4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in view of the importance of having the very best designs possible submitted for the Federal Capital, an effort will be made to establish confidence among the leading architects abroad as to the competency and impartiality of the judges who will be selected to adjudicate upon the designs?
– I am under the impression that a Board composed of Australian professional men should possess sufficient intellectuality to guarantee confidence in all the world.
– When travel- ling on the Orient mail steamer Orontes recently, I had in my possession what was the only copy on board of the Commonwealth Year-Book, and it was greatly in demand. I ask the Minister of Home Affairs if he will have a copy of the book placed on board each of the mail steamers that trade between Australia and Europe?
– The Home Affairs Department will do everything to enlighten the world upon the greatness of this country.
Cadets : Free Travelling - Mitigation of Drill - Purchase of Land, Tasmania - Importation of Officers
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Ministerof Defence if the Victorian Government has been asked to allow the cadets who are required to undergo military training to travel free upon the railways to and from the places at which they have to.be drilled, and has declined to do so?
– I think that that is so, but I shall obtain definite information for the honorable member to-morrow.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether, in view of the apprehension that cadets are to be trained for unduly long periods and under circumstances involving strain, he can inform the House what steps have been taken to mitigate the training ?
– I presume that the honorable gentleman ‘has discussed this matter with the Minister of Defence, because the following copy of instructions on the subject issued to Commandants has been supplied to me by him -
The final paragraph of section 127 of the Act, and Universal Training Regulation 26, authorize the BrigadeMajor to vary the duration of Senior Cadet parades, if considered necessary, provided that the annual total of the half-day and night parades be not less than seventy-two hours.
It is considered, however, that if the training is sufficiently varied and interspersed with periods of “ standing easy,” the duration of the parades prescribed by the third paragraph of section 127 of the Defence Act will not be too long in the cooler weather.
In the summer months, however, it would appear lo be advisable to - take advantage of the above-mentioned clause of the Act. The greatest care should bc observed by officers and instructors in the case of any weak or delicate boys, so that no injury may be done by overexertion. Such boys should be ordered to frequently stand aside and rest.
While standing down or standing easy, advantage should be taken, by all officers and staff instructors to deliver lecturettes on patriotism and the necessity for discipline and military training, and in giving instructions in military organization and in the Universal Training Regulations, particularly those paragraphs relating to the statutory requirements of the Act. This can also be varied by means cf questions and answers, and by asking boys to detail certain portions of drill.
Replying to a question asked by the honorable member for Wilmot on the 6th in stant, the Minister has not yet received the report of the officer who went to Tasmania to inquire as to the area proposed to .be bought for military purposes. It is not at present proposed to establish a horse station there, and there will be no objection to making the report, when received, available to members, if it be found that the giving of the information will not prejudice the Government in purchasing land. The honorable member for Laanecoorie on the same date asked for a return showing the number of officers imported into Australia, for employment in the Defence Forces for each of the three years ending 30th June last. The return supplied to me is as follows-
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at - Perth, Western Australia - For Commonwealth purposes.
Defence Act - Regulations and Regulations Amended, &c. (Provisional) -
Factories - Government - Conduct and Management, &c., under section 63 of the Defence Act, Statutory Rules1911, No. 66.
Landing of Sailors and Soldiers from Foreign Men-of-War and Transports - Statutory Rules1911, No. 29.
Military Cadet Corps -
No. 44 (a) - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 56. Military College -
Regulations - Statutory Rules1911, No. 16. Regulations amended-
Nos. 3, 6, 12, &c. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 52.
Entrance Examination - Part II. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 88.
Entrance Examination - Part III. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 118.
Universal Training -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 33-
Regulations amended -
No. 16 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 25.
Nos. 59-88 - Junior Cadets - Statutory
Rules 1911, No. 30.
No. 2 - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 50.
No. 36 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 78.
Military Forces -
No. 198a - Statutory Rules1911, No. 110.
No. 208 - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 112.
No. 188 - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 113.
Nos. 556, 558 (a)- Statutory Rules 1910, No.116.
No. 164 - Statutory Rules 1910. No. 117.
No. 104a,b, c,106a (h), (i) - Statutory Rules 1911, No.1.
No. 167 - Statutory Rules1911, No. 14.
No. 421 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 15.
No. 485 - Statutory Rules1911, No. 20.
No. 522a - Statutory Rules1911, No. 34.
Nos. 134, 56 (a) - Statutory Rules1911, No. 35.
No. 540b - Statutory Rules1911, No. 36.
No. 106c - Statutory Rules1911, No. 49.
Nos. 513a.b, c,d - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 51.
Nos. 2, 2A, 2B, 2c (Military Board) - Statutory Rules1911, No. 53.
No. 458 - Statutory Rules1911, No. 54.
No. 36 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 55.
No. 475 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 58.
No. 421 - Statutory Rules1911, No. 67.
Nos. 152, 159 - Statutory Rules1911, No.73.
No. 34 - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 107.
No. 615 - Statutory Rules1911, No. 117.
No: 273A, 276A - Statutory Rules1911, No. 122.
Financial Regulations -
No. 57(a) - Statutory Rules1911, No. 118.
No. 66 (a)-Statutory Rules1911, No. 17.
Financial and Allowance Regulations -
No. 108 (c), (g) - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 131.
No. 108 (c)-Statutoiy Rules 1910, No. 132.
No. 65 (a) - Statutory Rules1911, No. 2.
Nos. 75 (b), 78 (b)- Statutory Rules 1911, No. 13.
No. 109-Statutory Rules 1911, No. 26.
No.81 - Statutory Rules1911, No. 27.
No.85 (a) - Statutory Rules1911, No. 37.
No. 101 (b) - Statutory Rules1911, No. 38-
No. 65 (4) - Statutory Rules1911, No. 39-
Nos. 64, 70 - Statutory Rules1911, No.
No. 113 - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 65.
No. 258 - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 72.
Naval Forces - Regulations Amended -
No.92a - Statutory Rules1911. No.111.
Naval Defence Act -
Naval Forces -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Nos. 55, 167A - Statutory Rules 191 l, No. 31.
Part I., Section III., &c- Statutory Rules 1911, No. 32.
Senior Naval Cadets, Statutory Rules 191 1, No.108.
Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
No. 48-Statutory Rules 1911, No.18.
No. 77 - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 33.
No. 50a - Statutory Rules1911, No. 85.
No. 50b - Statutory Rules 1911, No.86.
Nos. 48-50a - Statutory Rules1911. No. 87.
No. 50d - Statutory Rules1911, No.119.
No.49 (J) - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 123.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The Department has no information available in this matter.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will furnish the following information, i.e. : - A summary of all changes made in the administration of the Postal Department ministerially, departmentally, and per medium of the Public Service Commissioner, and the cost thereof from 1st January,1908, to date.
– I am having a summary prepared, and shall be pleased to lay it onthe table of the House. To give the cost of each change, however, would, I fear, be difficult, and in some cases, impossible, but. if the honorable member, after he has seen the summary, will indicate any particular item or items on which he desires further information, I will endeavour to furnish it.
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
“LINKING UP THE EMPIRE.
Wireless Scheme. australia out of call.
London. Sept. 7.
The experts of the British Admiralty are perfecting a scheme of wireless telegraphy, which will enable communication with every part of the Empire to be maintained. Tests recently made have proved that communication can be obtained expeditiously with the majority of stations abroad, but not with Australia.
With the Empire linked up by wireless, it is predicted that the new scheme of the allied Navies of the Dominion will be made a reality to all the partners.
The Government denies the statement of the Australasian Wireless Company that Telefunken outfits have been ordered for army purposes or for use in India.” ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Debate resumed from 8th September (vide page 270), on motion by Mr. Bren nan -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
. -It will be generally acknowledged, I think, that, in the comparatively short history of the Federal Parliament, honorable members have seldom or never been confronted with such a quantity of material for legitimate criticism and comment. Under ordinary circumstances, we always have the administration during the period of recess, and also the programme of the Government for the current session, as matters for criticism. But on this occasion we have something very unusual, and something much more farreaching than either of these heads of subjectmatter. Three of His Majesty’s Ministers have been accredited by this House to proceed to the Mother Country to take part in, I suppose, one of the most important Imperial Conferences that has ever taken place; and those Ministers have expressed opinions throughout the Mother Country, both as to what is alleged to be their party’s policy and as to the alleged opinions of the Australian people. I find much food for comment in both these subjects : and, in addition, since the House met we have had a “variety of excuses offered to account for the overwhelming - I might almost call it the cyclonic - defeat of the referenda submitted to the people by the Government. I intend to say something this afternoon with regard to the Conference, and the conduct and expressions of opinion by His Majesty’s Ministers in the Conference, and also something of a critical character with regard to the speeches which have been made in the Mother Country by those same Ministers, in some cases professing to be the principles of the Labour party, and, in others, professing to be the opinions of the Australian people.
The press of this country has in several cases deprecated the continuance of this debate on the ground that it is dragging its length along in a way wearisome to the public. I should like to point out, however, that it does not follow that, because the editor of one or a number of papers has, in the quiet of his editorial parlour, settled all these matters to his own satisfaction, that we in this House are to give up our duties to our constituents with regard to criticism. One must remember that those editors have been for nine months pouring out leaders for the edification of the public at the rate of two or three a day ; and on many of these great questions, no doubt, imagine they have said the final word. But I should like to know what some Victorian newspapers would say if one of the Victorian members were to come to the House and announce that he did not intend to speak in this debate because the Sydney Morning Herald or the Daily Telegraph had settled the questions before us. L coming from New South
Wales, feel very much in the same frame of mind with regard to the criticism of the Victorian newspapers. This is essentially a Chamber for the discussion of the public affairs of Australia; and a duty devolves on every honorable member, not only to the public generally, but to his constituents, to show that he is familiar with what is being done in the country, and that he has opinions of his own on the various questions involved. I desire to say, first of all, that I do not think this House has yet sufficiently considered the question of conferences generally. It seems to me that we are gradually entering on a series of gatherings at the heart of the Empire without having laid down any sort of principle which should guide our Ministers in taking part in them. They are a new growth; there is no procedure with regard to the way in which they should be approached by Ministers from this country ; and we find already a very different course being pursued by the different Prime Ministers with regard to the subjects discussed. This, it seems to me, is a matter of the highest importance. We are practically bringing into existence a new tribunal - a new arena - for the discussion of political questions, and, although it is consultative, and although its decisions are of a tentative character, to that arena the whole world is looking for the discussion of the problems of the British Empire. If the course which has been adopted by this Government with regard to the last Conference is going to be followed, this House will, I think, sooner or later have to resolve on some new practice. There is a danger in unregulated Conferences. We all know that it is assumed, when men attend such gatherings, that they are going to discuss matters apart from party - that they are going to discuss the great problems of the Empire from a purely Empire stand-point. If that be the case, it is due to every Parliament in every Dominion - that is to say, every one of the higher Parliaments like the Federal Parliament of this country and that of Canada - that the members of those Parliaments should be made acquainted in due and sufficient time with the character of the questions to be discussed. There is a danger if something of the sort is not done. From time to time Ministers may proceed to the Mother Country with -the expressed object of discussing questions from an Empire stand-point. It is essentially an Empire gathering, and it can never be supposed that Ministers from Australia are going to the centre of the Empire merely to put before the people of the world - because that is their audience - the views of their particular party. If honorable members read the utterance of the Prime Minister of England, Mr. Asquith, they will see what he says about members of the Conference assuming that every other member has left behind him the views of his particular party, and comes to hear the views of members from other parts of the Empire in order that some conclusion may be arrived at which will contribute towards the unity of the Empire. Honorable members may not have been supplied with a copy of the Conference proceedings, for one of which I am indebted to the courtesy of the Prime Minister ; and I should like to refer for a moment to one or two expressions of opinion on the part of Mr. Asquith. His opening address was particularly short and pregnant, containing a large amount of valuable matter. He said at the outset -
There have been, in the past, Empires which (like our own) were widespread, populous, rich in mineral wealth, the prolific breeding ground of art, and science, and . literature.
But this Empire of ours is distinguished from them all by special and dominating characteristics. From the external point of view it is made up of countries which are not geographically conterminous, or even contiguous, which present every variety of climate, soil, people, and religion, and even in those communities which have attained to complete selfgovernment, and which are represented in this room today, does not draw its unifying and cohesive force solely from identity of race or of language. . . There is, as there must be among communities so differently situated and circumstanced, a vast variety of constitutional methods, and of social and political institutions and ideals. But to speak for a moment for that part of the Empire which is represented here to-day, what is it that we have in common, which amidst every diversity of external and material conditions makes us and keeps us one ? There are two things in the self-governing British Empire which are unique in the history of great political aggregations. The first is the reign of Law - wherever the King’s writ runs it is the symbol and messenger, not of an arbitrary authority, but of rights shared by every citizen, and capable of being asserted and made effective by the tribunals of the land.
I do not think that, in this country, we have conformed altogether to the ideal there laid down; but I shall leave for a later part of my address my observations on the absence in Australia of an approximation to that ideal. There is a danger about these conferences, and it is that if Ministers of the Crown from different communities or dominions proceed to this arena, which, as
I have indicated, is intended for the discussion of Empire questions, and give vent there to mere party opinions on the representation that they are the opinions of the people of the country from which they come, they will naturally mislead the representatives of other dominions there. It is quite possible - for I am speaking now in the abstract - that Ministers from different dominions may give to their fellow - members of the conferences an entirely wrong idea of the national stand-point of the countries from which they come. Agreements of a tentative character may be arrived at - such as the Naval Agreement, which was made at the last Conference - that may be entirely incorrect as expressive of the wishes of the people of the country from which the delegates come if they insist, from time to time, upon mere party representations. And by and by the further danger will arise, that if the Parliaments of certain dominions repudiate arrangements .tentatively arrived at in this way, the Conferences themselves will lose their reputation, and the public will give them less and less attention. The Conferences have two objects, and the first of these is to try to harmonize the wishes and aspirations of the peoples of the British Empire. Our Empire is only now, by the process of these repeated Conferences, “ finding itself,” as Kipling says, or taking shape, as a separate and distinct political entity; and it is 1io the interests of every part of the Empire that they should not only be looked up to by the people who attend them from time to time, but should be represented to the people of the world as being true Empire Conferences, to which all eyes may be turned with confidence that the conclusions come to, whatever they may be, will be respected throughout the Empire. I intend in a moment to show that the Prime Minister and his two colleagues did not observe the first principles laid down by .the Prime Minister of England. When the honorable member for Ballarat proceeded to the Conference of 1907, he paid this House the compliment of placing before it a category of the subjects with which he intended to deal there. It was not possible for him to put before the House a detailed statement of the way in which he was going to deal with each of those questions; but he sufficient])’ indicated to honorable members the nature of the propositions which he was .going to advance. This House, however, was entirely iri. the dark, except, perhaps, on the Ministerial side, as to what was going to be put before the last Conference of representatives of the Mother Country and of the several Dominions. However we may differ on party questions, the time has arrived when we should recognise that the whole House should be taken into the confidence of the Ministry of the day in connexion with any future Conference, in order that we may know, generally, at least, what propositions are going to be put before it. If it is made a mere party question - if the Prime Minister in this case has merely discussed these problems in caucus, or, if you like, in a free meeting of the whole of his party, ignoring this side of the House, and not giving the Opposition a sufficient opportunity, before he starts, to offer its protests against anything that he proposes to do - then, not only this party, but the whole Parliament, isbelittled.” The representation of Australia at the next Conference might be in the hands of the honorable member for Ballarat.
– I do not think so.
– I said that it “ might.” If it were, then I should like to know what the party on the other side of the House would say if the honorable gentleman went to England, with his Ministers, having consulted merely the members of his own party as to the propositions to be put before the Conference. I am speaking in this way. in the interests, not of any one party, but of Conferences generally of an Imperial character. I entirely agree with Mr. Asquith’s statement of the fundamental purposes of these Conferences, and I do not see how any one could take exception to it. It is not a mere echoing of the party feelings and aspirations of different political bodies in different Parliaments of the Empire. The Imperial Conference is an arena in which all the delegates should meet and. as I have said, endeavour to harmonize their peoples’ viewson questions common to the whole Empire. With regard to the last Conference, I intend, as I have said, to show that the principles laid down by Mr. Asquith were not observed. Before doing so, however, I propose to read one other passage from his address, which, I presume, not all honorable members have had’ an opportunity to read for themselves. Speaking as President of the Conference, the Prime Minister of England said -
There are first of all proposals put foward from responsible quarters which aim at some closer form of political union as between the component members of the Empire, and which, with that object, would develop’ existing, or devise new, machinery, in the shape of an Advisory Council, or in some other form.
That obviously applied to a proposal which Sir Joseph Ward intended to bring forward in the Conference, and of which the Prime Minister as President had due notice - a proposal really to constitute a sort of central Parliament in which the different parts of the Empire should be represented, and in which a conclusion should be come to that would be primarily binding upon different parts of the ..Empire. The Prime Minister, continuing, said -
I need not say that, in advance of the discussions which we are about to have, I pronounce no opinion on this class of proposals. I will only venture the observation that I am sure we shall not lose sight of the value of elasticity and flexibility in our Imperial organization, or -of the importance of maintaining to the full, in the case of all of us, the principle of Ministerial responsibility to Parliament. Of a cognate character are the questions raised as to the future constitution of the Colonial Office, and in particular as to the segregation and concentration of the work appropriate to the Dominions from the other work of the Department. Under this head I trust that His Majesty’s Government may be able to put forward suggestions which will be acceptable in themselves and prove fruitful in practice.
He then concluded with these most instructive words as to the spirit in which these conferences should be entered into and conducted -
There are sitting at this table to-day six Prime Ministers, all holding their commission from the same King, and all deriving their title 4o its exercise from the voice and vote of a free democracy. We are all of us, I suppose, in our own Parliaments party leaders, holding and using power by virtue of the confidence of a party majority. But each of us when we entered this room left his party prepossessions -outside the door.
I mention that in confirmation of the proposition that I have put to the House - that no Minister had a right to bring before that Conference, or to fight for, any mere party principle except as an incidental contribution to the debate in the hope of putting before other members of the Conference the merits of that particular view. Mr. Asquith further said -
For us to-day, and throughout this Conference, there is, I believe, one spirit and one purpose - to make the Empire, in all its activities, and throughout all its parts, a more complete and effective instrument for the furtherance of our corporate unity and strength along the old, well-trodden, but ever lengthening and widening, road to British liberty.
I would commend that passage in its entirety to honorable members, for it is full of mature thought as to the spirit in which men should enter these Conferences, as. to the object of the Conferences and as to the dangers which are likely to result from a failure to observe those elementary principles. ‘
I come now to the Conference itself. Generally speaking. I consider the Prime Minister and his colleagues voiced, with” insufficient authority, opinions which are not the opinions of the people of all Australia, or of the great majority of them.
– From the honorable member’s point of view.
– Everything’ 1 say to-day is from my point of view. Perhaps that will get rid of a number ‘of objections. I am not speaking foi honorable members opposite, because I am not in sympathy with many of their views.’ ‘ I contend that many of the views put before the Conference by the Prime Minister were party views, and do not represent the opinions of the people of Australia. In the first place, after the right honorable (gentleman had left Australia, the whole constitutional ground was taken from under his feet by the result of the referenda. The honorable member for Ballarat pointed out that in the last general election in the Commonwealth there was a total majority of 5,000 in one House, taking the aggregate of all the votes recorded for the Ministerial side of that House, and 9,000 of a majority, taking the aggregate of all the votes for members of the Senate throughout the Commonwealth - or a total of 14,000 votes. I do not agree entirely with his figures, foi I think the total amounted to about 40,000 ; but by the failure of the distribution of seats, on account naturally of the constantly varying numbers of some constituencies, and the stand-still character of others, those 14,000 or 40,000 votes resulted in the return of a majority of eleven members in this House, and gave a majority in the Senate altogether out of consistency with the number of votes recorded for each member. But whilst the Prime Minister was on his way to England, relying upon his majority of eleven in this House, the people of Australia had submitted to them a programme of Labour politics under which the States were to be denuded of most of their legislative power by its transference to the Commonwealth Parliament. Those referenda embodied almost the whole policy of the Labour party ; and what did the people of the Commonwealth say when they were asked to ap_prove of that policy, and to give the Labour party in this Parliament an opportunity of entering the States’ and doing for the people by Commonwealth legislation what the States previously had the liberty to do for themselves? They rejected the proposals by 250,000 votes; and I say unhesitatingly that if the ethics of party government which existed in England years ago, and even in some of our States thirty or forty years ago, had been applied to Commonwealth politics, no Prime Minister would have suffered the indignity, but would have resigned his position at once, saying, “ Let the country find other Ministers.” The Labour party consists of comparatively young men, some of whom are trying to make themselves look even younger by sartorial changes, but my political experience goes back a long way. I can recall a time in 1890, when that eminent statesman, Sir Henry Parkes, was trying to pass a measure through the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. When he discovered something in it of which he disapproved, and sought to move the Chairman out of the chair in Committee in order to have an opportunity of reconsidering it, and when the Committee declined to allow the Chairman to go out of the chair, that statesman resigned his position next morning on this ground - “ That if honorable members take the conduct of business out of my hands, they must find somebody else to manage it.” And I say with stronger reason that when the present Prime Minister, or his party, found that the country had rejected their proposals by a quarter of a million votes, if they had been guided by the same political ethics they themselves would have said, “ We have no longer the confidence of the people of Australia, and will resign our positions and ask them to call upon others.” I can readily understand, Mr. Speaker, that this argument should be met with guffaws to-day, because the whole standard of political ethics has changed. It is not a question of what is honorable; it is not a question of what is dignified; it is a question of how long men can hold on like limpets to a rock and suck all the nourishment they can get out of it. I hope that honorable members will excuse me from answering their interjections, because I find that interjections which are not answered need not be reported in Hansard. One hardly knows how much the Prime Minister changed his views of politics and Imperial affairs after he went to England. We know very well that if he has come back with very much modified views he is still helpless in giving voice to them, and is still entirely unable to modify his political conduct according to the change of his political opinions. I cut from one of the newspapers, while the Prime-Minister was in England, a very interesting extract in which the honorable member for Hume used certain observations ; and I have no doubt that the modification in opinions which the honorable member underwent was shared to some extent by the Prime Minister and his colleagues, especially after they had been admitted to the “ inner councils “ of the Imperial Government, and had been intrusted with some of the great secrets of Imperial administration. The honorable member for Hume said -
Not long ago he had taken an absolutely wrong view of the Motherland’s legislation and administration, but when he visited Great Britain he soon found how totally different were administration and legislation for an Empire from administering and making laws for a Dominion.
Whether the Prime Minister underwent changes of that sort I am unaware; but it seemed to me on reading that extract that, even if he did, he would nevertheless come back here and still have the Caucus to control him, still have the resolutions of its conferences to force him to take a certain line, however illiberal it might be, and however much in the teeth of the liberal education which he had received while in Great Britain. I want to say, in the first place, that if it was the case, as the Prime Minister of England said, that every man who entered that Conference entered it with nothing but Empire considerations and purposes, then the Prime Minister was totally unfitted by the constitution of his party to take part in it. Because, Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister went to England, he went with a cut-and-dried programme from his party, and he had, willy-nilly, to put that through if he could. I shall show that the Prime Minister and his colleagues had to withdraw every one of eight proposals which were put forward by them in the Conference. They did not pass a single proposition. This fact suggests that they entered this Conference contrary to the general proposition laid down by Mr. Asquith, and with a view to palming off some of their party considerations upon the people of the Empire. I took from a leading article in the Argus a few weeks ago a reference to the Conference, and to the position that the Prime Minister occupied in it. It said - -
English people who read Mr. Fisher’s very frequent statements to the London press are probably not aware of the fact that when he speaks as a Socialist he does not speak for Australia, nor are they aware that he dare not utter as leader of the Labour Party of Australia the view he is so frequently expressing when far distant from the Commonwealth.
I shall show to the House that the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues lacked information with regard to that Conference; they lacked the broad Empire spirit, and showed little consideration in their action - if not in their words - for the wider Empire interests. I shall show, further, that in putting some of their views before the Conference as expressive of the wishes and aspirations of the people of Australia they did an injustice to the Commonwealth, and misled many of their hearers as to what the Australian people thought and think.
The first question with which the Conference dealt related to the Declaration of London. I do not intend to embark upon a consideration of the particular parts of the Declaration concerning which certain differences occurred, but I should like honorable members to notice this fact: At the very threshold of the Conference the Prime Minister of Australia, moved that it was - to be regretted that the Dominions were not consulted prior to acceptance of terms.
The debate showed that neither the Prime Minister nor his colleagues really understood the Declaration of London ; and the proceedings at the Conference show that the Prime Minister did not understand even this simple proposition - that what the British people were approving was not a final agreement between the nations affected, but an agreement which reached to a certain point, subject to later modification. I shall show in a moment what was said by the Prime Minister of Great Britain as President of the Conference, and what was said by the Prime Minister of Australia. Having made a close study of the proceedings of the Conference, I am able to say that our Prime Minister’s motion was a piece of arrogance on the part of a man representing 4,000,000 of people in an Empire which consists of about 65,000,000. He affirmed that it was to be regretted that the Dominions had not been consulted prior to the acceptance of the terms.
– And the Imperial Government agreed to consult us in the future.
– I shall show the right honorable gentleman that in that attitude adopted by English Ministers a great injustice has been done to the British people, by an undertaking to consult the different Dominions as to how Great Britain should act concerning great problems as to the conduct of her wars, for which the Dominions are not going to be responsible, must be regulated. This Declaration of London is a question of war, and of the conditions of war. Yet we were presented with the extraordinary spectacle of the Prime Minister of a country which has reserved to itself the right to decline to join in a war undertaken by the British Nation - a country which does not contribute a farthing towards the maintenance of the British Navy, but merely provides a navy to defend its own shores - attempting to dictate to 48,000,000 of people the conditions which they should attach to compacts which they entered into with the other nations of Europe. If Australia were contributing her quota towards the maintenance of the fleet which was to engage in the war, I could understand the Prime Minister saying, “ We contribute our pro rata amount of the expenditure upon the war, and ought, therefore, to have a fro rata say in the conditions governing it.” But over and over again the right honorable gentleman has said, in effect, “We look to the British Empire to defend the Empire, and we are content to provide for the defence of Australia.”
– Will the honorable member explain what constitutes the British Empire?
– I will refer the honorable member to a text-book. The Prime Minister went on to say that the Commonwealth was strongly in favour of international congresses, or conferences, or of any body at all which would help to settle disputes. One would have thought that butter would not melt in his mouth, so strongly was he in favour of the settlement of disputes of all kinds in this way. Yet he hailed from a country where he had actually subscribed personally to a fund to carry on a strike dispute in the teeth of the decision of its Courts. He went on to say -
Then when the Mother Country approached other countries she would do it, not only in her own name, but with the assurance that in all matters essential she was also putting forward the. views. of the Dominions as well. This would strengthen the Dominions, and make them feel they were’ sharers in all that was clone for the protection of the best interests of the Empire.
I ‘shall hereafter show that the ablest statesman present at that Conference, outside of the representatives of the Mother Country, echoed the sentiment that the Views of the Australian representatives were entirely impracticable, and in a measure embarrassing, inasmuch as they asked that Australia should be consulted in regard to questions with which she was concerned only as a matter of concession, because this question of international compacts with regard to war is a matter which entirely concerns those who pay for the war. The Prime- Minister knew also that, although Australia has a great deal of shipping, it does not own a single vessel which trades across the ocean with the Mother Country. It : is true that we send our wool and our goods Home,: but I defy the right honorable’ ‘gentleman to mention a single individual in Australia who owns or despatches across ‘‘the ocean a solitary vessel which is liable to come under the operation of the laws in the framing of “which he insisted upon having a voice on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth. Then the Minister of External Affairs came upon the scene and uttered this truth - if it be now recognised as a truth -
Of course, there must be, as has been quoted pretty frequently, only one foreign policy in the Empire, and there must be one final authority.
He was then speaking for himself and his colleagues. I should like to know how he can reconcile that statement with the attitude which the Labour party have taken up in this country. When the honorable member for Ballarat was introducing a Defence Bill to the notice of this House about four years ago, I recollect that when, he came to deal with the question of whether the Australian Navy should, in time of war, pass automatically into the hands of the Imperial . Government j whether it should come under the control and direction of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Fleet, our present Prime Minister, who was then leader of his party, said, “ Certainly it should not, without the question being first submitted to Parliament.” So that to-day he is in this position : that if the Mother Country, from which the right honorable gentleman has accepted one of the greatest honours - that of a member of the Council of the Empire - were to go to war to-morrow, he might have to face a Parliament which decided to reject any proposal to join in defending it. Let me read to the House the utterance of the ablest statesmen present at the Conference outside of the representatives of Great Britain. I do so, because they entirely confirm the view which ,1 am putting to honorable members. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, in speaking upon this question at a later stage of the debate, said -
In the proposition which was moved by our colleagues from Australia, especially as commented upon by Mr. Fisher - certain principles were laid down which seem to me to be very far-reaching. If I understand him correctly the proposition he’ laid down was that the Dominions should be consulted upon all treaties to be negotiated by His Majesty. There are two sorts of treaties between nations. First of all, there are commercial treaties, and, secondly, there are treaties of amity which are calculated to prevent causes of war or to settle afterwards the effects of war. With regard to commercial treaties, His Majesty’s Government has already adopted the practice of never including any of the Dominions beyond the seas except with their consent. That implies consultation prior or afterwards. Liberty is left to us to be included or not included in such a treaty as that, and I think that is very satisfactory. Coming now to the other class of treaties, which I characterized as treaties of amity, H would seem to me that it would be fettering, in many instances, the Home Government, the Imperial authorities, very seriously, if any of the outside Dominions were to be consulted as to what they should do on a particular question. In many cases the nature of the treaty would be such that it would only interest one of the Dominions. If it interested them all the Imperial authorities would find themselves seriously embarrassed if they were to receive the advice of Australia in one way, the advice of New Zealand in another way, and the advice of Canada, perhaps, in a third way. Negotiations have to be carried on by certain diplomatic methods, and it is, I think, not always safe for the party negotiating to at once put all his cards on the table and let his opponent know exactly what he is after. I noticed particularly what was said by Mr. Fisher a moment ago, that the British Empire is a family of nations, which is perfectly true, but it must be recognised that in that family of nations by far the greater burden has to be carried on the shoulders of the Government of the United Kingdom. The diplomatic part of the Government of the Empire has of necessity to be carried on by the Government of the United Kingdom, and that being so, I think it would be too much to say that in all circumstances the Dominions beyond the seas are to be consulted as far as the diplomatic negotiations are concerned. That is what I understood Mr. Fisher te desire.
He said further -
How are you to give advice and insist uponthe manner in which war is to be carried on, unless you aTe prepared to take the responsibility of going into the Avar.
In reply, the Australian Prime Minister said -
Do not we do that in a manner by coming here?
Did honorable members ever hear of a more ridiculous answer? Sir Wilfrid Laurier pertinently replied -
No, we come here to discuss certain questions ; but there are questions which seem to me to be eminently in the domain of the United Kingdom. We may give advice, if our advice is sought ; but if your advice is sought, or if you tender it, I do not think the United Kingdom can undertake to carry out this advice unless you are prepared to back that advice with all your strength, and take part in the war, and insist upon having the rules carried out according to the manner in which you think the war should be carried out. We have taken the position in Canada that we do not think we are bound to take part in every war, and that our fleet may not be called upon in all cases, and, therefore, for my part, I think it is better under such circumstances to leave the negotiations of these regulations, as to the way in which the war is to be carried on, to the chief partner of the family, the one who has to bear the burden in part on some occasions, and the whole burden, on perhaps other occasions.
I say this by way of general observation uponthefirst proposition which was made by Australia.
In these words, by the most eminent statesman outside Great Britain - and I am not sure that he is not the most sagacious statesman in the Empire - the view I am submitting to this House is entirely confirmed. I do not hesitate to repeat that it was a piece of arrogance on the part of the Prime Minister of this country to profess to represent the views of the Australian people in attempting practically to reproach the Imperial Government for not having consulted Australia in a matter in which Australia has no right to be consulted. According to the speech of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, it is clear that in connexion with commercial treaties all the Dominions are consulted, but this matter dealt with a question of amity, in connexion with which Great Britain might become involved in relation to war. If the people of Australia were consulted, and were aware of the facts they would, in my view, sweep the honorable gentleman’s opinion out of consideration. They would certainly not agree that we should send delegates to the United Kingdom to begin a Conference of this sort by deliberately reflecting upon the Imperial Government because they had not done something which Australia in an insular kind of way was represented as thinking they ought to have done. Something followed upon this which is rather interesting. Honorable members are aware that after that motion had been withdrawn, Sir Joseph Ward moved -
That the Conference after full consideration and debate approves the ratification of the Declaration of London.
I wish to remind honorable members that a very capable man - Mr. Findlay, the AttorneyGeneral of New Zealand - spoke as follows with regard to the Declaration of London, so far as it has gone - because many honorable members are aware that it represented a tentative scheme, to which fresh terms may be added at some future time, though our Prime Minister apparently did not understand that. Mr. Findlay said -
I had the opportunity of studying this Declaration of London when it reached New Zealand, and having given it the best thought I could. I published there the detailed views which entitled me, I think, to urge upon our Government that it should be adopted. I desire to say that it seems to me that the more critically that Declaration of London is examined, the more fully will it be found that in every part of it it is an advantage to the British nation.
In addition to that, Lord Lindley, one of the greatest Judges in England, has said, through the Times, that he has examined it closely, and that, while it is not all that could be desired, it is, so far as it goes, a splendid compact to be made on the part of the British people. I wish the House to notice that, having failed in his attempt to deal with the Imperial Government for not having consulted Australia; when Sir Joseph Ward’s motion for the purpose of approving of the ratification of the Declaration came on, Mr. Fisher said -
The resolution would place the Australian representatives in somewhat of a difficulty, and he could not give his approval.
Therefore, Australia had to stand out of the whole of the Conference in declining to approve of a matter which primarily concerned the United Kingdom alone, and which all the delegates recognised was in the interests of the Empire, since it benefited Great Britain. On the revival of the debate, the Prime Minister of Australia said -
My lay mind cannot perhaps grasp it -
Rather an extraordinary admission to make at the close of a long debate amongst many highly intellectual men - but Sir Edward Grey said this Declaration is settled and final.
-No, not final.
– He said so here.
– Not final in the sense that no further progress can hereafter be made.
Later, the President said -
You do not dissent from it.
– May I take it, the other members of the Conference are in favour of that resolution? [Agreed.] Then the resolution is carried, the Government of Australia abstaining.
I think that that was a distinctly humiliating position for our country to have been placed in. After having contended unsuccessfully that we should be consulted, our representatives absolutely refused to assent to a motion approving of a matter which Great Britain, through its Ministers, desired; which the whole of the Empire through the Dominion representatives desired, and which the Prime Minister of Australia lirst said he did not understand, and then said he would not approve of.
– That is what is called “ sitting on a rail.”
– It is what is called “statesmanship.”
– It is serio-comic.
– Now I come to another question. Honorable members will recollect that in this House some three or four years ago the then honorable member for North Sydney, the late Mr. Edwards, tabled a motion for the adoption of decimal coinage and weights. We know that it was discussed on a Thursday afternoon, when there are sometimes not more than ten or fifteen honorable members present in the chamber. Thursday afternoon is the occasion upon which fads of various kinds are brought forward, questions like the bi-metallism. single tax-
– The nationalization of distribution.
– Just so. The adoption of the decimal system of coinage and weights was brought forward on such an occasion in this House, and carried. There would be a very small attendance. We could hardly call it a House, and I doubt if there was a quorum present. A small number of membersof this House approved of a motion for the adoption of the decimal method as applied to coinage and weights and measures. Will honorable members believe that the Prime Minister of this country represented to the people of the United Kingdom that this was the wish of the Australian people, and actually had the temerity to propose that the whole of the commerce and finance of the British Empire should be transposed and converted because a majority of the Federal Parliament, on a private night sitting, had approved of this fad? Do honorable members consider that a question of Empire, or that the Prime Minister was justified in raising it at a Conference which was called to discuss Empire problems ? This is the motion moved by the Minister of External Affairs -
That to facilitate trade and commerce throughout the Empire this Conference should give its earnest attention to the reform of the present units of weights, measures, and coins.
He said -
The Commonwealth Parliament has declared in favour of uniformity.
– So it did.
– Technically it did ; but honorable members will hardly say that, as representing the people of Australia, the Commonwealth Parliament has approved of the decimal system. To say so would be misleading.
– Was the Minister of External Affairs not referring to the adoption of a report from a Select Committee on the subject ?
– I am aware that a Select Committee dealt with the matter, but what the Minister of External Affairs said was that the Commonwealth Parliament had declared in favour of uniformity. What I object to is that the Prime Minister and the Minister of External Affairs should suggest that the whole of the Australian people believe in the proposal because of the division on that motion in this House on a Thursday afternoon, and should attempt to impose such a system upon the whole British Empire. The right honorable gentleman ought to have known enough of the calibre of the men with whom he was dealing, to understand that he might as well have tried to get them; all to go up in an aeroplane. It was a ridiculous proposal, for the mover doesnot seem to have had a conception of the stupendous character of the trade and commerce and finance of the Empire which he was trying to turn topsy-turvy just as the Socialists would do with society in order to satisfy a theoretical aspiration. Mr. Buxton and Mr. Asquith offered some practical objections, and Sir Joseph Ward said that he approved of the proposal in spirit - which, I suppose means theoretically - and added that if it were possible to start the business of the world again, he would probably approve of it in practice. The proposal was withdrawn - that was the second withdrawal. Then we pass on to the question of the commercial relations of British shipping. An attempt was made here to revive that old question of stopping foreign ships with coloured crews from trading in Australian waters. Honorable members are aware that the shipping laws of the United Kingdom require all such matters to be dealt with uniformly, and a Bill of that sort would not pass without being submitted to the Imperial Government for approval, because it would touch the question of British shipping in every part of the world. But our Prime Minister did not seem to understand or appreciate that fact. He moved -
That it is advisable, in the interests both of the United Kingdom and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, that efforts in favour of British-manufactured goods and British shipping, should be supported as far as practicable.
Honorable members will hardly understand that, cunningly concealed under that very broad proposition, was an attempt to stop the coloured crews on British and foreign ships. The Minister of Defence, who followed, contended that preference arrangements should only apply to British ships manned by British seamen ; and he complained that the Royal assent was withheld from measures that came into conflict with foreign countries, and that British ships carrying coloured crews should not participate. The object of the motion was obviously, by a side wind, to get at this partyquestion. The English Minister who dealt with the proposition was Mr. Buxton. He said -
I was not aware what points would be raised on this resolution -
He saw the subtlety of the proposition, and how the real question, being that of coloured crews, was concealed under its general character -
I was not aware what points would be raised on this resolution, and I did not know, therefore, that this particular point would have been raised in connexion with it. But it having been raised, perhaps the Conference will allow me to say a few words with regard to it.
The position which His Majesty’s Government have taken up upon it is a twofold one. Mr. Pearce explained what was proposed by the Australian Act, and may I say, in passing, that as far as the object is concerned, we very much appreciate the desire of the Australian Commonwealth Government in reference to this matter, namely, to assist the British shipping in connexion with the Colonies -
There is much irony in that complimentary observation - and as far as possible to give an advantage to British shipping over foreign shipping in the Commonwealth. As far as the object is concerned, therefore, we are obliged to the Com monwealthfor what they have done and what they were desiring to do. But the question had to be considered not only from the point of view of British shipping in connexion with the Commonwealth, but we had to look at it from the point of view of British shipping all the world over. . . . What we representatives of British shipping here, and representatives, I hope, of the British Dominions as well, are nervous about is the power and opportunity of retaliation against our British shipping all the world over on any of these matters.
I would point out to the Conference that out of the 285,000,000 tons of British shipping all the world over, no less than 164,000,000 tons goes to foreign ports, and a comparatively small portion goes to Australian ports, and therefore for the advantage, and no doubt the considerable advantage, of the trade of the Commonwealth, we do not think that it would be worth while to risk the possibility of disadvantage accruing to the very enormous trade which we have with other Powers.
What was the result? The motion was withdrawn; that being the third withdrawal. Then the Conference passed to a relevant but subordinate proposition which was submitted by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He moved -
That His Majesty’s Government be requested to open negotiations with the several Foreign Governments having treaties which apply to the Overseas Dominions with a view to securing liberty for any of those Dominions which may so desire to withdraw from the operation of the treaty without impairing the treaty in respect of the rest of the Empire.
Sir Joseph Ward, with regard to that motion which he supported, said -
I prefer to wait -
Honorable members will notice the different tone with regard to these matters - the more straightforward attitude of Sir Joseph Ward -
I prefer to wait, as has been suggested by Mr. Brodeur, until we come to the motion dealing with the shipping, but I would like to say on the point referred to by Mr. Pearce as to pressure being brought to bear on the oversea Governments, that that is not the experience of New Zealand. In fact, I think there must be a misapprehension, because we have worked together at the Navigation Conference with a view to assimilating our shipping laws, and our practice in New Zealand is to send an outline to the Home authorities of any new law on the subject that we contemplate submitting to Parliament, for it is desirable, upon points upon which the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act would be in conflict with what we are doing that we should know beforehand in what direction the British authorities can assent to our legislation. I want to make it quite clear that we do not accept the kind of intimation conveyed by them as any direction to us that we should not submit legislation on any lines we think proper, but we are, all the same, very glad to know where the conflict may arise, and in what direction we may, as far as it is possible for us to do so, avoid the conflict.
The Australian representatives refused to vote for the motion on this ground - that “it would be an admission that the Australian people had not already the right to make laws for themselves independently of the Imperial Government.”
I come now to the subject of immigration. Our Prime Minister moved the fourth motion, that is the fourth in the order in which I have taken them out of the report -
That the resolution of the Conference of 1907, which was in the following terms, be reaffirmed : - “’ That it is desirable to encourage British emigrants to proceed to British Colonies rather than foreign countries.
That the Imperial Government be , requested to co-operate with any Colonies desiring immigrants in assisting suitable persons to emigrate.
That the Secretary of State for the Colonies bc requested to nominate representatives of the Dominions to the Committee of the Emigrants’ Information Office.”
That was a very cut-and-dried proposal ; and, so far as I can see, it would have involved the Imperial Government contributing a proportion of the expense of sending emigrants to Australia. But Mr. John Burns came upon the scene, and he submitted a body of figures of the most interesting character, showing how the emigration went on from England, and stating, as honorable members will perhaps recollect reading in the press, that she could only afford to dispose annually of 300,000 of her population. Our Prime Minister incidentally claimed that Australia had not applied the education rest to any people of European descent, although he said that “ for five years a thousand newspapers had vilified them.” That -is not an accurate statement. Those who have taken part in Australian affairs can remember that over and over again the education test was applied to various people. Some of the cases became notorious. In others, the persons so injured had not sufficient influence to make the facts known. In several instances the education test was applied, not only to Germans and other Europeans, but even to citizens of the Empire. This motion also was withdrawn. I cannot go through the proceedings to show all that was said for and against the proposal, but the result of the discussion was that it was “ resolved to continue the present policy.” The motion was still-born. That was the fourth proposal moved by our representatives in England which was rejected by the Conference.
Honorable members are aware that for years there have been advocates of the amalgamation of the two Courts of Appeal - the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the House of Lords. The House of Lords is the tribunal for all British legal appeals, and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for appeals from other parts of the British Dominions. Either our Prime Minister or our Minister of External Affairs informed the Conference that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is “only a Board;” but the Lord Chancellor of England, who was present, drew attention to several facts with which our representatives seemed not to have acquainted themselves. He pointed out that the personnel of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is frequently identical with that of the House of Lords ; so that whichever Court is appealed to the same legal talent deals with the case. He showed, too, that of seventy-eight Privy Council appeals, only three affected Australia, while no fewer than forty-one came from India. He pointed out many difficulties in the way of the proposed amalgamation, which, I suppose, our representatives did not understand. He showed that every Dominion has a. different set of rules regulating appeals, and that it would be impossible to provide for appeals to the House of Lords or to a joint Appeal Court without legislation in all parts of the Empire affected, including the Commonwealth. These difficulties did not seem to be appreciated by our representatives, but after the explanation of the Lord Chancellor the motion was withdrawn. He pointed out that the existing procedure regarding appeals could not be altered without an amendment of our Constitution, which, in its turn, would require an Imperial Act. Our Prime Minister spoke of such an amendment, but admitted that it could not be made now, and contended that the right of appeal to the Privy Council was provided for “ under duress “ - a very wrong statement to make. The question was fully discussed in this country when Sir Edmund Barton was sent to England in connexion with the consideration of the Imperial legislation covering bur Constitution; and, although at the time there were many who desired that the decisions of the Australian Courts should be final in all cases, a large body of public opinion contended that the ultimate right of appeal to the King should be retained. That right has been retained in the Canadian Constitution, and it is retained in our own, except in constitutional cases. The Lord Chancellor of England pointed out that we could not easily abolish this right of appeal ; that we “could not consume our own smoke entirely, as some seem to wish to do, without an amendment of the Constitution.” In regard to this question, our Prime Minister has never had an opportunity to ascertain the wishes of Australia, the only expression of the public view in regard to it being made when Sir Edmund Barton was sent Home prior to the granting of the Constitution. The provisions in the Constitution are in conformity with that view, and Parliament should have been consulted before any attempt was made to alter them. As I have said, the motion was withdrawn; that being the fifth of those submitted by our representatives which was so dealt with.
I do not suppose that honorable members know of the many difficulties arising in connexion with, the laws of conspiracy ; they have not been brought before this House. But the Prime Minister moved at the Conference -
That the members of this Conference recommend to their respective Governments the desirableness of submitting measures to Parliament for the prevention of acts of conspiracy to defeat or evade the law of any other part of the Empire.
I do not say that something of the sort is not necessary, but the motion, like others, was crudely conceived. It overlooked the difficulties, and had no regard to the effects of its adoption on the legislation of the Empire.
– The report of the proceedings of the Conference shows clearly that in this matter, as in others, the Prime Minister and his colleagues possessed insufficient knowledge of the difficulties of the situation. They seemed to think that no other part of the Dominions except Australia was to be considered. It was a proposal of a roughandready character to do something that Australia wanted tobe done. The roughandready nature of the proposal was demonstrated by the British Ministers, and the motion was withdrawn, it being the sixth that was so treated.
The Minister of External Affairs affirmed, in similarly crude language, the desirability of preserving the freedom of local naturalization, whilst pro viding in some way, to be settled by a subsidiary conference, for Imperial naturalization : a very easy escape from the difficulties of the situation. The British Minister who dealt with the question was Mr.. Churchill : and he put a very clear statement of a very complicated question before the Conference, with the result that Mr. Batchelor withdrew his motion - the seventh motion and the seventh withdrawal.
I now come to the nationalization of the Atlantic cable. There are no half measures about these ‘gentlemen who went Home - they have nationalization on the brain. It has been rubbed into them by Labour conferences and leagues that nothing short of heaven could fail to be advantaged by nationalization; and so it was moved that the Conference strongly recommend the nationalization of the Atlantic cable, acquiring complete control of an All-Red route.
– Does the honorable member object to that?
– I object to the nationalization of the cable if our ends can be served by other means. The result was that Mr. Samuel, the PostmasterGeneral in the British Government, proposed an alternative which will, I think, commend itself to everybody who is not obsessed on the subject of nationalization, or has not what Emerson calls an “ inflammation “ on the subject. Mr. Samuel proposed that if there were no considerable reductions in the rates, the matter should be referred to a subsequent Conference. He did not desire to rush into the question of nationalization. Every State now, whether it be a Dominion or the United Kingdom, has its cares and responsibilities ; and he recognised the wisdom of not attempting to take this new obligation and burden on the Imperial shoulders until an attempt had been made to reduce the rates by other means. That alternative was adopted by the Conference; and Senator Pearce’s motion was withdrawn - the eighth withdrawal.
When we come to the subject of an AllRed Pacific steam-ship route, -one would think that the men who desired, by hook or by crook, to nationalize the cable, would be perfectly ready to take part in subsidizing an All-Red route via Canada; but the Prime Minister as representing Australia declined. The motion was submitted, I think, by Sir Joseph Ward ; and the Prime Minister of Australia said that the Australian Governments were not hostile; but he refused to join Canada and New Zealand in subsidizing the Vancouver service. I understood the right honorable gentleman the other night to take exception to the way in which this statement was framed by me in a question which I asked ; but I took it from the cabled report of what he said ; and the reason he therein gave was that New Zealand sells the same class of produce as Australia does, and there was some feeling amongst Australian producers that they would be subsidizing their competitors. It seems to me that the statesmanlike course to take in a matter of this sort, if it was felt that by subsidizing the new All-Red Pacific route we should be giving a great advantage to New Zealand producers over those of Australia, because of the reciprocal arrangement between New Zealand and Canada, was for the right honorable gentleman to state that we contemplated a reciprocal arrangement with Canada, and that when we have made it we shall be ready to join with Canada and New Zealand in embarking on this route. Some controversy ‘took place over the proposal between Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Sir Joseph Ward on the one hand and the Australian Prime Minister on the other. The words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier are worth reading to the House ; because they show that he was pursuing this question on an entirely different line. He said -
T have simply to say that, in so far as the Government of Canada is concerned, we altogether and absolutely indorse the resolution moved by Sir Joseph Ward.
The Australian Prime Minister said - it is hardly a practicable proposition to carry even passengers from the disadvantage of landing and transport across the Continent, and then re-embarkation at the other side. . . . Of course, I am not speaking of people with plenty of means who are touring, because I presume the proposal is not to meet the convenience of mere tourists, but for our purposes, for the purpose of emigration, and for the purpose of getting the people we desire to get to Australia; we desire a convenient, safe, cheap, and the most speedy route we can get. It is with some regret, of course, that I make these statements, not in any way hostilely to the proposition as a whole, but because I do not think it is practicable at the present time, with the limited” amount of money we can afford to spend in an accelerated’ and improved steamship communication between the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom, to support the proposition.
So far as the proceedings show, the ground which the Prime Minister put forward for not joining in this distinctly Imperial movement for an Al I -Red service was shortness of money ; and in the newspaper reports the right honorable gentleman is shown as introducing the feelings of the producers of Australia. The motion was lost because Australia would not join. Canada and England were willing, but Australia was unwilling.
I now come to the subject! of the Imperial shipping law. Sir Joseph Ward moved that the self-governing Dominions should be intrusted with wider legislative powers in respect to British and foreign shipping. The object of this motion was that, in conference with the British people, there should be some Imperial arrangement by which the Dominions should have greater powers in making shipping laws for themselves. The Prime Minister may think it desirable that they should, in the teeth of what Mr. Buxton said, have those powers, no matter what effect they might have on the shipping of the Empire. Honorable members will recollect that I pointed out that, when Senator Pearce moved his first motion - which I submitted did not really express what he meant- and Sir Joseph Ward moved another, requiring the Imperial Government to modify treaties with foreign Governments so as to give the Dominions the opportunity of withdrawing, the Prime Minister then declined to admit the proposition, because, he said, it would be a confession of our present legal inability. When the question came forward again, under the more direct form of the Imperial shipping laws, Sir Wilfrid Laurier generously said that he was not anxious to impair the spirit of loyalty of native populations, and so make it difficult for Great Britain to maintain good relations with them. I desire honorable members to observe that Sir Wilfrid Laurier thus generously recognised the fact that India contains 300,000,000 people, whose anger has already been stirred up because of their countrymen’s deportation, or threatened deportation, from South Africa ; and that, in dealing with the shipping of the Empire, England has to consider other people outside those of Australia, because the trade of British shipping is infinitely larger than that which concerns Australia. He, therefore, said, as I have already pointed out, that he was not anxious to impair the spirit of loyalty of native populations, and so make it difficult for Great -Britain to maintain good relations with them. In a speech delivered before the Conference Earl Crewe gives us a very interesting summary of the difficulties that the Mother Country has to face in connexion with the question of coloured labour. Although the English people do not see the difficulties of this coloured labour question, the Imperial Ministers quite recognise that it is one of great complexity in all the Dominion Parliaments. Earl Crewe, and, indeed, all the British Ministers, frankly admitted that at the Conference. I should like honorable members to hear what Earl Crewe had to say - it is of an educational character for most of us - in regard to the great conundrum which this question offers to British statesmen -
Now there is no doubt, I think, that our national British traits lead us into some temptation and difficulty in this matter. I remember hearing of a witty observation made many years ago, which was to the effect that a Frenchman begins by having a good opinion of himself, but an Englishman begins by haying a bad opinion of other people. I do not know whether Sir Wilfrid, who knows both races so well, would be disposed in any way to confirm that statement; but, that being so, if it is so, shows, I think, what our national temptations are when we come to consider the claims and the merits of people of a race entirely different from our own. What those claims and merits are are set out in the words which are quoted on the first page of this memorandum which has been circulated, among the observations made by Mr. Chamberlain in his address to the Conference in 1897. Those words are, if I may venture to say so, well worth weighing. I will not attempt to enlarge upon or in any way to develop what Mr. Chamberlain there so admirably said. I might, however, venture perhaps to remind you that, on the point of the national claims of Indians grounded on their past history - on their long descent - and other questions of the kind, this, at any rate, is not a moment when we desire to ignore those considerations. The ceremony of Thursday next, to which we are all looking forward, depends, to a great extent, for its meaning upon the long line of British sovereigns, through the Stuart, Tudor, and Plantagenet dynasties back to the lime of the Norman Conquest and the dim ages of the Saxon Monarchy ; and yet there are to be found in India those whose pride of descent is no less well founded and no less real than that of the King of England himself. Then, again, as regards history, we must never forget that not merely has India produced a great number of remarkable men, both in the public service and, to go back further, notable in ancient literature, but that she is most closely linked to a great number of the most famous men of our own race - statesmen; soldiers, and others. Now. of course, these considerations do not appeal to everybody. We know very well there is a large number of persons to whom the particular appeal of history and tradition does not come home; but on the eve of the Coronation I can hardly help alluding to this particular aspect of the question. But when you pass on to personal qualities in order to decide whether a man possesses a claim for consideration, really I think the case for those who object to Indians as Indians is worse still. If “A man’s a man for a’ that” is to be our motto, the claim of a large number of Indians is a real and- solid claim indeed. Whether we value intellectual culture, whether - apart from questions of creed - we value the religious mind, whether we value that remarkable devotion to and understanding of the things which are not seen which is so exceptionally deep in India, and which, I think, appeals to many people in these harder and material days - whether, again, we value simple intellectual force, uncertain in its exercise in some directions I admit, but which in others produces as keen and fine an instrument as you can find in any part of the world - whether we value all of those things, or any of them, it is undoubtedly the fact that India and Indians can establish a high and real claim for our consideration, apart from all others.
I am sorry to trouble honorable members with such a lengthy extract from this speech, but it all has a valuable hearing on the question of excluding Indian people from British and foreign ships.
As things are, I fully admit that there is no short cut to the solution, so far as I know, in any part of the self-governing Dominions, of this question of Indian immigration by the adoption of heroic legislation - that I fully admit. But I do submit, with confidence, to the Conference that the relations between India and the rest of the Empire may be most materially improved by the cultivation of a mutual understanding. So far as the Indian stand-point is concerned, I quite admit that India must admit the main postulates with which I opened these observations, that is to say, the undoubted liberty of the self-governing Dominions to lay down the rules of their own citizenship, and I can say cheerfully on behalf of the India Office and the Government of India that we will always do our best to explain to the people of India how the position stands in this matter. We will not encourage India in any way to develop what, as circumstances are, can only be called extravagant claims for entrance into the self-governing Dominions, and we will do our best to explain to them what the conditions of the Empire really are. In turn, I think we are entitled, and, indeed, it is our duty, to ask the Ministers of the self-governing Dominions to spread within their own area in each case a realization of how deep and how widespread feeling on this subject in India is. As I think the memorandum points out, the question is an almost unique one in this - that it combines all sections and shades of Indian opinion - all classes and all creeds and political schools - those who are most devoted to the British Crown, and those - few in number, as T hope and believe, but sometimes noisy and sometimes in their way even formidable - who desire to see the end of British rule in India - all these combine when it is a question of Indian disability in any part of the British Empire. It cannot be denied that this difficulty is a very real asset, and a valuable asset, in India to those who are opposed to our rule there. This is an aspect which I venture to impress strongly on the Conference. It puts into the hands of those - some of them entirely unscrupulous people - who object to our presence in India, and who desire to undermine the Government, a weapon which they are not slow to use in attacking us.
– The people of India are seeking for self-government.
– The question is whether the people of either India or Egypt are fit for it, but I shall not discuss that problem with the honorable member. Earl Crewe went on to say-
I think it cannot be disputed that until fairly pleasant terms exist between the self -governing Dominions and India, within, of course, I repeat once more, the necessary limitations which arise from the fact that you are self-governing Dominions, it cannot be denied that we are far from being a united Empire ; however close the connexion and however perfect the understanding between the Mother Country and the self-governing Dominions, we are not a united Empire unless that understanding spreads to some considerable extent also to that vast part of the Empire of which, of course, India is the most prominent division, but which also includes all the Crown Colonies which are inhabited by the various native races. We cannot be a united Empire for two reasons : in the first place, you cannot properly speak of a united Empire so long as acute and active difficulties exist between the different parts composing that Empire; and, secondly - this, I am sure, will appeal to Ministers here - it is a distinct misfortune and a derogation from the unity of the Empire if the Mother Country continually finds itself implicated in difficulties between various parts of the Empire.
In another passage he said -
I do not pretend, as I repeat once more, that the question is really a soluble one in the full sense - I do not think it is, but I am quite certain that if the Dominions will agree all through to show .in accommodating and friendly spirit towards India, although there will be, I have no doubt, plenty of unreasonable people in India as there are everywhere, yet, at the same time, the best public opinion in India will recognise your efforts, and will endeavour to play its part in a peaceful solution of any difficulties as they may arise.
I have read all this to the House because I think it is full of wisdom as to the friendly attitude that Australia and the other Dominions should take up towards the people of India in regard to’ the necessity for placing some restrictions upon their influx. We know that English politicians have been in India stirring up public feeling ; that they have been trying to persuade the people there that they are as fit for self-government as the British race, which, I am sure, they are not, and that they had better escape from British rule and govern for themselves. That speech of Earl Crewe really appealed to the representatives at the Conference to remember always that, however lightly and irresponsibly we may say to a particular race, “ We shall not allow you inside Australia,” it still imposes upon the Mother Country, whom I suppose we are naturally anxious to help, very grave difficulties in harmonizing our legislation with their difficulties. The same thing applies to other countries. Honorable members will recollect that, no less than four years before this Parliament existed, the Japanese people appealed to the people of the different States in these terms : “ We do not mind if you do not wish us to come intoyour country, but do not exclude us by an Act of Parliament in which you group us’ with all the inferior Asiatic races. Enter into a treaty with us, and in that treaty we will undertake not to come intoyour country. You will in that way treat us as a civilized nation. You will not put a statutory embargo on us, and we shall feel that you have treated us as a selfrespecting community.” That has been done with Canada, and I have among my notes a testimony by the Canadian Ministers as to the thoroughly conscientious way in which Japan has observed her treaty obligations to limit her people entering Canada. I brought this question up in, I think, 1902, when the Immigration Restriction Bill was before the House. I then pointed out that Japan had for a long time been asking, us to treat her as one of the civilized nations, and to be satisfied that if we entered into a treaty with her she would conscientiously observe it. I was able to show at that time, as Hansard will reveal to honorable members, that in the previous two years a larger number of Japanese and Chinese had left Australia than had come into it. I showed .this by figures laid upon the table by the Prime Minister himself, Sir Edmund Barton. This all shows, as was pointed out in the statesmanlike utterance of the Earl of Crewe, that the Dominions ought, in all cases where they are taking steps which are likely to be offensive to other races, especially those of Asia, to take into consideration the position in which the Imperial Government is placed in reconciling those people to laws passed on the part of her Dominions. Although we are keeping out the Indians, the Earl of Crewe made it clear that we ought not to make it more difficult than necessary to enable certain of them to come in; and I am happy to say that the Minister of External Affairs, in the course of the debate, uttered some expressions of opinion of which all must heartily approve.
– Was not that turned down?
– It was 110 their motion, but they declined to vote for it. The substance of the motion was that the self-governing Dominions should be intrusted with wider legislative powers in respect of British and foreign shipping. The Prime Minister of Australia would not vote for it - and, I suppose, the Minister of External Affairs and Senator Pearce abstained for the same reason - because he said it would amount to an admission that we had not the power already to interfere with British and foreign shipping that came here. This is what the Minister of External Affairs said -
On the general question raised by Lord Crewe with regard to a United Empire, the mixture of black and white races, or a freer admission of them into the countries now inhabited by the separate races, I think any suggestion that would work towards that would tend to a disunited Empire rather than a United Empire. I feel that very strongly. I think we recognise that there are localities in which both black and white can live separately, and that we should have the best possible and most harmonious relations with the two races. In that way we shall maintain the unity of the Empire. I would like also to put it in this way. Take the case of the Commonwealth : There was some years ago a very strong feeling, much stronger than there is to-day, of prejudice against the Asiatics.
I am glad to see that admission. He continued -
That prejudice is very largely going. I think one of the reasons why it is very much less to-day than it used to be is a better understanding, on the part of the statesmen in this country, of the position which we have taken up. There is not the same irritation caused by a wrong understanding on the part of our statesmen, or a wrong statement of the case by them of our position. Irritating statements used to be made in the press with regard to the position the self-governing Dominions take up in this matter. We have to-day a very much better feeling in that respect. We have been enabled so far to relax portions of Statutes in which any difference was shown with regard to the treatment of Asiatics and others. We have in two or three cases been able to carry resolutions removing the disabilities which Asiatics were formerly under. So far has this been extended, that we got a resolution through the House of Representatives to give Asiatics exactly the same privileges in old-age pensions as white persons. It was defeated ultimately, and it was not finally passed into law, but that was owing to accidental circumstances which I do not think will occur again. In every possible way we seek to place those who are resident in Australia in precisely the same position as other races.
I could not help thinking of the unfortunate Pacific Islanders whom the Australian people brought from their islands years ago, and induced to settle here and to establish homes. Their children were civilized, Christianized, and educated within our own country ; and then we deported them to the savage communities in which their parents had been reared. I always felt that that was not only the most unchristian, but the most inhuman, thing that was ever done by the Australian people.
– If they had stayed here, they would have died at the rate of three to one.
– The Minister of External Affairs further said -
We aim at that. We are not able to bring it about at once. Any attempt by resolution which we may carry here, or any suggestions which might come from any extraneous source, would not be helping that matter; it has to be the growth of public spirit in each of the selfgoverning Dominions.
He then pointed out -
There is a simple way of getting over all these difficulties by intimating their desire to visit; and as far as Australia is concerned, they at once get the permit which gives them free admission, and they are subject to no kind of restriction whatever, nor to any catechism. There is the . permit, and that is an absolute guarantee to free right of admission. I do not know how else we could do it; you cannot expect the officials to be able to tell who their visitors may be.
That was a very liberal expression of opinion on the Minister’s part. He pointed to a gradual liberalizing of the people’s views with respect to the black races, although not with a view to allowing them to come in in great numbers. Bearing on this question, in 1902 I said, standing in this House, that I regarded it as a factor in statesmanship that, however favorably a Parliament might view a particular proposal, it should not be adopted if it seemed to be strongly objectionable to the people; and I have always recognised that the people of Australia had a strong animosity to the idea of introducing coloured races.
– Not animosity, but dread.
– I think the consideration is largely economic, and not racial at all. At all events, there it was : and I recognised it in 1902 as one of the factors in whatever statesmanlike views one could take upon a question of that sort. The Austraiian Ministers declined to vote for the motion in question, because they said it would amount to an admission that Australia had not already the right to pass laws without consulting the authorities at Home. I noticed in the press, immediately after this had been cabled to Australia, that the Attorney-General emphasized that view. He said -
To admit to the Imperial Government the right to review our projected legislation would be to abandon our right of self-government.
That may be an aspiration, but, as the law stands to-day, a Governor-General has a perfect constitutional right to defer approving of any measure passed by this Parliament if he thinks that it will interfere with some important law of the Empire which has been passed by the Imperial Parliament. Therefore, the right is there. Whether the Imperial Parliament will exercise it or not depends upon the correspondence that takes place. But it was shown clearly by Mr. Sydney Buxton that, although Australia may be anxious to have unlimited power to deal with foreign or British shipping coming to Australia with coloured crews, to do so might disorganize the whole trade of the British Empire, because it would conflict with treaties with foreign countries and act as a kind of incentive to them to retaliate against British shipping, which I am sure the people of this country do not wish to do.
– Is the honorable member quite sure that what the Attorney-General said and what the Minister of External Affairs said were the same?
– - I do not think so. I think that what the Attorney-General said was that we did not anticipate any action by this Parliament.
– I took the words down just as they appear in the report, and I quote them to show that the Attorney-General would not admit that the Imperial Government hav.e the right to review our projected legislation, because to do so would be to abandon our right of self-government. I put the words in inverted commas in my notes, indicating that I had copied them verbatim.
– They might review a Bill before this Parliament had dealt with it.
– The only other point in connexion with the Conference to which I wish to allude is this : In the course of a speech delivered in England - I am not sure whether it was at the Imperial Conference or not - Senator Pearce said that -
There was a strong agitation in Australia in favour of the Government owning a line of steamers plying between Australia and Britain in order to prevent the producer from being exploited and deprived of his market.
– Hear, hear !
– I do not want the right honorable gentleman to say just now whether he thinks that expression of opinion sound or not, but only whether the words were uttered at the Conference. At all events, I say that that statement was a complete misrepresentation of the feelings of the Australian people. I remember that the honorable member for Barrier, when a private member, moved, on a certain private members’ day, a motion in favour of a State-owned line of steamers. On that occasion he made a calculation of the most callow description. I asked him, in the course of his speech, whether, in estimating the profit which would be derived, he had taken into consideration two common-place and stereotyped items. One was the depreciation in shipping, which ship-owners almost invariably put down at 5 per cent. ; and the other was the insurance of ships, which is equal to another 5 per cent. The honorable member said that he had not allowed for those two items. Vet he made a calculation by which he professed to show that Australia would make immense profits out of a line of steamers.’ To represent to the British people that the Australian people, as a whole, are so impressed with the unreasonableness of the existing lines of steamers that they desire to run a competing line as a State affair, is the grossest misrepresentation of public feeling. There has been no agitation, and such a proposal is not even in the programme of the Labour party. Of course, there are plenty of people in this country who are prepared to advocate such a thing. They are of the same type as those who would nationalize everything, even to the haloes which some of us are going to wear by-and-by. But I say that this utterance, as a representation of the feelings of the people of Australia, was absolutely unjustified. The people have never had an opportunity of expressing their opinion on the subject. We have such a multiplicity of lines running between England and Australia at such various rates - passenger fares ranging, I suppose, from £20 up to £60 or £80 - that it is impossible to say that a State line would do any better than existing lines do. But, whether or not, the people of Australia have never expressed an opinion.
– The only time when the people expressed an opinion on nationalization was at the referenda, when they were against it.
– The honorable member is quite right : because one of the referenda proposals which I had the pleasure of opposing and of criticising, both in the press and by my voice, was for the nationalization of everything. The result was that the people denounced it. The serious part of the matter is this : that if Conferences are going to be used solely as a sort of arena in which subjects of this kind - with regard to decimal coinage, with regard to a Commonwealth line of steamers, and other such things - are to be paraded, Conferences will be discredited in the eyes of the world.-
– Breeding-grounds for reform.
– I do not know about that, but I am sure that those views to which I have called attention do not represent the opinions of the people of Australia. However, summarizing the Conference, I find the following to be the result : - Eight motions - I know of no others - were brought forward by the Australian representatives, all of which were withdrawn ; that they refused to admit that the shipping laws were subject to Imperial powers; and that, on the Declaration of London, they declined to support an approving motion as far as negotiations have gone. That was, I submit, a poor exhibition. The Prime Minister may think that it was a poor exhibition, because the Conference did not see fit to approve of his resolutions ; but I do not hesitate to say that the whole of the motions brought forward by the Government were of the crudest and callowest description. They had not been fully thought out; and they had been brought forward without consideration for the interests of the rest of the Empire and of the position of the British people, who have to cope with difficulties they do not share. I therefore say that, as far as Australia is concerned, the Conference was anything but a success ; and I do not think that, if we could consult the private opinions of the leading men who took part in it, they would accord to Australia a very large meed of praise for the part they took in it, or even for the Imperial sentiments of the men who represented us.
– They would be very glad to adopt our ideas if they had the honour of passing them.
– I desire now to make a few references to opinions expressed by the Prime Minister and his colleagues outside the Conference. The right honorable gentleman went to many centres in Great Britain, being entertained here and there. He returned to his native heath, and I have no doubt felt that there he was at liberty to speak very broadly as to what public opinion and public practice in Australia were. I am prepared to show to any impartial audience - I do not say that I shall convince honorable members opposite, but I could show to an impartial jury, if I had one before me - that the right honorable gentleman wholly misrepresented public opinion and public practice in Australia, and that he also misrepresented the ideals of his own party, and the condition of industrial matters in Australia. Honorable members know that the Prime Minister was waited upon in London by a very large deputation from the Chamber of Commerce. They represented many millions of money. According to the correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, they represented a capital, of ^50,000,000. This deputation waited upon the Prime Minister for the purpose of protesting against the principles underlying the imposition of the land tax; and its recognised spokesman was Mr. Andrew Williamson, who is chairman of four or five Anglo-Australian companies. He said -
The land tax would produce a disinclination to invest money in Australia.
We have heard that statement very often ; and, no doubt, many honorable members opposite think that, because it has been heard so frequently, it cannot be true ! But I propose presently to show the difference which exists between the investments which are being made in Australia and those which are being made in Canada - a difference which requires to be explained in some way which has not yet been attempted. I repeat that Mr. Williamson said that the operation of the tax would produce a disinclination to invest in Australia. What did the Prime Minister say in reply ? He said -
It was not intended to strike at a particular class.
Now I call upon every honorable member upon even the opposite side of the chamber to witness that, week after week, and month after month, we heard the statement made here that the tax was to be imposed for the purpose of “ bursting up the big estates.” I dare say that there are very few honorable members upon the Ministerial side of the House who did not use that argument. They declared that the object of the tax was to break up the large estates, which were said to cover, not acres, but degrees. Although the tax was primarily intended to affect the great areas used for pastoral and agricultural purposes ; when the Government came to consider the legal possibilities they discovered that they had to make it applicable also to city and suburban lands. The measure was deliberately aimed at the large land-holders of this country, and was coupled with a political bribe to the small holders to assist in securing its consummation, because they were told that they would then be able to get cheap land.
– Would the honorable member repeal that Act if he were in office?
– I would modify it to such an extent that honorable members opposite would not recognise it. I do not object to a moderate land tax, but I object to an Act which was a political bribe-
– Order ! The honorable member has no right to characterize an Act of Parliament in language of that description. The measure represents the will of this House.
– That may be so. But I hold that the exemption up to ?5,000 worth of unimproved value, which is contained in the Act, was a political bribe.
– Order ! The honorable member has no right to refer to an Act passed by this House in such language. He must know that as well as I do.
– I say, then, that the exemption had that effect. I must not say that it was intended to have it. The measure was passed to impose a land tax upon the people, and, in effect, it stated, “ All holders of less than ?5,000 worth of unimproved value may go scot free.” I say that the effect of such an exemption upon the small holders was to offer them an inducement to assist in passing it. They did not resist it because they were thus assured it would not hit them. The idea underlying that legislation was that it would cause the big land-holders to break up their estates, and thus give the small holders an opportunity of purchasing at reduced prices. But, like many of the economic experiments of the Labour party, it has recoiled upon them like a boomerang. Strange to say, contemporaneous with the imposition of the tax the price of land increased, and rents were raised ! Yet the Prime Minister stated in London -
It was not intended to strike at aparticular class. It was not vindictive.
I can understand some honorable members smiling. He continued -
It was impossible to legislate so as to deal with exceptional instances.
Did we not point out to Ministers at the time the measure was under consideration the effect which it would have upon mortgagors ? I myself pointed out that a man with ?50,000 worth of property would have to pay land tax on ?45,000, although his property might be mortgaged for ?30,000, so that in reality his interest in it represented only ?20,000. I directed attention to the fact that the tax was so severe that in many cases the mortgagor would probably say, “ Take the whole property. My equity in it is not valuable enough to enable me to pay the tax.” But my statements evoked no spark of sympathy whatever. The matter had been decided in Caucus, and the Bill had to be passed. When the Prime Minister told the deputation in London that the Act was not vindictive, and that it was impossible to legislate so as to deal with exceptional circumstances, he was putting before it a state of things which was absolutely incorrect. He added -
There was never a fear of strikes or industrial troubles.
To me his temerity was simply amazing ; because at the very time he made that statement the industrial conditions in Adelaide were such that the Premier of South Australia had to refer persons, who wished to carry goods through the city, to the Trades Hall. The whole centre of gravity of government was removed from Parliament to the Trades Hall, and people had to get trades-union permits to cart goods through the city of Adelaide. That strike was an attempt on thepart of the trade unionists of South Australia to arrogate to themselves the right to govern everybody, without anybody, save themselves, having anv representation whatever. That is the condition of things which obtained at the very time the Prime Minister stated -
There was never a fear of strikes or industrial troubles.
Mr. Williamson replied ;
There are strikes in all directions. Wages Boards have been defied.
His statements were perfectly true.
– That is an advertisement for Australia.
– It is immaterial whether it is an advertisement for Australia or not. I am dealing with the truth or falsity of the statements. Only a few weeks ago Mr. Beeby, the Minister of Education in New South Wales, admitted that industrial legislation was being ignored all over the State.
– By whom?
– By the trade unionists. The Prime Minister was supporting these strikes by contributing to their funds, and the Attorney-General, who is charged with the duty of upholding the law, was also contributing to a fund to enable the law to be broken. We all know, too, that the Postmaster-General actually marched in a procession through the streets of Broken Hill, in order to encourage strikers in a demonstration against the law of the land. What did the Prime Minister say to Mr. Williamson’s observation? He said -
That is very offensive to me.
Did he tell Mr. Williamson that he had contributed to a strike fund; that under our Conciliation and Arbitration Act a strike is a breach of the law for which a man can be punished, and that he had actually contributed towards its support? No, he said, “ That is very offensive to me.” I should think it was. He further said -
You do not know what you are talking about.
This to a. man who represented £50.000.000 worth of capital.
– Was he to be respected any more on that account?
– No, but I suppose a man may be capable of telling the truth, and of knowing something of our conditions, although he possesses a great deal of money ! This same meeting was reported by the correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald in these terms -
There was a deputation which was one of the most influential ever organized in the city of London to present its views to the head of an Australian Government. Forty companies, representing£50,000,000 sterling. The spokesman was Mr. Andrew Williamson, chairman of four or five Anglo-Australian companies. Mr. Williamson’s facts were marshalled with careful precision, and his opinions expressed in phraseology) that safeguarded him from any danger of personalities.
But Mr. Williamson fell foul of Mr. Fisher by the use of the term” class legislation.” The Prime Minister must have become very touchy when he arrived in London. One would almost think he was a sensitive plant humanized. ‘ Has the honorable gentleman not been charged here year after year with supporting class legislation, and have not Labour members said that their province is to look after the working classes? If so, is not that class legislation of the most unmistakable character? Yet Mr. Fisher resented the use of the term “ class legislation” at this deputation.
Another remark which gave Mr. Fisher offence was the statement that one of the purposes of the land tax was to burst up big estates. Mr. Fisher denies that, but admitted that an incidental effect of the tax was to burst up estates.
I have heard the Attorney-General say in this House that the object of the tax was to burst up big estates.
– It was on their platform.
– The honorable member reminds me that it was on one of the platforms of the Labour party -
Mr. Fisher assured the deputation that the tax was not imposed to strike at any particular class of people. He said it was submitted to the people three times.
I remember that on one occasion Mr. Watson mentioned a tax of one shilling in the£1, and he was taken to task by his own party. The honorable member for Cook in this House, or in a newspaper, once said that it was resolved to levy a tax of 4d. in the £1, but at no general election were the people ever told what the Labour party were going to do with regard to this tax. A land tax in the abstract is a thing to which anybody may agree, because it may be a very legitimate way of collecting money from the public; but it is a very different thing to come upon the people with a tax which to my knowledge in some cases amounts to 50 per cent. of the net proceeds of an estate. That is calculated to bring ruin upon certain people. I know of one estate in New South Wales returning a net 5 per cent. by very careful management; and this tax has taken 50 per cent. of that profit, leaving the owners but half the profit previously derived from it. The Prime Minister is reported further to have said, speaking of Australia -
I should not like it to be thought a place where strikes are always occurring.
One would think that the right honorable gentleman had been in the pulpit when he talked in this milk-and-water way. He described Australians as -
An enlightened people carrying on responsible government.
The report adds by way of excuse that -
Mr. Fisher came in tired from a long day at the Conference, and without time to get even a cup of tea.
According to a Times report, the right honorable gentleman said this to the deputation -
The Labour party are absolutely innocent of any vindictive motives in imposing the tax.
My comment upon that is that one has only to look at the Hansard reports of the debates on the question to see that they are filled with the cry of bursting up big estates. The right honorable gentleman said -
Lands were being held for speculative purposes.
– To burst up big estates is a very desirable thing to do.
– The honorable gentleman is obliquely giving the lie to his own Prime Minister- -
– No, I am not.
– Because the Prime Minister said in London that the tax was not imposed for that purpose at all, but that incidentally it had that effect in some cases.
– The Prime Minister did not say so.
– He said-
Lands were being held for speculative purposes and used or not used in a manner that retarded the economic development of Australia.
Does that apply to city and suburban lands, and lands used by manufacturers for carrying on industries? The thing is too ridiculous, and would form a fit subject for Gilbert and Sullivan treatment. We should have a double scene - “The Prime Minister at home”; and. “The Prime Minister before a London deputation.”
– From what is the honorable member quoting?
– I am making two quotations ; what I have before me now is a Times report; and I have already quoted from the Sydney Morning Herald.
– Does the honorable member not think that city lands should bear a fair share of taxation?
– That is another question altogether. The Prime Minister said that lands were being held for speculative purposes, and will the honorable member for Corio say that city lands used by manufacturers, or for the erection of large shops and big warehouses, are being used for speculative purposes? Yet Ave all know that these lands have to pay taxation besides city rates. I find that the Prime Minister said -
Towns and cities had become enlarged at the expense of the development of the country to such an extent that practically the whole people demanded that large estates _ should be broken up by means of a graduated land tax.
Did the people ever demand that city sites worth over £5,000 unimproved value, and utilized for the establishment of industries and factories, should be broken up for closer settlement? I am very glad that honorable members think it so humorous, because it shows that the Gilbert and Sullivan aspect of the matter appeals to them. The Prime Minister went on to say -
No party in Australia desired to strike al capital and investments as such.
Let the honorable gentleman read the Worker of Sydney or the Worker of Brisbane, both Labour organs. He will find that the one statement made throughout the columns of those newspapers is, “ Down with wealth,” “ Down with capital,” and “ Down with capitalism.”
I pass . away from that subject now to the question of women’s franchise. I wish to say that women’s franchise was advocated in Australia long before the Labour party come into existence. I was in the State Parliament of New South Wales in 1890, and advocated it there with Sir Henry Parkes before the Labour party had had time to think what’ they were going to do.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member Avas working at his business at that time, but I Avas in Parliament and a Minister of the Crown, and I know what was going on. It was then advocated, but could not be carried out. It was introduced into the Commonwealth law because the people of South Australia had adopted it as a principle, and that fact had to be recognised when we came to deal with our Electoral Act.
– The people of South Australia were led in the matter by Doctor Stirling.
– Yes, by a man who would be designated a “ bloated Tory “ by the Labour party. He introduced it, and it was passed, and, because it was the law in South Australia, the Federal Convention, when it came to frame the Constitution Bill, had to put all the States on the same footing. The
Prime Minister, in London, said, as if the Labour part)- had originated the representation of women -
I am glad to say I have consistently declared that true democracy could only be maintained justly, firstly by including both sexes of electors.
I come now to the referenda, and the opinions which were expressed on them in London. It is very interesting to think of the right honorable gentleman going to London and finding the ground taken from under his feet by a telegram to the effect that the whole Labour programme had been rejected by the people by 250,000 votes. How did he account for it? He said -
The result in no way reflected upon the position of the Labour Party.
It does not affect them, I admit, because they have their majority of eleven here, and the public cannot get a chance of turning them out. If, however, the people could only get the opportunity the result of the referenda shows clearly that the party would be turned out of their places within twenty-four hours.. The Prime Minister said -
The result in no way reflected upon the position of the Labour Party, which desired to give Parliament, and not any party, a greater control of trade and commence.
Was not the object of the referenda, then, to acquire these powers, and then to frame a programme of legislation for this Parliament which, I am satisfied, would have made. our hair stand on end? I predicted, and I assert again, that if that appeal had Succeeded, it would have brought about a State of things which would have been very little short of civil war in this country. You had it in South Australia; you have had it in Broken Hill and at Lithgow, and you would have had it on a larger scale if those amendments had been passed. Then the Prime Minister said -
The approval of the proposals was merely deferred.
Why, then, have they not been brought forward here? Why has not the measure, which was going to “ make the people fall down with fright,” been brought forward? How is it that, with fifteen months before us in this Parliament, there is no attempt to repeat the performance?
– You will get it quickly enough.
– It is all very well for the honorable member to say “ You will get it quickly enough,” but the Labour party are not willing to try the experiment again. I should like to see them do so. I should like to have an opportunity of going out to the people and helping to treat the proposal as it was treated before.
– We want a new Electoral Act first.
– The Prime Minister said -
We are quite satisfied with the present situation, because we have an ample working majority in both Houses.
I should like to know how long he would have his ample working majority if they had a dissolution and went to the people? I wish to ask Ministers, who are so fond of talking about the people, why they do not appeal to them to reverse that verdict and grant the powers which they were asked to give? Honorable members opposite know very well that that verdict meant a complete change in public opinion, as they will see when the next election comes round. Then the Prime Minister had the temerity to say that he did not favour the referendum. I should think that he did not; that is like the man who went to gaol, and said he did not approve of the institution at all, because he was in it. It is perfectly natural that the Prime Minister should have told the people of England that he did not approve of the referendum because of the way it had treated him and his party.
– Did he really say that?
– Why, that . is a plank in the party’s platform.
– In England there was a good deal of talk by the Prime Minister about immigration. I see that the Standard thanked him for his frank statement with regard to the subject. Does the country know that last session, when the High Commissioner submitted to the Minister of External Affairs an elaborate report proposing that ihe should be authorized to spend ,£100,000 on advertising Australia - do the people know, and do honorable members know, that he simply took the pruning knife and cut it down to £20,000? Sir George Reid, who was in London to advise us how emigration should be encouraged in England, recommended a system of advertising to the people of Australia, and the Minister here who had not been in England at the time, if I am not wrong, ruthlessly cut down the proposal from £100,000” to £20,000.
– No, to , £10,000.
– It was not £100,000 to begin with.
– I refer the Minister to the report which I got from him, and read most carefully.
– The honorable member is wrong; the amount was £50,000. We made the vote three times as large as the previous Government had done - and spent it, too.
– I shall be glad to hear a speech from the Minister. We know very well how, in public, Labour members talk of the need for encouraging persons coming here from the Mother Country and elsewhere. Some of them want persons to come when they have a little capital, while others do not want capitalists in the country, so that it is very difficult to know what they do want. I have seen telegrams and letters sent to England and published in the press, showing that they do not want anybody to come here, on the ground that there is no room for immigrants. Only yesterday, from the cablegrams, honorable members saw what took place at a great Trades Union Congress, because it was supposed that our Prime Minister had told the miners of Ton-y-pandy, or was reported to have told them, that there was plenty of room for miners in Australia. The party here sent to the Congress a message saying that there is no room for miners, that there is no work for them.
– That is the truth.
– Has the Prime Minister spoken the truth?
– The Prime Minister did not say “miners,” but “workers.”
– The honorable’ member saw the statement in the press, and now he says that there is no room for workers here. I have seen numerous communications, from the Trades Halls and letters coming here to say that the party did not want immigrants. They know very well that public opinion has completely swung round in this country, and that if they did not now advocate immigration, and assist it, it would sweep them out of Parliament. Yet they cut down the Estimates to the extent I have named. Honorable members know what Canada is spending on immigration in London.
– How much; does the honorable member know ?
– I cannot name the amount, it is so large. One cannot go to any part of England without seeing advertisements of Canada.
– It is done by private companies.
– Advertisements appear everywhere, and the companies in England are advertising all over the country. It is immaterial who does the advertising. I know that the High Commissioner for Canada is spending infinitely more thanwe do in England. Whether the High Commissioner or the companies do it, it is all the more necessary for us to advertise in order to get some of the-
– Cheap labour.
– That is the view of the honorable member, and of each member of his party, that anybody who comes here is what they call “ cheap labour.” I do not know how he came out himself ; but I know that a great many men in this country who cry out about cheap labour came out with nothing to their backs - except, of course, the suits they stood in. It is hypocritical for any honorable member to talk in that way, and at the same time to cut down the vote for advertising. In England the Prime Minister said, “Australia wants honest, healthy immigrants, whether with money or not.” We pay a High Commissioner £5,000 a year, and equip him with an expensive staff of officers to advise us as to how best we can induce people to come here ; but honorable members opposite, while pretending to desire to increase Australian prosperity by assisting immigration, are taking steps calculated to deter immigrants from coming here. I wish now to deal with representations made bythePrime Minister about the freedom of Australia. When banqueted by the Ayrshire miners, he said -
His party had adopted the view that the people must be free to sell their labour without let or hindrance.
By “people,” did he mean unionists? Does the word, in his vocabulary, include non-unionists? He said nothing about the intimidation and the violence used in regard to non-unionists, who have been forced to run for their lives, and have been hounded out of employment and prevented from obtaining employment where their labour was needed. The Prime Minister went on to say that “ privilege had not been eradicated.” How could it be when the Labour party has tried to obtain by legislation for one section of the community privileges as unfair as any existing in the old Tory days? He did not tell his audience that his party has done its utmost to create privileges of a particular class. He said, too, that ‘ ‘ he hoped to see greater freedom.” The situation was a Gilbertian one. We had the Leader of the Labour party hoping to see greater freedom, although he knew of a union which required £20, and of another which exacted £40, from men desiring the right to work at their trades. He went on to say that we “ passed legislation for the whole nation,” and that there was no class here. His statement is almost too ludicrous to comment upon. As the Sydney Daily Telegraph pointed out, “ he could not have more greatly misrepresented the attitude of the political Labour party towards the workmen of Australia.” The journal showed that the Labour party is organized on the basis of preventing freedom.
Let me now draw attention to some of the attempts of Ministers to encourage this desired freedom. The Attorney-General occupies a position in which he is supposed to systematically uphold and vindicate the law. He is its custodian, and sworn to require its observance, but he made himself the president of a trade organization which was just entering upon a strike.
– He was elected to the position.
– I accept the correction. While Attorney-General, he consented to become the president of an organization.
– He has occupied the position for years.
– Then I will say that while Attorney-General he continued to be president of an organization which was entering on a strike in contravention of the law. Further, at an earlier date he went to Newcastle, and became a member of the Strike Congress which was organized during the coal trouble, when 14,000 men were out of work, and various activities of the community were “held up.” It was said by Bowling that the honorable gentleman actually moved the motion for the general strike. If our Judges were found to be contributing to the support of parties appearing before them, would their impartiality be trusted?
– We hare to do it.
– Is the Labour party compelled to retain the AttorneyGeneral in his position?
– Why should it not do so?
– The honorable member sees no inconsistency in holding a position in which one is required to vindicate the law, and taking the presidentship of an organization which is breaking the law, and at the same time, contributing to strike funds !
– That is the precedent of the past.
– Is that the party’s reason for allowing the AttorneyGeneral to do what he has done - that other parties have allowed something of a like nature ?
– They have done it for generations.
– Is it a sufficient reason for dishonesty to say that others have been dishonest for generations? The Prime Minister has subscribed to a fund to enable men to continue to break the law by remaining on strike.
– A fund for the relief of women and children. ,
– Honorable members being cornered have to suggest humanitarian considerations. The PostmasterGeneral took part in a strike procession at Broken Hill, and the Minister of Home Affairs actually telegraphed to a member of this House, who was being prosecuted for an offence, congratulating Wm upon the stand he was taking.
– Did not the Judge rule mat the honorable member for Cook was right, and congratulate him on winning his case?
– No. If I mistake not, the Minister of Home Affairs telegraphed to the honorable member for Cook when the latter was actually under trial.
– He was standing up for freedom.
– At a Labour dinner, the Prime Minister said -
The Labour Party were the actual leaders of a world-wide movement which did not consider the material self for the sake of self -
Shades of Gilbert and Sullivan ! but desired to uplift the people of the world, to make one common effort for the good of the whole.
I shall say, as a comment on that - and in the language of the Minister of Home Affairs - boodle ! A good deal of controversy has taken place in the Commonwealth over an interview of the Prime Minister, in which the right honorable gentleman is represented by Mr. Stead as having said that if England went to war and Australia did not approve of the war, Australia would have to haul down the British flag. That statement was duly contradicted. I desire to point out - what a great many people do not seem to see - that the condition of things which the Prime Minister is said to have represented to Mr. Stead is the condition of things that must come about in certain circumstances under Labour administration. Honorable members know very well that, under the Naval Agreement arranged by the Prime Minister, Australia is to have the right to say whether or not she will join in any war in which England may be engaged, and that the question of whether the Navy shall be under the control of the Commandant of the British Navy is to come to this Rouse to be determined. It is not impossible that this House might determine in the negative ; and, if so, what would have to be done? Should we keep the Union Jack flying on the Australian Navy? Could we? Would not the presence of the Union Jack at the masthead of the Australian Navy be an indication to the world that we were remaining under the Union Jack; and would it not be necessary under such circumstances as I have suggested to remove the Union Jack? Would ‘ we not either have to haul down the Union Jack or join in the war? There is, therefore, nothing very improbable, to my mind, in the Prime Minister having said what was reported. Let me see what the principal organ of the Labour party said before the right honorable gentleman had an opportunity to contradict the interview. The Worker of 27th July, less than two months ago, said -
An interview with Mr. Fisher is published in the English Review of Reviews. W. T. Stead was long ago noted as an interviewer. It is evident that his hand has not lost its cunning. The passages of the interview cabled out to Australia read .most interestingly. And they express a view of the Empire which, while widely held by intelligent private citizens and by all radical thinkers, are rarely expressed - too rarely expressed - by responsible statesmen…..
Yet Australia’s Prime Minister does no more than put into characteristically blunt speech a fact which must be patent to any student of world affairs whose mind is not beclouded with false ideals of patriotism. . . . What Mr. Fisher has done is to frame in everyday language the new concept of Empire. It is a concept which is held by the most intelligent sections of the community and by the most notable thinkers on public affairs. It is a concept, accordingly, which is shaping itself, in the trend of event, towards universal acceptance. All which goes to show that Mr. Fisher merely voiced the trend of progress. He staled no views peculiar to himself, or to any party. He uttered no personal aspirations. He did not say, “ I would like so and so to happen.” He ventured on no prophecy. He did not say : “ This and that will take place.” He did no more than call attention to certain well-known facts, and point to the direction in which the current of human events is flowing so strongly that only prejudice, blind and stupid and fanatical, refuses to recognise it.
I say that that is a complete indorsement of the whole position alleged to have been taken up by the Prime Minister. I contend, further, that the position which he was reported to have taken up is the corollary and natural outcome of the condition of things which must arise if the principle is carried out of referring to this House the question of whether Australians will join in a war in which England is engaged.
– So it should be !
– I am glad to have an indorsement from honorable members opposite. But the people of Australia have not indorsed that view. At the time of the Dreadnought excitement, I called eleven meetings in and around Sydney, taking care that they should be held in town halls, with the mayor in the chair on each occasion ; and I submitted two motions, and two only, to crowded audiences affirming, first, that they acknowledged the deep indebtedness of the Australian people to the British people for having protected them over a period of over 120 years ; and, secondly, that they desired to assist in upholding British supremacy by sea, by contributing as largely as possible to the funds required to that end. Those motions were passed without one dissentient voice in each of the eleven town halls ; and I communicated the’ fact to the present Prime Minister.
– Admission by ticket !
– The honorable member is absolutely incorrect; the meetings were open to the public throughout the suburbs. Judging from the result of those meetings I am convinced that if the question were submitted to the people of Australia whether they desired to exempt themselves, when it suited them, from any war in which England was engaged, they would, with one voice, denounce the idea as contemptuous and disloyal. If we declare that we will take the assistance of Great Britain when it suits us, but that, as soon as there happens to be a conflict with some fad or idea we may happen to have, we are going to say, “ We are glad to be protected by your assistance, but in this particular instance we will not help you in the war,” England would reply, “Thank you for nothing; I .can assist myself in any war, and the question is whether you will not be running under my wing for protection from people who find your land open, because there is no British flag flying over it.”
– Would the honorable member say in what year he held those meetings ?
– They were held at the time of the Dreadnought movement, whenever that was.
– Yes ; prior to the last election.
– I wrote to the Prime Minister telling him how many meetings were held in those town halls, that the mayors had taken the chair, that the meetings were open to the public, and that there was not one dissentient voice in the whole. I had intended to deal with Hig Excellency’s Speech, but I shall have an opportunity of discussing the subjects therein referred to when they are brought before the House. I should only like to say now - though not by way of peroration -that I have fought the Labour party for twenty years, and please God I shall fight them for another twenty, or so long as they hold their present opinions. I consider that their ideals are wholly selfish, thoroughly narrow, and in the interests of one class only. I have had the satisfaction, at all events, of placing myself in one of the niches of the trades hall of this country. In order to show that I have not taken a partial view of industrial questions, I may mention that, years ago, I had the pleasure of receiving a most flattering letter from the president and secretary of the Trades Hall of this State, complimenting me, and thanking me for the improved relations between Capital and Labour, which had been produced by my efforts at conciliation. Those, however, were efforts for voluntary conciliation. I believe we shall never have peace between employer and employe1 as long as we have to depend upon compulsion. The effect of compulsion has been to train up the younger generation, on the employes’ side, to believe that their province is to be inimical to the employers, and to train up the young employers to believe that their province, also, is to be inimical to the employes. I hope honorable members will not think I imagine that the employers of this country are a group of saints ; in many cases they are just as selfish as the employed. I have done my best always to try to hold the balance evenly between the two parties, and have always been satisfied that if we wish to bring up the younger generation of employés to recognise that it is to their interests to work amicably with their employers, and to bring up the younger generation of employers to recognise that it is to their interests to work amicably with the employes, we shall have to teach both of them that the settlement of their disputes depends not upon force, but upon goodwill, brought about by a recognition of their mutual interests. I have the satisfaction of believing that, far from taking a one-sided view of these industrial questions, I have long ago taken what I believe to be an impartial view. I take it to-day. What I am objecting to to-day is that, by what the Times calls “tampering with disorder,” by allowing themselves to wink at the initial stages of social disturbance, Labour advocates are preparing for a time when the two classes will be at one another’s throats. It behoves every thoughtful man who desires to see the best possible relationship existing between employer and employe1 in this country to realize that, if we are to make a great country of Australia, we must look to its industrialism ; that if we are going to push on its industrialism, we must encourage capital to come here; and that we must impress upon the two younger classes of employers and employes the view that their interests, and those of Australia generally, will be best served by mutual recognition of one another’s interests with a view to the well-being of Australia.
.- We are all indebted to the honorable member for Parkes for his exceptionally exhaustive speech, and for his concluding remarks which proclaimed to this House, and will proclaim to the country, if the newspapers report him sufficiently, that he is a missioner of peace. But since the honorable member tells us that he is strong for industrial peace, may I remind him that only a little while ago, he was criticising the actions of an honorable member, occupying one of the highest positions in the Ministry, who has done more for industrial peace in Australia than has any other man in the House. I refer to the AttorneyGeneral, the honorable member for West Sydney. Some would endeavour to make out that the honorable (gentleman is in a rather invidious position since he holds office as president of a trade union, whilst occupying the position of chief legal adviser to the Commonwealth. But if the Attorney-General can use his legal knowledge, his arguments, his persuasive powers, and his peaceful tactics in the direction of bringing about industrial peace in this country every member should back up his efforts; and until it is proved that he is doing otherwise, I shall most heartily approve of his actions. The honorable member for Parkes urged, as the basis of one of his complaints against the Prime Minister and those of his colleagues who attended the Imperial Conference, that they did not, in the first place, represent public opinion. Indeed, from his remarks, one would have imagined that every honorable member on this side of the House represented a minority. The figures relating to the last general election have been quoted in a way so misleading that one feels constrained to review them, in order to make sure that one has not fallen into any mistake regarding them, I have, therefore, been scanning the figures again, and I find that the people, not at a referendum, but at the last general election, when they had the platforms of both parties before them, approved in the most pronounced manner of that placed before them by the Labour party. I am proud to be on this side of the House, and prouder still to be able to say that not one member of our party represents a minority.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the referenda proposals were not in consonance with his party’s programme ?
– -The honorable member had better give notice of that question. I hesitate to refer to these figures, because it might not be thought to be altogether in good taste to do so; but since the Opposition are always talking about majority rule, I feel it necessary to remind them that no, fewer than six members of their party represent a minority of the electors in their constituencies.
– Take the totals.
– I am taking them. I find that the honorable member for Wakefield, the honorable member for Echuca, the honorable member for Flinders, the honorable member for Mernda, the honorable member for Richmond, and last, but not least, the honorable member for Parkes, represent a minority of their constituents.
– Because, in my case, the honorable member’s party ran another Liberal in my constituency. ‘
– That is not the point. I am simply pointing out that at least halfadozen members of the Opposition represent a minority of their constituents, and yet they dare to come here and give ussplendid lectures on majority rule, and what the majority of the people require.
– Take the totals onboth sides.
– In reply to the honorable member, I would say that there are lies, big lies, and statistics. Figures, aswe know, can often be made to prove anything. We have had even the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Parkes differing by thousands as to the majority obtained by the Labour party at the last general election; and since twosuch competent authorities can differ to that extent, there must often be sad deficienciesin their computations. The figures to which I have referred, however, have been taken from the parliamentary returns, so that he who runs may read. Another complaint made by the honorable member for Parkes was that this Parliament should have had an opportunity, before our delegation left for England, to express its opinion upon the subjects to be brought before the Imperial Conference. Because this Parliament did not express its opinion on those subjects, he contends that the Prime Minister and his co-delegates, did not represent the opinions of this Parliament. The honorable member belongs to a party which is led by the honorable member for Ballarat. Let me read from last year’s Hansard what occurred, certainly during the closing hours of the session, when the very subjects afterwards discussed at the Imperial Conference were debated, although to a limited extent, in this Chamber. I find, under the heading of “Supplementary Estimates, ‘ ‘ that the Attorney-General, who was then leading the House in the absence of the Prime Minister, brought before this
House a list containing nearly all the subjects that were to be submitted by the Australian delegates to the Imperial Conference.
– Yes; but there was no discussion of them.
– I may have to quote from what the honorable member said with regard to them. The first resolution read -
That this Conference, recognising the importance of promoting fuller development of commercial intercourse within the Empire, strongly urges that every effort should be made to bring about co-operation in commercial relations and matters of mutual interest.
Without giving them in detail, the resolutions referred to commercial relations and British shipping, navigation laws, uniformity of company laws, naturalization, Declaration of London, emigration, the law of conspiracy, nationalization of the Atlantic Cable, and coinage and weights and measures. There were, I think, only seven or eight of them. Those are the resolutions that are recorded in Hansard, and that the honorable member for Parkes -complained were not submitted to the House. The Attorney-General read them from a typewritten copy.
– Did he comment on them ?
– Very briefly, I admit; but that gave all the more opportunity for the Opposition to comment on them. The honorable member for Wentworth laughs ; but 1 think it showed a very kindly consideration on the part of the AttorneyGeneral simply to read the questions, and leave it to the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader, and other members on the other side, to discuss them.
– And the prorogation might have arrived at any moment !
– No; we dealt with a Considerable amount of business after the Supplementary Estimates were passed. Private members’ business was proceeded with to a considerable extent. T remember being ruled out of order in the discussion of a Bill relating to banking, which was brought in during the last hours of the session, and which the honorable member for Illawarra wanted to get through. I “ stonewalled “ that Bill, showing that considerable time was still left for the House to do business. The honorable member for Capricornia delivered quite a long speech upon a proposal which he brought forward ; and after that, the honorable member for Brisbane introduced his motion regarding the abolition of the refreshment bar in this building. In fact, a considerable amount of business was done after these items were discussed. I wish to say to the honorable member for Parkes - and I do not want to say it in his lecturing style - that when these proposals were brought before the House, he was conspicuous by his absence. The chief ground of his complaint to-day was that no opportunity was given to the House to discuss the questions which were to be submitted to the Imperial Conference. As a matter of fact, they were all read to the House by the Attorney-General, and discussed by the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Angas.
– It must have been on the last clay of the session.
– They were here; and the honorable member was not here.
– The honorable member knows the state of the House on the last day of the session. I never saw the proposals.
Mr.F E NTON. - The honorable member’s complaint was that the Government had not submitted the resolutions to the House. They did submit them to the House, and there was a fair opportunity of discussing them. I propose to read for the honorable member’s special edification what the honorable member for Ballarat had to say about them. I understand that the honorable member for Parkes owes some allegiance, at any rate, to the party opposite, and I presume he recognises in the honorable member for Ballarat, his leader.
– And I presume that he is also inclined to take considerable note of expressions of opinion by members of the late Administration. As reported on page 6856 of Hansard for 19 10, the Leader of the Opposition said -
I heard with much interest the Acting Prime Minister’s list of the proposals to be submitted to the Conference ; and, having heard it, substantially concur with each and all.
– As subjects for discussion at the Conference.
– I am quoting from the printed record of Hansard, which the honorable member for Maranoa would cause to be burnt if he could. Sometimes the records are resurrected to our confusion, and I suppose that, if I have the long and honorable parliamentary career of the honorable member for Parkes, these volumes may be resurrected against me. The Leader of the Opposition further said -
One, although it came under indirect consideration at previous Conferences, has not, so far as I am aware, been given an official place in the submissions of any Government. It is the proposal that acts of conspiracy against the laws of any part of the Empire shall be prohibited or punished by joint action ; and that idea I cordially support.
The honorable member for Parkes had a good deal to say about conspiracy cases.
– I did not say that I objected to the motion, but it was put in such a crude and callow way that it had to be altered by Mr. Churchill.
– So crude and callow were the terms of these resolutions that the Leader of the Opposition, who is quite as good a judge of English as is the honorable member for Parkes, said, “ I heartily agree with one and all of them.”
– My criticism had nothing to do with the English, but dealt with the legal significance of the motion.
– I think the honorable member for Parkes had better settle his differences in that regard with the Leader of the Opposition, who, on that occasion, went on to say -
It is an essential of Empire that its several legislative bodies, in a matter of this kind, shall, to the utmost possible extent, recognise the validity of any policy adopted by their kindred when it has been definitely expressed in legislation. I am glad that Ministers have pushed this issue into an important place on this occasion.
The honorable member for Parkes has been spreading himself this afternoon in the matter of Empire. In fact, his was about the most Jingoistic speech I have ever heard on the floor of this House. The Minister of External Affairs interjected -
The importance of it is shown in the administration concerning stowaways, and so forth. to which the Leader of the Opposition replied -
Yes ; that and similar matters were sufficient to bring the need under notice.
Not content with emphasizing his support of the proposals, the Leader of the Opposition later on in his speech said -
A great deal could be said in support of most of the proposals on the list, but I must not be tempted. Let me say, however, that each and every one has an additional value - greater in one sense, to use an Hibernianism, than its own original value, since every one of these proposals makes for an enhancement of the status of the Dominions oversea.
– And every one waswithdrawn.
– Every one was carried.
– First of all, the honorable member for Parkes complained that the subjects were not submitted to the House, then the honorable member for Parramatta said there was no time for their discussion, and now I point out that they were discussed and favorably received by the House. Seeing that they wereso favorably received here, can the honorable member wonder that our delegates madean admirable attempt to have them placed on the business-paper of the Conference and carried through ? The honorable member says that they were withdrawn, but on many occasions, in his long parliamentary life, when he has submitted resolutions, he has had to withdraw them, but why? Simply on account of the promise made by those in authority that his views should be carried out; and for my own part, I believe that most of these resolutions will substantially be carried out by the Imperial Government.
– I do not.
– The Leader of the Opposition proceeded -
Until that status is established we shall knock, and knock in vain, for a recognition by theaverage man of the value and importance to the Empire of the Dominions overseas. The creation of this Conference was a great stride, and another stride was made when the Conference was required to meet at least once in every four years.
I also find that the honorable member for Angas discussed these proposals, referring; particulally to the Declaration of London. He spoke on the last day of the session ;. but I observe, from the Hansard report, that he commenced his remarks at 11.38 inthe morning, whilst, if my recollection isright, the House did not adjourn until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. So that several hours were at the disposal of theOpposition. The honorable member for Angas, in the course of his speech, said -
The Acting Prime Minister mentioned, among other matters to be discussed at the Imperial Conference, the question of nationalization, the Declaration of London, and certain matters of appeal, on which I desire only to make one or two observations. The Declaration of London was submitted for the consideration of the late Government. I am not quite sure that a final decision was arrived at, but, as AttorneyGeneral, I collaborated with Mr. Garran, and wedrew up a memorandum on what, probably, would be the effect on Australia of the resolutions come to in 1908 at the Conference in London.
I speak of the Declaration of London with some humility, being a layman, because it is, of course, an exceedingly technical subject, and I could not attempt to deal with it elaborately; but the honorable member for Parkes seemed to make a great point of the contention that the Declaration concerned the British Government and the British Isles alone, and that there should be no interference in the matter by representatives of the oversea Dominions. I cannot conceive why the honorable member for Parkes should assume that attitude, because I understand that the Declaration of London was considered by the Chambers of Commerce, and by the commercial section of this community generally. It particularly affects the exporting sections, who are sending from this country millions of pounds worth of exports every year. We are, therefore, very much concerned as to its terms. We have constantly tens of thousands of pounds worth of produce upon the high seas, and these commodities would be affected by the Declaration of London in time of war. Therefore, the commercial world of this country necessarily has a great deal to do with that document.
– I never said that we had nothing to do with it; but that we had no right to dictate to England concerning a matter towards which we did not contribute.
– We merely made the suggestions which the British Government themselves invited us to make. The honorable member for Angas, in the speech of last year from which I have quoted, said that the Declaration was “ submitted for the consideration of the late Government,” by the Imperial authorities, of course.
– Why, then, did the Prime Minister’s motion regret that the Dominions had not been consulted ?
– At any rate, it is clear that the Imperial Government recognised that the oversea Dominions should be consulted, though they may have been consulted only in a limited way. Seeing that we are such a large exporting country, I hold that we had every right to express our opinion.
– Not in the way to which I have referred.
– The motions submitted by the Prime Minister were laid before this House last year. I admit that the honorable member for Parramatta complained that they were brought clown at an exceptionally late hour in the session ; but the approval of the Leader of the Opposition, and of the previous Attorney-General, was given to the proposals submitted. They having therefore received the approval of this House, backed up by resolutions passed by Chambers of Commerce and Chambers of Manufactures throughout Australia, the Government were fully justified in submitting them to the Conference. I have read a considerable amount of correspondence published by English journals in reference to this matter. I find that, during the discussion of the Declaration of London by the Imperial Conference, the leading journals of Great Britain were flooded with correspondence. In one instance there was a protest signed by 113 Admirals, as well as by the London Chamber of Commerce, against the Declaration. Surely, then, it was the duty of Ministers to represent the Australian view of this very important document. The honorable member for Parkes quoted the Times. It is fair to say that the Times gives a more impartial view of public questions than does any other journal published in the Old Country. It is not tarnished by extreme partisanship. What did the Times say in regard to the handling of this important subject by the Australian representatives? It said that the way in which this very intricate subject was handled by the Australian delegates was a credit to the Delegation, and to the countries whence they came.
– The Times was in favour of the ratification of the Declaration.
– My criticism was against the terms of the resolution regretting that the Dominions were not consulted.
– I think that this House would have been justified in complaining if our delegates had returned without making any protest - that is to say, if, at the first intimation of the views of British Ministers, they had hauled down the flag of opposition.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 io 7.4.5 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I had been making quotations from speeches delivered by members of the Opposition, with a view to showing that they had concurred in the proposals which were submitted by our delegates to the Imperial Conference. I have no desire to weary the House, but I should like to rite some of the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta, who, in discussing this question upon the Supplementary Estimates for 1910-11, complained that the Government were obeying the behests of the InterState Labour Conference held at Brisbane. On that occasion, he said -
The present Government will go to London as no Government have gone to London before.
They will not be free, as other Governments have been, at the Imperial Conference, because they go bound by shackles imposed on them by their own interstate Conference.
At that stage, the honorable member for Adelaide interjected -
So far as the statement marie by the Acting Prime Minister in the House to-day is concerned, no member of the Labour Party knows anything more about it than the honorable member does.
The honorable member for Parramatta then continued -
I quite believe that.
These remarks conclusively prove that the proposals submitted to the Imperial Conference by our delegates did not emanate from the Labour Caucus. They were presented to ‘the House by the present AttorneyGeneral, and the Opposition were made aware of the resolutions at the same moment as those on the Government side of the House. The honorable member for Parramatta further said -
They are pledged to do nothing except as they are instructed by this House, and, therefore, I take it thai the will he at a disadvantage in that respect. Esther they will have to break away from the resolution of the Brisbane Conference or they will be precluded from doing what every other delegate at the Conference will be permitted to do.
The Attorney-General then interjected -
I am not prepared lo say to what extent that resolution will go, but if there is anything the honorable member suggests as a proper subject for discussion at the Conference it can be added to the list.
These quotations prove that the House was afforded an opportunity of discussing the subjects submitted to the Conference, and that members of the Opposition had a chance of adding to the list if they so desired.
– They approved of them.
– Yes. Both the honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable, member for Angas were in agreement as to the list of subjects to be discussed. Further, it was known that the Conference was to be” held ; and if the honorable member for Parkes had wished to know the subjects to be brought before that body, he could have obtained the desired information by merely putting a question upon the businesspaper. This afternoon, he attempted, by innuendo, to detract from the very great ability which was displayed by our delegates at the Conference. We admit that we did not send Home eloquent representatives ; but for practical work, ably performed, the results of the Conference are very gratifying indeed, and stand to their lasting credit.
– Whom does the honorable member take for his standard of eloquence ?
– There are some persons who can talk a lot, but who do very little. This is an age of practical men; and I say that our delegates displayed as much practical common sense as did any of the other delegates at the Conference. In such circumstances, any attempt to disparage their work at that gathering comes “with ill grace from any member of the community. Particularly does it come with ill grace from the honorable member for Parkes, when we recollect that, whilst the delegates to previous gatherings of this character had stood only at the portal, our representatives on this occasion were invited to step right into the innermost councils of the nation. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Asquith, Sir Edward Grey, and his colleagues, said, in effect, “ Come as brothers and look into the great secrets of the Empire.”
– They would not trust the other fellows.
– That may, or may not, be. The honorable member for Parkes founded the whole of his argument upon a certain statement. That foundation having been knocked away, the whole of the superstructure which he erected upon it falls to the ground. But, not content with discussing the matters which were debated at the Conference, he attacked the speeches which were delivered outside of that gathering by the Prime Minister and his colleagues. He was particularly severe upon the Prime Minister for the way in which the latter answered one of the most representative deputations which waited on him in London - a deputation representing £50,000,000 worth of capital which has been invested within the Commonwealth - and which protested against the injustice inflicted upon British investors by the operation of the land tax. I would ask the honorable member, who is always prepared to put up a fight for those who are possessed of more than their fair share of this world’s substance, to look at the other side of the picture. Are we going to allow the wealthy in other parts of the world to escape taxation, while the poor have to contribute more than their proper proportion? I say, no. If the poor of the community are to be consistently neglected, very great trouble is in store for us. Such a noted writer as Mr. Frederick Harrison has put the position in language which I could not hope to improve upon. He says -
Ninety per cent, of the actual producers of wealth have no home that they can call their own, beyond the end of the week, have not a bit of soil, or so much as a room that belongs to them, have nothing of value of any kind, except as much old furniture as will go in a cart, have the precarious chance of a weekly wage, which barely suffices to keep them in health, are housed for the most part in places which no man thinks fit for his horse, are separated by as narrow a margin from destitution that a month of bad trade, sickness, or unexpected loss brings them face to face with hunger and pauperism. If this be the permanent arrangement of modern society, civilization must be held to bring a curse on the great majority of mankind.
I should like honorable members on- the other side to consider these questions. Can we permit these things to continue in this country or abroad ? Do we not, as a- Parliament, exist for the purpose of ameliorating the position of those who have to live under such conditions as are described by Mr. Frederic Harrison? If not, we have no right to be here at all. If there is one reason for which, more than another, I belong to the Labour party, it is because the members of that party have taken up the evangel on behalf of the poor, and are fighting their battles in the Houses of Legislature and other deliberative assemblies. If the honorable member for Parkes were to come forward with a more democratic programme than that of the Labour party, and I could rely upon the honorable member to carry it into effect, I should be a follower of him. I do not think it is likely that such a wonderful change will come about, because, judging by the expressions I have heard from him in this House, the honorable member is a confirmed Tory. There is no party in the world to which the masses of the people can look with so much confidence for their amelioration as to the Labour party, of which I am an humble member. These are matters which should concern us. As I have said before in this House, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the human family is only as strong as the weakest of the race.
We have to look after the condition of the weakest ; and if we do not, the future of humanity will not be very bright. To show how people are dying off in the Old Land, as the result of bad conditions of life, I may give a few comparisons of the average length of life in different places. These may appear stale, but it is necessary that the facts should be dinned into the ears of some people, in order that they may realize the state of affairs that really exists. I find that at the fashionable watering place, Harrogate, the average length of lite is stated to be forty-seven years; whilst at Dewsbury, a neighbouring place, where the people live in crowded quarters and engage in unhealthy occupations, the average length of life is only twenty-six years. This means that in such places the human race is dying off, not by slow degrees, but very fast. Dr. Drysdale, a very eminent authority, gives the average length of life of the nobility, professional classes and the gentry, at fifty-five years: whilst the average length of life of an artisan at Lambeth, owing, again, to unhealthy surroundings and employment, is given at only twenty-nine years. These are figures which we should do well to think over. I do not wish to parade the conditions of any of our big cities, but we know that in Melbourne and Sydney, and other large centres of population in Australia, men and women and boys and girls are working under conditions that are a disgrace to our civilization, and a great reflection upon our common Christianity. Unless we are going to remedy these things, we do not deserve to continue to exist as a” Parliament. Professor Huxley, the great biologist, and a man who travelled practically round the world, said, on coming back to Great Britain after one of his journeys, that, in some of the islands of the sea, he had seen humanity in absolutely its lowest and most degraded form; and yet, in a speech delivered at the Mansion House, he said -
I most seriously say that if the alternative were presented to me of beginning life afresh, either a? a savage or as one of the people T saw in the East of London, I should distinctly choose the life of a savage.
Is not that an awful reflection upon Christianity? If such things are to continue to exist at the seat of the Empire to which we look for enlightenment, it is difficult to say what will happen in the future. I have some other quotations on similar lines, but I shall not weary the House with them. I wish now to say one or two words on the subject of Commonwealth expenditure. It must be very carefully watched. There is a certain Department in which, of course, it is increasing by leaps and bounds. We passed Acts of Parliament in the last and in previous sessions, which have involved very considerable expenditure upon our Naval and Military systems. I claim, without fear of successful contradiction, that there are no men who love their country more than do those who form the bulk of the Labour party, whether inside or outside this House ; but, while paying every attention to the proper defence of Australia, I say we have a right to closely watch the expenditure for this purpose. If we should be attacked, we shall have to depend on the thousands of workers of Australia, who will be prepared to shoulder arms to keep out the invader. I remind honorable members that the accumulated debts of the various nations of the world incurred by reason of wars, is estimated at £6,000,000,000. That is the great weight which is hanging round the necks of the people of the various countries of the world. Mr. Lloyd-George, a member of the present Imperial Government said -
The whole of the civilized nations to-day are spending no less than £500,000,000 every year in order to maintain naval and military defence.
That means that the huge debt .pf £6,000,000,000 incurred for war purposes by the nations of the world will be increased every ten years by almost a similar amount. That is an awful thing to contemplate. In the circumstances, I” am exceedingly glad that, in almost every one of his public addresses, and wherever he had the opportunity, the Prime Minister voiced the magnificent note, not merely of peace for the Empire, but of the world’s peace. That was one of the grandest notes he struck when in the United Kingdom, and if the honorable gentleman did nothing else, he did well as a representative of Australia in making it clear that we love peace and desire the maintenance of peace.
– We must be prepared to fight if any one attacks us.
– That is so; and I have said that if we are attacked, those who will be engaged in fighting will belong to the great masses of the people. On this subject, 1 shall make a short quotation. No one will deny that Lord Rosebery is a great statesman, and a little after the South African war, in calm deliberation, he gave expression to the following words, which should cause people to pause when they consider the enormous expenditure involved in preparations for war. At a banquet given to Colonial journalists, on the 5th June, 1905, he said -
When I see this bursting out of navies everywhere, when I see one country alone asking for £25,000,000 of extra taxation for war-like preparations, when I see the absolutely unprecedented sacrifices which are asked from us on the same ground, I do begin to feel uneasy at the outcome of it all, and wonder where it will stop, or if it is merely going to bring back Europe into a state of barbarism, or whether it will cause a catastrophe in which the working men of the world will say “We will have no more of this madness, this foolery, which is grinding us to powder.”
– Are we not going in the same direction.
– I have said that we need to be very careful of our expenditure. I said, also, that one of the things I most appreciated in connexion with the visit of the Prime Minister to the Old Country, was the note in favour of universal peace which he struck whenever he had the opportunity. I commend the honorable gentleman for the splendid work done by himself and his colleagues at the Conference, and also for the work he did in emphasizing the necessity for promoting the peace of the Empire. There are a great many things which we might discuss in connexion with the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. We have electoral reform promised.
– What kind of electoral reform - preferential voting ?
– The great majority of the people of Australia, on the 13th April, expressed a decided preference for a particular party in this House. I believe that that preference will be found to have been strengthened when the people are appealed to again. That is the kind of preference I delight in. I notice that whenever a certain party gets into power, there is always a demand for some measure of electoral reform. I will mention what we intend to do, and in doing it I claim the assistance of every honorable member on the other side. This party intends to purify the electoral machinery, and the conduct of elections to the utmost extent possible, and we shall do it. I believe that the most rabid reformer on the other side will be amply satisfied with the proposals which will be introduced later. I shall claim the vote of every honorable member who is anxious to bring about electoral reform. That reminds me of the referendum on the constitutional amendments. I am. very pleased that it was taken during the early part of this year, but I am not satisfied with the result. I would have liked to :see this Parliament clothed with power to protect the people. The taking of the votes disclosed certain matters which I hope we shall be able to remedy in the future. Several honorable members ha<ve spoken about the expenditure of money on that occasion, and the Leader of the Opposition, his deputy, and other honorable members on that side have replied that they did not see any money pass. Well, near the time for closing the poll I happened to be conversing with one of the most prominent members of the Victorian Parliament. I remarked to him, “ If you cannot win on this occasion with the aid of all the boodle, all the misrepresentation, and everything in your favour, you have no hope of ever being able to win.” He replied, “ I quite agree with you, but what do you mean by ‘ boodle ‘ ?” I said, “ It is no use to talk to me in that way ; any amount of ‘ boodle ‘ is floating round.” “ Oh,” he said, “ you mean plenty of money?” “Yes,” I replied. He then emphatically said, “ They have spent money this year, and they will have to spend it next year, and the year following.” Yet we have honorable members on the other side denying that money was spent, and spent freely, too.
– He. certainly had a loan of you.
– He did not “ get “ a loan of me, although he could have got a loan by going down to the Equitable Buildings. In regard to press extracts, I have been reading what an eminent journalist said in respect to the press of America. I hope that, for the sake of Australia, no one can say of its press what has been said of the American press, but to some of its newspapers I think that practically every word of the following extract applies -
The servile, deceptive, cringing and trustowned newspapers shout at every opportunity that Socialism means murder and anarchy ; that it would break up the home, destroy religion, incentive, and ambition, and stifle the noble and higher aspirations of life. They publish all this trash which they well know is false, because they are paid to do it. Editors are compelled by the profit system to cringingly stultify themselves in order to live. Not an editor in all Christendom would continue to do this slimy work if they owned their papers, or did not depend on capitalistic advertising for support. To corroborate this statement, I quote the words of a well-known journalist at a New York Press Club banquet, in response to a toast : “ The
Independent Press.” “ There is no such thing in America as an independent press. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dare to write your honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would neve] appear in print. I am paid $150 a week 101 keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with - others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things - and any of you who would be so foolish as to write ‘honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know this and I know it, and what folly is this to be toasting an ‘ Independent Press.’ We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping-jacks ; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities, and our lives are the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
That statement is made by John Swinton, one of the most eminent American journalists who ever wrote a paragraph, a leading article, or a book.
– What was the honorable member’s object in quoting the extract ?
– I quoted the extract to show that, at any rate, some sections of the Australian press are descending to the level of the American press.
– Indeed !
– Those whom the cap fits can wear it. That is all I wish to say about them.
– “ Let the galled jade wince.”
– I do not care to make harsh remarks like that. Sometimes our observations do get a little harsh, but I always like to be cn good terms with honorable members opposite, although we may disagree politically. There are many items in the Governor-General’s Speech with which, but for the address of the honorable member for Parkes, I should very much have liked to deal. Some honorable members have said that there is not much business to be done this session, and that Parliament will soon rise. But I consider that there is a considerable amount of work to be done. I was glad to hear the .Prime Minister say, “ That is the work, and it will have to be done before we rise.” If it is not completed before Christmas it will be done after Christmas. I trust that in respect to Tariff and other matters we shall have a good time, and that they will all be dealt with from a national standpoint. .
– Including the Federal Capital.
– I am reminded of an ever-prominent question. I reserve to myself the right to speak on it when it is brought forward. I have heard vague remarks about large sums which are likely to be spent -on the Federal Capital. But I trust that the expenditure will be of a very limited character indeed. When I think of the great expenditure which we must incur in developing the Northern Territory, constructing transcontinental railways, and carrying out the defence scheme, I see very little opportunity of spending money on any fantastic schemes like that of the Federal Capital. I hope, however, that we shall have ample opportunity to discuss that matter when it is submitted. It may be that for the time being I may have to desert comrades who have stood by me in many a noble battle, and enlist under the same banner as the honorable member for Echuca. Certainly it will be a peculiar political mixture if it should fall to my lot to range myself side by side with him. I trust that we shall soon get to work, and pass the legislation which is outlined in the opening Speech. I believe that when we have passed these measures, including the great Commonwealth banking scheme, we shall have done that which will be to the advancement of the highest interests of Australia.
– We all agree, I am sure, thai the honorable member for Maribyrnong is thoroughly in earnest and conscientious on the lines which he believes to be right, but the trouble is that his lines are all wrong, and that makes the difference. I feel certain that we can hold different political views without having bitter personal feeling. In the few words I have to utter to-night, I want to speak plainly and candidly. I would remind the last speaker that we all deplore as much as he does the dire poverty and distress of the unfortunate submerged people in the Old Land, but he should understand distinctly that the conditions in glorious Australia are as different from those obtaining there as daylight is from> dark. I would also remind him that the conditions there are peculiar, not only by reason of the fact that, through many centuries, the people of the Old Country have had to civilize and raise themselves, but because they have had an open door, through which have poured into their land the unfortunates of almost every other nation. The problems confronting the Imperial Parliament, the municipal councils, and other authorities in Great Britain,, are as great as, if not greater than, those which have to be faced in any other part of the world. If the honorable member reads the history of our own race, he willi see that, during the last seventy or eighty years, its progress in civilization is without parallel. All that statesmen and philanthropists could do has been done to turn the face of the unfortunates towards the sunlight.
– They have not gone very far.
– They have gone a long way. My honorable friend knows that they have done exceedinglywell. Why has the honorable member for Maribyrnong thought it necessary to refer to the conditions obtaining in Great Britain in order to excite sympathy with reform in Australia ?
– He is afraid that honorable members opposite will bring about in Australia conditions similar to those which now exist in the Old Country.
– He need have no such fear. What he proposes isnot the best means of bringing contentment and happiness to the people of Australia.
– We think the contrary.
– There is a great difference of opinion on the subject. Honorable members opposite have not a monopoly of humanitarianism. They are not the only persons who desire the improvement of our social conditions. They talk as if they monopolized all virtue and all goodness, and their strong, and almost violent, feeling for reform certainly ought to augur well for the future. If their desire is to purify politics and electioneering, I shall help them with all the ardour of my nature. The Parliament of South Australia has appointed a Select Committee to inquire into the stuffing of rolls, and if the inquiry results in greater purity, and a higher sense of honour in the conduct of elections, no one will be more delighted, or gain more, than the Liberal party.
– The Liberal party would lose seats if the rolls were purified.
– I shall return to the point later. It is a matter in which I take a great deal of interest, and on which I hope to enlighten honorable members. They may not like the advice which I give them, but it is being offered in the best spirit. I am going to show them where they are wrong. I sympathize with them. in the position in which they find themselves, and hope that in the future better counsels will prevail, so that we may have true Liberalism, in place of a spurious Democracy. We are living in times of great political change. When the session opened, the mace had disappeared from this chamber.
– The honorable member must not refer to that matter.
– I do so only by way of illustration. It is one of the emblems of authority that have disappeared. I find no fault with what has been done. But honorable members opposite are not entirely consistent. Among those who went to the Coronation, we did not find this extreme desire to abolish everything in the way of show. I have seen in an illustrated paper the portraits of three of our present Ministers in Court dress, looking magnificent. They had a good time, and enjoyed themselves, and I am delighted that they did things well ; but their actions were not consistent with the deportment of certain members of the party at conspicuous public functions. Is the disappearance of the emblem of authority suggestive of the great change that has taken place in this Parliament in connexion with constitutional government? The power of originating a policy has been transferred from the Parliament to an irresponsible gathering of unionists outside. Responsible Ministers are to-day in a position different from that of their predecessors. The Prime Minister is merely the chairman of a Committee. That Committee is the Ministry, which is immediately responsible to the Caucus inside, while the whole box and dice of the Caucus is responsible to a larger Caucus outside, consisting of Labour Conferences and unions.
– Is that not better than being responsible to the Age . and the Argus, as honorable members opposite are?
– I shall deal with that a little later on. In the meantime, I desire to say that the statement of the honorable member for Echuca that it is difficult, if not almost impossible, for a Labour Government to properly administer affairs because they depend for their very existence on the unions outside
– What is the honorable member quoting?
– I am quoting the truth, in which Labour Conferences delight, namely, that honorable members opposite are only delegates, and have to do as they are told.
– We do not mind that !
– Honorable members opposite have no right to mind it ; but I sympathize with them, because they are surrendering that freedom which they ought to exercise in representing, not alone their own districts, or a section of the community, but the whole people of Australia. Industrial unionism to-day has become a political machine absolutely. The paid professional organizer - the Socialist organizer - is defying and setting at naught most of the constitutionally provided means for the settlement of industrial disputes and the promotion of peace amongst the workers of Australia.
– You don’t say so !
– I do say so: and, further, he is introducing a reign of lawlessness, disorder, and coercion, and is responsible, more than all other influences put together, for the political unrest in Australia to-day. That is a fact; and we have instances of it on every hand.
– Cheer up !
– I am cheering up ; but I tell honorable members opposite that, while those influences operate, they are simply digging their own political graves, and organizing Liberalism in every part of Australia.
– Then what is the honorable member grumbling about ?
– I am not grumbling; but I have such a glowing heart of sympathy for honorable members opposite that I would not for the world know these facts and keep them to myself.
– I shall be here when the honorable member is politically dead !
– That may be. I am satisfied that the honorable member for Maranoa has a good heart ; indeed, when he bubbles over, as he did the other day, with a reinforced zeal for Socialistic ideas, I thought his heart better than his head. That is a compliment, because -
It is the heart and not the brain
That to the highest dothattain.
The honorable member, I know, is beloved by his fellows, and by many on this side, too ; and we are delighted to know that he has a comfortable, prosperous little run somewhere in the interior of Australia, where he has invited the Leader of the Opposition to end his days in peace and contentment, with a stomachful three times a day ! I am very anxious to have a look at that run, because I am told it is a model one, conducted on business, and not Socialistic, lines.
– Everybody who goes there has to work, as the honorable member will have to do if he comes.
– I am thankful for that assurance, though it is quite unnecessary. It has, however, just struck the keynote I desire to sound tonight. If we were all prepared to work industrially and otherwise, we need have no fear for the future of Australia.
– The honorable member for Wakefield has now a mission in life to save that run from the Socialists !
– No doubt.
– The Bank of New South Wales will look after that !
– The honorable member reminds me of a story of the clark days of Australia, when droughts had depleted the flocks and nearly wiped out the squatters. When the owner of a station went into the bank manager’s room then he took off his hat, and was as civil as possible; but, by-and-by, in the prosperous times, as he entered the room, he spat on the carpet. The honorable member for Maranoa is just about as much afraid of the bank manager as was that squatter on his second visit. I should now like to say a few words about the referenda, of which subject I was reminded by a statement of the honorable member for Maribyrnong in his opening remarks. The honorable member referred to the district of Wakefield, and said that some members of the Liberal party on this side represented a minority of their constituents, and that I was one of those members. That is quite true.
– -Why not resign?
– There is no need for me to resign. I deplore the fact that I was elected by a minority, and I have told my constituents so, straight from the shoulder. But the trouble was that it was the stay-at-home in the Wakefield district who did not vote.
– Too thin !
– Do not be in a hurry. Since the last election, however, twelve months last April, the Wakefield district has been organized from end to end’; and when the referenda were taken the Labour party scored just about the same number of votes as they received at the general election, while the Liberal party received 5,500 more. Moreover, the average percentage vote of those on the roll in Wakefield topped every district in South Australia, and every district in the Commonwealth.
– How much was the cost per vote in Wakefield?
– If we could get the farmers to “ shell out,” as my friends opposite can .get the shearers and other unionists to do, we should have ten times more money to spend at elections than we have to-day.
– Will the honorable member answer my question?
– I cannot answer the honorable member’s question directly, but I can answer it in another way, and have tried to do so. I can assure the honorable member that the money that was employed for the referenda campaign in the district of Wakefield came from half-crowns and five shillings a great deal more than from pounds. I was in one of the townships one day when one farmer, more generous and more considerate than the rest, said, “ What is the good of organizing if you don’t do like the Labour fellows do - make the farmers pay up?” He said to a farmer alongside him, “How much did you pay?” The other said “ Five bob.” “ Why,” said the first, “ I pay five bob to register my dog, and surely I am better than my dog.” I was talking to a friend in the train-
– The honorable member is dodging that question.
– I do not want to dodge it ; but I desire to give the House a little information which the honorable member does not wish to hear, because he knows what is coming. I was talking in the train to a small sheep-farmer the other day. He spoke about the organizing of the Liberal party, and said, ‘ You fellows cannot get the money ; why not do like the Labour men do - make them part up whether they like it or not?”
– With a gun?
– They do not need the gun - they have something more effective. He said, “ I have just been shearing. I have on the run nineteen hands, shearers and rouseabouts included, and these men have to send their contributions in to the unions compulsorily, and I had to pay a cheque for £55 for those nineteen men.”
– He was pulling the honorable member’s leg.
– Nobody knows better than the honorable member for Maranoa that these things are true. That cheque can be produced, and the honorable member can see exactly where it was paid, and why, and for whom.
– It was not paid to the union.
– I know too much about northern stations in South Australia to be bluffed by my honorable friend.
– I will give another £50 if the honorable member can prove that that cheque of £55 was paid to the union funds.
– I know it was not paid to the technically distinct union funds, but I know it had to be paid by the unionist workers. It was not paid for industrial purposes, but for industrial plus political purposes.
– I will give the honorable member both - industrial and political.
– I will give the honorable member another instance. On a sheep-farm there were only five shearers, and there would not be many rouseabouts required for them, but the owners sent away last week a cheque for £25 2s., which these men had to pay. That is coercion. They have to pay, and they do pay; but they do not even make an attempt to smile.
– The honorable member would believe anything if he believes that.
– I not only believe it, but I know it, and the honorable member also knows it. These facts are generally known.
– Will the honorable member : give us the name of that station ?
– And I will prove that the statement is not true.
– Let wetell my honorable friends that I have not lived for thirty years in the far north without knowing what these men pay. They come and tell me themselves as they go through.
In spite of all the talk by the AttorneyGeneral, particularly in Adelaide, about sums varying from £70,000 to £100,000 being subscribed to defeat the referenda, I do not know where the money was, but I do know that the greatest difficulty experienced by the Liberal party in South Australia is to get money, and to make the men pay who ought to pay. If it had not been for organized effort, and for small subscriptions of 2s. 6d. and 5s., we should have been without money almost altogether, because large contributions are very infrequent. On the other hand, the money that the unions of Australia raise is simply fabulous, and it is raised under compulsion. Why are not honorable members opposite sports enough to take their licking over the referenda like men, instead of growling like bears with sore backs? They practised so much bluff when the result was announced that one would think it would all be exhausted by now. All sorts of reasons have been advanced why the referenda were decided against them. When it was all over they said they never expected to win, but on the morning of the poll in Adelaide a Labour senator said to a friend of mine in the House of Assembly, who is known to the Minister of Home Affairs, “ I will bet you a fiver that we beat you to-day by 30,000. votes.” I do not understand odds or betting, but I said to my friend, the member of the State House, “ You take it on, and I will have a bit of it.” It was simply by-play for them to say they did not expect to win, and there was evidence when the numbers went up at night that they had had a bigger shock than the Prime Minister talked about when he said that Australia would fall down with fright, because we could not find them, and next morning they were not to be seen at all. Another excuse put forward is that the Labour party were disunited on the question. It was not the fault of the Labour party if they were, because the slipper was applied wherever possible. In any case, that pretext could not be advanced in South Australia. In that State there was a Labour Government in power standing behind the Federal Government, and supporting it right up to the hilt, and every Labour Minister and Labour member of Parliament, and a lot of others, were stumping the country night and day for about eight weeks. Another little incident that shows that they expected to win is this : I think it was the Commissioner of Crown
Lands and Treasurer, who was coming through Balaklava on the morning before the election. I was on the platform, and a few of his supporters were there to see him off. “Good-bye,” he -said, “Australia will be a glorious country after Wednesday.” And so it was - it was still free. I have heard a good deal about the fibs that were told. I do not like the word “ lie,” but one honorable member opposite said there was a good deal of lying on the other side. That is another bit of bluff, and I fancy the honorable member who used it had his tongue in his cheek all the time. If one wished to hear two policies on the referenda, one had only to listen to some of the Socialists when speaking to the farmers and to others who, as the honorable member for Maranoa described it, were on “ the gin case “ in the Park Lands and in the Square enlightening the people on the question. The honorable member for Parkes originated the description of honorable members being on “ the tar barrel “ ; it remained for the honorable member for Maranoa to speak of “ gincase stumping.”
– It was the honorable member’s crowd who described us as “ gin-case orators.”
– I never heard the expression until it was used last week by the honorable member. I do not wish to appear as saying uncharitable things, because I am too charitable and too kindly in my feelings towards my honorable friends opposite to do so. But examine the statement of Labour Ministers on the referenda proposals and see what they were like. There was never a more inadequate explanation given of a big question in the political history of Australia than that of Federal Ministers on their referenda proposals.
– Did the honorable member hear any of them?
– I read every one of them, including those by the Minister of External Affairs.
– The newspapers of the honorable member’s party did not report me.
– Perhaps it was just as well that some of the explanations were not reported. I would tell my honorable friend, however, that if the newspapers did not report him, some of I lis own inestimable friends, and some of my own personal friends of the Labour party, said they deplored the fact that their own Federal Ministers did not tell them.’ one-half the truth concerning the referenda proposals, and that they had to go to theOpposition to get a full statement of them.
– Members of theLabour party in my own electorate proposed votes of thanks to us for doing the same thing.
– I have no doubt about that. These men said it was painful to have to make the admission-
– Supporters of the honorable member’s party were growling about the misrepresentation of his side.
– I did not growl about the misrepresentation of Ministers. I complained only that they did not tell half the truth. Some of the statements made by the rank and file, and particularly the “ tar-barrel “ statements inthe Park Lands, were a tribute to the inventive genius of the speakers. Generally speaking, when they endeavoured to deal with the subject-matter they piled on the agony about awful monopolies that did not exist to anything like the extent described by them. They talked also about the United States and other countries, and, in short, of everything under the sun except the conditions obtaining in Australia. They did the sentimental business as if they were to the manner born, and played to a very large extent on the sentiments of the people. Responsible Ministers might reasonably have been expected to give a definite interpretation of what was involved in their proposals, but they did not do so. They talked about monopolies-
– In America.
– Of monopolies mostly in America rather than here, because some of the monopolies in Australia that were talked about by members of the Labour Ministry had received, indays gone-by, the blessing and benediction of some of the self-same Ministry. They did not tell the people that ; but I did. I quoted their cases, and complimented them for saying what they did. Then, again, the responsible policy and the after policy were two different things.
– Did the honorable member tell the whole truth?
– As tar asI knew it. Responsible Ministers did not tell the people how far their proposals would go in competition, side by side with State authority, until they had monopolized and cribbed everything co-ordinate with State authority, which meant according to. -our Constitution, the State authority becoming effete. They did not dwell on the inclusion of railway servants, and a thousand-and-one other matters which meant taking the whole inside out of the Federal Constitution, and giving us a mere sham and apology for the Federal union that the people of Australia had fought for and accepted. The reason why the Labour party went down was that they were too impatient of reform. Led, I believe, by their Attorney-General, they were too greedy, and “ bit off a great deal more than they could chew.” That was the whole trouble. It was not that the people of Australia were misinformed, but rather that, when they were properly informed - when they understood the truth and the whole bearing of the proposals - the congest was over. The victory was absolutely assured.
– And overwhelming and crushing.
– It was a most overwhelming victory. It was not a breeze; it was a perfect hurricane-
– A cyclone.
– A perfect cyclone. My honorable friends opposite say. again, that it was owing to the disaffection of the Labour party ; that they could not keep the party intact, and that Labourites left the party in all directions, and voted on the other side. I do not believe that that is correct. The supporters of the Labour party are too loyal to do that. Whilst a considerable number certainly did vote with us by far the greater number, who did not believe in the referenda proposals, and would not be whipped into voting for them, simply stayed at home and refrained from voting. The enormous majority against the referenda proposals - a majority that staggered all Australia - was got by arousing the indifferent people of the Commonwealth and bringing them to the poll, or by the more perfect organizations in which the Labour party themselves took a hand, doing really more for us than we did ourselves, notwithstanding that we did all that -we possibly could.
– In one word, the people did understand the question.
– And as -soon as they understood it they came out -to vote for the preservation of their own interests.
– Then, what is the honorable member growling about?
– I am not growling. I am rather sympathizing with the honorable member in the unfortunate position in which he finds himself. He, too, did not believe too hard in a good deal of the referenda proposals.
– And he said so.
– He said so. like a nian. Another reason for the failure of the referenda proposals is that the Labour party to-day is not what the Labour party was ten or fifteen years ago. There has been a good deal of crowing about their success of eighteen months ago. The Australian people then said of the Labour party, “ We will give these men a chance, and see how they can manage public affairs.” The Labour party got a chance and showed unmistakably and immediately that they were not independent men in managing the affairs of this great continent. When the people of Australia found that, concurrently with the advent of a Labour Government in the National Parliament and of Labour Governments in some of the States, there came a period of industrial unrest that increased day by day, and has been increasing ever since-
– There is no nonsense about it. When it was seen that representatives of the people, were, in many instances, inciting encouraging and supporting, both by voice and by active help, an open defiance of constitutionally provided measures for settling labour disputes, then the people revised their opinion about the Labour party as an administrative force in the government of the country. And that is largely the reason why the people of Australia refused to give the Federal Parliament practically unlimited power, and to take power away from the State Governments. I can assure my honorable friend, the Minister of External Affairs, that he is looked upon as quite a paragon of excellence, and that there is a great deal of sympathy with him because he is in such bad company. If he were on the Liberal side, he would be an exceedingly popular man. He is not the only man of his party who is possessed of a virtuous desire to do right, though others with whom he is associated will not let him.
– There is no Labour Government in Great Britain, but there are more strikes in that country than there are here.
– There are fifty reasons for strikes in Great Britain to one which exists in Australia. I sympathize with the workers of that country. I do not sympathize with the revolutionary practices of some people there; but I do with a great number of the struggling workers in their aspiration for better conditions of life than they have had up to date. 1 have been led off my track, and have taken up more time than I intended on the referenda proposals. I wish to come to the industrial question, and to say this : There is no question now engaging public attention in Australia, or that has ever engaged public attention here, that is of greater moment than the industrial question. I regret exceedingly that so many of my honorable friends opposite are so impatient of reform, and are apparently so wanting in loyalty to the provisions which the Legislature provides for the workers of Australia for bettering their condition. We had thought that the old barbarous method of the strike was to be a thing of the past when Arbitration Courts were established.
– We have no Arbitration Courts in Victoria.
– But in Victoria you have something infinitely better. You have the Wages Boards.
– Some Wages Boards have been sitting for three years, and have not given an award yet.
– It is very regrettable if such is the fact. But I will give another fact. The Wages Boards in Victoria in the metropolitan area have done infinitely more to better the condition of the workers, and to increase the wages of the daily-wage men, than all the strikes that ever occurred since the foundation of this State.
– We carried the referenda proposals in the metropolitan area of Victoria easily.
– I am dealing with the industrial question.
– The men who are under the Wages Boards voted for the referenda proposals.
– A great many of them did not, and would not, and you could not whip them into doing so. I heard one of the workers in Victoria say that no blessing had ever been conferred upon the working men in this State equal to that of the Wages Boards, and that they had done more for the workmen than every strike that had taken place since the year one. The records confirm that statement. There is no getting away from the fact.
– Would the honorablemember vote to extend the Wages Boards’ provisions to the rural districts, if they areso beneficial ?
– I advisemy honorable friends to leave the rural districts alone. They are very well able to takecare of themselves. Moreover, I may tell’ them that the position of workmen in the rural districts is such that they are able toput away more money in the savings banks every year than are the workers in themetropolitan districts. I know that for a fact, and it is the case, not only in Victoria, but throughout the Commonwealth. This industrial question, however, does not simply affect the employes and employersof one State. It affects our national industries, and through them it affects thisnation. The time has come when thisbusiness will have to be tackled very seriously, and when the people of Australia have a right to expect more loyalty to thelaw for settling industrial disputes from, the representatives of- the workers in Parliament.
– What does the honorable member propose?
– I am just going to propose a little more loyalty, and, a little less encouragement by members of” Parliament to strikes.
– That is not getting tobusiness.
– That is. the very root of the whole matter. Australia has been enjoying such a period of” industrial prosperity as has never occurred” before in her history. I do not think thereis a country in the world that has enjoyedsuch prosperity as Australia has had in recent years. Every right-thinking man andwoman in Australia-
– Give the Labour partycredit for the prosperity.
– Australias, has been prosperous in spite of the awful” mistakes of the Labour party.
– They want to takethe place of Providence now.
– Providence isgood to its own people.
– I like to give people a little credit for honesty. I met a man the other day in a certain State where a Labour Government came into power twelve months previously. The Premier’s name being mentioned, he said to me, “Is he not a blooming wonder?” I said, “What is wrong with him?” He replied, “ From the very moment when he came into power God Almighty smiled on this country, and He has been smiling on it ever since.” This man really believed that, and he was so happy in his charming simplicity that I would not disturb his ideas for the world. The point is this : It is time that we began to realize that three out of four strikes in recent times have been mischievous and absolutely unjustifiable. It is right that men’s wages should be high, and that they should participate in the general prosperity. They have been participating in it.
– Not nearly enough.
– If they have not been participating sufficiently, let us get to the reason for that, following sound economic lines. If the wage-earners have had their remuneration increased in some instances - in some trades twice and three times, and properly so, let me ask this question : Is the wage-earner, as a rule, giving a fair return for these increased wages ? Is he working as he did when his wages were very much lower?
– Members of Parliament increased their salaries. Are we giving a better return?
– I should not like to say that the honorable member is giving a better return. He had better refund the extra money. But I am not going to be side-tracked from this point. If the wage-earners have had their remuneration increased as they were entitled to do, are they, on their part, loyal to their industries, and are they giving as much of their labour for the increased wages as they used to give for lower wages ? I want to know, because I want to tell honorable members opposite this : I recognise that we have a high Tariff in operation, and that a great many honorable members who are not high Tariff advocates have agreed to give it a fair trial as a means of promoting the industries of Australia. But if, in spite of that generously high Tariff, the increased wages granted to our workmen from time to time are attended by lesser production, there is trouble ahead for the industries of the Commonwealth. I know that the people of Melbourne, more than those of any other city, are very sensitive in regard to their industries, and in every step that we take we must remember that we have not to recklessly destroy our industries by neglecting to secure a fair deal all round. But I do not hear any response from my honorable friends opposite when I ask if the pace is slackening?
– What is the honorable member’s point?
– I say that if the wage-earners are getting more pay now than they did previously - and nobody begrudges it to them, because our industries will not be injured thereby - they should give generous and equal work in return.
– So they do. They only get one-third of the wealth which they produce.
– I am glad that my honorable friend has interjected, because there is a good deal said to-day in* regard to the worker not getting the full fruits of his labour. The term “ labour “ is very loosely handled. It is wrongly,, though innocently, used in eighty or ninety cases out of every one hundred, and as a result the people are deceived.
– By the agitators.
– By professors of political economy, as well as agitators. I wish to show that manual labourers are relatively an insignificant proportion of the citizenship of Australia. I hold in my hand a book on True and False Economy, by Nicholas Murray Butler, the President of the Columbia University.
– Is the honorable member going to America for his authorities ? .
– The writer does not deal with a question of location, but with one of principle, which appliesequally in every part of the industrial’ world. He writes very trenchantly upon the abuses which exist in America, uponthe boss system, and the graft, which obtain there ; and he says that in other countries they are trying to displace the boss system by substituting for it, at the other end of the ladder, something which is quiteas bad, or even worse. He then deals with the coercive principles of Socialism which are put forward in the name of Democracy, and he adds that it is a false and spurious Democracy. I intend to quote him, with a view to showing the distinction which he draws between manual labour and the whole field of labour.He says -
They attack a conception of democracy which is true, in its every aspect, in the hope that they may enthrone in its stead a democracy which is false and futile. They begin by playing on the term “ labour.” Taking note of the fact that the world’s workers constitute all but an insignificant remnant of the world’s citizenship, they would set one form of labour against another, and confuse and confound the meaning of the term “labour” itself. All the world over, these mischief-makers, when they put forth an academic theory, use the term “ labour “ in a way to includeevery form of productive activity. for that purpose the inventor, the overseer, the manager, the guide and inspirer of an undertaking, is a labourer ; but when from the height of academic theory they come down to the plane of popular agitation, then they make the term “labour” apply to manual labour alone. It is true that leading economic writers themselves are responsible for the widespread confusion between these two uses of the term “ labour.” As a matter of fact, ordinary manual labour is just the opposite of what the Socialist supposes it to be. Instead of it being the sole instrument in the production of wealth, as the modern world knows wealth, it is a subordinate element in that production. Manual labour is always essential, to be sure; but manual labour alone does not now produce, nor has it ever produced, much more than a mere minimum of subsistence. All of the increment in production which has made the modern world possible is due to the directing faculty, to the capacity to organize, to manage, and to apply. These powers and capacities operate both through labour and through capital. Therefore, to attempt to substitute the mob for the people, manual labour for labour in all its forms, and economic equality for liberty, is to destroy all those institutions and accomplishments upon which man’s progress has rested for three thousand years, and which man’s progress during that period has developed and applied in so astounding a fashion.
– Did the honorable member think it was necessary to cite an American professor to tell us that?
– Yes ; because nineteen out of every twenty Socialists try to persuade the manual workers that everything depends on them,. Honorable members opposite know that, and a good many of them practice it.
– I have never heard of it.
– Then the Minister of External Affairs is not doing much for the Labour party in South Australia, because, if he attended at the Adelaide Parks on any Sunday afternoon, he would hear it stated, and he would also hear it at nineteen out of every twentyLabour meetings. The average worker believes that he is the sole factor in production.
– The reason I do not hear the statement is that I do not attend the meetings of the Liberal party.
– Nobody knows how accurate is my statement better than does the Minister of External Affairs.
– The honorable member is setting up a straw man.
– Those who are responsible for teaching the workers have led them to believe that they are practically everything in the matter of production. By encouraging strikes, they are destroying Australian industries; and if the worker will not give improved service for the advanced wages which he receives, he will be simply cutting his own throat. He will drive the industries of Australia across the seas. I shall give one illustration which is universally recognised. I take the bricklaying industry, and say that it is known, and not only in Australia, that the average bricklayer does not lay much more than half the number of bricks he used to lay.
– The honorable member knows nothing about the building trade if he makes that statement, because it is entirely opposed to the truth.
– I can tell the honorable member that unionists admit it, and recognise the truth of the statement. It is known all over the world, and it is therefore about time my honorable friend improved his industrial education.
– Bricklaying to-day is very different from what it was years ago.
– I have just said that it is, and I should add that bricklayers get several shillings a day more pay than they used to get years ago. There are men who to-day lay as many bricks as they used to lay before, but they are laying them for themselves. They are their own masters, and they are doing the work without turning a hair. I am intensely in earnest in this contention, but, to satisfy honorable members opposite, let me say that it is alleged that a bricklayer does not lay much more than one-half the number of bricks he used to lay some time ago for several shillings a day less wages. A bricklayer can get almost any wages now upto£1 per day, and even more to go to the country.
– Where are they getting £1 a day?
– Bricklayers can get£1 per day to go into the country in South Australia, and cannot be obtained at that wage. I believe that one Victorian contractor, who has a big work in hand in South Australia, is paying some men 25s. per day for bricklaying. He says that two of these men will lay more bricks in a day than any three of the others, and it therefore pays him to give them higher wages.
– The honorable member will admit that a better class of work is done now than was done before.
– That statement needs qualification. As good a class of brickwork was done twenty years ago as is done to-day, and as good bricks were burnt twenty years ago as are made to-day. But, assuming that better bricks are made to-day, it must be remembered that it is easier to lay good bricks than bad bricks, because there is less work in handling good material than in handling inferior material. If there is any truth in what is alleged, it is as well that those who are responsible for teaching the workers of Australia should know that they are not only damaging the national industries, but their own interests, since they are merely playing into the hands of industrial countries across the seas that are getting a bigger return from labour. Let me tell honorable members, however, that this is part and parcel of the principle of Socialism as opposed to the principles of true Democracy. What is the principle of Socialism? It is to bring every man down to the level of the average.
– The honorable member does not know anything about it.
– The honorable member for Gwydir knows that what I am saying is gospel truth, and if he would only tell the people the truth as he knows it, it would be all right. I am giving utterance to these unpalatable and unpopular truths because it is time they were spoken, and they ought to be repeated again and again to the people of Australia.
– The honorable member will find no Socialist writer who will say so.
– The writer of the book I have before me is a great writer on Socialism, and he says so. I could refer the honorable member to a Socialist writer who has given up Socialism, because he felt he was being poisoned by the evils of the system.
– Can the honorable member mention one Socialist writer who says what he has said of the principles of Socialism ?
– We do not need to go to Socialist writers to discover what is just and right. I can rely upon my own common sense in the matter. We have evidence of the truth of my contention in connexion with industries in Australia. I can take Government undertakings - and here, again, we have one of the influences that operated at the referenda - and it is shown that, when a Labour Government is in power, it cannot act independently, because of the power of the unions outside.
– The honorable member is borrowing the argument of the honorable member for Echuca now.
– I can prove the statement by a reference to one of the honorable member’s own colleagues. A little while ago the honorable member for Cook supplied a very telling argument in favour of the contention I am making. I find this statement made concerning the honorable member -
Mr. Catts is now assailing the Minister for Labour (Mr. Beeby), because Mr. Beeby’s Industrial Bill does not satisfy the officials of the Federated Railway and Tramway Service, of which Mr. Catts is secretary.
– What is the honorable member quoting from?
– From a newspaper report of what the honorable member said.
– What newspaper?
– A very reputable newspaper, the Register, of Adelaide.
– I thought so.
– Let me tell the honorable member that I have heard members of the Labour party say that they admire the Register, because of its straightforwardness and honesty.
– That was years ago.
– It is not three weeks ago. I wish to read what Mr. Catts said -
Mr. Catts speaks with a frankness that is unusual in a politician, for he openly demands that Labour Ministries shall make no pretence of national responsibility, but shall bow the knee to- the Trades Unions only.
– The honorable member for Cook never said that at all.
– I shall put it on record, and let the honorable member for Cook deny it, if he can -
The Ministry should understand that the people who returned it to power were principally the Unionists. After uttering this threat Mr.
Catts practically demands that the trades unions shall be given a dictatorial power over industry greater than that of any law hitherto enacted.
– That is what the Register says.
– What the honorable member for Cook said was sufficiently damaging, but it was only what we might have expected, because we have heard him speak in a similar way in this House -
He asks that the unionists shall be elevated into a privileged class without any further consideration. “ They wanted preference to unionists generally, and not at the discretion of a Wages Board or of any Judge.” This attitude of class selfishness is usually denied by the Labour party in theory, though consistently adopted in practice, but Mr. Catts imprudently tells the plain truth. Labour Ministries must be considered as representatives of the trades unions and not of the people, and it is not the people but the trades unions who are to look to the Ministry for aid. At the same time, Mr. Catts, being in a strong and numerous union, bitterly dislikes the presence of the smaller unions in the Labour machine. The wirepuller and boss of a big organization wants to crush the weaker unions on his own side.
– Is that what Mr. Catts said ?
– That is the comment upon the speech of the honorable member for Cook. He said quite enough, surely, when he said that a Labour Ministry was under obligation to serve the unions, because they are the servants oi the unions. He is not the only Labour man, or Labour member of Parliament, who has said the same thing.
– Who said this, :md when was it said?
– It was said while the Minister of External Affairs was in England, and it was reported in all the newspapers of Australia. I suppose that my honorable friends on the other side have told the Minister of it long ago. A number of remarkable events happened while he was away. A similar statement was made at Lithgow the other day by Mr. Cohen, a trades unionist.
– By Mr. Cohen?
– Yes. He was at Lithgow dealing with the strike, and he said that the Federal Ministry were the servants of the Labour party, and must obey their dictates.
– Who is Mr. Cohen, anyway ?
- Mr. Cohen is simply engaged in the Labour unions, who tell honorable members on the other side, when they rear up a little, just what their position is as delegates in this House.
– That was never said at Lithgow.
– I shall give the honorable member the cutting to which I am referring.
– It was said at the Melbourne Trades Hall.
– At any rate, the statement was made in connexion with the Lithgow strike. I apologize sincerely if I was wrong as to the place where the statement was made, but I am not wrong as to the statement itself. If it was made at the Melbourne Trades Hall, as the honorable member has interjected, it must have been circulated much more effectively than if it had been made at Lithgow. If my honorable friends want to serve Australian industries there must be fair dealing all round. These strikes will have to come to an end.
– Is Hoskins dealing fairly with his men ?
– I do not know Mr. Hoskins, but I know that, in New South Wale’s, he is reputedly one of the best employers Australia ever had.
– You will say anything after that.
– I have heard men make a similar statement regarding Mr. Delprat, of Broken Hill, and I know, from long experience, that he is one of the best employers Australia has ever known.
– That has nothing to do with Hoskins.
– My honorable friend disputed one statement I made, and so I mentioned another name. I do not accept the suggestion that Mr. Hoskins is not a real good employer. These matters need to be looked into, because the Commonwealth is paying a bonus for the protection of an Australian industry. In Adelaide the trade unionists are getting a bit of grace after all, and it is about time that they did. This very day, I think, a Labour Government in South Australia, is introducing a Bill to make a strike illegal - and it is about time that it was done - until the parties concerned have submitted their dispute to and received the award of a properly constituted tribunal.
– That is very well if it will work.
– Give it a trial, at any rate. The other system is not working. What sort of a mess did my honorable friends make of the ironworkers’ strike in Melbourne? There is another instance where you can see the relative value of manual labour as against other forms of labour. You have there a directing, originating, inventing and organizing genius, Mr. Hugh McKay, who built up at Sunshine a gre.it establishment, in fact the biggest thing of its kind in Australia, and a perfect godsend to the workers.
– He built up the factory with the very generous help of this Parliament.
– Yes, and the danger is that the unions may so nullify that help that Mr. McKay may one of these days, from the factory he has established in England, send agricultural machinery to Australia for distribution. Why was the iron-workers’ strike in Melbourne entered upon? Because it was confined to this State, the unions persuaded the poor, simple unionists at Gawler, South Australia, where there was no dispute, to knock off one day and go to work next morning, in order to create an Inter-State dispute, enabling the unions toget to a certain Court. The real reason for the iron-workers’ strike in Victoria was that the unionists would not work alongside free labourers. In the Sunshine factory there were only eleven free labourers when the unionists went out. The latter lost tens of thousands of pounds in wages, and every one knows the distress which obtained in the homes, particularly among the wives and children. Then the unionists went back to work alongside 600 nonunionists.
– That will only be for a time.
– My honorable friend will know some day, if he does not know now, that if better tactics do not obtain there will be the biggest tussle in Australia which has ever occurred here. In this tussle you will only be wrecking Australian industries and misleading and deluding Australian workmen to their own hurt and to the hurt of national industries.
– Neither I nor any other man could prevent it.
– These industrial upheavals have driven Mr. Hugh McKay to England to establish an agricul tural machinery factory, in order to supply Argentine orders. Had it not been for the uncertainty obtaining in industrial matters here, that factory would not have been started at all.
– It means the annual loss of £100,000 worth of foreign trade to Australia.
– It means the loss of that volume of trade to Australia for all time.
– Has Mr. McKay gone to a country where there are no strikes ?
– No; but he has gone to a country where conditions will be handled a great deal better than they are handled in Australia, and where the Government will not be set at defiance and unionists allowed to take control and run everything according to their own sweet will like thev did in Adelaide. There is not only the evidence furnished in Adelaide in connexion with the drivers’ strike, which constitutes the blackest page of Australia’s industrial history. We have also the evidence of the strike at Renmark, which was attended by even aggravated circumstances, and which was due to irresponsible paid agitators.
– The honorable member laid the responsibility on members of Parliament a while ago, and now he blames others.
– I am laying the blame wherever it should rest. There is another matter which has arrested the attention of Australia, and it is similar to many instances which operated at the referendum against extending the power of Labour in the National Parliament. When he was Acting-Prime Minister a little while ago, the Attorney-General was also president of the Waterside- Workers’ Union, which occupies a strategic position as regards determining the fate of almost any industry in the country.
– Do you know what he did in the case of the Renmark strike?
– He said that he would take the duty off fruit if certain things were done. What a consistent thing it would be for a Socialist to allow fruit produced by blackfellows to come in from other countries.
– That is not a fair statement of his action, nor is it true.
– I do not know the particulars to which my honorable friend refers, but I know that no AttorneyGeneral, either in the Commonwealth or in a State, ought to be an active president of an industrial union, particularly when industrial unions are engaged in strikes, because he is in a position to practically direct strike operations. Do my honorable friends on the other side wonder that the people of Australia are rebelling against this kind of thing? They said eighteen months ago, “ We will give the Labour party a show.” They gave the party a show, and they say to-day, “ We have had enough of it,” and no wonder, either. A very considerable proportion of the steady, solid-thinking, honest unionists of Australia are sick of this business. These strikes are not determined by them, and, nine times out of ten, if their real opinion were obtained by means of a secret ballot, there would be no trouble.
– Let the honorable member give us his view of the cause of the high price of sugar.
– The AttorneyGeneral, during the referenda campaign, told the people that the Labour proposals were necessitated by the existence of monopolies like the Colonial Sugar Refining Company; but he did not tell them that the Deakin Government had proposed to appoint a Commission which would be non-political and independent, consisting of a Judge, as President, and two of the best experts obtainable, which would go to the root of the matter in its investigation of conditions, obtaining the views of growers and refiners, of workmen in the fields and in the mills, and “of all connected with the industry. What was intended was a thorough and unbiased investigation, in order to obtain a report which would enable the solution to be found to a problem which this House, as constituted, cannot solve. It is not the division of the House into Labour members and Liberal members, but the domination of the sugar interest in Queensland, that makes it impossible for us to solve the question. The appointment of the proposed Commission would have removed an awkward and ugly question from -Parliament, and would have saved us the -trouble of dealing with the industry until we knew the exact facts, and particularly the position of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. What we desire to know is how -much of the profits appearing on the company’s annual balance-sheet are derived from its Australian business ; its profits from other ventures are no concern of ours. But the Labour Government, on coming into POWer, abandoned the Commission. The only solution of the present difficulty is to do what the Deakin Government proposed to do, and what the Prime Minister, after a delay of fifteen months, has now promised to do. I wish to know whether the promised Commission will be non-parliamentary or non-political?
– It is impossible to have a non-political Commission.
– I am credibly informed that the personnel of the Commission which the Deakin Government proposed to appoint would have been acceptable to the workers connected with the sugar industry, as well as to the rest of the community.
– Then the honorable member knows nothing about the matter.
– In any case, the right men could easily be found.
– Yes; but the right men were not proposed by the Deakin Government.
– They were experts of high standing.
– Yes; unbiased men, who had nothing to gain by being unfair. We desire to know the whole truth. We are not ready to support the industry as it is being supported unless the whole truth is laid bare, and we know that the industry is beneficial to Australia, and not one which only produces a sovereign by means of an expenditure of 22s. 6d. It is in the interests of the workers of Queensland, and of the whole Commonwealth, that a proper inquiry be made.
– Is the honorable member in favour of an eight-hours day?
– Yes. I am a believer in the eight-hours day, though I have not been afraid to work sixteen hours a day myself.
– Is the honorable member in favour of a six-hours day ?
– No. The man who cannot work eight hours a day is not worth his salt. Such a man is of no use to Australia.
– The last strike was for an eight-hours day.
– It is because I know nothing Qf the conditions of the sugar industry that I ask for the appointment of a competent Commission of Inquiry. The report of a political Commission would have no influence with me. But it is playing^ the fool with the sugar industry not to provide Parliament with the best information obtainable regarding it. The people should know that the trouble in connexion with the industry would, in all probability, have been settled now, had not the Labour Government refused to appoint a Commission, although pressed to do so by the late Mr. G. B, Edwards, among others on this side, and some of its supporters representing Queensland electorates. Mr. Edwards made a speech on the question which showed considerable knowledge of the industry and of the industries connected with it. The appointment of a Commission is now promised by the Government. I hope that the personnel of the Commission will prove, not only in name, but in effect, non-parliamentary and non-political so far as party is concerned.
– Would the honorable member be satisfied if all the members of the Commission were selected from the Women’s National League?
– Some of the women of the League would, I think, put many of the honorable members opposite to shame for really good work in many directions. Immigration is, perhaps, next in importance to the industrial question. In my opinion, the industrial question is first and foremost ; and we must end the present industrial unrest. If the arbitration legislation is not what it should be, let us perfect it, and so with the Wages Boards. The best solution ever yet suggested is the extension of the Wages Board system under the proposal of the late Government to co-ordinate the work of the Boards throughout the States by means of an Inter-State Commission.
– No, no !
– I tell the honorable member that that would be infinitely better than a good many of the efforts made to-day, because nothing could be more futile or destructive than some of the tactics on the other side. An InterState Commission must be appointed before the Federal Constitution can give effect to its best work in the interests of the development of the country. I hope that the Government are really sincere in their immigration proposals; but I know that in this respect they have a difficult task. Immigration, with many of the trade unions, is extremely unpopular. In every State, and in every part of every State, we find unionists, at properly constituted meetings, passing resolutions in condemnation of an immigration policy, especially by a Labour Government ; and their objections simply express a fear of competition in labour and the bringing down of wages. That is a short-sighted policy, which, in a country like this, will be falsified by the results of any effective immigration system. The workers of Canada might just as well, at the beginning of the movement there a few years ago, have raised the same objection ; but I may tell honorable members that immigration in Canada has been sustained, not so much by’ the Government, as by the Pacific Railway Company.
– Almost entirely.
– Australia, however, is in a different position, because here we do not believe in privately-owned railways; according to the Socialists, such railways are an evil, and yet this privatelyowned railway in Canada has made that country what it is to-day. All that has been done for twenty years by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, with an able Government behind him, is infinitesimal compared with what this company has done for the settlement, development, and enrichment of Canada. The attractions of Australia are superior to those of the Dominion. An honorable member opposite, the other day, interjected that it was the high wages that attracted population from England to Canada in preference to Australia. It is true that very high wages obtain in Canada ; but that is simply a denial of the theory that immigration will bring down wages. The high rate of wages there, however, is no test, because work can be carried on for only about eight months in the year, and. in some severe winters, for only about seven months. From a producer’s point of view, particularly that of the primary producers, the attractions offered by Canada are not to be compared with those offered by Australia. If there is anything that this country requires, it is more money and more men. We have the largest unpeopled area of any nation in the world, and it is the richest area of the kind. Immigration and defence are correlated, and cannot be separated. To have an effective defence, we must spend millions and millions of principal, with _a recurring expenditure of millions every year ; and, even then, we cannot keep these vacant areas of Australia, seeing that, on the highest moral plane, the strongest right of ownership is occupation and use. If we spend millions to promote a citizen soldiery and an Australian Navy, and in buying big guns, we have only half done the work ; but if, in addition to all this, we bring men to put behind the ploughs, we shall not only more effectively defend Australia, but turn these men into producers, and increase avenues of wealth production for the country generally.
– Does the man behind the gun produce any wealth?
– I am speaking of the man behind the plough who produces wealth and also defends the country. If millions are to be spent as recommended in the expert reports, which are largely accepted, it will mean a burden of taxation that 4,500,000 people can never endure ; but if a vigorous immigration policy is pursued, and the population increased to 9,000,000, then the burden will be eased by distributing it over a wider area, while making the defence more effective.
– Does the honorable member admit that, in proportion to our population, we are increasing more rapidly than Canada.
– Nothing of the kind. I am glad that the honorable member has raised that point, because I can tell him that, last year, 1,000,000 emigrants went to Canada. I must say that I never heard that idea suggested before. I am sure that my honorable friend, upon reflection, will admit that where one person comes to Australia fifty go to Canada. But the tide of immigration into Canada has been increasing at such an enormous rate that it has overtaken, for the present, the demand, and I believe, in the very, near future, there will be a check to that inflow. When that check sets in, Australia will have its opportunity. Do not let us be misled. Little has been done up to date to encourage and promote immigration to
Australia, or, at all events, very little has resulted from what has been done by the present or any other Federal Government. The results are practically nil. We are told that all the ships coming to Australia are full.
– That is true.
– Yes, but the Federal Government has not brought the people here. Victoria has been responsible for most of the immigration.
– Our land tax has.
– The honorable member may tell the simple sucking doves that the land tax is responsible for it; but people with brains know better.
– We have done all the advertising.
– What have the Federal Government done? Have they made any provision for the future. Have they chartered ships to bring out the emigrants, if they cannot be brought out in the ordinary way?
– That would be Socialism.
– That is why the Labour Government dare not do anything in that direction. But, after all, the chartering of a vessel does not mean Socialism. The Government have refrained from taking action because they are afraid the forces outside would stop them. That is a very serious position for Australia. There is not a Labour Government in any of the States that is attending effectively to this work. Why do not the Labour Ministry show their independence, courage, and statesmanship, by trying to convince the unions existing in Australia that the right thing to do is to encourage immigration? If they did that, the unions would make kings of them, instead of humiliating them, as they have done, by passing resolutions regarding Governments that they cannot trust. I do not say this offensively, because what obtains in regard to the Federal Labour Government in this connexion is obtaining in regard to Labour Governments in the several States. Any effective action taken to encourage immigration has been confined to States where Labour is not in power. That is the position in Victoria.
– They have done nothing in Victoria.
– They have done a lot.
– What about Western Australia ?
– I think of Western Australia when I have in mind the great future of the Commonwealth. Western Australia has a great future before it, and, in order to make that future, it needs immigrants, and is getting them. Despite all the trades unions in Australia which oppose immigration, immigrants are coming to Australia. The country is so good that it will advertise itself.
– In spite of the Commonwealth Government.
– In spite of all the Governments in opposition to immigration.
– The immigrants coming here are all unionists.
– I do not object to that. I certainly hope they are not “weary Willies.” I hope they are men who are not afraid to work.
– They are good Labour men, too. I came out with 150 of them.
– Then, I know that the honorable member will have indoctrinated them with some of that awful Socialism which is unlikely to be of any service to them, and possibly they would have been better men if they had not come in contact with him. “Evil communications corrupt good manners,” and in view of the industrial disturbances in the Old Country of late I am inclined to think that the workers there have been assimilating some Australian ideas. I am afraid that some of my Socialist friends from the Dominion Parliament have been putting them up to a trick or two.
– Oh, no. .
– I hope not. I fear that I have been somewhat discursive, but, if I have; it has been entirely due to my honorable friends opposite. I wish to assure the House, and particularly honorable members opposite, that no one is more earnestly desirous than
I am that, on great questions which ought to be free from party considerations, we shall all put aside our party differences. We should all try to settle these great industrial questions. Sacrifices have to be made. Let them be made. Let us come to some solution of the problem. Surely it is to be solved. Let us come to that solution as soon as possible, and let us come to it on fair and square grounds. Let us understand for all time that “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” and that on both sides men must be amenable to the law. They must be amenable to the provisions passed by the representatives of the people with their concurrence - because they must have been passed with their concurrence if the Parliament represents the people. Let us endeavour to pass provisions which will give the worker his fair due, and also protect the industries of Australia. In the future the biggest nation will be the nation that is industrially strong. The industrial question in the future is going to be all important. So far as power and influence is concerned the nation which is industrially strong will be even bigger than that which has the largest armament or the biggest navy.
– Intellect will rule the world.
– Quite so. Some of my honorable friends opposite have been talking about arbitration. There is -not one of us who, in his heart, would not rejoice if the time were to come when the nations would settle all great international disputes hy arbitration, and when the awful expenditure in keeping up armaments could be reducedvery considerably. But in the meantime we have to accept tie position as it stands. We have, as Australians, to trust in God, keep our powder dry, and keep plenty of it in stock. But industrialism is going to make us strong as a nation. We, as a country, have a heritage greater than has any other nation. No other nation has such an opportunity. Let us make the best of it, and then those who come after us, if we have done our duty, will give us their blessing, rather than their curse.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Ozanne) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 September 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19110912_reps_4_60/>.