4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if all the members of the last Parliament who were not re-elected have returned their passes. If not, will the honorable gentleman kindly let me know who have not done so? I have not yet received my pass.
– Only two of the ex-representatives of Victorian constituencies have not returned their passes.We are negotiating with them, and hope that they will shortly surrender.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs whether special efforts are being made by his Department to deal with the importation of patent medicines and drugs used for particular purposes?
– I should like the honorable gentleman to give notice ofthe question. I know of no special action that is being taken.
– In view of the speech made by the honorable member for Gwydir last night, will the PostmasterGeneral hold his hand in regard to the telephone rates until the report of the Postal Commission has been received and understood by honorable members?
– It is my intention to bring the toll system into operation on 1st September next.
– As it was frequently stated during the recent elections that the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act had been relaxed by the Governmentthen in power, I ask the Minister of External Affairs whether, on his return to office, he found that during his absence the administration had been weak, and, if so, whether he has taken special action to stringently apply the provisions of the law?
– I did not hear the statements referred to, and do not know their nature. I have found nothing unusual in the administration of the Department. .
– Will the Prime Minister favorably consider the suggestion that copies of Hansard should be supplied at1s. per session to those desiringto read a fair report of our parliamentary proceedings, so as to bring the publication within the reach of the poorest of the community ?
– I have not had time to go into the question, but I. have always held the view that it is a mistaken policy to make Hansard as expensive as it is. If by reducing the price to1s. per session we could insure the reading of Hansard by the public generally, the publication would be a very valuable production.
– Is it the intention of the Government to introduce the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill in the form in which it was introduced last session, and as a Government measure? Has the Minister of External Affairs received a formal opinion from the Attorney-General’s Department as to whether the terms of the agreement with South Australia permit of the route of the railway being taken into Queensland ?
– My reply to both questions is ““Yes.” The Bill will be introduced, not as a party, but as a Government measure.
– Is the opinion referred to the Attorney-General’s or the Crown Law officers’ ?
– A copy of the opinion has been laid on the table of the Senate. It is that of the Department.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
With reference to the statement in the GovernorGeneral’s speech that “ all necessary preliminary steps are being taken towards the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port
Augusta “ - will the Prime Minister state what are the steps that are being taken, and whena clear and definite statement as to the intentions of the Government, in regard to this work, will be made, so as to remove all doubt in regard to the matter?
– All steps necessary to enable the Government to proceed with the construction of a great work with expedition and economy.
asked the Min ister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What is being done in regard to providing a rifle range at Narrogin, Western Australia, the matter being reported as very urgent?
– The following answer has been supplied to me : -
There appears to be a difficulty in securing a suitable site for this club’s range. The District Commandant states that a report is being forwarded this week in the matter, on receipt of’ which the right honorable member will be further advised.
asked the PrimeMinister, upon notice -
If the Government will hold over any orders for Commonwealth token currency below the value of Sixpence till the Parliament has been consulted as to the adoption of a decimal system of money and currency, and meet any immediate demands by supplies of British token coins?
– I do not think it worth while to do so. The question of a decimal system of money will have full consideration during this Parliament.
Scrutiny of Lists of Voters -
Witnessing of Postal Ballot-Papers
asked the Ministerof Home Affairs, upon notice -
-.- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : - 1 and 2. Section 163 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1909 does not specifically deal with the question raised, but regulation 27 under theAct provides - “All ballot-papers, lists of voters, and Q ‘ forms used at an election shall, after the scrutiny is completed, be sealed up by the officer who conducted the scrutiny. Assistant returning officers shall transmit all the ballot-papers and other documents referred to above sealed up by them to the returning officer for the division, who shall be responsible for the safe custody of these documents until the authority of the Commonwealth electoral officer for the State has been obtained for their destruction.”
After the documents have been sealed up in accordance with the foregoing regulation they remain intact and undisturbed until the election to which they relate can no longer be questioned.
It is the practice, after the expiration of the statutory period within which the election can be questioned, to cause a comparison to be made of the rolls used at the election within certain selected divisions, and action is now being taken accordingly in relation to the recent elections.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice-
With reference to the Minister’s statement that permanent buildings at the Federal Capital would take time to construct, “ and what is ten, fifteen, or fifty years in the life of a nation?” - does he expect that, under his administration, his Department will take ten, fifteen, or fifty years to construct a permanent building?
– No. I am prepared to construct permanent buildings with every expedition, subject to the necessary appropriation.
Overtime, Old-age Pensions Office - Examination Fees - Minimum Wage.
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiry is being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
Debate resumed from 7th July (vide page 195), on motion by Mr. Scullin -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
.- Like others who have spoken, I have pleasure in congratulating the new members who have taken part in this debate. There is only one new member on the Opposition side, I believe - the honorable member for Richmond. The speech he made last night was especially creditable to the House. I anticipate that he will make his mark in Federal politics. As for the remarks of the honorable member for Ballarat, although I listened to them with great pleasure, the honorable gentleman dealing in lawyer-like fashion with the Speech in detail, I find on reflection that in delivering them he acted up to his reputation of being able to say a great deal in very- nice language without leaving a firm impression of what his views really are. There may be excuse for that in this instance, because the Bills foreshadowed in the Government’s programme have not yet been laid on the table. Both the honorable member and the right honorable member for Swan have suddenly discovered that there is a fault in our electoral system. The discovery was made after the 13th April last. For nine years a large body of electors in New South Wales were unrepresented in the Senate. Although 150,000 persons voted for Labour candidates at the election before the last, New South Wales had no Labour senators in the last Parliament. . That fact did not awaken the minds of the honorable gentleman to whom I have referred to the existence of an electoral anomaly. Now that New South Wales has returned three Labour senators, they are convinced that there is something wrong. The Labour party to-day is in a majority in both Houses of this Parliament. It is unlikely that, we are going to tamper with electoral machinery that has been in existence so long, notwithstanding that it has given the other side such an advantage.
– Has the honorable member heard of the gerrymandering which took place last session in connexion with Western Australian electorates ?
– I have, but I am not going to speak of it, because I know nothing of the facts. The Labour party did not gain .one seat by a narrow majority. After the last general election, the honorable member for Parramatta said that our party had polled every ounce of its strength; but I think that he must have been joking.
– I think that the statement was correct.
– If it were, is it reasonable to assume that the Labour executive in New South Wales would not have put up a man for the Parramatta seat before they did, instead of waiting until a few days before the election?
– It was not their fault that they did not.
– We wished to obtain a good man to contest the seat and could not do so until a few days before the poll.
– The party stipulated all the time for a candidate with , money and motor cars.
– The motor cars might have been handy, but as a matter of fact we could have polled thousands of votes more than we did if we had been earlier in the field with a good man. In my. own electorate, if the opposition had been strong, our party could have polled thousands of votes more than it did. I had the good fortune to secure a majority of over 8,000votes, but that majority was only a trifle compared with what we could have polled had there been a keen fight. The Opposition announced that “ Mr. Patrick McMahon Glynn, Attorney-General of the Commonwealth,” would speak in my electorate, and it was thought that he would prove a great “draw.” As a matter of fact, however, his meeting was a fizzle SO’” far as South Sydney was concerned. I wish to make it clear that if the Labour party had had to contest a really keen fight, in many electorates such as Broken Hill and Newcastle the percentage of voting in its favour would have been largely increased. We did not, by any means, poll our full strength in electorates such as NorthSydney.
– So far, we have -not. been extended.
– Quite so, we are -only going to extend ourselves. I promise the honorable member for Parramatta that at the next election we shall put a little more ginger into our fight in his electorate, and, perhaps, that will strengthen his position. Coming to our programme, the honorable member for Echuca seemed to entertain some dreadful fears as to the Labour party, its caucus, and its methods. I would remind him that we went to the country with, our programme in black and white. The people knew full well that we had a .caucus, for our caucus methods, together with our programme, were put before them. In the circumstances, therefore, it is idle to grumble or complain about what the Labour party have been doing, or are going to do. The electors returned them on their programme and their methods, and it must be expected that we shall, as far as possible, carry out that programme. We have no need to be ashamed of our caucus. Why should we? The honorable member for Lang was president of the first labour league, of which I was a member, and we ran him as a pledged candidate for Marrickville. There was no disgrace attaching to his standing as a pledged candidate. He was then in good company.
– But the Labour pledge was different from that now in operation.
– The principles were the same.
– They were absolutely different.
– Our principles were the same, and our candidates were pledged to our principles. I hope that it is understood that the honorable member left our party for our party’s good, and I sincerely regret that he should have thought it desirable to read yesterday, from a newspaper, a silly quotation concerning trade unionists.
– The point is whetheror not the report is true.
– I shall prove that it is not.I have the good fortune to enjoy the fullest confidence of the trade unionists of New South Wales. They have elected me to the highest position, outside Parliament, in that State, and I can honestly say that trade unionists are a most unselfish body of men. They have not sought to confine to their own ranks the reforms which they have advocated. Every movement for the social uplifting of the workers on which trade unionists have spent their money and for which they have fought so strenuously has been readily extended to the non-unionists, and. that being so, it is a scandal for an honorable member to throw a slur on a great body of workers who have combined to bring about better conditions.
– I did not throw a slur upon them. I simply quoted a newspaper report which I had read.
– If the honorable member sees a silly statement in a newspaper there is no occasion for him to read it in this House.
– It was a report of something that took place.
– I have read a report of a speech made by Mr. Walpole, Secretary of the Employers’ Federation, in which he said that marriage is a luxury for the workers, but I do not say for one moment that he was speaking for all the employers of Australia. I would remind the honor able member that whilst irresponsible individuals may speak as they please outside they certainly do not speak for their organizations any more than Mr. Walpole speaks for all the employers.
– Oh, yes, he does.
– I give the Employers’ Federation credit for possessing more humanity than to hold that marriage is a luxury for the working man. I do not believe that they hold such an opinion. We can find amongst the employing class men just as anxious to do the right thing as are those in any other section of the community.
– Mr. WalpoIe has denied the statement attributed to him.
– I accept his denial. Why should I repeat it merely for the purpose of making political capital out of it?
– The statement I quoted has notbeen denied.
– I deny it. It is untrue to say, as alleged in the report, that if a trade unionist saw a non-unionist fall into a river he would not be man enough to attempt to rescue him. That slander will reflect upon the honorable member.
– Has the honorable member had a refutation of the statement from the man who is reported to have made it ?
– I need no such refutation, because I know the men of whom I am speaking. The report which the honorable member quoted will appear in Hansard, and appear there to his discredit. It will show that he holds that the whole of our trade unionists come within that category.
– No; I never made such a statement, and I repudiate it.
– Then why should the honorable member repeat in this House a silly statement which needs so much explanation on his part?
– I amnot going to have put into my mouth words that I do not utter, or opinions attributed to me which I do not hold.
– The report was used to asperse trade unionists.
– I hope that the honorable member for Lang will take the earliest opportunity to clear himself, and show that he does not share the views alleged to have been expressed by the individual in question.
– I did at the time. I said that I simply quoted it -for what it was worth as the report of an alleged occurrence.
– To return once more to the Governor- General’s Speech, I find it difficult to understand how those honorable members who had said that the proposed land tax would be unjust and unfair can concur in the view of the Government with regard to defence. How are we to provide for the defence of this country in the absence of direct taxation? During the election campaign I did not say at any of my meetings that the tax was designed only to burst up large estates. I said that it would have that effect, but I pointed out that it would also return to the Treasury a large revenue required for the defence of Australia.
– How can it have that effect if it leads to the bursting up of estates?
– The honorable member knows that it will enable us to obtain a large revenue from city lands.
– It would if there were no exemption.
– The honorable member has always professed to be a land-taxer, but when the crucial point is reached he takes all sorts of objections to the imposition of a land tax.
– How many farmers could be settled on a block of land in George- street, Sydney?
– We do not wish to settle the farmers in George-street. A man carrying on business in that thoroughfare is doing as great a service to the community as is the man on the land. The interjection just made by the honorable member is another silly statement.
– The Government are not going to burst up the George- street estates?
– No; we wish to obtain revenue from them.
– Then the tax is not one for bursting up big estates ?
– How should we be able to finance the cost of defence in the absence of a land tax?
– Knock out the exemption.
– The honorable member supported a Government which had not the courage to propose a land tax with or without exemptions. I contend that a large revenue will be obtained from the land tax proposed by the Government, and that it will cause more land to be brought under: cultivation. A land-owner who is called upon to pay a heavy tax will not allow hisland to remain idle. If the tax causeshim to employ more labour, mat will carry out one of .the objects of the party.
– Mr. Watsonsays that that is a State matter.
– Mr: Watson is not here ; I am in his place. While I am prepared, to extend a fair support to the Government’s defence programme, I should deplore any extravagant military expenditureThe great military systems that prevail inother countries are a clog on the wheels of their progress. If we, in the twentieth century, cannot bring common sense and. reason to bear upon international disputes., then all our education of the last generation must count for nothing. I trust that Australia will not be one of those countries-, that will try to lead in militarism, and that she will not incur heavy war expenditure. On the contrary, I hope that our policy will be purely one of defence? and not of aggression. The honorable, member for Echuca professed to be alarmed, with respect to the imposition of an export, duty on hides, skins, and wool, and said, that this would hit the farmers and others., who had opened up the country.
– The honorable memberhas no sympathy with such men.
– I shall show that I have.. Although the farmers are constantly asserting that they receive no support from theState, no other section of the community has been better catered for. We haveopened up land by means of railways, roads, bridges, and telegraph and telephoneservices, and so forth.
– And now the Labourparty proposes to tax the farmer.
– Not unless he is the owner of an area the unimproved value of” which exceeds ,£5,000. The State Governments have gone to great expense in afford- ing facilities for bringing produce to market, and in providing schools and so forth in the country districts, and there is nowa great cry that the. men on the land aregoing to be injured because it is proposed” that their produce shall be handled in this country, and thus provide work for ourown people..
– And so they are going to be injured.
– The honorable member is entitled to his own opinion. Skins and hides have gone up in value to the consumers in this country because of the competition of buyers from Japan and Germany. If this country is capable of producing the raw material, the intelligence of the people ought to be sufficient to enable them to manipulate that raw material ; and we should certainly produce leather as well as the hides. Last year there was exported over£20,000,000 worth of greasy wool. In the district from which I come there was at one time a large woolwashing industry, but that has gradually diminished, because of the cheap labour in Germany and Japan, where it is possible to operate on the wool to the detriment of the people here. Why should there be a system of wholesale immigration when work is going out of the country in this way ? I should be the last to desire to injure the farmer or a man on the land in any way, but we know that people who want leather and wool will come here to buy it. There is no one competing against Australia so far as the production of wool is concerned.
– Does the honorable member say that seriously ?
– There is no real rivalry in regard to Australian wool.
– I think the honorable member is very badly mistaken. He should look up the statistics.
– I know all about the statistics. There is no trouble in disposing of Australian wool.
– But the honorable member was talking of hides and skins.
– I am now confining myself to wool.
– The honorable member is mistaken, I think, and is referringto merino wool, which is only a part of our wool production.
– If a large portion of the £20,000,000 worth of greasy wool had been washed and scoured here, it would have added a value to the wool, and given employment to our own people. Such a policy would not injure the squatter, because it would add to the price of the wool when exported, and we know that other countriesmust have it. In regard to the Federal Capital, the honorable member for Echuca has developed a new idea, and suggested that it should not be erected because of the great cost.
But when we entered Federation we knew that the Federal Capital site would take time to select, and that the erection of the buildings would cost money.I am not particular where the Federal Capital is ; I do not know either Dalgety or YassCanberra, but there must be some finality.
– We must have a good site.
– These objections are one way of delaying a settlement. Will this Parliament ever select a site that people will not find fault with? The Premier of New South Wales has, in my opinion, acted very generously to the Commonwealth in handing over 900 square miles of territory, which must prove a splendid asset to the Commonwealth. I trust that the Federal Parliament will not allow one inch of the land thus acquired to be sold, but will lease it, so as to provide a regular and growing revenue in the shape of rents for the maintenance of the capital. I am looking to the Government to settle this question as speedily as possible. I have nothing to say against the Victorians endeavouring to retain the Seat of Government in Melbourne ; if I desired to delay a decision I should certainly adopt the method of finding fault with the site selected.
– We are justified in delaying a settlement when the wrong spot has been selected.
– When a man is forced to leave his home, it is always difficult to find a satisfactory new one. I trust we shall have a business session ; that the spirit of debate, as displayed by the Leader of the Opposition, and other members opposite, who are prepared to give the Government a reasonable trial, will prevail throughout ; and that at the end of our term of three years we shall go to the country with a good record. The Opposition will, I hope, take a fair and reasonable view of our measures, criticising and trying to improve them in the interests of the country. I do not wish to see the Opposition any smaller than it is, because honorable members opposite have their proper functions to perform. I hope that the majority will treat the minority fairly - and that the Government will not put on the gag, and drive men to a division without hearing what they have to say. After the voting at the last election there can be no doubt that the Labour party have a mandate to carry out their programme; and. under the circumstances, I shall make it a point to be as brief as possible in discussing the various measures, beginning by wasting no time in speaking on the AddressinReply. I thank honorable members for their patient hearing.
.-I compliment the honorable member who has just resumed his seat on the brevity of his remarks ; he has set a good example, which I shall do my best to follow. . I should have liked also to congratulate him on the accuracy of his facts and the geniality of his humour; but so far as these affect the honorable member for Lang, I am compelled to say that both his facts and his humour are actionable on the ground of false pretences. The honorable member, however, is new to the House ; and I am sure we are all glad to see him here. Even if he, like myself, occasionally wields a shillelah, we shall all welcome the addition to the life of the chamber - even if his blows are not always aimed at the right portion of the body. The first thing I should like to comment on - and I think it is equally remarkable of all honorable member’s of the House - is the complete change in tone between this Chamber and the Chamber that has just died. Take, for instance, the attitude of mind of the honorable member for Hume. I found him in the last Parliament almost incoherent with rage at a course of events over which he had absolutely no control.
– I should be the same again !
– I now find the honorable member passive, subdued, and quiet, and yet he has no more control over the course of events to-day than he had six months or a year ago. There is no doubt honorable members have changed. I remember, only a year ago, the tempestuous rage of honorable members who now sit with such complacency on the Treasury benches. As a member of this Parliament I am delighted at the change, for I recognise that it portends that, if the Labour victory has done nothing else for Labour, it has. at any rate, been of some value to Labour members. Only once have I heard a jarring note since the victory that has landed my honorable friends in office.
– Surely the honorable member does not expect us to rampage after we have slain the enemy ?
– The jackal, after having eaten the flesh, usually sleeps; and my honorable friends have been in a quiet haven of recess for six months, “ sleeping it off.”
But I was referring to the one jarring note in thepaean of self-satisfaction. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports told us that he was going to do something of a very serious nature to honorable members on the Opposition side - that there were to be no suppers for them ! Why on earth should we be accused of wanting to sup with the honorable member and his friends when, as a matter of fact, a number of us are in serious dread of being dined off by them? But we are not proud, and we will sup with my honorable friends any time they wish, only hoping that they will not sup off us. As to the Ministry, I am delighted at its constitution. I do not think that the election of Ministers has gone very far wrong in the present instance. In the first place, I am glad, indeed, to see one of the hardest working members in a position, if not of affluence, at any rate of prominence and honour ; I refer to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, now, unfortunately, absent on sick leave. I have also to congratulate the honorable member for Darwin. I understand that there are grounds other than personal merit for the advancement of that gentleman in preference to the honorable member he has replaced; but he is capable of operating in the position for which he has been chosen; and I think he is a striking and excellent evidence of the truth of the truism that greatness, like murder, will out. I should like to say just one word in reference to the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney as to the caucus pledge. He, like the honorable member for Denison, is particularly emphatic that the caucus pledge will not in any way shackle the conscience of any member of the Labour party in dealing with any question in this House.
– Outside the platform.
– If within the platform it will shackle the conscience? I desire to get to the bottom of this, because I notice a slight difference. The honorable member for Denison honestly believes that the pledge will not shackle a man’s conscience in any regard, platform or no platform. Am I right in understanding that?
– Honorable members are not in the witness-box. I should not answer questions.
– I know the honorable member would not - he is too old a bird.
– The honorable member for Wentworth assumes that members of the Labour party have a conscience.
– The honorable member for Herbert knows the members of the Labour party better than I do, and if he says they have not, I shall accept his word. 1 am sure the honorable member for Denison was ir. earnest last night when he told us that, so far as he is concerned, the caucus pledge will not influence his judgment in any way, shape, or form, but that what he subscribed to before the election is what he is going to act on after the election, so far as public policy is concerned ; and that, consequently, he will suffer no sacrifice of conscience or judgment. Now, let us look at a couple of planks in the platform, for it is admitted that, so far as the platform is concerned, honorable members opposite have to vote as one. Amongst the planks in the platform is the nationalization of monopolies. I am sure honorable members opposite will agree that there are very few complete monopolies within the Commonwealth.
– What of the sugar monopoly ?
– Perhaps sugar and tobacco represent the nearest approach to complete monopolies ; but as honorable members opposite must realize, if they have read the Melbourne newspapers during the last few days, neither company can prevent importation, and, therefore, is not, in a technical sense, a complete monopoly.
– Where does the sugar come from?
– Much of it from Java ; but I do not desire to be run into any side track. For the purposes of argument only, T will admit that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and, perhaps, one or two other companies, are monopolies, and 1 go fur,ther, and say that there are what may be termed partial monopolies. What is actually proposed is to nationalize a number of successful combines. That is really the object, and I take it that that is the meaning which honorable members give to the’ word “monopoly.’’ The honorable member for Denison may have a somewhat conservativeminded electorate on matters of finance. In appealing to his electors he may have had to tie himself down to the nationalization of only a few monopolies on the ground of the expense involved by a complete scheme. He may have had to promise to nationalize only the tobacco and sugar industries. The honorable member for South Sydney may have had a different form of electorate, and have pledged himself to nationalize every industry in the Commonwealth, which, in his opinion, was hurtful under present conditions. When those two honorable members come together they must settle their differences in caucus, because this question ! : affects the platfform of the party,” and they must vote upon it in the House as one man. Therefore, either the honorable member for Denison must sacrifice his electors on the point, or the honorable member for South Sydney must go back on his.
– They will vote in the House for what they promised.
– They cannot. I have here the pledge of the Labour party, which says that on questions “ affecting “ the platform they must vote as one. Does the honorable member for Werriwa say that on a question of such vast importance as the nationalization of monopolies those two honorable members are free to vote in the House as they choose?
– Does the honorable member suggest that the honorable member for Denison has pledged himself to vote against the nationalization of all monopolies except sugar and tobacco?
– I do not say that he has, but it is conceivable. I can imagine cases where men would so pledge themselves to meet the views of special electorates.
– The illustration is so extreme that it is just about conceivable.
– Possibly it is the only thing that my honorable friend can conceive.
– We have to satisfy ourselves that there is a monopoly.
– For years past the Labour party have been advocating the nationalization of the tobacco industry, and only a year or two ago a Royal Commission, composed almost entirely, if not en,tirely, of Labour members of this Parliament, declared that that monopoly was “ a partial,” and not a complete, monopoly of the tobacco industry in Australia. Therefore, in partial monopolies the party are prepared to proceed to nationalize. If so, this question of discretion and judgment comes into play, and they are bound by their pledges to vote as one man on all questions affecting that plank in their platform.
– I suppose the electors understood that.
– I do not think they understood much about the effects of the caucus pledge. I shall take those honorable members a step further on to the land tax.
– We shall take the honorable member a step further on to the land tax.
– My honorable friend will take us a great many steps further, but I think his own farms will remain exempt.
– That will be my misfortune, not my fault.
– It will also be the honorable member’s precaution. I think the land tax plank was extremely popular during the last election, but the intention, so far as it was understanded of the people, was to make it a tax to break up large country estates and settle the land with population.
– That was one of the objects.
– I think it is “ the “ object so far as the electors in my part of the world, and in South Sydney and other metropolitan districts, understood it. I think the honorable member for East Sydney, for instance, would be disappointed if that taxation were imposed upon land values in municipal areas such as he represents. He would recognise that to impose it in such localities would injure the workmen living there by putting up their rents, because those localities are already fairly highly taxed under municipal government.
– Not at all; the landlord always sees to it that he gets as much as he can.
– He is forced to get what he can when heavy taxation is imposed. I also commend this other point to my honorable friends. To what properties and classes of properties is the land tax to apply? Is it to be imposed on all classes of property throughout Australia, without exemption, except the£5,000 exemption? Honorable members opposite will fight that out in caucus. Their electors will not know what they are doing and they will afterwards come into the House and vote solidly on every question affecting the Bill. Is that not a fact?
– Therefore, by fighting out their differences in caucus on questions of public importance, honorable members opposite will have to sacrifice to the caucus pledge, the moment they enter this chamber, not only their own individual desires, but the interests and wishes of the electors who sent them here.
– The electors who voted for us understood that.
– Did they? I have listened to my honorable friend, and can heartily appreciate the efforts of his electors if they understood him on the land tax question. I feel that my honorable friends are wilfully and knowingly throwing dust in the eyes of the public with regard to the caucus pledge.
– It is gold-dust.
– I thought my honorable friend said coal-dust, which reminded me of a most excellent parallel in connexion with the secrecy of the caucus. The whole essence of good government in a democratic country is that the people outside should know what the people inside are doing, and my main objection to the caucus system of government is that the people outside have no hope of knowing what the people inside are really thinking.
– Did the honorable member’s party let them know?
-We had a caucus, as all parties occasionally must, and what was the result? We went into caucus on the Financial Agreement, and the men who held views against that agreement came out into the House and continued to espouse those views.
– But they voted for the agreement.
– They did not vote for it. They also spoke against it, and yet they were supported by our party at the polls.
– Did not they speak against it and vote for it?
– No. I should like to remind the honorable member for Maribyrnong that it is a matter of ordinary parliamentary courtesy to accept a denial when it is offered.
– Did not the honorable member for Flinders speak against the agreement and vote for it?
– What I am saying is that every individual member of our party was free to vote according to his conscience in the House. Different men took up different attitudes in the caucus meeting. Some were persuaded at the meeting that there were greater interests at stake than their own particular views regarding the agreement. Others believed that it was necessary to force the agreement out of this Parliament at all costs and all hazards. Those men were free to vote in the House according to their conscience, and the Government continued to support them as Ministerial candidates.
– The ex-member for Corio was against the Financial Agreement, but voted for it.
– Of course, we all understand the interjection.
– The same thing applies to the honorable member for Flinders.
– I do not remember the position taken up by the honorable member for Flinders, but 1 believe the honorable member for Mernda voted against the third reading. At any rate, every man treated the question according to h’is own conscience after the caucus. That is different from what the honorable member for Maribyrnong will do in regard to the land tax.
– The honorable member for Parkes spoke against the Financial Agreement, but did not vote against it.
– The honorable member for Parkes opposed it and continued to oppose it. To show how essential it is that the public outside should know what the man inside is doing and thinking, let me remind honorable members of an episode in recent history. I refer to the secret conclave which met in Sydney to handle the Newcastle Coal Miners’ Strike. At the time it was sitting the honorable member for West Sydney - now AttorneyGeneral - was held up to “ the approval of the people of New South Wales by the Daily Telegraph, and I think “by the Sydney Morning Herald, as a man who intended to induce the workers to go hack to work. Honorable members will remember the reputation which he then made as a peacemaker - but what were the facts? It became known afterwards, when Mr. Peter Bowling stood his trial, that the honorable member for West Sydney was the man who in the conference moved the general strike resolution !
– Why was he not sent to gaol ?
– Because it was not known at the time. The honorable member for West Sydney moved the general strike resolution ; Peter Bowling followed his advice and lead, and stuck to what the honorable member urged him to do. Bowling is now in gaol, whilst the honorable member is in affluent security ! That is an instance of the supreme necessity of the people outside conferences and Parliament knowing what the people inside are really and honestly doing. It is a remarkable example of die absolute necessity for complete confidence between electors and elect. I hope that the members of the Labour party, now that they have secured a majority in the Australian Parliament, will give up their caucus pledge and do their work in Parliament instead of in the caucus chamber. The question of the caucus must be taken in conjunction with a number of other questions of Labour policy. The pledge tends to make politics purely machine politics, so far as Parliament is concerned. I do not wish to emphasize this subject, and my honorable friends can disagree with me if they like, but members on all sides of the House are more or less under _the party whip by virtue of the fact that they are paid a high salary for their labours in Parliament.
– How does the honorable member account for obedience to the same party discipline in State Parliaments, where the members only receive small payments ?
– I do not wish to labour these minor points, which affect us individually, but are not so important to the country. Let us suppose that I cannot earn as much outside Parliament .as I can in. Is it not then fair to assume that I will be willing to stretch a point for the privilege of staying in Parliament?
– I think it is a fair assumption, from human nature itself, that a man will be subject to temptations, even if he is a member of Parliament.
– Not all alike.
– Not all alike, and I do not urge this as an absolute sine qua non. I merely submit that there is this tendency with the high payment of members. Let me take honorable members now to another plank - the abolition of the bicameral system in the States. Men who have sat in this Parliament know that it is exceptionally easy for a Government to get a measure through one House practically without scrutiny. I have seen in this House a debate of thirty-six hours over the question of whether or not some picturesque pirate in Eastern seas should be tried in Papua or Sydney. After we had talked on the question for hours, I remember that we put through votes for the expenditure of millions of money in a few minutes, without any criticism. If you have a single Chamber- if you have no Chamber of review - you absolutely make the possibility of getting a doubtful or wrong thing through Parliament infinitely more easy.
– No; if there were only one Chamber it would be more careful of its responsibility.
-Is the Senate a Chamber of review now ?
– I am not saying anything about the constitution of the second Chamber at present. I am only saying that we should have two Chambers, and that if there is only one there is a danger of business being forced through it late at night, so that no one would know what had occurred until it was too late to go back.
– Does the honorable member approve of nominee Upper Houses ?
– There are other forms of Upper House that I prefer. There is another point in the Labour policy to which I would direct the attention of honorable members opposite. I refer to the question of the abolition of State Governors.
– It is a right thing, too.
– It is interrelated with the question of caucus-machine politics. A Governor, a sovereign power under our present system, is the custodian of good government, under the rules of that government. If you do away with Governors, who are foreign to our local quarrels, and our political disputes, and if you elect in their place men selected by political parties, you take away one other check upon dishonest administration.
– Does not the honorable member think that an Australian is good enough to occupy the position of Governor?
– I think that my honorable friend is good enough to occupy any position, seeing that he shows such confidence, after having been only a day or two in Parliament.
– We are sorry that we cannot say the same about the honorable member.
– I recognise that my honorable friend, the honorable member for East Sydney, has to make some effort in this Chamber, having in view the character of his predecessor, and I am congratu lating him upon the noise he is making after only a day or two’s experience. Not only are we to abolish bicameral Parliaments, not only are we to put an end to the free nature of parliamentary institutions themselves, not only are we to abolish the office of an impartial and free Governor, but, according to some members on the Government side of the House, we are to have Jaw Courts, which will be subject, in the carrying out and operation of their duty, to the dictates of Parliament.
– Not at all ; that is unfair.
– Is it unfair ?I am told that the honorable member for South Sydney, within the last twelve months, said that if the Labour party were elected to powerthe workers would have Judges who were sympathetic to their cause.
– I never expressed an opinion on the subject.
– Then I withdraw that remark immediately. I was told a short while ago that the honorable member had said so. At all events, in the public prints within the last two months, we had it reported that two members of the Federal Labour party in this State had said that their party was in favour of an alteration in thepersonnel of the High Court Bench if the Judges continued to give decisions which.” were displeasing to certain members of that party.
– That was denied.
– I know that the statement was repudiated by the Labour Government.
– It was repudiated last night by the honorable member who was alleged to have made the statement.
– I did not hear the repudiation, or I should not have mentioned the subject.
– Such a repudiation was never made.
– It was, and the honorable member for Echuca accepted the explanation.
– At all events, I did not hear the repudiation. If it has been offered I am happy to accept it. But there were two honorable members who made such a statement. The second was the honorable member for Melbourne, who is usually very determined in sticking to what he has once said. He is not just now in his place, but I should like to hear him also repudiate what he is reported to have said, concerning the High Court of Australia. The point that I wish to make is this - that if you keep members of Parliament from doing their open duty, if you have their differences of opinion and of conscience fought out in caucus away from the public view, if also you have but one House of Parliament in place of two, if you have a mere dummy set up to act as Governor in place of an impartial authority, and if you have courts administering the laws of the country, not according to the conscience and view of the Judges and in a spirit of integrity, but according to the will of persons who happen to be in power for the time being, I say that you lay the foundations in this country of the worst form of Tammany the world has ever seen.
– We have had a taste of that in the past.
– I do not believe for a moment that a majority of the supporters of the Labour party would tolerate the idea of such a thing at the present juncture. I am sure they would not. But I warn them that there will be onelamentable result from the abolition of these safeguards and checks upon dishonest administration.
– How does the honorable member account for the freedom of speech manifested by the honorable mem- ber for Gwydir last night?
– The honorable member for Gwydir was not then addressing himself to a subject related to the programme of his party. I have never done the members of that party the injustice of alleging that their consciences were shackled on questions not affecting the platform of their party. On questions unaffected by it, they are free to do as they like. I am glad to see that the honorable member for Melbourne has returned to his place. Is it true that he stated some time ago in a public speech, that the constitution of the High Court would have to be altered?
– No, no; that was the other Moloney !
– The honorable member will have a hard time of it now that there are two Maloneys here !
– Upon which of them does this imputation rest?
-Icertainly expressed my contempt for the High Court from my experience of three afternoons in it, which cost me £200.
– That was a comment occasioned by personal bitterness.
– Order ! The honorable member is addressing his remarks to honorable members personally. He must address the Chair. There must necessarily be continuous interjections if honorable members are addressed personally.
– I was hoping to be brief in my remarks, and I fancied that I had been scrupulously addressing you, Mr. Speaker, in every remark that I made. It is true that I have not continuously turned my face towards you, because I wished to spare you as far as I could under somewhat trying circumstances. I have been addressing honorable members opposite through you, and I will certainly follow that ordinary parliamentary practice in continuing what I have to say. I should like to say a couple of other things before I conclude. There is an item in the programme of the Government with reference to press cables. I am reminded of the attempt made by the Labour party a few years ago to start a Labour daily in Australia by practically pirating the cables received by the other newspapers. Now, I do not hold a brief for the daily press of Australia. The only man in this House, as far as I know, who holds a brief for them in the sense that he is a regular contributor, is the AttorneyGeneral.
– Why say that?
– That remark is uncalled for.
– Anything that is true seems to be uncalled for in the opinion of the honorable member.
– Did not even Mr. Gladstone contribute to newspapers?
– So does my honorable friend, in common with other great persons.
– That is not correct.
– Have I not seen signed articles in the press from the pen of my honorable friend ? I have occasionally written for newspapers, and I am sure that many other honorable members have. The difference between us and the AttorneyGeneral is, however, that we are not under a contract to contribute for pay to newspapers. Some time ago, as I have said, the Labour party proposed to pirate press cables by abolishing copyright, and thus give an impetus to the establishment of a Labour daily in Sydney or Melbourne. They found it advisable to drop that project, realizing that piracy does not commend itself to the people of Australia. But what do they now propose to do? They propose to subsidize a Labour newspaper by getting out cables for it at the country’s expense.
– That is incorrect. It is an unwarranted statement.
– As I understand it, the Government intend to pay for news cables, which may be used by any newspaper in Australia. Is not that so? I ask the Minister of External Affairs whether I am correct ?
– The honorable member is making the speech.
– But the Minister can contradict me if I am wrong. We, therefore, arrive at this fact - that the first party in Australia to make an effort to use its privileges to compel the public of Australia to pay for cables for Labour journals is the present Government.
– Why should not they ?
– Now we have the cat out of the bag. This is why they should not.
– I deny the honorable member’s statement, to begin with.
– If you take the press of Australia as a whole, and regard it as one of the industries of the Commonwealth, you will , find that the press enjoys more Government assistance than any other industry.
– The Sydney Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald would be able to use such cables. They would be open to any one who chose to use them.
– But why does the Government propose to take this step, if not to take advantage of their opportunities for the benefit of their own newspaper?
– Is it not for the Daily Telegraph?
– I did not know that the Attorney-General had so much control over this Government that he could use it for the benefit of a journal of which he is a paid contributor ! The Government, I repeat, will use these cables for the benefit of their own newspaper. They will compel the public of this country to subsidize their journal to the extent of, say, £2,000 a year. I say that that is a lamentable state of affairs, which reflects no credit upon “a great Administration.” My honorable friend the member for South Sydney has advocated an export tax. Does he know what this would mean to the people of Australia? Owing to the prolific nature of this country the population of it are not able to consume one-half of its produce.
– I deny that.
– If you place a tax upon exports you will undoubtedly Hamper the industry and diminish the wealth of thepeople of Australia as a whole.
– If there is not enoughlabour here, we should import more.
– Do my honorable friendsopposite approve of a policy of importing, labour to enter into the manufacturing industries of Australia?
– Decidedly, if there is sufficient work for them.
– Do my honorable friendspropose to import artisans to work in our factories? Does the honorable member for South Sydney approve of that?
– What does the honorablemember propose?
– I am against an exportduty of any kind j and when my honorablefriends who support such a policy professthat it will give employment and induce immigrants to come to Australia, I ask them* whether they are willing to have immigrants imported to work in our factories.
– Yes, if there are not enough people here to do the work now.
– I leave my honorablefriends to that reflection. It is the only logical outcome of their argument. They must open the doors of Australia as widely, as possible, and permit artisans to settle in their own electorates for the purpose of working up the products of Australia. lnc conclusion, I have only a few words to say in regard to the Government proposal, to repeal the Naval Loan Act of last year. I have not yet heard how they intend to* provide the money necessary to obviate the possibility of delay occurring in the construction of the Australian naval unit. Of course I recognise that eventually they will be able to finance their scheme. But the* cogency of the Naval Loan Act of last year lay in the fact that it was necessary to. authorize the building of these ships immediately. We recognised that we were building against the preparations of foreignPowers, and not merely for the purpose of being able to submit to the people of Australia an attractive party programme. What I wish to know is whether the repeal of the Naval Loan Act will have the effect ofdelaying the launching of the ships, the keels of which have already been laid-
The urgency for their construction is to be found in trie preparations which are being made by foreign Powers.
– The repeal of that Act will not delay the completion of the naval unit by one clay.
– I am glad to hear that statement. I am pleased to know that under their policy the Government will be able to get our war vessels launched and ready for commission as soon as those vessels could have been launched and commissioned under the scheme of the late Government which was submitted to us in the dying hours of the last Parliament, because I recognise that, within a few years, the welfare of the Commonwealth will absolutely depend upon the strength of the Empire as a whole to maintain that free intercourse of trade across the seas which is the basis of this country’s prosperity.
– The remnant of the last Parliament which is to be found in this Chamber today will doubtless recollect many of the incidents which took place prior to the prorogation of that Parliament. But although honorable members may possess very retentive memories, the public have very short memories, and therefore it is just as well that they should be reminded of what took place during the closing months of the last Parliament. Such a reminder will also enable honorable members themselves to know exactly the ground upon which they are standing to-day. The cause of all the trouble which arose during the final session of the previous Parliament was the action of the late Government, of which the. right honorable member for Swan was a member. The cause of most of the unpleasantness which occurred in that session was the action of that Government in the. circumstances in which it was placed. Its followers had previously applied the gag to every measure which was submitted by the first Fisher Administration, the head of which was not even allowed to submit his policy to the House. He was gagged before he could give expression to it. I need scarcely say that such tactics were productive of a very great feeling of unrest and bitterness between the two opposing forces in this House. When the Fusion Government was formed, its leader, as well as its members, abandoned all the cherished principles of a lifetime. As a matter of fact - as was well known at the time - the Fusion was called into being merely for the sake of downing the
Labour party. The honorable member for Wentworth remarked a few minutes ago that at the time I was very angry at the amalgamation of two parties in this House. I was. I was incensed at the action of those who ruthlessly surrendered their principles, notwithstanding that they ought tohave known better, and I gave expression, to my views in the strongest terms. TheFusion party thought that they would goto the country and come back triumphant - that they would thus be able to destroy those1 who were in opposition to them. But, instead, their forces have come back absolutely shattered.
– There is nothing: singular about that.
– The honorablemember is quite correct. I do not think, that the result is at all singular, but honorable members opposite imagine that it is’ very singular. Their forces were shattered and ignominiously defeated at the polls. The results of the recent election haveabundantly confirmed the views which I held throughout all the changes which took place in this House. The constituencies have supported those views.
– In Western Australia, the people have never heard of the. honorable member.
– I am very sorry that, just as the campaign opened, I. wasstricken with a severe illness, from which I. am only just recovering. But for that unfortunate circumstance, I should have been, heard of far too frequently for the honorable member’s peace of mind. It is a. source of great gratification to me to knowthat the party opposite, which disgraced itsprinciples, was shattered at the polls.
– I rise to a point of. order. You, sir, have already called honorable members upon this side of the Chamber to order for using very much less; offensive language than that which has just, been employed by the honorable member* for Hume. I ask that he be called uponto withdraw his statement.
– I would point out to the honorable member for Parramatta thathe has not put his point of order to the Chair in the respectful way that he shouldhave done. Indeed, he has stated it in sucha way as to cast a reflection on myself. Hemay not have intended to do so, but certainly his words conveyed that- impression.
– I had not the remotest intention of conveying any such impression.
– I am pleased that the honorable member has withdrawn any imputation upon my impartiality. When I think that the remarks of the honorable member for Hume are not appropriate or parliamentary, I will call him to order.
– Do 1 understand, then, that the honorable member’s description of the party upon this side of the House as a “ disgrace to the country “ is in order?
– I did not understand the honorable member for Hume to say anything which reflected personally upon any honorable member. When he does so, I will immediately call him to order.
– He certainly did so.
– Order ! Upon several occasions I have refrained from attempting to lecture honorable members. But, as a number of honorable members are new to this House, I would point out.that standing order 58 reads -
No member shall converse aloud, or make any noise or disturbance, while any member is speak ing, or whilst any Bill, Order, or other matter is being read or opened.
Then the remainder of the standing order deals with the penalty provided for persisting in such noise or disturbance. Upon many occasions, the frequency of interjections by honorable members whilst an honorable member is addressing the Chair places me in rather an awkward position, and it must be recollected that the business of the House can be conducted in a way that is creditable to it only if I receive the hearty assistance and co-operation of honorable members. I ask them to render me that assistance.
– I do not think that my statement contained any reflection upon honorable members. It is a wellknown fact that the principles of the Fusion Government were cast to the winds - that, figuratively speaking, they were dragged in the dirt.
– The honorable member is a good authority upon dirt.
– The Opposition received a great lesson at the polls. Upon a former occasion its present leader described the party with which he afterwards fused as “ wreckage,” and the same term might very appropriately be applied to his followers now.
– Where is the honorable member’s party?
– It was pretty effectually wrecked, anyhow.
– At any rate my principles are safe.
– Where is the honorable member’s party?
– If he will permit me to do so, I will tell the honorable member. Amongst the “wreckage” were Mr. Tilley Brown, Mr. Hume Cook, Mr. Coon, Mr. Crouch, Mr. Mauger, Mr. Storrer, Mr. Willis, and Dr. Wilson. Those who were defeated at the polls in consequence of having deserted their principles included Mr. Archer, Mr. Bowden, Mr. Tilley Brown, Mr. Hume Cook, Mr, Coon, Mr. Crouch, Colonel Foxton, Dr. Liddell, and Mr. Mauger. Sir Philip Fysh did not contest an electorate, but he would not have been returned if he had done so. Then there was Sir George Reid, who was snugly provided for. He, too, would probably have suffered defeat.
– Cannot the honorable member let these men alone now that they are gone?
– I am not going to let them alone. I intend to remind the public of the true position in case these gentlemen ever offer their services in the capacity of legislators again.
– This is a disgraceful piece of gloating.
– The honorable member himself will have a very tight run at the next election, even if he be not defeated. I have mentioned the names of these gentlemen merely because the right honorable member for Swan has asked me where is my party. I wish to remind him that I did not sink my principles when the Fusion Government was formed, and that I entirely ignored what the result of my action might be. The views which I have advocated ever since I entered political life I adhered to, in spite of cajolery, and the results of the recent election proved a great triumph for the attitude which I assumed. The party which applied the closure on every conceivable occasion before they appealed to the country ought to feel the humiliation which was voiced by the Leader of the Opposition, who humbly acknowledged that it had received a sound drubbing and that it had been taught a salutary lesson.
– Would Jack Johnson gloat like this?
– The party opposite would frighten even him.
– I do not think that they will frighten me. Prior to the recent election, and before I was stricken with illness, I addressed several public meetings in and around Melbourne, and in other .places. I felt then that there was a revulsion of feeling in the breasts of the people against those honorable members who had so grossly betrayed their trust. I felt that if time did not lessen that feeling when the election day arrived the Fusion party would be swept, as they have been, from the position they held. In the circumstances, it is not necessary that I should say very much- now. The action I took has been vindicated in every way, and as victor in the contest, it is unnecessary for me to continue to fight as though I were Still a member of the Opposition. I may say, however, that if I were a member of the Opposition I should be found in my place. The Leader of the Opposition is not in his place, and will not be found there very often if I know him at all. If I were a member of the Opposition I should be at my post prepared to continue to fight for what I believed to be right. If the Leaderof the Opposition believes that he was justified in deserting his principles, and that the new principles he adopted were better than those which he previously held, he has a right to be here to defend them in this House. I regard the action of the last Government as constituting one of the darkest stains that has ever marked the history of Australia.
– What rubbish the honorable member is talking. It is about time he stopped it.
– The honorable gentleman does not wish to hear anything about it, but I am going to rub it in.
– Who cares what the honorable member says? I do not, anyway.
– I did not gerrymander my electorate.
– Who did?
– Does the honorable gentleman think I did ?
– I do not know.
– That is a scandalous and untruthful remark.
– Order. The honorable gentleman must withdraw that statement.
– Yes, I will; but I object to the statements of this bombastic man, and I direct your attention, sir, to the “ guffawing “ in the chamber.
– Does the honorable gentleman rise to a point of order ?
– Yes, I say that the honorable member for Hume is insulting.
– I point out to the honorable member for Swan .that he must not interrupt an honorable member who is addressing the Chair by rising ostensibly to a point of order when he intends merely to contradict some statement that has been made.
– I am willing and anxious, sir, to obey your ruling, but do you think that the honorable member for Hume is justified in saying or insinuating that I gerrymandered my electorate?
– Order. The honorable member must not interrupt the proceedings in this way. I heard the honorable member for Hume make some reference to gerrymandering, but I did not know that he applied it to the honorable member.
– The honorable member did so.
– If the right honorable member for Swan considers the remarks of the honorable member for Hume offensive I shall ask the honorable member for Hume to withdraw them.
– I do consider them offensive.
– I do not know what the light honorable member for Swan regards as offensive, because I did not refer to him at all. I do not suppose that he divided the electorates, so how could he have gerrymandered his electorate?
– What, then, dia the honorable gentleman mean?
– If the honorable gentleman thinks that the words I used were offensive, I willingly withdraw them, but I do not think that they were offensive. I am sorry if I did not make myself clearly understood. I advised the Leader of the Opposition before we dissolved partnership not to be guided by men like Beale and others in New South Wales, who hoodwinked him. I will say that I think that the honorable gentleman believed them. They hoodwinked the honorable gentleman in telling him that they could carry with them the whole of the party to which they belonged. I told him that they would not carry one hundred votes, and they did not. In the event my vindication has been complete. “ j
– Whom did the honorable gentleman carry with him ?
– I undertake to say that I voiced the feeling of the great majority of the people of Australia.
– Where are the honorable gentleman’s followers here?
– They are on this side of the House. Every one of them supported the views I held before the electors.
– Why is the honorable gentleman not in the Cabinet?
– I need not answer that. I did not wish to be, and I have not been well enough to be in any Cabinet, and probably will not be well enough for some time.
– Why does the honorable gentleman not join the Labour party ? Mr. Joseph Cook.- Sign their pledge.
– As the honorable member for Wentworth referred to the pledge of the Labour party, and the caucus, and as so much has been made of the subject, I should like to know what the meetings and pledges of the party to which he belongs should be called. The honorable member called their meetings a caucus, and to-day, for the first time, I have heard that men could give their pledge in the caucus to do certain things and then come into this House and do something else. I say that he is a dishonorable man who does that kind of thing.
– The honorable member for Wentworth did not say so.
– Yes, he did.
– He said that members could attend the caucus to consider a question and then come here and exercise their own judgment.
– He said they could go to the caucus and pledge themselves, and then when they came here they were free. I hold that men who would do that kind of thing are not deserving of a seat in this House. A man should be true to his party and his principles, whether he signs a written pledge to be so or does not. If I might be allowed to refer to past political history in New South Wales, I would say that Sir Henry Parkes used to have caucus meetings of his party, and when some members of the party voted in opposition to the pledges they had given in caucus, he denounced them, sent them to the other side of the House, and opposed them at the elections. The Labourparty can do no more than that if members of their caucus are similarly untrue to their pledges. I havenot signed any pledge, because I have, perhaps, been longer in public life than any other man in Australia, and I feel that my politics should be known, and that those concerned should know whether or not I am to be trusted. If I were a young man it is very probable that I would sign a pledge, but in the circumstances I do not think that I should be asked to do anything of the kind.
– The honorable gentleman had better do it.
– I am free. I shall continue to go my own way, and I shall not belie myself or my principles. Just before we went to the country the great bone of contention was the Financial Agreement. In secretthe Leader of the Opposition and others with him made a compact with the Premiers of the States. They were brought to their knees by the State Premiers and lowered the prestige of the National Parliament. I believe that no one has said that the States do not deserve great consideration, but we should not have been asked to place the agreement in the Constitution when it was known that it would be very difficult to take it out again. That proposal was ignominiously defeated by the people, and I am glad that it was defeated. I could never understand how members of this National Parliament could be satisfied that it should be dragged down to the level of the State Parliaments as the members of the Fusion Government were. I say this, although I opposed the Commonwealth Bill.
– The honorable gentleman was a great “States’ Righter “ then.
– I say that once the Federation was established it was our duty to make the Federal Parliament as powerful as we could and one which the whole of the people of Australia might look up to. I have no doubt that in the future there will be great alterations made in the constitutions of the State Parliaments. I heard just now a reference made to the position of State Governors, and I cannot help saying that I think it is an absurdity that we should have seven Governors and fourteen Houses of Parliament for a small community of four millions of people. The sooner we make some alteration in this state of affairs the better it will be for the country. An agitation will certainly arise, and the sooner the better, to reduce the expense of separate Parliaments and Governors in all the
States. To return to the Financial Agreement, it has gone so far as the provision of permanency is concerned. We are informed in the Governor-General’s Speech that the payment agreed upon is to be made for ten years. I must be allowed to say that in this respect I think a mistake has been made. From what I know, and I had a good opportunity of judging, I believe that in less than five years’ time the whole of the Customs receipts will be required for carrying on the Federal Government. The honorable member for Wentworth, and the right honorable member for Swan, say that we must borrow. I think that we have already borrowed too much, and that the time has come when we should declare that extensive borrowing should not continue. We should pay our way, and should not depend upon others for the means to do so. The State Governments have never ceased to accuse the Federal Parliament of extravagance.
– The honorable gentleman was always a spendthrift, and he knows it. He spent more money than almost any other man in public life, and here he is now preaching economy.
– I was not a spendthrift. I carried on all the public services in New South Wales in the year prior to Federation for a trifle over £9,000,000.
– How much did the honorable gentleman borrow?
– I borrowed very little, and what I did borrow I borrowed in the country, which was better than borrowing outside.
– How much did the honorable gentleman borrow?
– I think not more than £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, but I sent the troops to South Africa, and I had to deal with the plague, and with many other matters involving considerable expense. The honorable member for Parramatta accuse; me of having been extravagant, and I repeat that I carried on the whole of the Public Departments in New South Wales, during the year prior to Federation, for a little over £9,000,000. Subsequently, the Commonwealth took over the Defence, Post Office, and Customs Departments, and other expensive services, and yet in 1908 the New South Wales Government spent, in carrying on the remaining public Departments, no less than £15,000,000. I do not know whether the honorable member for Parramatta would call that extravagant, in view of the fact that I carried on the whole of the services for £9,000,000.
– The honorable gentleman did not do it for £9,000,000.
– I did it for a trifle over £9,000.000.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - No such thing.
– The honorable gentleman has now the temerity to accuse me of extravagance. I was certainly not extravagant as compared with the Government that followed me in New South Wales. And who, I’ should like to ask, found the £15,000,000 spent by that Government? The Commonwealth. From the Commonwealth New South Wales got more money than that State had had before, and spent it lavishly in all directions. That is what has kept the State Ministry in power during all these years. I would not have referred to this matter if the honorable member had not twitted me with being extravagant. I was not extravagant in any sense. I regret very much that the Postmaster-General has brought in the toll system of telephones. I do not say that it is not a good system, but the proposed charges will be almost prohibitory. I hope that he will be reasonable and will revise the scale before putting an extra burden upon the users of telephones, which are very popular, and will become more numerous. So far as I understand the new system, the proposed charges, if enforced, will be very irksome indeed.
– Will not the toll system make an equality of sacrifice?
– If the honorable member will go into the matter in detail he will come to a different conclusion. I think that the Postmaster-General has not done so. According to his present proposal the rates will be very excessive.
– It is not a toll system, but a composite system- -toll and ground rent.
– I am not in a position to express an opinion on that point. I do not say that the toll system is not a good one, but I consider that a burden of the kind proposed should not be placed upon the community, as it would be almost prohibitive. I hope that the Minister will see his way to making an alteration in the scale of charges, if not in the system itself. With referenceto the question of borrowing powers, I say unquestionably that the proposal which was submitted to the States, when I was Treasurer, was the best proposal for them that was ever made or will ever be made. We proposed to take over, at first, debts bearing £6,000,000 interest, and in thirty years debts bearing £3,000,000 interest, and that would have been a permanent solution of the difficulty.
– They wanted more than that.
– Apparently, the States wanted to take all the money that we had. The other day I had an opportunity of saying a. few words to the Prime Minister on the subject, and I am very glad to find that he is willing to take over the debts, but the payment of 25s. per capita, which will amount to _£5, 000,000, roughly, is to be used in meeting the interest on the debts. If he does that I shall be very well satisfied, because I think it is a proper thing to do, and will save financial disturbance between the Commonwealth and the States and settle the question equitably for all time.
– And have one borrower.
– There should be one borrower, and, as we proposed, a board to supervise the borrowing. At present the States can borrow as they like, and could fight the Commonwealth Government if it went into die money market. We proposed that that state of things should be altered. If the Prime Minister does one thing at present, I hope that he will do the other, too.
– A banking system would be better than a Board.
-That brings me to the proposal to issue Treasury notes. That is all very well in its way. I do not know whether the Treasurer is aware that the honorable member for Swan, who I see has left the Chamber, prepared a Banking Bill which ‘is still in existence. I can mention where it is if the honorable gentleman does not know.
– Tell us, please.
– The Prime Minister will find a copy of the Banking Bill locked up in a private safe at the Treasury. The honorable member for Swan sent a copy of the Bill to the governors of the Bank of England, and they approved of a State Bank for the Commonwealth. Why the Treasurer does not deal with the whole matter I do not know. I do not think that the issue of notes will do any harm. I believe that it will do good. I must say that the issue of State notes in Queensland has had so little effect that I was not aware until lately that they had been in existence. It certainly has not disrupted the financial position of Queensland. I would recommend the Prime Minister to look up the Banking Bill, which I can tell him the governors of the Bank of England were in favour of, and personally they told me that Australia should have a State Bank.
– I knew that I was on the right track.
– A great objection has been raised to the proposed land tax. The public knew well that the imposition of a progressive land tax would be proposed by the Labour party. Whether it would burst up estates or not - and that, I believe, is the primary intention - it would bring money into the Treasury. The country spoke with no uncertain voice on the subject, and, therefore, people should not cry out now against what was expected by every one to be proposed. Last night I asked the Prime Minister whether Tasmania could not receive the same financial consideration as is proposed to be extended to Western Australia. The latter State is, I believe, to get great consideration from the Commonwealth, and certainly Tasmania should receive some consideration, because, although the officials of the Treasury say that Tasmania does not lose any revenue, we all know that a great number of the articles which are required in that State are purchased in Victoria, where duty is paid.A great quantity of small articles, such as jewellery, and other valuable things, are transferred to Tasmania from Victoria and New South Wales, and the first-named State is entitled to get some consideration by reason of that fact. When I was in the Treasury, I tried to induce Sir Thomas Bent, Premier of Victoria, and Mr. Wade, Premier of New South Wales, to agree to an annual grant of £20,000 to Tasmania, because I felt certain that the State was suffering a great loss from the introduction of so many duty-paid goods. The Tasmanian Government said that the State was losing a revenue of .£50,000 a year. That may be the case. At any rate, £20,000 or £30,000 a year is the smallest sum which the State should receive from the Commonwealth. Sir Thomas Bent, who in that respect was a very liberal-minded man, was quite agreeable to do as I suggested, but Mr. Wade would not listen to the suggestion for a moment. Of course,
I had to consult those two Premiers, because it would have been chiefly at the expense of their States that the amount would have been granted. Now, however, that necessity does not arise, and I hope that the Treasurer will be able to see his way to extend some consideration to the island State. This very question was mooted in the Federal Convention. Sir George Reid, as Premier of New South Wales, said he would not hesitate to give Tasmania £50,000 a year if its revenue were short. He thought that that would be a right thing for the Commonwealth to do if the State were short of revenue. He said that if the Federation injured the State, the wealthier States ought to make some payment to its Treasury, and £50,000 a year is the sum which he mentioned. Tasmania has been expecting to receive some assistance, and I hope that it will get some consideration at the hands of the present Government. As regards immigration I am not one of those who advocate a great influx of immigrants of one particular type, because that would bring here persons who would have nothing to do, and would cause trouble among our labouring classes. They should come in as I believe they are now doing. In every steamer which enters this port there is a certain number of immigrants. They are able to procure employment and settle down without causing any disruption of industrial affairs. If that arrangement is carried out in a good spirit it will be quite sufficient for the time being. Undoubtedly if we brought in a large number of immigrants at once it would cause a great deal of trouble and disruption to existing arrangements.
– Does the honorable member think that the present rate is satisfactory ?
– It may not be quite satisfactory, but if every steamer brings a few immigrants, as it does according to the passenger lists, they can settle down and find something to do without being a drag on other members of the community. I now come to the question of Tariff anomalies, which I am pleased to notice is referred to in the Speech.
– Hear, hear. I was wondering what had become of the 146 anomalies.
– They are all on record, and I hope that those which are worthy of being considered of importance will be brought forward by the Minister or Trade and Customs when he introduces his Tariff Bill.
– The honorable member is now roaring like a sucking dove. He used to roar like the bull of Bashan.
– Because I knew that there was no chance of getting the honorable member and his party to do anything.
– It is all right now.
– The honorable member and his colleagues said that if they did anything it would be to tear up the Tariff, instead of increasing duties as should be done. It is not an ideal Tariff for Australia, thanks to those who sat in the Opposition corner. Those gentlemen who belied their principles are responsible for its present state.
-Why does the honorable member say that? We helped him all that we could. We cannot satisfy him anyhow.
– I do not know whether the honorable member has jumped round again. He was once a Protectionist, then a Free Trader.
– You never know.
– No, I defy the honorable member to know. He is like a cat on hot bricks; he jumps about in all directions. The redress of Tariff anomalies is an urgent matter. Some of them should be dealt with with as little delay as possible.
– Is that all that the honorable member has to say about the subject ?
– That is likely to be done, and therefore there is no necessity for me to say anything more.
– What a mighty change.
– I am quite satisfied to wait - I hope not too long - until the Government bring down their Tariff Bill.
– A year ago the honorable member wanted it done in five minutes.
– I knew very well then that it would not be done. The honorable member and his colleagues tried to block me from bringing the matter before the House.
– Oh, no.
– They were afraid to go to a vote, and consequently, by hook or by crook, they blocked me whenever the matter was set down on the notice-paper for consideration. From the very beginning I have favoured the construction of a transcontinental railway to Western. Australia. .1 think that that State recognises that I am a warm supporter of the proposal. I hope that there will be no delay in authorizing the construction of the line, because all the preliminaries have been gone through, >and there is nothing to be done now but to vote the money. Victoria, and I think South Australia and Tasmania, do not favour the proposal, but I hold that there will be no true Federation until the eastern States have direct communication by railway with Western Australia, instead of being dependent upon the large sea boats. I believe that the construction of the railway would open up a great deal of good country. Certainly the Northern Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth, but there should be no stipulation as to the route of the proposed railway. I am quite prepared to allow the experts to say where it should go. I have a leaning towards a line on the eastern side of Lake Eyre, because I think that that route would be tapped by the eastern States. It would become a base for a great transcontinental line to Port Darwin. If that can be done then the line should be carried on to the MacDonnell Ranges from Oodnadatta. But in linking up the whole of the railways through Australia it is of no use to expect us to do anything with that line, and for that reason I think that, if the country is suitable, it would be far better to bring the line in touch with the corner of Queensland, and go to Port Darwin in that direction. That it will be done I have no doubt whatever. I did not intend to say as much as I have done. No one rejoices more that I do that the country has been true to itself, and has destroyed nearly all those men who attempted to destroy the power of the Federal Parliament. When they are next thinking of turning their coats and giving up their principles what happened on the 13th April last will be a lesson to- them.
– There is nothing manly in gloating over a beaten man.
– I am gloating over the defeat of the men who applied the “ gag “ in the way in which it was applied. It was a disgraceful and unmanly thing. They deserved all they got, and perhaps more. My advice to the Ministry is to push forward, and not to wait too long before giving effect to the measures in its programme. We know that views change rapidly, and that the public Has not a very long memory. Therefore, Ministers, while they have the power, should carry into effect the reforms which they have advocated. I counsel them not to waste time, but to do what they wish to do at the earliest possible date.
– No doubt that is very wise.
– I speak from experience, knowing how Governments almost inevitably lose strength. If Ministers are firmly convinced of the need for certain measures, the sooner they carry them into effect the better. As to new Protection, which is bound up with the fiscal policy of the country, undoubtedly the honorable member for Ballarat, when leading the Government in which I was Treasurer, authorized me to promise that the Tariff would not be carried -through until new Protection had been provided. I made’ that promise to the House on his authority, and it was unfair and dishonest not to carry out the pledge.
– The honorable member must withdraw the word “dishonest.”
– I do so.
– Why did not the honorable member carry out the promise?.
– I should have done so had I had the power
– The honorable member had the power then.
– The honorable member knows that a Minister cannot act contrary to the wishes of his leader.
– I told the honorable member at the time that he was cheating the workers of Australia.
– They were cheated, but not by me. I promised new Protection, and would have given it had I had the power. At any rate, there is an opportunity for obtaining.it now. If the High Court holds that the Parliament has not the powers necessary to pass the industrial legislation required, and which it is generally thought should be uniform throughout the Commonwealth, the people must be appealed to. The Ministry must give- effect to the promises which they have made. I did my duty so far as I could. This is the first occasion that I have addressed the House since my severe illness, and I do not feel justified in taxing my strength.
– We are very glad to hear the honorable member, badly as he has behaved, because it shows that he is getting better.
– I am getting better, and hope to be myself before long. I wished to say a word or two, because of the prominent part I had taken in the demolition of the Fusion party.
.- Having listened patiently to the honorable members who have addressed you, sir, I have been struck with the mildness of the criticism which has been directed towards the Government proposals. I do not know whether it is that the members of the Opposition approve of those proposals, or that they intend to offer their objections to them at a later date. The honorable member for Wentworth, however, made statements which ought to be replied to from this side. He asserted that the Labour members are in every detail bound by what is done in caucus. As one of them I say that I am pledged to try to carry into effect the platform which I have espoused, but that on all matters not there mentioned, [ am free to express my individual views. The honorable member’s statement that the details of measures are settled in caucus is incorrect. Probably during the Committee stages of Bills, I shall find myself at variance with the Government proposals, and shall not hesitate to express my views if that be so. The honorable member’s assertions were not in accordance with facts. He went further, and said that men who were not able, in private life, to earn the remuneration of a member of Parliament were liable to great temptations when they entered public life. What did he mean by that? I do not know of any temptation in the public life of this country. The honorable gentleman should havebeen careful to express his real meaning. If he suggests that, because some of the members on this side of the House were not earning £600 a year before they entered Parliament, they cannot possess sufficient ability to do the work of legislators, I deny that that is so. If the Labour party in the various Legislatures of Australia are compared with their opponents it will be found that in every case there is as much intelligence on the Labour side as on the other side. Indeed, in some of the State Parliaments, Labour members are opposed by men who owe their positions, not to their ability, but to their wealth. A suggestion such as that made by the hon orable member is unworthy of him. I shall not submit to such aspersions on the party to which I belong.
– If the honorable member refers to the Hansard report of my speech, he will find that I did not asperse any section of the House. I spoke of the weakness of human nature, and the only example I took was myself.
– The honorable member was directing his criticism to the party following the Government, and 1 should be less than a man if I did not resent it.
-Why does the honorable member assume that what I have said applied to his side of the House?
– Because the whole of the honorable member’s criticism was directed to that side.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member’s assertions regarding the caucus were absolutely wrong. What has been his position in the past? He has had to support measures regarding which he was not consulted by the Government he was following. He has never had the right to express his views in caucus. He has had on occasion to support measures of which he did not approve.
Mr.CHARLTON. - The honorable member has been loyal to his party. Every party man must do what I have said.
– The honorable member has had an unfortunate experience.
– There are very few exceptions to the rule, and if the honorable member is one, I am glad to hear it.
– There are quite a number of exceptions on this side.
– The honorable member forgot to tell the Chamber that members other than Labour members have no “say” in regard to Government proposals, having simply to accept what their leader offers. He condemns members of the Labour party for expressing their views regarding legislation before its submission to Parliament, yet “ in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” I shall not take up the time of the House at any length, but I wish to deal with two other matters. Members of the Opposition have claimed that the proposals of the Government in regard to the financial arrangements are not fair to the States. I do not contend that they are much better thanthe proposals of the last Fusion Government. But
I should like to take advantage of figures recently appearing in the Age to show what would have been the effect of adopting the Fusion Government’s proposal. Had a fer capita return of 25s., from the 1st July last, been provided for in the Constitution, the States would have lost £3, 150,624. In 1908 the population of the Commonwealth was 4,275,306, and the amount receivable by the States £5,344,132, whereas the amount actually received in 1909-10 was £8,494,757. What will happen under the Government proposal ? The letter of the Constitution - the Constitutional requirement that until the end of the present year three-fourths of the net Excise and Customs Revenue shall be returned to the States - will be observed.
– And the Government say that during the succeeding six months they will so handle the finances that that provision will not be carried out.
-The Government are prepared to observe the letter of the Constitution, and it must be admitted that at the end of this year the disposition of the finances will rest entirely with the Commonwealth. The Government will return to the States, from 1st inst. to the end of the current year, £4,123,689, and under the new arrangement they will pay to the States during the last six months of the financial year £2,672,066, or a total for the financial year of £6,795,755. In other words, had the Financial Agreement been adopted, the States would have received during the financial year only £5.-344-132> or £T.-45I-623 -ess than will, be returned to them under our proposal. I come now to the point that has been raised in regard to the Government withholding from the States an amount in respect of the deficit of £440.000. Even if they do so, the States will receive £1.011,623 more than the present Opposition would have given them had they obtained the mandate of the electors in favour of their scheme. What justification could there be for the Commonwealth carrying the deficit of £440,000, seeing that the Government are prepared to place the States in a much better position than they would have been in had the Financial Agreement been carried out? The Government propose to treat the States, not only fairly, but liberally. We have also to take into consideration the expenditure which some of die States have been saved by reason of the establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions. New South Wales alone has, in that respect, saved a very considerable expenditure; Can it be said, therefore, that the States are to be treated unfairly when we are prepared to give them, during the present financial year, £1,011,623 more than the State Premiers, and the present Opposition, when in power, asked for and urged the electors to agree to? There is no room for argument; the contention of the Opposition will not bear a moment’s investigation. The Government are carrying out the letter of the Constitution, and have the right to determine what payments shall be made to the States after the Braddon section ceases to operate. We are treating the States very fairly, and it is right that the Commonwealth, instead of being embarrassed in the early stages of its history, should wipe out the deficit of £440,000 by withholding that amount from the States, since even when that is done the Government will return to the States more than the State Governments themselves were prepared to accept, and would accept, if it came from any other source than that of a Labour Ministry.
– They also agreed to contribute £600,000 towards making good the estimated deficit.
– And they were relieved to the extent of £900,000 by the establishment of the Commonwealth system of old-age pensions.
– That is so. It was estimated that the deficit in respect of the financial year just closed would’ be much larger than it is, and I am sure that we are all pleased that, instead of it being £1,200,000, it is only £440,000. The fact that it is much smaller than was anticipated, however, is no excuse for the States contending that it should not be wiped out in the way proposed, because the people, who are masters both of the Commonwealth and the State Parliaments, were not prepared to embody the Financial Agreement in the Constitution. I think that the figures I have put before the House constitute a complete answer to the contentions of the Opposition. I now come to the question of the land tax. I have been rather surprised at the statements made by honorable members opposite in opposition to it, and the opinions advanced by them as to its application. The honorable member for Wimmera thinks that it will enable only rich men to obtain land. I hold a different view. I think that it will enable every man to obtain land at a reasonable price, whereas land values have been so inflated that it is impossible now to get land anywhere in Australia - and more particularly in New South Wales, with the facts in relation to which I am fully conversant - at a reasonable rate. The ex-Prime Minister contended that the imposition of a land tax should be left to the States. That power, however, has remained with the States for years. In New South Wales there is in force a system of closer settlement ; but what has been its effect? Has it enabled the people to get on the land to anygreat extent? Has it met with the requirements of the State? As a matter of fact, in New South Wales to-day there are hundreds of applicants for every block of land that is made available. People cannot obtain land, and, worse still, the closer settlement policy in New South Wales has been the means of inflating and keeping up land values. The price of land, like that of every commodity, depends upon the law of supply and demand. If there is a large demand for land and the supply is limited, high prices must prevail.
– Land values are higher in New Zealand than anywhere else in Australasia.
– That may be; I am not in a position at present to controvert the statement, but I am dealing now with facts with which I am fully conversant. In New South Wales estates are resumed and thrown open for settlement, and the value of land has to be fixed of course by the evidence available. Where there is a keen demand for land and little available, prices must be high. To-day, under the system in operation in the States, land is much dearer than it ought to be. Land must have a use value - that is to say a productive value. A man should be able to purchase land at a price that will enable him at once to make a living upon it. If he has to pay anything in excess of its use value he will be encumbered from the outset; but owing to the limited area of land available, people are paying high prices. What is the result of this state of affairs? A man with a capital of £300 or £400 purchases a block of land under the closer settlement system, and has thiirtythree years within which to pay for it, ‘ with 5 ‘ per cent, per annum added. If the value, for instance, of land is so inflated that the price charged for it is £5 per acre, as against its true productive value of £2 10s. per acre, and the man requires, say, 400 acres for a farm, he has to pay for it £2,000. In such circumstances he has to pay for it at the rate of £100 a year. On the other hand, if he could obtain that land at its true productive value, namely, £2 10s. per acre, he would secure his holding for £1,000, and his annual payment in respect to it would be only £50. Unless a man can obtain land at its true use value he will be penalized for all time in taking it up. He will find himself so encumbered that he will be unable to get rid of it or to meet his payments. A man might readily pay £50 per annum where he could not possibly pay £too a year. Consequently, we must make land available in quantities that will enable it to be sold at its fair productive value, so that settlers will be able to make a decent comfortable living. I predict that under the system in force in New South Wales - and I hope that my prediction Will not be borne out - before the thirty-three years’ term expires a number of those who have taken up land will find that the whole of their capital has been eaten up, first of all in clearing, then in fencing, and in making other necessary improvements, and that after waiting a year of two for a crop they w’ill not he able to obtain a sufficient return to pay for the maintenance of their families and to provide for the payment of £too a year to the State. That is the position that we have to avoid. How are we to overcome the difficulty? The only course open to us is to impose a land tax with an exemption, as proposed by the Government.
– In New South Wales they are throwing open scrub land at ,£5 and £6 per acre with the scrub standing on it.
– That statement serves only to emphasize my contention. It goes to show that the demand for land in New South Wales is so keen that very high prices can be obtained for it.
– I am referring to Crown lands.
– I know of Crown lands in the electorate which I had the honour to represent in the State Parliament that cost £20 per acre to clear. Will the honorable member contend that it is possible to encourage immigration - to settle immigrants on the land - when such exorbitant prices have to be paid ?
– People are settling on these lands and making a good living.
– If the Government of New South Wales are asking to-day £5 and £6 per acre for uncleared scrub land, those who took up land in the days gone by must have reaped the benefit of the unearned increment. They were able to take up land for 10s. and £1 per acre - while in some cases they secured it at mere peppercorn rates - and they have reaped the benefit of the unearned increment.
– The scrub lands to which 1 have referred are Crown lands. They have not been held by private owners.
– But the fact that the price of land has increased to that extent - and the honorable member contends that it is a fair price - shows that some one is reaping the benefit of the unearned increment. It is all very well to say that such and such a price should be paid for land, but the question we have to determine is whether men can settle on the land and make a livelihood out of it when they have to pay such high prices. While the honorable member and others sharing his views speak of immigration and condemn our party as being opposed to it, I do not hesitate to say that no one is more anxious to see the. population of Australia increase than the Labour party are. We contend, however, that we should have, first of all, conditions which will enable the people to settle on the lands - that land should be made available to the people, so that they can earn a decent livelihood out of it. Along with that increased rural population let us have an expansion of our manufacturing industries, so that they will provide increased employment and a wider market for the men on the land. If we have enhanced land values we cannot hope to make a success of immigration by placing immigrants on the land. By the imposition* of a land tax, however, we shall have more lands thrown upon the market, with the result that the supply may be equal to the demand. Once that state of affairs is brought about, we shall not find a State Government asking £5 or £6 per acre for scrub lands. Governments, like ordinary commercial bodies, wish to obtain as much as they can for that which they have to sell, but if our land tax proposals are carried out they will not be able to obtain the prices mentioned by the honorable member in respect to scrub land. Such prices are exorbitant, but with a tax on unimproved land values the poor man who wishes to settle on the land will have a chance to doso. The honorable member for Richmond - and in passing I should like to say that I listened with pleasure to his speech, and think that he will be an acquisition to theHousecontended that the mere impositionof a land tax would not cause land of poor quality to become workable - that such land under our taxation proposals would be thrown on the hands of the States. Inmaking that statement did he lose sight of the fact that we propose an exemption of
– What land is there in New South Wales that would be so affected by a tax on unimproved land values, with an exemption of £5,000, that it would be thrown on the hands of the States ?
– A good deal.
– I can assure the honorable member that there is very little unless we take into consideration the arid west, where we have nothing but leaseholds, which will not come under the tax. Excepting those lands, great difficulty will be experienced in finding areas onwhich, with an exemption of £5,000, a man will be unable to make a livelihood. Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 f.tu.
– Those honorable members who say that the land tax will bea means of forcing holders to give up their land overlook the fact that there is an exemption of ,£5,000. They will not, I think, contend for a moment that £5-000 worth of unimproved land in any part of the States - excepting, perhaps, the undeveloped areas in the Northern Territory, and areas under lease in the far west - is not sufficient to enable a small holder to make a comfortable livelihood. For the purpose of answering the point raised, I have gone to the trouble of making a little computation, taking, for the purposes of comparison, an area of 5,000 acres of land worth £1 per acre, and capable of carrying one sheep to two acres. I take the yield of wool, on the average, at 6 lbs. per sheep, and the price at 10d. per lb., giving 5s. 5d. per sheep, showing a return of £677 4s. 2d. ; or, if we allow 2s. per sheep as the cost of management, a net return of £427 4s. 2d. from this untaxed holding.
– Does the honorable member allow nothing for increase of flock?
– I remind the honorable member that, in addition, sales would take place from the particular holding. I admit there would be an increase in the flock ; but every holding would be diminished in stock as the case required. If the owner saw he could make additional income by placing sheep on the market, he would, of course, sell them, and that would really add to the return. Now, a net return of £427 4s. 2d. would mean a comfortable livelihood for a man and his family ; so that there can be no fear of land being thrown on the State because of the imposition of this tax. There are large numbers of people to-day who would be only too glad if they possessed £5,000 worth of land. Then, in this age of advancement, we must realize that, by placing more people on the land, and reducing the size of the areas held, there will be a disposition on the part of the holders to obtain the most up-to-date machinery. I hold that the State Governments should promote the adoption of irrigation in the remote districts where the quality of the land is not so good as in other parts, because by this means probably much more could be done in the way of production than is done under present conditions. Taking this view, there does not appear to me to be any reason why we should be afraid of the imposition of a land tax. The honorable member for Lang contended that, if a land tax be imposed, the revenue will fall off in consequence of subdivision. I. freely admit that that may be so, and I hope to see it take place. While I say that, I do not claim for a moment that the only object of the tax is the bursting up of large estates. I realize that it is necessary to get revenue, but I remind the honorable member, and I think the answer to him is in this - that if we compel the subdivision of the land, we shall, as a consequence, have a largely increased population. We all know that increased population means increased revenue; every head of population mean’s so much more revenue, and, in all probability, the increase on the one hand would balance the decrease on the other, with the result of, possibly, more revenue than could be obtained from the imposition of the land tax itself. From that point of view, I do not see that the criticism levelled at the proposal can hold good. To me, this tax seems to be the only method we can adopt to make the land available. I have no desire to take up time, but I could draw attention to what is happening in New South Wales, and, I suppose, in other States, where the best lands are not put to any use. I know of many estates which are simply fenced in, and which, if thrown open, would sustain a large number of settlers. These are not sheep lands, but are fit for agriculture; and they have never been made available because the owners have never been asked to pay anything towards the revenue. Who should pay towards the cost of the defence of the country if not those who have large interests in the country ? I admit that there should be direct taxation. I am surprised to hear honorable members .opposite admitting the necessity for population, and yet never attempting to show any means whereby we can obtain it. The Government are endeavouring to deal with the problem; and we say .that the land is the key to the situation. By imposing a land tax we shall be able to find employment for the people on the soil ; and there is no need to be afraid of the result of such an imposition. I am sure that the effect will be to bring many more people to Australia within the next three years - that the proportion of the increase in population from oversea will grow considerably. We talk about assisted immigration, but, if we make Australia what it should be, and, by providing employment, create a contented and happy people on the land, we shall draw many immigrants from other parts of the world without any necessity for assistance. To-day we are bringing people to Australia; but what do we find? In place of there being land available, they find themselves compelled to work for 15s. or £1 per week, although they have, in many cases, left their wives and families at the other end, hoping to be able to send for them within a few months. That is no exaggerated statement; I can prove it if necessary in many cases. If land is made available those who are now in other occupations, and have saved a little money, will go into the country, and make room, of course, for other people. Under such conditions, with an increase in population, Australia will be able to take the position she should among the great nations of the world. There are one or two other points in the Governor-General’s Speech on which I would like to touch. The first is the intimation that steps will be taken to reduce the age at which women are eligible for old-age pensions, and to provide for payment of pensions to invalids early in the financial year. That is good, as far as it goes; but I impress on the Ministry that the old-age pensions system at present is in one respect an imposition on thrift. I refer to the provision in the Act which deals with pensioners who own property. I contend that if people during their earlier years Have been able to provide a comfortable home for themselves, though they may not have been able to accumulate a copper more, should not, because of their thrift, be penalized in their old age. If old people live in their own property, the value of that property should not be taken into consideration in the payment of the pensions. A man earning just as much money as such a pensioner as I have suggested, may have squandered his resources and never provided a home, and yet, simply because he has no home, is paid the full pension, while the thrifty one, because he has a home which is worth £200, has his pension reduced by £10, receiving £16 as against the other £26. This is a matter which the Government should take into consideration with a view to applying a remedy. I was also pleased to see that the Government intend to repeal the Naval Loan Act of 1909, because this is a step in the right direction. I do not believe that we should borrow money for the purposes of defence; and if with no other object than to raise money for the purposes of a fleet, a land tax is justified, as preferable to borrowing money and saddling the people with a big interest bill. The Government proposal is one which I believe will meet with the approval of honorable members and of the country generally. I had no intention to make a long speech, but rose only for the purpose of dealing with the two points raised by honorable members opposite ; and I have answered their criticism to the best of my ability. Some honorable members have contended that apart from these two questions there is nothing in the Governor-General’s Speech. But do they expect the Government to include in a sessional speech everything that the Labour party have advocated, or that is in the Labour party’s programme? Do they think we are going to follow in the footsteps of the old party who made a great display in the window, knowing that they could not give effect to half their promises ? We are going to try to give effect to our principles one by one as opportunity permits ; and when we have done the work of this particular session, as I hope we may, ave shall be able to go further ahead. Do not let honorable members make the mistake of thinking that we, as a party, are afraid to give effect to our principles. I am positive that the party sitting on the right of the Speaker will carry out their pledges to the electors, and when the pledges have been carried into effect the party will be stronger than it is at the present moment.
.- The criticisms levelled by the Opposition at the Governor-General’s Speech are very milk-and- watery. indeed, and call for little reply from Ministerialists. But this is an occasion on which one may express opinions in regard to the administration of affairs, and may touch on subjects which do not arise in the consideration of Bills. The Governor-General’s Speech may be divided into two parts. First come those questions which may be called Labour platform matters. They appear in the platform of the party, and the party as well as its representatives in Parliament are pledged to do their utmost to carry them out. Then come a number of questions upon which every member on tl:e Ministerial side is at perfect liberty to express his own opinions, and give effect to the dictates of his own conscience. I wish to refer first to the questions which are on the platform. Although the financial agreement is not on the fighting platform of the party, some agreement was certainly arrived at at the Brisbane Labour Conference in 1908, and this the party have been following, so that, in effect, they are pledged to the principles embodied in that scheme. Then there are invalid and old-age pensions, a progressive land tax, with an exemption of £5,000, the nationalization of monopolies, the new Protection, a citizen defence force, an Australian owned and controlled navy, and navigation. Those are the only questions in the Speech to which Ministerialists are pledged in connexion with ‘the platform of the party. The other questions, upon which they can exercise their own discretion, are State debts, Federal note issue, immigration, naval loan repeal, Northern Territory^ mail and cable services, penny postage, lighthouses, beacons and buoys, quarantine, Tariff anomalies, Federal Capital, transAustralian railway, and wireless telegraphy. There is also reference in the Speech to another question, but from the vague language used, I am not quite able to determine whether it is a platform matter or not. I refer to the proposed legislation in reference to banking. It may mean either the establishment of a Commonwealth bank, or uniform legislation affecting the private banking corporations. There seems to be no difference of opinion amongst members of this party as to the interpretation of the Brisbane scheme regarding the amount of money to be returned to the States in connexion with the Financial Agreement. It appears to be generally accepted that 25s. per head shall be paid to them, but I gather that there has been a difference of opinion as to the length of time for which that payment should continue. I understand that Western Australian members spoke in favour of a 25 years’ limit, while I, and I believe others in New South Wales, referred to a 10 years limit. I imagine that the members of the party will give effect to their own views as to the period, while standing solidly together as to the amount. The payment of 25s. per head to the States for a term of 10 years is not the ideal to which I would aspire. It is a compromise between opinions which were held very strongly, not only as between different parties, but between members of our own party. Speaking in the House on 23rd September last year, I laid down the following as the principles which I thought should govern the allocation of surplus revenues: -
I do not see why the Commonwealth should have been asked to raise from the people more revenue than was necessary to carry out its own purposes, but while there were surpluses for which the Commonwealth had no legitimate use, I quite agreed with the proposition that the States should be endowed from time to time with amounts sufficient to absorb those surpluses, and so enable them to lighten taxation. Compromises, however, have to be effected, and as a consequence the party are solid on the payment of 25s. per head for at least ten years. The Constitution places us in a little difficulty on the question of the land tax, by stipulating that, in regard to taxation, there shall be no discrimination be tween States or parts of States. That will prevent the Commonwealth, for instance, from making any exemption of highly improved city properties, or so I imagine from a cursory reading of the Constitution. This, of course, is one of the difficulties which arise from a power exercised by the National Parliament being strictly limited by words. I hope the Prime Minister will give the House an exhaustive statement as to the various questions surrounding the proposed issue of Commonwealth notes. I do not see much advantage in the note issue without a Commonwealth bank. It is not reform legislation, but purely regulatory. It does not affect any bedrock principle; it does not touch the question of whether the private banks are to continue to regulate the currency, and it may also be looked upon as the raising of a loan for Commonwealth purposes. I have, however, a perfectly open mind, and hope that when the Prime Minister brings theBill forward he will exhaustively state his views regarding not only the main question, but important subsidiary details. Immigration also is an open question. The repeal of the naval loan is a matter upon which the party are quite free, but I am in perfect agreement with the Government regarding it. So far as concerns the Northern Territory, if the Government intend to place the Bill before the House in exactly the same way as last session, and if we are to be compelled, under the agreement with South Australia, to build a specified line, no vote of mine will be given in favour of it. I am quite prepared to allow a Committee of experts to determine the best means of linking up North and South, but not to vote for a proposal which South Australia seeks to enforce upon the Commonwealth without investigation by impartial experts. That State seems to have taken up a most unfair attitude in the matter. The vacant north is a constant source of national clanger, and South Australia apparently seeks to impose upon the necessities of the Commonwealth accordingly. Because we realize that something must be done with the Northern Territory, the State is apparently seeking to drive a bargain with us for its own, and not for national purposes.
– It has constructed 640 miles of the line already.
– If South Australia has committed the enormous blunder of building a line that will not pay for axle grease, I do not see why the Commonwealth should be compelled to extend that blunder into a further 1,000 miles of line, and so heap a tremendous burden upon generations to come. The line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, practically through the heart of Australia, may after all be found to be the best. Personally, I do not think it will be, but that is not now the question. The matter should be investigated by experts on behalf of the Commonwealth, in order to give us reliable data upon which to act. The military authorities hold that, for defence purposes, the great centres of population should be linked up, and that a line straight through what may be called the dead heart of Australia, would riot be a success from a defence stand-point. I want to see the transfer of the Territory untrammelled by any stipulation for the building of the railway over a specified route, and shall be prepared to accept the decision of experts representing the Commonwealth and -.the State of South Australia. I am sure every one will hail with satisfaction, so far as regards the mail and cable services, anything which will facilitate our commerce, not only between the States, but with other nations. I am pleased to see penny postage mentioned in the Speech. From one end of my electorate to the other I told ray constituents , that I was in favour of penny postage and a uniform Commonwealth stamp, and consequently it is a cause of satisfaction to me to find the matter referred to in these terms in the programme for the session. The question of Tariff anomalies is, of course, a non-party one. I do not wish to commit myself finally at this moment, because I may not have all the facts before me that I should have, and the Ministry will perhaps have facts to put before the House, but I certainly do not feel favorable at this stage to any further Tariff Protection without new Protection. A number of us voted for high duties throughout the recent Tariff discussions on the distinct understanding, and indeed on a pledge given by the late Prime Minister, that new Protection was to be associated with the Tariff, and that otherwise the Tariff would not be carried. I, for one, feel inclined to refuse to give Protection to a small section of the people, who in turn deny it to the great bulk of the workers in their factories, and am inclined to resist to the utmost any further Tariff Protection unless it is associated with new Protection. Members on this side are at liberty to take up any attitude which they consider right in regard to the Federal Capital. Personally I think there has been sufficient discussion about the site. Years were wasted in deciding where it was to be. Ultimately Dalgety was selected. I stated to the recent Deakin Government that if they were prepared to make the choice of Dalgety a Cabinet question, to remain solid upon it, and to carry out the decision of Parliament, I would stand with them; but that if the matter was opened again, and the Bill practically pitched on to the table of the House so that we could do what we liked with it, I should be persuaded to register a vote which I believed would represent the views of my constituents. I am in the same position now. I desire to see the decision of the majority carried out as speedily as possible, and the Australian Parliament sitting in its own home in its own territory.
– What are the views of the honorable member’s constituents?
– They are in favour of Yass -Canberra. My constituents are Sydneyites, and want to have a capita! which - will give Sydney as many trading advantages as possible.
– That is not the view generally entertained in Sydney. It is a very narrow view indeed.
– I thought the honorable member was a true Australian.
– I admit that it is a parochial view. I dislike it. But I believe that the Constitution requires that we should select a site for the Capital as near as possible to Sydney. The residents of the metropolitan area in New South Wales believed when voting for that parochial provision in the Constitution that they were going to get some immediate advantage from the fixing of the Federal Capital site.
– So they will. The Capital will be a suburb of Sydney
– I should have preferred that the Constitution had left us untrammelled in the matter, so that we might select the best site. But realizing that the Constitution compels us to take the parochial aspect into consideration. I assume that we have simply to carry out that direction. One other matter to which I desire to refer is that relating to the caucus. As has been pointed out, a number of questions are coming before this House that are not subject to caucus decision. I noticed a reference in Melbourne Punch for. 7th July to the temporary transfer of ^50,000 from the Trust Funds by the Prime Minister for Commonwealth purposes. The newspaper proceeded to criticise his action in the following terms: -
Besides, he consulted the caucus, and is not the caucus Parliament? The caucus said, “Go ahead; use the trust funds; use anything; we will see you through.” Could there be any more damning evidence against the Labour caucus system?
The statement is pure fiction. The party never consulted about this matter. The Prime. Minister is quite able to take the responsibility for his own action. It is undoubtedly a serious thing to interfere with the Trust Funds, and I should feel that I was in a difficulty if called upon to give a vote in favour of such a course. However, we shall hear from the. Prime Minister his reasons for what he did when he brings down the Bill which, I understand, is to be introduced. No doubt he will tell us the reasons which actuated him. At present I have not had an opportunity of knowing his reasons, but I am confidently assured that he will take Parliament into his con.fidence when the proper time comes. I wish now to say a few words in relation to the administration of the Departments. One of the complaints made throughout Australia is that from the Labour point of view we have had unsympathetic administration of the Departments in State and Commonwealth. Time after time in this House members of the party to which I belong have stood up in their places and complained of the unsympathetic administration of various Acts, particularly those containing Labour principles. I expect, now that Labour Ministers are in office, that an intimation will be given to the officers of the Departments that the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law affecting Labour measures shall be taken into consideration. In respect to the Old-age Pensions Act, it has been pointed out that applicants for pensions have to answer a list of questions of a harassing kind. I understand that the present Prime Minister was responsible for those questions in the first instance. Evidently, however, they were placed before him by departmental officers, and we may assume that he did not devote much attention to scrutinizing them before they went forth with his authority. Certainly he had not much time to reconsider them when their character was brought under his notice, because hepassed out of office very soon after. But
I hope now that the honorable gentleman is again at the head of the Department that there will be a considerable simplification of a number of the questions which oldage pensioners are called upon to answer. I was also very sorry to hear the reply of the Prime Minister to a question this morning. He was asked whether overtime was paid to officers concerned with the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act. He stated that officers had been called upon to take out the overtime worked in. time off, instead of being paid for it. I am sure that the Prime Minister, in his own trade union experience, has always set himself against the principle involved in that practice. If a man is called upon to go back to his office and work overtime, it has been contended in the trade union movement throughout Australia that he should be paid for that work. I hope that we are not going to have departmental officers laying down the principles .which shall operate in respect to the treatment of employes under a Labour Government. On the contrary, I trust that effect will be given to recognised trade union principles, and that the administrative officers will understand that questions of this kind have to be treated from that stand-point. There is nothing unreasonable in so doing. It is perfectly fair that if an officer is called upon to work at night, and is thus taken away from his social enjoyments, he shall not be compelled to accept recompense in the form of time off during the day, when the same opportunities of recreation are not open to him. With reference to the Department of Home Affairs, a question was asked concerning temporary employment. The Minister was requested to give instructions that lists of applications for temporary employment should be posted up in the offices in the various capitals, so that applicants for employment would have an opportunity of going to these offices, seeing their own position on the list, and knowing when their turn for engagement was likely to come. Under the Public Service Act, applicants for temporary employment must register their names, and must be engaged in rotation.
– That is supposed to be done.
– A doubt has arisen in the minds of the public whether that section of the Act is being fairly administered. It would much relieve the anxiety of those honorable members who represent city constituencies if some such simple arrangement as I have suggested were adopted. What reply was put into the mouth of the Minister by his officers ? He said that the preparation and posting up of such a list of applicants would cost too much money. I answer that that statement is absurd, I myself could write out the names of the applicants for temporary employment in the different States in one or two hours. To say that the preparation of such a list would involve great expenditure seems to me to be the height of absurdity. I am sure that the Minister of Home Affairs would agree with me if he would look into the matter for himself.
– We shall have to courtmartial him if he does not.
– I am making a perfectly reasonable request. There is a suspicion in the minds of those who have registered for employment that they are - not being engaged in accordance with priority of application. Surely it is a very simple matter to post up the names so that any applicant can walk into the office in any one of the capitals, see his name on the list, and ascertain when his turn is likely to come.
– The honorable member must recollect that I am somewhat green to the business yet.
– The Minister may be green to the administration of his Department, but he is old and experienced in regard to the ways of the world. If we had not thought that he had had sufficient experience for the administration of a Department, I am sure that he would not have been put in his present office. He was put there because we believed that he possessed sufficient nous and experience to carry out the various administrative functions under his control with credit to himself and to the Government of which he is a member. Several honorable members, in common with myself, have had experience of unemployed men coming to complain that they have” been registered for a certain time but that their turn for employment has never come, whilst they know of others whose names have been on the register for a lesser term and who have been employed. When imputations of this kind are made against the administration, the Minister ought to take action. It is a very simple matter for him to insist that the names of applicants shall be posted up in the offices of the Public Service Inspectors in the manner suggested.
– It looks reasonable.
– It is perfectly reasonable. In die Railway Department of New South Wales, where there are 30,000 employes, the practice is to post up the names of the men available for promotion in the locomotive sheds throughout the State. Surely when this can be done with an army of employes it can be done with the comparatively small number of applicants for temporary employment under the Commonwealth. I would urge the Minister not again to accept blindfolded the conservative replies which his officers place before him. If the administration of the Department is to go on exactly as it did before, our hopes of improvement from Labour administration will go by the board. I for one shall raise my voice time after time unless I find a different spirit pervading the administration and Labour principles are carried out. Then, again, a question was asked by me in connexion with the charging of an entrance fee to persons who desired to be permanently appointed to the Commonwealth service. . I pointed out that a man applying to be appointed as a painter has to pay an entrance fee of 7s. 6d. Such a man may not be able to afford to pay that sum. A painter may be working somewhere, and if he desires to enter the Commonwealth service he has to knock off work for a day inorder to undergo the practical test and the education examination. He has to lose his time for that day and to pay 7s. 6d. in addition. That involves altogether the lossof about j£i. Surely that is absurd. The answer given was that what is done is provided for by the Act and the regulations. Well, I have looked through the Act and find that the provision mentioned is not there. Therefore, I arrive at the conclusion that it must be in the regulations. These regulations have been drawn up byrne Department, and can be modified by the Department. They have been- signed by various Ministers, and are simply in existence as a relict of that Conservatism which the Labour party has come into power to break down. I therefore urge the Minister to look into this matter, and to inquire whether it is reasonable and fair to expect applicants to pay this fee. Questions have also been put as to a number of permanent employes who are not in receipt of the minimum wage of 7s. a day. There are a large number of permanent employes in the Commonwealth Public Service who are not in receipt of that wage,, although they are over 21 years of age.
Only last year a return was laid on the table of the House showing that on the 14th October of that year these employes numbered 221 males and 185 females.
– Did I understand the honorable member to say that this matter already figures upon the business-paper?
– Some questions relating to it appear upon the business-paper.
– Then the honorable member will not be in order in discussing it.
– Very well. I do hope that Labour representatives in this Parliament will see that every permanent employe of the Commonwealth who is over 21 years of age, is paid the minimum rate prescribed by the Public Service Act, namely, 7s. perday. At present there are a large number of employes who are not in receipt of that wage. That circumstance has been one of our chief complaints in respect of antiLabour administration, and we look to the Government to wipe out the injustice. In connexion with the new telephonecharges which have been foreshadowed by the PostmasterGeneral, I understand that a previous occupant of the Chair issued instructions that all regulations should be laid upon the table of the House a sufficient time, prior to their becoming operative, to afford honorable members an opportunity to discuss them. I hope that we shall be afforded an opportunity of debating the new telephone rates before they are brought into operation. It may be that the PostmasterGeneral is absolutely justified in the alterations which he proposes to make. Certainly some alterations are required. But I do not think that an alteration in our telephone charges is the only reform that is necessary in connexion with our telephone administration. It appears to me that a great many of the complaints which are made by the public regarding the unsatisfactory service which is given to them are directly due to the fact that the Department has not sufficient machinery to enable it to deal with its rapidly expanding requirements.
– It has also a multiplicity of switchboards, and that is a bad thing.
– I understand that considerable alteration is required in that connexion. But the fixing of a new scale of telephone charges will not dispose of all the complaints which the public make from time to time regarding the unsatisfactory service which is supplied to them. At the same time, the proposal of the PostmasterGeneral is a very serious one, and one which affects a large number of our constituents. Consequently, we should be afforded an opportunity of hearing from him the facts upon which he has based those charges, and of dispassionately discussing them. I have not the slightest desire to hamper the administration of the Postal Department. Rather do I wish to assist the Postmaster-General to make the postal service of the Commonwealth acceptable to the people. It is a standing reproach that almost every branch of the Department is in an unsatisfactory condition. Many of the evils of which complaint is made, have grown up under the maladministration of previous Governments, and if the Labour Ministry, which is now in office, can so reorganize the Postal Department as to make the public proud of it, they will have accomplished a great work.
– We will do that.
– I am not proud of the Department just now.
– We are only just initiating reforms there.
– Personally, I regard the political control of the Post Office as a mistake. I favour placing the Department under the control of a Commission, and giving the Commissioners sufficient power to regulate the details of their work.
– Does the honorable member favour the appointment of Postal Commissioners like the Railways Commissioners ?
– If we had Labour Ministers, who were worth their salt, to deal with a Railways Commissioner like Mr. Tait of Victoria–
– That is a very nasty one.
– I am not referring to Commonwealth Labour Ministers. But if we had a Labour Ministry in the Victorian Parliament which was worth its salt, Mr. Tait would not be able to act the part of a tyrant.
– Then the Postal Commissioners would not be independent.
– They would be independent within certain limits. The policy to be pursued by them would be laid down by Parliament. But there are some details in connexion withthe administration of this great Department with which’ Parliament is incompetent to deal. For instance, numerous complaints reach me from postal employes, and it is absolutely impossible for me in many cases to understand whether I should be right or wrong in advocating the adoption of a certain course of action. Parliament can lay down certain definite principles relating to such things as a living wage, the hours of labour, the considerations which shall govern promotions, night work, and Sunday work, but it is absolutely absurd to think that it can fairly regulate all the intricate details connected with the Department.
– Would the honorable member like Postal Commissioners like the Chief Railway Commissioner of New South Wales?
– Every controller of public services should be temperamentally suited to the position as well as possessed of the necessary capability. How the Commission was constituted would not matter so long as it consisted of capable men, and so long as no powers were conferred upon it which lt ought not to exercise. To illustrate my argument, let me point to the present Postmaster-General. He is a representative of the people, who is imbued with advanced ideas, .and is a gentleman of marked ability. That is admitted. But how much experience has he had of the administration of a huge concern like the Postal Department? -It is no reflection upon him to say that his experience cannot have been sufficient to enable him to lay down the lines on which the management in detail of every branch of that Department should proceed. Of course, I recognise that under any system of control objections will be urged. But the powers of Postal Commissioners could be so defined that they would deal sympathetically with their employe’s, while at the same time giving effect to sound business management. At the present time a Deputy PostmasterGeneral is not able to engage a temporary hand at 7s. per day. Is not that absurd? A stationmaster at a little country town, who handles £300 or £400 a year, possesses more power in respect of the employment of casual labour than does the Deputy Postmaster-General in any State. Whenever a rush of work occurs in the Postal Department in any State, and the assistance of temporary hands is required, a requisition has first’ to be forwarded to the Public Service Commissioner. But that officer does not deal with such requisitions. They are dealt with by a clerk receiving about £200 per annum, and effect is probably given to the decisions at which he arrives over the head of the Deputy Postmasters-General in the different capitals. That seems to be absurd circumlocution.
– The Postmaster-General does not deal with requisitions for temporary employment. They are dealt with by the Public Service Commissioner.
– The requisitions arn forwarded to the Public Service Commissioner, but are probably dealt with by a clerk.
– The Public Service Commissioner is one of the Commissioners whom the honorable member would place in control of the Postal Department.
– I have not said so. I do not know whether honorable members think that no alteration is required in this connexion.
– An alteration was recently made, under which the Deputy PostmastersGeneral were given more power than they formerly possessed.
– But they refused1 to exercise that power, because they were being continually hauled over the coals. However, I am not wedded to the idea of the Postal Department being controlled by Commissioners, if any better method can be suggested. But I cannot admit that the PostmasterGeneral is able to control all the details of that great institution. Since the establishment of the Federation we have had quite a number of PostmastersGeneral. Indeed, the Department has witnessed1 almost lightning changes. It is impossible to believe that these gentlemen, who have had no previous experience of the administration of a huge concern like the Post Office, are able immediately to step into it and satisfactorily fill the breach. As a matter of fact, the Postmaster- General is, in most instances, in the hands of his Department, and time after time he carries out what is suggested to him by his officials. I believe that if the Department were placed under the control of Commissioners, and its employes were given the right to submit their industrial grievances to a competent tribunal, we should be able to fairly regulate the conditions of their employment. Of course, Parliament would lay down the broad lines of policy to be given effect to by the Commissioners. When we are able, in the light of further evidence, to go into more of the details connected with the administration of the Post Office,
I believe it will be found that we shall have to adopt some form of control such as I have suggested. My only desire is that we should have an efficient service that will provide for fair treatment to the employes and give satisfaction to the public. If some other proposal be submitted which can be shown to be better than that which I have suggested for the purpose, I shall be only too glad to see it carried out. I think it is unnecessary that’ I should refer at any greater length to the Speech, or to the administration of the Government Departments ; but, before concluding, I wish to point out that a number of honorable members opposite, who are fond of suggesting that a Labour Administration is incompetent to control the affairs of Australia, have already indorsed the present Labour Government. They have expressed a desire to place in their hands the control of Departments other than those which they already control. I find, for instance, that the honorable member for Darling Downs, who was a Minister in the last Administration, desires that the present Government should forthwith have control of a Bureau of Agriculture. That is a statement of confidence in the Labour Ministry. The honorable gentleman practically says that, not only are the members of the Labour Government competent to administer the affairs of the Departments they already control, but that they should be in charge also of a Bureau of Agriculture.
– The honorable gentleman is hoping for an early political change.
– He must know that there is no chance of a change during the next three years, nor, I think, for the next ten years.
– The honorable member says that he is free and independent.
– I should be sorry if I were not as free and independent as the honorable gentleman was in the last Cabinet. I noted, during last session, that a number of members of the then Government party sometimes gave solemn expression in this House to their conscientious’ views, and then, when a vote was called for, walked out of the Chamber, or voted in opposition to the views they had ^expressed, before the ink was dry on the paper on which their speeches had been reported. That cannot be denied. We had some marked examples of it during the discussion of the Financial Agreement. Some honorable members opposite trounced their leaders in connexion with that agreement; and then, when they thought that the Government were in danger, they calmlyvoted against’ the convictions they had expressed. The honorable member for Lang desires that the Labour Government should be intrusted with the control of some of the islands of the Pacific. That is an admission that the Labour Government are competent to administer the affairs of territory other than that which they already control. The honorable member for Wimmera desires that the Federation should take control of the Murray and its tributaries. As we have a Labour Government in power in the Federation, that would involve an addition to their administrative work. The honorable member has given notice of a motion to carry out what he proposes, and has so given a vote of confidence in the Labour Government. The honorable member for Wentworth has given notice of a motion for an extension of Socialism in the shape of the establishment of a military farm for the breeding of horses for military purposes. He has had an assurance from the Labour Government that that will be carried out; and it meets with his cordial approval. The right honorable member for Swan, although he has been a member of various Ministries, and has been burning with a desire to have the transcontinental railway constructed, was never in such a hurry about it as he is to-day. He desires that a railway over 1,000 miles in length shall be constructed from South Australia to the West; and now that there is a Labour Government in power, his confidence that the work will be carried out has become very great indeed. He never showed as much anxiety in the matter when he was a Minister, and was in a position to do something ; but he is in great haste now that the Labour Government is in office, because he knows that the work will be carried out by them efficiently and economically. These gentlemen make speeches against the Labour Government for their constituents to read, implying that they have no confidence in a Labour Administration. I have no doubt that, from many platforms throughout the country, they have brought criticism to bear upon Labour administration ; but actions speak louder than words, and so we have motions placed on the business-paper by these honorable gentlemen seeking to extend the administrative duties of the Labour Government; and we can assume that those motions are expressions of their real views. I am satisfied that the proposals foreshadowed in the
Governor-General’s Speech constitute a fair instalment of the political reforms outlined in the Labour Party’s platform. I believe that before this Parliament expires, we shall have placed upon the statutebook of the Commonwealth a great national policy which will tend to the increasing prosperity and happiness of the whole of the Australian people.
.- Like honorable members who have preceded me, I shall occupy the attention of the House only for a very short space of time. I should like, Mr. Speaker, to tender my congratulations to you upon your elevation to the very honorable position which you now hold. I trust that you will long occupy that position, and that I shall not be such a transgressor as to keep you in die chair after 10 o’clock at night. If I had my way, and providing that the conduct of the business of the country would permit of it, I should like to see the Speaker leave the Chair automatically every evening about 10 p.m. I think that that would be a good idea. In the past, I have sat in the Speaker’s gallery, and listened to the eloquent addresses of honorable members on both sides in this House; and, looking now into the countenances of many of those men, I note that they appeared to be very much younger men ten years ago than they are to-day. This, I think, indicates that, either the vitiated atmosphere of the Chamber, the worry of politics and State affairs, or the zeal “with which they have applied themselves to their parliamentary duties, has added to their years, probably more than a continuance in their ordinary avocations would have done. So far as I am concerned, although my advent to political life as a member of Parliament was but very recent, I intend, for the sake of my wife and family, to preserve my life as long as I can ; and, in doing so, I think I shall be rendering a service, not only to my own wife and family, but to the wives and families of other honorable members. The Leader »f the Opposition referred to, and appeared to derive some gleams of satisfaction from scanning, the figures presented to us by the electoral officers. Upon analyzing them, he seemed to derive extreme gratification from the discovery that, although there is a considerable majority on the Ministerial side of the House a substantial minority of the electors voted for those who advocated the principles which he advocated during the recent election campaign. Although belonging to the Democratic section in politics I am not one of those who believe in making fanciful departures from the existing electoral system. Mathematicians, and other gentlemen of the kind, are fond of- submitting to the people of this and other countries elaborate schemes for the election, by the people, of their representatives. I think that we have got along very well in this respect, and that our progress has been very satisfactory. I also have noted a few figures which I gleaned from the return presented to this House. I should like to say that I have no wish to give expression to any ungracious remarks this afternoon, or I hope at any other time. Of course, I have a temper just as other honorable members have, and if annoyed I may give expression in the heat of the moment to observations for which, in my cooler moments, I may be sorry. I am giving in advance notice of what may happen in certain contingencies. But I do not wish honorable members to regard the remarks I am about to make as made in any intentionally ungracious spirit. When I analyze the figures affecting honorable members on this side of the House, I find that not a single one of them represents a minority of his constituents. But analyzing the figures affecting honorable members opposite, I find .that no less than six of them have been elected by minorities in their respective constituencies. I do not intend to quote the exact figures. But taking the aggregate figures for the six constituencies I find that the honorable members referred to polled no less, than 10,000 votes below the aggregate of those who went to the poll in their constituencies. Our friends in the electoral office have performed a useful service in providing us with comparative figures of the voting at the various elections for the Commonwealth, and these show that we have been making satisfactory advance in the percentage of votes polled. In connexion with the Senate elections, in 1903, 40 per cent, of the electors on the roll recorded their votes. In 1906, three years later, the percentage had risen to 50, and in 19 10, at the elections just held, it had risen to the very nice figure of 62 per cent. Seeing that this percentage has continued to increase side by side with an increase in the total number of electors on the roll, we have improved very considerably indeed in our voting. Dealing with the polling for the House of Representatives I find that, in 1903, there were 1,470,000 electors on the rolls in the various States, and of these 50 per cent voted at the elections held in that year. In 1906 there were 1,920,000 electors on the rolls, and 51.48 per cent recorded their votes. At the time of the recent elections there were 2,148,000 electors on the rolls, and 62.80 per centrecorded their votes. These figures indicate a satisfactory advance in the right direction. I may say, for the information of some honorable members present, that I have conducted a few political campaigns in my time, and I had made my sixth try before I reached the Legislature. I have, therefore, gained some campaigning experience before obtaining my present honorable position. I believe that honorable members on all sides will agree that, whatever our politics, we like to see the people going to record their votes in large numbers. I hope that they will do so to a greater extent as the education of the public from the platform takes place. I think that our local politics have lacked a very desirable element which is noticeable in British politics. I can speak particularly of the State of which I am an humble representative, and I say that, in the past the people have paid too much attention to the press. They have read what has appeared in the press, and thousands have accepted their politics from the press. We are advancing from that stage, however, and, to-day, I think I can safely say that the Australian electors are being educated to a greater extent from the public platform than they ever were before in our history. I hope that as we go on that will be found to be true of an increasing number of our electors. The more the statesmen of this country take to the platform and endeavour to educate the people, and the less the influence of the press the greater will be the benefit to the people. I was about to remark that there were some anomalies connected with the electoral system, and, unfortunately, for honorable members opposite, they appear only to show in connexion with them. I might be inclined to assist them in re moving those anomalies if those who at present represent minorities would undertake to go back to their constituencies and seek the support of majorities. Perhaps that remark may seem a little ungracious. Before leaving these electoral figures, I think I should make some reference to the scattered nature of our population. Although population is fairly concentrated in Vic toria. the people in Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia, are very much scattered, and a voting percentage of 62.80, with over 2,000,000 of people on the rolls, is, in the circumstances, really a very creditable one. Reference was made by the Leader of the Opposition to the Constitution, and I can quite understand an old parliamentary hand, like the honorable gentleman, having a love for the Constitution. He was one of the godfathers of the Commonwealth Constitution, and, as such, no doubt desires that it should Be carefully protected from any assault made upon it.. I am one of those who love the Constitution so long as it permits the people in the freest possible way to give expression to their views, and provides an outlet for their national aspirations. In regard to the present Constitution, if I understand anything of the temper of the public, I believe that to-day the great mass of the people are very desirous of. amending that instrument in the direction of allowing the Commonwealth Parliament to have far greater powers than it now possesses. Therefore, I am honestly glad that the party on this side of the House have decided that there shall be a fairly drastic amendment of the Constitution submitted to the electors. . It will, of course, be done in a constitutional way. I trust that the proposal will be accepted by the people. I was rather surprised to find a gentleman like the Leader of the Opposition - who, I may say, is an old friend - holding up his hands in holy horror when a proposition is made that the Constitution should be amended, considering that he himself has placed various propositions of that kind before the House. I hold in my hand a document which I made some use of in the recent campaign, and which is a parliamentary paper entitled, “ New Protection,” presented to the House on the 28th October, 1908. Referring to an amendment of the Constitution which we were promised atthe recent election, but did not get, he said -
As it was under the Commonwealth power of taxation that the manufacturer obtained the benefits of a Protective Tariff, the same power of taxation was sought to be exercised to give protection to his employes by means of an Excise Tariff. Excise duties were placed on certain classes of goods protected by Customs duties, and an exemption from the Excise was granted in favour of goods for the making of which fair and reasonable wages were paid. It has now been decided by the High Court that the Constitution does not warrant the duties of Excise thus imposed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
As the power to protect the manufacturer is national, it follows that unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth also acquires power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage earners, the policy of Protection must remain incomplete.
I have simply read those two paragraphs in order to indicate to the House the direction in which the Leader of the Opposition desired an amendment of the Constitution. It was faithfully promised on the floor of the House in October, 1908, that at the next election a proposal for an amendment of the “Constitution would be submitted by referendum to the people. Other schemes’ were evolved in the meantime, and, of course, that particular proposal was not submitted. The ex-Prime Minister proposed a very exceptional amendment of the Constitution for a particular purpose, and for that purpose the present Government intend to seek an amendment which I believe will be carried by the people. I have also a quotation to make from an utterance by one of the members of the Transvaal Parliament. I believe that he was a member of the Convention which was held in South Africa to draw up a Constitution. Speaking of the Australian Constitution to an English interviewer, General Smuts, Colonial Secretary in the Transvaal, said -
We saw that Australian Federation had created grave difficulties, and we have reversed the position. Instead of the States delegating powers to the Federal Government, we are to have one supreme Government which can pass any law on any subject, and which will delegate powers to the provinces or even resume them. This Government takes over all the railways and debts and all industrial legislation.
That is a power which to my mind every national Parliament should possess. I believe that a paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech indicates that we are to seek power, I will not say to take over the railways, but in order to frame legislation which will be in consonance with the national aspirations of the people.
– Hear, hear; that is Democracy.
– Yes, I believe in Democracy. The reason why British institutions, especially parliamentary .institutions, are admired the wide world over to-day is because unlimited freedom is allowed to the people in the election of their representatives. So far as the Federal Parliament is concerned, we have the finest of all franchises - one which includes every person over the age of twentyone years. I was rather surprised to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Echuca, who, of course, does not belong to the same class in politics as do honorable members on this side. I am sorry that he is not present, because I know him, and would like him to hear my remarks. I was very much surprised to hear him make certain observations in respect to the Labour party, not only by his speech last night, but also by interjection during the speech of the honorablemember for South Sydney to-day. The interjection to which I took stout objection this morning was the statement that theLabour party have no sympathy with theproducers on the land. I claim that theLabour party are absolutely the best friendswhom the farmers ever had, either in Victoria or in the Commonwealth generally, Let me point out to the honorable member, if he does not already know it, that in Victoria many persons would not have been, first selectors and then farmers had it note been for the miners and the artisans.
– That was the old” Liberal party.
– During the recent campaign many of the so-called Liberals made this remark to me, “ I do not remember an election like this since the old days of Graham Berry.” In his best days that gentleman would have been called, as indeed he was called at a particular time, practically a Labour leader. Graham Berry, James McPherson . Grant, Charles Gavan Duffy, Peter Lalor, and others were the men who practically laid the foundation of Democracy in this State. It was miners, ^ elected by miners, who helped to place.” upon the statute-book of Victoria legisla- . tion which allowed those who constitute the present farming class to get on the lands, which they now hold. Had they been dependent upon a Parliament which waspractically made up from the squatocracy of the State they would never have obtained their holdings. During the past five or six years my duties have taken me to various parts of this State, and the men with whom I have come in contact have been engaged in rural pursuits. In conversations and by addresses I have endeavoured to place before them some ideals which I think the farming classes should hold. I think I have established the fact that the Democratic element in- politicscertainly placed on the statute-book of Victoria legislation which allowed the present land-holders, or, at any rate, a large number of them, to get on the land. First and foremost the miners and the - artisans played a very important part in : placing that class of man in Parliament. The worker has been helping the farmer ever since that time. As I have often asked my farming friends, Who are the chief consumers of the produce which is obtained from the land? The chief consumers of produce are the great masses of the people found in Collingwood, South Melbourne, and other suburbs of Melbourne. It is in great centres of population where workingmen are aggregated that land produce is chiefly consumed.
– The difference between the two parties is, that’ whereas the Liberal party helped toput persons on. the land in olden times, the present Labour party apparently is endeavouring to tax them off the land.
– No, and nothing will tend more to create a greater rural population than will the very legislation which is foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech. Practically every day of the week we have farmers coming into our Labour leagues in the country. That is one of the best evidencesI have that the Labour party will receive a sweeping farmers’ vote in the very near future. It only needs a few misapprehensions to be removed to achieve that desirable result. Since the general election I have had the pleasure of addressing fruit-growers and farmers, who I may mention, have played a principal part in the formation of leagues in fruit-growing and other farming districts. We are going to carry on that work. We are not going to leave the farmer to himself, but intend to help him in every possible way. How many farmers who attended the recent Farmers’ Convention formed themselves into another convention in order to establish a fresh political league? From time to time the opponents of the Labour party in every State adopt a new name. Whenever they act in a certain way at an election their name becomes so nauseous to the general public that they have practically to change their name after the election, and, of course, the people can see the reason why they take that step.
– Have not the farmers the right to join the league?
– Most decidedly they have. I have always said to the farmers, “ Practically every other section of the community is organized, and if you wish to have your views expressed in the Legislature or elsewhere, then by all means organize yourselves.” I have done my level best to organize many of the farmers in this State. The principal class of organization in which I have been indulging has been the formation of farmers into co-operative dairying companies.
– Hear, hear.
– I am pleased to hear that very hearty cheer from the honorable member, because I was once told that cooperation is a phase of Socialism. If it is for the benefit of the fanner, I am quite of his opinion that co-operation is a phase of Socialism, and that by cooperating farmers are indulging in one phase of Socialism. It brings them together, and educates them not only in cooperative principles, but in various other matters. The dairymen of Victoria today are better educated, because of the adoption of the co-operative system, than they ever were before. They are represented by men like the honorable members for Wannon and Corangamite. The dairymen of the other States have” also sent men here to place their views before Parliament. I believe that the dairymen and fruit-growers will join the Labour movement in large numbers.
– It is the only thing that will save it.
– We are very much saved at the present time, and shall be more saved a little later. I have often endeavoured to point out to the rural classes that the best helpers they have are the men in the cities. When our friends opposite have become converts to the Labour movement, we shall be glad to supply them with arguments to win the suffrages of constituents, but, in the meanwhile, this is an argument which I generally use, and to which I make them welcome : The farmer, as a rule, requires as much Socialism as he can get in carrying out his industry. He is always asking for State assistance. The Farmers Convention, which concludes its sittings at Ballarat to-day, has, in some respects, expressed views antagonistic to the Labour movement, but it has passed a string of resolutions, containing petitions to the Commonwealth and State Governments, based on the socialistic principles which the Labour party is endeavouring to apply to the control of the Railways, Post Office, and other Departments.
– While the Labour party says that it is in favour of co-operation, it is against combinations, whether good or bad.
– The honorable member should judge each one of us by his utterances.
– That is the Government attitude.
– The Government can look after itself. So far as I am concerned, bad combinations will be dealt with very drastically. The monopolies which are harmful to the people will be swallowed, and made State concerns. We intend to ask the people to give us power to do that. The honorable member for Richmond spoke of the need for giving telephone communication between outlying districts and centres of population. I agree with him that that should be done. I first saw the light in a Victorian backcountry district. I am a farmer’s son, although I have engaged in other than farming work since. I have, therefore, every sympathy with those who are trying to make their homes by tilling the soil. We should do what we can to bring our producers into touch with their markets, and the telephone system is one of the best ways of doing this. Any attempt to make the life of the primary producer easier and happier, no matter whence it is suggested, will have my support. It will be found that we on this side are sympathetic and large-hearted men.
– There is not a word in the Governor-General’s Speech about telephone extensions.
– Every reform cannot find a place in the Governor-General’s Speech. If good suggestions are made, the Government will be as willing as any of its predecessors to adopt them. Every item in our programme will be carried out. Although I represent a city constituency, I shall do my best to make the rural population happier, better, and more prosperous, knowing that if the primary producers do well, the cities will benefit. Rural development is only in its infancy in Australia. I am glad to meet here a representative of the Byron Bay and northern rivers districts of New South Wales. Some good Victorians have gone there to show how dairying can best be conducted, though, no doubt, there are other good dairymen there. Anything that can be done, consistent with the Labour policy, to assist rural industries, will have my support. But I do not believe in allowing men to be employed at starvation rates of wages. If our farmers were sensible, they would treat their employes better.
– They were protesting the other day about the high rates of wages which they have to pay.
– They have little to protest about. Generally speaking, they are doing fairly well, though I think some of those who have recently bought land at excessive prices will be continually in trouble. The honorable member for Echuca said last night that if we insist upon the payment of certain rates of wages in rural industries, we shall take away the profits of the farmers. I do not think that that is so. I have been both an employe” and an employer^ and have always found that the better men are treated the more handsomely they respond. The ordinary Britisher, in every walk of life, will, if treated as a human being, do his best. It is only the “ waster “ who will not respond to kind and proper treatment. In their own interests employers, whether engaged in city industries or in rural pursuits, should treat their men as well as possible! When a young man comes to the age of twenty-one or twenty-two, he naturally would like to choose a wife to be the partner, of his joys and sorrows. But very often, if he is a farm employe, the farmer for whom he is working will not recognise that from the age of sixteen he has been getting more useful, and that a wage of 15s., 1, or even 25s. a week is not enough for a robust young yeoman who is able to plough, and conduct all the other farming operations. Such a youth is a valuable asset to his employer and to the country, and if we wish to increase our population we cannot do it better than by permitting these fine young fellows ‘ to marry our fine young country maidens. Unless farmers are prepared to increase rates of wages, farm hands will have little chance of marrying in the future. I trust that education will so advance that those engaged in rural pursuits will take care that their employes receive reasonable wages. I intend- to do my level best to apply to country districts, perhaps in a modified sense, those rules and regulations which apply to many of our city industries. I hope that, more and -more, the farmers, at all events, will view this matter in the right light, and will accord to those in their employ that just treatment to which they are entitled. As the usual hour of adjournment has arrived, I ask leave to continue my remarks on the next day of sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Mr. THOMAS laid upon the table
Telephone Charges -
Additions to report by Committee of Ac countants.
Appendices to report by the Chief Electrical Engineer.
– The acting Leader of the Opposition has agreed to my moving for the appointment of the Sessional Committees.
– It is not usual to appoint these Committees until the adop tionofthemotion for the AddressinReply, but if there is any urgency, I have no objection to the motion.
– It is a matter of urgency that the House Committee should be appointed to indorse certain payments ; and I therefore ask leave to move for the appointment of the several Committees.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Chairman of Committees, Mr. Joseph Cook, Mr. Deakin, Mr. Hall, and Mr. Wise be members of the Standing Orders Committee; three to form a quorum.
– I hope that the Standing Orders will be revised and permanently adopted this session. It seems a disgrace that, after ten years, we arc still working under temporary Standing Orders. They ought certainly to be revised during this session. There is great need for their revision, and, when revised, they should be permanently adopted.
– I agree with the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following Sessional Committees were appointed (on motion by Mr. Fisher) -
Library Committee. - Mr. Speaker, Mr. Anstey, Mr. Thomas Brown, Mr. G. B. Edwards, Mr. Glynn, Dr. Maloney, Mr. Spence, and Dr. Carty Salmon.
House Committee. - Mr. Speaker, Mr. Hedges, Mr. W. Elliot Johnson, Mr. Mathews, Mr. Mahon, Mr. Page, Mr. Roberts, and Mr. Sampson.
Printing Committee. - Mr. Bamford, Mr. R. Edwards, Mr. Jensen, Mr. McDougall. Mr. McWilliams, Sir John Quick, and Mr. Webster.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to put right immediately a misapprehension which apparently the honorable member for Hunter labours under in regard to some remarks that I made in the House this morning, when referring, without any attempt to fasten” my remarks on any party, to the tendency, however small, which must result to a certain extent from the excessive payment of members. I referred to the fact that a member who is earning more as a member of the House than he could earn outside - and I in- . stanced myself, so that there should be no personal question involved - is thereby more prone to political pressure than he otherwise would be. The honorable member, I understand, seemed to take my remarks as applying purely to the members of his own party. I do not know how he gathered the misapprehension, but he seemed to assume that I was referring to the personal probity of honorable members. I have been in this House long enough to take an absolute pride in the absence of all suspicion of anything wrong in the personal actions of honorable members in the place of trust to which they are elected. We take these things in this House, I am thankful to say, as a matter which requires no question or explanation. In order that the position may be put on a perfectly proper basis, I shall read to the House the report, submitted to me by the leader of the Hansard staff, of what I actually did say -
I do not wish to emphasize this view of the subject too much, and my honorable friends can disagree with me if they like, but members on all sides of the House are, more or less, under the party whip by virtue of the fact that they are paid a high salary for their labours in Parliament.
I ask honorable members to note the words “on all sides of the House.” I went on to say -
Let us suppose that I cannot earn as much outside Parliament as I can in. Is it not then fair to assume that I will be willing to stretch a point for the privilege of staying in Parliament?
– I think it is a. fair assumption from human nature itself that a man will be subject to temptations, even if he is a member of Parliament.
The reference is, of course, to the question of political pressure.
– I took the honorable member to refer to the temptation to break away from party.
– Quite so. The report continues -
– Not all alike.
– Not all alike, and I do not urge this as an absolute sine qua non. I merely submit that there is this tendency with high payment of members.
I hope that, in view of the actual words used by me, the honorable member for Hunter will realize that he has done an injustice, not only to me, but to the House and his party, in assuming that I was making an improper attack upon the integrity of the House generally, or members of his own party. I did not refer specifically to his own, or any other, party. I had no intention of giving a personal application to my remarks, and for that reason I applied the whole argument to myself. I think that the honorable member will realize that, having misunderstood my remarks, he owes some apology to the House to which he has just been elected.
– I feel very glad that the honorable member for Wentworth, upon reflection, recognises that he made a remark of a most regrettable character, and that he has seen fit to make an exhaustive explanation. I am sure that we on this side of the House will accept the apology he has tendered.
– I wish to say at once that I accept the honorable member for Wentworth’ s explanation. I was under the impression that his remarks were intended to apply to honorable members on this side of the House; but, having seen the proof of the Hansard report of his speech, and having listened to his explanation, I am satisfied that I made a mistake, and consequently I accept his statement. I hope and trust that honorable members will have no room for complaint as to my attitude whilst I am a member of this House.
Questioned resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 July 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19100708_reps_4_55/>.