4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– It is stated in the Argus that the Minister of Trade and Customs has sent a commission to Lithgow to inquire into the conditions surrounding the employment of labour in the ironworks, and that on receipt of its report he proposes to take action. The journal attributes this statement to the honorable member -
It may be taken for granted that the Government would not restrict payment of the bounties unless its hand was forced by its supporters.
Is that statement correct? Does the Minister need the compulsion of party to see that the men at Lithgow are paid decent wages under an Act which specially provides that such wages shall be paid’ to them.
– I have not seen the paragraph referred to, but during the discussion on the Supply Bill last Tuesday I informed the honorable memberrepresenting the district what had been done regarding the commission. As to being compelled to make Mr. Hoskins pay proper wages to his employes before granting the bounty, it is provided by the Act that such wages must be paid before the bounty can be given. I shall be informed by those whom I have sent to Lithgow whether such wages are or are not being paid.
– May I take it that the Minister does not know whether the Act is being complied with in respect to wages and conditions of labour?
– I am endeavouring to verify the statements made by the employer in that regard.
– Has the honorable member already no information apart from the statements of the proprietor?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of the question.
– Before the bounties were paid to Mr. Hoskins last year, did the Minister make himself acquainted with the rates of wages and conditions surrounding employment at Lithgow, and did he take care that the provisions of the Act were being complied with ?
– Then why the present inquiry ?
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs lay on the table all the papers relating to the inquiry into the conduct of and subsequent dismissal from the service of Hugh Smith and Ernest Bryant?
– It is not advisable to lay the papers on the table of the House, but I shall make them accessible to the honorable member in the library so far as they are available, though there is a trial now pending between these gentlemen and a newspaper in which some of them may be used.
– Are negotiations in progress with a view to the subsidizing of a mail service between Australia and Canada in substitution of the Vancouver mail service subsidy which has been discontinued ?
– Negotiations for a mail service with Canada and the United States, with Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne as ports of call, are still under consideration.
– Did the Prime Minister say at the Imperial Conference that this Government would not contribute to a Vancouver service, because the producers of Australia objected to it on the ground that the New Zealand producers send home similar goods?
– I uttered no such words, though I may have said that to continue the old arrangement under present conditions would be to subsidize New Zealand goods against our own products.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he is able to inform the House when, the Sydney wireless station will be completed and ready for use?
– The exact date cannot be given, but the latest report in thematter, dated 5th instant, stated that it was expected the apparatus would be ready for trial within five weeks from that date.
Debate resumed from 7th September (vide page 205), on motion by Mr.
That the Address-in-Reply toHis Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
– I did not intend until late last evening to speak to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, because I think that this procedure might well have been abolished when the Speaker was ordering the removal of the mace, but I have been forced to depart from my intention by what has been said by members of the Opposition. The speech of their Leader, especially the first part of it, will long linger in my mind. It was hard to know whether he was directly charging the Ministerial supporters with disloyalty, but he certainly seemed desirous of putting the acid on us to ascertain how far we are loyal. If He and the honorable member for North Sydney were allowed to give marks for loyalty, they would give most to those who go lowest on their knees and grovel to royalty. As one who claims to be an Australian first, I wish to put in a word for this country. Had a stranger listened to some of the speeches of the Opposition, he might have thought that he was not in an Australian Parliament. I am proud to be an Australian, and think this country second to no other in the world. I congratulate the Ministry on being the first to take a. practical step, for, the defence of the land of which we are so proud, which is sometimes forgotten by members of the Opposition.
– We are proud of the honorable member for having put out Tilley, Brown.
– No, it was found at last night’s meeting that the clothes of which ihe honorable member for Maranoa spoke yesterday would not fit, and the men concerned have been given six months in which to try to stretch them a little. The sentiments of loyalty to which expression has been given by several honorable members opposite remind me very much of the sentiments which they uttered in connexion with their proposal to borrow ^3.000,000 with which to provide for the purchase of a Dreadnought as a gift to the Mother Country - a proposal which was very politely, but firmly, turned down by the British Government. Indeed, I am inclined to think that British statesmen do not appreciate all the grovelling that goes on, and in this connexion I propose for a minute to remind honorable members of what has happened in the Old Country. Some people, by the way, speak of England as the “ Home Country,” but I recognise no land, save Australia, as the “ Home Country.”
– Give those of us who come from the Old Country a chance.
– I do; but we must not forget that we are an Australian Parliament, and should put Australia first.
– But we cannot forget the place that gave us birth. °
-I make no such suggestion. I claim to be as loyal as any one else. The only difference between my attitude and that of some honorable members opposite is that, unlike them, I do not care to be always parading my loyalty. Let us consider for a moment what has been said by some of our greatest English statesmen. Disraeli, for instance, said that “ these wretched colonies “ were a “millstone round the neck of the Old Country.” I mention this statement merely to show that British statesmen in the past, as well as those of the present day, have not appreciated the spirit of pandering to them, and what I might term “ the kowtowing “ to Royalty that goes on. These references lead me to the paragraph in His Excellency’s Speech regarding the question of Australian defence. The Government, in my opinion, have taken a practical step, and one that will be appreciated by the people of Australia, in making the defence of the Commonwealth the first consideration. An attempt has been made by a section of trie” press to belittle the prospective work of the session. For my own part, I should be well satisfied - indeed I think that any Government ought to be - if only one of the measures mentioned in the Speech were passed. I refer to the Bill to provide for a Commonwealth Bank, the passing of which would be enough to justify the existence of this or any other party. Such a measure will be more keenly appreciated by the people of Australia than any other Act passed by the Commonwealth Parliament.
– What is the exact proposal ?
– The honorable member will know when the Bill is introduced. I look forward with great interest to the establishment of this National Bank, because I realize that it will afford greater security to the people of the country than , can be, or ever has been, afforded them by our private banking institutions. The Commonwealth Bank, having at its back the resources of Australia and behind it the security of the nation, will never place its depositors in the position so many occupied in the nineties, when private banking companies failed and brought destitution and ruin to thousands. Another advantage which the National Bank will afford is that it will provide farmers and struggling settlers with cheap money at lower rates of interest than those which have been extorted from them by private institutions. There are many other noteworthy features associated with the proposal, and one which I suppose^ the honorable member for Richmond will appreciate, is that those employed in the Commonwealth Bank will get a little more than have the men who have been sweated in the past by banking institutions, whose huge profits have been going into the pockets of a few private individuals. Of course, it will be prophesied by the Opposition that dire destitution and financial ruin will follow the establishment of this bank. We had the same prophesy in connexion with the introduction of the Bill to provide for a Commonwealth note issue. We were told then that the passing of that measure would result in financial chaos.
– And that no one would take our notes.
– Yet the fact is that we have at present in circulation notes representing nearly ^9,200,000. This throws an interesting side-light on the workings of private banking institutions. Prior t:o the Commonwealth note issue they never paid taxation on more than ^4,000,000 of notes, and seeing that the public are now employing notes representing more than £9,000,000-
– The honorable member is wrong. The public are not using more than £4,000,000 of notes. The rest are held bv the banks.
– Application has been made for notes representing £9,180,000.
– But they are not all in circulation.
– Seeing that employment is being found for notes representing £9,180,000, either the private banking institutions must have been evading the tax of 2 per cent, which they ought to have paid on an extra £5,000,000, or their notes were so unpopular that the public did not want them. I come now 10 the reference in the Speech to the land tax. No apology has yet been offered by the honorable member for Parramatta, who said, when the Land Tax Bill was before this House last session, that it would bring in a revenue of ,£3,000,000. A similar statement was made by the honorable member for Fawkner and other members of the Opposition.
– I. said that the tax would yield £2,500,000.
– As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister’s estimate of about £1,000,000 has not been largely exceeded, yet those who predicted the tax would yield something like £3,000,000 per annum have not apologized for their mistake, nor have they complimented the Prime Minister on the approximate accuracy of his forecast. The statement in the Speech that -
The progressive tax on land values is having a satisfactory effect on land settlement has been received with sneers by the Opposition, although they must be as fully aware as I am of the fact that the tax has had the effect of splitting up big estates in all the States. Some honorable members have denied that it has had that effect, and if they desire some concrete examples I am prepared to furnish them. The honorable member for Wilmot has in his own little State a very striking example of the effect of the tax in this respect.
– I am not aware of that.
– Then I would remind the honorable member that a Melbourne syndicate has recently purchased for subdivision purposes all the lands, totalling 330,000 acres, held by the Van Diemen’s Land Company. I propose to read as something in the nature of a testimonial to the Federal land tax a letter sent out from London by those at the head of the company stating the reasons why they were forced to dispose of this land. The company was holding the 330,000 acres practically out of use.
– They were not.
– Here is an extract from the letter to which I referred -
We much regret the land taxation recently brought in by the Labour party in the Commonwealth Parliament. If the Act is ruled constitutional it is certainly going to have a serious effect upon our revenue, as the extra taxation would amount to about ,£10,000 per annum. When this legislation was first introduced w( saw at once that if it became law it would be necessary to arrange for a more rapid development of our estates.
That was the very object we had in view in passing the Federal land tax, and I should like to see this letter hung on the walls of the chamber as a striking testimony to the efficacy of the Federal land tax as a means of bursting up big estates. In my own electorate it has led to the subdivision of two or three estates; whilst several large estates in the electorate of Corangamite - in the Western District of Victoria - - have also been subdivided recently. The statements invariably made by those offering these subdivisions was that their action was due to the Federal land tax. The directors of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, for instance, said that it had forced them to arrange for a more rapid development of their estates. There has been no development of these big estates in the past, and it is very consoling to find that the tax is having this effect.
– The honorable member knows that many of the subdivisions now going on do not mean closer settlement. They are being made only to evade the tax, estates being cut up amongst the families of the owners.
– Even that is a very good thing. I should like to see every man in this country possessing as much land as he can use. I should not care if a man owned 20,000 acres, as long as he was using it properly ; and I do not think such an area is too large to be held by man who has four or five sons to provid for. I am, however, against the dog-in the-manger policy of many men who, having no families, possess large estates which they put to no real use. I come now to another matter referred to by several members of the Opposition, and that is the question of the referenda. The Leader of the Opposition was more eloquent when rejoicingover the result of the last referenda than he was in dealing with any other matter. I fail to understand, however, how he could claim it as a victory for his party, since in opening the campaign at Ballarat, on behalf of the Opposition, he said -
Ladies and Gentlemen. - You all realize that the issue before us to-night is something which should be considered quite independently of the Ministry or the Opposition, or quite apart from party politics and party feeling.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member for Richmond says “ Hear, hear,” but I ask him how the Leader of the Opposition, in view of this statement, can reasonably claim the result of the referenda as a victory for the Opposition. He said -
No Ministry is pleading for a continuance of power. No Opposition is seeking to eject them. This question stands on its own merits, apart from all other considerations, and, as far as I am concerned, there will be no introduction of any other matter not immediately pertinent to the issue.
The honorable member, therefore, laid it down from the very outset that the question was apart from party politics and from party feeling, and yet from his place in the House he now claims that he had a majority of a quarter of a million of the people of the country at his back. He knows perfectly well that the majority of members on this side of the House - and so far as I know, it is so - said the question was not a party one - personally I said so - and that it should be fought on nonparty lines. How, then, can honorable members opposite claim the result as a victory and a triumph for them ?
– Why, then, are the Labour party hunting Holman?
– Who is hunting him ? If what the honorable member suggests is correct, it is all the less reason why the Opposition should claim the result as a victory for their side, because they were assisted by so many members of the Labour party. They would not have had the quarter of a million majority of supporters that they boast about but for gentlemen like Mr. Holman. I was going to call Mr. Holman something else, but I will not. I have no appreciation for a man, whether he is on this side of the House or the other, if he is always to be found sitting on a rail and is prepared to turn a somersault to every political wind that blows. Perhaps it was a want of confidence in their own side that made honorable members opposite say that the issue was to be fought on non-party lines. Perhaps it was that they did not want their party to be associated too closely with the side of the question that they were advocating. But the most surprising utterance that came from the Leader of the Opposition was that there were more trusts at the back of the Labour party in connexion with the referenda than there were at the back of his party. Such a statement is scarcely worth discussing. We can just imagine the support given to the Labour party by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which, since the referenda, has put the price of sugar up by a ton to recoup itself for the money which it spent in that campaign. How it must smile at such utterances by the Leader of the Opposition ! Honorable members opposite say they did not see any of the money that was going about in the referenda campaign. If they had come to my electorate they would have seen over a dozen organizers, some of them receiving over£7 a week and expenses, to distribute literature and organize against the referenda. Where do they think all that money came from? Then the tales that were told ! As to monopolies, those who were against the referenda had the hugest monopoly I ever saw - a monopoly of misrepresentation. In my electorate I had to fight single-handed against from seventeen to twenty organizers, who in someplaces conducted a house-to-house canvass; and actually told the people that I was against the referenda. One could write a book about the things that were done.
– That accounted for the big majority against the Government’s proposals.
– Honorable members opposite are quite entitled to the credit of any victory which they get under such discreditable circumstances. They are welcome to all the honour and glory they can extract from it. But the next time the questions are submitted they will have to fight under very different conditions.
– Do not worry. There will not be any next time.
– I hope that we shall get all these powers before there is any necessity to ask the people for them again. Perhaps the State righters have already learned the error of their ways, and will be prepared to hand these powers over to the Commonwealth. In several towns the organizers on the other side told the shopkeepers, especially the ladies, whom they considered to be the most innocent, that if the referenda were carried they would lose their little lolly shops, and that all the goods that were worth anything would be taken away from them and nationalized, while they would be left with only the refuse that nobody would look at. Unfortunately, there are in country districts any number of people who are ready to listen to such fantastic tales. At one meeting in my electorate, and a report of it appeared in the press, one lady showed the small estimate she had of the intelligence of her audience by telling them that if the referenda were carried the Labour party would be able to compel every woman in the Commonwealth to wear harem skirts. If that had been uttered as a mere joke I should not take any notice of it, but it was told in all seriousness, and there were numbers ready to believe it. Even that was not much more ridiculous than the arguments put forward by several honorable members opposite, to the effect that if the Labour party’s proposals were carried, the inclusion of the clause dealing with railway servants would have the effect of causing the State railways to be handed over entirely to Federal control. I have never heard any member of the Opposition seriously attempt to justify any such statement. Can any of them show in what way the power would be given to the Federation to take over the State railways? That clause merely gave the railway servants the right and privilege due to them of having their grievances tried before an Arbitration Court. How that could be distorted by honorable members opposite to mean that the State railways would be handed over to the Commonwealth, I have not yet heard explained. If honorable members opposite can read anything like that into the Bill I shall be pleased to hear of it.
– Did it not, in effect, give the Government power to fix rates on the railways?
– It merely referred to the right of the railway ser vants to appeal to the Arbitration Court. What have honorable members opposite to say now in support of their frequent assertions that there were no monopolies in Australia? They used to tell the people, “ We are free from these things in Australia. It is true they exist in America, but in Australia we need not worry our heads about them.” I hope the people who’ spread that doctrine are enjoying the payment of the extra£3a ton that they are charged on sugar to-day. The housewives of Australia must now thank honorable members opposite for the information that there are no trusts or combines in Australia. When the next referendum is taken the people will have learnt to their cost that there are monopolies here. The time they realize the fact is when it touches their pockets.
I am glad to see that the Government are keeping the question of the Tariff in front of them. It cannot be denied that the Protection enjoyed to-day in Australia has done much for this country. We have only to look at the difference between Sydney to-day and Sydney in the days of Free Trade to find an object lesson in the efficacy of Protection. Personally, I want all the protection I can get for the manufacturers of the country, but as a new Protectionist, and, therefore, a true Protectionist, I want to see more of the profits shared with workers than has been the case in the past. During the referenda campaign we were told that we did not want the new Protection, as the Wages Boards were doing everything necessary. If there was any one feature more striking than another, it was the number of converts made in that campaign to the Wages Board system. I have known State members who consistently voted against the application of the Wages Board system on the floor of the House, yet prepared; when opposing the referendum, to hold up both hands in favour of Wages Boards. One gentleman in particular, the President at that time of the Chamber of Manufactures, said that his advice to the workers of Australia was to “ stick to their glorious Wages Boards.”
– Who was that?
– I think it Was Mr. Hogg. He said, “ My advice to the workers of Australia is this : do not bother about your referendum, do not bother about your new Protection, but stick to your glorious Wages Boards.”
– There is no Wages Board in his industry.
– In his industry that gentleman enjoys so much protection that there are no imports. At any rate, they are so small that they are not recorded in the statistics. He has therefore a complete monopoly. But on looking down the schedule of wages that he pays to his employes, I find that the average wage for the male workers in the industry is£1 7s. 4d. per week, and of the female workers 13s. 4d. per week ! That is the gentleman who tells the workers of Australia to stick to their glorious Wages Boards. If that is all we are to get for the workers out of a Tariff which protects a man right up to the hilt ; if women are to work in industries enjoying such protection for 13s. 4d. per week, it is high time that we turned our attention to the share that the workers are receiving of the profits being made out of Australian industries. I want to see full and ample protection given to the manufacturers of the Commonwealth, but while I recognise that great things have been done under our present Tariff, we must not forget that we should never have the Tariff that we have to-day if it had not been for the Labour members in this House. They agreed to make the Tariff what it is, and therefore they are responsible for the building up of the industries so far as that has been done, but they did so on the promise that the workers were to get a fair and square deal when the protection was given. We cannot ask for much more proof that the present duties are effective than the cry about the scarcity of labour, a subject upon which the honorable member for Echuca waxed eloquent. I do not know whether honorable members opposite are sincere in their utterances about Protection; but if it be true that there is not enough Protection, we would naturally expect to find idle workmen. On the contrary, the honorable member for Echuca spoke about the scarcity of labour ; and I should like to remind honorable members of a little incident during last session. On the motion for adjournment the honorable member read a letter which he had received from some one in his electorate in reference to the repatriated Australians, those chaps who went out to risk their lives in defence of the Empire of which we have heard so much in the last few days, and who, when they came back, could not find work, and were practically ignored by the authorities. The views uttered by the honorable member on that occasion are very dissimilar from those he uttered last night. The honorable member, when he brought that letter under our notice, showed that there were men in his electorate who could not get work. The letter, which was written by a clergyman, is as follows : -
It is now a long time since the Government dumped down some twenty-seven returned Australians from South Africa here. They were informed by some one in the office of the Closer Settlement Board that work would be waiting for them on their arrival in Rushworth. The whole thing was a sad bungle, both for the men and the public of this town, on whose charity they were cast. A public subscription was made, but this was insufficient to provide for them until the Government (State) agreed to give them a fortnight’s work at Waranga Basin. Three gentlemen here had, in addition to what they did before, to guarantee six or seven publicans the cost of the keep of most of these men for a time, feeling that when the authorities were made aware of their action they would reimburse us for this outlay - indeed, possibly return the public subscription in full, seeing that the fault lay solely with the authorities, who sent the men here.
– There is nothing wrong with that.
– It is ac knowledged that there were a number of men going about the Echuca electorate looking for work ; and yet the honorable member last night told us that there is a scarcity of labour.
– Does the honorable member think that there is enough labour in Australia ?
– I certainly would not say there was not enough labour simply because a newspaper happened to express that opinion.
– I did not ask that question.
– There is always a section in every community who like to see a surplus in order that they may obtain plenty of good and cheap labour ; that, I think, is the motive behind thepresent so-called unrest.
– At any rate, there is less surplus labour since the Labour Government came into office.
– On the testimony of honorable members opposite a scarcity of labour is the best tribute to the efficacy of the present Administration. If I have an opportunity on a revision of the Tariff, I shall vote for the highest possible duties on all articles manufactured in Australia; but, as a new Protectionist, I desire to see the workers get their share. Any one who says that, with these sentiments, I am not a true Protectionist, is handling the truth a little more roughly than I should care to handle a football. Paragraph 11 in His Excellency’s Speech is one which I cannot pass over, although I do not wish to prolong my remarks. That paragraph is as follows: -
Personally, I do not care how long the works are delayed; and I think I express the views of the majority when I say that in travelling about the country we find no very strong desire for the completion of the Federal Capital.
– That is what the honorable member for Echuca said.
– I am glad to find the honorable member for Echuca adopting a national view. On the invitation of the Minister of Home Affairs I had the privilege and pleasure, a few weeks ago, of visiting the Federal Capital Site; and, while I am prepared to admit that that site is a much better one than I had conceived, that is not the consideration which weighs with me. I do not care where the capital may be ; but while the proposed site is better than I had thought - that does not commit me to very muchthere are a great many others in Australia infinitely better. However that may be, I find no outcry or strong feeling expressed at the present time, speaking generally for the whole of Australia, in regard to the establishment of the Federal Capital.
– It is the one burning question in Queensland - to delay the completion of the Capital !
Mr. PARKER MOLONEY. Queenslanders are “ nationalists “ every time ! I do not think that any member in the House has any desire to hasten the completion of the Capital.
– In my opinion we would do very well to change from Melbourne to Sydney, and back again, for, perhaps, the next quarter of a century. The New
South Wales members, if they are not comfortable here, may, for aught I care, have the Capital removed to Port Jackson; but I maintain that there is no strong desire evinced by the people of Australia for the immediate establishment of the Capital.
– It would be much more costly to go to Sydney than to a new site.
– What I feel is that there are other works on which the money could be spent more profitably. I have every sympathy with the men and women who are struggling in the outback country ; and I have devoted a good deal of my time to securing for these people the telephone, telegraph, and postal facilities they ought to have; indeed, I am afraid I am regarded as a pest in the Postal Department. If the money proposed to be expended on the Federal Capital were devoted to such works as I have suggested, much more kudos would be gained by this or any other Government.
– That is true “ nationalism “ !
– It is a national question. In my opinion all these facilities of communication, whether railway, telegraphic, or postal, should precede settlement, though there are those who hold that no works of the kind should be carried out until settlement is accomplished. These people in the backblocks are the mainstay of the country, and better facilities, such as I have mentioned, would tend to true development. I know that if I had control of the expenditure of the money proposed to be spent on the Capital, I would link up the whole of my electorate.
– And thus make the honorable member’s election sure !
– It would be a much greater national work than that of the Federal Capital. I shall detain the House no longer. I felt impelled to say these few words ; and I hope that the good example already set on both sides of short speeches will be followed, so that we may proceed to the business of the country as speedily as possible. ,
– I shall endeavour to follow the advice of other honorable members as to short speeches. The concluding observations of the honorable member for Indi will, I think, meet with general approval. For many years I Have protested against the system followed, not only by this, but preceding Governments, in extending telegraph and telephone lines into the back country. There is what I might almost call a barbarous plan of demanding from a handful of, perhaps, the poorest people, who desire a telephone, a substantial guarantee, and, in many instances, an undertaking that they will form a “ workingbee “ to provide and erect the necessary poles. It is cruel to ask these poor people to do what residents in the more populous and wealthier districts are not called upon to perform. As I have said, this plan is not peculiar to the present Government, because for years the poorest portions of the community have been penalized in this regard. There is another system which cannot be defended on the score of common sense, fair play, or national policy. Penny postage hasbeen established over Australia and the world generally, and a uniform system, to a certain extent, has been adopted in regard to the telegraph, but with the telephones under the zone system the further a person lives from the capital or the centre, the more costly this convenience becomes. Some of the examples in this connexion are positively absurd. For instance, if a person telephones from the furthest point A to B, and then disconnects, and has the message repeated on to C, there is a distinct saving on the cost of telephoning direct, although additional work and expense is entailed on the Department. That is an absurdity of the zone system which I am surprised that the Department should have permitted to grow up.
– I understand that the arrangement has been altered.
– It was in existence a few weeks ago. Another complaint against the Postal Department is this : While the remuneration of postal officials in all branches of the service is being increased, those in charge of allowance offices are being sweated. There are persons who have to give the whole of their time to keeping a post-office, a telephone office, making old-age pension payments, and looking after a savings bank for£30 or£40 a year.
– What do they collect?
– Are the collections of an office the proper basis for the determination of the remuneration of those employed in it? Is that system followed in any other branch of the Department?
– What would it be fair to pay for an office collecting only£80 a year, for example?
– That would depend upon what work had to be done.
– In the cases referred to, private businesses are being managed concurrently with the public business.
– The present system is unjustifiable and cruel. A person in charge of a telephone office has to be in attendance during the whole of the time that the office is open for business.
– But such persons are permitted to manage general stores, or other businesses, at the same time.
– Would the honorable member pay a salary of£120 a year to a person keeping a telephone bureau for the convenience of, perhaps, half-a-dozen persons?
– In the cases to which I refer, persons are being paid£30 or£40a year for performing a large number of public services which take up all their time ; I am not speaking of the instances in which a telephone bureau is placed in a store for the convenience of a few persons living round about. In some cases those in charge of the allowance offices have to pay boys to deliver the telegrams they receive. Honorable members have a grievance against the Government because of the manner in which the sugar question was treated last session. The honorable member for Capricornia moved for an inquiry, but, as the session advanced, the Prime Minister asked private members to give up to the Government the time usually allotted to their business, on the understanding that there would be a full opportunity to deal with it at the end of the session, even if that took two days.
– That there would be an opportunity to take a vote on it. When we tried to carry out the arrangement, what happened ?
– Had not the Prime Minister been in South Africa, I believe he would have kept his word ; but the arrangement was not kept. The whole of the private members’ business had to be dealt with in a short afternoon sitting, when there was no course open to those in charge of motions but to adjourn them.
– That is not correct.
– If the honorable member refers to Hansard, he will see that it is correct. The honorable member for Capricornia had to adjourn his motion for an inquiry into the sugar industry. The Prime Minister told us on Wednesday that he is now willing to appoint a sugar commission, but that such an appointment would have been useless and mischievous if made earlier. Why ? We have no more information available now than there was a year ago, when it was known that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was taking full advantage of the duty; and the honorable member for Maranoa stated that the wages paid on the cane-fields were the lowest in Queensland, while the workers, with few exceptions, were no better housed than the kanakas had been, and in some places were in the same buildings. The Prime Minister, however, would neither appoint a Commission nor allow a Committee of the House to be appointed. Did he think it necessary to wait until there had been a strike ? Had an inquiry been entered upon, either by a Commission such as was proposed by the Deakin Government or by a Committee, there would have been no strike, because the men would have been willing to await its report and give Parliament an opportunity to deal with the whole subject. There is not one member of the House with a full and complete knowledge of the industry from the planting of the -cane right up to the refining of the sugar. The Attorney-General went to Hobart to invite the people to vote for the referendum proposals, on the ground that they would enable the Government to deal with the sugar monopoly, and my reply to him was that his Prime Minister had prevented a full and complete inquiry into the conditions of the industry. The Prime Minister’s present statement is an insult to the intelligence of the House and the country. He says that an inquiry before the strike had taken place would have been useless and mischevious, but now that a strike has taken place there is to be an inquiry.
– I did not say that.
– Nothing more is known now than was known when the honorable member for Capricornia first pressed for an inquiry. The honorable member for Maranoa and others then spoke of the wages that are being paid, and the late lamented member for North Sydney, who from his business relations was a complete master of the sugar trade, put before the House the industrial side of the case, but the Government declined to appoint the Commission which the Deakin Government had promised, and prevented honorable members from appointing a Committee, by jockeying them out of a division on the proposal.
– The honorable member is makinga statement which he knows to be incorrect.
– It is correct. The Prime Minister was not here when what I refer to occurred. The honorable member says that it would have been useless and mischievous to appoint a Commission earlier, but the only change in the situation since last year is that brought about by the strike.
– An inquiry is useless. We know all that we wish to know.
-If so, why does the Prime Minister propose to appoint- a Commission to do what he says would have been idle and mischievous last year?
– Why did the honorable member vote against the referendum ?
– Because the powers asked for are not needed. The Attorney-General knew that the sugar question was of great moment in Tasmania, and he told the people there to vote in the affirmative so that Parliament might be empowered to deal with the sugar industry. Yet he as a member of the Government had refused to allow the House to deal with it.
– It was good advice, too, and the public are beginning to see it now that they are paying so much more for their sugar.
– What does the Prime Minister say to that?
– He will not dispute the fact that the price of sugar has gone up.
– It has increased in price because of the duty of£6 per ton, which prevents the people of Australia from dealing with the question in a practical and business-like way. These facts have been shown to the Government ofthe day almost from the. inception of Federation. Administration after Administration has been shown that the sugar monopoly is perhaps the greatest in Australia.
– And yet the honorable member and his party would not give the Parliament power to deal with such a monopoly.
– The Government have power to deal with the monopoly, but they are throwing dust in the eyes of the people. When the proposal to extend the bounty was before Parliament, it was supported by the Prime Minister, and the statements that I am uttering now were made again and again. The Prime Minister has fathered a system under which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has been able to take full advantage of its monopoly, and he has refused to allow an inquiry, although, if there is one subject regarding which the public desire to know the full facts, it is that of the sugar question. The honorable member for Indi has quoted a statement by the Leader of the Opposition that the recent referenda did not involve a party question. I said on every platform from which I spoke that I took the same view. The Labour party themselves, however, made the issue a party one. They said, in effect, “ If there is one Labour representative in Australia who has the courage to stand up and oppose the referenda we will turn him down.”
– They made no such statement.
– Then how does the honorable member explain the heresy hunt in New South Wales - the hunt engineered by the Federal Attorney-General and the ex-leader of the Federal Labour party, Mr. J. C. Watson, with a view of hounding out of public life those who opposed the referenda on the public platform ?
– I think the honorable member is drawing upon a blurred imagination.
– Was not a petition received from a number of Labour leagues asking that a conference should be held in Sydney to try the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. McGowen, Mr. Holman, the Attorney-General, and Mr. Page, a private member of the State Labour party ? Was not such a conference held ? Did not the Labour party make the referenda a party matter as far as they could make them one, by penalizing, even to the extent of attempting to turn out of public life men who opposed them ?
– Unquestionably they were made a party question in the country, but who was responsible for that?
– The Labour party.
– What happened to the honorable member for Flinders ? How did the Opposition get him in?
– The inclusion of the railway servants was responsible for the attitude of the honorable member for Flinders. I wish now to press upon the Government the advisableness of proceeding as speedily as possible with the development of the Northern Territory. We have made a very wretched bargain. We have given , £3,500,000 for the Territory, and have taken over the responsibility of conducting certain existing railways It is therefore the bounden duty not merely of the Government, but of the Parliament itself, to devise some scheme by which the Northern Territory can be settled. A white population is the best and the only defence we can ever secure for the Territory. It will never be developed by large leaseholds such as have prevailed there for the last forty or fifty years.
– Does the honorable member favour freeholds?
– I think the Territory could be settled more satisfactorily by the adoption of the system of community settlement, which was followed im the early days by the United States of America, and more recently by Canada. We cannot hope to induce a few people to scatter themselves over the country, cutting themselves off from their friends, the means of education for their children, and all the comforts of our modern civilization. It would pay the Government well, I believe, to establish, on an approved site in the Territory, a community of 800 or 3,000 families. We should give them a good’ start ; let them bring with them the comforts of civilization, and then the settlement of the Northern Territory will not be the bugbear that it is to-day. In that way only can it be satisfactorily settled. We describe as settled many parts of Western Australia, Northern Queensland, and the Territory, over which a sheep or some other beast, perhaps, travels once a fortnight every year. We need something more than that. I come now to the purchase of large areas for military purposes in the different States. Such an expenditure is an absolute waste of money. There is nonecessity for the Commonwealth to acquire- 50,000 or 60,000 acres to be used for a fortnight a year for defence purposes. No difficulty has ever been experienced in Tasmania in obtaining sites for military camps, and military men assert that it is really adisadvantage to hold camps year after year in the same place. The Government haveundertaken the purchase of some 50,000 acres in the Midlands of Tasmania for military purposes-
– We cannot have artillery practice on a small area.
– There is not theslightest difficulty in obtaining in Tasmania, free of charge, as many large areas as are wanted for this purpose.
– What ! For practice with guns having a range of nine miles?
– Yes. But the crowning folly of the Government relates- to the action of the Defence Department in sending over to Tasmania some 1:00 or 120 untrained horses for military purposes. The horses were despatched to a site at Triffitt’s Point, which the Government had tried previously to acquire for a quarantine station, and there they were broken in in a rough-and-ready way. They are now “eating their heads off”; they are never used, and they never will be, except for a fortnight every year.
– They will be used more frequently than that. The calculations are all in the direction that it is cheaper to purchase the horses required for these purposes than to hire them under the conditions which obtained while the honorable member for Parramatta was in office.
– I believe that an officer was sent to Tasmania to report on the questions of the military areas and the horse hospital, and I trust that the Minister will make his report available to honorable members. I am not one of those who are enthusiastic about the defence system as it exists to-day. I know what is going on. One or two men who have served with foreign armies have given me their opinions on the system, and I know that certain statements in the press regarding our defence system have been pasted into humorous scrap-books. There is, for instance, the statement that the Defence Department are bringing the police on to parade grounds to keep order while their juvenile soldiers are being trained.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the military authorities should have power to make arrests?
– I think the present procedure is something approaching a joke. At Yarraville the cadet officers were pelted with road metal, and had to send for the police to protect the military in the execution of their duty. Again, at Lithgow, cadets declined to be drilled by non-unionists. The whole system we are building up is that of a pop-gun navy, and an army of school boys, involving a cost of nearly , £3,000,000 a year. At present our navy consists of three vessels, not one of which would dare to show its nose outside the Heads if, in time of trouble, a
Gruiser appeared in our waters.
– Do not forget that the British Admiralty suggested the very class of vessels we have obtained.
– The people of Australia are not receiving, and will not receive, anything like a return for the money we are spending on defence. Under the present system we shall have the most costly army, and also the most costly navy, in proportion to its fighting possibilities, that the world has ever seen. We are spending, practically, £3,000,000 a year, and yet we have little, if anything, to put in the way of an invading force. The Military Department is discouraging, or, at all events, failing to encourage what would be a really goodfighting force in Australia to-day if the necessity arose. I refer to the rifle clubs.
– I proved yesterday that we were spending this year £23,000 more than we spent last vear in that direction.
– Then it is being spent in a very- bad way, because rifle clubs all over Australia are being driven out of existence. There is not a member representing a country district in this House who does not know that what I am saying is correct. I appeal to members sitting behind the Ministry whether that is not so. The rifle clubs have been, and would be today if danger arose, the real fighting strength of Australia where men were required.
– Does the honorable member mean that all a man requires on active service is to be a good shot?
– I do not, but being a good shot is a very good auxiliary. Training school boys and sending them into camp for a fortnight will not make soldiers of them.
– It is a fair start, anyway.
– it might be a fair start if the system were not costing the country £3,000,000 a year. If it costs that at the start, what will it cost when we have the Department in full working order? The people of Australia are not getting anything like an adequate return from a military and naval point of view for the money they are spending on the scheme.
– Here is the new CommanderinChief.
– I spent more time in the ranks than did the honorable member. I was one of those unfortunates, or perhaps fortunates, that never rose above the rank and file, but I served my time in the Defence Force when it was required, and we had at that time a better fighting force than we have to-day, notwithstanding all the money that has been spent on it.
.- I was very pleased to return recently to iny native country after seven months absence, but I was sorry to know that I was returning in the last of the Canadian mail steamers. The Ministry are to blame for allowing that splendid service, which has attached Australia to other parts of the Empire, to come to an end.
– Who says it has come to an end ?
– I assure the Postmaster General that the Zealandia, on which I came from Vancouver, is the last steamer to run under that contract, and that no other steamer is coming from Vancouver to Australia.
– Is the honorable member sure of that?
– I am quite sure of it. The terminal port in future is to be in New Zealand. I believe that for a short while the steamers will come across to Sydney, but the Postmaster-General knows perfectly well that very soon even that will be discontinued, and we shall have no connecting link with Canada.
– Who says so?
– I say so, on the best authority. Is it in the least likely that New Zealand will pay a large subsidy to have the terminus of the line in Sydney ? New Zealand is going to secure the trade which Australia has paid a good deal of money to build up. I should like to tell honorable members a few figures about that trade. The consumption of coal, bought at Ipswich, in Australia, has been about 800 tons a month. That is a considerable item, which we should not lightly throw away. Our miners will npt be employed to the same extent, and a great many other people will not have the employment they had before, because that coal will in future be supplied from New Zealand.
– It is estimated that those boats used to spend at least £100,000 a year in Sydney.
– There is a splendid body of about 600 men connected with the service - men of whom any country might be proud. A great number of them are Australians. The married men have their homes in Sydney, where the steamers remain the longest time ; but they will now have to leave the service altogether or transplant their homes to New Zealand or Canada. That will be a very great loss to Australia. The Government ought to have made some endeavour to retain the service on that ground alone. Those men, as they got too old for the sea, would, no doubt, make permanent homes on land, and that would have meant settling in Sydney, or perhaps Brisbane. Another important industry which was being built up was the shipment of meat from Queensland to Canada. That would have become a very valuable trade. Canada from its position can never be a great stock-raising country, and there is a big opening there for frozen meat, which Australia produces in abundance. That frozen meat trade, which has been built up bv the energy of the Australian people, chiefly in Queensland, will be lost to us. I am informed on the most reliable authority that if the steamers had had three or four times the space available it could have been filled up every voyage; but now the supplies of frozen meat for Canada will be drawn entirely from New Zealand. Another trade that might have been fostered if the line had been kept going is the enormous tourist traffic from the United States. Citizens of the American nation go to all parts of the world. They are an intelligent community, and they like to travel and spend their money lavishly. I was assured by many of them that if they had known there was a good steamer service to Australia they would have come down in considerable numbers, spent a great deal of money here; and exchanged ideas with us. We want to make Australia better known all over the world. We should advertise our country in all the chief cities of the United States in order to induce those people to come here. But the means to that end have, been swept away through our Government allowing Sir Joseph Ward to get the best of them. He has diverted to New Zealand a stream of trade and passenger traffic which ought to have been secured for Australia. I think there is plenty of room for two lines - one with its terminus in New Zealand and another with its terminus in Sydney, and touching at Brisbane. Canada is growing by leaps and bounds. Honorable members have no idea of the phenomenal rate of its progress. It offers a market which we should cultivate, and the only way to cultivate it for Australian goods is to again establish some such line as we have had in the past.
– We offered to enter into the old arrangements again for a term of five years; but Canada would not come in unless New Zealand came in.
– I think there is room for two services.
– There is reciprocal trade between New Zealand and Canada, so that New Zealand meat can enter Canada more cheaply than Australian meat.
– Any new contract must be accompanied by a similar understanding. I see that the Governor General’s Speech contemplates a reciprocal trade arrangement between Australia and Canada, and 1 hope that will be rapidly pushed forward, so that our traders may be put on the same basis as those of New Zealand.
– We should have a trade subsidy instead of a postal subsidy.
– I think that is a very good suggestion. I do not suppose the shipping company cares very much which form is adopted, so long as it gets a fair amount of cash.
– The subsidy that was asked for was £80,000 a year, and the value of the trade was only £80,000 a year.
– I think it could have been done very much cheaper than that.
– :If the trade was worth only £80,000 a year, it could not have grown at all in the last fifteen years.
– The PostmasterGeneral’s figures must surely be wrong.
– They were the figures of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– At any rate, it has been well worth New Zealand’s while to come in. It is a country producing the same stuff as we do, and it is very glad to get the Canadian market. The New Zealand authorities have jockeyed our Ministry completely out, and I think we ought to try to get in again, even if it costs us a little. The trade has been built up, and it is always a bad thing for a nation to go backwards. We are discontinuing a line of which the present boats are admittedly quite inadequate to carry even the passengers available.
– The honorable member would not ask us to subsidize a line for tourists, would he?
– Not for tourists alone, nor even for ordinary passengers ; but facilities ought to be given for people to come here. If proper steamers are put on it will not be necessary to subsidize them for tourist traffic. The Postmaster-General seems to sneer at tourist traffic, but it is a very material point.
– I do not sneer at it at all. I should be very glad to see it develop, but we have no right to pay a subsidy for it.
– We want people to know Australia, and then a great many will come and spend their money here. We have a grand country, and I should like to see facilities offered for traffic to it. It is estimated that the American tourists alone in the South of France spend £20,000,000 a year. If we could get £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 of that, it would always be something ; but that, after all, is only a small argument in favour of the line. We want to see Australia served from every point of the compass, and to extend our trade everywhere.
– Hear, hear.
– ,1 am pleased to see that the Postmaster-General agrees with me, and hope he will bear the matter in mind. We have made a step backwards in allowing New Zealand to get in ahead of us.
– New Zealand estimates that her tourist traffic is worth ;£35°,°°o a year to her.
– That is its present value, and the traffic is only just beginning. I paid a great amount of attention, when away, to the discussions of the Imperial Conference. Sir Joseph Ward introduced an academic scheme for the creation of a full-blown Parliament to regulate the affairs of the Empire, but it was a little more than absurd, and was immediately talked out. Something will have to be done to regulate in a more formal manner the affairs of this great Empire ; and that is an opinion I have held for a long time. It is necessary to look into details of expenditure which ought to be borne by one country or the other ; and if we are to remain an Empire there ought to be continuous, or, at any rate, more frequent Conferences. By such meetings people get to know one another better, particularly those interested in the governmental affairs of the great nations bound together by such splendid ties, and beneficial arrangements can more readily he made. Any one who has conducted correspondence at a distance knows how much more can be done by a personal meeting of principals than can be done in years of writing. At any rate, something will have to be arranged to give concrete form to the present loose state of the Empire. Details are continually cropping up that require careful consideration and adjustment ; for instance, the amount that each of the Dependencies ought to spend on defence calls for consideration by the whole of those concerned. We all hang together; and if one part is not doing its share the fact ought to be pointed out. All this could be done by an informal meeting at least once a year in London. J am expressing, of course, my own opinion, knowing that this is one of those vital questions, so large anc! important, that, as a rule, people do not care to speak of it. Having thought the matter over a great deal, I hold a strong opinion that the ties between the different parts of the Empire could be made stronger, and that responsibilities might be allotted and adjusted to the different parts. I am pleased to observe that progress is being made in the construction of ships for the Australian Navy. I may say that the enormous cost involved iia- Admiral Henderson’s scheme somewhat staggered me. Any man in the street sees at once that to spend the sum suggested and embark on a scheme so great would lie a risky course. The proposed outlay amounts with interest to, J think, £80,000,000; and we all know that a battleship may become obsolete immediately. There is attack by submarines from below, and bv flying machines over the water ; we are in a transition state, and we ought to go slowly, and not spend Australian money on what/ in a year or two, may be obsolete. The present situation has been an object-lesson to me. In my simple way, as an ordinary citizen, I regarded the
Powerful as one of the finest of menofwar ; and yet that vessel is now placed on the scrap heap. My view is that we can make ourselves safe enough by the system of compulsory military training, if we arm our forts at Sydney, Melbourne, and elsewhere with the latest guns. Such precautions, with a certain amount of naval power, is all we require in Australia. Even an expenditure of £80,000,000 will not save us if the British Navy goes down, for in that event we must go down, too. Of course, we all agree that there ought to be a small-arms and cordite factory in Australia ; but in this connexion I have heard some “;ry ugly rumours which I give for what they are worth. If we have not inch a factory we may at any time be de- prived of the supply on which our safety depends ; and it is serious when reports are abroad that the small-arms and cordite factory or factories are not being pushed on with as they ought. I have heard it said that the small-arms factory ought to have been finished and in working order twelve months ago.
– It is a good deal more than twelve months over the contract time.
– This is very serious, and I am surprised to hear any confirmation of such a rumour. That rumour, however, I am following up, and I hope in a few days to be able to give more explicit facts.
– It is the fault of the honorable member for Parramatta for not starting the work earlier when he was Minister of Defence.
– I do not think the honorable member for Maranoa can be correct. The party who signs a contract knows that the work must be completed in a certain time ; and it cannot be the fault of the honorable member for Parramatta if this work has not been so completed.
– A factory cannot be erected without the machinery.
– But there were penalties attached, to the amount. I think, of £500 per week, in connexion with the supply of machinery.
– I would like to know whether these penalties have been enforced.
– Is the honorable member sure that the contract time is up ?
– It was up long ago.
– It is actually twelve months overdue ; in other words, the factory ought to have been turning out arms for the last year, though, as a fact, not a single rifle has as yet been made in Australia. It was, I think, on the 24th August, last year, that the factory ought to have been completed ; and it is of no use for the Government to say, in a vague sort of way, that provision has been made for the manufacture of small arms and cordite.
– I know that in to-day’s newspaper it is stated that the cordite factory is to be opened very shortly.
– The “very shortly “ is twelve months overdue, though, of course, I am glad to .hear what the Minister has said. We may at any time be at war, and I would not give much for the
Ministry if there was no possibility of making arms or cordite in the country. To save their own skins, Ministers ought to look into this matter, because I am afraid there might be a disposition, under circumstances such as I suggest, to hang them to the nearest lamp-post.
– I believe the honorable member would be willing to do that.
– Not at all; I am afraid the Minister does not regard me as a Christian man. This, however, is a very serious matter, and, as I say, I am surprised to hear that there is any foundation for the rumour as to the overdue contract.
– Is the honorable member quite sure of the fact?
– I cannot say that I am; I only repeat the rumour, which, however, is borne out by the ex-Minister of Defence.
– - It is a fact.
– The honorable member for Fawkner would be “on a good wicket” in regard to contracts if he spoke about the installation of wireless telegraphy.
– I shall come to that shortly, although I do not think it is anything like so serious as the delay in connexion with the small-arms factory. I hope the Government will give us some assurance that this factory will be shortly started.
– It is only fair to state, that if the machinery had been here the building would not have been ready for it.
– I know that is one of the points to be considered. We Protectionists are not getting much comfort out of the assurance that the Tariff is being carefully watched. The suggestion promulgated by the Leader of the Opposition was that a Tariff Board should be created to go into the numerous anomalies, so that they might be intelligently dealt with by the House. If the late Government had remained in power a great number of anomalies would no longer have existed.
– Will the honorable member name any anomalies?
– I can name one - ladies’ mantles - though, of course, this is a matter on which I have no special knowledge, and on which I, with others, require guidance. We were told during the last election that the Labour Government were the Protectionists of the country - that the Labour man was no milk-and-water, shandygaff Protectionist - but all we are now told is that “ the Tariff is being carefully watched by my Advisers.” We are also promised a Commonwealth bank. We are not told who is to be manager, but, in my opinion, if there is any country in the world that does not require a national bank it is Australia, seeing that money is cheaper here than in perhaps any part of the world. Any person with proper security can borrow more cheaply in Melbourne or Sydney, or any other city in Australia, than elsewhere. If the suggestion contained in the proposal for a Commonwealth bank is to lend money without security I do not understand it, and we shall await the arrival of the Bill with the greatest curiosity.
– The honorable member says that money is cheaper here on good security than it is anywhere else ; if that be so, it is clear that the Labour Government have not as yet ruined the country.
– The Labour Government have so decreased enterprise that there is no investment of money.
– But just now the honorable member, as a reason why there should not be a national bank, said that money was cheaper here than elsewhere.
– That was what I said, and say it again. In the Savings Bank we have a national bank. The Victorian Savings Bank advances money on the Credit Foncier system.
– And how strongly that was opposed by the honorable member’s party !
– I do not recollect ever opposing that system.
– I do not say that the honorable member individually opposed it, but his party did.
– The success of that system is entirely due to the fact that it is conducted on ordinary private business lines.
– There are Government banks under the control of the States.
– Yes, and a Commonwealth bank in addition is unnecessary. Its establishment would interfere with the Savings Banks.
– Is not the honorable member more concerned about the possibility of interference with the private banks ?
– I am not much interested in the private banks. Does the
Government propose to lend money on a new principle? Will the Commonwealth bank lend to those who have no security to offer, or take risks that a private bank would not take? There is no other reason for establishing the Commonwealth bank than to put into force such principles.
– Would the honorable member be afraid of the competition of the Commonwealth bank?
– No; but having property in Australia, I know that I shall be compelled to make good my share of the loss incurred in running the Commonwealth bank. Millions may be lost by improper methods, and when that happens the land tax must be increased, or other taxation imposed, to make good the deficiency. The establishment of the Commonwealth bank will give a few fat billets, but I doubt whether the country will benefit.
– The Labour party will not have time to do much harm. They will continue in power only for another eighteen months.
– I am glad that steps are to be taken to codify and make uniform the bankruptcy laws of the States. This Parliament has a great field of usefulness in connexion with legislation of that kind. I do not share with the Government regret in the fate of the referenda proposals.
– The honorable member ran away from the contest.
– I did my part, and wrote a pamphlet which I trust converted a great many to my view. The honorable member for Indi has complained that many lies were spread about at that time, but I have always found that in times of excitement prior to the elections wicked stories are circulated. I do not admit that lies were told on behalf of our side, but if they were, they could not have exceeded those told in favour of the Labour party at the general elections. It was at that time said of me that I declared 4s. a day to be enough for any man - an absolute lie.
– No one knowing the honorable member would believe it.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say so. It has been said that immense sums were spent in the recent campaign, but I feel sure that not a farthing was spent improperly, and I challenge honorable members opposite to prove that their party spent less than ours. I am ready to advise the leagues with which I am connected to have their books publicly audited if the Trades Hall organizations will do the same.
– They have to do so.
– I have never seen a copy of the accounts.Is it illegal to spend money ininforming the electors?
– Money was spent on motor-cars in the honorable member’s electorate.
– I assure the honorable member that that is not so. Our side does not spend one-tenth of the amount spent by the Labour party.
– How does the honorable member know ?
– I have information from the other side.
– Would the honorable member vote for a Royal Commission to inquire into this expenditure, giving it power to require all witnesses to answer its questions ?
– Yes. I should like to have the allegation sifted, so that if bribery is taking place we may know. It must be remembered that it costs £750 to send one circular to every elector in Victoria. Our side has never much to spend, and has to pay those whom it employs miserable salaries. I subscribe my share and more, because I desire that questions should be properly presented to the people. Postage alone is an expensive item in a large field like Australia, and we have never had sufficiently large funds to be able tobribe anybody.
– In my district organizers are drawing £8 a week and expenses.
– Three hundred pounds a year is not much to pay a man of intelligence and experience for the work we require to be done. It is not every man who can handle political questions properly, and where you get good service you ought not to pay a miserable pittance. I am sure that every honorable member desires that political questions should be properly presented to the public and understood, and for that money is necessary. Of course, a great deal of work is done for nothing but patriotic considerations. Our organizations should be only too glad to have an investigation of their accounts, but if there is any bribery it is not known by those at the head of affairs. Whilst in the Old Country I was pleased to read that it is proposed to provide the High Commissioner with suitable offices. The present occupant of the position is a man of undoubted and admitted ability, who is doing great work for Australia. He is advertising it all over the world, and is sought after in every society.
– He is one of the most popular men in London.
– Yes, and he needs a proper office. Many of the AgentsGeneral are of opinion that their offices should be under the same roof.
– Even if State Agents are substituted for Agents-General it will be an advantage to have all the offices under one roof.
– The work can be carried out far more effectively under one roof. That is the Canadian system, and we also should adopt it. The several provinces of Canada are not represented by different Agents-General, and I am pleased to say that I found, when in London, that the great majority of our Agents-General shared my view of ihis matter. I hope the suggestion as to securing suitable buildings will be given effect to. When in London, I and other honorable members joined with Ministers there in searching for a suitable site, and we all approved of one which I hope will be purchased. Little time should be lost in placing the whole of our advertising and agency business under the one roof.
– Would not the adoption of the honorable member’s suggestion be an interference with State rights?
– I think not. We were told that with the consummation of Federation a High Commissioner would be appointed to do the work previously carried out by the Agents-General of the several States, and, from what was then said, I thought that we should have had, long before this, all the State officers working together in one building.
– We were assured that would be one of the results of Federation.
– We were, and I anticipated that it would occur very early in the history of the Federation. One paragraph in His Excellency’s Speech claims a good deal for the Federal land tax, but as it is yet too early to judge of the effects of that tax, I think we can afford to ignore it. ‘ The honorable member for Indi twitted me with having submitted to the House an estimate of the revenue that the tax would yield which was far in excess of the actual results. I would remind him, however, that I was always careful to say that the estimate which I put forward was prepared, not by myself, but by the best accountant we could secure. Honorable members will recollect that the Opposition at the time asked the AttorneyGeneral, who was in charge of the Bill, to allow that accountant to meet the departmental “officer who had prepared an estimate on behalf of the Government in order that the figures might be carefully considered by them, and the best possible forecast made.
– The Government’s estimate was 50 per cent. out.
– I understand that the tax has produced about 50 per cent. more than the departmental estimate.
– And we have a prospect of getting a little more when the values are checked.
– I am glad to hear it, for the sake of the country.
– The Opposition’s estimate of the revenue that the tax would yield was £3,000,000, whereas it has actually produced £1,400,000.
– Our estimate, I thing, was £2,500,000. I shall be able to show before the session terminates that it would have proved very near the mark but for amendments subsequently made, which had the effect of cutting down the revenue which the Bill, as introduced, would have yielded. We made no attempt to mislead the public, and I hope, before long, to be able to show that the inaccuracy of our estimate was largely due to the many amendments made in the Bill after our estimate was prepared. Another matter requiring careful consideration is the question of the State debts. When in England, I found that the London market was very touchy about Australian securities. I leave honorable members to form their own conclusions as to the reasons.
– The principal reason, I presume, is that we have a Labour Government in power.
-The honorable member has hit the nail on the head. Many people in Great Britain are frightened to invest their money in a country which is governed by the Labour party.
– And yet people are coming here in larger numbers than before.
– That is quite true.
– They do not mind risking their lives, but they will not risk their money, in Australia.
– As we are all agreed as to the cause, it behoves us to watch with very great care this allimportant question. It is impossible just now to float an Australian venture on the London market. When in England I was disappointed to see, day after day, an immense volume of capital going from Great Britain to Canada and the Argentine - countries which are our great competitors in the production of wheat, meat, and butter - instead of to Australia. That capital will stimulate enterprise there in all directions, and so encourage our competitors. As a matter of fact, more British capital is now invested in the Argentine than there is in Australia. If that money had come here instead of going to the South American Republic, we should scarcely have heard of the Argentine in the matter of the production of meat and butter. . As it is, our great competitors in these markets are being stimulated by capital which should have come here.
– Is not competition a good thing for business?
– Not if one can do without it.
– They can have their success if they are securing it by means df cheap labour.
– Labour in Canada cannot be described as cheap. Labour there is better paid than it is in Australia, but the cost of living is considerably higher. The financing of the loans of the States should receive the most serious consideration. It is not at all welcome news to learn that about 90 per cent, of the last State loan was left on the hands of the underwriters. I should like to see intelligent representations made, through the High Commissioner, on the other side, so that we shall not be left in a hole, and a very considerable toll of interest exacted from us, at the last moment. All these are matters that ought to engage the earnest attention of the Government if Australia is to continue to be, as we hope it always will, the finest place in the world.
Sitting suspended from 12.55 t° 2-I5 p-n-*
– With reference to the proposed establishment of a Commonwealth bank, there is no reason why, if it is carried out upon proper lines, it should not pay, whether it is in stituted by the Government or by private people. It all depends upon the management. At present the people of Australia are not badly off as regards banking institutions. In almost every town, however small, there may be found the branch of some bank ; in fact, in many places we are over-banked. In some towns with only a hundred inhabitants, one will find three or four branch banks. That is a heavy expense, and as regards Victoria, it would be much better if four or five of our local banks were to amalgamate and form one large institution. The larger the capital, the cheaper and better is the management, and I believe if some of the banks amalgamated they would pay better, the public would get their money at lower rates of interest, and their clerks would be much better paid than they are at present ; for if there is any class in this community which is badly paid as compared with other sections, I believe it is the bank clerks.
– On account of all the employers being capitalists.
– The honorable member will remember that when the crash took place some twenty years ago, a great percentage of the banks had to reconstruct and go into liquidation. In a majority of cases, they lost the whole of their capital, and a large part of the funds of the depositors was converted into preferential shares or debentures. People think that banking has been a great paying concern ; but if you take the history of the Colonial banks in Australia, you will find that the shareholders have had a very small return on their capital, and, in many cases, they have lost the whole of their investment. If, however, the Commonwealth bank is carried on upon sound banking lines, it has just as good a chance of existence and profitable employment of its money as has any other bank. But if it is carried on upon the lines suggested by the honorable member for New England, I am afraid the Commonwealth, or any other bank, will be in the same position as our banks were twenty years ago. The honorable member proposed to lend money on long terms to people to build houses, so as to get rid of the landlord system. I, or another honorable member, asked where the money was to come from. The honorable member said it was the people’s money. But if a bank takes money at call, or on short-dated deposits, and lends it out on terms extending over ten or twenty years, the moment there is a crisis the chances are that that bank must go, even though it has the security of the Commonwealth at the back of it.
– Did I say anything about short-dated money?
– I do not say the honorable member did ; but all banks have to take short-dated money. If they lend short-dated money out on long terms, they cannot get it in when the time of trouble arises. It is of no use lending money to a man for building purposes unless you give him plenty of time to repay it. If you lend up to nearly the whole of the value, or even over 80 per cent, of the value, you must remember that in bad times a depreciation of 20 per cent, is a very small thing to expect. The margin of security goes out in the snap of the fingers. It is the people’s money that is lent, and if we have three or four droughts and a depression, a large number of workpeople may be unemployed. Those who have saved their money will have to draw their deposits out of the bank to keep them going until times get better. Once you have a scare and a run on a bank, whether Government or private, catastrophe is in front of you. If the Commonwealth bank is to be carried on upon any other lines than those established in banking circles all over the world by men with lifelong experience, and the advantage of the experience of those who have gone before them, it will be a failure. It cannot do the class of business that some members of the Government, and others on the other side, have promised the people that it is going to do. If you want to carry on that class of business and help the class of man referred to, what ought to be done is to establish in this country land banks and people’s banks on the lines already adopted in Germany. There the local people lend to the local people; they know every man they are lending to, and, as a rule, the money is borrowed by issuing long-dated debentures. Our Victorian Savings Bank is carried on upon exactly the same lines. One honorable member opposite said that no one on this side had any part in that business ; but I was in the Government that introduced the Credit Foncier system into Victoria, and other States have copied it. The Victorian Savings Bank started by lending to the farmers at a low rate of interest, and many a farmer has pulled through and is well-to-do now through the cheap money he got from the Savings Bank of Victoria. That system has now been extended, and the bank will lend to any householder on city property up to 75 per cent, of its own valuation, and take the money back by instalments on building society terms. But, to do that, it has borrowed from the public large sums of money on debentures with extended terms of twenty, thirty, or forty years. That money cannot be called in at once. If you borrow money for forty years, you can safely lend it for thirty odd years.
– Is not that the people’s money ?
– It is the people’s money tied up ; that is the position that must be borne in mind. If the bank had’ attempted to lend on long terms on country lands or town properties, with all its money at call, as was the original system of the Savings Bank, the bank would always have been in danger at a time of crisis. The Commonwealth bank will have to do one class of business or the other. If it is to collect the savings of the people and lend them out on long terms, it must issue debentures and have that money tied up. If it is going to carry on the ordinary banking business, then it cannot confer on the people the benefits that some honorable members have promised to them.
– Cannot it combine the two systems?
– It is very difficult to do so. If that ls attempted, there ought to be separate departments; one a long- len ding department, where no money is lent unless it is borrowed on debentures for a long term ; and the other where the ordinary banking system can be carried on with short-dated advances on sound securities. If the Government attempt to work on any other lines than those I have indicated, I am satisfied that there will be the greatest danger in times of depression. The credit of a Government will not save an institution in a panic. Only in to-day’s or yesterday’s cables we read of a run on a savings bank in Germany because the people thought their money would be commandeered in case of war. Something similar will happen here. The smaller the sum that a man has in a bank, the more eager he is to get it out in time of danger. That sort of thing gathers force like a snowball rolling on, and the funk increases as the people begin to draw out their deposits. I mention these considerations because I believe the Government have in their mind an idea of trying to help the people of this country by doing what they believe to be best for them in connexion with this project; but it is absolutely necessary for them to profit by the lessons of the past. No country went through a greater crisis than Australia did, and that has taught banks to be careful. One cannot get the banks now to tie up their money as they did in former days ; they know the danger. The banks in England are more conservative than they are here. They insist upon having short loans. It is most difficult in London to get from a bank an advance fixed for six months ; four months’ bills are about the longest they will discount. But we have not enough commercial business in this country to enable the banks here to be so conservative as that. A bank will lend money to a farmer, who has only one return in the year; that is when his crops are cut. If he has the misfortune to have a bad crop, the bank has to wait two years for its money.
– It might swoop down on the farmer and take his farm when he does not pay.
– It might; but it is of no advantage to a bank, or moneylender, unless he wants to get a property, to swoop down on anybody. If a man wants to carry on business as a moneylender, he needs the good-will of borrowers ; he does not want to get the name of being sharp and seizing men’s properties. He wants his money returned with interest ; and the majority of the banks will let a man go on as long as they possibly can, provided that he is honest and they see any chance of his pulling through. They have not in their minds the idea of jumping down on people, or lending a man £100 or ^500 simply for the sake of getting his property. It is not banking business to seize people’s property. The banks do not want to foreclose or sell. Any one who is connected with banking institutions will know that day after day securities are rejected, because there is the fear that they may fall into the banks’ hands, and the banks do not want them. They are not land purchasers, and do not want to hold land. They have the money of other people as well as of their shareholders, and want to pay their deposits when they become due. That is why they endeavour to make their loans as short-dated as possible; and that is why, in England especially, very little else than bill discounting is carried on by the banking institutions.
– Does not the honorable member think the Commonwealth Government should have a bank of their own in which to conduct their business with the various States, and with London?
– I do not see why they cannot carry on their own banking business if they think it will pay. We know that the State Governments by drafts on London frequently save exchange. Banking on proper lines is a profitable business, so long as losses are not made ; but the danger, as in all other business, is bad debts.
– Will the Commonwealth bank not have facilities for carrying on ordinary banking?
– There would be facilities for carrying on the business, but the question is whether it will not cost too much. If the idea is to lend at lower rates, a difficulty will arise, because the same rates of interest would have to be paid to depositors as are paid by other banks, or otherwise people will not lend the bank money. There must also be a margin of profit sufficient to pay working expenses and provide a reserve fund, in view of bad debts ; because - I do not care whether it is a private or a Commonwealth bank - there must be a certain percentage of such debts. The Savings Bank of Victoria is conducted on very sound lines, and for the last fifteen years a reserve fund has been built up, so that if there should come three or four years of drought the depreciation and loss will be easily covered. Every bank at first has to be more conservative, for the reason that there is no reserve fund. It has not been explained on what capital this Commonwealth bank is to be started; and we know that a man cannot start a bank without a shilling in his pocket.
– A man started a private bank in Sydney with £50 !
– Did he come to grief ?
– He did.
– And very naturally. People will not go to a new Commonwealth bank, or any other new bank, unless they know it to be sound.
– Why does the honorable member condemn the proposals before he has seen them?.
– I am not condemning the proposals, but merely suggesting what strikes me as being the soundest lines on which the- bank must be carried on. I have endeavoured to criticise every proposal of the Government as fairly as I can. Simply because I sit on this side, I am not prepared to say that every measure introduced by the Government is bad, or contains no reason or common sense. It is the duty of every member of Parliament, no matter on which side he sits, to point out weak spots, in order that they may be removed, if the majority think the suggestions are sound. It is true I have not seen the Bill, and it is, therefore, difficult to judge of its merits ; and, as I say, I am only suggesting what I believe to be the most sound lines, if we are to have a Commonwealth bank. There is no doubt that the Government, having a majority, may, if they insist, carry any measure they choose; but it is the duty of honorable members on both sides to make suggestions for improvement. That is what I have always endeavoured to do, and always shall endeavour to do, whether I am with the Opposition or on the Government side.
– What is the basis of credit of the people’s banks referred to?
– Those banks in Germany were started by philanthropic people, who put down so much capital as a guarantee, and then, on long-dated deposits, or debentures, borrowed money, which they lent out in the districts in which the banks were established - they were local banks, so to speak.
– They lent on personal security, did they not?
– First they started lending on land, and then they lent small sums to assist a man who, for instance, might desire to buy a cow, or a horse. If a man were of honorable character, and had always endeavoured to pay his way, money would be advanced to him on the guarantee of one or two people in the district. There was always some guarantee; and as every one in the district was interested in the business, there were very few cases of fraud.
– Some £100,000,000 is lent in that way by these banks.
– It is some years ago, when the Credit Foncier system was proposed for Victoria, that I read the little book in which these people’s banks were described, and the Credit Foncier here is on the same lines, though on a larger scale. There is no reason why similar small banks should not be adopted in every district throughout Australia; but it will be very difficult, if there is to be a large Common wealth bank, to combine the two systems., We must either do an. ordinary general banking business, or start people’s banks for the purpose of lending money ; and, if we do the latter, we must issue debentures and borrow money at long dates. We cannot have call money, and tie it up foryears; and any bank which tries to do that is bound to come to disaster.
– The honorable member thinks that there must be separate institutions ?
– If we are to have the two systems, I would rather see them as two separate institutions, because that is safer, in the interests of the public and of investors. One or two references have been made to wireless telegraphy. We hear of it being installed on ships in three or four days, and of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company establishing a station at the Cocos Islands in three days; and it is extraordinary, considering that the question has been before this Parliament, and before three Governments, foryears, that there is not yet a station in any part of Australia. A large percentage of the ships that come here have the system installed ; and the Prime Minister, when he wished to send a message to his colleagues from a mail-boat, had to communicate with another mail-boat, a trading steamer, or a British man-of-war in Sydney. It seems most strange that private people can carry out this work so expeditiously, and that Government enterprise should be so lacking in virility. If wireless telegraphy were established throughout this country, it would be the means of saving hundreds of lives; and yet, although we all approve of the idea, nothing is being done. There is similar mismanagement, or want of foresight, in connexion with the small-arms factory at Lithgow. I am told, though I do not know whether it is correct, that part of the machinery is being made in England, and part in America, and that, while the English manufacturers, in order to preserve their business secrets, will not send their machinery to America, the American manufacturers will not despatch their machinery to Australia until the English machinery is sent to them. Every day we have rumours of war in newspapers, and yet these important matters are allowed to sleep. It is more than twelve months since the factory should have been going.
– A big shipment of machinery for the factory arrived at Sydney from America last week.
– Then the sooner we get the British machinery the better. Further, if we are to manufacture small arms, we might as well, I think, make our own big guns. How could we get guns to defend Melbourne, Brisbane, and the other capitals if war should arise?
– Import them.
– But the British people would not be able to spare a gun at such a time. And, again, I do not see why we should not build our own menofwar. Some people in this country laugh at the Japanese; but they can turn out a man-of-war just as well as it can be turned out in England or elsewhere. Is it to be said that our workmen are less capable than the Japs or any other people? If we are going to spend millions on defending our shores, there is no reason why we should not do the necessary work in Australia. Vessels of fair size are being built at Sydney; and if it be possible to build vessels of 1,000 or 2,000 tons, why cannot we build our own menofwar, torpedo-boats, and destroyers, some of which are not half as big as many of the vessels now being constructed at Sydney. We are sending millions of money out of the country that could be spent here with great benefit. We have the iron and other raw material here, and I am surprised that our workmen cannot undertake the work.
– It is the policy of the Government that the work shall be done here.
– Then why do the Government not carry out the policy? What has been the policy of the Federal Parliament for eleven years? One of the first things we decided to do, as a Federation, was to take over the State debts.
– This Government have been in power only five minutes !
– The Labour party have had a mighty good innings of power.
– The honorable member’s party have had a good innings, and have done nothing.
– The Labour party has been in power in the Federal Parliament for ten years, the only time they had no power being when the present High Commissioner was Prime Minister. Did not the Labour party support the Liberal Government, and dictate their policy ? It was not the members on this side who kept that Government in power.
The Labour party then had just as much power as they have to-day; but they had no policy then. Where is their policy now? Their policy is talk and promises. From the commencement of Federation the Labour party have had power to carry out their desires, and yet we now hear all this talk about their “policy.” The present Government have eighteen months in front of them, and I hope they will do something in that time. It is not of the slightest use tinkering with defence. Where is the Government immigration policy? They talk about bringing people here, but we cannot get the people, day after day, who are required to do the work of this country. There has always been a feeling amongst Labour people that every immigrant is a source of injury. Some years ago I was in Canada, and there was the same cry there. We have been told that wages are 2s. 6d. per day higher in Canada than here ; but when I was there carpenters were getting £1 a day, and I am sure they are not getting £1 a day in Australia now.
– That is because a large population has gone to Canada.
– Wages were lower in Canada before immigrants commenced to go there, and to bring money with them. Every man who comes to this country is worth 25s. to the State in which he resides, and if he is any good at all, will pay his way before long. A majority of the settlers on the irrigation areas of Victoria were paying their way before they had been there three months. Immigrants give employment to other labour, in the shoeing of horses, the building of houses, and other work. Australia’s safeguard must be population. I would fear no enemy had we a population of 10,000,000; but in Northern Australia there is only one inhabitant to every 16 square miles, while in the most thickly settled State there are only sixteen inhabitants to the square mile. Twenty years ago the Victorian mallee districts were barren wastes, thought to be not worth reclaiming. On the Darling, in New South Wales, there is similar country to-day, where, I suppose, not 500 people are living on 5,000,000 acres. Although the rainfall there is precarious, the conservation of water would enable a great quantity of lucerne to be grown.
– And water could be easily conserved.
– Yes. I have been through the country, and know that.
– Unfortunately, the land is in the hands of the States, and they will not do what is needed.
– We can force their hands by increasing the population. The New South Wales Government has shown more enterprise than any other, and has brought here a larger number of immigrants.
– It is not opening up the country to which the honorable member has referred.
– I thought the land tax had done that.
– In the district referred to the land is held under lease.
– There is Crown land there on which thousands of people could be settled. They would become producers, and, in turn, would employ labour. We should do all that is possible to encourage immigration. The difficulty is to get the workers to realize that immigration will not injure them, but that, on the contrary, it will help them. Honorable members opposite should preach that doctrine. When in New York, I stayed at an hotel next door to which some work was going on, and I said to one of the men employed on it, “It is reported in the newspapers that yesterday 16,000 immigrants arrived in New York ; how will that affect you ? “ He replied, “ There is plenty of room for them. We are going to rebuild the city.” He was not afraid of immigration.
– More people have immigrated to Australia during the last eighteen months than came in the previous twenty years.
– I am glad to hear it. Their coming has not put any one out of work. Our uninhabited spaces are our weakness. The Northern Territory could carry a population of 2,000,000, and as it belongs to the Commonwealth, I trust that the Government will do all that is possible to settle it.
.- It must be a matter of great satisfaction to the Government that no attack worthy of the name has been made by the Opposition upon either their policy or their administration. Such a fearful collapse and such terrible maladministration were anticipated that I expected to hear a very heavy artillery fire of criticism, but there has never been a more spiritless debate in any Parliament. It reflects great credit on the party that is now in office for the first time that the Opposition is unable to criticise it adversely. The Governor-General’s
Speech is more interesting than documents of that kind usually are. The programme set before us contains some very important and necessary proposals. The Imperial Conference justly receives first consideration. Its influence will be felt throughout the Empire, and will affect Australia, for many years to come. The holding of the Conference marked a very decisive historical stage. Remembering the need for peace, and for the advancement of the human race along right lines, we must be glad of the coalition of influences tending to bring them about. I do not hold that the British Empire possesses all the virtues or suffers from all the vices, though Britishers are given to an arrogant assumption of superiority. There is a feeling - justifiable, perhaps, to some extent - that we are the people, and that wisdom will die with us. The Empire is a very loose confederation of nations, but the looser the connexion the stronger will it be. Some one said lately that even if King George III. had not been foolish, the United States to-day, with a population of 95,000,000, would not now be an integral part of the British Empire. One cannot think that if Canada had a population of between 50,000,000 and 60,000,000, she would be content to form part of a Federation such as now exists. The Empire can hold together only if the connexion is loose and free, and in no way burdensome to either the Dominions or the Mother Country. I hope that the Dominions will more and more recognise their responsibility for their own problems. For years past the Mother Country has borne too much of the burden of Empire. The Imperial Conference will develop in a very marked way that spirit of unity which is so. needed for the Empire’s growth, and will assist in securing the peace of J:he world. We are told in the Speech that the system of universal training has been successfully inaugurated, with a gratifying response by the youth of Australia to the call to prepare themselves for its defence. That is a matter for congratulation. We may look forward to the future with confidence, knowing that north, south, east, and west, thousands of boys and young men are training to become trusty defenders of their country. The response of the youth of Australia to the call for service has exceeded anticipations, and is greatly to the credit of our young men. There is one danger to which I should like to refer, and that is the danger of introducing too f riff and rigid a military system. Even implicit obedience may be carried too far. It may be all very well to quote the lines -
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die- and there are very noble episodes in our history, in which men have stood firm and laid down their lives in obedience to orders ; but the sacrifice of human life has its limits, and military discipine must realize the value of life. I fear that the belauded British system which is being introduced here leaves no room for the initiation and individual exertion which I think we need in our Citizen Army. I have the greatest respect for Lord Kitchener, who is possibly the foremost military organizer in the world, but he has had no experience of citizen armies.
– Lord Kitchener is thoroughly in sympathy with the idea of a citizen army.
– My statement was that he had no experience of a citizen army. It is just the difference between a theoretical and a practical knowledge of business. The officers who are advising us - and their advice I am quite willing to say is very good, and based on the best information - are inclined to keep in mind, I think, the idea of a standing army in which men are simply regarded as one vast and complex fighting machine - an army in which all that a soldier has to do is that which he is told. The youth of Australia under arms are worthy of a better fate. The universal training now in operation here commends itself to me in many particulars. Apart altogether from its use in teaching the boys how to march, to manoeuvre, and to shoot, it has moral and physical effects of very great value. But the Australian youth is a peculiar character. He has all the aggressiveness of the Englishman, something of the independence of the Scotchman, a ready and agreeable . strain of Irish wit, something of the musical sturdiness of the Welshman, and just enough of the exuberance of the American to make him a sensible and excellent citizen. That combination is going to give us a very fine race of people. The Boer war showed us that this Australian combination of qualities was most effective when it had the opportunity to develop itself along its own lines instead of being entirely controlled by the rigid discipline of the English system. The Australian troops did the best and most creditable work when they were left to themselves - when they were left to accomplish their own work in their own way. I hope I shall not be taken as decrying in any way the power of the British Army. The British soldier is, to my mind, par excellence, to be commended as a fighting machine.
– The British regular is the best in the world.
– I have no doubt about that, but I am not dealing just now with the officering of the British Army. What I am anxious to secure is that we shall not cover up, stultify, or spoil these inherent qualities of the young Australian under a system of rigid discipline that will destroy his adaptability and make him nothing more than a mere cypher when he might be a useful and effective entity. I wish to refer to another defence matter which will, perhaps, excite some comment. Indeed, I hope that it will do so. We are training the young men of Australia, and I wish to suggest to the Defence Department that we should begin to consider the training of the girls as well as the boys. Women have of late years, particularly since the Crimean war, played a very active and important part on the field of battle. I have not had time to get out certain figures that I had hoped to put before the House, but it is well known that the number of men on active service who die of sickness and disease is far greater than the number who succumb to accident or to the bullets of the enemy. Since Florence Nightingale, at the call of her country, went to the Crimea, and the revelation of the disgraceful condition of affairs that existed there, a staff of hospital nurses has been an indispensable and integral part of every great war. Why should we wait until war breaks out before we call for our nurses? If it is necessary to train the boys toshoot, it seems to me that the returns as to the relative deadliness of disease and the bullets of the enemy show that it is even more necessary that we should train the girls so that they will be able to nurse the sick and wounded. Not only are nurses necessary - not only is it advisable that we should begin their training now - but, just as we hope by training our boys to have in time to come a generation of men who can be effectively placed under arms at a moment’s notice, so by training our girls in the principles of first aid, in ambulance work, the treatment of disease, and so forth, we shall do much for the future of the country.
By-and-by as these girls spread over the land, and become the mothers of the children of Australia, the knowledge thus obtained by them, even though it be under the Defence administration, will be of immense service in peace as well as in war, effecting not only a saving of life in time of war, but, at other times, possibly, a great saying of infant life. The problem of which we hear so much in regard to population and immigration would find in that way, at all events, a partial solution. It is an accepted fact that the enormous number of infants who die in Australia is altogether disproportionate.
– The girls need lessons in domestic economy.
– I am referring to only one phase of a very important question. The Australian youth has a natural adaptability. He can make himself a useful and effective soldier, and I think that the girls of Australia have also a natural adaptability fitting them to act, not only as nurses in time of war, but to be ready at any time to be of service in the treatment of disease. Before leaving the question of defence, I wish to refer to the conduct of training camps. This, to my mind, is one of the most important matters in connexion with a defence scheme. Many parents view with considerable trepidation the sending of their boys into training camps, and especially the annual camps, where they remain from three to four days. Even in the ordinary military camps where the adults remain foi a week there is an equal difficulty with regard to the moral influences of those camps upon the men. If it is bad in the case of men it is worse in the case of toys. The Government have taken care that one thing, at all events, shall be provided for the men in camp. The canteen, unfortunately, is never absent. It is to the credit of this Parliament that the canteen has been abolished from the cadet camps, but it still exists in our military camps for adults, and, unfortunately, it is the only opportunity for refreshment or recreation that is provided by the Government. The Defence Department are altogether ignoring a very important item in the matter of training camps. I suggest that something should be done, if not to inaugurate, at least, to support, any effort that is made to provide reasonable opportunities for recreation and reasonable conveniences for the men so that they may put their spare time to good use. I have here an extract from the Argus in reference to the camp that was held at Seymour while Lord Kitchener was here. Referring to the Young Men’s Christian Association marquee, it says -
Looked upon with some suspicion at first, ns being new to camp life, the marquee soon became popular with the men, and in a day or two it was the most frequented spot on the encampment. Its popularity arose from the fact that it struck a note of home life in military surroundings. After the dusty march the soldier found other shelter than the crowded tent or the canteen. Military organization provides -him plenty of work, but it does not concern itself with his idle hours.
After a long day’s march the men gathered to write their letters or postcards, to read, or meet their friends, or group about the piano and sing with the lightness of heart conferred by a good day’s work well done. Every night some entertainment was arranged, and the surrounding bush rang with the laughter of delighted soldiers: Sunday afternoons and evenings were devoted to religious services. The daily attendance of officers and men was 650 -
There were, I think, about 4,000 men under canvas - and the greatest crush was always in the evening. “ More room “ was often the cry. . . . Altogether 4,852 letters and postcards were written and despatched from the marquee; 3,000 postcards were distributed in camp ; 6,500 sheets of letter-paper were used and 5, 700- envelopes were supplied.
This year the camp at Kilmore was attended by over 5,000 men, and concerning the provision made for their comfort by the field service of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Melbourne, I propose to quote a few appreciations selected at random from a number expressed by the officers and men. According to the article before me, a corporal described it as “ the best place in camp.” Another soldier described it as “ a boon and a blessing to soldiers,” while other comments were “ a heed supplied and appreciated”; “an excellent institution much appreciated “ ; “a boon to soldiers in camp”; “a great acquisition to the camp “ ; “ what we have always wanted “ ; “ will do a great deal of good,” and “ essential to every camp.” These are but a few of a large number of comments made by the officers and men who visited the Young Men’s Christian Association tent. Colonel Stanley said -
I am wishful of expressing once again my high sense of appreciation of the excellent work carried out by your association for the promotion of the well-being of the troops. By making provision for the comfort of officers and men for recreation purposes, and for writing letters 4o their friends at home, your association has conveyed a distinct benefit to the Military Forces, and it is difficult to place a value, from the -soldier’s point of view, upon the advantages accruing to the service, from the men being thus induced to remain in camp and away from less -desirable counter attractions.
Lt. -Colonel Courtney says -
Of the regiment under my command, 477 of all rank were in camp, and it is most gratifying to me to be able to say’ that the conduct of all was exemplary, not a single offence or complaint being brought under my notice during the eight days. For this record I feel indebted in no small measure to the influence of your organization, and the attractions it so liberally provided.
Colonel Field, of the Australian Infantry Regiment, writes -
In my opinion, the splendid facilities provided by the Young Men’s Christian Association at Kilmore to enable our soldiers to send away and to receive letters from home should be a permanent feature of every camp, and the work should be subsidised by the Commonwealth Defence Department. The concession was largely availed 01. and was splendid in every respect.
Lord Haldane, the Secretary of State for War in Great Britain, made the following statement -
The War Office has long been appreciative of the services rendered by the Y.M.C.A. to the men of the Auxiliary Forces. . . .
The interest taken in their moral and material welfare cannot but react favorably on their efficiency as soldiers.
Some reasonable official recognition should be given to such institutions as this. Under Lord Roberts, Young Men’s Christian Association officers attached to the main column are officially recognised as members of the head-quarters staff. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union in Queensland attend 10 this work, and do it very effectively. It seems very reasonable that while the men are away from their homes, the Government should assist in furnishing opportunities for them to write their letters and have some home comforts. To simply let 4,000 or 5,000 men loose in a camp after the day’s work is over, with the canteen as the only place of resort, and the only means of recreation, is altogether destructive qf the best influences of camp life. If the men are physically trained during the clay, it is much more necessary that they should be morally trained during the evening. I commend that suggestion to the officers of the Defence Department.
There is in the Governor-General’s Speech an item which has occasioned me considerable pleasure. The matter can be dealt with at greater length when the Bill to amend the Conciliation and
Arbitration Act comes before the House; but my experience during the last few months of the absolute failure of the existing Act to be of any practical benefit to the men for whom it was placed on the statute-book, has convinced me that some amendment is urgently wanted. The Act was passed with the particular object of making it easily possible for industrial disputes to be settled, by allowing the men and their employers to meet together under reasonable circumstances, discuss their troubles in an impartial atmosphere, and come to a reasonable conclusion without any necessity for disputing or striking. Yet the Act has so signally failed in every direction as to be practically useless.
– I am hopeful that the amendment of the Act to be introduced will be of such a character as, if necessary, to get past the decisions of the High Court, which have made the Act at present on the statute-book absolutely useless. If there is one thing necessary in order to develop Australia, it is an effective measure of this kind. There is no doubt an urgent need for population, and nobody can object to the cry for immigration. It is all moonshine for honorable members opposite to say that the Labour party are afraid of or opposed to immigration. We are nothing of the kind, but we want to make the conditions of life here such as to obviate any necessity for attracting immigration, they themselves being the best advertisement to induce people to come here. We cannot make the conditions here anything like they ought to be until we make it easily possible for disputes in any industry to be adjusted without any disturbance of trade or any of the upheavals so common in other parts of the world. A good deal has been said about strikes. Some honorable members referred to civil war and suggested that a state of social ‘war has practically prevailed in Australia during the sugar strike. I always listen to the Leader of the Opposition with considerable pleasure. He is always worth hearing, even when one most disagrees with him, and possibly he is then at his best. But on Wednesday he reminded me of nothing so much as a dancing master on account of the graceful way in which he side-stepped and pirouetted and circled round the various items to which he referred. His dexterity excited my admiration. It was very clever. I could not help reflecting how graceful his movements were, how choice his language, and how agile his movements ; but somehow he always missed Che point. He never got exactly to what he seemed to be driving at. When he referred to strikes in Australia as having practically created a state of civil war, and being almost revolutionary in their methods, I wondered whether some echo of what has taken place in England, or what is taking place in France, had got into his mind. One wonders what would be said by him and others in Australia if we had anything like a repetition of the riots at Liverpool or in France. Strikes here are child’s play compared with strikes there.
– We have not onetenth part of the population, scattered over a country as big as Europe. No comparison can be made.
– That is an argument against the honorable member’s own position, because if that is a condition for preserving peace, the honorable member ought to argue that we must not increase the population.
– We have had disturbances on quite as large a scale in proportion to the population, at Broken Hill, at Adelaide, and in Queensland.
– ,1 cannot refer of my own knowledge to what took place in Adelaide, but I have a very certain knowledge of what was going on in Queensland during the late sugar strike. The reasons for that strike seem so patent and necessary that one wonders if we are really living in the twentieth century. Fancy it being necessary in this workmen’s paradise, this country of great advantages, for men to strike in order to secure an eight-hour <lay and £2 a week ! It is remarkable that employers should be able to refuse to give white men living in the paradise of Australia £2 a week.
– Some of them are not worth £2 a week, are they ?
– Then the employer hits his remedy, because he need not employ any man who is not worth his money. When I arrived at Cairns on my return from Papua I found the reasons for the strike were that the men were demanding an eight-hour day and pay equal at the outside to £2 a week, because 30s. a week and found is equal to 35s. or 38s. at the very most.
– Does the honorable member contend that it costs a man only Ss. a week to keep himself?
– Absolutely. It struck me the men were not making an unreasonable demand in view of the miserable conditions and payment they had to put up with. On the contrary, I thought they were altogether too modest in their demands.
– I think the honorable member told them so.
– I did, because I was simply astounded. The employers estimate that it costs them about 12s. 3d. per week to supply a man with food, but it is a peculiar thing that in some cases the men take 10s. per week, pay their own cook, and make money on the transaction. The men in any sugar district in Queensland are prepared to take 8s. a week and find their own food. They have a very good reason for that, because one of their great complaints, which was well-grounded, was as to the quality of the food supplied to them. ,Tt was stated in the Queensland House of Assembly, and the statement has not been challenged or contradicted,, that all the men had to wash their plates and tin mugs in after their meals was a little dish of water, which was boiling when put there, but soon became tepid. The first men who used it did not fare badly, but when up to 100 men had to use it the scum and filth on the water became simply repulsive. The serving of the food was altogether disgraceful ; and a few photographs here, taken at the Bundaberg strike camp, will give some idea of how these men were managed and fed. Fortunately, that strike is settled now ; but I hope honorable members will not overlook the fact that it is only a temporary settlement. An industry that has to be forced to pay such a reasonable, or rather unreasonable, wage as £2 a week, considering the cost of living, and refuses eight hours a day, is one that demands inquiry. Even now the eight-hour day is only applicable to the mill hands, the men in the fields having still to work ten and twelve hours.
– Most of them working on contract.
– The contract men are the worst off amongst the lot. It is all very well for honorable members to laugh, and to talk about the high wages made by these men ; but we never hear a hint as to the hours these men have to work in order to earn £3 or £4 a week. They work from daylight to dark, and the wage I have mentioned is about the top. The men are glad to take work under contract in order to obtain a reasonable wage, and the hours are a disgrace to the industry.
– They are their own masters, and they can make £4 a week.
– That is no justification for the unreasonable hours. Let me turn now to the remarks made in regard to “civil war” - to the conduct of the strike. I think that honorable members must have been thinking of France or some other country rather than of Australia, because the conduct of the sugar strike is one of the great object-lessons of the world. In only one other country 1 know of has a strike of such magnitude been conducted with less disorder and less need of interference by the Government. Some little time ago, there was a great strike in Sweden, but anything in the shape of disorder in connexion therewith was much minimized by the workmen, of their own volition, supported by the Government, asking that the hotel bars and liquor shops should be closed during the progress of the strike. Never in the history of the world has there been a more successful strike than that, both in regard to its conduct and results. As to the sugar strike, the reports in the press in regard to disorder, interference with people at their work, or the damaging of bridges, railways, and so forth are all open to a good deal of doubt, if not to flat denial. One Monday morning during the strike I read in the Brisbane Courier that there had been a great riot in Bundaberg. We were told that there had been great disorder by the strikers, and that the police had been compelled to chase them down the pavement - in short, that there had been quite a tumult in the town on the Saturday night. Unfortunately for the report, the last sentence informed us that, while this was going on, the strikers were holding their usual open-air meeting at the top of the street, and that, after their meeting, they formed up in fours and marched back to camp. Several of the most reputable business people of the town told me, not more than a month ago, that the whole of the disorder in Bundaberg on that occasion was due to needless interference by the police with the tradesmen and townspeople, who were going about their ordinary business on the Saturday night. If there was disorder, interference with, and interruption of, ordinary business, it was due entirely to the scum - to the lowest-down class of workers in Australia gathered by the employers in Melbourne and Sydney. It is to the eternal discredit of the QueenslandGovernment that they allowed their Employment Bureau in Sydney to be used as an office for the engagement of free labourers or scabs to take the place of honest workmen, who were ready and willing to work, but who were not allowed to do so except with unreasonable wages and conditions. The conduct of that strike reflects the greatest credit on the men. We must remember that they are only temporarily employed, scattering subsequently to all parts of the country when the cutting is over, and that they are subject and susceptible to certain temptations which do not assail men who are settled with regular, steady work. One wonders that 5,000 men could keep themselves so well under control, and carry on a strike for eight weeks, without one of the regular hands having to be brought to book. They realized that there was more than their own name at stake - that each in his own way was responsible for the good name of the workers generally - and they justified the strike handsomely. I only hope that the results of the strike and the agreement now arrived at will obviate any necessity for a recurrence next year. I repeat that honorable members must not forget that the present settlement is only temporary. I rejoiced to hear the Prime Minister say yesterday that the Government are favorably considering the appointment of a Royal Commission. Whatever differences of opinion we may have as to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company being a monopoly, and as to whether the growers get enough for their cane, or the workers enough for their labour, we desire to ascertain the facts, the whole facts, and. nothing but the facts; and, if that can. be done by means of a Royal Commission, let us have one as soon as possible.
– Does the honorable member favour a non-political Commission?
– Absolutely. Paragraph 22 of His Excellency’s Speech is -
My Advisers have under consideration ‘the establishment of reciprocal trade with New Zealand and Canada.
I am particularly interested in this because of my anxiety in regard to the Vancouver mail service. There had been, for some years, trade carried on between Queensland and Vancouver, and it had grown by leaps and bounds, promising well to become a very valuable asset in trade relationship. It has been interrupted to some extent, however, owing to the discontinuance of the mail service; and I was delighted this morning to have the assurance from the Prime Minister that consideration is being given to this matter, and negotiations are proceeding. It is important that these should be brought to an issue as soon as possible; because, in the meantime, our trade is passing into other hands, and we know that it is much easier to lose customers and markets than to gain them. We desire the most friendly relationship with Canada, because Canadian people have much to give us, as we have much to give them. We have just the commodities in the shape of meat, butter, and dairy produce generally, that -they require; and a trade could be established of mutual advantage. Trade, although it may, perhaps, seem a small thing in itself is just one of those influences that make for community of. interest and give rise to the best relationships and unity throughout the Empire.
– Is it not the fault of the honorable member’s own constituents that the mail agreement was not continued ?
– No ; the attitude of the Brisbane people was that a service conducted at the expense of the people of Australia should not subsidize New Zealand exporters. The Brisbane people took a broad view, seeing that they insisted that if an Australian service was inaugurated it should include Melbourne and Sydney as well as Brisbane.
– But did the Brisbane people riot intend to cut out New Zealand ?
– They said distinctly, and I repeat it here, that any service which includes New Zealand is an unfair handicap on Australian exporters owing to the reciprocal treaty between New Zealand and Canada. For Australia to subsidize a line of steam-ships to land Australian and New Zealand goods in Canada under the same conditions, and then permit New Zealand the absolute advantage of the reciprocal arrangement, will seriously prejudice our shippers.
– Cannot Australia make similar reciprocal arrangements?
-That is why I refer with commendation to the paragraph in His Excellency’s Speech and the reply of the Prime Minister this morning. It is necessary, if ‘we are to establish closer relationships, as well as develop our commercial business, that there should be the best possible understanding with Canada as well as with New Zealand. Paragraph 28 refers to the Public Service Act ; and if there is an Act that requires our attention, it is that. This Act was supposed to protect public servants against political influence, but, from my short acquaintance with its operation, 1 think there has been substituted the much more subtle and dangerous social influence. Some amendment of the measure is urgently necessary in order to insure to public servants, as far as possible, fair and reasonable conditions.
– Can the honorable member mention an instance in which social influence has been used ?
– I shall defer my remarks on the subject until the Bill is on the table. I would, however, draw attention to the injustice of the present position of temporary employes. Contrary to common sense and sound business arrangements, temporary employes are turned off, after, by a six months’ engagement, they have gained a special aptitude for their work.
– The term is often extended to nine months?
– Not often. But that makes the position more absurd.
– The provision in the Act was adopted to prevent the flooding of the service with temporary employe’s. In Victoria, there was a telegraph messenger who had been a temporary employe’ for years, who was drawing only £70 a year, although he had whiskers, and a wife and five children.
– I do not know why the men should not be kept on as long as they are wanted. No doubt in the Postal Department there are times when extra hands are needed, but means should be found whereby men who have proved their ability and worth should be retained, instead of being automatically dismissed at the end of six months. I shall discuss that matter more fully when we have the Bill before us. Another complaint I have is that our young men who go abroad to study are not recognised as Australians, if they want to come back and get a Government appointment. A young man who left Queensland several years since to go to the Old Country to perfect his education as an electrical engineer subsequently accepted a position there. But he now wishes to return to Australia, and to apply for a position as electrical engineer in the Commonwealth Public Service, but our regulations treat him as a foreigner.
– If he is competent, he will have a chance very soon, because we are trying to get an assistant electrical engineer. We cannot find the man we want in Australia. Another Queenslander, who had been abroad, has just gone to Fremantle to take up Government work.
- His appointment was a proper recognition of Queensland ability. Our young men should be encouraged to perfect themselves by travel, and should not cease to rank as Australians by reason of their residence abroad. My last reference will be to the referenda. 1 wish honorable members opposite all joy of their victory, if they can find satisfaction in it. There are victories which are, in their essence, defeats, and the knowledge of the campaign of misrepresentation which preceded the referenda must rob the victors of most of their satisfaction. If there is any truth in that great book. The Great Illusion, in which the author shows that even the victors in a war gain nothing, our friends opposite are not the gainers, and are mistaken if they think that they have struck a blow at the Labour party. The honorable member for Angas said yesterday that it is the duty of honorable members to tell the mortal truth to the people, and then declared that the proposals were defeated because the people, and even many honorable members, did not understand them.
– That is what the Prime Minister said.
– I have hurriedly obtained a couple of illustrations of the manner in which those who opposed the Government proposals tried to influence the people. Senator Chataway, speaking in Brisbane on 21st April, said -
New Protection, carried to its logical conclusion, would mean the supervision, of all production, and that would mean an Excise officer posted in every fowl house.
– What is wrong with that statement? ‘
– It shows an absolute want of information. It must be remembered that my illustrations are from the speeches of the leaders of the party, not from those of the small fry. Speaking at Chillagoe, Mr. Denham, Premier of Queensland, said -
Only recently the Department of Agriculture wanted half a gallon of rum for experimental purposes, and when they applied to the Commonwealth Excise Department the matter had to be referred to Melbourne.
That was used as an argument to show that the adoption of the referenda pro- .posals would lead to the reference of every small matter of State concern to Melbourne-T-that Queensland would be able to do nothing until Melbourne had dealt with it. The point about this illustration is that it was absolutely untrue.
– The complaint of the Leader of the Opposition was that Victoria would be ruled from Yass-Canberra.
– The people of New South Wales were told by the Opposition that the adoption of our proposals would mean that Sydney would be ruled from Melbourne, while the people of Victoria were told that they would be ruled from Yass-Canberra. When I inquired at the Customs House as to the truth of Mr. Denham’s statement I was told by the Collector that no such application had ever reached the Excise officers. I therefore gave a denial to Mr. Denham’s statement and there the matter ended. Just prior to the referenda poll we had a most unfortunate shipping disaster on the Queensland coast. I am sure we all regretted, and all sorrowed, over the unfortunate Yongala disaster. Mr. Denham was in Northern Queensland at the time, and at Ayr he said -
He did not wish to make capital out of a misfortune like that of the Yongala, but the Federal Government was not to be entirely exonerated. The Constitution of the Commonwealth gave that Government power to take over all lighthouses, lightships, and beacons …. yet they had done absolutely nothing.
On that statement he proceeded to build up an argument showing that our referenda proposals should be rejected. It was one of the most outrageous things that had ever occurred in the political arena. On* returning to Brisbane Mr. Denham wastaxed with having made this statement, and he denied it. In reply I quoted his statement from his own paper, the Courier.
– Then the honorable member did not accept Mr. Denham’s denial ?
– The Courier reported the statement as having been made by him.
– Statements are made in our newspapers concerning the honorable member’s leader, and when he denies them we at once accept his denial. The honorable member does not act in the same way. The honorable member ought to be fair.
-The honorable member must cease these interjections.
– Mr. Denham has never yet, through the press, denied the accuracy of that report. When speaking at the Eight Hour dinner, at the Exhibition Building, Brisbane, he denied the statement, and denied that such a statement had been reported. He was at once challenged, and a copy of the newspaper containing the report was sent to him. He has never yet denied the accuracy of that report.
– How many times does the honorable member want him to deny it?
– We wish him to deny it as often as the honorable member for Parramatta denied the statement credited to him in regard to the River torpedo boats.
– If there is one thing more than another in regard to the unfortunate Yongala disaster it is that the absence of lighthouses along our coast was not responsible for it. The disaster, according to the finding of the Marine Board, was due to weather conditions.
– The whole thing is a mystery. How can the honorable member say to what it was due?
– I do not pretend to be an expert; I simply quote the finding of the Marine Board. It is very patent that as soon as possible attention should be given to the lighthouses and beacons along the coast. No doubt Mr. Baines, the Treasurer of Queensland, will be glad to hear of the statement made yesterday by the Minister of Trade and Customs that the Lighthouses Bill was to be proceeded with, inasmuch as last week he said that -
The Government could not possibly spend a huge amount on the lighting of the coast when it was absolutely unknown whether the Federal Government would or would not take over the matter.
I contend that Mr. Barnes knew that we desired to take over the control of lighthouses and beacons at the earliest opportunity, and I believe that the recent inspection of the coast of Australia by the lighthouse expert will provide the Federal Government with sufficient information to induce them to give us the lighting of the Australian coast, and particularly of the Queensland coast, that is so urgently needed. The lighthouses along the coast are altogether out of date, and there is much in connexion with them that demands attention. One of the most successful lies told during the referenda campaign was that the proposals put forward by the Government were designed to take away Home Rule.
– That was perfectlytrue.
– It was a deliberate and unfair attempt to capture the Irish vote. With the aspirations of the Irish people for Home Rule I have the utmost sympathy. No Australian who values the democratic institutions, and the freedom of government that we enjoy would deny reasonably equal opportunities and advantages to other people. But to try to draw a comparison between the granting of Home Rule to Ireland, and the preservation of Home Rule to the Australian States was to attempt an analogy that could not be fairly drawn. Home Rule, as we understand it, in the Old Country, is the handing over from the higher to the lower authority of certain powers, advantages, and opportunities, whereas Home Rule in Australia, as we understand it in connexion with the referenda proposals, meant a grant, not from the higher to the lower, but from the lower to the higher authority.
– The difference between tweedledum and tweedledee !
– Certainly not. Here the Central Government can exercise only such powers as the State Governments have consented to allow them to exercise, whereas, in the older country, the local Governments can exercise only such powers as the Central Government will allow them, so that there can be no parallel between the two cases.
– Does the honorable member think that the Federal Parliament is higher than a State Parliament?
– Most certainly.
– Certainly not.
– I am sorry that so capable an exponent of national policy as is the honorable member for Parkes should express an opinion so derogatory to the dignity of this House.
– It was the honorable member for Parkes who spoke of our having a higher and rarer atmosphere in the Federal Parliament.
– I said that we hoped there would be a higher and rarer atmosphere there.
– And that no hoof of labour would ever come into the Federal Parliament.
– That is a lie.
– The honorable member for Parramatta must withdraw that remark.
– What remark?
– The honorable member said, in reply to an interjection by the Minister of Trade and Customs, “ That is a lie.” The Minister of Trade and Customs was out of order in making an interjection, but it was more disorderly for the honorable member to make the remark that he did across the chamber. The honorable member must withdraw it.
– The Minister used the expression-
– I have asked the honorable member to withdraw the remark.
– If you let me explain, I will do so.
– Order ! The honorable member will withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it, and desire to make a personal explanation. The Minister of Trade and Customs accused the honorable member for Parkes of saying he hoped no hoof of Labour would ever come into this Parliament. That was the expression which I characterized as a lie - a statement which I have withdrawn. I say that that kind of thing is not fair fighting at all.
– Order ?
– It is disgraceful.
– Order ! The honorable member is now making another statement that I should again call upon him to withdraw. The honorable member must not make these remarks. There is a practice growing up - and I regret to have to say it to the honorable member - under which the honorable member seems to take upon himself the right to reply to almost any interjection that is made, and that often brings him into conflict with me. It must be remembered that interjections are disorderly at any time.
– I do not desire these lectures, Mr. Speaker.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must know that when I am speaking he must be silent.
– There is no law that requires ypu to lecture me.
– Order. I shall name the honorable member if he continues to interrupt. Interjections are disorderly, and the honorable member has no right to reply to them.
– They are disorderly even from Ministers.
– What has just happened proves the truth of the statement I made from this place last year, that we have not yet developed in Australia a sufficiently high standard of statesmanship to grasp the responsibilities and opportunities of the National Parliament. I believe that this body can effectively and truly govern the people of Australia only when it is clothed with sufficient powers to conduct the business of the country in a reasonable and legitimate way. The proposals embodied in the referenda would, if carried, have added to the dignity of this Parliament, and increased its powers and opportunities to the advantage of the people of Australia, but let honorable members opposite make no mistake. This party is accustomed to reverses. We are not a party of a day, and every reform party is subject to slight reverses of fortune. We are used to being told that the things we propose are unreasonable, extreme, unnecessary, or dangerous, and many of us have lived long enough to know that the reforms we have promulgated have in many cases been gladly accepted by the people when they came to know better. It will be the same in this case. We mav lose battles, but we shall win the war. Honorable members opposite need not hug to themselves the flattering unction that because they defeated the referenda on the 26th April last they may therefore look forward with confidence to a glorious future.
– It has given them hope.
– Let them indulge in that hope. We welcome their opposition, and are not afraid to meet them on the same proposals under equal conditions when the time comes.
– I rise, first of all, to give an absolute contradiction to the statement made by the honorable member for Yarra. T wish now to move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Mr. THOMAS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Public Service Act - Papers relative to Appointment and Promotions, in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, of -
G. McFarlane, as Clerk, Chief Accountant’s Branch, Central Staff.
L. Monaghan, as Assistant Manager, Electrical Engineer’s Branch (Telephones), Sydney.
H. Seitz, as Draughtsman, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Sydney.
Swire, as Clerk, Records Branch, Sydney.
Motion (by Mr. Thomas) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I regret that any heat was caused by what occurred just now. The honorable member for Brisbane was surprised at the statement of the honorable member for Parkes that any State Parliament was the equal of this Parliament. I interjected that the honorable member for Parkes had said in this House that he had come into a rarer atmosphere— *
– I said that I hoped I had. I admit that I have not.
– I interjected, also, that I understood that the honorable . member for Parkes had said, prior to Federation, that he was advocating the establishment of Federation for the purpose of practically dishing the Labour party, as the hoof of the Labour party would never enter there. I had heard that statement in regard ‘ to the honorable member several times, and believed that he did say it. If he states distinctly that he did not say so, I shall, of course, gladly take his word for it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4- 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 September 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19110908_reps_4_60/>.