard.
– I am afraid that it will be dry if I read the whole scheme.
– Has not the scheme been printed and circulated as a parliamentary paper ?
– It is in the form of a parliamentary paper, and has been distributed amongst members of Parliament all over Australia.
– Honorable members ought to be acquainted with it.
– I hope they have read it, though I am afraid many have not.
– Yes, we have.
– I desire to explain the salient points of the scheme. I may admit at once that it may have imperfections. It is not like the law of the Medes and Persians. It is not infallible, nor is it unalterable. This honorable House can alter it -to suit what it conceives to be the demands of the situation. I merely put down a skeleton scheme for the consideration of this Parliament and of the Parliaments of the States. I will show what it would mean if we were to adopt the scheme of the honorable member for Mernda, or that of the honorable member for Kooyong ; though, as I have said before, both are good schemes in some re spects. I have read them both carefully, but I’ say, nevertheless, that the scheme which I put before the country is one under which no State loses anything, nor does an State gain at the expense of the other States. ‘ In the first place I take one quarter of the revenue for the Commonwealth. Let us examine the question carefully. Take the case of the State of Victoria. She has not been a plunger. She has been fairly economical. Her finances have been managed fairly well.
– Sir George Turner pulled the State of Victoria up to her bearings.
– I am happy to acknowledge that the first Treasurer of the Commonwealth was the salvation of the State of Victoria. I want the people of this State to consider the situation carefully. I want my scheme, I repeat, to be discussed by the Premiers’ Conference, because I think that the Premiers and Treasurers of the States are just as much interested in the question as are the Commonwealth Prime Minister and Treasurer. I cannot get out of my mind the fact that we are one people. It matters not to me whether I pay my taxes in Victoria or Tasmania, or any other State. I have to pay the taxes. If I did not, I should be taken very quickly into the courts. The Commonwealth and the States are deeply interested in this subject, and the question arises : “How are we to formulate a great financial scheme, and establish an institution which will govern and manage it?” The creation of a Commission has been proposed. But what power has a Commission to finance, and why should this Parliament surrender its power over the public purse in any shape or form to a Commission which is not a banking institution, which is not operating a banking system, and which has no power of extending credit ? When we float a loan in England, America, or any other country, we do not borrow the money, but we only borrow the credit of the banks of that country. Out of the £250,000,000 which have been borrowed by the States, only sixteen millions of real money have ever come to Australia. At the Conference of the Labour party in Brisbane, my banking scheme was adopted, because it was a reasonable one, as honorable members will recognise, I think, when they grasp what it means.
– Was it not repudiated later by the honorable member for Wide Bay at Gympie?
– No. The honorable member for Wide Bay adopted only a portion of the scheme. He was afraid that the House would not accept the complete scheme, and thought that he might get a portion of it approved.
– Does the Brisbane’ scheme guarantee to the States a continuing interest in the Customs and Excise revenue as of right?
– Then the late Prime Minister departed from that?
– He only adopted the proposal for a note issue, but I am opposed to the Commonwealth having a note issue without a bank. I am influenced by my experience in the United States, and honorable members know that one ounce of experience is worth a thousand experiments. I can remember the time when half-a-dozen rich men in New York formed a combination, and demanded payment of all debts in greenbacks. One day one of these gentlemen went to the Sub-Treasurer, in Wall-street - I forget the number of millions which he put over the counter - and said that he wanted gold. No nation can be ready to meet a demand of that sort at’ any time. The United States was cornered; the Sub-Treasurer wired to the United States Treasurer at Washington, and there was nothing else to be done but to give the syndicate a contract to float gold bonds. I forget how many millions. A gentleman went into the Sub-Treasury to take up a million dollars’ worth. He wanted to pay in greenbacks, but the Sub-Treasurer said : “We cannot take greenbacks ; we must have gold, as they are gold bonds.” “ Wall,” said the man, “I reckon I will leave them here for redemption.” He left them for redemption, and when the Sub-Treasurer got the gold, he went back, handed in his greenbacks, received gold, turned round, and bought the bonds. Do honorable members see the folly of that proceeding? That experience has made me afraid to have a note issue without a bank. I mav be mistaken, but I believe that a combination could be formed here. Our leader says that the Queensland experience is a safe guide to us, but I think that it is not a criterion for a great city. In Queensland people will take the notes, which, perhaps, may be taken a couple of thousands of miles into the bush, and may not come back for redemption for ten years, or perhaps never. But in a city we have an endless chain of operations, and also a combination of banks, as we have seen with regard to the postal note, which is the currency of the poor. As the honorable member for Balaclava pointed out to-day, if that matter is not looked into, it will mean the destruction of a lot of Commonwealth revenue, because rather than have any trouble, people will send a cheque for five shillings or ten shillings, and that, of course, will mean some revenue for the banks. That is what deters me from having a note issue without a bank. I do not desire to have a national bank to lend millions’ of pounds helter-skelter, but I want a banking system which can limit the issue, or, in other words, the amount. of the overdraft. We need not let any one man have an overdraft of more than £500 or £1,000, no matter what his security may be. The principal function of the. bank would be to carry on operations with the States, the Commonwealth, the municipalities, the Road Trusts, in fact, all institutions which have taxable property. Take, for instance, a shire’ which has taxable property. If it should want to make roads, it will experience considerable difficulty in obtaining an overdraft from a private banking corporation at less than 5 per cent. But under mv scheme the bank will only lend credit.
– The shires cannot get it at 5 per cent.
– I do not intend to debate that question, because I know that in Australia 6 per cent, interest is considered very low. If one lends a sovereign at 6 per cent., and also lends, at the same rale, the interest thereon every six months, the sovereign will double itself in less than twelve years. So that we must pay the bank, even at 6 per cent., not only the interest, but the whole of the capital back in twelve years. It is time that we began to reflect on this subject, and that is what I want the people of Australia to do. One can never pick up a balance-sheet of a bank without reading that the’ bank has just declared a dividend of 10 per cent, and a bonus. I am a. shareholder in some banks, and. therefore, I am talking against my personal interest. But we are here to represent the public, not ourselves. We ought not to allow our private affairs to be introduced here, and I doubt if there is any honorable member who ever does. My opinion is that, as far as honesty goes, there is very little difference between the lot of us. I believe that we all want to do what is right, and the only question is : Have we the same amount of electric light to show us the way to do it?
– There is a difference in the point of view.
– Exactly. How can we establish a national banking system ? My proposal is that we should create a bank, with 12,000 shares ; that 6,000 shares should be owned by the Commonwealth, and the rest sold to the States, no private individual owning a share; that each State should have a representative on the board of management; and that there should be a Comptroller-General of the currency, to be the head of a department set apart by the Commonwealth and the States, and to have a deliberative vote and a casting vote. I may be asked : “How shall we raise the capital?” I propose to show how we can get the capital out of our fructified indebtedness. We should not borrow capital, but should create it, using the income from the Customs House and the railways, to be operated by means of one great national banking system. We should use the post-offices where it was possible to find accommodation in them, and where they were too small we should have to erect special buildings. Then, in each town we should engage a trained banker. As the business increased, these branch establishments would ibe extended. In the chief commercial centre of the Commonwealth - which, in my opinion, is Melbourne, though others would say Sydney - we should have the head office, situated in the General Post Office, or, if there were not accommodation there, elsewhere. There would be an issuing and a banking department, separate the one from the other. Whenever the issuing department issued notes to the banking department, ir would receive a guarantee, or gold in exchange-
– To the full amount?
– To the full amount. A certain amount would be guaranteed on bonds. The Commonwealth has an indebtedness of £252,000,000, which it does not utilize in any way. Our position in this respect is very different from that of England. Although England does not possess a Government bank, the Bank of England virtually occupies that position. That bank holds the deposits of the Government and the reserves of all the other banks, which are a credit on its ledgers. There is no scrambling on the part of the other banks to increase theif reserves at the expense of their rivals. If gold is needed in any part of England, it is obtained from the Bank of England, and after it has circulated for a time, it finds its way back in the ordinary course of trade and commerce. The only leakage of reserves occurs in connexion with exportation when the conditions of foreign exchange are adverse. The whole management of the foreign exchange of England is relegated to the Bank of England, which recognises its absolute responsibility to the people as fully as if it were owned and controlled directly by the Government. It would no more think of doing anything detrimental to the Government of England or to the English people than would the Archbishop of Canterbury. It has always been a patriotic bank. Why is it that the London County Council can borrow money on the local market for , £75,000 in £1,000,000 less than is charged to New South Wales, the largest Australian State? It is because of the influence of the Bank of England. We have never yet been able to exercise our financial powers so as to utilize our credit, which is going to waste. Ninety-five per cent, of the business of the Commonwealth is done on credit. What is the cause of the great financial crises, the great commercial disasters; the great business catastrophies of the world ? It is the destruction of millions of the credit medium of exchange, which results from the undue restriction of the function of extending credit to the people. What is the cause of the present distress in New Zealand ? It is simply that for a long time the private banking corporations there loaned credit to the people, and having thus inflated the value of land, called upon their creditors to repay just when they were not able to do so. Why should a business man make an arrangement with a bank, whereby he believes that it will be possible for him to satisfactorily carry out certain transactions, and then, just as he is about to fulfil his engagements, be told to reduce his overdraft, which it is impossible for him to do at the time? Honorable members have always been afraid to deal with these questions. Those on the other side of the House will not pay attention to my scheme, because they think that it is Socialistic. I am as deeply interested in the welfare of Australia, and as anxious for its industrial, social, and commercial development, as is any other honorable member. If the country prospers, every individual in it will benefit.
– It is a great thing to have a stake in the country.
– That depends on the nature of the stake. I knew a goat in Texas once which was tied to a stake, and he kept going round it until he choked himself. Under the scheme of the honorable member for Mernda, Victoria would assume £18,929,226 of the debts of the other States. Instead of being responsible for the £53,305,487 which she owes now, she would become responsible for £72,234,713.
– That is owing largely to the fact that’ her municipal indebtedness is not counted.
– To the fact that she has been a very provident State.
– That estimate was altered by the proposal made at the last Premiers’ Conference that the charge should be so much per capita.
– I am talking now about various schemes submitted by honorable members of this House. The honorable member for Hume said that the scheme proposed by the honorable member for Mernda, was the best submitted, and he wished to have it adopted. I think that the time has come when we should take over a portion of the debts of the States.
– Why not all?
– I am coming to that. I do not wash that the three States that did not plunge should bear the debts of the other States until they are liquidated in the ordinary way. If the banking scheme I proposed were adopted we should take over three-fourths of the debts, and we could issue consols to meet that amount. I shall not deny that probably the other one-fourth would depreciate to some extent if that were done, but I would have a fund in the bank which would gradually buy up the other one-fourth, and liquidate it for the States.
– Would the honorable member take over the three-fourths on a per capita basis, or how?
– On the condition that the revenue of each State would go to pay interest and sinking fund to liquidate its share of the debt in sixty-six years; but I should also give the States a perpetual interest’ in the revenue of the
Commonwealth. I am dealing now with the scheme proposed by the honorable member for Mernda, and the following statement, from which the figures I have alreadyquoted were taken, will show how it would work out -
These figures show that, dealing with the position up to the 30th June, 1908, the three States, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, would transfer £22,310,259 of their debts, as a result of the pooling, to Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania.
– And that is the scheme they like best.
– That is the scheme which some of our honorable friends like best. I say that, much as I love the first three States mentioned, before Victoria takes on an additional debt of over £18,000,000 I think she ought to plunge a little more. Honorable members will see that under this scheme, the interest bills of New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania would also necessarily be very considerably increased.
– After the last Premiers’ Conference the honorable member for Mernda, in a speech in this House, modified his scheme, and did away with the pooling.
– I am taking the scheme that the honorable member for Mernda put before the House. I have criticised -the scheme in many places, and, if the honorable member has changed the scheme, I am entitled to the credit. The following table shows the public debt of the several States of the Commonwealth’ per head of population as at the 30th June, 1907 : -
We have had some flotations in Australia just recently, and I desire now to show honorable members what was realized on the loans. The table is as follows : -
The total was £11,525,000, and the estimated net realization below par was £676,000, on which the States must for all time pay interest. We are told that we have the best assets in the world, and that we can enter the London money market and borrow as cheaply there as any nation can. On the average the Australian Governments have had available for expenditure £94 3s. for each £100 of stock issued by them.
– That is a mistake.
– It is no mistake ; I have the actual figures. The present public debt of the Australian States amounts to about £250,000,000. If the whole of that amount had been financed on these lines, the debt would have represented cash available’ for expenditure to the amount of only .£235,350,000, while £14,650,000 would have been absorbed in discounts and flotation charges. Honorable members opposite have not really looked into this question. They merely talk and talk and do nothing. The Ministry have offered the British Government a gift of a Dreadnought for which we shall have to pay £2,000,000, and in this connexion I have some interesting figures to put before the House. The London County Council recently floated a 3^ per cent. loan, of £2,250,000, and got £1,020,000 per million net. If honorable members look at the losses that we have sustained they will find that the London County Council borrowed on terms £75,000 per million better than any of the Australian States have done, and ,£80,000 per million better than the average for the whole of the States. It is able to go into the market at the same time as we do and on the same terms as we offer make £80,000 per million above the average for the loans of the Australian States.
– The English Governments only get £82 for Consols.
– But what is the rate of interest ?
– Two and a-half per cent.
– As the honorable member knows, everything depends on the rate of interest offered. The London County Council loan was floated at the same rate as we offered. In order’ to obtain £2,000,000 in cash by means of a si P6r cent, loan, it would be necessary for the Commonwealth, on the basis of the facts I have stated, to issue stock to the amount of £2,125,000. Yet the London County Council floated a 3^ per cent, loan of £2,250,000 at £102.
– I should think that they would get that.
– The loan was over subscribed. Allowing 2 per cent, for charges and accrued interest this would mean that the London County Council could obtain £2,000,000. in cash for the issue of stock to the amount of £2,000,000. There is a great difference between the security which the Government of New South Wales is able to offer, and that which the County Council can offer. Even the United States of America cannot offer better security than can New South Wales. Nevertheless, United States bonds to-day do not realize i per cent, interest. They have . there a national banking system “which forces the various banking institutions to deposit bonds with the United States Government to get their currency issue. They have to buy those bonds and the United States reaps the benefit. Here we have no system whereby we can derive any benefit from our bonds. If we had a system of banking under which the various banking institutions would have to buy our bonds on the basis of their issue, we might secure some benefit from it. Are honorable members aware that the English Government is to-day drawing millions in the way of interest on its indebtedness to other nations through its banking system. When one can get interest on what one owes, one is doing very well in this world. We talk about being financiers, but I am tired of honorable members opposite who only talk.
– How does the British Government get interest on what it owes ?
– By its banking system, and system of foreign exchange. If I had time I could explain the whole system to the honorable member, because this is no novelty to me. I am an old New York banker.
– How would the honorable member’s proposed national bank enable Australia to get money at par?
– It would loan credit just as the Bank of England does. If the honorable member and I had a capital of £50,000, and as two private individuals started business in Geelong, as money-lenders, we should be able only to lend our actual capital. As soon as we had exhausted it our operations would be at an end. But if we went to Geelong as the Banking Corporation of O’ Malley and Crouch, exercised the banking function, and the people had confidence in us, we should not only be able to lend our £50,000, but might draw interest on £10,000,000, .just as the banking corporations do at present. Some honorable members may be interested to learn that the Bank of New South Wales has deposits amounting to £27,000,000, although the whole cif the gold coin in Australia amounts to only £24,000,000. If the honorable member for Corio were to borrow .£50,000 from a bank to-morrow morning, the bank’s deposits would immediately increase by £50,000. Deposits are increased in proportion to the increase of the loans. Although the honorable member secured the £50,000, the bank would have no less money, and he would have no more. He would merely have a credit of £50,000 on the bank’s ledger.
– There is a national bank in Germany, yet Germany floats 3J per cent, loans at £90, or less than the Australian States do.
– The German Bank is owned. by private individuals, and is operated by officers of the Government.
– That makes all the difference.
– It is nevertheless a great bank, and has made Germany. That great country to-day is climbing over every other country in the matter of progress. Even the United States of America, industrially and commercially, is striking her flag to her. Germany’s pro’gress is being felt even in South America, and that is why the American newspapers are now squealing in favour of Great Britain. All this progress on the part of Germany is due to the advantage which the Imperial Bank of Berlin gives. It is the same with the Bank of France. A man can go all over France and can issue his bit of paper, if he can get two sureties, for as little as 30s. Even if he is in the remotest part of France he can send that on through various institutions, such as the Credit Foncier and the Credit Lyonnaise, and it will be re-discounted by the Bank of France. We have no such institution in Australia. We have no financial institution that can come to the rescue of any business man or corporation at a time of great financial crisis, without an Act of Parliament. I am not going to detain the House longer to-night, because I hope at some later date to. convince my honorable friends. I wish, in conclusion, to read an extract from an article upon “ The Financial Problem of Australia,” in the Colonial Office Journal for October, 1908. I understand that this book is issued under the supervision of the Colonial Secretary. It says -
A scheme has been put forward by the Hon. King O’Malley, under which the Commonwealth would assume the responsibility for that portion of the debt of each State, the interest and sinking fund on which would amount to the three-fourths of the net Customs and Excise revenue at present returnable to the State. The average net three-fourths is ^6,544,559, and this sum would cover the annual charges for about ,£174,000,000.
The reason for this limitation is that the Commonwealth could apply the three-fourths to this purpose without further statutory powers. A big start, at any rate, could be made in this way. It is certain that a large number of “holders, especially trustees, would come forward and convert, notwithstanding the sacrifice, on the ground of the better security ; and the general anticipation would probably be that the Commonwealth stock would appreciate, and the remaining State stocks, if anything, depreciate.
It would be essential to choose a good time, as so much would depend on the first operation. The Commonwealth could hardly, perhaps, expect to leap at one bound into the position of Canada in the market, but it has much to gain.
I could produce a number of other authorities, but I do not want to burden the House with such a dry subject. I hope at a later date to have another chance to convince honorable members that the great mistake of their lives is not to have some Australian power to issue credit, so that the States and the Commonwealth can have credits on the ledger of their own bank, and need not go into the markets floating loans and competing with each other like publicans.
– We are all indebted to the honorable member for Darwin for his financial scheme. There is no doubt that finance is the basis of all politics. Unless a country has a sound financial foundation it is in a bad way. I listened to every word the honorable member uttered to-night, and I agree with him that we should have a thoroughly trained man to look after our finances. It is idle for any man to think that he can handle large sums of money without being trained for the business. There is no doubt that when Australia was federated one of the main purposes was to bring about the consolidation of the State debts. Since then we have done absolutely nothing. In fact, we are getting worse every day. We are wasting a good deal of time at present, I admit, but probably it will not be all lost, and if one financial scheme, such as the honorable member has put forward to-night, sets the people thinking, it will be of advantage to the whole of the Commonwealth. It is a great mistake that in a country like Australia money should be so dear. We want money to develop the resources of the whole of the continent. Instead of being short of money we should have even more than we want. I” suppose that Australia produces more wealth - more money - per head of population than any other country in the world. We have the richest country in the world, but we are doing very little to develop it. I hope the honorable member’s speech to-night will be the start of tetter things. If our “ King “ could not start it. I do not know who could. I am proud that I was here to listen to him. I am .sorry that he has not touched on the other great question - that of defence - which he has also studied carefully. If any question should be studied carefully it is the defence of Australia.
– The trouble is that we are doing nothing but study it.
– It appears to me that the principal thing we are trying to do at present is to defend our seats in Parliament. We require to go very care-» fully in the matter of defence. For the defence of our shores we now depend upon the British Navy. We have one of the greatest unpeopled countries in the world, and we have a tremendous coastline to defend. A foreign nation could almost effect an entry into the Northern Territory, or some of the north-west ports, and plant itself in Australia for years without any one knowing about it. The first step towards effective protection is to build a railway right across the continent from Adelaide to Port Darwin, and another across to Western Australia. We might then have some chance of transporting our troops from place to place, which at present we have absolutely no facilities for doing. If we do ever have a war in Australia it will be something like the Boer war. There will be a lot of guerilla warfare. We shall have to shift our men all over Australia, and travelling in Australia is a very difficult matter. We can do a lot more than we have done. In fact, we have done nothing. We are told that we have not even firearms enough for our troops. I am sure that we can produce our own horseflesh, for no country in the world can breed horses like Australia can* yet our troops when manoeuvring are mounted on miserable old crocks which are hired for £1 a day. Men cannot be trained properly on such animals. lAn Australian always feels proud if he is on a good horse, but he cannot feel very proud when he is on a miser-
Able’ screw. If we had a railway through Australia we could have a station in the middle of the continent, where we could breed all the horses that we require for military purposes. Men could be kept there to look after them, and our military men, instead of being scattered about, could be brought together at one point, where they could use their great experience in the interests of the Commonwealth. Our young men could be sent up to be trained, and the horses would be there for them. The late Government appointed a Commission to inquire into the horsing of our troops. That Commission recommended them to purchase horses for military purposes, and to hire them out to butchers and bakers in Australia at’ 7s. 6d. per week, or £”19 10s. per annum. Did the members of that Commission know anything whatever about, horse flesh? As a matter of fact, the best military horses can be purchased in Australia to-day for ^35. If the Government desired to purchase them, probably they could get them at .£30 each”.
– But these were big draught horses, which were intended for artillery work.
– Even if they were heavy draught horses, they would not be worth more than £40 or £45. To say that the Government could hire them out to butchers at £19 10s. per annum is perfectly ridiculous. No butcher would pay that sum, seeing that he could buy the stamp of horse that he required for £20.
– Is this a defence of the Ministerial programme ?
– I am discussing a report which was presented to the late Government. If all the schemes submitted to Ministries resemble this one, I am very Sorry indeed for Australia. I would suggest that all the horses required by the Government should be bred inland, and sent down to head -quarters by train. That plan would permit of our young men learning how to train horses quickly, and would enable us to establish in Central Australia one of the finest military stations in the world. We should not train a man to be a soldier exclusively. We ought rather to teach him to be useful in all branches of service. I think that by making the training of the boys in our State schools the basis of our defence system, we are doing the right thing. Whatever else this Parliament may do, it must certainly place the defence of Australia on a much better footing. Personally, I do not think that torpedo-boat destroyers will prove of very much value to us, because they will not be able to go more than a few miles from our coast. During the course of this debate we have heard a good deal about the land question. Now anybody knows that if we tax all the value out of land Ave shall be making a mistake. Where does New Zealand find herself to-day as the result of her land experiments? She is in a hopeless muddle. No longer do we hear .honorable members Holding up that country as a shining example to us, because it is practically on the verge of insolvency. Whilst we have been making ends meet out of revenue, New Zealand has borrowed ^18,000,000, and has expended it lavishly, with the result that people are daily leaving its shores.
– It is an absolute fact. Only yesterday a gentleman who hails from the Dominion was present in this House, and he remarked, “ I hope that the Commonwealth will never get into the position that is occupied by New Zealand.” We talk about settling people upon the land, but by taxing it in the way that is suggested by my honorable friends opposite we should be merely driving people off it. If we wish to promote settlement, we must provide settlers with the best land, and allow them a little time in which to pay the first instalment of the purchase money. It is ridiculous to assert that we have no good land available for settlement in Australia. We have some of the finest land in the world. In Queensland, even in the drought-stricken areas, owing to the presence of artesian supplies, there are hundreds of miles of country superior to the lands of India and other parts of the world. I predict that before many years there will be millions of people settled in Queensland. Nearly all this land is held upon lease, and could be resumed at a very small cost. The same remark is applicable to land in Western Australia. In South Australia, too, it was thought until recently that the so-called desert land could not be utilized, but by the use of phosphates it has been proved that millions of acres which have hitherto been regarded as valueless, can be turned to good account. What we are suffering from at the present; time is not a lack of land, but a lack of people. We hold the biggest estate in the world, and if we do not utilize if, undoubtedly some other nation will do so.
– The sheep are grazing in the streets of Mount Gambier to-day.
– If the whole of Australia were settled, as well as is Mount Gambier, it would be a very different place from what it is. I am glad to say that many of the large estates in the south-east of South Australia have been broken up and are now being utilized to the best advantage. In connexion with the purchase of land, it has been urged that a standard price should be fixed. Such an idea is absolutely impracticable. If a standard price were fixed, and if, in ten years’ time, the value of land had depreciated, how could we expect to settle people upon it? Such a scheme would crush all incentive to effect improvements. To-day South Australia is expending £360,000 upon a drainage scheme, and Victoria, too, has a large drainage scheme in progress. If effect were given to the idea which has been promulgated here, the enhanced value imparted to the land by these schemes would be utterly lost. The land question is a very difficult one, and one which can be satisfactorily dealt with only by the States. In Australia is to be found every climate in the known world, so that obviously we must have different land laws for different States. It is impossible to work this country as a whole. If Australia is to be worked on proper lines, it will have to be cut up in different divisions. We cannot even work the Northern Territory as a whole. I believe that in time to come the whole of Northern Australia will be constitutedas one large State of this Commonwealth. Take Victoria and Southern South Australia. The character of the lands in those portions of the country is different altogether. Central Australia, again, will have to be worked on different lines from other parts. The land question must be dealt with in a local manner.’ It is ridiculous to imagine that it is possible to fix one price for land in all parts of Australia. It cannot possibly be done. I suppose that the Northern Territory is one of the finest areas in the whole world, so far as the quality of the soil is concerned. There is no better country for rearing different kinds of stock.
– It is all held by monopolists.
– It is impossible to work that kind of land without capital. If honorable members opposite had their way, everything would be a monopoly. The greatest monopoly which the Federal Parliament is now controlling is the postal monopoly, and I suppose that we have there an example of the biggest muddle in the history of the world. The Post Office was worked very well when it was under State control. But what is the state of things now? If the business of Australia were not worked on better lines “than that Post Office is at the present time, I say “God help Australia!” Take my own State. There are people in South Australia who, fifteen months ago, paid £24 into the Treasury as a telephone guarantee. The Government have kept the money ever since, but we have heard nothing more about the telephone. Again, there has been a mail service at Clarendon for over forty years, but it has been knocked off by the Commonwealth. Instead of Australia being developed by our Departments pushing out and assisting the people, the Government are knocking off mails all over the country. They are introducing a system of stagnation. We are told that various services do not pay. When Sir Charles Todd rode from Adelaide to Mount Gambier in the early days, he did not ask whether it would pay to construct a telegraph line. He put up the wire, and helped to develop Australia in that way. But now, whenever a service is required for the convenience of the people in the back-blocks, Government officials ask whether it will pay. In a new country like Australia we cannot expect everything to pay at once. But even though some loss does occur - even though it may cost a couple of shillings to deliver a letter in a distant part of Australia - it really pays very well to perform that service if we. look at it from a national point of view. I do- not like to see this starving of the Post Office and of other services. We ought to be spending £500,000 a year in bringing our Post Office up to date. Instead of that we have the miserable spectacle of post-offices in a wretched condition, mails being discontinued, and officers underpaid. The reports on this subject are a disgrace to Australia. If this is a cue as to how business would be transacted on Socialistic lines, I should be sorry for Australia to see anything of the kind done. In my opinion, the only incentive to work is individuality. Look at the great ‘ work done by the pioneers of Australia, who came out here in the early days.
– Cobb and Company.
– Well, except for Cobb and Company we should not have been able to develop this country as we have done. We shall have to get back once more to this system of encouraging the individuality of our people. Honorable members opposite talk of there bein.tr no land available in Australia. It is a ridiculous statement. There.is land in the interior of Australia which is equal to the best land in the world. We have only touched the fringe, of Australia yet, and a very small fringe at that. To say that we have peopled Australia when we have a population of only four and a half millions is too ridiculous. Of course, I know that people are flocking to the cities. They cannot be blamed for that, when no facilities are provided for them in the country. They cannot get a telephone or a mail service. They must come into the cities to get their children educated.
– They are bumping up against the ring fence of monopoly everywhere.
– There is not so much monopoly in Australia as honorable members opposite try to make out. Thenare liberal-minded men in this country who want to see the land settled.
– There are 3,000,00c acres held by monopolists in the honorable member’s own district.
– Nothing of the sort. I can think, at this moment, of many large estates which have been divided up. There are Moorak, Mount Schank, Kalangdoo, Yallum, Hynam, Naracoorte, Kybybolite, Binnum, and Mount Benson stations, for instance. Landowners in my part of the country have, I think, done more to break up the large estates than is the case in any other part of Australia. They are doing their best to settle people on the land. But it is impossible for people to settle without” capital and without experience. They ~have been trying it in Victoria, and in other parts of Australia. But all these experiments end in failure. People who have had no experience of the land must fail. I have read that in Denmark a man has to show that he has had five years’ experience on the land and has £100, and then the Government will give him a piece of land upon which he can live. Put any man. however willing, but without experience, on the best land in Australia, and give him a good start, and he will make a failure of it: He will have to buy his experience, and will pav mighty dear for it.
– The greater number of the pioneers had no experience.
– A great number of them had experience in the Old Country before they came to Australia. Honorable members opposite talk of the old pioneers getting .rich because of the cheap land they obtained. Let me tell the House that, to my own knowledge, between Kingston anc’ Narracoorte. and on to Mount Gambier, there are only two sons of the old pioneers left on the soil to-day. That is a very notable fact. Nearly all the old pioneers lost their money. They were forced by the Government to buy their land at a very high price.
– Nonsense ! The honorable member knows that that is absurd.
– It is not absurd at all. A portion of the Mount Schank Estate was, some time ago, sold by Mr. Clarke to the Government of South Australia. It is a historical fact that the Government bought it from him for less money than was originally paid for some of it. Ten thousand acres of that land were originally bought from the Government at £3 per acre. That was over thirty years ago. In other words, the Government got more for a portion of that land than they paid for it when they bought it back, and they had the use of. the money for nearly forty years. There has been put into my hand a copy of the Worker for 15th July, 1909. I will read a passage from it -
A number of derelict politicians, who have always stood aloof from Labour, are threatening to join the party, on condition that they are accommodated with constituencies. This sort of patronizing flapdoodle makes Labour very tired. The Labour leagues cannot be expected to abandon the able men in their own ranks who have borne the brunt of the battle in order to pitchfork politicians ‘who are on their political uppers into Parliament.
I trust that whatever we may do we will push on with the business of this great country, and will not waste further time.
.- It is just possible that after the effort of the honorable member for Barker, a Ministerialist, the Government require time to think over what he has said, and that they will now be willing to grant an adjournment of the debate.
– I do not -like to resist this opportunity of hearing the honorable member.
– If I receive from the honorable gentleman an assurance that he will stay to listen, J may be tempted to speak.
– I will indeed in this case.
– I think that, in the circumstances, an adjournment of the debate might be granted. It is scarcely fair to expect me to finish my speech within the ordinary period of a sitting, when the custom has been to adjourn within a few minutes of half-past 10 o’clock.
– Can we have an assurance that honorable members on the other side will come to a vote to-morrow?
– I cannot give an assurance of that kind. I wish I could.
– The honorable member can go on until the usual time for adjourning.
– I am sure that honorable members have been delighted with the brilliant effort with which we have just been favoured. It was somewhat amusing to note that the honorable member for Barker to-night should have been barking under instructions, and that in the midst of a learned discourse on the necessity for breeding horses for military purposes, he should suddenly break off to entertain us with remarks about the land question, and even in the middle of a speech on land settlement to read a quotation from the New South Wales Worker, which had some reference to political derelicts. I do not know why his instructors should have seized upon that particular paragraph in the Worker, or whether the honorable member feared that the time is not far distant when he will be a derelict floating upon the troublesome seas of politics. This morning I noticed that one daily newspaper was particularly keen in its references to the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney, while the other one, which I am assured has a larger circulation, was not quite so favorable in its comments. It is possible that though urgent business prevents the right honorable gentleman from remaining in-: the chamber, he may appreciate, in the circumstances, some few references from even the latest person to be elected to this House,, to the remarks which he was pleased to favour us with the other day. I do not know whether he started out with the idea of being humorous, or with the idea of showing us how particularly illogical one of the most prominent supporters of the present Ministry cam be in his support, how he can distinctly and definitely approve of some of the leading proposals of the Labour party’s policy, and as distinctly and definitely denounce in almost unmeasured terms the proposals of the present Ministry, and their neglect to do work in the past, for some of them have been in office for a considerable time. I cannot understand how he can oppose the Labour party, whose principal proposals meet with his full and unqualified approval, and at the same time support a Ministry whose conduct he thinks is worthy of his denunciation, and whose proposals he finds are inimical to the best interests of Australia.
Perhaps the first portion of the speech was intended to be humorous. Certainly it was illogical in that, while assuring us that he had no intention of diving into the past, and deprecating such conduct on the part of honorable members, who had been assiduous in looking up Hansard, he forthwith proceeded to go back at least twenty - four years into the Hansard of New South Wales for the one and only purpose of indulging in a little personal raillery at another honorable member. If that is not illogical, I do not know what is. To aver that he was not going to dive into the past, and immediately to go back twenty-four years, to say that it was not right to make such references, and at the same time to have in his hand leaves from Hansard bearing dates in 1884 and 1885 was a most astounding thing, and one not calculated, I think, to impress new members with a sense of responsibility which should attach to their position. We have been charged, particularly as the result of the pointed interjections of the Minister of Defence, with wasting time. I have heard the word “ stone- walling “ used on the other side, but when one of their leading supporters .had to go back into the stone age of politics, in order to find material with which to address the House, and that material was merely personal raillery against another honorable member, I think that the charge of “ stone- walling “ on this side falls to the ground, and that it applies with double force to the other side. In addition to that we had a Ministerialist in the person of the honorable member for Fremantle reducing “stone-walling” to a fine art, for during the ninety minutes that he addressed the House, over sixty minutes were occupied in reading speeches which are reported as having been delivered by him here in November of last year. If that was not an exhibition of “ stone-walling,” then I misunderstand the word, and know little about it so far as it applies to politics.
– That is rough on the honorable member for Darwin, who was occupied for a long time in reading a whole paper.
– There again the Minister of Defence interjects in a manner which he knows is scarcely fair. The paper, as a whole, .was not read, and the honorable member for Darwin submitted an apology for even quoting a few portions of it.
– Was the speech of the honorable member for Gwydir a “ stonewalling “ speech?
– So far as I know, it was not. I do not think that he read for more than fifteen minutes, and there was no going back into history, except for an occasional quotation, by which he properly sought to expose Ministerialists to the electors whom they will have to face. One of the chief points made by the right honorable member for East Sydney was that Labour members should not blame the Ministerial party because of something that an individual member of it may have said. With that I entirely concur; but his want of logic was there again displayed, because he, more than any other member, so far as I know, has been guilty of such conduct towards the Labour party. The wild utterances of persons not even remotely connected with the Labour party have been seized upon, enlarged, and put before the public so as to make the people think them the official pronouncements of the party. Yet, yesterday, when an honorable member interjected that the President of the Employers’ Federation was a Ministerialist, the right honorable member rebuked us as if we had done something radically wrong and discreditable. If the Ministerialists take his rebuke to heart, and refrain in future from denouncing the Labour party because of the utterances of any one man, they will have little to say against us, and must seek for new sources of material for their speeches. As a Labour man I am prepared to submit to, though not to approve of, the criticism of the utterances of Labour members, more especially if they hold official positions. But Ministerialists and Ministers, including, I am sorry to say, the Prime Minister, have seized upon the utterances of persons not even remotely connected with the Labour party, and, on account of them, have denounced the party as holding opinions which it does not hold. It was distressing to hear the Prime Minister in the speech which he delivered at the Melbourne Town Hall on the 25th May last, speak of what the Labour organization does, and is guilty of, when he must know, if he has any knowledge of it at all, that it does not do, and is not guilty of the things with which he charged it. Whenever Ministerialists criticise the Labour party, it is from the utterances of an individual not connected with the party, and perhaps, antagonistic to it, on whom they have picked because he has chosen to speak of himself as a Socialist. The President of the Employers’ Federation is to-day going round with a card in his pocket issued by a South Australian press agency, which offers to publish in the country press any statement that it may be paid for publishing. According to its own advertisement -
It compile;, for publication in the leading organs of public opinion throughout the country districts -
Not in the metropolitan area. There its statements would be contradicted next day - a series of articles dealing trenchantly with political and social subjects from a Conservative and Anti-Socialist point of view . . .
But the cost in time, labour, and money is heavy and the work can only be continued by the aid of some substantial measure of pecuniary support l t is ready to compile and publish in the country papers anything that any one likes to pay it for compiling and publishing. Its hopes are in that section of the community, which is represented by the Employers’ Federation. The advertisement states that-
Our inclusive charge for each article is £2.
I am afraid that I am giving the company a free advertisement which it does not deserve. It is ready to publish articles in the country papers over which it has control,or on which members of the Employers’ Federation have a mortgage, as they have, unfortunately, in some cases. It will publish a denunciation of Labour in the bitterest terms, going as near as it dare to criminal libel. The card to which I have referred bears on it the alleged utterance of an individual, not a member of the Labour party, whom I have never seen, and of whom I had not previously heard, although I have resided for more than a score of years in South Australia. The person who is alleged to have made this utterance has denied that he said one half of what appears on the card, and has made it clear that the other half has been cruelly and wickedly torn from its context, and distorted in a manner which reflects the greatest discredit on those responsible. The passage, read as a whole, would bear an entirely different construction from that put on it. It refers to the farmers, and I may be able, a little later in my remarks, to touch upon the relations of the Labour party, as well as those of the Ministerialists, to the farming community. I hope to speak from official records which are beyond refutation.
– What is on the card?
– The honorable member for Fawkner, who is carrying the card about, nursing it like a first-born infant, will, no doubt, be happy to show it to the honorable member.
– It is not the first-born infant of this character.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney stated last night that all he has got from the Labour party is amiability. For five years at least the Labour party kept him in office in New South Wales’.
– That is not correct. They supported him, it is true.
– Then I shall alter my statement, and accept the correction of the Minister of Defence, who says that they supported him. If, from a political standpoint, there is any difference between saying that they kept the right honorable gentleman in office and that they supported him, the Minister of Defence is. welcome to it. It is reasonable to assume that if the right honorable member for East Sydney had been without the support of the New South Wales Labour party he could not have retained office.
– That is not so. That is just the point. Half the time the right honorable member could have done without them.
– But he did not do so.
– No; he was glad to get their support.
– Then shall I say that for half the time he was in office in New South Wales the right honorable member for East Sydney could not have done without the support of the New South Wales Labour party, and that for the other half though he might have done without their support, he was very glad to get it? If that be so, I am brought back to my original conclusion that the right honorable gentleman received from the Labour party something more than amiability, which is a groat deal more than he is receiving from the leader of the party with which he is now associated, and a great deal more than the leader of that party received from him yesterday, when, in the strongest terms, he denounced the inaction of the Government so far as the Post Office and defence are con-. cerned, arid the methods employed in respect to immigration. He bitterly denounced the system of land monopoly and the aggregation of large estates which the present Ministry is formed to safeguard and keep in existence as they are at the present time. In my opinion, the right, honorable member for East Sydney should rather wish to -be with the party from whom he received amiability than be associated with the party which has treated him as he has been treated by honorable members opposite. I remember that the Leader of the Government, only a few months ago, referred to the right honorable member as the leader of the remnants of all the lost causes; the leader of all reactionaries ; the biggest piece of wreckage amongst the wreckages of all parties; as a matter of fact, the then leader of the black labour party. I remember the honorable gentleman going further, and saying that the right honorable member for East Sydney was a man who had actually trapped - and there is no amiability about that word - the Prime Minister in his political innocence. I cannot conceive of the Prime Minister being trapped ; it is difficult to believe, but I accept the honorable gentleman’s word, of course. He said that the right honorable member for East Sydney had actually trapped him into doing something politically which he ought not to have done. The crowning evidence of amiability came when the Prime Minister pointed to the right honorable member for East Sydney as a man with whom agreements ought not to have been made. Yet it would seem that these personal or political differences have been put into-
– The boiling pot.
– Or shall I say the brewer’s vat? Perhaps that would suit the honorable member for Maribyrnong better. Despite all these statements, we find the right honorable member for East Sydney and the Prime Minister now sitting side by side, one supporting the other.
– That is not half saying it. Why does not the honorable member say “ sitting cheek by jowl “ ?
– I am afraid that expression has- been used so frequently that it has become hackneyed. We now find these honorable gentlemen supporting each other, although it seems to me that the support of the right honorable member for East Sydney is likely to be of a dis- tinctly limited character. During the whole of the time he was speaking Ministers sat with blanched faces. The Minister of Defence was moved to interjection, and might have committed himself, but for the anxious fatherly care of the Prime Minister who drew him back and said, . “ Be careful, First Lieutenant ! If you interject to the right honorable member for East Sydney when he is in this mood he may apply the whip to a place where we do not want it. He will get into our camp and disturb the little harmony that exists at the present moment.” So the Minister of Defence retired from his seat at the table to the Treasury bench, and sat there in common with other Ministers with his face blanched for fear the right honorable member for East Sydney might say that his support would not be of a character, that could always be relied upon. It certainly will not if the right honorable member is going to carry out the statements he made in the address to which I am referring. It seems to me that his statement nas somewhat similar to that of the honorable member for Lang, who described his attitude as one of friendliness tempered with caution. If we are to judge from the utterances of these two honorable members I think that their caution will be found to out-weigh their friendliness for the present Ministry. I wish to deal now with another remark which is more general. We were assured by the right honorable member for East Sydney - and possibly this was explanatory of his reason for supporting a Ministry with whose proposals he does not agree, while objecting to the Labour party - that the great dividing line between the two parties in the House, at the present time, is that the Ministry and their supporters believe in private enterprise, whilst the Labour party are favorable to State monopoly. I should like to say at the outset that I am unable to understand the term “ State monopoly.” ft is foreign to me. I do not know how any honorable member can speak of anything belonging to the whole of the people as a monopoly. It seems to me somewhat paradoxical to say that when all the people own and control something it then becomes a monopoly. Whose monopoly? By a monopoly, in the ordinary sense of the word, is meant an institution, a venture, an enterprise that is the property of a few individuals, and the term is even in that case only used in its harsh sense when the monopoly is not merely controlled by a few but is exercised to the detriment of the many. Under. private enterprise we are assured that monopolies of that particular character can establish themselves and raise their heads. They have done so. and will continue to do so, in a manner inimical to the best interests of the people generally. It is unnecessary to cite any particular monopoly in proof of that statement. Monopolies are being raised here, and following in their train is all the misery, degradation, crime, and vice with which the older parts of the world are seething at the present time. How in the name of all that is logical can there be a monopoly if all the people are interested in it on a precisely equal footing - if all the human beings in the State or nation, as the case may be, are participators in the control and in the profits, if there -be any, or in the loss, if there be any? They are manifestly owning and controlling the enterprise for the general welfare of the community, and the word “ monopoly “ is a misnomer, and ought never to be used. But I deny that, even in the sense suggested by the right honorable member for East Sydney, the Labour party favour State monopoly. The very most that can be said, so far as that party is concerned, is that it favours State regulation as against the licence of private enterprise. But the right honorable gentleman, as a supporter of the Ministry, fell down on the side of private enterprise ; he is with all the honorable gentlemen opposite as a supporter of private enterprise. One would suppose, therefore, that private enterprise had been a success ; that there are no faults to find with it, but that, so far as State regulation is concerned or the State owning of such institutions as the Post Office, railways, and waterworks, there have been abuses which demand the opposition not only of the right honorable member for East Sydney, but of the whole of the party on the Ministerial side. Is that the case? Can we refer to a Government institution where bribery, corruption, and wickedness have been so rampant as to call for denunciation and alteration ? Can we refer to private enterprise in its successful aspects as being so clean from those vices as to tall for no alteration whatever? Just to show how- illogical one of the most prominent supporters of the Ministry can be, the right honorable gentleman immediately turned to private enterprise in one of its most successful aspect’s, and denounced it in unmeasured terms as so cruel and inimi- cai to the interests of the country that he would do one of two things - either tax it out of existence or resume the lands which it controls. He was referring to land monopoly in the aggregation of large estates, “and that is private enterprise in one of its most successful and cruel aspects, an aspect the most farreaching in evil results to the nation generally. Having assured us that he intended to support the peculiar thing known as private enterprie, he turned round and said that private enterprise had been such a lamentable failure, and so cruel in its operation, that it deserved to be taxed out existence. Could any condemnation of private enterprise be more severe than that from the right honorable member’s lips? But we can go a little further. There exists in Australia to-day another form of private enterprise, known as commercial rings. Let me read a paragraph that appeared in one of the Adelaide daily papers a few weeks ago, under the heading “ Effects of the Timber Ring “- “ Can you do anything to help the public in the matter of securing timber lor building at a cheaper rate?” said a well-known architect to a reporter of the Advertiser on Friday. ‘* It is a most serious matter to people who contemplate building houses, shops, warehouses, or anything else for which woodwork is required,” he continued. “ The price of timber is so high, owing to the operations of the timber ring, that the cost of building is increased enormously. What is needed is competition, and the architects and builders would be delighted to see a Melbourne or Sydney firm of some standing open up a big place here and fix prices which would attract business.
I am giving this free advertisement, so that some of our Melbourne firms may, perhaps, help us in our difficulty in Adelaide^ - “As it is, we are entirely at the mercy of the firms who have a sort of 1 honorable understanding,’ and absolutely control the trade. There was some talk of the builders combining and procuring shipments of timber, but then they realize that in times of pressure the merchants would not fill small orders for immediate needs, and that they would be destroying their own interests by importing. I could give you the name of a business man in Currie-street who wanted 30 tons of galvanized iron, and the timber merchants, who stock this article as well as timber, quoted such a high price that he sent to Melbourne for it, and after paying the carriage to Adelaide he saved 30s. a ton by the transaction. It is’ a fact that builders can get timber landed here at a cheaper rate than at which they can buy it locally. Within the last ro years the cost of building has gone up from 30 to 40 per cent., and a large proportion of the increase is due to the excessively high price of timber. As far as I can see, the only remedy is for a Melbourne or Sydney firm to come here and carry on business quite apart from the ring.”
This is another evidence of private enterprise being eminently successful in inflicting injury on the people of the State in which it operates to such an extent that architects, who are to some extent dependent on the timber merchants, have to appeal to the public press, and cry out to the other States to come and release them from an octopus-like ring, which is filching money from the pockets of the people by making timber 30 to 40 per cent, higher in price than it ought to be if legitimate honest trading were carried on. Notwithstanding that this knowledge was in possession of the right honorable member for ‘ East Sydney, he fell down on the side of private enterprise. He intends that this form of robbing the people shall continue, and not merely that it shall continue, but, so far as his power in politics is concerned, he will support it ; and he says that that represents the great dividing line between the Labour party and the Ministerial party. I hope it ever will be the dividing line. I sincerely hope that the public generally will understand, as clearly as I hope it is understood in this Chamber, that on the Ministerial side are ranged the individuals who intend to continue to support these rings, trusts, combines, and so-called “ honorable understandings,” which are private enterprise in its most successful form, while on this side sit men who will support and urge with all the power at their command, that there shall be State regulation to correct and check the rapacity of private enterprise as exemplified by these various arrangements. I have here a list which indicates another aspect of private enterprise, though certainly not in its most successful aspect so far as the persons who are deprived of their legal rights are concerned. I have a list of twenty-two names of persons who, within the last few years, have failed, and have taken advantage of what they euphemistically call the insolvency laws. Among them I notice the family of Derhams. No fewer than three of them have gone this particular road of private enterprise. One failed for £384,000, and paid his creditors a penny in the pound.
– Is that all !
– The Minister of Defence seems to be quite surprised that one of his friends should fail for so small an amount, and pay such a large dividend. “Is that all?” asked the Minister of De fence as though it were a mere bagatelle. It represents private enterprise in one of its aspects.
– It represents want of enterprise.
– No, it represents private enterprise, which, we are told, the right honorable member for East Sydney and the Ministry are prepared to support and continue. This is one of the aspects of private enterprise. If the Minister of Defence is anxious for something of a slightly different character, he can have it. A gentleman named Fink - I do not know where he comes from-
– He was a Melbourne man.
– He failed for £1,720,000, and paid one farthing in the pound upon that enormous liability.
– He paid that only because there was no smaller coin.
– I was not aware of the reason why he paid so small a dividend. I only know that his name- appears in this official list, which portrays private enterprise in one of its aspects.
– Who suffered by these failures?
– The widows and orphans, and the people generally, who had trusted these samples of private enterprise.
– Sharks !
– I am not going to use that term, for I have no knowledge of the details of these failures. I only know that this list portrays a form of private enterprise, and I regret very much that the right honorable member for East Sydney should have said that he prefers private enterprise to State regulation, such as is favoured by the Labour party.
– Private enterprise is surely consistent with State’ regulation. Where is the honorable member landing?
– I fear that I shall not be able to land the Minister of Defence. He is too wary a political fish to get on any political hook.
– Private enterprise is not inconsistent with State regulation.
– Why did not the honorable member make that interjection yesterday when his ex-leader was pointing out that the great dividing line between the two parties in this House is that the Government and their supporters favour private enterprise, while we support State regulation.
– Did he use the word “ regulation “?
– No. He used the word “monopoly.”
– And the honorable member is already misquoting him.
– I am not; I explained the matter at the outset. The honorable member, despite his dialectic skill, is quite unable to define “§tate monopoly.”
– There is a vast difference between State regulation and State Socialism.
– I am not dealing at present with State Socialism. I am merely pointing out that private enterprise has not been such a signal success as to justify a desire on the part of honorable members on this side of the House to continue it. Private enterprise is responsible in England and America for the wide contrasts that we find there. In one of its successful aspects, it produced the material for Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle. It is private enterprise in New York, which, according to a brilliant young Australian journalist - Fox - produces some of the most frightful contrasts of which it is possible to conceive. Side by side with fabulous wealth is the most dire poverty and suffering of men, women, and children. That is another phase of private enterprise. The position is precisely the same in England, where we were assured on the authority of the then Prime Minister that, out of a population of 40,000,000, 12,000,000 were on the verge of starvation. Private enterprise in London alone every day sends 120,000 innocent little children to school hungry, and, therefore, quite unable to assimilate the instruction which their teachers endeavour to impart.
– Are we to infer from that statement that the honorable member denounces private enterprise?
– What the honorable member infers is a matter entirely for himself. He may draw whatever inference he pleases.
– Then what is the point ?
– If the honorable member does not see it, he feels it. It is this : . that the right honorable member for East Sydney, who, for years, was the honorable member’s leader and mouthpiece - for whom he fagged with unremitting toil, and to whom he looked up for years with almost reverential mien - said yesterday in this House that the dividing line between the Government and the Opposition was that the former believed in private enterprise, whilst we favoured what he termed State monopoly, but what I describe as State regulation. I am showing what I know and believe to be private enterprise in some of its successful aspects. Our proposal is only that the State shall take charge of what have become monopolies that are doing injury to the people generally, and ought to be checked in their evil’ work. It may be that some one here or elsewhere has suggested something further, but the Minister of Defence, I am sure, is going to take the advice of his ex-leader, and not attempt, in future, to thrash us for what one particular member of our party may say in relation to our policy. Our platform at present provides for the nationalization of monopolies, that is, for the nationalization of those things which private enterprise in its successful aspect has seized upon and made into monopolies, and by which means it filches from the people’s pockets, and checks ordinary competition or. reasonable enterprise. This party says that in the interests of the primary producers in the country, and the secondary producers in our cities, the State ought to nationalize such a venture, and that the people should own and control it for the general well-being of the public.
– When it becomes mischievous, the honorable member’s party would throw round it the ægis of the Government.
– I have not said that.
– The Labour party include the nationalization of the land in their programme. ,
– I do not suppose that the honorable member is trying to misrepresent us. Possibly he has not read our policy. If he had he would know that the nationalization of the. land is not included in it.
– Land is included as a monopoly. We have the assurance of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that it is.
– Our programme provides merely for the nationalization of monopolies. As to the remark made by the Minister of Defence, I should say that when any venture of private enterprise becomes mischievous in its operation, he, with the Labour party, should be among the first to support its State regulation or State ownership, if regulation cannot be bi ought about by other than State owner- ship. Surely the honorable member will not deny forone moment that, if there had been other than State ownership of our railways, they would have been mischievous, and that no legislation could have checked the mischief. The people of America have been endeavouring for thirty or forty years, with the assistance of their glorious Inter- State Commission, which has been a signal failure in that direction, to deal with private railways. Presumably, the Inter-State Commission which the Commonwealth Government pro- ‘ pose to establish will have even more to do, although , it may not have greater powers than has the InterState Commission of the United States. Notwithstanding the Inter-State Commission, the private ownership of railways in America has been of a character to reflect the utmost discredit upon those who own them, and to rob the community fre quently, openly, and knowingly, of its earnings or its produce. I shall be glad to accept the dividing line which the right honorable member for East Sydney says exists. I shall be prepared at all times to adopt that on the public platform. It will be helpful to Labour members if the Ministry will accept the definition of the right honorable member of what is the dividing line between us. We shall then be able to say with more clearness than is at present possible that there sit the friends and supporters of the rings.
– How would it do to make a bargain - the Labour party to take that definition for their propaganda work, and we to take for our programme our definition of Socialism as representing the aims of the Labour Party?
– I do not know what the honorable member’s definition of Socialism is. I have arrived. at the conclusion that the honorable member has different definitions of Socialism according to the places that he speaks at. When he was in Adelaide a few months ago, at the invitation of the Women’s National League - which, by the way,’ only a few weeks prior to that had carried a resolution approving the introduction of black labour to Australia - it is possible that the definition which the honorable member gave of Socialism at that charming afternoon gathering was entirely different from the one he gives when speaking in a Sydney hall, if ever he favours a Sydney audience with it. I must therefore ask him to give his definition of Socialism before I am committed to it. I am prepared, however, to accept what the right honorable member for East Sydney says is the dividing line - that this party is favorable to State regulation, as I understand his use of the word “ monopoly,” while on the other side sit the supporters of private enterprise, that private enterprise which in its most successful aspect is responsible for 99 per cent, of the misery and wrong that exists in the world to-day. I believe that one of the ancient Greek Gods - Hermes - was the God of Commerce, and he was also the God of Deceit, of Lying, and of Corruption. So far as commerce is carried on now by rings, trusts, understandings, combines, and rebates, there is no necessity whatever to change the God. Honorable members opposite are very welcome to the definition of their situation given by their friend . and supporter the right honorable member for East Sydney. I understand that the. Ministry have no objection to my continuing my remarks tomorrow.
– I am sorry to interrupt the honorable member, but I do not now object.
– To meet the Ministerial wishes, I beg leave to continue my remarks tomorrow.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
House adjourned at11.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090715_reps_3_49/>.