4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr.FOWLER (Perth) [2.31].- I wish to make a personal explanation. Last session, speaking in this Chamber upon the proposed redistribution of the electoral divisions of Western Australia, I identified the Commissioner appointed for that purpose with a previous redistribution, and made deductions uncomplimentary to him. On my return to Perth he wrote to me, pointing out that he was not responsible for the previous redistribution, and on going into the matter, I found that he was not. I therefore wrote him the following letter, which I shall read here, so that it may be recorded in Hansard as a reply to my former statement, which I regret : -
I am in receipt of your letter and enclosures. I regret very much that this matter was not brought under my notice by you at an earlier date, as I find I have undoubtedly done you an injustice in identifying you with the proposed rearrangement of the electorate in 1903. Had you called my attention to this mistake of mine while Parliament was sitting I would have at once apologized in the House, so that Hansard would have shown the correction. If, however, I go back after this election I shall certainly take the earliest opportunity to withdraw my erroneous statement. I exceedingly regret it,as it has ever been my aim, as a public man to be very careful not to do an injustice, in my speeches, to public officials who of course have not an equal opportunity of defending themselves. This is the first incident of this” kind, so far as I am aware, in the whole of my public career,and I am particularly sorry that I should have made this blunder in connexion with the work of a highly-respected official of my own State.
– I do not wish to say. My desire is to clear this gentleman from the imputations which I cast upon him regarding it.
– As the Labour party and the Labour Government have included in their programme a proposal to allocate to the States the sum of 25s.per capita for a term of ten years,will the Prime Minister consider the propriety of inserting in the Surplus Revenue Bill a clause which I suggested last session, authorizing the Executive to enter into a contract with the States which will bind future Governments, and give a feeling of security, by reason of the fact that the States will be able to sue the Commonwealth for any breach of the agreement? This was done in the Naval Agreement Act of 1903, and will be done in the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, when the agreement with the South Australian Government has been ratified by Parliament.
– I do not agree with the honorable member that the position created by the Surplus Revenue Bill will be the same as that created by the other measures which he has mentioned, but the Government will readily take into consideration the suggestion which he has been kind enough to make.
– Will the
Treasurer consent to provide in the Estimates annually a sum of not less than £250,000 for the construction of the Federal Capital, providing that unexpended balances shall be paid into a trust account?
– It is too early to anticipate the amount of the annual expenditure on the Federal Capital. If this Government remains in power, the work of building the city will be done properly, economically, and expeditiously.
– On the 29th
June last, the Treasurer, who was then leading the Opposition, asked me when I proposed to deliver my Budget speech. I take this opportunity to ask him when will he deliver his ? I know that he cannot be prepared to do so yet.
– So soon as the figures are ready, Parliament and the States will know our position.
– Will the financial statement be delivered this month?
– I hope so.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Electoral Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Nos. 2, 6aa,9 - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 64.
Use of Municipal or Shire Halls for Military Purposes - Correspondence with the Premiers of the several States.
Census and Statistics Act -
Official Year-book of the CommonwealthNo. 3,1901-1909 .
Finance - No. 3. -1901 to 1909.
Population and Vital Statistics -
No. 17. - Quarter ended 30th Septem ber, 1909.
No. 18. - Quarter ended 31st December,1909.
No.19. - Demography,1909, &c.
No. 20. - Vital Statistics,1909.
Production - No. 3, Summary. -1901to 1908.
Social Statistics, 1908 - No. 2.
Transport and Communication - No. 3. - 1901 to1909.
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance -
No. 33. - September,1909.
No. 34. - October,1909.
No. 35. - November, 1909.
No. 36. - December,1909.
No. 37. - January,1910.
No. 38. - February, 1910.
No. 39. - March,1910.
No. 40. - April,1910.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at Cluden, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
asked the Prime Minister upon notice -
Whether the Government will in future have a clause inserted in all specifications prohibiting the subletting of a contract, or any portion thereof, by the successful contractor., without the aforesaid contractor first obtaining permission to do so from the Minister of the Department concerned ?
– In contracts under the immediate supervision of the Home Affairs Department, such a clause is already provided, and steps will be taken to insure that a clause shall be included under the conditions of contract for Commonwealth works executed, under supervision of State Public Works Department where such a clause is not already customary.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Otway, for making a false medical report at Fremantle, entered upon contrary to the advice of the Crown Law Department of Western Australia?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Solicitor cannot be construed as an apology, and I have no reason whatever to believe that he did not loyally perform his duty.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to his reply (given on 7th inst.) to the question as to artists and musicians being included with literary persons as fit subjects for assistance from the amount granted by Parliament for the purpose, which asked that whatever amount might be voted by Parliament for the purpose should be distributed among literary persons, artists, and musicians on their merits, and that artists and musicians should not be excluded from the benefit of the fund - Will he favorably consider the alteration of the existing rules to enable this to be done?
– No. To promise consideration of the suggested alteration would imply that the Government were prepared to recommend a substantial increase to the existing vote, which at present, at any rate, they are not.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I have spoken to the honorable member for MelbournePorts about this matter. The return for which he asks will involve an enormous expenditure, amounting to thousands of pounds, if the information is to be accurate, and therefore I think he does not desire to press for it.
New Telephone Regulation. - Penny Postage
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether telephone regulation known as 7A is to be brought into force on 1st September by virtue of a new regulation passed by the GovernorGeneral in Council, appointing 1st September as the day, or whether the PostmasterGeneral has appointed that day by a Gazette notice ?
– Regulation 7A has never ceased to be in force, though, by Regulation 7c, it has ceased to apply in certain cases; but Regulation 7c only applies until the appointed day, and from the appointed day, by virtue of Regulation 7D in conjunction with Regulation 7B, the rates fixed by Regulation 7A will be generally applicable. The 1st September has been fixed as the appointed day by a Gazette notice, issued under Regulation 7D.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is he aware that most of the wheat exported from Australia is bagged in the large sacks, and are any steps being taken to alter this state of things?
– I am aware that the larger sacks are still in use, but evidence at our disposal indicates that they are not in so great proportion as is indicated by the honorable member. No pains will be spared by me to insure a strict compliance with the humane policy which has in view a lessening of the burden of the workers by limiting the weight of these and similar sacks to reasonable proportions. Early legislation is contemplated which will strengthen our hands in that respect.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– I - I consider it my duty to foster and encourage the development of Australian industry, provided that in so doing efficiency is maintained.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If he will lay on the table of the House the following particulars for each State : -
Area in acres?
Area in acres of land alienated and being alienated?
Area in acres and cost of land re-purchased by States?
Number of holdings of country lands?
Percentage of land alienated?
Amounts received by States for land sold?-
– Yes. A memorandum from the Commonwealth Statistician giving the information, as far as it is available, is attached -
Reservation of Lands
asked the Minis ter of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– I s I shall lay upon the table copies of communications received from the Premiers of Western
Australia and South Australia on the subject of the reservation of land for twenty-five miles on either side of the projected line. With reference to the honorable member’s second question, I may say that the matter is under consideration.
Motion (by Mr. G.B. Edwards) agreed to-
That a tabulated return be prepared, showing for the years 1901-2, 1902-3, 1903-4, 1904-5, 1905-6, 1906-7, 1907-8, 1908-9, 1909-10, the following information regarding sugar : -
The amount of refined sugar produced in the Commonwealth, distinguishing that produced by white labour from that produced by black labour,
The number of labourers employed in such production in each case.
The amount of sugar imported.
The amount of sugar exported.
Customs duties received.
Excise duties received.
Bounty paid for sugar grown by white labour.
Drawback paid on the export of manu factures containing sugar.
Cost of the deportation of Pacific
Islanders, and number deported.
Estimated cost of administration in connexion with the collection of Excise duty and payment of Bounties on white-grown sugar.
Motion (by Mr. Bamford) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the Table showing, for the twelve months ended 30th June, 1909, and for the twelve months ended 30th June, 1910, the number of permits applied for and the number of permits granted for the introduction of coloured aliens to be employed in the pearl-shelling industry, giving the number for Queensland and Western Australia respectively.
Debate resumed from12th July (vide page 286), 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.
– I had intended at one time to allow this motion to pass without speaking to it. There has been, on all sides, such a general desire to get to business-
– Hear. hear.
– The honorable membersays “ Hear, hear “ after his party has exhausted nearly -all its speakers. There has been such a disposition to pass compliments across the table that one hesitates to intrude into a drawing-room debate of this kind. The honorable member for Parkes smiles, and he may well do so. I envy him the compliments that are constantly being showered upon him by the Government and their supporters, and must ask him to give me a lesson as to the way in which he wins such favour.
– He wins it by straightforward conduct.
– We know where he is.
– I am glad to hear that observation by the Prime Minister, because I hope, before I sit down, to make one or two remarks upon what I regard as straightforward conduct with special reference to his recent actions. I trust that I shall be able to compliment Ministerson the straightforwardness of their conduct since they have taken their places of responsibility and power. May I begin by offering congratulations to those who are here for the first time. We have listened with very considerable interest to the speeches they have made, and which have not differed very much from utterances delivered at any time during the last twenty years by new members on entering Parliament. I should like here to say - and I hope that my honorable friends will not misunderstand me - that, while offering them my congratulations, I deeply regret the result of the late election so far as it has affected the personnel of this House. I deeply regret the absence from this House of men who went under in the late general election. I should have been content to make no reference to the matter, but for the disgraceful gloating in which the honorable member for Hume indulged on Friday last. The honorable member was in high glee over the fact that men who have assisted-
– Had they gone as straight as the honorable member for Hume has done, they would have been here to-day.
– The honorable member for Riverina is no longer with the honorable member for Hume. Has he gone straight, or has the honorable member for Hume done so?
– Both of us have gone straight.
– The honorable member for Hume is still an Independent. What is the honorable member? He is no longer an Independent.
– I am as independent as ever I was.
– The honorable member has signed the Labour .pledge. He has gone into the caucus, and I suppose sees nothing incongruous in what he has done.
– Certainly not.
– I should have thought that the honorable member would be the last to speak of others, who, having adhered to their party and their principles, have gone under.
– The honorable member never left his party, did he?
– No, I did not, and honorable members are quite right who say that the party left me. They gave me a set of impossible conditions to comply with, and I distinctly declined. I refuse to have my political thinking done for me, either by a caucus or any other political body.
– The honorable member has got over that since then !
– The honorable member will find out whether I have or not. However, I think I may proceed ; such interjections are calculated to knock a nervous member off his perch.
– Be just to those who are absent; the honorable member for Hume is not here to defend himself !
– I am saying nothing now that I did not say to the honorable member’s face. I am not accustomed to say one thing to a man and another behind his back ; and I am merely repeating what I said on Friday when. the honorable member for Hume was here. I have never known baser ingratitude than that displayed by the honorable member for Hume to a gentleman, for instance, like Mr. Hume Cook, the late member for Bourke. Any one who was here while the Tariff was being fought knows well the services that were rendered to the honorable member for Hume by that gentleman ; how night after night he fetched and carried and supplied information of which the honorable member for Hume was grossly ignorant, and how time after time, when questions were plied from this side for information on the Tariff, the latter had to depend on Mr. Hume Cook for unwearied diligence and indefatigable service. Day in and day out the honorable member for Bourke did more to get the Tariff through than ever the honorable member for Hume did or could.
– That is absolute rubbish !
– And this is the reward of the honorable member for Bourke !
– Who then ratted on his principles.
– I do not know anything about ratting. If a man leaves the Labour party, he is called a rat; but what do the Labour party call a man who leaves our party and goes over to them? Why, the place over there is fairly alive with Liberal rats ! There is scarcely a man on the Government side who, at some time or other, has not been associated with the Liberal party.
– Not one in twenty !
– The honorable member is very much mistaken. Members are going over wholesale, and being given seats ; their claims are preferred to those of other men who, year in and year cut, have perseveringly assisted and worked for the Labour movement. These latter are being ruthlessly set aside, and their places given to men from other parties. What designation have my friends opposite for those men ?
– Converts !
– Converts ! Prodigals come home, I suppose - while the lamp holds out to burn. There is hope yet ; but, in the meantime, I desire to say that I do not appreciate the temper and spirit of those who, when a man is down, will jump on him and gloat over him. That is not British; however keenly we may fight, it does .not accord with the British instinct of fair play that the vanquished should lie under the feet, and receive the opprobrium of those who happen for the moment to have vanquished them. I should have been quite content to omit these observations entirely but for what occurred on Friday last! It would serve no purpose to make any reference other than I have done to the recent elections. In glancing down the Governor-General’s Speech, the first observation that meets my eye is one relating to finance, and I read that-
My advisers view with satisfaction the result of the referenda on the Financial Agreement and States debts.
We were told the other day that the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General were busily engaged revising the GovernorGeneral ’s Speech ; and the general opinion is, of course, that the Attorney-General is responsible for the writing of it. I could not help thinking, when I saw the GovernorGeneral’s Speech for the first time, and noted this reference to the States debts, of the attitude which the honorable member for West Sydney assumed during the election upon this very question. He was one of the greatest opponents in New South Wales of handing over the State debts.
– I say I was.
– Does the honorable member view with satisfaction the statement that the State debts are to be handed over?
– No ; if the honorable member will take the trouble to read what I said in New South Wales, he will see that I was perfectly consistent.
– The honorable member addressed a meeting from the balcony of the Q.C.E. Hotel, Abercrombiestreet - in his electorate, I suppose - and the statement he made there was repeated by the Sydney Daily Telegraph. The heading of the report is - “ Mr. W. M. Hughes on the States Debts Question.” I pay the honorable member the credit of saying that his advocacy did much to win the big vote against the transference of the State debts in New South Wales. Here is what he is reported to have said at the meeting referred to -
As regarded the States debts question, the Daily Telegraph had pointed out that the transfer of the debts to the Commonwealth meant the control of borrowing by the Commonwealth, and that meant putting the snuffer on the States Rights candle.
The honorable member was a State Righter during the elections.
– That is absolutely untrue, and the honorable member knows it perfectly well.
– Order !
– The honorable member knows that what he says now is perfectly untrue.
– The AttorneyGeneral must withdraw that remark; and I ask him not to continue these interjections.
– Well, I shall withdraw the remark, and simply say that what the honorable member is reading now-
– The AttorneyGeneral must not make comments, but simply withdraw the statement he made.
– Very well, I withdraw the statement.
– The. AttorneyGeneral, on that occasion, went on to say -
Yet Mr. Wade had the effrontery to go round the country advocating that they should vote for the transfer, and charging the Labour party with aiming at unification. He advised the people to vote “ No “ on both referendums.
– That is so.
– Then, I suppose the honorable member was immolating himself on the altar of the caucus when he penned that expression of satisfaction at the result of the referendum on the State debts question.
– What is the date of that speech ?
– I do not know, but it was printed in leaded type in the Daily Telegraph, and did handsome service for that paper in its propaganda- against the transference of the State debts. However, I shall pass that by, with many other things which did duty in the election, and helped my honorable friends opposite very considerably to win the position they hold to-day. One of the things that we met with in our State at every turn, was a deliberate statement made by the AttorneyGeneral, and scattered broadcast over the country, that we were about to bring in duties on tea, kerosene, and cotton goods. That is a statement that we were up to the neck in, so far as the multiplicity of pamphlets and dodgers were concerned. Everywhere they said, “These men are going to tax you further. They are going to tax the poor people by putting further duties on those articles.” I want to congratulate the honorable member for Nepean, who stated his views briefly last night, on the ease with which he passes from the severe condemnation and denunciation of the taxing of the poor man’s requisites to his first action as a Federal member, in introducing a deputation from the kerosene works to ask for a duty, or a bonus, on this very article. I congratulate the honorable member on the difference between then and now.
– Would not the honorable member be willing to introduce the same deputation if it came from his electorate ?
– Not necessarily. I should have to please myself about that, but I did not go about the country telling the people that the honorable member and his party were going to tax those very articles, and urging them, whatever they did, to vote against them, so that those articles could remain upon the free list as now. 1 shall say nothing of the lie about the married couples with encumbrances, which also did excellent duty for my honorable friends opposite, especially for the AttorneyGeneral. I shall say nothing either of statements made by the honorable member for Cook, in which he held up to opprobrium some naval rates which had lately come into operation, and which he described as “ Fusion sweating.” I hope that “ Fusion sweating” has been swept away now.
– I hope so, too.
– Why did not the honorable member have the courage and fairness and justice to tell the people, when he was writing about those naval rates, that they meant an increase of is: a day over the rates which the former Labour Ministry paid ? Why did not the honorable member tell them also that the rates which he denounced as ‘ ‘ Fusion sweating ‘ ‘ were payments plus rations, which makes all the difference in the world in the value of the wages paid?
– They are sweating rates all the same.
– Very well, I hope they no longer exist. There has been ample time to obliterate them. Honorable members opposite have now been three months in office. Are those rates still in existence, and, if so, what has my honorable friend been doing after writing all the stuff he did about “ Fusion sweating?” The sweating is still going on. I shall simply mention, in passing, the lies about the lax administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. They have been- disproved out of the mouth of the present Minister, who says he has found nothing unusual going on in that Department.
– He has been converted. He has gone to a Chinese restaurant.
– I remember how, at a previous election, the honorable member for Lang was trounced by the Labour supporters’ from end to end of our State, because he dared, in company with the honorable member for Parkes, to attend a banquet given by Chinese residents, who were anxious to show their appreciation of the way in which those honorable members had battled in this House against the introduction of opium to Australia. It is a pity that those honorable members were .not in the caucus at the time. If they had been, what they did would have been accounted a virtue.
– I think the honorable member is overstating it.
– I assure the honorable member that I am not, because 1 had to dodge some eggs which were thrown at my honorable friend in connexion with that very matter. It seems to be all’ right when a member of the Labour caucus does this kind of thing. Be in the caucus, and you can do almost anything you like.
– That sounds like freedom.
– It does, but it is the little freedom allowed the slave. So long as the caucus can own you, it allows you a little freedom occasionally. I am. referring now, of course, not to matters concerning the platform of the Labour party, but to matters which concern their general propaganda, and general attitude towards some of these racial and industrial questions. I should like to mention, in passing, that wc found the Labour propaganda, while, I presume, the policy was the same in all the States, differentiated in strict accord with the geographical position in which it found itself. For instance, the honorable member for Darling told the people at Dubbo, whatever they did, not to put the Fusion crowd in. If they did, he asked, what chance would there be for Protection? He said there were thirty-seven Free-traders in this party, and that, therefore, Protection was in danger. On almost the same evening, the Attorney-General was giving the honorable member for Lang a help up in his electorate, and telling the people that Freetrade was in danger.
– I think it was perfectly consistent. Everything was in danger while the honorable member’s party was in power.
– But the honorable member did not say so. He said that Free-trade was in danger in New South Wales, while gentlemen in Victoria said that Protection was in danger over here.
– The honorable member for Ballarat spoke at Ballarat very differently from the honorable member for Parramatta on that question.
– I am not aware of any difference.
– Neither am I aware of it. My position is quite clear. I occupy the same position now as before
I went to the election. I promised the rectification of anomalies, in accordance with the Protectionist Tariff, and am in the same position to-day. However, my honorable friends are here now, and we behold the glorification and the apotheosis of the caucus. A great many honorable members on the other side have been tor the last few days using the plural pronoun “ we,” pointing out “ what we are going to do.” I congratulate them, and, if they take my advice, some of them will stick to the’ caucus. It will be well for them and their positions if they do so. They, at any rate, will find it hard to go alone. They may take this much of experience and autobiography from me, that they will find it is not an easy thing to escape from the caucus. If ever they do, they will realize what bitter brutality can be associated with ;he Labour caucus, and so they will do well to stick to it, and get all they can out of it for themselves and for their movement. There is safety in the caucus for’ them if not for others. The other day I came across a passage in Todd’s Parliamentary Practice which shows very clearly how, from time immemorial, this has been recognised. The writer^ says -
Mr. Hare in his work on representation gives the experience of the late Sidney Herbert of the effect of the decline of party control in the House of Commons. The extent to which the old system of subordination to party leaders was sometimes carried may be inferred from the humorous description of an old Scotch member (Ferguson, of Pitfour), who was a staunch supporter of Mr. Pitt:-
Honorable members will see that this was some little while ago- and who used to say, “ I was never present at any debate I could avoid, or absent at any division I could get at. I have heard many arguments which convinced my judgment, but never one that influenced my vote. I never voted but once according to my opinion, and that was the worst vote I ever gave. I found that the only way to be quiet in Parliament was always to vote with the Ministers.”
– He was not a Labour man.
– He may have been, though the passage refers to a statement made so long ago that the identity of the speaker is almost lost in the night of time. If we substitute the word “ Caucus “ for the word “ Ministers,” the remarks which I have made would fit the case of honorable members opposite to-day. The honorable member for Corio, speaking last night, said, “ Our party is not afraid of change.” I hope that no party is afraid of change; our party certainly is not.
– Any change would be welcome to it.
– I am willing to allow the honorable member to enjoy his present position longer. The change to which he refers will come in good time, and Ministers will bring it about. Let them not imagine that, because they now hold power and authority, everything is well with the world. Already they are beginning to make, on the average, as many mistakes as have been made by any set of predecessors. Indeed, they have already made more than the average number of blunders committed by any Ministry of which I have recollection. I would point out to the honorable member for Corio that activity and change do not necessarily mean progress. The drunken man who put his wooden leg into a hole, and walked round and round all night under the mistaken impression that he was going home, did not progress, although he was active enough. What is material is the whence and whither of the change. The honorable member for Brisbane has told us that a new page in the history of Australia has been opened. I hope that this new page will be filled with records typifying greater blessings and progress for the Commonwealth. If my honorable friends can accomplish that, there will be no word of complaint from me. But what is 6» the old page?
– A lot of blots.
– Yes, because to err is human. There will be blotches oil the new page .too, though how many remains to be seen. For the sake of a comparison, say three years hence, let me state what else is on the old page. I find it written there that to-day bricklayers are being paid as much as 13s. a day ; that engineers get a minimum wage of 10s. a day, but receive as an ordinary normal payment from 12s. to 14s. Carpenters get 10s. as ;i minimum, but, according to the newspapers, are in Melbourne refusing 11s. The Newcastle coal miners are getting 4s. 2d. a ton. I do not know what miners are being paid in the West just now.
– is. 10 3/4d
– Is that for clean round coal?
– For shovel-filled coal.
– The miners of Newcastle have reached the highest wages level yet attained. The minimum wage for painters and plasterers is 10s., and for ironfounders 12s. a day, while journeymen tailors receive a mimimum of £2 15s. a week. These figures have been taken from the official record of Mr. Addison, the Registrar of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, who gives them as the rates ruling to-day. That is the record on the page which my honorable friends opposite say is to be the jumping-off point for their party. We shall be able to measure, later on, the progress which is made under their rule; because, I take it, all policies propagated by them ought to translate themselves into the comfort and welfare of the working man. He is the unit of our industrial system. If he does well, the country must prosper. I hope never to see the day when the country will prosper at the expense of those who toil. I put these rates on record so that we may compare them later with the results of the policy brought about by the political upheaval which has affected alike the just and unjust, and has sent into private life men who graced Parliament for many years, and did themselves and the country honour by their services. Honorable members opposite are in a position of almost unparalleled strength. It is not because their majority is so overwhelming, but because it is so compact, that they have such power. The majority is one upon which they can always rely. Its members may be trusted oftentimes to vote against their opinions and judgments. That is one of the results of caucus rule.
– What did the Fusion members do in regard to the Financial Agreement? Did they vote in accordance with their judgment?
– I am surprised that the honorable member should attempt to make such a parallel. Does he not know that, throughout the length and breadth- of Australia, members of my party fought shoulder to shoulder with members of his party to prevent the embodiment of the proposed Financial Agreement in the Constitution.
– H. Catts. - They spoke one way about the agreement, and, at the crack of the party whip, voted another.
– The honorable member must have read pamphlets published by members of my party supporting his point of view.
– But some of them - a sufficient number to carry the agreement in this Chamber - supported it against their convictions, at the crack of the party whip.
– Nothing of the kind. If they had acted as the honorable member suggests they did, the present position of parties might be different, because those to whom he refers are men of eminence and ability. But they did not do any such thing as the honorable member insultingly charges them with having done. They acted in accordance with their judgment, and spoke accordingly from the- public platform. Our party discipline permitted that, being vitally different from the discipline of the Labour party.
– The Fusion party did its utmost to coerce them. Some of them made that complaint in this Chamber.
– Mention of the party whip reminds me of the action of the honorable member for Cook regarding the postal business.
– In view of the reliability of their majority, Ministers will have no excuse if their legislation does not suit their supporters to the full. I hope that they will be kind to those of us who are in the minority. We are treating them differently from the way in which they treated us during our stormy session. I make no complaint about our treatment, because what happened is over and done with. We left office without a word of complaint, and bow tq the will of the people. I am democratic enough to acknowledge the verdict of the people when expressed, as it was recently, at the ballotbox, even when I believe it to be wrong. But I do not subscribe to the statement that they have indorsed every plank in the Labour platform. Scores of thousands of votes were cast for Labour candidates by electors who detest some of the planks in the Labour platform.
– But who detested the Fusion more.
– That may be so. The interjection does not help the honorable member, but rather. emphasizes what I am saying.
– Is the honorable member for Gippsland the apologist for the Labour platform ?
– I remember him threatening some one with legal pains and penalties if he dared to say that he belonged to the Labour party.
– That was the only way in which to keep truth in my opponents.
– I am glad that the honorable member believes in truth, though I hope that he will not be silly enough to think that he has a monopoly of the truth of the world. That would be a foolish position for any man to take. No doubt he, like us, had to contend against misrepresentation, though we suffered more than he did in that respect. The honorable member’s unfortunate interjection emphasized my statement that scores of thousands of electors who do not believe in all the planks of the Labour party voted foi Labour candidates - shall I say, to please him, in order to defeat the Fusion party?
– What warrant has the honorable member for that statement?
– The honorable member had better address himself to his quondam friend the honorable member for Gippsland.
– My present friend.
– Very well. The honorable member might leave it to those who have been in the caucus much longer than, he has been to make these interjections.
– I shall please myself.
– But the honorable member has not merely to please himself. The day when he had only to do so has passed ; he has now to please the caucus. I hope my honorable friends opposite, having a giant’s strength, will remember the words of the poet -
O, ‘tis excellent
To have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous
To use it like a giant.
And treat these humble individuals over here, who, in the debate, already, have been trounced for their feebleness, ignorance, and inability to’ conduct the affairs of the country - just as a new member is always ready to trounce and to sneer at those who happen to be opposed to him - with a little reasonableness. We may pass by these things for what they are worth. I wish to congratulate the Government on the way in which they have conducted themselves in some particulars since taking to themselves the responsibilities of office, but before doing so desire to say that I am unable to congratulate them upon some of their actions. The rule can be applied to them with certainty that what they denounced when in opposition a month or two ago, that do they now with alacrity and approval. That is a rule which I think can very well be established from their own actions. For instance, who does not remember the trouncing which the present Prime Minister gave to our party because we dared to commit the crime of increasing the number of members of the Cabinet from nine to ten. I remember the trill of the Prime Minister’s Scotch when he said to us, “ You aresuborning Parliament by taking ten members into your Cabinet.” But what was wrong in connexion with our Cabinet is perfectly right, it - appears, in the composition of the Labour Administration. ! should have thought, considering the strong statement of the Prime Minister on that occasion, that it would be one of the actions that he would sedulously avoid ; yet his very first act upon his accession to power was to compose his Cabinet of ten members.
– The honorable member forgets that the Prime Minister did not compose it.
– I stand corrected. I was forgetting that the Prime Minister did not construct his Cabinet. Therein lies another story which, for want of time, I cannot open up at present. But I stand absolutely corrected; it was the confounded caucus that did it ! The Prime Minister himself would not have taken that action, and so his character for consistency is saved by the caucus. There are ten members of the present Cabinet, and the Prime Minister is absolved by the caucus from all that he denounced when on this side of the House a month or two ago. Then again, my honorable friend the AttorneyGeneral must have passing through his mind thoughts of the truculent denunciation which he measured out to us for daring to nominate one. of our party to the Speakership, without, if you please, consulting the then Opposition. He moved that there should be an open conference with respect to the matter - that the question should be determined on the floor of the House. I would remind honorable members that there was then a vacancy. Unlike the Labour party we did not bundle any one out of the Chair to put another man in his place.
– Nor did we.
– No statement was too severe at that time in denunciation of the way in which we proceeded to the election of the honorable member for Laanecoorie as Speaker of this House.
The Labour party, however, no sooner got into a position of power and responsibility
– I ask the honorable member not to follow that line of argument.
– Why, sir? Am I out of order in ‘criticising an action on the part of this Government? I hope that there is nothing personal in what I am saying.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? I point out to him that there has already been a debate on the motion for the election of a Speaker, and that he mus’t not refer to a previous debate.
– I am making no reference to the debate that has taken place, but I am entitled to call into question the political consistency of the Labour party in connexion with actions that have recently been taken.
– The honorable member must not pursue the matter further. He had ample opportunity to deal with it on the motion for the election of the Speaker.
– With great respect, sir, I say that I did not, since the point that I wish to make concerns not merely the affairs of this House, but affairs outside. I am speaking now of the operation of the caucus rule. I am denouncing the caucus, which, as soon as it becomes enthroned in power, bundles out of their positions the officers, not only of this House, but of another place.
– The honorable member must not refer to that matter. If he insists upon doing so I must take another course. I would point out to him that there is a proper procedure for him to follow. If he chooses, he may move that my ruling be disagreed with.
– I am not going to do so. It would be of no avail.
– That is a very unfair statement.
– Surely Mr. Speaker ought not to gag an honorable member.
– It is all right.
– What can we refer to that took place at the recent elections?
– The honorable member for- Wentworth must cease his constant interjections.
– The honorable member for Wentworth knows that he gets reported in the newspapers when he makes such interjections.
– Order !
– Why all this unpleasantness ?
– There is no unpleasantness. I am not unpleasant; I am merely congratulating my honorable friends on the change that has taken place in their attitude concurrently ‘with the change in their position in the House. What used to be anathema when they were over here seems to be the subject for the most gracious approval on their part as soon as they take possession of the Treasury bench.
– It has been so for all time in connexion with all parties.
– That is true to some extent ; but my honorable friend will not forget the difference. The Labour party are not as other men are. They are the Pharisees of political life, who go about the country denouncing all. that has been done, and solemnly declaring here that a new page has been turned over in the history of Australia. We find, however, that it is the same old smudgy page, and not a new one, that we have before us. What I desire to point out is the difference between their conduct when on this side of the Chamber, and their attitude when on the Treasury bench. The Government made a very bad beginning when they came into power, and actually before they met the House. I refer to their action in laying hands upon the Trust Funds of Australia to get them out of their difficulties. Is it too much to say that if a private individual outside did the same thing with trust funds he would find himself in gaol ? No real excuse has been offered for their action. Many a man has made the same excuse as they have, but it has not saved him from gaol. I have in mind a postal official, now serving a term in gaol, whose family are hanging their heads in shame and who would have found the money readily, had they been permitted to do so. They were not permitted to put back the money, and I believe in my very heart that the man had no intention of stealing it. He happened, however, to be without it when the audit officer came along, and the result is that he is to-day in gaol. The position with the Government, however, seems to be quite different. They do not appear to realize the heinousness of laying hands upon trust funds. The very first business to be transacted in this Parliament ought to be the passing of a measure to make legal the transference to which I refer. That could have been done before had the Government gone about the matter in a straightforward, business-like, and honest way. They were so anxious to preen themselves upon having nO deficit, under a non-borrowing policy, that they resorted to the worst of all species of political legerdemain to get themselves over the difficulty facing them.
– To what is the honorable member alluding?
– I am referring generally to the Government’s proposals in regard to the deficit of ^450,000, which has been the result of the financing of the last financial year. They are not going to borrow or to obtain accommodation from the banks ; they are going to wait for six months and then take from the States the money necessary to make good the deficit.
– The result of the financing of the honorable member’s party, asforecasted by their own Treasurer, was a deficit of i6 I., 300,000.
– But there was no such deficit.
– We forecasted a deficit of £1,200,000, but does the honorable member know of a Treasurer’ - and he has supported many in his time - and particularly a Commonwealth Treas’urer, who has not underestimated his revenue? It is quite a common occurrence.
– But not to underestimate it to such an extent as the ex-Treasurer did.
– It is always a” safe thing to do. It is always far better for a Treasurer to underestimate his revenue than to overrun the constable in reckless expenditure.
– The ex-Treasurer made that estimate notwithstanding that he was to obtain from the States £600,000.
– Quite true, but what of that? We made a bargain with the States, of which that was one of the terms. My honorable friends opposite said that that bargain with the States was radically bad, and the country by a small, narrow majority has also said that it was bad. The Labour party now wish to observe some of the terms of the agreement, and to make the country believe’ that what they propose is really the agreement itself.
That I can only describe as political legerdemain. 1 do not know what the Prime Minister calls it, but instead of going squarely up to his deficit of .£450,000, he proposes to allow it to stand over for ;i while, and then to make it good by taking the necessary money from the States later on, when he will be empowered to do so under the Constitution.
– He has already taken it from the States.
– He has not taken it from them; he has simply kept it from them. It is one and the same thing in principle and essence, of course ; but Hu: Prime Minister says that the States will get the money later on, when he has in the Treasury the money which will enable the Government to face their responsibilities. There is one other aspect of this caucus rule to which I should like to refer. It seems to mc that the caucus has power, technically and literally whenever it likes to enforce its power, to render this Parliament more or less of a sham. I made no reflection on anybody when, a little while ago, I said it was of no use dissenting from the Speaker’s ruling. I was referring to the strength of the caucus, which has the requisite power to carry all its proposals, and the members of which need not utter a word in the House; all they need to do is to vote as they decide in caucus and the Parliament is ruled out, in fact and in essence. A striking feature of this new development is that already the caucus has ruled out the difference between the two Houses. The Senate to-day is not worth anything as a guardian of State Rights ; its original purpose has already gone. That Chamber is supposed to exist for the preservation of State Rights, but, as a result of the caucus rule, the keenest anti- State men in Australia, or, at any rate, three of them, are in that Chamber. All the members of the party sounded the anti-State note throughout the campaign.
– They sounded the Australian note.
–N0 matter, it is a fact that, when State Rights come to be championed, the State Rights champions will not be in the other Chamber. There might just as well be one House as two, so far as concerns all matters pertaining to the States.
– Did the caucus elect the Senate?
– The caucus elected the officers of the Senate, which is a good beginning. The honorable member asks whether the caucus elected the Senate, and I reply, “ Yes, the caucus elected the Senate in the country, and it has elected the officers of the Senate in the Chamber.”
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– That settles the matter, I suppose !
– The honorable member’s statement is not a fact.
– Is it not a fact that members of the caucus occupy all the positions of responsibility in the Senate?
– The honorable member is hedging at once !
– There is no hedging about it.
– If the honorable member has made a mistake, let him stick to it like a man.
– I have made no mistake. I shall not be drawn away by any quibbles of honorable members opposite. My point is that the caucus has ruled out the difference between the two Houses, and has reduced the National Parliament to more or less of a sham.
– The honorable member said that the caucus elected the officers of the Senate.
– I regret to observe the statements tending in the direction of ruling out the judicial control of the Commonwealth also. I was glad indeed to hear the honorable member for Batman make his manly recantation last night. He is a new man, and we can forgive him much ; but I was glad to hear him speak as he did for his own sake, and for the sake of the reputation of his party. There can be no deeper insult offered,- in my opinion, fo the two Judges referred to than to suggest the slightest partiality on the Bench. Whatever men may be on the floor of this House - whether they be friends of the workers or not - we give them the credit, when they go on the Bench, of divesting themselves of all prejudices and predilections, and treating matters on their merits, and their merits alone. It will be a sorry day for Australia when partisanship creeps on to the Bench of Australia. The new member for South Sydney, some time ago, made a statement to a somewhat similar effect. He told his good friends in New South Wales that when the Labour party came into t power, the Labour voters of Australia would get a better show on the High Court Bench than they did now.
– It is only fair to say that the honorable member for South Sydney has denied having made that statement.
– I am very glad to hear that ; but there is still another gentleman, who, I hope, will also give a denial, but who, unfortunately, is at present away sick. I should not have mentioned the personal side of the matter if these statements had not occurred co- incidentally with a statement made at a conference, a week or two ago, of the Queensland Labour Party at Townsville. That conference decided to ask the next Federal Labour Conference to draft an amendment of the Constitution so as to deprive the High Court of the power to declare unconstitutional Bills passed by both Houses of the Federal Parliament. That conference absolutely proposes to rule out the Constitution altogether - to declare that the Constitution shall not count whenever the decision of these two Houses’ has been made.
– What does the honorable member deduce from that?
– Simply that the Conference desires to rule out all constitutional checks and safeguards in one instant, proposing as they do that the Constitution shall not count when and so far as it comes into conflict with a decision of the two Houses of Parliament.
– I have not seen that resolution.
– It is unification in one act. I hope sincerely never to see the day in Australia when our judicial safeguards will be set aside. We shall be in need of them in the future more than ever. We are treading experimental ground, and shall do so, it seems to me, for some time to come,’ and we require always in Australia a set of gentlemen who are far removed from our political predilections anc? prejudices, and who, in a serener atmosphere than either House affords, are able to judge our legislative work and pronounce as to its constitutionality and validity or otherwise. I personally regret to see’ this constant nagging at the High Court, and these attempts to undermine its influence and power under the Constitution. The very programme of the Government itself differs from all other programmes and all other Governor’s speeches. It is not a promise or a proposition, but is really a result- a decision. We are told that this programme was submitted to the caucus, which approved of the Governor-General’s Speech before it was submitted to Parliament.
– I say that that is quite untrue.
– Is it untrue that . the substance was submitted to the caucus? Is it untrue that it was discussed in caucus? The honorable member should brush away these technicalities, and not take advantage of them.
– Why does the honorable member overstate everything?
– I am now quoting from the newspapers of the day. We were told that the Labour party were caucusing for a whole week before the programme was submitted to the House, and that in caucus they balloted for two days before the constitution of the Government was .announced; they were two days in making the Government, and a week over the Governor-General’s Speech.
– The statements in the newspapers are not true.
– Is it untrue that these matters referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech were discussed in caucus before they were submitted to the House? There is no answer to that question.
– What is the honorable member’s objection to such a course?
– I was illustrating the power of the caucus; and my objection is that this programme is really an announcement of legislation practically already agreed to, with the exception of details. The Labour party have kindly announced to the House that, so far as details are concerned, they will hear honorable members on this side. This GovernorGeneral’s Speech, instead ‘of being a series’ of propositions for the consideration of Parliament, as is usual in such documents, is one that has already bee” submitted in substance to the caucus and determined on by the caucus. In proceedings of this kind the Labour party are on the high road to the self-cancellation of Democracy, which Carlyle was so fond of saying would be the result of the democratic spirit of the day.
– We have not gagged the Opposition yet !
– The Government have the power to do so.
– The honorable member’s Government decided in caucus to gag the Opposition, and then did it.
– I hope that the present Government will gag the Opposition when the latter behave in a similar manner. The Opposition will deserve to be gagged if they conduct themselves with the same brutality as did my honorable friends opposite on a previous occasion.
– Why get savage?
– Savage !
– We should be justified in gagging the honorable member for his incorrect statements.
– If honorable members opposite are strong let them be merciful ‘!
– The honorable member’s Government should have practised that when they were strong.
-So we did.
– The late Government gagged the Leader of the Opposition on the Financial Agreement.
– And did the honorable member for Gwydir not gag me?
– I did.
– And that at a time when I was dealing with the naval programme of the country.
– As a matter of fact, we objected to the honorable member for Gwydir gagging the honorable member for Parramatta.
– We saved the honorable member.
– And the result was that the Government gagged the Opposition.
– The honorable member gagged himself, which was the best thing he ever did.
– Thank you! I wish it were so of my honorable friend, because there is not a member of the House who would not cheer if it were said of him. However, I think we had better get to more substantial matters. I desire to congratulate the Government and their party on the way they have been conducting themselves since they took office. We were told during the election that the banks of Australia, for instance, were a fraud on the people of the country.
– Who said that?
– Worse than that was said in the Melbourne Trades
Hall manifesto. I have not that document by me, and I am speaking from memory.
– Letit be laid on the table.
– Yes, it would be a good idea to have all those proposals laid on the table so that there could be no question as to their accuracy.
-let us have the records of the Premiers’ secret caucus.
– There is nothing secret about that caucus so far as I know ; and if a record had been kept I should have been perfectly willing to put it on the table of the House. There was at that Conference, so far as I know, nothing that could not have taken place in this chamber. If it were possible to get every word uttered there recorded, I should not trouble to revise it before laying it upon the table of the House. At the election we were told that the banks were frauds upon, and were exploiting, the public. A State bank was to be introduced, and the extinction of the present banks was inevitably to follow. But, what has happened? All that I know is that one of the very first things that the Prime Minister does is to have a secret conference, not with his fellow representatives of the people from other Chambers in Australia, but with the hated bankers, pledged to secrecy. Not a word has yet escaped of the proceedings of that conference.
– Perhaps they destroyed the blotting paper also.
– Perhaps they did, and it was a secret conference, not with the Prime Minister’s fellow governors of Australia, but with the bankers whom his party are never tired of denouncing. We cannot get to hear a word of what took place at that secret caucus.
– One of the bankers stated, in an interview, that he had been asked not to disclose what took place.
– Why not? The Prime Minister has told us that he sent them away fairly well satisfied. Although the gradual extinction of the banks must inevitably follow, because they are frauds upon and exploiting the people, the Prime Minister holds a secret conference with the bankers’ managers and sends them away fairly well satisfied !
– It is only fair to the gentlemen who met me to say that it was at their request thtat I met them in private.
– That is all the more reason why we are curious. We want to know how it comes about that, in spite of all the fierce denunciations of bankers and their works, which formed the staple of the Labour party’s propaganda at the elections, the Prime Minister sent them away very well satisfied after a secret conference.
– The honorable member said that the Prime Minister sought the conference, but it was the other way about.
– I did not say so. It does not matter who sought the conference, or who did not. It was a secret conference, and I suppose they burned the blotting-pads, as was said of our conference. We were conferring in a private way, that is to say, in a secret way, with our own fellow governors of Australia; but the Prime Minister has conferred in secret with those who were alleged by the Labour party in their manifestoes at the election to be their enemies.
– I expect it was like that conference which the honorable member’s party had with Beale and Joshua.
– Shades of Joshua ! I believe he has embraced my honorable friends and expressed his regret for ever having gone away from them. Who does not remember the way in which they used to call out to us across the table about Joshua? But Joshua is their friend now, not ours, according to his own published statement. *
– Joshua says that the Fusion was a trick of the Free Traders.
– Exactly. After the election - and I am speaking now of events since the election, and which, therefore, are fairly criticisable on the floor of the House. Then, again, we were told, notably by the able honorable member for Werriwa, when he was returning thanks to his electors, that if, at the end of three years, we were not able to ride in Government steam-ships as we now ride on Government railways, we might consider that the Labour party had failed, and that they must be held to their account if in the meantime they did not nationalize the shipping of Australia. It makes me wonder whether this is going to come true, when I read in the newspaper that, at a banquet given by one of the great over-sea steam-ship companies, the manager of the German line of steamers rejoiced in the advent of my honorable friends to office. I wonder if they also- assured him, in secret conclave, that he also was not to be injured by anything that the Government would do. He congratulated my honorable friends on their accession to office, and was glad to see them there.
– How does the honor.able member know what was said in that secret conclave?
– I do not know Anything about it. I am asking whether the Government did give that gentleman an assurance similar to the one they gave the bankers. If so, it is a bad look-out for the nationalization of shipping in the next three years. The Postmaster-General also has been making perigrinations through Australia during the brief recess they have had, and has received deputations in every State from the Chambers of Commerce. It is recorded that they, too, all went away quite satisfied and that they thought he was a capital fellow. I do not know what they are thinking of the new telephone rates, or whether they have formed the impression that, after all, they are not to be hurt. On this side of the chamber we were hissed at by the same honorable gentleman, and told day after day that we were catering for the Australian Stock Exchanges, but now it seems that he sends them all away satisfied when they come to see him on deputations in the various States. My honorable friends are displaying a great amount of skill and ingenuity, and I marvel at the ability with which they are able to ride the Labour steed and the monopolistic steed, and draw upon their heads the encomiums of both sides.
– The Chamber of Commerce could not pull the honorable member for Barrier as they pulled the honorable member for Bendigo.
– I do not know that they did pull the honorable member for Bendigo. I should like to ask the honorable member if he approves of the new telephone rates. Does the honorable member for Gwydir approve of what is being done?
– Order ! Will the honorable member address the Chair?
– I am addressing the Chair, and will now ,ask the honorable member for Cook, through you, if he approves of what is being done.
– It would be out “of order for the honorable member for Cook to reply.
– I might address the same query to half the members of the other side of the House, and if they could tell me their honest convictions, they would denounce the action that has been taken.
– If I do not agree with it, I shall vote against it.
– I believe the honorable member will vote against it when it comes up in the House. The House will pronounce upon the question at some time or another, I hope before the ist September, which is the day fixed by the ukase of this Socialistic Czar, from which the new rates are to operate throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Honorable members opposite were never tired of sneering throughout the elections at the Dreadnought proposal. I congratulate them upon the fact that they are building a Dreadnought and are going to pay for it. I congratulate them also on having the good sense to cross the “t’s “ and dot the “ i’s “ of our naval programme, and of all that I did administratively in the Defence Department with regard to land defence.
– Everything ?
– I have no reason to complain so far as they have gone.
– We shall put a cross through that naval volunteers scheme of the honorable member.
– I had no naval volunteers scheme. The scheme which the honorable member is never tired of denouncing was not originated by me at all, and is not. in fact, a naval volunteers scheme. Let me remind the honorable member that there are naval volunteers in Great Britain doing useful work as collateral agencies in connexion with the British Navy.
– We are talking about Australia.
– What they are doing in Great Britain cannot be so bad from a naval point of view for Australia to do. I am talking about the efficiency of our naval arm. The honorable member misses fire when he taunts me about a naval volunteers scheme, as he ought to know well enough. I remember that the Prime Minister at Albury very foolishly referred to the appointment of General Kirkpatrick as a military scandal.
– At Albury, where in an interview published in the Age the honorable member referred to the “Military scandal in connexion with the appointment of General Kirkpatrick.”
– I never gave an interview.
– I am glad to hear it. That is another of the things which that paper is constantly saying for which it appears there is not a tittle of foundation. T confess that it cut me when I” heard the Prime Minister indulging in language of that kind, and it cut me more when I saw that the present Government had confirmed the appointment, and it was not then withdrawn. If the Fusion party never did anything else for Australia, it absolutely justified its existence over and over again by securing Field Marshal Lord Kitchener to investigate our forces and by appointing General Kirkpatrick as Inspector-General. No matter what the country may say in condemnation of what our Government did, I am sure that, looking to the most important question that can ever occupy the attention of this Parliament - the defence of Australia - our Government, will stand by what it did, and deserves and will yet receive the confidence and approbation of the people. I am glad that my successor has had the good sense to continue the administration which was in vogue when he took office. I hope that spirit will characterize all future Governments also. I tried to do the same when I succeeded him. I did my best to carry on the administration of the Department on reasonable lines, disturbing nothing that was good in all that my predecessor had done. The present Minister is following the same example, and it must be followed in the future if we are ever to have an efficient defence force. Here are my honorable friends surrounded by all the trappings of office and conducting themselves in the most orthodox way. I see nothing to complain of, and in some of their actions I see everything to commend. For instance, the Postmaster-General, when upon the platform, said he believed in the communistic side of Socialism; but the other day, when in office, he said at a gathering that efficiency was to be the one test of promotion in the Postal Department. That is an admirable sentiment, but it means simply that the fit are to go up and the weak ones are to stay down. There is no Socialism about that. It is the doctrine of tooth and claw, applied in a political way. I take no exception to it, for I think it is a sound doctrine to lay down. I have yet to learn how it can be reconciled with the communism preached by the hon orable member when before the electors. A word now regarding the proposed repeal of the Naval Loan Act. It has been said that we ought not to borrow for purposes of defence. I cordially agree with that, but there are some things which are of more importance than borrowing. Naval preparation is so urgent that the Government would be justified in borrowing to get ahead with it at the earliest possible moment. What reconciled me to the expedient of temporary borrowing was this : The loan proposed was not borrowing in the ordinary sense of the term. It was to be repaid to the extent of 5 per cent, per annum, and we intended to liquidate it, if possible, in about ten years, when, according to the Admiralty estimate, there would still be a life of ten years in the vessels which had been paid for. It might be called a timepayment arrangement. We should have financed the matter without asking the people of Australia to contribute a penny more in taxation. My idea was to secure the reserves of taxation to obtain more naval defence in the near future. Do not let it be imagined that the present unit is to be all our naval preparation for years to come. Having begun, we must go further if we are to do our share in defending Australia, and in contributing to the defence of the Empire, without which we should be in very poor case. My idea was to contribute further to a war chest, so that we might get more modern naval defence as the years went by. We were justified in making a beginning at once, even though we might have to borrow temporarily for the purpose.
– How could the loan be paid off in ten years by putting aside 5 per cent, per year?
– That is what the honorable member said.
– I said that we expected to liquidate the loan in ten years. That was plainly stated by the Prime Minister of the day, who- said that we were not confining ourselves to the terms of the Bill, but that the loan would be liquidated at the earliest moment our financial resources allowed. It would be more creditable to the honorable member for Gippsland to look up the speeches than to take points like this. He may not be a Labour man, and may have dissociated himself from the Labour party during the elections, but he is evidently their friend here.
– He is not the honorable member’s friend any more than the honorable member is his friend.
– 1 am perfectlycontent that it should be so.
– The intention was to repay the loan in sixteen years.
– Within fourteen or fifteen years. The Prime Minister of the day said that it would be liquidated as soon as we could provide for its liquidation. Any one can tax the people if he has a majority behind him. There is no statesmanship in that. A baby could do it. It only requires the brute strength of a majority to increase the burdens of the taxpayers. But the problems of statesmanship concern themselves with the lightening of these burdens, and the increasing of the prosperity of the country. Every country in the world except Great Britain is borrowing right and left for purposes of defence, and even Great Britain borrows now and again for collateral purposes. Germany had _£i 3,000,000 of extraordinary expenditure last year over and above the ordinary outlay on maintenance and upkeep, and .£8,000,000 or .£9,000,000 of the borrowed money is being spent on Dreadnoughts.
– Her Democracy will not stand that very long.
– It is standing it now, and while it does so we must keep pace with Germany. Since the other nations are arming themselves to the teeth, we must arm for self-preservation. France borrowed .£2,500,000 for defence last year, while the ordinary defence expenditure of Japan was .£3,500,000, and her extraordinary expenditure .£4,500,000. There are many good Democrats in the Old Country - men who love the people, who are urging the Government of Great Britain to spend £100,000,000 on defence at once.
– Mr. Blatchford has a bee in his bonnet on this subject.
– According to some honorable members, every one who wishes to have means taken for the defence of the country has a bee in his bonnet. The position of foreign affairs to-day is as grave as it could be, and urgent measures must be taken to keep up with the defence preparations of other countries. It will be useless spending money years hence. The critical time is now. It takes years to construct the modern implements of warfare.
The only hopeful feature in the present international situation is the progress of matters at the Hague tribunal. There they have got nearer to the establishment of a universal High Court, where I hope that, ultimately, international disputes will be amicably settled. Until then we cannot relax our preparations to the extent of even a farthing. If ever a Government was justified in taking a step forward in the interests of the safeguarding of the country, the last Government was justified in doing so. I dissent from the view of defence taken by the honorable member for Corio, who said last night - and the statement was current during the electoral campaign - that the object of defence is to prevent the confiscation of property. The .workman’s hearth and home are infinitely more to him than is his castle to the rich man. If the latter be razed to the ground, the proprietor can build another. It is not so with the poor man. Defence, above all questions, should be broad-based on national considerations.
– All we desire is that every man shall contribute his share to the cost.
– That was not the doctrine preached on the public platform.
– It is the doctrine which I preached.
– The doctrine preached by the Labour candidates was that defence was purely for those who have property. Now, patriotism equal to any in the world is to be found in the poorest countries. Men love their native land, not for what they have invested in it, but because of the sentiment rooted there. They feel that they must defend it to the last shilling, and to the last man. Let me not be misunderstood. I do not wish the rich man to escape his proper share of the burden of defence. But it is a crime to make defence a class question. I have not time to deal adequately with the question of new Protection, but as my attitude towards it has been challenged several times during the debate, I may be allowed to say a word or two on the subject. The Minister of Trade and Customs has several times interjected that I have referred to new Protection as a mad-cap scheme, and from every platform in Victoria, during the last electoral campaign, I was denounced as having referred to new Protection in those terms.
– Did not the honorable member do so?
– Emphatically no.
– I am glad to hear it.
– The honorable member heard me say so before. If I can bs shown a scheme which will increase prices and wages, and yet make goods cheaper, I shall heartily support it. I know of no scheme which will do the trick. I have yet to learn that the cost of production can be increased and goods made cheaper. I admit that there are certain circumstances under which prices may be lowered. The trusts which are so heartily denounced by my honorable friends are doing it by the application of commercial methods in some instances. It is not being done in any country of which I know by a simple Act of Parliament. I say, again, that I have never been against any proposal of a reasonable character that will insure for the worker his fair share of the benefits of impositions at the Customs House. I am waiting yet to be shown a way to secure it for him. I have seen none up-to-date except the plan that we proposed. That, I believe, is a workable scheme, but I am totally opposed to this Parliament at present annexing all the industrial powers of the States in order to begin to deal with this great intricate and complex problem. I hold the view that the States can, by dividing the problem, treat it very much better than we shall be able to do. I desire Federal intervention only for purely Federal purposes. When these matters affect other States than those in which they occur, then, and then only, I say is the time for the Federal power to intervene, and in that way to help us over difficulties which otherwise would lead to anomalies and trouble. The industries of a particular State can deal with their own troubles better than a central authority thousands of miles away could do. I hope yet to see the Government institute a scheme that I can support which will give a real benefit to the workers of Australia. That the workers have not yet had, despite all our Tariff proposals, and notwithstanding the support which the Labour party have given Government after Government. In that matter, I am where I was. I abate nothing of my position ; I am waiting still to see brought forward a scheme that will carry out that which we desire. If the Government can introduce a scheme that will give the workers more of the value of our protective duties, I do not believe that one member of the Opposition will, vote against it. Let that be distinctly understood. When, therefore, members of the Labour party mounted the public platforms at election time and declared that we denounced the new Protection, old members of that party in this House must have spoken with their tongues in their cheeks, because they knew better. We denounced impossible schemes, and will continue to do so. We surely should be given credit for a genuine desire to help the great industries in this country in connexion with any mat,ter affecting the imposition of Customs duties. I find, by the way, that the Tariff question is no longer urgent. I used to read in Victoria denunciations of my humble self in connexion with Tariff matters. “You will never get any Tariff reform from him,” it was said in the electorate of Corangamite, the reference being to Dr. Grattan Wilson, who had represented that constituency so ably and courageously. “ You will never,” said one of the honorable gentlemen now comfortably ensconced in Cabinet council, “obtain any Protection from this man. Turn him out, and put in one of our own party, and we will give adequate Protection throughout Australia at the earliest possible moment.” .The electors turned him out ; they turned out a man who had served them faithfully, ably, and well, and, lo ! Tariff matters are no longer urgent. Let me make a brief reference now to the proposed land tax. I am replying, in all these matters, to statements that have already been hurled at me across the chamber during this debate. I hope, therefore, that I may be forgiven for these references. I have been told that the land tax proposed by the Government is now primarily for revenue purposes. When the honorable member for North Sydney said the other day that the main purpose of this tax was to burst up large estates, the Prime Minister interjected - and I was astounded to hear the statement - “ I have never said so.”
– .1 made the same statement over a year ago, when the honorable member was a Minister. I said that it would only have an incidental effect of that kind.
– None the less a valid effect.
– I hope so; but the honorable member said that he heard the statement for the first time only the other day.
– The honorable gentleman told the people of Australia, in his manifesto, that the Labour part)’ were out to kill land monopoly by means of this tax.
– Hear, hear.
– Surely that is conclusive enough. Why did the honorable member deny, then, that the main object of the tax was to burst up large estates ?
– The honorable member is not comparing like with like. The two matters are distinct.
– I admit that we cannot half quibble with terms as these caucus men can.
– No one can quibble like the honorable member can.
– I hope that I shall never attempt to quibble with terms as the Labour party do. This is what the honorable member for Werriwa said after the election -
If the party came before the people in three years’ time, and the big estates were not burst uP, the people should consider them unworthy of their confidence.
That was a straightforward statement, and the Attorney-General, speaking at Glebe, said of his party -
Their purpose was to burst up these big estates which sucked up the life blood of Australia.
Their purpose was to do that by means of the proposed land tax. That being so, why all this quibbling on the part of the Prime Minister, who now says that they never said anything of the kind ? Does he dissociate himself from the caucus in these matters ?
– The honorable member talks about quibbling, but surely that is a quibble.
– I hope that it is not, but it was a quibble on the part of the Prime Minister to say that his party is not out to burst up big estates.
– He never said that.
– Is the honorable member worried about his big estate?
– No; I have already been told by my honorable friends of the caucus that they will let my 25 acres alone. There are many members of the caucus more concerned about their estates than I am ; I have nothing that the tax will touch, they have. The honorable member should not make these personal references, for I have no sympathy with large estates that interfere with the progress of land settlement.
– But the honorable member used to say that our proposal was unconstitutional.
– Wherein lies the inconsistency of such a statement? I still think that the objective of the tax will be found to be unconstitutional. I still think that the Labour party are wasting time in what they are doing in this connexion.
– The honorable member cannot induce any of his lawyer friends to say so.
– We shall see. 1 put it to the people of Australia that if the Government were to burst up the large estates of the Commonwealth to-morrow they would not have an atom of power to give any man a title to an inch of land. On that I based the plea that the matter had better be left to those whose land policy it is to deal with estates and to settle people upon the land. I believe that my plan would be infinitely more effectual in making land available than the mere bursting-up policy which my honorable friends have in view. I do not quarrel with them as to their objective, which I take to be mainly the making of land easily and readily available to the poorer classes of the community. I understand that they wish to make more land available to people with very small means;’ but I hold that their proposed tax will not have that effect. Let me say why I object -to a tax of the kind proposed. T am repeating now what I have said before in this House, and would not need to repeat but for the number of new members. When 1 interjected, during the course of a speech made by a Minister, that there was no principle underlying this land tax, I meant what I said. I hold that there is neither principle nor potency in it, and that any land taxer like the honorable member for Lang - who was being taunted when I interjected - who believes in the principle of land taxation, should fight tooth and nail against a proposition of this kind, which is not based upon principle and will not be effectual for the purpose in view. My objections to a graduated land tax of this kind are these: In the first place, we must remember that the question of land monopoly is not under consideration just now. I have said already that I do not believe that land monopoly ought to stand in the way of people obtaining the land which they need for settlement. It is one of the most urgent questions of the day, and I should like to see more haste being shown by the States in dealing with these matters than is at present displayed. I do not wish to see the change delayed, for defence reasons amongst others, a moment longer than is unavoidable; but I quarrel with proposals which are ineffectual and will not compass the end in view. The proposed tax, to begin with, is a penal one. It will penalize the man who is working his land to the last inch equally with the man who is not working his holding, but merely monopolizing it. I say, therefore, that it is a relative tax on enterprise and industry. Further, it applies the principle of improper discrimination to the various lands of Australia, and in the end will defeat the purpose that the Labour party have in view. It will tax a large estate irrespective of its quality, suitability, and the facilities for working it. The honorable member for Nepean referred last night to this matter. He knows of estates close to Lithgow which, if broken up to-morrow, would not yield one farm. What is the use of breaking up such estates? They are being put now to the only use for which they are suitable. Yet that is what my honorable friend intends doing. He purposes imposing a tax alike upon the just and the unjust. He would tax land which is already being put to the one use for which it is fit. I refer to land on the mountain side - admirable sheep country, but useless for any other purpose.
– Brown’s estate is not on a mountain side.
– I understand that it has been subdivided.
– Not all of it.
– That part of it which is in contiguity to Lithgow has been. Will the honorable member tell us what the bursting up has done in the way of lowering prices?
– It has given building sites to working men.
– For how much - nothing ?
– The working men are still paying well for building sites up there.
– But they could not get building sites at all before.
– I am not quarrelling with the honorable member’s view, or defending the locking-up of this land. On the contrary, I am very glad the land is unlocked ; but members must not run away with the idea that, now it is unlocked, men are going to get it any cheaper. A syndicate got hold of that land when it was unlocked, and they wrung the uttermost farthing from the purchasers.
– Who forced up the values?
– I do not quite know what the honorable member means.
– The land was forced up in value.
– Of course it was, as all lands must be by the demand for them. This tax, in. my opinion, is a self-cancelling tax; it cancels the very object which the Government have in view, and that is done by the simple gradations which they advocate. Let us say that, with a 6d- tax, a big estate is burst up and-1 -
– The honorable member concedes the position first - the breaking up of big estates - and this is all we want to do.
– Then my friends opposite have not in view the making of land available at cheap rates for poor people ?
– The tax will do that.
– I say the tax will not do it, and I shall show why and how. The moment a big estate is burst up, it is taken out of the category of land that pays the tax, and put into the category of land that does not. I admit, of course, that, if A’s land is burst up, B’s land will sympathize with it to a certain extent ; that is, the value of the latter will go down as well as the value of the former at first. But the moment that has been done, and the land comes into the category of land which pays no tax, it will immediately begin to increase in value.
– Hear, hear.
– But the honorable member sees that that is no consolation for the man who wants land and has no money to buy it with. The figures show that such has been the result in New Zealand. There is nothing more demonstrable than that the tax, in itself, cancels the very purpose in view, namely, to make cheap land available to poor people.
– What proposal would the honorable member put in the place of the tax?
– One thing at a time. I told honorable members before that the States can accomplish the end in view very much better than the Commonwealth can, so far as the scarcity of land and the poor men of the community are concerned. In New Zealand there has been a steady increase in land value year by year, in spite of the imposition of graduated land ‘taxes. In 1897, the land values of New Zealand averaged ;£n6 per head of the population, whereas to-day, eleven years later, the average is £i6& per head. With an increase of 25 per cent, in population, there has been an increase in land values of over 100 per cent. Land is being brought out of the category of the bursting-up tax, and put into the category of land which pays no tax, and up, therefore, goes the value steadily year by year. In New Zealand to-day the land is dearer to the man who has no money than it ever was before. What the Government are really doing is to minister to the middle section of landowners - to the men who have capital to buy land the moment it is available - and these will take good care, for the preservation of their own values, not to allow the land to remain on the market very long. The Commonwealth Government cannot touch land policy, and, therefore, cannot lift a finger, with our present powers, to prevent the multiplication of middle-class estates. This isolated, inefficient, ineffective tax will, as I say, cancel the very object in view, and will not make land readily available to the poorer people of the community; that will still be a problem for the States. That is the position we on this side take up on the question; and I think it is a very different attitude from that with which we were credited during the election, namely, that we were behind the rich squatters of Australia. We believe in reform in the only reasonable and effective way in which it can be accomplished. We believe that, as the land administration has been left with the States, and as they have the facilities and machinery for doing what is sought to be done now by the Commonwealth Government, it ought to remain with the States to administer all matters of land policy - to make land available for the people of Australia. I believe that a wide and wise distribution of land is the best basis for any State or any community ; and I know nobody on this side who discredits a theory of that kind, though we may disagree as to the methods by which it can be realized. And when the land problem has been settled, as proposed by the Government, we shall not have brought about the millennium.
– One step at a time is good enough for me..
– I hope that no wrong inference will be drawn from what I am now about to say. Had we not better iri the supremest of our problems - those problems, I mean, which affect the industrial life of the community, and the prosperity, solidity, and stability of the country - give each other credit for a little common sense and a little patriotic feeling? Do not let honorable members run away with the notion that I am not in favour of making land available when I draw their attention to the condition of things in France. I am not quite clear, but I think that in that country there are about 7,000,000 small land-holders; and yet can it be said that France to-day is better off than England ? In spite of the lapse of 100 years since the great French Revolution, with the holding of land broadening, deepening, and multiplying itself, so far as its facilities for the poor peasant of the country are concerned-
– Mr. Balfour said that there are 13,000,000 people in England who do not know where their breakfast is to come from.
– I have never heard that Mr. Balfour said that.
– Mr. Balfour argued whether the figure was 8,000,000 or 13,000,000.
– I prefer to attach importance to statistics, and all the statistics that I can get hold of show that England to-day is in a better position than France, Germany, or any similar country, so far as the working men are concerned. All policy should ultimately translate itself into good conditions for the workers, and that is the test I am applying. Although France has multiplied her small holdings - a thing I am heartily in agreement with - let no honorable member think that the millennium will be brought about when they have burst up the big estates, and particularly in the manner proposed by the Government. Germany has made singular progress in recent years; she is the wonder of the world in the way she has lifted her head industrially and socially. Yet. although Germany has rushed to the front industrially, and has created better conditions for her working men, the figures show that her rural lands are going rapidly out of cultivation.
– Is that a good thing?
– I think it is a very bad thing, but even that does not prevent a nation from prospering. On the other hand, we see that in France the multiplication of small holdings does not solve the problem either. To come a little nearer home, we know that Mr. Lessina went to New Zealand from Queensland some time ago to investigate this very problem, and that, on his return, he told the Brisbane Courier that things were ever so much better in Queensland, notwithstanding all the land monopoly.
– Who believes Lessina on any question ?
– I should have thought that, as Mr. Lessina was in the caucus–
– He is not.
– He was at that time. Then there was Mr. Gibbes, a printer from New Zealand, who, speaking at the Sydney Trades Hall, said that in that city a man’s wages were worth 2s. a day more than in the Dominion. Here, again, we have the result of fourteen or fifteen years of the bursting up experiment in New Zealand.
– The same thing has been said at the Trades Hall in New Zealand.
– The Government will find that they have taken on a big contract in turning over a new historic page. We shall be here, I hope,- to assist to solve some of the problems ; and, in the meantime, I have to say that I am opposed to this graduated land tax, because I see in it neither principle nor potency.
– The upshot of all this argument is that we should not do anything because whatever we do will result in nothing.
– The honorable member may put that into my mouth if he chooses, but I do not subscribe to it. I believe in doing something - in doing the best we can with all these problems. I should like to mention the easy and airy way in -which my honorable friends opposite approach these questions, which have been with the human race since the year one. If there is one thing more than another which requires patient investigation, it is industrial problems which are troubling and perplexing the people of the entire world. The best brains are moved profoundly regarding them, and all the sympathy brought to bear in their consideration in every part of the world only serves to increase the conflict of opinion as to the way out. While that is the case with men who have spent a lifetime in investigation, the Government meet Parliament, and, hey, presto ! the thing is done by the caucus I It is no mystery to my friends opposite - they know the way to the workers’ salvation. I hope they do.
– The honorable member used to say so.
– What if I did ? Am I to take no account of experience and growing enlightenment? Has the honorable member made no change in his opinion and conviction concerning matters? Of course, he does not change ! It is the caucus that does the changing, and so honorable members opposite are able to say : “ We are just where we were.” The Attorney-General is nearly always saying : “ We are where we were from the beginning.” Yes; but where is the caucus in the meantime? They have turned round a dozen limes, thrown this out of their platform, and taken that in; but they stick to the caucus, and say they are consistent. They are consistent, but the caucus itself does as much chopping and changing as any individual that I know outside of it ; only it is done collectively, and we have to do it individually. Change is the law of nature. My honorable friends say that they believe in change; but if any man dares to change his opinion, there is no bitter execration that they can hurl at a man that they do not hurl at him. They have a monopoly of the changing, but they call it by the name of “caucus.” The caucus is constantly changing, and so they are consistent in the changes that they make. The caucus is a very handy thing.
– I thought the caucus was the one permanent feature of the Labour party.
– I do not know anybody who said that. I simply say that the caucus covers up the changes of honorable members opposite, and enables them to say : “ I have not changed ; I am with the caucus to-day, as I was twenty years ago.” But the caucus is not where it was twenty years ago. It changes every three years, and the nearer it gets to power, the more moderate it becomes. It’ is becoming gradually so moderate, indeed, that I am now criticising one of their proposals which T believe to be absolutely ineffective for the object that they have in view.
– Wise men change their views, and fools never.
– That is a doctrine that I subscribe to; but the honorable member is very rough on his leaders.
– If to change one’s opinion shows that one is very clever, I should say that the honorable member is about the cleverest man in the community.
– It does not matter much to me what the honorable member says. He is one of those men who smile, but there are few men in this House more bitter in their hearts. I know him well. I had intended saying something on the question of immigration, because it is associated with the land question. I tell my honorable friends candidly and plainly that if they can secure a large influx of population, and so take the only adequate course for the defence of Australia, I, for one, shall be prepared to concede a great deal to them. I know no question to compare with this in its farreaching importance. We must get more people into Australia somehow or other. I have yet to see how their proposals will work out in this direction, but come the people must, if we are to hold and develop this country, and prosper in it. I therefore hope my honorable friends will devote their energies to this question, than which I can conceive none more important to the ultimate destinies of Australia. In all these matters of national and Imperial concern, there ought surely to be a little room for differences of opinion as to the methods of application. That is all I am claiming and contending for. They say that they can solve all these troubles; but if I cani’ol follow them with my judgment, I hope they will allow me to dissent from them, and not be treated as an outcast and a person to be despised. Let us have a fair, square deal in this matter. Let us approach all these national problems without any preconceptions. Let us bring our united ability to bear on them, and let us not treat one another as aliens in the common object which we all have in view - to better the condition of the community, and tj fill Australia with a happy and contented people.
– I have first to offer my congratulations to the honorable member for Parramatta on his surviving the shock of the most severe political contest during his time, and on coming out of it with a constitution, not only unshattered but so vigorous and so full of unrestrained and abounding energy that, rising with the apparent intention of casually remarking upon ohe or two little matters in passing, he has contrived to entertain some of the few gentlemen who still sit behind him, and the rest of the House, for two and a-half hours. I am reminded by the prodigious length of his effort of an anecdote about that eminent historian Guicciardini, who wrote the history of Italy. The alternative being offered to a convict sentenced to life in the galleys, of reading that history, of which I think there were twenty volumes, or continuing his lifelong punishment, he read the first volume and came back with tears in his eyes, asking to be allowed to go back to the galleys. The honorable member has. in the Encyclopaedia Cookania to which he has treated us, touched upon all the matters contained in tho Speech, which represents what the Opposition Leader declared to be the fit and proper way of setting forth the policy of the Government. We see now, for the first time, the realization of those admirable rhetorical aspirations that that honorable and learned gentleman put forward. There is nothing that I can recall with which the honorable member for Parramatta has not dealt. There is nothing that he has said that I have not heard him say before, and very much better than he has said it now. His remarks fall naturally under two heads - those that are relevant and those that are irrelevant. The first may be dismissed in a breath; the others, which call for some notice, are not so readily disposed of. I am unable, in my present disposition and in the temper of the House, already too sorely tried, to attempt to follow the honorable member through all the labyrinthine passages of his effort, but I must crave the indulgence of the House while I say a word or two byway of reply. I cannot help congratulating the honorable member upon the permanent character of his latest conversion. I say this advisedly. The honorable member has, in a long and chequered career, been converted to many things many times, but to none of them, so far as I know, has his conversion been more marked or more sincere than to the defence of Australia. A little while ago - I mean before he was in office - his attitude towards the naval defence of Australia was that of the right honorable gentleman who was then the leader of his party - that the power of the British Fleet concentrated in the North Sea was sufficient, not only for Australia, but for the rest of the Empire. They urged that all of us might sleep securely beneath her mighty wing, and that all that was necessary at the most- was to increase the number of Dreadnoughts in the North Sea.
As for the military defence of the Commonwealth, no words of mine could depict the extremity of the honorable member’s contempt for compulsory training, yet he is now amongst its most enthusiastic advocates,, and poses as a man whose slumbers have been disturbed by visions of Germany, ever on the alert, spending ^13,000,000 a year, building feverishly night and day, and crowding with a new fleet the narrow waters about her own coast and those of Great Britain. He says he congratulates us on what we have done, and would have the country believe that we have given effect to some policy of his. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing that he has ever done in the way of defence is worthy of a moment’s consideration or emulation, except in so far as he has followed blindly and without initiative in the tracks that we have made for him. The naval and military policies of the last Government were taken without acknowledgment, holusbolus, from the programme of the Labour Government that went before them. Nothing that they did or said added a solitary letter, a solitary man, or a solitary ship to them. They sent Home to the Naval Conference a man to represent the Government’s views, but what were those views? So far as Ministerial unanimity was concerned, they had no views. They were a tabula rasa, and on their plastic surface a Naval Conference, or other powerful body, could write what message it pleased. The representative of the Government came back with certain views, which the Government adopted before they knew them. The result is their naval policy. As for their military policy, as I had the pleasure of telling the honorable member for Parramatta when he introduced his Bill, there was nothing good in it except the basic principle. The application resulted in nothing. It would not create an army to defend Australia. It would merely create the machinery by which an army could be created, and disband the men before they were lit to be called soldiers. I do not think there is any necessity to refer, except briefly, to the honorable member’s remarks about the land tax. Apparently, the honorable member is in favour of land value taxation. We learn this fact with an amount of astonishment equal to that with which we received the assurance of the Leader of the Opposition that he is not only in favour of a land tax, but is surprised that no one has proposed before a remedy so easy of application, so effective, and so necessary. The honorable member for Parramatta approves of land value taxation, but disapproves of the proposed application of it. He says that our graduated land tax will -be a penal tax, because it will apply to all land, irrespective of the use to which it is being put. In point of economic unwisdom, that is the utterance of a child. It is the peculiar feature of land value taxation that it is immaterial whether the land to which it is applied is, or is not, being used. By his criticism, the honorable member exposes his partisanship, or his complete ignorance of the subject with which he dealt. It is conceivable that an evening might be spent more distastefully than in listening to the honorable member’s statistics regarding the condition of Germany, France, and England, of which he gave us a glimpse, but his remarks on that head were scarcely relevant. Like others of his party, he had a great deal to say about the caucus. No doubt, if one were to follow Satan into the lowest depths of Hades, the latter would have a great deal to say about Heaven as a place where he once spent many happy hours, and whence he was at length expelled for some harmless peccadillo. The honorable member for Parramatta was born and bred, politically, in a caucus, and gathered from his youthful associations what originality and virility he now possesses. Yet he poses as if his lily-white wings are not besmirched by the atmosphere of what, he would have it believed, is. a political pest house. I have been trying to understand the cause of these eternal references to the caucus, in connexion with the occupancy of the Treasury bench by Labour Ministers. The Labour party has been meeting in caucus for the last sixteen years. During the five years that the party supported the Reid Government in New South Wales, when the honorable member for Parramatta was a Minister in it, our organization was the theme of perennial panegyric. It was an admirable institution then, because it kept him in office. For the seven years during which it kept his colleague, the present Leader of the Opposition, in office, we heard nothing against it. Its weaknesses, if observed, were not exposed. No man criticised them above his breath, while its virtues were spoken of with affectionate reverence from the housetops. Our friends opposite are now trying to adopt our methods; but the caucus system with them seems as appropriate as a string of beads and a cross would be as an adornment to the devil. What is “at the basis of the caucus system? It is a common unifying principle. Our meetings are meetings of men all believing in the same thing. It is inconceivable that men speaking different political tongues, and professing different political principles, could meet with any belter result than attended the conference on the Tower of Babel. Every church or other organization which has been successful has been based on some principle regarding which its adherents were agreed, and to the maintenance of which they were bound. In the meetings of the Opposition, every man fights for his own views. For the years following Federation, until the ist August last, the public utterances of the honorable member for Parramatta -were a fusillade of abuse of the honorable member for Ballarat, and it is inconceivable that these two honorable gentlemen should now be able to come to a common understanding. This being so, we can understand the concentrated venom with which the Labour party is attacked on the :score of its caucus methods. The Opposition cannot follow our methods because they ave not agreed upon common principles. The last election resulted more disastrously to them than to any party that has appealed to the people since the last Victorian Coalition party was defeated, many years ago. What is their present positive policy? One may endeavour to glean this from the public declarations of the Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Parramatta; but all that is certain is that they, are against the Labour party and all our works; that they favour the adoption of the Financial Agreement; believe in the establishment of an agricultural and labour bureaux ; and for the rest are for marking time. A great deal was said about national sentiment and the prosperity which would follow their retention in office, but in their platform utterances there was nothing more definite put forward in the nature of a policy. Honorable members opposite seem to have been returned merely to follow the honorable ‘ member for Ballarat. Mention has been made of the serious position in which responsible government now finds itself, as if responsible “ government were impossible with caucus methods. Historically, it is not accurate to say that Democracy is dependent on responsible government. Democracy was firmly established, and its main principles widely diffused among the people of England, long before responsible government was introduced. It is inaccurate to say that Democracy depends in any way on, or is inseparable from, responsible government. It exists in other countries where there is not responsible government, and if the caucus methods destroyed responsible government, our democratic institutions would not necessarily be affected. But the caucus methods, so far from destroying responsible government, have made it much more secure. Now, for the first time in the history of this Commonwealth, we have responsible government. What is this responsible government about which we hear so much? What I understand by the term is a system of government under which no person or institution, whether the Crown, the Parliament, a Minister, or any officer in a public department can do anything without the responsibility for his act being shouldered by some one directly elected by the people. There has been elected to both Houses of this Parliament a majority which believes that the best government for the people is to be obtained by the passing of certain measures which the Labour party has advocated for many years. We all believe, for example, that it would be a good thing for Australia to impose a tax upon the unimproved value of land. There are sixty-five members of this Parliament, and an absolute majority in each House, holding that view. What more natural than that those elected, because they espoused the cause of land value taxation, should consult among themselves as to how best give effect to their proposals? Are we not a Committee engaged in carrying out the nation’s work? Of course we are. It is our duty, not to listen to orations about the caucus, and everything that has occurred since the time before the Flood, not to quiver with suppressed excitement at hearing flights of eloquence which would have made Cicero turn pale with envy, but to do the business of the country in a businesslike way. What better method can be adopted than to discuss among ourselves in what order our measures shall be proposed, and how effect can best be given to our principles ? And that is the caucus. There is no religious body, no organization - not even one of those upon which my honorable friends opposite lean with such affectionate reverence, especially at election times - that is able to carry on without the unsparing use of the caucus. No man shall dare to go against the decisions of the lodge and yet live politically ! In the last Parliament an honorable member, now no longer in the House, told us of a man who was expelled from a lodge because he had dared to vote for him when his lodge said that he must vote for some one else. It is from the lips of gentlemen such as these that we are to hear criticisms of the. caucus ! It is from the lips of honorable members, many of whom were nurtured by and baptised in such institutions, that we are to hear denunciations and babble about the relation between responsible government and the caucus ! Are they speaking to a kindergarten? Is there anything that they say that has relation to fact ? If there is, what is it? The honorable member, in one of those rare attempts at humour with which he interspersed his speech, said that the caucus dealt with questions with which the best intellects are wrestling in vain. By best intellects here are we to understand a sly reference to the honorable gentleman? The honorable member has not hesitated to deal with every question and to settle it to his own satisfaction. I suppose that the unemployed problem is one of the greatest that concerns mankind to-day, but he had a solution of it. And what was it? The simplest and most pleasant proposal that one could imagine. It might be applied by a child, and would furnish amusement for a summer evening to people of both sexes without danger either to their morals or to their physical well-being. It was simply this : That the condition being that people were unemployed, there should, be established labour bureaux, so that those who were without work might go to where work called for them, and had hitherto called for them in vain. It was, politically, economically, and industrially, a kind of mono-rail along which unemployed men would be seen bowling their industrial way. A man unemployed in Tasmania would be sent to Cape- York or to Fremantle, where work would be found for him. There was really no such thing as unemployment. There was merely, as it were, a congestion of unemployed in one place, and a scarcity of workers in another. It was assumed that distribution was all that was really necessary. My honorable friend, after some twenty years in public life, put forth that proposal with all the assurance of one who had discovered some entirely novel principle which would solve this great problem. It was to such a scheme that the Leader of the Opposition alluded when he expressed regret that there had been omitted from the Governor-General’s Speech all reference to the establishment of an agricultural bureau and a labour bureau. The record of the last Government, indeed, was largely a record of bureaux. So far as anything original is concerned, I think they may be said to have gyrated around some three or four points. The Financial Agreement was to be embodied in the Constitution. That was the late Government’s own proposal, and no one wishes to rob them of it. The naval loan was also a proposition of their own, while the proposals for the establishment of an agricultural bureau and a labour bureau were made off their own bat. Such is a record of which any party might be proud, and it was upon that record, with some other measures which might properly be described as trimmings, that the Leader of the Opposition went to the country and asked the people to return him and his party. The honorable, member made some observations very similar to those made last night by the honorable member for Parkes in regard to the caucus. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech, he said, had been drafted by the caucus. Even if it had been, I do not know that it would be a very serious matter, because, after all, a caucus composed of sixty-five representatives of the people would be just as likely to make a good job of the work as would any individual or party. But when we contrast this state of things with the system that has prevailed, we are. thrown into a condition of melancholy. In the days that are gone independent and manly spirits abounded. There was then no reference to the caucus. Then a political leader stood resolute against all dominance and improper influence. He was his own man. Occasionally, however;- he was some one else’s man. By way of illustration of this, I propose to quote a few words from an introduction written by my versatile friend the honorable member for Ballarat to David Syme, the Father of Protection in Australia, by Ambrose Pratt - an admirable work dealing with the life of a man who has left his mark on the history of Australia. At page xvii. of that introduction, the honorable member wrote -
In yet another aspect the position of the Age in Victoria challenged comparison with that of other papers within or without Australia. The relations between its proprietor and public men were intimate to a surprising degree. He enjoyed their confidence in and out of office, shaping their programmes from time to time, governing their selection of colleagues as incoming Premiers, and enjoying afterwards a knowledge of the inmost secrets of Cabinets often undisclosed to many of the Ministers within them. Directly or indirectly most of the active politicians in Victoria took care to keep in touch with the Age office; though the best of them, even if they belonged to its own party, were treated with no special consideration in its columns.
A calmer or more unblushing avowal of a condition of subserviency and absolute dependence upon a person outside the walls of Parliament - of a condition of things that prevailed before we came here - could not well be imagined. No adjective that I am permitted to use in this House would do justice to it. Here was the owner of a great newspaper drafting or outlining a Governor’s Speech on a Ministerial programme. The work was done, not by a caucus composed of sixty-five men who had but yesterday received the imprimatur of the people, and who came here with a mandate to do the people’s work, but by a man who .never went before the people. A newspaper proprietor drew up their programme in those days, and it was he who determined the personnel of a Ministry. Will any man dare to say, for one moment, that such influences are compatible with that responsible government, about which we have recently heard so much ? Something has been said about a caucus of representatives of the people selecting a Ministry. Curiously enough, on the businesspaper there is a notice of motion by the honorable member for Perth in favour of the existing system being replaced by that of elective Ministries. In other words, the honorable member proposes that a Ministry should be selected by Parliament. Whether that is good or bad, is a matter of opinion, but clearly if it be a good principle, there can be absolutely nothing immoral in a party selecting a Ministry. In any case, both systems are infinitely superior to that under which the selection of a Ministry is left to a newspaper proprietor ; yet we have the assurance of the Leader of the Opposition - who, we may be perfectly certain, is not ill-informed in this matter, but is in a position to speak from personal experience - that practically the man who ruled Victoria in days gone-by was not the man who stood at the head of the Government, nor any one of those responsible to the people, not one of the phalanx of obedient marionettes who stood behind their so-called leader, thinking that the elastic was not attached to their heads, but who danced, nevertheless, to the tune ‘lie set them - but a newspaper proprietor. The late Mr. David Syme, the honorable member for Ballarat tells us, drafted their programmes, selected their Ministries, shaped their policy, and had revealed to him secrets that were not divulged to responsible Ministers supposed to represent the Crown. If that is responsible government in excelsis, then I am glad that we have left such a plane, and are established here. For the first time, and I say this advisedly, there has been a Governor-General’s Speech prepared - a Government programme brought down - about which there is no suspicion of influence outside the party who are pledged to support it. We have nothing to gain and nothing to fear from any newspaper in Australia. We are glad of the help of those which support us, and we have lived in spite of those which opposed us. We stand here to-day willing . and able to carry on the business of the country and the people who sent us here, and we have an absolute right, and shall claim it, to consult among ourselves how best to discharge that duty. No meaningless babble of words by the honorable member about the caucus will deter us. The honorable gentleman said something about Tariff anomalies, with the idea of doing as much harm as possible in the time at his disposal. As to Tariff anomalies, the position is that he himself is a Tariff Anomalist. He was one who, if anything, lived, breathed, and derived his virility from the virtues of Free Trade. I myself have been cowed, and have shivered beneath the violence and virulence of his denunciation of my backsliding in this respect; and yet he himself joins a Ministry led by a man who is the head and front of the Protectionist party in this country - that is, if by Protectionist is understood a man who advocates Protection, but never gives effect to it. The honorable member for Parramatta joined that party, and then brought forward a manifesto shaped, I do not know whether by any external aid - I make no reference to the infernal region, though the whole manifesto reeked of it. as the people evidently thought - but, at any rate, it was drafted in secret, and the members of the party pledged themselves to it. I suppose the party were asked : “ Do you accept this manifesto or agreement?” and they had to either accept it or reject it. I understand that four men did reject it, namely, the honorable member for Hume, the honorable member for Gippsland, the honorable member for .Riverina, and the then honorable member for Bass. All the rest bowed their knee to Baal ; and when I look around these benches, I see that Baal has done badly. In that manifesto it was declared, as to Protection, that, in the meantime, any anomalies that might be “ discovered in the Customs Tariff Act then lately passed by Parliament, would be examined, classified, and dealt with in due course.” The honorable member for Parramatta had something to say about a paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which he ascribed to me, and characterized as ambiguous, and as betraying “ careful inexactitude”; but I venture to say that, for comprehensive vagueness, and for “careful inexactitude,” the quotation I have just made will hold its own. It will repay a little trouble to look at it when we consider what that party did in relation to it. Did they discover any anomalies during their term of office of eight months? If so, where and what are they? If they discovered any, they never made the discovery public. Did they classify anomalies? We do not know. Did they examine them? We are not told. Did they deal with them? We know that they did not. And yet these gentlemen denounce the Government because it does not at once proceed to deal with Tariff anomalies. Had the late Government come back to power, what would they have done? What would such a Government, recruited from such a source, and bom under such conditions, have done? Nobody knows. Certainly they would not have proceeded to deal with Tariff anomalies. The honorable member also referred to the honorable member for Darling having said that Protection was in danger by reason of the Fusion of parties, and to my having said that Free Trade was in danger by reason of the same event. But I hold that we were perfectly justified in giving expression to these opinions, however inconsistent they may appear. Protection must be in danger when there is an alliance between men who believe not in either Free Trade or true Protection, but in Revenue Tariffism and so-called Protection; and, Free Trade must be in danger for precisely the same reason. In the party to which I belong the only fiscal - ism to which we are pledged is a direct fiscalism. We look to raising revenue by other means than recourse to the Customs House - to us Protective duties mean Protective duties, and not revenue duties. I pass by the statement of the honorable member that the land tax is only useful for revenue purposes, and so forth, and desire to call the attention of honorable members to the question of borrowing for naval defence. The honorable member said that we should be justified in spending anything - he did not say up to how much - in order to put our house in order. All I have to say is that die policy which has sufficed the greatest naval power in the world from time immemorial - the policy of paying for the construction of all war-ships out of revenue - is good enough for us. As to the little references to a bankers’ conference, and to the manager of the Norddeutscher Lloyd, they remind us, when looking over them subsequently, of nothing so much as a room in which a number of rats or mice have left the nibbled remains of papers littered about. Does anybody seriously heed such statements? Is it said for a moment that there was a conference with bankers, and that something was discussed in secret which the Prime Minister has some reason for hiding from the public? Every one knows that there was nothing of the sort. Then it is said that the manager of the Norddeutscher Lloyd said that the Government did not propose to injure the company’s business; and, of course, we do not. Why should we? We are here to legislate for the benefit of the country ; and if, in doing so, we tread on the corns of the Norddeutscher Lloyd Company, we cannot help it. We do not go out of the way to tread on anybody’s corns, but we shall not allow any one to stand between us and what we conceive to be for the benefit of the people. The honorable member’s remark about unification may pass. Mr. Wade, in New South Wales, during the Federal elections, did what he was able in the direction of stemming the tide, and failed miserably. These remarks about unification will not hurt us now, nor will the attempt to frighten the people in regard to it. In speaking of appropriating the Trust Funds, the honorable member tried to convey the impression that this Government had been guilty of an act of a kind for which men are sent to gaol ; that is to say, he suggested that the act was done innocently enough, but that it was in the nature of a criminal offence. But the people of Australia ought to be told that Trust Funds under the control of the Commonwealth are not
Trust Funds in the sense that the term is used in connexion with ordinary trustees, but are Funds created by appropriations for certain uses, and that the Commonwealth wrongs no person by using them. What happened in this particular instance was that, in order to make that adjustment which is absolutely necessary _ in these cases, an amount was debited against one of these Trust Funds. Theoretically or technically there was an invasion of that Trust Fund, but practically, and in fact, the Trust Fund was not touched. On the morning of the day following, when the accounts were made up, the amount of revenue that had come in was sufficient to put the Trust Fund in credit again. It was, in short, a bookkeeping adjustment, and nothing more. So much for the charge of our using Trust Funds. Now a word as to the short payment to the States. When it is said that it is proposed to cheat the States, or, as it were, float a compulsory loan, it should be understood that what we propose to do is to seek power, by way of a validating Act, to use Trust Funds now lying to the credit of the Commonwealth, to the amount of £500,000, while, as a fact, the States will be paid all that is due to them during the present month. In regard to the ,£37,000, which was debited against the Trust Fund in the way I have described, “there was a technical breach, which was a mere bookkeeping adjustment - it did not exist in point of tangible fact, and it need not have existed technically, seeing that it could have been readjusted by a bookkeeping entry in the Treasury. As for the £444,000, that, as I said, will be adjusted and paid during the present month; and, under the circumstances, it is a misuse of words to speak about misappropriation. What has been done has been properly and constitutionally done. The honorable member said something about my attitude towards the transference of the State debts, and urged that the views that I expressed during the election are inconsistent with the view set forth in the Governor-General’s Speech. What I said was that, before we could save any money by taking over the State debts, we should have to control borrowing, and that, since there was, though not in the actual agreement, a condition implied, and loudly declared by both parties, that the States were still to be permitted to borrow where they liked, the kind of transfer proposed could effect no saving; and, therefore, I asked the people to vote against it until there was a clearer understanding that one party should have control, and there should be such other amendment of the section of the Constitution as would give the Commonwealth Treasurer an absolutely free hand. There is in that nothing inconsistent with our present attitude. It was perfectly justified by the circumstances, and I am pleased to think that the people of New South Wales adopted it. My honorable friend, when alluding to the rates of wages, compared things as they are now with things as they will be. He said that wages were now very high, and that people throughout Australia were most prosperous. If men are receiving good wages now, to whom is it due? To them? Not for one moment. There is not a law on the statute-book of the Commonwealth, or of any State, dealing with industrial legislation, so far as regards the fixing of wages, that is not due primarily and almost entirely to the initiative impetus and pressure of the Labour party. Where Governments have done this they have done it in the first place, avowedly and obviously, as the result of our pressure. In this Parliament, who framed the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill? The honorable and learned Leader of the Opposition. Who brought it in? The honorable and learned Leader of the Opposition? At whose instance? Ours. It was handed over to us in the first Watson Government, and who emasculated it, or attempted to do so ? The same honorable and learned gentleman. Who gave effect to it? His heirs and successors, whom he subsequently “ dealt with,” let us say. Who introduced compulsory arbitration into New South Wales? The Government which, assisted by the Labour party, turned out the Reid Government. Generally speaking, it is to the Labour parties of Australia that industrial legislation owes its very existence, its virility, and its usefulness. What is the record of the Governments that have preceded us? A White Australia, industrial legislation, old-age pensions - all these things owe their existence and their shape on the statute-book largely to the influence of the Labour party. There has never been a Government, until our time, that existed without our assistance, except the two brief Governments known as the Reid-McLean Government and the Fusion Government. For seven years the other
Governments existed with the support of the Labour party. The honorable member for Parramatta has spoken about Governments bringing down their policy unshaped by external influences, but he knows perfectly well that he has, on the floor of the House, denounced the honorable and learned member for Ballarat for submitting his policy to the caucus for approval before he brought it down. He knows that the honorable and learned gentleman did so submit it, and that it was approved by the caucus.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has often said that it is not correct that the policy of the Ministry was submitted to the caucus.
– I think it was on one occasion.
– I wrote to Mr. Watson, on the formation of my first Government, a list of the measures that we intended to submit, but that was just for his information.
– If the honorable gentleman puts in his categorical refutation, I shall be very glad to furnish proofs, which, I think, will be perfectly satisfactory to the House and the country, that the position is exactly as I say. Further, it is true that the honorable gentleman declined to carry on unless we did approve of his policy. I think he was perfectly right in so doing. I am not saying this by way of criticism of him, because no man could expect to carry on government here with the support of members unless those members had had an opportunity of seeing the policy and knowing what they were going to vote for. The Labour party demanded that, and the honorable member was not only willing that it should be done, but insisted upon its being done. We had a perfect right to know what he was going to bring in, and he to know what we were going to do in regard to it. So, when the honorable member for Parramatta speaks of Governments before the Flood bringing down mighty programmes unshaped and unseen by the hand of mortal man until they saw the light of day for the first time when read by His Excellency, I reply that, historically, those assertions are not correct. The honorable member for Parramatta said that, after denouncing the inclusion of ten men in the Cabinet, we ourselves put ten men in. So we did, but I say again that the circumstances are entirely different. One would imagine that the circumstances under which a thing is done matter nothing, but I say they matter everything. To give a man £5 because he saved your life is one thing, but to give him £5 to kill another man is quite another, although the amount is just the same. A man comes to your, own church, and kneels with you in your own pew. There is no necessity to give such a man place and power to induce him to worship at your altar and accept the tenets of your creed, for these things he accepts already. But it is an entirely different matter if you want to proselytize him, to make him a traitor and a renegade. On the formation of the last Government there were at least two, if not three, factions that came together under circumstances which will, perhaps, not be entirely known in our time. They agreed on some sort of modus vivendi, the basis of which was a division of spoils. What they said was, “ It is true that you were elected to oppose me, and I to oppose you, but come with me and let us go, and, here - perhaps this will help you along.” There were only nine billets, and there were more than thirty-nine of those gentlemen. Indeed, there were more than forty of them, although forty seems an eminently appropriate number for such a band engaged in such a business. It was suggested that the number of billets should be increased, and they were increased. The gravamen of our charge was not that they elected the Speaker-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to go into that question.
– Our complaint was not that they had ten Ministers instead of nine, but that the principle of giving men rewards for breaking their faith with . the public was absolutely incompatible with representative government, and that if men might be induced to break their pledges for money or pomp, or place and power, it was impossible to regard the Parliament as representing the people in any proper sense of the term. But with us it is entirely different. There is not’ a man sitting behind us, and belonging to our party, that is not pledged to the people to support the planks of the Labour platform - that is to say, of the policy of the Government. We have not to give them a billet before they will support it. They will support it because they are pledged to support it - because they are here on the distinct understanding that they will support it. We do not have to buy support, or seduce men from the narrow way. We have simply to say to them, “ There is the plank of the platform,” and they support it. The circumstances, therefore, are entirely different. Further, we have put an extra Minister in the Senate, where certainly there was not the slightest necessity for our doing so, so far as that point of view is concerned, seeing that we had an overwhelming majority there. We have not appointed a man in this Chamber, as the last Government did, who learned of his inclusion in the Cabinet for the first time when he came into the chamber after the names of the Ministry had been announced. I do not know who selected him - whether it was the proprietor of some newspaper or Mr. Joshua. I wish to close with a reference to the remarks with which the honorable member for Parramatta opened. He dwelt with some feeling upon the defeat of those men who supported his party at the last election. In that I can join with him in all sincerity. I have always been a fairly keen fighter, but I do not think that any man on this side wishes to carry political feeling to the extent of rejoicing over the personal defeat of another, and certainly not to jump on him when he is down, as the honorable member for Parramatta suggested. But when the honorable member used this as a means for making an attack upon the honorable member for Hume, I do object to it. I say nothing in depreciation of the efforts of the late representative of Bourke. No doubt he did good work during the Tariff discussions. But the honorable member for Hume is not to be accused, so far as I know, of having contributed in any way to his defeat. The late representatives of Bourke, Batman, Maribyrnong, Corio, and other constituencies, owe their defeat, not to the honorable member for Hume, but to members of the present Opposition, who, having led them like bullocks into the pithing pens, now hypocritically affect sorrow for their downfall, and seek to shift the blame from their own shoulders to those of others. Had those who have been defeated been true to their hustings pledges, they would be here to-day. They have gone down, not because we attacked them, but because they were false to the principles which underlie representative government. There are several other matters of which the honorable member for Parramatta spoke, on which it is not necessary for me to dwell. The Labour party is here to carry out the mandate of the people, which we shall do as expeditiously and effectively as possible. I cannot help contrasting the treatment which the honorable member for Parramatta says he is according to us now with that which we received from him and his friends twelve months ago. He says that if this Opposition acted as the last did, it would deserve the gag; but he forgets that, before the last Fisher Administration could open its mouth to declare its policy, the honorable member for Wentworth moved, ‘ ‘ That the question be now put.” That was an inexcusable and base stab, which will always be a blemish upon the reputation of our op- .ponents. When the present Leader of the Opposition was asked to express his opinion about what was done, he said, with the air of intolerable arrogance which he wore in those days, but which he has now dropped, “ Look at the state of the House.” I say to him, “ Look at the state of the House, and at the stale of the country.” If he thinks, as he says, that parties are made in adversity, there never was a party since the history of the world that had a better chance to make itself than has the present Opposition.
.- I should not have risen but for the criticism of the honorable member for Parramatta of the speech of the honorable member for Hume, all of which I did not hear, but the Hansard report of which I have read, without finding in it any statements justifying the honorable member for Parramatta in accusing him of having gloated over the defeat of certain Opposition candidates. There is in the speech a strong tone of exultation because the position which he and a few others of us assumed during a stormy period of last session has been vindicated. In my opinion, he was justified in expressing his feelings in that way. The honorable member for Parramatta is the first speaker in this debate who has given evidence of bitterness regarding the defeat of the Opposition at the elections. Yesterday the honorable and learned member for Parkes spoke of the friendly way in which the discussion has been conducted, but I am not surprised that the honorable member for Parramatta has altered its tone, because I did not think that he could speak in any other way. The honorable member for
Hume, with four other Protectionists, refused to agree to the Fusion to which the rest of our party lent itself. We felt that we must stand by our platform pledges. This sticking to principle we regarded as essential to representative government. During the electoral campaign, almost superhuman efforts were made to bring about the defeat of at least two of us. The honorable member for Hume may fairly express his pleasure at the manner in which our position was vindicated, not only by our constituents, but by most of the constituencies of the Commonwealth. It was said that my first election to this House was the result of apathy on the part of electors, that only a certain percentage of the electors had recorded their votes, and that if 1; or 2 per cent, more had voted, I should not have been elected. But at the last election, when 7 or 8 per cent, more voted, I was returned by a majority of as many thousands and hundreds as the Prime Minister of the day was returned by a majority of only hundreds and tens. Nor was there any apathy on the part of the Fusionists. I had a Senator stumping the whole of my electorate, and candidates for the Senate doing their utmost to defeat me. Two paid organizers of the Farmers’ League, one of whom has since told a Court that he has been unable to pay his debts on a salary of £5 a week, spoke against me, in addition to a paid representative of the Women’s League, and several private members of it, and five or six local political aspirants. The ex-Prime Minister also addressed two meetings in my constituency. The utmost efforts were made to punish me for standing by the principles which I had advocated at the previous election. Under these circumstances, we are entitled to exalt at our success. Had I broken my election promises and put aside the principles which I had advocated, by associating with men to whose principles I have been always bitterly opposed, and who had opposed the Governments which I had supported, finding nothing too bad to say of them. I should not have been called upon to face this antagonism. But we must say good-bye to representative government if the people cannot trust their representatives to remain true to their election pledges. We are elected on the strength of our platform utterances. If, having been elected to support a certain policy, we associate with men opposed to that policy, we offend against representative govern ment. I interjected, when the honorable member for Parramatta was saying that the people had not indorsed the programme of the Labour party, that they had voted against the Fusion. It is admitted by Labour members that the triumph of their party was due, not merely to the increase in the number of their direct supporters, but to the fact that thousands of Liberals and Protectionists who detested the Fusion voted for them. These Liberals and Protectionists had to vote for candidates who had fixed things up for their own safety at the elections, without regard to their hustings pledges, treating their constituents as mere pawns in the great game of politics ; or to refrain from voting ; or to vote for Labour candidates. In voting for Labour candidates they may not have voted for the Labour policy, but they knew what it was, and that the party, if returned to power, would carry it into effect. They preferred that to trusting the administration of the affairs of the country to the Fusionists. The Labour party cannot cherish bitter feelings towards the Liberal section of the Fusion party, because their action has enabled it to win a tremendous victory, which otherwise might not have been gained for many years. The people feel that the Labour party can be trusted. Knowing the leaders of the party - not irresponsible members of it who advocate extreme ideas outside Parliament - they feel sure that they will do nothing detrimental to the interests of Australia. As one who has known those leaders in Parliament for the last three years, I am certain that no harm will be done to the public interest, though I do not agree with the whole of the Labour programme, and shall vote against such parts of it as I disapprove of. The electors could not do other than they did, and I, for one, rejoice at what was done. I do not rejoice at the defeat of former colleagues. I am sorry that they committed political suicide. The honorable member for Parramatta and his followers gave away nothing on joining the Fusion. It was, as I said last session, the Liberals who gave away all, and were outvoted in caucus.
– The honorable member should hear the views of some people in our State as to that matter.
– I know that some people said that the honorable member for Ballarat dominated the honorable member for Parramatta ; but if they took the trouble to read the honorable member for Ballarat’s criticism of the then Opposition policy during the recess of 1908-9, and also bore in mind what his old policy was, and what was the policy to which effect was given by the Fusion Government, they would not for one moment deny that the honorable member for Parramatta had emerged triumphant, and carried his policy right through.
– I do not think I did. There was honorable compromise on both sides.
– The honorable member did, I think, make one compromise in connexion with the defence scheme by carrying the cadet age from eighteen to twenty years. That is the only compromise, so far as I am aware, of which he was guilty.
– That was not all that we did.
– The late Government did many other things, but that was the only part of our policy that was carried out.
– We decided to send for Kitchener to frame a policy.
– The Fusion Government brought in their scheme before they sent for Lord Kitchener. They passed a Defence Bill providing for the compulsory training of youths up to the age of twenty years, and a member of the Labour party moved an amendment providing that the compulsory training age should be extended to twenty-six years. That was the essence of the Bill introduced by Sir Thomas Ewing as Minister of Defence in a previous Deakin Administration. Yet every member of the Fusion party, including Sir Thomas Ewing, voted against that amendment.
– The honorable member is in error in saying that Sir Thomas Ewing’s original proposal for compulsory service up to the age of twenty-six years was the same as that afterwards submitted to the House.
– The amendment to which the honorable member for Gippsland refers provided for practically what Lord Kitchener proposed in his report, so far as the age limit was concerned, yet the honorable member for Parramatta voted against it.
– That is so. Sir Thomas Ewing’s proposal was to make training compulsory up to the age of twenty-six years, whereas the Bill introduced by the late Government limited the application of the principle to youths not exceeding twenty
– No. Men were to be available up to twenty-six years of age.
– They were to be made available by one registration a year after they had reached the age of twenty years. There was enough to swear by, but nothing more. There was nothing in the Bill providing that there should be regulation training up to the age of twenty-six years, as had been proposed by Sir Thomas Ewing, and that was the object of the amendment which was moved, I think, by the late Mr. Hutchison. There was only one feature connected with the defeat of the late Government, and Lord Kitchener’s recommendation that the age must be increased to twenty-five years, which grieved me, and that was that I had looked forward with a somewhat grim satisfaction to seeing the honorable member for Parramatta, as Minister of Defence, bringing in a Bill to provide for compulsory training up to that age. That, however, might have been too great a price to pay for the honorable member’s retention on the Treasury Bench.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– Shortly before we adjourned for dinner I referred to the result of the last general election, and pointed out that the majority that had been returned to this side of the House was a vindication of the true principle of representative government, that members should remain loyal to the pledges they give. Great as that majority is, it would have been much larger if there had been in operation a system of preferential voting, the second ballot or the contingent vote, so that every man returned to the House would represent the majority of those voting in his constituency. A promise to provide for such an electoral system was certainly a prominent feature of the speech made in the -Town Hall, Melbourne, by the present Leader of the Opposition when the Fusion was launched. He said then that his Government would bring in a measure to provide for a member representing in every case an absolute majority of the electors voting in his constituency. On three occasions last session I pressed the Fusion Government to say when they intended to deal with the matter, and was told emphatically on the last occasion, by the then Prime Minister, that a Bill would beintroduced that session.
– It was crowded out at the last.
– Probably; but it was of such importance that something else ought to have been sacrificed to enable it to be dealt with.
– It would have taken a long time to carry.
– It is a pity that an attempt was not made to pass such a measure, for true representation goes to the very root of representative government. If we had had in force some such system as I have mentioned, there would probably have been returned to this side of the House a greater majority than we have, because, as has already been mentioned, six members of the Opposition represent a minority of the voters in their respective electorates. When referring to the question of who had surrendered their principles, I said that those of my old party who joined the Fusion had done so. As a party, I think that that section of the Fusion undoubtedly suffered the worst at the last general election. Five of them were rejected; two got back by comparatively small majorities ; one represents a minority of the votes polled in his constituency ; and only two were returned by fairly large majorities, showing that their constituents approved of their action. These are the honorable member for Darling Downs and the honorable member for Cowper.
– I got back.
– But the honorable member was not a member of the Liberal party which joined the Fusion.
– He originally belonged to it.
– That was before I was returned to this House. Reference has been made to the use of the “gag>” and it is just as well that the actual facts should be recorded in Hansard. In reply to an interjection in reference to the “gag,” the honorable member for Ballarat spoke in a rather angry tone - in fact, his reply was the only remark made by him that was not in his usual good humoured and courteous style.
– The interjection to which the honorable member refers was repeated several times.
– That is so. It has been said in the press that the Fusion Ministry were able to get through a lengthy programme by the use of the “ gag.” As a matter of fact, the “ gag “ was never used to stop systematic obstruction. I make that statement deliberately, because I think that I was in the chamber on every occasion that the “ gag “ was applied. It was used for the first time during the consideration of a non-party measure - the High Commissioner Bill. It was used then after a five-hours’ debate, and was applied to the first member of the then Opposition who spoke against the measure. Why it was used, no one knows. It was then not n p.m. Shortly afterwards, it was used again, the only reason for its application being, so far as one could judge, that honorable members wished to catch the last suburban trains. About half-an-hour after midnight, it was used for a third time. Even the last suburban trains had gone, so that it was impossible to say what was the reason for its application. On another occasion it was used after a ten-minutes’ debate, and, on still another occasion, after a nine-minutes’ debate.
– That was when the honorable member for Gwydir moved its application.
– No; I am referring to occasions when the “ gag “ was carried, and it could be carried only when moved by a member of the Ministerial party. On another occasion, it was applied after a debate extending over thirty-four minutes, and on still another occasion after a thirtyfive minutes’ debate. The longest debate that took place prior to its application was only seven hours twenty-seven minutes. On one occasion it was applied after a debate had proceeded for six hours forty minutes, and on yet another after a debate extending over three hours and twenty minutes.
– Who was the first to suggest the “ gag”?
– That has nothing to do with me. The “gag” Standing Orders were passed before I was returned to the House, but they were never used until applied by the Fusion Ministry.
– What is the practical value of this recital?
– I wish these facts to go into Hansard, in order to show that the “ gag “ was used capriciously, and not to put down obstruction, for obstruction never existed. On two occasions the “ gag “ was used within half-an-hour, and if it would not be unparliamentary to say so, I should say that it was used disgracefully.
– Order !
– Then I shall not so describe it, but I think I shall be in order in saying that it was used unwarrantably in connexion with the vital question of the Financial Agreement. It was applied, to the intense surprise of honorable members sitting behind the Government, who were opposing the Financial Agreement, and it was used then only because the Ministry had a majority in the House at the time, and were doubtful as to whether that majority would be available the following week.
– An attempt was made on the Opposition side of the House to apply the “gag” to the then Minister of Defence when he was making his policy speech.
– And the whole of the then Opposition, with about three exceptions, voted against its application. Bad as was the use of the “gag” in connexion with the Financial Agreement, its application, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, half-an-hour after the consideration of that matter had been disposed of, will ever live in the minds of honorable members as the worst instance of the unwarrantable use of the procedure of Parliament.. It was carried amid a scene the equal of which had never previously been witnessed here.
– Let us abolish it and have done with it.
– I do not think there is any need for the honorable member to suggest that it should be abolished, because I shall be much surprised if the present Government party ever use it.
– They will never have occasion to use it.
– Well, for long speeches that tempt its use, commend me to those of the honorable member for Lang. I have felt at times, when listening to him, that I should like to apply the “ gag “ to him if it were justifiable to do so. I would rather sit here all night, however, than apply the “gag,” save in the case . of systematic obstruction, such as I understand was in existence in this House when the “gagging” Standing Orders Were passed. When the ‘adjournment of the House is moved on a Friday afternoon, it is almost the invariable custom for a member of the Opposition to ask what business is to be taken on the following Tuesday. That question is put so that honorable members from other States may know whether it is necessary for them to return on that day. When the Prime Minister moved the adjournment of the House on the Friday afternoon, upon which the Bill relating to the Financial Agreement was finally dealt with, the Leader of the Opposition, who is the present Prime Minister, than whom I think there is no more courteous member of the House, rose; but, when he had got as far as the words “Mr. Speaker,” the “ gag “ was unceremoniously applied.
– Who moved it?
– The honorable member for Parramatta, with the honorable member for Ballarat sitting alongside him ; and I confess I was amazed to see that vote allowed to be carried. To the credit of several of the members of the Government party, they left the House rather than vote for that particular motion. It is just as well that the public should know how the “gag” was used ; and that it should not be thrust down their throats, as was done continuously during the electoral campaign, that the Government were able to get through the business they did, only by using the “ gag “ against the Opposition.
– The “gag” was used with splendid effect; and I quite believe in it.
– I am not surprised at the honorable member for Echuca approving of the “gag” in order to stop a free expression of opinion, seeing that he is a fortunate example of the defect to which I have already referred. The Government of lastsession did not deem it their duty to pass a Bill providing that those who were elected to this House should represent a majority of the electors; and the honorable member for Echuca is an effectual instance of how the electors may be gagged, seeing that only about 7,000 in Echuca voted for him, while 10,000 voted against him. There is one other matter I would like to refer to in connexion with the recent general elections, and that is the Financial Agreement. No matter what happened to the various candidates - no matter whether on the Government side, every man had been defeated - so long as that agreement was defeated, I should be perfectly satisfied. The rejection of that agreement was of infinitely more importance to the future of Australia than any question of who should be returned. The electors, in three years, can,, by their majority, remedy any defect they may see in the membership of the House; but, as has been pointed out repeatedly, it would probably have required little short of a revolution to strike out the Financial Agreement once it had been embodied in the Constitution. There was nothing more gratifying at the last election than to find, on the first appeal made on the question of the States versus Nationalism - and on a subject not at all favorable to stirring up people in the National interests - the electors, and particularly the young Australians, were sufficiently impressed with the importance of the occasion to respond to the National call, as against the dominance and attempted dictation of the State Premiers and State politicians, who attempted, by their manifestoes, to influence the electors. lt is right, when on this point, to pay a tribute of praise to the great work done by the Melbourne Age. This was the only big daily newspaper, so far as I am aware, in Australia that fought the National issue ; and it must be gratifying to the conductors of that great journal that they came through victoriously, as it was gratifying to those who were fighting for the National cause to know that they had this newspaper with them. I do not intend to deal with the various points of the Government policy, as disclosed in the Governor-General’s Speech, seeing that we shall have an opportunity later to deal with the measures as they come before us ; and to do so now would only mean repetition. I am still of the opinion which I uttered on my entrance to this House, when I moved the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, that the discussion on such a motion as that now before us might well be abolished; indeed, that opinion is more confirmed than ever. I do not know, except when the Government is challenged, that the discussion on the Address-in-Reply is of any use whatever. I cannot see that it clears the decks for action; because the discussion on the various subjects is practically “lost. I had no intention of speaking, and would not have risen, had it not been for the remarks made to-day by the honorable member for Parramatta in reference to my old colleague, the honorable member for Hume. Knowing what that honorable member went through during the strenuous work of last session, and how his health broke down, as did that of other honorable members, some of whom have passed away, I could not, as one who went through that fight with him, hear what was said in his absence to-day, without resenting, on the first possible occasion, the imputation that in his speech he was gloating ever the defeat of his former colleagues.
– He did, all the same.
– I do not expect, and never could expect, to get from the honorable member for Parramatta, the generous admission that what he had said in an illtempered way was uttered in the heat of debate.
– I said it in no illtempered way. He singled the honorable members out by name, and gloated over their defeat.
– The honorable member for Hume did single out certain names; but I do not think there was any gloating ; he was simply exulting that his policy and action had been vindicated, just as in the same way the Australian correspondent of The Times, expressed his gratification that his prophecy in regard to the Fusion party had been fulfilled. When the Fusion party was formed, that correspondent, in his cablegram to The Times, said -
Mr. Deakin seems to hope that the temporary association of the three sections will eventually cause an approximation of views and a consolidation into one party, but it is more probable that whenever a dissolution comes the whole of the present arrangement will be shattered at the polls.
In the issue of 28th May last, the same correspondent rejoices that his prediction has come true, but it cannot be said that he is guilty of gloating. Nobody regrets more than I that the members mentioned by the honorable member for Hume - and the meremention of the names is no sign of gloating - were defeated. Some of them I was associated with as personal friends for years, and I felt bitter regret when I saw them join the Fusion, knowing that they were, as I told them at the time, committing political suicide. I am sorry to think that their action has led to their political doom at the hands of the electors, who, doubtless, felt that they had been wronged ; and I am satisfied that if the honorable members referred to had that time over again there would be no Fusion. I do not expect to get such an admission, but I do not think any one of my party who joined the Fusion can ever have said that they were glad at having done so, or that they would be prepared to do so again if they had the opportunity of staying out. I have to apologize to the House for taking up so. much time, but loyalty to one who was associated with me in a strenuous fight demanded an expression of my views in reply to the charge made by the honorable member for Parramatta ; and when I was on my feet I was drawn into dealing with other matters.
.- I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on the attainment of the high office you hold, and I promise to give all the assistance in my power to make your term as pleasant as possible. I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, particularly his remarks as to the possible danger from an alteration of our system of government. I confess that it was with some anxiety I contemplated that alteration. Formerly, our caucus was composed of a minority, and there was every reason why that minority should work unitedly together to insure the “strongest possible loyalty to one another. Owing to the mistakes of honorable members opposite we are now a very powerful party in both Houses, but we still maintain the caucus system. Personally, I must confess I had some anxiety when I saw that we had such a majority combined with a continuance of that system ; but as time flies I am satisfied that the caucus, as we now have it, is an improvement on the system of government carried on by our friends of the Opposition. I see no reason why we should not accept responsibility for the fact that the Government programme was submitted to the caucus. We will admit that on the items of the party programme the party is consulted, and that every member is bound by the majority vote. As to matters which are not on the party platform there is the utmost freedom of action; and during this debate honorable members had sufficient evidence of that in the speeches of the honorable’ member for Gwydir and the honorable member for Cook. What is the difference between the two systems? The honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Ballarat have spoken, the latter possibly in bitter terms, of the “iron rule” of the caucus. But the “iron rule” of the caucus, so far as I understand it, simply means-
– Do not say “ bitter terms,” say strong terms.
– Perhaps if I say that the honorable member for Ballarat made a very amiable address, I shall get over the difficulty. So far as I have observed the effects of the so-called “ iron rule “ of the caucus, it only means that the Labour party demand that a Labour representative shall cany out his pledges, and that if he fails to do so they will do their level best to keep him out of Parliament. We do not find a system of punishment pursued by the Labour party throughout Australia, such as is meted out to any one on the. other side who dares to offend against party principles.
– Do we not?
– The utmost that can be said is that the Labour party have succeeded in defeating candidates who formerly belonged to the party ; indeed, I suppose there are fifteen or sixteen members whose names I need not mention, but who have been defeated because of disloyalty to the party which brought them into political life. All that can be pointed to is the decision of the people of the Commonwealth that these candidates shall no longer be members of Parliament. Let us take the other side. Do honorable members not know of, or are they blind to, the treatment that the honorable member for Parkes received the moment he felt disposed to exercise a little of his liberty of action and thought? What was the criticism which appeared in the Daily Telegraph, of Sydney, for example? That paper made the honorable member come to heel, so to speak ; and Mr. Henry Willis, the exmember for Robertson, was also brought up to the bull-ring by the other side because he chose to differ from them. Other members on the other side who represent what may not unfairly be described as the capitalistic section, know the secret influences that can be brought to bear to prevent a man even getting a living. How many briefs would the honorable member for Parkes get in the Courts if he were to sign the Labour platform? The honorable member for Darling Downs will be able to tell us from his experience what treatment is meted out to barristers who dare to advocate any of thi planks of the Labour platform, or any Labour principles. Honorable members know that if any man in business - and most men in business work on overdrafts - dares to advocate the Labour programme, he will quickly get a notice from his bank that he must discontinue doing so, or clear off his overdraft. That is a common experience. In many business houses, if an employe associates himself with the Labour party so far as to mount the platform, he often receives notice to leave his employment.
– Does the honorable member think the banks will give a man notice to withdraw his account because of his political opinions, if his security is satstactory ?
– I do. I can give the honorable member cases where the banks promptly indicate to a man that if he does not discontinue his advocacy of the Labour platform, or stop showing sympathy with the Labour party, he will have to meet his financial obligations and transfer his account. Honorable members opposite express surprise at the presence of so many representatives of the artisan class in the House, and cannot understand how it is that the public have taken the miner from the mine, the carpenter from the bench, and the clerk from his office desk to send them into Parliament. The reason is that, by such tyrannical systems as I have indicated, it is made impossible, as a rule, for the business man or professional man, the architect, or the lawyer, to join the Labour party. We can point to exceptional cases, where barristers have given us their assistance, and business men have had the courage to take up the advocacy of Labour principles ; but they are very few in number. The honorable member for Ballarat quoted figures to show that some 630,000 voters voted for the Labour party, and about 600,000 for the other side, and complained that a large number of electors on the other side have no representation. But the honorable member is one of those responsible for that state of affairs. In 1902, when the Electoral Bill was being put through Parliament, the Labour party pleaded with honorable members opposite to allow the electors to vote foi one senator if they chose. We pointed out that if electors were compelled to vote for the full number of senators required, political parties would be compelled to select the full number, and that cases might arise where one party would get the whole of the representation in Parliament. But honorable members on the other side, who now plead with us to be merciful, as we are strong, when they were strong had no consideration for us, and forced us to use the block vote. At the last elections eighteen senators were returned by the Labour party, representing the full number of seats vacant, so that honorable members opposite cannot complain. I am still of opinion that minorities ought to get some representation. It is not right that one party should have it all j but when we tried to secure a proportional system, honorable members, who thought they had the power, refused to allow any modification to be made. The honorable member for Parramatta wished to-night to set up a standard, and proposes later on to sum up the results of our legislation, in order to ascertain whether we have made any improvement in the conditions of the people during a period of, say, ten years. But surely the honorable member ought to go back to a period prior to Federation, and ask what was the condition of Labour in the Commonwealth at that time, compare it with what it is now, and ascertain to what that improved condition is due. It is certainly not due to the carrying out of the policy of Free Trade, which the honorable member came into this House to advocate. In addition to the factors mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney, in the various Labour Acts which have been passed, we have succeeded,- in spite of the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member ‘for Lang, and other Free-traders, in establishing a system of Protection. I am not at all satisfied with the protection that we have obtained. We have certainlyimproved the condition of affairs, and havenow about a quarter-of-a-million people employed in factories and receiving something like £19,000,000 in wages, but the Tariff is not as good as it ought to be, and I sincerely hope we shall have a revision of it at an early date. I regret that I am not in complete accord with certain members on this side, who say that they will not give further Protection unless they can secure an alteration of the Constitution to enable them to give protection to the workers. While I am thoroughly in accord with every effort that will be made to secure the new Protection, as well as protection for the manufacturers and employers, I think that, should we for any reason fail in that effort, we ought to still go on, and give high Protection to the manufacturers. It is far better for us to have a man manufacturing in this community, even a man who is prepared to sweat his employes, than to have him in London, Berlin, or New York. We can deal with him if he is in Australia, because we have also our State Labour parties, and if we in the Federal Parliament cannot succeed, I hope that the State Labour parties will succeed in securing for the workers the protection to which they are entitled.
– The fact is that we do not succeed.
– The honorable member may not, perhaps, recognise the strides we have made in twenty years, but we are making rapid strides, and although the Wages Boards are causing irritation in some respects, I believe that they are effecting a silent revolution for the betterment of the people. I have heard honorable members say that they desire the Commonwealth Parliament to obtain control of all industrial legislation. While I am in favour of that view, it is only on condition that the State Parliaments refuse to avail themselves of their powers to better the conditions of the workers. I am not at all anxious, as I regret to notice that some members seem to be, to add to the powers of the Commonwealth. We have powers enough already if we carry them out. There are several paragraphs amongst the thirtynine Federal powers set out in section 51 of the Constitution, to which we can devote our attention without endeavouring to obtain other powers yet. Rather than have unification, I would prefer to see the creation of a larger number of States, and hope at an early date to take the sense of the House as to whether honorable members are prepared, under section 123 of the Constitution, to give a Constitution to the people of Australia who may require or ask for it, whether in Queensland or in any other part of the Commonwealth.
– May I point out that in 1906 we introduced, and carried through its second reading, a Bill to secure preferential voting, but were unable to proceed with it because Parliament was adverse?
– I admit that the honorable member and his party were favorable to a system of minority representation, but ihe natural leader of that party in the -Senate, of which I was at that time a member - I refer to Sir Josiah Symon - moved an amendment of the Electoral Bill to provide that the electors of the Commonwealth must vote for three Senate candidates, and /no fewer. I do not agree with those honorable members who consider the AddressanReply debate a waste of time. Our Standing Orders are the outcome of a few centuries of experience, and are for the protection of minorities. If the AddressinReply debate were done away with, honorable members would not have the opportunity which they now have, of emphasizing those reforms which do not happen te find a place in the Government programme.
– They get it of? Supply.
– They may, but I favour the retention of this standing order, as this appears to be the best time, that is, at the commencement of a session, for members to refer to matters which are not in the Governor-General’s Speech. One of those matters is the abrogation of the custom which formerly obtained in this Parliament, of the wearing of the wig and gown by the Speaker. I congratulate you, sir, upon having abandoned those habiliments, for if there is one thing which gives the public outside an idea of the extravagance of Parliament, it is the adoption of such forms and ceremonies. The mace, which finds a place on the table when you are in the Chair, and is put under the table when you leave the Chair, is another piece of furniture which I hope to see removed from the House and placed in a museum”. There are one or two matters referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech upon which I wish to say a few words which may not find a ready response in the minds of honorable members. While every normal man must have had sympathy with the Royal Family in the sad bereavement which befell them in the death of King Edward the Seventh, those who are candid must admit that there was a great deal of extravagance in the memorial services held to mark it. I do not like to use harsh terms, but it seems to me that there was a good deal of hypocrisy about the ceremony at Parliament House. Extravagant language was also- used by the press. We were told that “ Melbourne was shocked,” and several persons spoke of their “ deep sense of personal loss,” though possibly they had never even seen the King.
– Those expressions were perfectly sincere.
– In justice to the honorable member I must say that there was nothing extravagant in his remarks concerning the event, but there was a great deal of extravagance in the press comments thereon. There was nothing like so much display at the time of the death of Queen Victoria, whose reign much more deserved commemoration .
– There was a strong personal feeling for the late King.
– I think that a false standard of taste is set by expensive ceremonies such as those to which I am referring. They lead people to do things which they cannot afford to do. Only the other day I read that an old lady in receipt of 7s. 6d. a week, of which 3s. - 6d. was paid for rent, saved £11 to prevent herself from having a pauper’s funeral. The expenditure of thousands of pounds on pageantry, pomp, and ceremony in connexion with the death of Royal personages has a bad effect on the community. As to His present Majesty, King George the Fifth, I observe that’ Sir George Reid says that if England were to become a republic, the people would unanimously elect His Majesty King George the Fifth as the first President. I do not know whether there is anything in our High Commissioner’s suggestion, but I should hail with pleasure the time when he must submit his name to the electors as we have to do on the expiration of each Parliament. I see no reason why kings should not be elected now as they were in former times.
– The honorable member is expressing a pious hope.
– The opinion is one which I hold strongly. Honorable members were invited to attend the Memorial Service at Parliament House in “ official dress,” which, I understand, means a bell topper hat, frock coat, kid gloves, and patent leather boots.
– And, I suppose, trousers.
– Of course. The honorable member would not expect us to attend in kilts. Those who were supposed to be overwhelmed with grief at the death of His late Majesty ordered that none should attend the memorial service except in “ official dress,” or in uniform. The Postmaster General says something about fancy vests. I occasionally wear fancy vests, and intend to continue to do so. Every man should be allowed to wear what he likes. The present Ministry, of which the honorable member is such an ornament, might have allowed members to attend the service of which I speak in whatever clothes they wished to wear. That there may be no mistake about the terms of. the invitation, let me read what is printed on the card which I received -
His Late Most Gracious Majesty King Edward VII.
Their Excellencies the Governor-General of Australia and the Governor of Victoria notify that a Memorial Ceremony will take place at the Federal Parliament House, at 2.30 p.m., on Friday, 20th May, 1910.
The holder of this card should enter Parliament Gardens by Gisborne-street, and must be in place before 2.15 p.m.
Official Dress.Enclosure N.
I received another ticket which further emphasizes my point -
On the Day of the Royal Funeral, Friday, 20th May, 1910.
Official Dress or Uniform. Admit One.
I understand that the Government was not responsible for the second invitation. I do not wish to say a word which will help to swell the wave of anti-religious feeling which appears to have struck Australia as well as other parts of the world. The further the people of the Commonwealth get from Christianity, the worse it will be for them, and the nearer they keep to it, the better. The invitation to attend the Communion Service at St. Paul’s Cathedral - a service which, as Anglican members know, must have included the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and of the Ten Commandments, with the response, “ Lord have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law,” should not have required the assumption of “official dress.” Such a card is in some degree an answer to those who ask - Why do not the working classes go to church ? I am glad that the Government proposes to reduce the age at which women may receive pensions, though I am sorry that a provision is not made for a scheme of compulsory insurance against old age, sickness, and unemployment. Probably the Government thinks its programme too long for one session, but if one reform should occupy a place before all others, it is that which I have mentioned. Whatever we may say to the contrary, there is a feeling abroad that our present old-age pension system savours of charity and pauperism. When the people of Australia understand the matter, they will be only too glad to agree to contribute weekly to a fund to provide against old age, want of employment, or sickness. I understand that in Germany the compulsory insurance system is rapidly displacing the old system, the applications for relief under which are rapidly diminishing. It would he a good thing to appoint actuaries to ascertain how best such a scheme as I suggest could be carried out. I am pleased that the Naval Loan Act is to be repealed. I am opposed to the control of the Australian army or navy passing into the hands of any one outside of Australia.
– At any time?
– At any time. I object to the control of the Australian army and navy passing into the hands of the British Government while the British House of Commons is elected on a property qualification. If every man and woman in Great Britain could exercise the franchise as in Australia, the matter would not be so serious, but, knowing as I do that the British House of Commons is elected on the most unequal and unfair franchise, I say that it would be dangerous to allow the control of the Australian army and navy to pass into the hands of the British Government. This is a view which I expressed on the hustings, and for the expression of which I was elected by a great majority. My position was supported by Mr. Justice Higgin botham, the late Chief Justice of Victoria, who said -
I do not know what advantage this (Victoria) or any of the neighbouring Colonies can gain by paying in time of peace for either a military or naval force which may be withdrawn’ in time of war. If a regiment or a ship of war, kept here in time of peace, be withdrawn in time of war, of what earthly use is it to us? And if outside our own control, it may be withdrawn, and probably will be withdrawn.
Honorable members have spoken of the battle of the future taking place in the North Sea, and of Britain requiring to concentrate her naval force in one spot. Having regard to England’s experience in 1667, it is not at all likely that the British naval authorities would allow the British Isles to be unprotected. In June of that year, a powerful squadron of seventy Dutch vessels appeared intwo divisions at the mouth of the Thames, one of which passed up the river to Gravesend, while the other entered the Mersey -
The unprotected shores were ravaged with impunity ; the fortifications of Sheerness fell; the dockyard of Chatham was fired, and several of the finest vessels laid up in ordinary were burnt.
Why should Australia allow her war vessels to leave her own coasts unprotected? Honorable members must know what damage can be done by a single vessel. They will remember that during the American civil war a small merchant steamer - the Sumter - was converted into a warship, and called the Alabama, and that she succeeded in capturing sixty-three vessels. Of these she burnt fifty-three, while others were released on bond or captured.
– She captured them miles away from the American coast.
– That does not affect my argument. What she did is best described in the words of her captain, in addressing his men on one occasion -
You have at length another opportunity of meeting the enemy - the first that has been presented to you since you sank the Hatteras. In the meantime, you have been all over the world, and it is not too much to say that you have destroyed and driven from protection under neutral flags one-half of the enemy’s commerce, which, at the beginning of the war, covered every sea.
That was clone by one vessel, notwithstanding that the United States of America had afloat at the time no less than 300 armed vessels. Our Inter-State shipping has an annual value of about £30,000,000, and are we going to allow our coasts to be unprotected by permitting the Naval Commandant to order all our warships away whenever there is any trouble in the Old Country? Honorable members must not forget that the late Government agreed to allow the vessels of theAustralian Fleet to be sent to other parts of the world not only in time of war, but at a time of threatened war. It is in regard to that point that I think that the Deakin- Cook Government acted wrongly, and really betrayed Australia.
– Would the British Government betray England, in the opinion of the honorable member, by allowing British warships to come to Australian waters to defend Australia?
– The whole trend of the public utterances of the authorities who have been quoted in support of the late Government’s scheme goes to show that, in their opinion, all the naval forces of Great Britain would need to be concentrated at one spot. I take the contrary view that we ought to see that our own shores are protected. Honorable members opposite seem to indicate by their remarks that they consider we are doing nothing for the protection of the Empire. Have we not been spending for many years £1,000,000 per annum or thereabouts upon defence? Are we not protecting our coaling stations? Are we not improving Australia, as a matter of fact, by the sacrifice year by year of hundreds of Australians ?
– I suppose the honorable member knows that Great Britain spends annually £70,000,000 on defence, and that it spent , £250,000,000 in vindicating the rights of his countrymen in South Africa ?
– That is a very unfortunate interjection.
– A very true one.
– The so-called vindication of the rights of our countrymen in South Africa was in reality a vindication of the rights or the wrongs of the capitalists. It was a capitalistic war, and every one has now to admit that it was cruel and unjust.
– And unnecessary.
– It was an unnecessary war, and has not succeeded, after all, in its professed object.
– Has it not consolidated all the South African colonies?
– It has; but only in name is that Federation united to the Mother Country. The British flag is flown by it, but to all intents and purposes South Africa now is as much a Boer country as ever it was. It is in the hands of the Boers, and without doubt will remain in their hands. I am satisfied to believe that South Africans will do nothing against the Old Country, but I am equally satisfied that they are determined to have self-government.
– So are we.
– They will not tolerate interference from outside.
– Nor will we ; but we are part of the British Empire.
– We shall have another opportunity to discuss the defence question, and I do not propose to deal with it further at this stage. I am pleased that the honorable member for Parkes is present, because I wish to make reference to some observations which he made last night. The honorable member, in extending a welcome to us, was a little personal. He said that we were very well dressed.
– I said that of the honorable member for Werriwa; I did not say that the honorable member was.
– We all know that the honorable member for Parkes is the very glass of fashion and the mould of form. I was somewhat surprised to find him so quietly dressed, having read on one occasion a newspaper description of his attire in this House. That “description set forth that Mr. Bruce Smith, immaculately dressed, rose. He was attired in a brown velvet coat, a blue silk vest, and wore patent leather boots. Adjusting his golden pince-nez, he advanced to the table with the step of a dancing master, and commenced to speak from notes written on scented notepaper.
– That was all in the
– Evidently the honorable gentleman read the paragraph in the Age, to which I refer; but what interested me most of all was the earnestness with which he quoted from an article on “ Thrift “ in the Brisbane Worker, based upon a paragraph stating that in Edinburgh a society had been formed to encourage thrift amongst the working classes. The honorable member apparently does not recognise how ironical it is ‘for one like himself to talk about thrift among the working classes. During his whole life probably he has never denied himself one solitary comfort.
– Oh, has he not?
– He may have denied himself a position in a Ministry, but I do not suppose that he has ever denied himself a single comfort. Will the House bear with me while I quote from a speech made last year in the House of Commons by Mr. Lloyd-George, in referring to the case of which I spoke a little while ago? -
A case lias been brought to my notice of an old lady, seventy-five years of age, who said she was earning 7s. 6d. a week in mantlemaking. She gave the name of her employer, from whom it was ascertained that her average earnings were only about 6s. 6d. a week. She was paying 3s. 6d. a week in rent, and, therefore, she had only 3s. a week on which to live. Very often she had to subsist on bread and tea, and her only chance of getting- meat was by going to a butcher’s shop on Saturday night when the shop was about to close and buying scraps. Yet she had kept ?11 in the Savings Bank in order to avoid having a pauper’s funeral.
Mr. Lloyd George mentioned this as only one of many cases proving that many people in the Old Country are struggling most heroically against the direst poverty. He went on to say -
What strikes one about such cases is how people have fought the horror of the Poor Law. There are 270,000 people over seventy years of age in receipt of Poor Law relief. This Act has disclosed the presence among us of over 600,000 people, the vast majority of whom were living under circumstances of great poverty, and yet disdained the charity of the Poor Law. It has revealed the heroic’ struggle between pride and privation in scores of thousands of miserable little rooms and hovels which has gone on apparently unknown ; and I am glad that succour has come at last.
I have here a cable which appeared in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin of 7th April, 1910 -
The number of persons who died from starvation in England and Wales last year was 125. Fifty-two of the number died in London.
While this is so there are in London rich people who give dinners costing as much as ?125 per guest. Is it n?t absurd for the honorable member for Parkes to say that the working classes of Britain ought to become thrifty, and save their money, seeing that so many people there die of starvation every year, and since so many hundreds of thousands are in the position of the poor woman who received only 7s. 6d. per week, 3s. 6d. of which was paid away in rent? I interjected while the honorable member was speaking that the abuse of thrift is a mistake.
– Did the honorable member say that dinners costing £125 per head were given?
– Yes. Let me make a quotation bearing on the point from the Pall Mall Gazette, of February, 1909. In an article by Susan Carpenter on The Bills of Lucullus, we have the statement in regard to one dinner -
This beautiful repast worked out at the rate of£50 a head. This was but a trifle compared with the famous “ Night in Venice “ dinner. This was a record in the way of speedy and clever arrangement. The host gave Mr. Pruger only twenty-seven hours to prepare. Over a hundred men worked through the night, coating the Savoy courtyard with concrete and filling it with water to simulate a lagoon. A special gondola, large enough to seat the twentyfour guests and allow room for the waiters, had to be built, with smaller ones to carry the guests from the quay to the white gondola placed in the centre of the water. This was a mass of rare pink carnations, and there were arches of the same flowers over the landing steps and all about, the flowers alone coming to £900, and the entire entertainment to £3,000.
That works out at £125 for each person. The face ofthe honorable member for Parkes is covered with smiles at this recital ; and yet he is the honorable member who lectures the Labour party because they say thrift can be carried to excess.
– The honorable member is the man who sees irony in everything; yet he misses it here.
– I consider that the poor old lady, instead of saving her money to avoid a pauper’s funeral, would have been better advised had she used it to obtain food, for she then might have lived a little longer. It is a mockery to talk to the working classes about thrift in cases of that kind. This old lady was able to subsist on bread and tea; but I ask the honorable member for Parkes, what good would it be to Australia if the whole of the working classes were to endeavour to subsist on such food? No doubt they could do so for a considerable time; but, just look at the mass of misery and destitution that would ensue if we all attempted to live as this poor old lady lived. The honorable member, of course, is able to smile at this kind of thing; and we might well imagine a leaf out of his diary, such as the following - 7 o’clock, rang the bell for tea and a biscuit; half -past 7, read the Age.
– What about the Brisbane Worker?
– Perhaps, I ought to say : - half-past 7 rang the bell for a bath, and instructed the girl to put a bottle of lavender water in it; quarter to 8, read the Argus; 8 o’clock, had a very copious breakfast ; 9 o’clock, wrote a chapter of my magnum opus, “ Bruce Smith, orator and statesman”; 11 o’clock, read the Brisbane Worker, and made a few extracts; 1 o’clock, had light lunch, consisting, of soup, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and apple pie; 2 o’clock, walked in the gardens for recreation purposes ; 4 o’clock, afternoon tea; 6 o’clock-, had dinner of various courses, winding up with black coffee and benedictine.
– I should like to remind the honorable member that, in coming from Albury, this week, the honorable member for Parkes had 6d. worth of food, whereas every Labour member had 2s. worth !
– At the present time, we never hear of lectures on thrift from the working classes, because, as a rule, such lectures are delivered by orators like the honorable member for Parkes; and the irony of the thing appeals to the people. As to immigration, the party on this side have repeatedly said that they do not object to it, but, as the Government say, are in. favour of it, providing proper Australian conditions are established. The only people who, in my opinion, can be safely asked to come to Australia, are those engaged in farming and agricultural pursuits generally. I object strongly to the use of Government money to bring artisans, such as carpenters, blacksmiths, and engineers, to Australia, unless there is work for them ; and certainly there is no work at the present time. Honorable members opposite speak of the need for immigration, and are quite willing to spend millions of money in bringing people here; but not to compete with themselves. There would be a great outcry if it were proposed to bring from England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, any barristerto compete, for example, with the honorable member for Parkes. Notwithstanding all the professed anxiety for immigration, a barrister is not allowed to come from the Old Country to practise in any of the States of Australia.
– I was an English barrister, and I came here without paying a id. for the privilege of practising; the honorable member is very badly informed.
– I am so sorry. I may be wrongly advised; but I have seen it stated in the newspapers that the strongest efforts were made, not very long ago, to prevent a barrister coming from Queensland to practise in New South Wales.
– That is another matter altogether.
– There is no doubt that, since Federation, there has been an attempt, on the part of the legal profession, to liberalize their trade union, and bring about a federation of barristers and solicitors in Australia. I am surprised to learn that an Irish or English barrister can come and practise in Australia without undergoing certain examinations, or paying high fees.
– At any time, for the last quarter of a century - for the last halfcentury.
– Not being in the legal profession, I must accept the word of the honorable member for Parkes. Of course, I can understand that the barristers of Australia would be quite willing to admit the honorable member free of charge and without examination; because they could see that he would be a great acquisition to the profession. As to Preferential Trade, we heard very little about it during the elections from honorable members opposite. This was to occupy a very prominent position in the Government programme, had the other side been returned to power ; and I should like to know, from the honorable member for Parramatta, why so little was said about it. I venture to think that the reason may be found in the fact that, when Sir Robert Best was inviting ihe Chambers of Commerce to endeavour to bring about a system of preferential trade, he received a deputation, in this city, from 400 women workers, who were seeking for greater protection against imported materials. It is of no use for Australia to try to help the poor of the Old Country bv a system of preferential trade, and by allowing British goods to come in at a lower rate of duty than is imposed upon goods from other places. The only hope for the working classes of Great Britain, I am con vinced, is to adopt a system of high Protection, and for the electors to send into the House of Commons men pledged to a programme similar to our own. When the matter comes up for decision here, although I may be in a minority, I shall do my humble best to see that the only case in which we give a preference in trade to Great Britain shall be in respect of those trades where the employers pay the same rate of wages and adopt the same hours of employment as do employers in Australia. One or two items in the Government programme are of a non-party character. I am thoroughly in favour of the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory. It is our duty to relieve South Australia from the heavy financial loss which she is sustaining year after year. But I do not think that South Australia ought to ask the Commonwealth to build a railway line subject to certain conditions. The construction of the railway ought to be left to the Commonwealth Parliament, subject to further information to be obtained. Let me also say that I view with some anxiety the idea of the Commonwealth taking over the Territory if it is to be governed from Melbourne. We shall find considerable difficulty in governing a country some thousands of miles away from us. If we take over the Territory, the sooner we give to the people who live there the right to govern themselves the .better for them and for us.
– - I should not have risen to address the House on this occasion, except that it has been impressed upon me that it is a duty of every new member to have a few words to say on the Address-in-Reply, in order, I suppose, to have his remarks recorded in Hansard. At the outset, I may state, as a supporter of the Labour party outside Parliament, and as a member of that party here, that I am in perfect accord with that paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech wherein is expressed the deep regret of the people of this country at the decease of our late sovereign, King Edward VII., and our congratulations upon the succession of his son, King George V., to the exalted position of ruler over the British Empire. From what I have read, and from what I am led to believe, we have in the present King a man whose heart is large, who is full of sympathy for the suffering and the afflicted, who is deeply appreciative of the local needs of the people in various parts of the Empire, and who views with scorn and contempt all unworthy and unmanly actions and motives. Therefore, I indorse to the full the paragraph in the Speech wherein is expressed our grief at the decease of the late monarch and our sense of satisfaction and pleasure that his place has been filled by so worthy a successor. Among the burning questions which appear to trouble the Federal political mind just now is. that of telephone rates, which is connected with that of postal facilities. There are honorable members who can work themselves into a state of fine frenzy over some imaginary difficulty or disability which they think is likely to he placed’ upon the dwellers in our towns and cities with regard to the price to be charged for telephone communication. I would ask those honorable members to give some consideration to the man in the country districts, the primary producer. Consider the conditions under which these people are living. If, as the representative of the Robertson electorate, I make application to the Post and Telegraph Department for telephone communication to be made with some outlying district in my constituency, I find that it is necessary to get a number of reports and estimates as to the amount of business estimated to be done. After some delay, I receive a letter showing the amount of revenue expected to be derived from the proposed telephone line, and proving that the business will not cover the cost of erection and maintenance. It strikes me that if that kind of test were applied to the service in our cities and large towns, it would be much more advantageous to the taxpayers. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will endeavour to liberalize his policy, and especially to liberalize the management of the telephone service, so that it will be more readily available to the primary producers who live in the country districts. A service of this kind would be an inestimable boon to many of them, and far more highly appreciated than it is by the dwellers in the cities. Of course, I cannot attribute blame in this regard to the present Postmaster-General. I would also bring under his notice the fact that in his Department there are hundreds of officers who are being miserably underpaid for the important and onerous duties which they have to discharge. There are men and women in various parts of the Commonwealth who are conducting business which involves the passing through their hands every year of thousands of pounds. I know of one case where the salary attached to the position of the officer amounts to no more than £33. In another case, the salary of a man who has a wife and family to keep, and is living in one of the most outlying parts of the Commonwealth, is only £84 per annum, with an allowance for rent and lighting, which has to be supplied to enable him to do the departmental business. I trust that the Government will take these facts into consideration, and will endeavour to remove the evils which have been handed down to us as a legacy by the so-called Liberal Governments of the past; and that better rates will in future be paid to those persons who work in the outlying parts of the country. The Old-age Pensions Act should be amended so as to provide that when a pensioner, male or female, has to enter a hospital, his or her pension should still continue to be paid. I understand that under the New South Wales Pensions Act this was the case, but when the Federal Act was passed, it was provided that when a pensioner entered a hospital his pension should cease. Hospitals are largely maintained by voluntary subscriptions, and it is generally thought that a patient who cannot pay his way has to suffer some indignity, and is apt to be regarded or treated as a pauper. It is therefore the duty of the Commonwealth, recognising that the aged and infirm are entitled to some consideration in their declining years, to continue that consideration in the days of their sickness, when they become a charge upon institutions which are largely maintained by funds derived from private benevolence. I have received letters asking that this alteration should be made in the Act, from three hospital committees in the Robertson electorate. My predecessor in the representation of the district brought the matter under the notice of one of the Liberal Governments some time ago, but failed to get for his constituents the consideration which he sought. I come now to the question of land value taxation. An attempt has been made to make the public believe that Labour candidates stated in some parts of Australia that we were in favour of taxing only country land. Certainly an effort was made by those who opposed Labour candidates in all parts of the Commonwealth to impress upon the small holder that the Labour party, if given power, would tax him. I was frequently asked, “ Will the Labour party reduce the proposed exemption ?’ ‘ “ Will the Labour party tax only country lands? “ and “ Will the Labour party tax city lands?” My answer was always that the Labour party intended to tax land values exceeding .£5,000, irrespective of location or area, and I am pleased to support the Government proposal, which gives effect to the statement that I then made. We were treated this afternoon by the honorable member for Parramatta to a number of figures bearing upon the result of land value taxation in New Zealand. During the suspension of the sitting this evening I made it my business to look into the New Zealand Y ear-Book for 1909. I found the honorable member’s statement regarding the increase in land values to be borne out, because, in i8~9i, the capital value of land in the Dominion was ^£122,225,029, whereas, in 1908, “ it had risen to £271,516,022. The unimproved value in 1891 was ,£75,832,465, and it had increased in about the same proportion by 1908. The honorable member for Parramatta endeavoured to convey the impression that the enhancement of land values was directly brought about by the imposition of the land value tax, but we must look around to ascertain whether there were, not some other causes for this great appreciation. We find another cause, on page 125 of the Y ear-Book, where it is shown that the population of New Zealand, which was 634,058 in 1891, had risen in 1908 to 960,642. Every one can readily understand that where population increases in such a ratio land values must also increase. The number of freeholders also increased, indicating clearly that there must have been a breaking up of large estates. In 1892 there were in the Dominion 91,501 freeholders, and in 1909 there were 143,243. Of the population which had flowed into New Zealand during the interval to which I have referred, 5,501 arrived from Australia in the year 1908 alone, and in the five years immediately preceding, 26,881 left Australia and settled in the Dominion.
– How much did New Zealand spend in buying land for closer settlement ?
– I do not know. I am putting these figures forward, in answer to the contention of the honorable member for Parramatta, to show that the imposition of land value taxation in New Zealand increased the number of freeholders, considerably attracted population, and converted a bankrupt and povertystricken State into one of the most prosperous of Britain’s Dependencies.
– It was nearly all done by Government purchase.
– Still, a very large amount of money is collected in the Dominion as a result of the imposition of the tax, and the improved conditions which 1 have indicated are largely attributable to the fact that a Government came into office who recognised that under the old system, which facilitated land monopoly, the country was becoming bankrupt, and decided to bring about the breaking up of large estates by taxing land values. In my electorate there are some very large estates. Close by the township of Merriwa there is a large estate belonging to the Bettington family, known as Brindley Park. It consists of 132,000 acres valued variously at from ^£4 to ,£8 per acre. If the Government succeed in carrying their taxation proposals, a handsome cheque will be received from that estate to help to defray the expenses of running this country, or else more people will be permitted to live on and produce wealth from the estate than are there today. Immediately adjoining is a great estate known as the Collaroy,- and belonging to an absentee English company. It comprises 110,000 acres of land valued at from £2 10s. to £fi per acre. But its manager declared on oath in the Land Court that the average quality of the land constituting the estate was such that a block of 450 acres would provide a fair living for any person. It strikes me that if by any means we can bring about the partition of an estate of that character comprising 110,000 acres into 450-acre blocks, it will be a very good thing for the Commonwealth, and particularly for the people who live in the adjacent towns. It must have amused old members of the House, and it was certainly interesting to me to find gentlemen like the honorable members for Ballarat, Parramatta, and Swan, coming forward and pleading for an amendment of the electoral law so that minorities, or rather the constituent parties in the House, may be varied as the possible result of other elections.
– Does the honorable member believe in that form of election?
– I believe in a form of election which allows one man one vote, and gives one vote one value. I hope that no Government will ever place me in a position that I shall have to vote for a man in whose policy I believe, and also give a vote, even, perhaps, of lesser value, to a man whose policy I do not believe in. I would far rather be the only elector supporting a candidate whose views coincided with my own than I would run and cheer with the crowd who succeeded in returning a man with whose views they were not in full accord. It certainly does seem a travesty on political life to have gentlemen who have had the control of the destinies of the Commonwealth since its inauguration coming along now and asking for. an alteration of that sort.
– They moved in that direction before now.
– The honorable member sat quietly and calmly in the Parliament of another State as the representative of thirty or forty electors. In those days he never cared whether the majority of the electors were represented or not. He was glad to sit in his seat there and act as the emperor or the ruler of that important State. At a later date, when he came to be one of the first lieutenants in the Government of the Commonwealth, he did not bother himself about minorities at all.
– It is different now.
– Of course it is, and that is why we are hearing a different tale. Somebody once said that circumstances alter cases. That is remarkably apparent in the speeches of those who to-day occupy the Opposition benches.
– I do not think that 1 referred to that matter at all in my speech.
– I am sure that the right honorable member did. He, together with others, said that he does not believe in the Labour party, and will fight them. I would be very pleased if he and everybody else did fight the supporters of the present Government on political questions. I do not know very much of the political history of Western Australia, but I do know that in New South Wales we did not have very keen contests on political lines. ‘ This afternoon the honorable member for Parramatta spoke of the methods which were used. I think that the party sitting on this side of the chamber have reason to congratulate themselves that they did not sink to the methods which were adopted by some of the prominent members sitting on the Opposition benches. In a political warfare does it concern the electors what class of cottage the Prime Minister lives in?
– It is too small, I can tell the honorable member.
– What political interest is it to the electors to know what class of properties the Minister of Home
Affairs owns, or what sort of house the Attorney-General lives in? The properties I referred to were photographed, and the photographs were circulated round the country by the Fusion party, in order to create bad feeling, to stir up the worst passions which can be found in the human breast. That is not political fighting at all, and I do not approve of it. Then we come to something even more detrimental to our public morality. There was the famous cartoon-
– The honorable member will admit that these things showed that capitalism is not confined to the members on this side of the House.
– A decent house should be the right of every man, not of the capitalist only.
– A decent terrace is not necessary for a man to live in.
– I will admit that the concern of the members of the Labour party, from the highest to the humblest in their ranks, is not a man who has a happy and comfortable home, but the millions who have not, and whom we desire to place in a better position than they occupy.
– That is why I called honorable members opposite a Labour aristocracy.
– It does not matter what the honorable member calls us, because “ he is not supposed to know what he is about.” In any steps which the Government take for bringing about electoral reform, I trust that they will not lose sight of the necessity for preventing the dissemination of such scurrilous literature and cartoons as were circulated broadcast during the recent campaign.
– Would the honorable member mind producing some of the scurrilous cartoons?
– The honorable member has seen them.
– I would like to see them.
– The honorable member has seen the cartoons, which it is generally believed in New South Wales emanated- from his committee.
– Will the honorable member say what cartoon he refers to?
– I refer to a cartoon in which the Labour party were depicted as a donkey upon whom was a barrel, and on which was shown a church dignitary, implying that the Labour party were a donkey, being driven to ruin by the liquor and Roman Catholic interests.
– And the statement that it emanated from my constituency is absolutely incorrect.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to cease these interjections.
Mr.W. Elliot Johnson. - Well, I will get up and make a personal explanation.
– Order !
– I am not pre pared to say that the cartoon emanated from the committee of the honorable member.
– But the honorable member did say so.
– No ; I said that it is generally believed in New South Wales that that was the case.
– Oh, they only wanted to believe it.
– I may mention that in the Dalley electorate there were cards issued, on which was printed in green ink, and with a shamrock in each corner, Cardinal Moran’s advice to the faithful to vote for Howe. Of course, they were not issued with Mr. Howe’s permission. If the Government intend to take any steps to amend our electoral law, I trust thatthey will adopt effective measures to punish persons who in future circulate similar cartoons, which do no political good, but merely tend to stir up undesirable sectarian strife. The honorable member for Capricornia has already referred to the fact that in some instances individuals have been required to settle their accounts with the banks whenever they have made it plain that they were supporters of the Labour movement. While he was speaking, one honorable member upon this side of the chamber made an interjection from which it appeared that he was rather sceptical of the accuracy of that statement. As an officer of the Australian Workers’ Union, I can say that when that organization had funds to its credit in the Australian Joint Stock Bank to the extent of nearly £2,000, it was requested by that institution to remove its account. The bank did not want union funds there. I do not propose to occupy any further time. I merely wish to say that those who to-day complain of the inadequacy of our electoral laws are the very individuals who framed those laws. Honorable members talk about political fights. But in my own electorate, and in other electorates which I visited during the recent campaign, I did not find the Fusionist candidates violently denouncing a Commonwealth note issue, or the principle of land values taxation, or the payment of old-age pensions. They pursued entirely different tactics, and it is that sort of fighting to which I object. We want men with definite political ideas, who will fearlessly put them before the electors. If such men are forthcoming, and if we have single member electorates with adult suffrage, we are more likely to obtain a true reflex of popular opinion than we are if we adopt any new fangled electoral system such as the Hare-Spence system. I hope that we shall adhere to the principle of one adult one vote and one vote one value. I am very glad to have had an opportunity of addressing these few remarks to the House.
– By way of personal explanation, 1 desire to take this opportunity of contradicting the statement of the honorable member for Robertson that either myself or my committee were responsible for the issue of scurrilous leaflets or literature during the recent campaign. No such literature was issued by the Liberal party. I particularly repudiate having been connected in any way with the publication of the cartoon which he described, and which was of a sectarian character. Neither I nor my committee had anything to do with that cartoon, nor did we know anything of it until after it had been circulated. Further, it was not circulated in my district more than it was in other districts. This is a sample of the utterly reckless and mendacious statements circulated during the recent election campaign by my political opponents. I repudiate all knowledge of it, and embrace this opportunity of correcting any misapprehension which may exist in the mind of any honorable member on that score.
– I wish, by way of personal explanation, to say that I did not affirm that the honorable member was responsible for the. circulation of the cartoon in question. But I am informed that the explanation which he has just made has previously been made by him in various parts of New South Wales.
– I think that I am the last of the new members of this House to address myself to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in- Reply. I do not intend to occupy very much time in discussing that motion, because I recognise that the Prime Minister is very anxious to close the debate. In the first place I wish to congratulate the people of the Commonwealth upon having secured to themselves for the first time in its history a truly responsible Government. The writing was on the wall for many months prior to the recent election. Our opponents were entirely to blame for that. It was the action of the Fusion Government throughout Australia, and not merely in this National Parliament, which created such intense feeling at the recent elections in regard to the Labour policy and the way in which people had been deceived upon the fiscal question. Only last year in the Tasmanian Parliament we witnessed one of the most degrading scenes that has ever occurred there, and it occurred on the Fusionist side of the Chamber. From a perusal of the Federal Hansard I learn that a similar scene was enacted here. Is it to be supposed that the people, upon reading their morning newspapers or upon perusing Hansard, were not disgusted when they learned of the state of things politically throughout Australia? It was the mistrust in the hearts of the people which was engendered by the action of politicians who had previously been held in high esteem which caused a revulsion of feeling on the part of the electors and induced them to say, “ We have been deceived. The Labour party cannot do worse, and we will give them a chance.”
– The Labour party did not win by so many votes.
– Yes, it did.
– By how many?
– By a sufficient number to insure us a substantial majority for years to come.
– The Labour party did not win by very many votes in the aggregate.
– The honorable member is now harping upon numbers, and I have no doubt that other honorable members opposite will continue to do the same thing.
An Honorable Member. - What majority did the honorable member get?
– I had a majority of nearly 2,000 votes.
– What majority had the honorable member for Swan ? .
– A majority of 5,000 or 6,000 votes.
– I had a majority of more than 9.000.
– Boasting little fellow !
– Boasting big fellow !
– It must be remembered, too, that I contested a seat outside the electorate which I had previously represented in the Tasmanian Parliament. I went into a new electorate where I was scarcely known. I promised the honorable member for Wilmot that I would be on his track at the next election.
– The honorable member had better resign his seat and settle the matter now.
– If it had not been for the fact that T promised the honorable member’s opponent to let him have a run for the seat, I should have gone to that district.
– I am prepared to contest the-electorate with the honorable member now.
– Our political opponents have, for years past, been trying to induce the people to believe that an awful state of affairs would arise if once a Labour Government secured a majority in either the Federal or the State Parliaments. But what is happening now? We have heard honorable members opposite say that they intend to help us to pass our measures. The honorable member for Parkes has congratulated us upon our platform, or, perhaps, I should say upon our policy.
– The honorable member does not understand the King’s English.
– The honorable member says that he is going to support us, and will do what he can to bring about legislation that will benefit the masses. I had read many of the honorable member’s speeches, and I asked myself, ‘ 1 Can this be the honorable member for Parkes, Mr. Bruce Smith, of whom I have heard so often?” - because what he said the other day was entirely different from what he has been saying in this House for a number of years. Again, there is the honorable member for Ballarat, the Leader of the Opposition. The people of the Commonwealth have at last discovered that they were deceived in that honorable gentleman, whom they held in such high esteem. He is the man who was trusted to give effect to the Protectionist policy of the Commonwealth, who can stand upon a platform, and, with silvery flowing eloquence, captivate his audiences. And what did he do? In a weak moment, fie took the fastest train he could get, met the honorable member for Parramatta in Sydney, threw his arms around that honorable gentleman, and sold this Protectionist country to its Free Trade political enemy.
– Did I “collar” him, or did he “ collar “me?
– WhenI read in the daily newspapers that the present Leader of the Opposition had done this, I recalled some of his previous speeches, and some of those which have been made by the honorable member for Parramatta ; and I asked myself, “Is it possible that these two honorable gentlemen can come together to form a Fusion party?” In thinking the matter over, I could only arrive at one conclusion, and that was that they had done so in order to secure a certain position in appealing to the electors at the late election. They did so, in order that they might bring about certain agreements with the State Premiers, by which the State Governments would come to their assistance, as they did at the Federal elections. The members of the Fusion Government thought that, with the assistance of the State Ministries, in addition to their own efforts, they would be able to sweep the polls. That is why the Fusion was brought about. They were successful in bringing about a direct contest between themselves and the Labour party ; and now that the Labour party has been returned to this Parliament victorious, they ask us to amend the Electoral Act, to suit the Opposition. I, for one, am not prepared to do so; and I hope that other honorable members on this side will also refuse to do so. If honorable members opposite had come back from the country to the position now occupied by the Labour party, they would have said, “ It is the will of the people. They have sent us here because they are tired of your Labour legislation, and believe in our Fusion policy. They do not want any more of your Labourites.” We have this demand for the amendment of the Electoral Act because the Labour party, representing the masses of Australia, have at last been returned to power ; and the Opposition have discovered that, unless there is some alteration in the electoral law, they will never have a chance again. I do not believe that, even by an alteration of the electoral law, honorable members opposite will be able to get into power again.
– The honorable member might give us a crumb of comfort.
– In the past our political opponents, and I describe all sitting on the other side in that way, have gone about telling the people that they would be ruined under a Labour Government. Walking up and down the streets of this glorious city, I have been expecting to see bankers and merchants closing their doors, and packing up their little lot and getting ready to clear out of Australia.
– They are not taking honorable members opposite too seriously.
– But they will do so shortly. A few years ago we had our High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, travelling throughout the Commonwealth, saying all he could against Labour members, telling the people that they should have nothing to do with them, because they were confiscators, robbers, and I do not know what else. Now that he is High Commissioner of the Commonwealth, and is residing in London, we find him telling the people of England that Australia is quite safe in the hands of a Labour Government, that they are a decent lot, and that they are men with brains. Why this change of view ?
– The honorable member had better go and ask Sir George Reid.
– As the right honorable member for Swan has interjected in that way, I should like to say before I resume my seat, that on reading the London Times I found that Sir George Reid, at one of the functions he attended - this was prior to the elections - said that the Fusion party in the Commonwealth were in Parliament to preserve the rights of the States, and that the Labour party were after Unification. I take it that as High Commissioner of the Commonwealth, representing the Government and people of Australia, Sir George Reid should not be a political partisan, and should not give expression to such views.
– I think the honorable member must be misrepresenting him.
– He has no right to say that the Labour party is going in for Unification, because tint is not on the Labour platform.
– When did he say this - since he has been in London ?
– Yes; I can show the honorable gentleman the statement in the London Times.
– I think the honorable member cannot show it in the exact language he has used.
Mr.JENSEN. - As a citizen of the Commonwealth, I want to protest against the High Commissioner entering upon party politics in that way. It is very unbecoming of him, and he ought to know better. I was saying that I have not heard that any of our bankers, merchants, or landowners are selling up, in order to leave the country. Yet that is what our opponents from every platform told the people would happen. Our opponents have tried to instil such statements into the minds of the electors, with a view to damaging the Labour party. As I said on the hustings, I believe in making the large landholder pay in the same proportion as the small land-holder ; but that has not happened in the past. Tasmania has what is called a land tax, but is really a property tax. The greater part of the £60,000 per annum received from it Ls paid by holders of blocks ranging from (- acre to 5 acres. It is therefore a tax upon industry and thrift, the large landed proprietors practically going scot-free. The States generally have neglected to impose land taxation, although it would have benefited their people. No doubt on many occasions proposals for land taxation have been dropped by the Upper Houses, which represent property, but not many attempts have been made to pass such legislation. The Labour members and the Labour leagues have discovered that the bursting up of the large estates is essential to the welfare of the Commonwealth, and that it can be done only by such a system of taxation as we propose. Furthermore, the proceeds from the tax will help us to build an Australian navy. The following figures will show how the land of the Commonwealth is held : -
I am sorry that most of the land of the Commonwealth is still under lease, and, as Crown property, cannot be taxed. Most of these leases have twenty, thirty, and forty years to run. In some cases the State Governments have the right to resume portions at will, not exceeding one-eighth, I believe.
– The whole of any leasehold can be resumed on payment of compensation.
– It behoves the Governments of the States to see that the land of Australia is not locked up much longer. . They should insist on a fair rental for land under lease. At present many acres are held on a peppercorn rent. Railways which do not pay have been taken through leasehold land, and the poor of the community has to find interest on the capital cost. The railways of the Commonwealth have cost £143,000,000, 15,000 miles of line having cost, on the average, about £9,500 a mile. In parts of the back country lines run for 20 or 30 miles through one man’s land.
The poor should not be taxed through the Customs to pay for railway communication to enable the rich land-holders to send their live stock and wool to market, and, at the same time, have to provide for the defence of Australia. The land monopolists, who own this country and starve the community, should pay for the defence of their properties. Why should the people in the cities, the poorest of the poor, build railways for them, and protect their lands with rifles if need be? In support of what I said just now about the utterances of the High Commissioner, let me quote from a copy of the London Times which has been handed to me - “ With respect to unification or Federation,” Sir George said, “ the Australian Labour party seem, so far as I can judge, to be moving towards unification. The Fusion party seems to be anxious to preserve the independent functions of the different States.”
He had no authority for saying that. Thousands of members of our leagues do not believe in unification, and it is not on our programme. Until it has become a part of our platform Sir George Reid will have no right to make such a statement.
– The honorable member ought to have read the whole of the report while he was about it. It is veryshort.
– I will read the whole of it-
The Australian Labour party seems, so far as I can judge, to be moving towards unification. The Fusion party seems to be anxious to preserve the independent functions of the different States. There is no doubt whatever that in the course of time the States will hand over one power after another to the Commonwealth; but that process will not, I think, reach the stage of unification within any period of time that I can calculate upon.
No unbiased person can deny that that is a statement that the Australian Labour party is going in for unification.
– So far as Sir George Reid could judge, that was his opinion. Surely he has a right to express his opinion?
– But not to tell lies.
– The Commonwealth has an area of 1,903,000,000 acres of land. We have nearly 3,000,000 square miles of country, yet, although we have had responsible government for the last fifty or sixty years or more, only 9,892,393 acres of that immense area is under cultivation, or, in other words, about 21 acres -to every 1,000 of the population.
– There are so many people in the towns.
– All the more shame to our past legislation. Would not poor people in the” towns prefer to hold 200, 300, or 400 acres of land on which they could support’ their families, instead of having to wander about our cities and towns begging for work, and having to go wanting half the time? These figures prove positively that past legislation has not met the requirements of the people. The fact that the area under cultivation is equal only to 2% acres per 1,000 of the population is a disgrace, having regard to the rich agricultural lands of which we boast. Only
I acre of land out of every 100 acres in the Commonwealth is under cultivation. If the proportion were 1.0 acres to the ICC acres, what a wonderful Commonwealth we should have. Such a change will never be brought about except by the Labour party. Our railways at present run through large estates, and people coming to the Common wealth cannot take up an inch of land near a railway line. In Tasmania intending settlers have to go up the hillsides or into the valleys, where there is no communication of any kind, and the position is the same on the mainland. Unless we are prepared to pay the capitalists of Australia more than their land is assessed at, we cannot obtain land for settlement close to a railway.
– We will give the honorable member 160 acres for nothing in Western Australia if he will go over there.
– The honorable member should go and bury himself there”.
– I should like to bury the honorable member.
– My -post-mortem is not for the honorable member.
– Let me quote, by way of example, what has been done as the result of closer settlement in one small district in Tasmania. I refer to the Deloraine district, 30 miles from Launceston, on the way to Burnie. There we have a railway line, and, although the average settler holds only about 200 acres of land, or even less, that is the only portion of Tasmania outside the orchard districts dow-n south that can pay interest on the money borrowed to build its railway. It is the most flourishing district in Tasmania, and its flourishing condition is due to closer settlement.
– The quality of the land makes the closer settlement possible.
– There are many other parts of Tasmania where there is equally good land, but it is locked up.
– Not equally good land.
– Yes. In Victoria there are hundreds of thousands of acres at present used only as sheep walks which could be put under the plough. The position is the same in Tasmania. The industrious people of the Deloraine district took up land there, thirty or forty years ago, at, say, £1 per acre, and had to walk into forests of trees 150 feet high, averaging 200 to the acre. It has taken each of them a lifetime to clear 30 or 40 acres of it. The unimproved value of the land when they took it up was £1 per acre, but what is the position now? These people have hewn out homes for themselves. The walls of their first homes were built of slabs, and bark was used for roofing purposes. They have lived under such conditions for many years. In many cases, no doubt, the wives of these men assisted them to clear their land, and their children, instead of going to school, joined in the work, with the result that, whereas its unimproved value thirty or forty years ago was £i per acre, it is valued at £20, £25, and £30 per acre on the assessment roll. Thus those who have tried to make a living for themselves in Tasmania have been penalized by past Governments. They are taxed today, and have to pay the larger portion of the land tax. The large land proprietors hold equally good land, which they acquired under very different conditions. In the year 1837 the pick of the country- - rich flat lands that had not to be cleared - was sold at 5s. per acre. That land today is the pick of Tasmania, yet it is on the assessment roll at £2 per acre, whereas the small landed proprietor has to pay the land tax on a valuation of £20 to £30 per acre. These small land-holders have not only made their own little railway line a paying concern, but have had to put their hands into their pockets and bear a proportion of the cost of railways in the State that are not paying. They have to pay for the drones in the country, and the position is the same throughout Australia. Who is helping to pay the interest on our railways, which have cost £143,000,000? Every person in the community, irrespective of whether or not he travels upon them, has to do so. Still the land through which those railways run is locked up. I ask the opponents of the Labour party whether it is possible to obtain any land from the Government in the vicinity of a railway line in Australia. There is a dead silence.
– Yes, it is possible.
– I know of land in Queensland offering at from 30s. to £2 per acre, through which a railway runs, and close to butter factories.
– D - Does the honorable member know of any in Tasmania?
– In Tasmania one English company owns one-sixtieth of the State, which was given to them under Royal Charter by the Imperial authorities. A large portion of the land held by the company is the richest in the State, and yet to-day it appears on the assessment roll at an average of 6s. 6d. per acre. At the same time, if it is desired to buy an acre of land from the company, the purchaser has to pay £16 for it. When the question of the assessment comes before the Court of Appeal, the company is so rich that it gets the services of the best barrister to assist in keeping down the assessment.
– Do not the large landowners pay the bulk of the land tax ?
– No, the small holders do. I might instance one property on the River Tamar, that I bought from the National Bank of Tasmania nine years ago. That property appeared on the assessment roll at 10s. per acre, but when I went tosee about it, I was told, after a good deal of consideration, that, as a favour, I could have it at £10 an acre. It takes two acresof this company’s land to return the Government a halfpenny, and yet they ask purchasers such a price.
– Who assesses the land inTasmania ?
– Those who have as’sessed the land in the past are the justicesof the peace, who are generally large landed proprietors.
– How many acres did’ the honorable member buy?-
– Only forty. To clear the land cost me £20 per acre, and I then planted it with fruit trees. I have sent a certain amount of fruit to London, but the land has not 3’et paid working expenses, and though it appeared on the assessment roll nine years ago at 10s. per acre, I have topay taxation on an assessment of £70- per acre while the land over the fence, which is equally as good, is still assessed at 10s.
– The Tasmanian tax is a. property tax..
– I agree with the honorable member, it is a tax which has been kept on the statute-book by the House of Assembly, the Legislative Council, and the Fusion Government, and really taxes thrift and industry. It does not tax the large landed proprietor, because his land is just as it was the day he took possession. If he put up a fence years ago it is now covered with moss - there are no improvements at all. Tasmania will welcome this Commonwealth land tax, because the bulk of the land in Tasmania is held in large holdings, and I take it that the same conditions prevail throughout the Commonwealth.
– Yes ; eight-tenths of the alienated land of Australia is in holdings of 5,000 acres and upwards ; and that is how the country is being ruined. We have, roughly, a population of 4,250,000, and the population of the six capital cities is 36 per cent, of the whole - the highest percentage of city population in the world. This leaves us about one person for every square mile of country.
– A little more.
– Very little more, but my figure is good enough. Can we wonder that in the past Australia has had to borrow, borrow, borrow? What have we been borrowing for? We have been borrowing to enrich the rich at the expense of the poor.
– And to save taxation.
– Yes. Although I own a fair amount of land, I consider that the man who has over ,£5,000 worth can well afford to pay a’ substantial tax for the defence and upkeep of his country, thanking God that he is able to pay it. In Tasmania, in 1837, when the first settlement took place, can we suppose for a moment that those who purchased at 5s. an acre took the worst land? They took the best they could get. I know of Tasmanian estates on which the holders have done very little, and exercise so little supervision that they do not know what cattle they have, and in some cases have impounded their own in mistake. The land is left to go almost wild, and what were beautiful areas many years ago are now covered with gorse. Land that was under the plough in the old days when the gold-fields of Ballarat and Bendigo were in full swing, has rarely seen a plough since those times. At that time the owners were getting enormous prices for their wheat and oats, which were sold on the gold-fields. But they since discovered that they could earn a considerable revenue by allowing these rich lands to be used as sheep-walks. Consider the unfair system of taxation prevailing in this Commonwealth. If a man buys a quarter of an acre of land in the city* or a few acres in the country, or a small farm, up goes his assessment. If, however, he has a large estate, he is likely to make no improvements in comparison with those made by a man with a small property, and his assessment is not increased. What is worse, I am given to understand that throughout the Commonwealth there is a system of preferential railway rates for the benefit of the large landed proprietors. That should not be. I admit that it is the concern of the States ; but how can any one blame the people for rising at the last election and saying: “We will have no more of this kind of government ; we have been deceived long enough; we will give the Labour party a chance, and see whether we cannot secure better conditions with their aid.” With respect to defence, I remind the House that in July, 1908, at the Brisbane Labour Conference, it was decided that the time had come for the establishment of an Australian Navy. No soonedid that plank appear in the Labour platform than the late Prime Minister, now Leader of the Opposition, plucked up courage to bring the question before Parliament. With the assistance of the Labour members, a Bill was passed practically establishing an Australian Navy. The fact that this item of policy was agreed on at the Brisbane Conference shows that the Labour party recognise the necessity oi! providing adequately for the defence of the country. Surely to goodness, if the Labour party are game enough to adopt items of policy of that large character when out of office, and surely if the supporters of the Labour party are prepared to find the flesh and blood and bone and sinew to man our army and navy, it is time that this party took in hand the direction of the affairs of the country. The Labour party also adopted the policy of. establishing a compulsory citizen Defence. Force; whereupon the Leader of the Opposition again plucked up courage to bring the question before Parliament. Let it be remembered that the very people who, in case of need, will have to shed their blood in defence of Australia, do not own an inch of land in it. Many of them are paying rent to the large blood-sucking financial institutions. Thousands have no stake whatever in the Commonwealth, except through their wives and children. Those who own the greater part of the land should be taxed to pay for the defence of the country. The proposed land tax is a double-barrelled gun. It will have a tendency to burst up the large estates, and also to pay for the defence of the Commonwealth. I certainly should strongly object to any money derived from taxing the poor through the Customs being used for the purposes of defence, while we have rich lands that can afford to bear this burden. There are many other subjects upon which I could talk, but I propose to reserve my remarks upon them until another occasion. I know that the Prime Minister desires that the debate shall close to-night, and in order that my chief may rest peacefully I shall resume my seat.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– At a suitable opportunity the Address which has been adopted will be presented to His Excellency the Governor- General .
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday in each week, until otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business; and that on each Thursday until half-past Six o’clock, until otherwise ordered, General business shall take precedence of Government business.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That on Thursday in each week, until other wise ordered, General business shall be called on in the following order, viz. : -
On one Thursday -
Orders of the Day.
On the alternate Thursday -
Orders of the Day.
I n Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s Message) :
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the several States.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the resolution be adopted.
– I understand that this is the Bill which raises the whole financial question as between the Commonwealth and the States, but it seems to me to be unfortunately designated in the resolution as read by the Clerk. I assume, however, that the measure deals with the 25s.per capita to be paid to the States, and affects our future relations with them.
.- I believe that the honorable member for Parkes has raised the question as to whether the provision for paying 25s. per head should not be set out in an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. Of course, if such an agreement is to be included in the Bill, its proper place would be in a schedule to the measure, but if the Bill is introduced in this way we shall be practically precluded from putting a schedule in afterwards, because the schedule might not be in accordance with the order of leave. I think, however, that to put a schedule of the kind into this Bill would be futile. What is now before us is not analogous to the Northern Territory Bill, nor to the Naval Agreement of 1903, because those measures were based on mutual consideration, and would have been binding, whereas, there being no consideration from the States in this case, a schedule to this Bill would be subject to the will of Parliament, and would be capable of alteration by a future Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Fisher, and read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration of Go vernor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Sugar Bounty Act 1905.
– I would strongly urge on the Prime Minister the advisability of adjourning at this stage.
– Let us get something on the notice-paper for to-morrow.
– The matter is sufficiently important for the Prime Minister to make a statement to the House as to the intentions and purposes of the Government.
– Members want to see the Bill as quickly as possible.
– So do I; but I want even more to hear an explanation of what the Government propose to do. There is no special urgency about the matter that I know of ; and, as many honorable members who are keenly interested in the question are absent, and this is the stage at which to discuss the details of the matter
– I should like to hear the honorable member for Darling Downs on that point.
– Does the honorable member want to hear him at 11 o’clock at night? It is not fair to allow the matter to go through this stage in a purely formal manner. It is one of the most important pieces of legislation that will be submitted to us during the session, and its details ought to be ventilated now. I ask the Prime Minister to vouchsafe a little light now.
– Why this frivolous waste of time?
– Is it frivolous? Has the matter been secretly discussed in the caucus? One member of the caucus - the honorable member for Capricornia - is keenly interested in the question ; and has on the notice-paper a proposition for the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate the whole of the relations of the sugar industry with the rest of Australia. Are the Government going to legislate first, and make the inquiry afterwards? That seems a wrong course of procedure altogether.
– -Out-of courtesy to the DeputyLeader of the Opposition, I wish to say that this is not the time for discussion of the kind he indicates to take place. I was most considerate and conciliatory last night when the honorable member wished to speak when the debate on the Address-in-Reply was practically ended. The mere introduction of the Bill will commit honorable members to nothing. It proposes simply to amend the present Act by removing the limitation as to time, and does not affect the Act seriously in any other direction.
– That is a most important matter.
– I do not agree with the honorable member’s arguments. . We must get some business on the notice-paper to go on with.
– Does the honorable member suggest that he has no business on the noticepaper? What about the Bill affecting the whole of the financial relations of the Commonwealth? The Minister is not treating the House with that fairness which lie might show in the circumstances.- I am simply asking for information about the subject. I have already pointed out that an investigation is proposed into the whole industry ; and where is the sense in legislating first and inquiring into the matter afterwards ? I should have thought that- the proper way to proceed would have been to appoint a Royal Commission first, and to legislate afterwards.
– The honorable member is not the boss now.
– May I express my opinion if I am not the boss? The honorable member had better gag me at mice, I think. I hope that my honorable friends will- distinctly understand that I am asking no favour. I am claiming my rights as a member of the House. Of course, it is perfectly open to the caucus to do anything it may choose.
– Why all this venom?
– The honorable member for Cook should stop his threats to gag me unless he is going to’ move the gag. T dr> not care if he does, especially as it is nearly eleven o’clock. We ought to know all about the sugar industry before we proceed to legislate. Let us know what we are to legislate on. At present we are perfectly in the dark as to the ramifications of the industry.
– The honorable member will get all that information in the Bill.
– I very much doubt that. But, if so, where is the need for the Royal Commission suggested by the honorable member for Capricornia ? Before dealing with a Bill of this description we want to know how it will affect the various industries concerned. The millers, the workers, and the growers are all. keenly interested. I venture to say that it is about time the consumers of sugar knew something about the industry. They are paying well at present for the preservation of this white Australia. Here is a further proposal to indefinitely extend the amount which they must pay. Perhaps the Prime Minister will tell us why he proposes to put this Bill through first and to appoint a Royal Commission afterwards.
Question resolved in the affirmative. -
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Fishes and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an’ Act to amend the Excise Tariff 1905.
Bill presented by Mr. Fisher and read .’ a first time,
Moi ion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to repeal the Naval Loan Act 1909.
Bill presented by Mr. F rs her and read a first time.
Order of Business - Weather Charts - The M ace.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to intimate that the first Government business to-morrow will be the Surplus Revenue Bill involving the financial relations of the States and the Commonwealth.
– I shall be glad if the Prime Minister will state the order in which he proposes to take the Government Bills. If for some reason or other it should become necessary to adjourn the debate on the Surplus Revenue Bill, in what order does he propose to take the other measures?
.- I wish to ask a question with reference to the very valuable weather charts in the form of maps which are issued by the Meteorological Department. I desire to know whether the Minister for Home Affairs will cause one of the maps to be framed and placed in some part of the parliamentary buildings for reference by honorable members? As the maps are large and cumbersome it is difficult for honorable members to keep them handy for reference. I suggest that each year a map should be framed and placed in the Library or some other place which is available to the members of all parties.
The question of the honorable member will have my undivided attention to-morrow.
.- Mr. Speaker, I desire to ask you a question. While sitting here this evening I noticed that every time you moved the mace moved too. I should like to know what would happen if it happened to be left on the table while the Chairman of Committees was in the Chair; would the business be illegally done or not?
– Order !
– In reply to the honorable member for Darling Downs,I beg to say that the order of business will be the Surplus Revenue Bill, the Naval Loan Repeal Bill, the Excise Tariff Bill, the Sugar Bounty Bill, Immigration, and so on. I shall take care not to pass from one measure to another except for a good and sufficient reason, and after giving notice to the Leader of the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.55p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 July 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19100713_reps_4_55/>.