4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General, recommending an Appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
That the consideration of the message in Committee be made an Order of the Day for tomorrow.
– I observe from the Melbourne morning newspapers that the. Prime Minister has stated it to be the intention of the Government to adopt some method of granting preference to unionists. No doubt on a matter of such importance he will desire to take the House into his confidence at the earliest moment, indicating the extent and manner in which the prin- . ciple is to be applied, and how it will affect existing legislation or regulations made thereunder.
– I take no exception to the question. The recognition of the principle of preference to unionists is not a new thing in the policy of the Government, it having been part of our policy for some time past ; the declaration to which the honorable member refers is that in future the recognition will be general instead of being confined to particular instances. Capital and labour are better able to deal with each other when organized. The unions have recognised rates of wages and regulations governing conditions of employment which enable us to know what price we must pay for labour, and under what conditions it can be employed. In many trades, unionists will not work with nonunionists, and it is an advantage to have labour organized in unions so that it may be dealt with. I may add - because I think the House and the country should be taken fully into our confidence-
– As the Prime Minister seems to be going beyond an answer to the question, I ask if it is the pleasure of the House that he have leave to make a statement.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– As I have told those who waited on me, Ministers hope that the representatives of the unions will meet a representative of the Commonwealth in any case in which there is a dispute, and that where an agreement as to terms cannot be arrived at, the question in dispute will be submitted to the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. We shall afford every opportunity for the reference of questions to the Court, and shall abide by the awards given.
– I am obliged to the Prime Minister for his elaborate reply, but would remind him that he has not answered my question, which related to the manner and extent of the application of the principle.
– The application will be general, wherever possible.
– We wish to know how far its application is to go, and what is to be the definition of “union.” On that a great deal may turn.
– I am incapable of defining now the word “union,” and ask the honorable member to be content with the statement which I have made.
– According to the newspapers, the decision of the Government affects all casual and temporary employment which, as the Prime Minister knows, is under the control of the Public Service Commissioner. Has the right honorable gentleman instructed the Commissioner to give effect to the principle?
– The Commissioner is not under the direct control of the Government in this matter, but no doubt will recognise the principle where possible, like any other reasonable man.
– Will Government employes who are not unionists be dismissed ?
– Certainly not.
– Has any definite arrangement been come to regarding the Sydney Government House?
– No, though a tentative arrangement has been made, and I hope that the people of New South Wales will recognise that it is their privilege, as it is ours, to have the Governor-General in their midst.
– In view of the Constitutional necessity for a residence for the Governor-General in the capital city of the capital State, will the right honorable gentleman, is the Government of New
South Wales fails in that generous recognition to which he has given expression, consider the propriety of resuming the Sydney Government House and an area of ground round it sufficient for the purposes of an official residence of the Governor-General?
– I hope that no such proceeding will be needed to make provision for the housing of the representative of the Crown in Australia, but I am sure that if it were necessary to provide suitable accommodation by the resumption of property, the Government and the people of Australia would be ready to take that course. I have further to say that I do not think there is any immediate danger of His Excellency being turned out. I am hoping that so long as he wishes to remain in Sydney there will be no attempt to deprive him of the present house, but that some arrangement will be arrived at.
– I desire to ask the
Prime Minister whether the proposed withdrawal of silver coinage from the Commonwealth covers defaced and mutilated coins ?
– It is intended to withdraw all Imperial silver coinage. Coins wilfully defaced are not recognised as coins at all.
– Is it the intention of the Government to grant licences for the sale of intoxicating drinks in the Northern Territory?
– Licences to sell intoxicating drinks are already granted under the South Australian Acts, which are continued in force under the Northern Territory Agreement. If the honorable member desires to know whether any further licences will be granted I must ask him to give notice of the question : the subject has not yet been considered.
– Has the Minister looked into the question of licences generally, not only for public-houses, but for the carrying on of certain businesses in the Territory? Such licences are provided for in the South Australian Act; and I desire to know whether complaint has not been made that certain Asiatics, who are naturalized British subjects, have been refused licences, and that, as a consequence, it is almost impossible now to obtain fish at Port Darwin.
– That is not so; the exact reverse is the position. As a matter of fact, when the Territory was taken over, no Asiatics were allowed to obtain licences for fishing under the South Australian Act; but by Ordinance I repealed that section of the Act.
– Were not the facts until recently as I put them to the House? I am speaking on the authority of complaints by residents in the Northern Territory. Do I understand that the Minister has passed a recent Ordinance repealing the section of the South Australian Act which caused the difficulty?
– Yes. During the last session of the South Australian Parliament the Fisheries Act was amended, and there was inserted a section excluding Asiatics from obtaining licences in the Territory at the expiration of their present licences in the following March or April. In February last, however, I issued an Ordinance repealing that Act and reissuing it with the exclusion clauses left out.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Opposition who are the “competent critics” on that side of the House referred to by the Argus?
– Order ! Only the other day I took honorable members to task for asking similar questions, and I hope the practice will not be indulged in.
– I have no objection to reply if-
– Order !
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs any information with regard tothe suggestion made during the recess that we should enter into some form of reciprocal arrangement with New Zealand, with a view to placing Australian wines on an equal footing with those of South Africa?
– Towards such an arrangement every effort has been made by this Parliament. An agreement was drawn up, I think, by the present Leader of the Opposition with the late Mr. Seddon, but it was not even considered by the New Zealand Parliament; it was referred to a Committee, and then thrown out.
I communicated with the New Zealand Minister of Customs on the subject, but. apparently, New Zealand is no further forward in the matter.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs aware that the cool storage space for the carriage of fruit on mail steamers is now monopolized by one or two firms, and that those firms farm out the space to other exporters, sometimes charging 3d. per case more than the ordinary freight?
– I know that is the practice, but we are helpless to do anything to assist the producers in the matter.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether any arrangement has been made with regard to the re-distribution of electorates in the States affected by the enumeration as disclosed by the census.? Has the Minister any information of the probable date when the cards will be counted and the redistribution made?
– I hope to have the whole thing in full blast next month.
Manager of Woollen Mills - Medical Examination of Cadets - Docking of Horses’ Tails - Military College
– On the 14th September the honorable member for Moreton asked a question as to the number of applications received from persons in the Commonwealth for the position of manager of the woollen mills, and I can now inform the honorable member that the number was thirty-three. On the 17th September the honorable member for Angas asked a question relating to boys being stripped for some time preparatory to their examination for cadetships. The reply is -
The Department has no information in regard to such instances as those referred to.
It is requested that particulars be given of specific instances, to enable inquiries to be made.
It may be stated that instructions were issued some time ago that care was to be taken that the arrangements for the medical examination should not necessitate any undue exposure of the lads or subject them to chills by remaining undressed.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether, in regard to the treatment of cadets in South Australia, to which I drew attention, his Department is unaware that something like half a column of complaints has appeared in the press?
– I cannot give a definite answer, but if the honorable member or any one of his friends can present a concrete case which is opposed to the general instruction issued to medical officers it will be quickly attended to. The honorable member for Balaclava asked a question relating to the docking of horses’ tails. There is a regulation that the tails of horses are to be at least 21 inches in length; if shorter than that, they may be allowed to grow, and, if longer, may be squared. This is according to Imperial regulation. The reply to the honorable member’s question supplied by the Minister of Defence is -
The horses’ tails have merely been squared off, ns is always customary in the service. They will be well grown by the time the hot weather commences.
On the 14th inst. the honorable member for Eden-Monaro asked the following questions relating to the Military College -
The following reply has now been received -
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether the Government will take steps to repeal the regulation for the docking of horses tails - a regulation which, having regard to our climate, is a very cruel one ?
– The Minister of Defence is personally attending to the matter.
– Is the Acting Minister of Defence aware that in New South Wales cadets are being medically examined in the day-time, with the result that in one place the boys were brought up on the only day the mine in which they were employed was worked that week, and they lost their pay. Cannot some more reasonable arrangement be made ?
– This question was raised a few days ago by the honorable member for Hunter, and when I brought it under the notice of my honorable colleague the Minister of Defence he assured me that a general instruction had been issued that the necessities of the boys in every respect were to receive the greatest consideration by those who examined them to determine their fitness to serve as cadets.
– I desire tocall the attention of the Minister of External Affairs to a report that between Farina and Oodnadatta, there have been discovered hot springs, the excellent properties of which are said to be equal to those of the famous hot springs of New Zealand, and to ask if he will obtain reports in regard to the discovery ?
– I shall, with pleasure.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the “Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether any land tax has yet been collected from the individual taxpayers by reason of additional rate on their individual taxable interests in land owing to their holding company interests (insurance or otherwise) in land?
– I have instructed the Federal Commissioner of Land Tax to prepare as early as possible complete statistical information, and when available it will be supplied to honorable members.
Military College, Duntroon. - Horse Breeding. - Cordite Factory, Maribyrnong
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are : - 1 and 2. The question of a Government horsebreeding establishment is under consideration, but no definite action has yet been decided upon.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
No. 2.(a) The factory building works are expected to be handed over to the Department of Defence this week. The first operation in the manufacture of cordite has now been commenced, and it is expected that the factory will produce finished cordite about the end of the year.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Motion (by Mr. Bamford) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table showing
The number of occasions upon which money has been voted by the Parliament in relief of oversea disasters.
Where such disasters have occurred, and the dates thereof.
The amount voted in each case.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY laid upon the table the following paper -
Public Service Act - Seventh Report on the Public Service, By the Commissioner.
Debate resumed from 15th September, (vide page 570), on motion by Mr. Brennan -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
.- I suggested on Friday last that the Government had given the Protectionists of Australia some cause to consider that they had been unfairly used, and it seems to me that they have good grounds for their complaints, since neither the new Protection nor any other system for providing high wages for those employed in our various industries could be put into force if no Protection were afforded the industries themselves. It is necessary first of all to found those industries - and to found them by Protection if that is considered the proper means - before we can determine what wages should be paid to those employed in them.
– We used to say that forty years ago, but we have got over that foolish idea.
– I think it a cogent reason why the Protectionists should castigate the Government. We have reached a stage in our fiscal history when we ought to consider the desirableness of providing a means of dealing with the Tariff other than those now followed. Those who have been through a Tariff revision debate in this Parliament must admit that Parliament is not an ideal body to deal , with such a complex question. It is perhaps impossible to put a body like Parliament into a position to deal satisfactorily with all the details that must crop up in settling an important affair like the Tariff. Another method of approaching the question which seems more likely to afford a successful means of treatment is the appointment of a Tariff Board composed of persons capable of judging the scientific questions involved in the revision of duties. Such a Board could very well be brought into existence at the same time as the Tariff Commission. Perhaps the Tariff Commission itself could in one respectoperate as a Tariff Board. At any rate, we seem to have reached a stage when the matter should be seriously tackled in order that the best may be done in the interests of the Commonwealth. In paragraph 14 of the Governor-General’s Speech we are promised a Bill to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in several aspects. The importance of that measure depends, of course, on the principles introduced into it, but I have heard during this debate statements which lead me to think that it is questionable whether it is worth Australia’s while to proceed any further in the matter of industrial arbitration. It has been openly declared here that the workmen will never give up their right to strike. If that is so, what is the use of bringing in Arbitration Bills, the very object of “ which is to prevent strikes and similar disturbances that throw industry into confusion? Those honorable members who have said that the employes will not give up their right to strike seem to be backed up by a certain amount of public opinion amongst the employes, because for some time now we have seen the Arbitration Acts flouted in various parts of Australia. Since the Labour Governments have come into power in the States things have not improved in that direction ; in fact, the strikers have been prepared to flout the law more often and more flagrantly than ever they did before. If there is to be a right to strike there ought, as a corollary, to be a right to work. One outstanding feature of the industrial life of the Commonwealth today is the extreme action that certain members of unions are prepared to take. During the strike of the agricultural implement makers’ employe’s in Victoria recently, many inflammatory addresses were delivered to the men, and those were the kind of addresses that were best received by the secretary and other officials of the unions involved. This seems to indicate that, even if the great body of employes are in favour of the satisfactory settlement of disputes by arbitration, and desire to obey the recognised law, their leaders are not, and if those leaders are in such a strong position that they can rush the unions, with their great bodies of workmen, into strikes against their will, things are coming to a very serious pass. It is not so much a matter of arbitration as the fact that we are fighting the extremist - the man who refuses his brother workman the right to work or even to live. In Australian unionism to-day we have got past the best features that the movement ever possessed. Thirty or forty years ago, when ex- Senator Trenwith and other men of his type were leading the movement, they fought for broad, manly principles, and strove to redress real grievances. They obtained eight hours as a working day, they secured the adoption of sanitary principles in all the factories, and gained better lighting, better wages, and other improvements. In the present industrial Courts we have a body which practically sits to do justice between employer and employed When the old unionists attained that, they practically attained their ideal* but the men of today do not seem to be ready or anxious to stop there. If the decision of the Court does not suit the unionist nowadays, he wants a strike. It is not now simply a question of getting a fair deal or fair wages, because such .an important issue as that of not allowing a man to work if. he will not join the union is raised. The modern-day unionist claims that he has done everything to make the path easy for the workers, but I contend that he has done very little. In fact he is doing his best to set up in Australia, not a democracy, but an aristocracy of a very limited class. He is trying to make the unionist the top dog, and that is not the best way to benefit those who are working for their daily bread, or to promote the interests of industry generally. It is not giving to men who are willing to work for the wage that the law .allows them, and who have no desire to work for less, a chance to earn their living fairly, unless they become unionists. If that is not creating a privileged class and setting up an aristocracy of the worst type, commend me to something that is. We see in the press to-day a notification of the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister in dealing with certain deputations from the Trades Hall. We learn that he has declared that the policy of the Government is to give preference to unionists.
– This was at a secret hearing.
– Apparently the Prime Minister and certain bodies from the Trades Hall have had a secret meeting, and it is now given forth to the world that the policy of the Federal Government is to accord preference to unionists. We are told in the report that this applies in a great measure to casual and temporary work. From what little experience I have had of those who seek temporary work in the Commonwealth Departments, it seems to me that a great many of them are precluded from being unionists. Numbers of them could scarcely find a union to join if they tried, and even if they did a great many are unfortunately financially at a low ebb. We are coming to something quite new if positions in the Government Departments are to be held out by the Prime Minister as bribes and baits to men to join unions. It simply means rushing them into the unions whether they wish to join or not. Amongst these casual workers there are no doubt many who have others dependent upon them, and the temporary employment they are’ given in the different Departments often enables them to tide over periods of distress until they can secure more permament situations. If only trade unionists are to be given temporary employment in the Departments, we shall have men acting as clerks and in similar positions who may be altogether unfitted for the work, whilst capable men who are not trade unionists will be left in the street. The Prime Minister has raised a vital question which I hope honorable members will not allow to drop, until an opportunity is afforded for saying a good deal more about it. I shall not enlarge upon the matter now, Hut it seems to me that the Prime Minister, by his decision, proposes the introduction of a very dangerous policy, and one upon which he can give the House very little information. What has the honorable gentleman to do with the giving of temporary employment in any of the Departments? He has no more power in the matter than has any member of the House. All these powers are supposed to be in the hands of the Public Service Commissioner. He is the man who is responsible for the temporary employment of clerks and others in the Public Service. If I cared to be captious I might in this connexion charge the Government with holding out a bribe to all sorts of people to join some union in order to secure employment. We know that, however much opposed to the Labour platform a unionist may be at heart, he is usually forced to vote Labour.
– - Some person^ would not allow a non-unionist to live.
– That is just what I complain about. Our Labour friends claim the right to strike, although the law says they shall not strike. Surely, if one man has the right to strike, another has the right to accept work at the wage provided by law.
– There is no Victorian law which says a man shall not strike.
– That is so, but there is a Federal law which says that men shall not strike.
– We have no power within a State under that law.
– The honorable member for Maranoa said, and he is not the only Labour member who has said the same thing, that employes would never give up their right to strike. I feel sure that when the honorable member made that remark he was thinking of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act quite as much! as any State law, and would not limit it only to those coming under a State Act. In connexion with the reference to the Northern Territory, I should like to say that I think we have made a very bad deal. South Australia has outgeneralled us all along the line. But we have the Territory now, and it is incumbent upon us to do the best we can with it. It will involve enormous expenditure to make any show there at all. I hope that the Government, notwithstanding their professed hatred of capitalists, will be prepared to consider any reasonable proposal on the part of reliable capitalists for the investment of money in the Territory. Because it seems to me that we must enlist the assistance of companies controlling great masses of capital if we are to make any impression on the development of the Northern Territory in our time. Unless our expenditure there is extremely well guarded, it will be very easy for us to fritter away £500,000 or 000,000 a year on the development of the Northern Territory without making it a place in which we should care to live, or in which we could expect immigrants to settle. I hope that in proposing expenditure in the Northern Territory, the Government will have regard to the best interests of Australia. A proposal with which I heartily concur is that to establish reciprocal trade with New Zealand. The sooner we get these reciprocal trade treaties in operation between the different parts of the Empire the better it will be. I notice that something is to be done to provide compensation to seamen. The last Government I sat behind introduced and passed an Act with this beneficent object in view, but the High Court subsequently decided that some of its provisions were unconstitutional. If the new measure to be introduced is calculated to remedy such defects, every honorable member on this side of the House will welcome it. I am sure that we shall all be prepared to give sympathetic consideration to any attempt made to pass satisfactory insurance laws, or any measure which will alleviate the conditions of unemployment. Unemployment insurance is a very difficult subject with which to deal. Any measure proposed for the purpose may interfere to some extent with the good work done by friendly societies. After reading what has been done by Mr. Lloyd- George in the
Old Country, and what has been said by critics of the scheme, it seems to me that we shall find it a most difficult task to devise an effective scheme of unemployment insurance, which will not do more harm than good. However, I welcome the promise of the Government to introduce this humane legislation. We are told that the Navigation Bill is to be put through all its stages this session. Judging from the history of the measure in the Senate, and in view of the fact that it has been before that branch of the Legislature for some three or four sessions, that its consideration there has not yet been completed, and, further, that it contains nearly 500 clauses, many of which raise great international questions, or questions on which, were we to make second-reading speeches upon them, we might occupy a whole session, I must say, therefore, that if the Bill is to go through this House this session, it will have to be a very long session indeed - much longer than any of us contemplated.
– Does the honorable member desire that the passing of the measure should be delayed for another five years?
– I do not wish to unduly delay the passing of the Bill, but I do think that it should receive fair consideration at our hands. I see no reason why we should accept its provisions on trust merely because the other branch of the Legislature has discussed it exhaustively. I observe that the Government intend to spend the large surplus which accrued from the last financial year upon invalid and old-age pensions, and in building our naval unit. Personally, I do not think that we can look forward to a similar surplus in the future. On the other hand, it is certain that our expenditure is not likely to decrease. At the present moment we are on the crest of a wave of prosperity. Our Customs revenue has increased by leaps and bounds. While good seasons continue our purchasing power will be large, and as a result our imports will be large. So that practically we are at high-water mark from the stand-point of revenue. But there is no prospect of a diminution in our expenditure unless we abandon certain enterprises upon which we have already embarked. For instance, wehave commenced the work of laying out the Federal Capital. In my opinion, that was a mistake, but inasmuch ais we have put our hand to the plough we cannot turn back.
– The Federal Capital will be the greatest asset in the country.
– The Federal Capital is going to cost a large sum of money, and for many years it will constitute a drag upon us. Our defence vote will probably increase, until in the near future it will aggregate , £3,000,000 annually. Then the transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta will cost the Commonwealth some millions sterling. Sooner or later, too, we shall have to build a line of railway connecting Oodnadatta and Pine Creek, and that will involve us in a further huge expenditure. In addition, there will be a considerable annual outlay in developing the Northern Territory. It is obvious, therefore, that if we experience a drop in our revenue of £2,000,000 - a drop which may easily occur during a bad season - we shall be faced with a deficit. As the Commonwealth has already taken a lot of money from the people through the Customs House, and as it has taxed the lands of the country to a greater extent than was warranted, it seems to me that we have almost exhausted our sources of taxation. If additional taxation should become necessary, it will have to be imposed just at a time when the people are least able to bear it, and by that means we shall crush the spirit of enterprise in the community, which we ought to foster. I do not think that I have painted too gloomy a picture of what the future may have in “store for us, notwithstanding the bountiful seasons which we have recently experienced. I shall not discuss the question of finance at greater length, because I shall have a better opportunity of dealing with it when the Budget is submitted. It seems to me that anybody who wishes to see old-age pensions paid on a generous scale must admit that, in Australia, we shall either have to adopt some system of compulsory insurance similar to that which obtains throughout the German Empire, or to levy a per capita contribution for this purpose. If it were practicable to collect the impost cheaply, I shoulld favour a per capita contribution. In a great measure that would prevent the sacrifice of selfreliance which will follow the continuance of the existing scheme.
– Is the honorable member afraid of sacrificing his own selfreliance ?
– I know that the honorable member has plenty of selfreliance if not of self-assurance, and I am satisfied that his honesty and pluck will not be injured in any way by the old-age pension, scheme. But, unfortunately, there are too many persons in the community who do not view these questions seriously enough. They are satisfied to let the future take care of itself, because they know that they will be able to obtain an old-age pension. If we wish to educate the young people of this continent on sound lines we must inculcate in them the idea that when they reach the prescribed age they will not require a pension.
– Is the honorable member opposed to the old-age pension?
– No, but if we wish the scheme to work smoothly and without sapping the self-reliance of our people, we should seriously consider whether we ought not to adopt some system of compulsory insurance, or of a per capita contribution. To collect a per capita contribution would be an easy matter in the cities, but I fear that it would be a much more difficult task in the scattered rural areas. If we continue the present system we shall reduce our people to the level of those in ancient Rome who were in the habit of getting free food. At one period these persons numbered no fewer than 100,000. That was a disgraceful state of affairs, and it sapped their moral fibre. I maintain that our old-age pension scheme, as it is at present administered, will produce similarly disastrous results.
– Does .the honorable member say that the recipient of a pension will have his or her intelligence sapped? What about our State Judges?
– Does the honorable member think that people are going to whistle for twenty years earning nothing because they have a prospect of getting 10s. a week when they are sixty years of age?
– No; but I think there are people who have come to the conclusion that the necessity of providing for their old age is not nearly so great now as it was before old-age pensions were granted. We have nearly ,£2,000,000 per annum going out on old-age and invalid pensions. That amounts to about 10s. per head for every member of the Commonwealth. It is a very big tax. I doubt whether there is anything to compare with it anywhere in the world unless in the Dominion of New Zealand. Suppose that the revenue of the Commonwealth goes down. We may some day be compelled to reduce the pensions received by these unfortunate people from 10s. a week to 7s. 6d. or 5s.
– Is that the policy of the Opposition?
– It is not the policy of any party to reduce the amount of the pension, but necessity may some, day com: pel a future Government to” take such” action. In paragraph 26 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech regret is expressed at the result of the referenda in April last. That regret is not shared by the majority of the people of this country. The more the people ponder on what was presented to them the more satisfied they will become with the action they then took in declining to overthrow the Federal system. The referenda was a victory for sound common sense. It was also a snub administered to the Government. Here is a Government that is always mouthing the word Democracy. They use it as the old lady used the word Mesopotamia. It is balm and oil to them. I do not know why they should claim to be such Democrats, because, if there was anything undemocratic in Australia it was the attempt made in April to thrust down the throats of the people various questions grouped under one heading. The people, as I have said, administered a well-deserved snub, which I hope that the Government will take to heart. If we hear any more of referenda from them, as threatened, I trust that next time they will present their propositions in a more democratic form, and give the people some chance of saying what particular projects they approve, and what they wish to reject. During the debate on the referenda proposals in this House it was urged from the other side that a certain amendment in the law should be made affecting trusts and combines. We are now told that, in consequence of the rejection of these proposals, the Government are hopeless to deal with such a body as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. But the Government introduced into their proposals more than was necessary to achieve that purpose, with the result that they were led into a ridiculous position. They wanted, not only the power to create and dissolve corporations, but also to regulate and control them, and every one. It was pointed out to them from this side - and no less an authority was quoted for our contention than Mr. Justice Higgins - that if the words “ regulation and control “ were used an anomalous position would be created. But the Government would not take our advice to strike out those words, which they would have eliminated if they desired to act as Democrats, and to throttle the trusts instead of using them for electioneering purposes. If the question had” been properly put to the people, under a referendum on that point by itself, the Government would have secured a majority for that proposition. There is no getting away from the fact that no responsible leader on this side of the House has anything to say for the Trusts. It cannot be said that they are behind us, or that we wish to help them. The strongest anti-trust law in the world is on our statute-book to-day. Indeed, at one time during the recess the Minister of Trade and Customs himself said that under the existing law he could take action against the trusts, and that in fact he had taken steps to prevent the American Beef Trust from getting a footing in Australia.
– I do not think that the Minister said that he had the power.
– I shall be very glad to withdraw the statement, if the Minister contradicts it.
– He said that if he had had the power he would have been glad to use it.
– I should like to in vite the Minister’s attention to the point. I have just stated that during the recess he told the people that he had prevented the American Beef Trust from coming into Australia.
– No, I did not.
– I read a report to that effect.
– They can come in tomorrow if they like. In fact, they are here.
– I do not want to see the American trusts operating in Australia.
– Jones, in Tasmania, is worse than they are.
– Jones was in business before I came to this Parliament. I say again, however, that if the Government were in earnest in this matter, they could get from the people of Australia power to deal effectively with the trusts. When the Attorney-General came to Tasmania he talked practically of nothing but trusts. At about the same time an American professor was introduced there, a very eloquent gentleman, who also dealt with the cruelty of the depredations of the trusts in his own country. But, fortunately, in addition , to hearing the Attorney-General, and other emissaries of the Government, the Tasmanian people went to hear the other side also, and learnt from them what had been done in this Parliament, and how eager both sides were to crush out unfair trusts and prevent them from unfairly trading, and from making corners in the necessaries of life ; and they learned also of the other propositions covered by the referenda questions. For the first time it was proposed that the Federal Parliament should have power to regulate the wages of railway servants. The consequence was the people began to see what the policy of the Government really meant. They, therefore, decided to throw out the whole proposal, and wait until some other Government came in which would give them what they wanted. I do not propose to say any more on that head now, but I hope that in their Electoral Bill the Government will introduce the preferential system of voting; at any rate, so far as the elections for this House are concerned. If they cannot devise a system which will, in their opinion, operate properly in connexion with the elections for the Senate, it will be better to adopt preferential voting in the case of this House, and to leave the method of voting for senators as it is.
– Would not the other side like preferential voting now? Why did they not introduce it when they were in power?
– If I had my way, the Senate elections would be conducted on the same lines as are the elections of members of the House of Assembly in Tasmania - that is, the elections would be carried out as in the grouped electorates there.
– So as to make the honorable member’s seat safe?
– In the case of single-seat constituencies, preferential voting istruly democratic. For a Government to refuse to adopt a scheme which will not allow a majority of the electors of a constituency to say who shall be their representative, and at the same time to set themselves up as Democrats, seems to me politically a most hypocritical thing; it is flying in the face of the majority, and saying that they will have to accept the candidates selected by only a few people in the electorates. Let us see what preferential voting means.
– All the minority members are sitting on the opposite side.
– That is not an argument against the principle I advocate ; in fact, it is ah argument in favour of its adoption. Under this system, the public would have the widest range of candidates to select from. They would also have this assurance - that the candidate who was declared elected had received the votes of a majority of those who had taken the trouble to go to the poll. At the present time, the pre-election system of which my honorable friends on the other side are so fond prevents very often the best men from offering their services, because it has been an unwritten law with them that the sitting member, providing that he has given anything like satisfaction during his term, shall, as a matter of course, be pre-elected. That gentleman may be a mere fossil, and may be blocking intelligent, younger, more energetic, and more patriotic men from coming forward. That should not be tolerated.
– Would the honorable member mind explaining the preferential system of voting?
– T will do so in a moment or two. The pre-election system does not necessarily give anything like a fair reflex of the political opinions of the electors. For instance, some person may be going round a member’s electorate, packing the leagues which select the candidate, and gerrymandering the position generally. By these means he may obtain more votes at the pre-election than will the sitting member of the constituency, and so displace the latter. Altogether there may be only a few hundred votes cast at a preelection, but when you look at the roll for the constituency you will find that perhaps 30,000 persons are entitled to vote. In the first place, pre-election is a most undemocratic proceeding, and even after the process of balloting has been gone through there is no guarantee that the result in any way expresses the political opinions of the electorate concerned. The honorable member for Macquarie has desired me to explain the system of preferential voting. Let us assume that there are three candidates contesting a seat, namely, one Labour candidate and two candidates on the Liberal ticket. When an elector goes into the polling-booth he puts the figure 1 opposite the name of the candidate whom lae wants to be returned, the figure 2 opposite the name of the candidate whom he prefers in the second degree, and the figure 3 opposite the name of the candidate for whom he has the least preference, and the voting paper is dropped into the ballot-box. The candidate who obtains the least number of votes on the first count is declared defeated. The number 2 votes on his papers are then distributed among the remaining two candidates./ For instance, in my constituency recently, we had a by-election. Three candidates stood under the auspices of the Liberal League. There was no Labour candidate on that occasion, although there was on a former occasion, and the result was just the same. One of the candidates was afterwards rejected by the League.
– Because he would not sign a pledge.
– The League rejected one candidate. On the first count this man had the lead, but on the second count one of the other two Liberal candidates was placed ahead of him and elected. My explanation is quite clear, notwithstanding the jeers of Ministers. They really do not want an explanation of preferential voting, because the more it is explained the more they realize that they are only fooling the people by adhering to the present system. We are told in the Speech of the Governor-General that the Land Tax Act is having a very satisfactory result in the way of helping, settlement. In my opinion, it has had practically no effect on Australian settlement. The price of land has not risen by reason of the operation of the Act. In fact, land has been sold at fair prices in spite of its operation, because things have been prosperous on the mainland, and persons have been prepared to give good prices. When droughts occur it will be found that persons will not be able to sell their land freely; in fact, the Land Tax Act is not aiding settlement at all. It has done nothing to increase settlement. I might be reminded that the Van Diemen’s Land Company is supposed to have sold a great deal of land on the North-west coast of Tasmania to a Melbourne syndicate. But even if that be so, I should want to know what the syndicate proposes to do before giving the opinion that settlement will be increased thereby. I do not know what property is said to have passed to the syndicate. Much of the company’s best land was under lease to tenants who, I think, are proposing to buy it, or have the right to do so.
– What becomes of the third votes in the system of which the honorable member was speaking just now?
– My remarks were directed to showing that there is a system whereby the will of the majority may be expressed. Honorable members may laugh here at the idea of giving expression to the opinion of the majority, but they do not dare to do so outside. Not only has the land tax not benefited Australia by increasing settlement, but it has done us great harm where we cannot afford to lose our good name, that is, in London. The Labour party has talked a great deal of non-borrowing, and used similar shibboleths, but those of us who have had to do with business matters know what that sort of talk is worth. Sooner or later we shall need the assistance of our friends in London, and the land tax has had a damaging effect upon our reputation there, because it has shaken confidence in our methods, and’ weakened our securities. As evidence to support that statement, I refer to the official report of the deputation representing great financial institutions which waited upon the Prime Minister in London. When the imposition of the tax was being discussed here, members of the Opposition pointed out what its effect was likely to be.
– The Opposition said that it would produce a revenue of £3,000,000.
– The Government does not know yet what it will produce.
– Not £1,500,000.
– It has already produced as much as that, although its author estimated the revenue from it at only £1,000,000. Sooner or later Australia will find itself in need of a larger population, and this Government should do all it can to induce the State Governments to co-operate with it in the encouragement and facilitation of immigration. The more immigrants of the right class we get, the better for the country, because each man who comes here becomes in his turn a producer. He has to be clothed and fed, and gives employment in that way and others. But there are in the community persons so mean in spirit, and so small in intellect, that they would prevent immigration in order to improve, as they think, their own chances of getting work. No Government that permits such persons to have weight with it can do its duty to the people at large. The definition of “ absentees “ in the land tax legislation is very cruel. I do not object to the penalization of the man who, having made money in Australia, chooses to live abroad, but it is not right to treat as absentees persons who have never lived here, and, have merely lent us money at a time when we badly needed it.
– They lent it in order to get a good return for it.
– Millions have been invested in Australia from which there has been no return. The fact that many companies which have lent money here have become large land-holders because of having to foreclose on mortgaged properties shows that the mortgagors were not prospering, and the companies themselves have not been able to pay dividends. When the money was lent, there was no desire on the part of the lenders to become landholders, and no hint of taxation which would regard as absentees such landholders as they have become. To treat them as absentees does harm, because investors in Great Britain naturally ask, “ What are Australian protestations about Imperial sentiment worth?”
– Does not the honorable member think that we ought to thank British investors for permission to live?
– No ; but we should stand by the bargain which we made with them, and not crush them with taxation which was not anticipated. Among the cases mentioned to the Prime Minister was that of the Australian Estates and Mortgage Company, which invested £3,000,000 here, and acquired a large area of land by having to foreclose on mortgages.
– Does the honorable member hold a brief for absentees?
– If the honorable member will pay attention, instead of writing letters and chirping in, cockatoo fashion, he may be able to interject to some point. The company own land in the cities and in the country, and have done their best to part with it in large or small areas. They have spent £180,000 in wages in Australia, and in some years received no dividend at all.
– For many years.
– Yes ; it is only in later years that the company have received anything like a fair return.
– They have never received any fair return.
– The company are heavily affected by the land tax. We must remember that companies of the kind are not wholly composed of capitalists, but that there are many poor people amongst the shareholders ; at any rate, people who cannot, in any sense of the word, be described as wealthy. One is surprised at bank shareholders’ meetings at the number of poor people who have invested their money in bank shares in Australia and elsewhere; and some consideration should be shown to them. Mr. Faithful Begg, an adviser to investors, who resided in New Zealand for many years, told the Prime Minister in London that the land tax was shaking confidence in Australian debentures, and he drew a parallel between this country and Canada which honorable members opposite ought to take to heart. Canada is encouraging the investment of capital, and inviting people to go to the Dominion.
– Thousands are on the verge of starvation to-day in Canada !
– Every country has its poor, just as every country has its percentage of people who will not work; but Canada is booming along at a greater rate than Australia, notwithstanding our prosperity. The Prime Minister was told by the chairman of the Western Australian Midland Railway Company there that that company, at its inception, had been obliged to practically take up from the Government 3,300,000 acres. That railway was built on the land grant system, though the company would have much preferred, as is often done, to receive a subsidy from the Government. Western Australia, however, at that time, was not in a position to pay a subsidy ; but if a subsidy had been paid the company would not now be called upon to pay any tax.
– Could not the Western Australian Government have built the railway without the company?
– Whether the Western Australian Government could, or could not, they did not. The company have parted with as much land as they possibly could, and are willing to part with more on easy terms. At present, the company receive a revenue of £700 per annum from the land, whilst the Federal land tax amounts to £7,000 per annum.
– And the State land tax to . £1,800 !
– Yes, and 1 ask whether such legislation is likely to induce settlement? Are these the sort of facts likely to encourage the investment of capital? I am afraid that excessive class taxation, such as this, is likely to have the same ill effects here as were experienced by ancient nations.
– Are the company cutting this land up?
– They have nothing like 3,000,000 acres left.
– They have 2,000,000 acres.
– I do not think so, but I shall not dispute the point.
– People can get land more cheaply from the Government; why should they buy from private individuals ?
– Why penalize people in this unholy fashion ?
– Why does not the honorable member take up a bit of this land ?
– I have as much, or more, land than I can make produce what it ought per acre. In these days I prefer to have as little land as possible; and if I had £50,000 to invest to-morrow I should not invest it in Australian lands.
– Should a company hold 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 acres, and not pay for the defence of it?
Mfr. ATKINSON.- That is a cheap piece of clap-trap. Why should a few land-holders pay for the whole defence of the country?
– They own the country !
– Only 7 per cent, of the land in Australia is alienated ; and why should the owners of that 7 per cent, pay for the defence of the remaining 93 per cent., and thus, practically, preserve the national integrity of 4,500,000 people? To each man in the country his liberty and home are just as dear, from the national point of view, as are the liberty and home of the owner of acres; and each man should be prepared to pay his fair share and no more. Those individuals who compose the land companies are paying their fair share. They live in Great Britain, where the war tax is excessive; and that war tax is as much for the defence of Australia as of any other part of the Empire. This inane legislation has the effect of making people fight shy of Australia, and alienates their sympathy instead of tightening the bonds of Empire.
– Western Australians rejoice that the land tax was passed, because it affects the company referred to !
– I am merely giving the facts, which do not speak well for the land tax. This Parliament is not here to please a few Western Australians, or to do anything to detract from the national honour, but to do right and justice to all.
– All business people, who belong to the Liberal party, are secretly rejoicing at the land tax !
– I question that statement; it is not my experience. If they are rejoicing, I do not know what at. In Tasmania there have been no land, sales due to the Federal land tax - land cannot be sold in Tasmania. I do not say that this is altogether due to the tax,” because we have had a peculiar season which may, to some extent, account for the fact. The land tax has not helped settlement in Tasmania, unless it can be said that the sale of the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s property was due, as I believe it was, to it. I should have preferred to see the State of Tasmania buy out that company on fair terms. The shareholders, according to the press, have done very much better than I thought they would after the imposition of the Federal tax. The company went to Tasmania in the early part of the nineteenth century, and secured very large rights under its charter. It took up land, and settled some of it, spending as much as from £40 to £50 an acre on part of it. It settled a good deal of its agricultural land.
– It brought out a couple of shiploads of sheep and cattle, and in return was granted free labour.
– The company imported the best sheep and cattle obtainable in the Old World, and, I have heard it said that it was the first to pay as much as ,£1,000 for a stud bull in the Old Country. The best strains of cattle were brought to Tasmania, but farmers there had not the good sense to keep them, as they should have done, with the result that they were taken over to the Western District of Victoria, and became the basis of the best stock there. The company also introduced the best type of horses. For many years no dividends were paid to shareholders, and at no time have they received more than from 4 to 5 per cent, on the capital invested. Under the Federal tax, they were asked to pay ,£10,000 per annum; and that, with the State land tax, practically swallowed up the whole of their revenue. If the Standing Orders permitted it, I should describe the using of a taxing measure, which is supposed to be for revenue-producing purposes, in such a way as to thus take away all the annual value of a person’s holding as robbery-
– Order !
– I know that I cannot so describe a measure passed by this Parliament ; but, at all, events, such an enactment verges on the dishonest.
– Order !
– The effect of the tax is to take out of the property of the company, after a century’s work, practically the whole” of its earning capacity. How can we trust a Government in other matters which introduces a measure, knowing that it will have the said effect.
– The honorable member is simply proving that the Van Diemen’s Land Company is keeping its land in comparative idleness ; that is all.
– I disagree with the honorable member. If he were to examine the property, he would find that it includes some thousands of acres of worthless land, and that the good lands, such as those in the neighbourhood of Circular Head, have been settled by tenants. When the Land Tax Bill was before the House last session, the honorable member for Denisonsuggested that the company was bleeding one of its tenants there. Subsequently, I received - too late to place on record during that debars - a letter giving the true facts, and showing that the statement made by the honorable member was incorrect. The company treated the man very fairly.
– Did the honorable member say that this company had to pay £10,000 a year under the Federal land tax?
– I am not quite surethat it had to pay ,£10,000 under the Federal tax alone.
– The honorable member knows that it has not paid more than- £6,000 per annum under the Federal land tax.
– I do not. I haveseen in the press a statement to the effect that the company was paying taxation) equal to £10,000 per annum. That, perhaps, would represent the State and Federal” land tax’ payments, and with such an impost upon its land the company was- forced to sell. The syndicate which purchased has at its head Mr. Baillieu, a gentleman who has a reputation for progressive methods, and it will be interesting to observe what he does with the property. I should be glad to see that part of Tasmania developed, as some think it will be, in consequence of this sale, but I have my doubts on the point, and do not hesitate to say that, even in Tasmania, it cannot be shown that the Federal land tax has promoted settlement. It” may in the future, and I hope that it will, but as a Parliament we did a foolish thing in passing such a tax, providing, as it does, for excessive rates and special impositions on absentees.
– Would the honorable member favour the repeal of the Act?
– I should certainly favour a strong modification of it. It is not easy for us to say what we should do.
– Because we are not on the Government side of the House. We arenot likely to occupy the Treasury benches for another eighteen months, and by that time the expenditure of the Commonwealth might have been so increased by honorable members opposite as to make the revenue quite inadequate to meet our demands. We do not like to take leaps in the dark. No one who has had experience of my honorable friends opposite would care to say what he would do if his party came into power after they had held office for another eighteen months.
– If the honorable member’s party were now in power, would he vote for the repeal of the Act?
– I should, for the reason that land taxation, in my opinion, should be imposed by the Federation only in case of a national emergency. The States are the proper agents to tax,to buy, and to settle the land, and they were prosecuting a closer settlement policy when the Federal tax was passed.
– Tasmania was, at all events, doing so, and the honorable member must know that we have had for years in that State a very heavy land tax compared with those ruling in the rest of the Commonwealth.
– What land tax did the Van Diemen’s Land Company pay?
– Ithink that the State land tax goes up to 3d. in the £1.
– They paid1½d. on a valuation of 6s. per acre.
– There has been a revaluation since those clays, and the company have had to pay liberally on a different valuation. The tax took nearly all the revenue of the company, and any measure that does that is not a taxing measure. It is a measure practically to force a man to sell his land on terms unfair to himself, because no buyer will pay a fair capital value for it. He will first capitalize the amount of the tax. If a man wishes to sell land on which he is paying land tax to the extent of, saiy, £1,000, a buyer will take £20,000 off the capital value on account of the tax, and instead of the vendor getting, say, £100,000, he will not get more than £80,000. These excessive taxation measures must have, in this young country, the same effect that they had in ancient Rome and other places. That effect has been anything but good. I have taken up a great deal more time than I intended, but that has been due to the questions addressed to me from the other side. I hope, in conclusion, that the Government will give due consideration to all the measures which they introduce, and that, although they have the matured and varied judgment of the Caucus to assist them, they will, in dealing with such technical matters as banking, seek true expert opinion outside.
– I thank honorable members for their kind reception. I feel somewhat at a disadvantage in speaking to the AddressinReply, inasmuch as I have not had the opportunity of hearing what honorable members have already said in regard to it. I regret that I shall not be able to say anything very complimentary to honorable members opposite, for it is much more pleasant to say agreeable things than to criticise in a hostile manner. I do not propose to address myself to the financial question to-day. I am not able to deal with it at this stage, but I hope it will not be long before the Treasurer’s Budget speech is delivered,and that we shall then have a full statement, and be able to deal with it on its merits. When I was Treasurer the present Treasurer was always complaining and criticising the delay in presenting the Budget, and I hope now hehas the opportunity there will be no delay in giving the House a full account of the financial position of the Commonwealth. We have had a long recess of which I, personally, have no reason to complain, because I have been away myself faking advantage of it. The recess, however, has been a sort of hibernation on the part of the Government, because I do not suppose it ever happened before in this country that three of the principal Executive officers of a Government went away to England for six months, and took with them the chief of the staff in each of the Departments. As a rule, when Ministers go away they leave in the Departments some one who knows, not only its working, but also the Minister’s views on all the questions that have arisen, and probably on many that will arise. In this case, However, the Prime Minister, the Minister of External Affairs, and the Minister of Defence, not only went themselves - I hope they enjoyed themselves - but also took with them their chief Executive officers. That was not a good arrangement for the State, and those who were left in charge of the Departments must have been, to some extent, inconvenienced in consequence.
– They left good, responsible Ministers behind.
– But not officers who were chiefs of Departments. The honorable member knows very well what I mean, and, therefore, it is of no use for him to interrupt in that way.
The first matter touched upon in the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral is the Coronation of the King, at which I had the honour of being present, as also had a large number of members of this House, who went there in a representative capacity. I went as a private citizen. I think the Coronation of the present King will be memorable in the annals of the Caucus party opposite, because fourteen of their chosen members went there specially invited, as we are told in the Speech, to be -present on that great occasion. They took with them a large retinue of secretaries and officers, and were there as the honoured guests of the nation. No expense was spared to make a good display, so far as they were personally concerned, but I regret that no expense was incurred to make a display on behalf of Australia. I could not help regretting, when I drove down Whitehall on the morning of the Coronation, and I am sure that other honorable members will share my regret, that there was no evidence whatever of the existence of the Commonwealth of Australia. We saw something of Canada in the shape of triumphal arches, under which the King and Queen and their retinue went. We saw a good deal about New Zealand, in the shape of a magnificent arch erected by her, but we saw nothing of Australia, and it was the same the next day or the day after, when the procession went through London. All through, there was nothing to indicate to the immense concourse of people that there was an Australia in existence. That was to be regretted on such an occasion, when fourteen chosen members from the other side of the House, and some from this were present. Some display might have been made in the centre of the Empire on such a great occasion. I regret that nothing was done, and I am sure that every member of the House who was there regretted it also. The very troops that escorted the Prime Minister were borrowed from Canada and South Africa. Was that a fitting display for this Commonwealth ? In my opinion, and in the opinion of every one from Australia that I met there, it was not.
– The Treasurer is guarding the funds of the Commonwealth.
– I do not think so. It would be out of place, and much against my wish, to say a word about such expenses, but I will say that there has never been sent to the Old Country a representation that cost so much as did this one. In fact, I think it cost double the cost of any other representation that has gone from this country.
– The representation of Australia at King Edward’s Coronation cost .£16,000.
– That, I suppose, included the sending of troops. I am speaking of the personal part of the matter. It was a glorious event, and a great occasion; .but it is sad to have to relate that the advent to, and departure from, London of the fourteen representatives of the Caucus party opposite, who visited the Old Country to attend the Coronation, though it ought to have excited the wonder and the curiosity of the people of England, was allowed to pass without any particular notice. I was in London at the time, and neither the event itself, nor the deliberations of the Conference, seemed to occupy the public mind. No one took any interest in what was being done at the Conference. So far as I could find out, no one knew or cared what was being done there. Why was this? Because it was well understood that nothing would be done there. Every one who attended the Conference was shackled. The Prime ‘Minister of Canada was shackled. Our own Prime Minister was so shackled that he could not commit himself to anything, because he was told by the Caucus that he must not do so. The members of the Imperial Government who attended the Conference were also shackled by their Free Trade policy. As a consequence, every one knew from the beginning that nothing whatever would be done.
– Was Sir Joseph Ward shackled ?
– No, I do not think he was. ,1 believe that he did good work, and I shall refer to it in a moment.
I notice that the Governor-General’s Speech says -
A notable feature and marked advance upon previous Conferences was the action of the British Government in taking the Oversea Dominions’ representatives into their full and unreserved confidence regarding their foreign policy.
I am at a loss to understand how the Executive representatives from this Parliament - “the Dauntless Three” - could discover how far former representatives of the oversea Dominions were taken into the confidence of the Imperial Government. I do not think that even .the members of the Imperial Government who were present at the Conference could possibly know how far their predecessors had taken the members of previous Conferences into their confidence. I do not know how any one, unless it were some official secretary, could know exactly what was said by previous Prime Ministers of Great Britain in the confidential addresses they made to those present at former Conferences. I attended an Imperial Conference on two or three occasions, and I never knew, or understood, that there was any withholding of full confidence by the representatives of the Imperial Government from the representatives of the oversea Dominions. In fact, it seemed to me that we were addressed in the most open and frank way whilst we were asked to be very careful not to disclose the confidential information imparted. I do not think the reference I have quoted reads very well. It seems to me to be like an attempt to cover up the fact that nothing was done, or could be done, at the recent Imperial Conference, by saying that those who attended it were taken into the confidence of the British Government to a greater extent than had heretofore been the practice. I very much question if they were. I wish to know where these confidences are now. Do they, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, remain with the three Ministers who represented Australia? Have they been conveyed to the Caucus? Of what use are they if they are held only by the three Ministers referred to?
– The honorable gentleman cannot pump us.
– I have no wish to pump honorable members opposite ; but I should like to know of what use these confidences can be if they are confined to only three persons. If they are not confined to the Ministers who attended the Conference, I should like to know what has become of these wonderful disclosures of foreign policy.
– The Ministers are too good Britishers to disclose any information given them in confidence.
– My opinion is that they have nothing to disclose. Who holds these secrets? Honorable members who have held Ministerial office are aware that there are very few secrets in a Government, and I do not suppose that the present Imperial Government is exceptional in this respect. Are these secrets intended for the use of the Caucus ? If they are to be known only to the Prime Minister, the Minister of External Affairs, and the Minister of Defence, they cannot be very important. The one proposal submitted to the Conference which seemed to me to be of real importance, that moved by Sir Joseph Ward, dealing with the relations of the overseas Dominions with the Empire in time of war, received scant courtesy from the representatives of Australia. What our relations with the Empire are to be when the Empire is at war and the enemy is at our gates is a burning question to-day, and the most important question we have to settle in the future, and there should be no ambiguity or uncertainty about it. That is the question which Sir Joseph Ward wished to be dealt with at the Conference; and it was practically set aside, the representatives of Australia voting against the motion submitted.
A reference is made in the Speech to the Naval Agreement. I am glad that the agreement was made. I have not had an opportunity of reading it lately, but I perused it at the time, and thought it excellent. However, it was our agreement, and not that of the present Government. I believe it is couched in almost the identical words of the agreement made by the Government of which I was a member, and of which the honorable member for Ballarat was Prime Minister. It was taken from us, as usual, without any acknowledgment whatever. That seems to be in accordance with the practice of honorable members opposite. They do not mind taking away one’s ideas, pirating or plagiarizing what others have proposed, but they are not generous enough to give the authors of such proposals the credit of their origin, or to say that the proposals made were in accordance with the views promulgated by others.
I have only had an opportunity of looking through the Speech since my arrival the day before yesterday, but I have noticed that almost every matter with which it deals was originated by the previous Government.
– That should suit the honorable gentleman.
– That is so; but, while the substance of the Speech is good and belongs to us, the administration has been downright bad. The only matters in the Speech which we have no wish to take any credit for, and which, on the contrary, we reprobate, are the land tax and some legislation intended to give an unfair preference to unionists. Leaving these matters out, all the rest may be said to be the work of the previous Government. I will name some of the matters to which I refer. First of all, there is the Naval Agreement. I understand that the honorable member for Darling Downs the other day showed that it is almost in the very words of the agreement made by the previous Government.
Then military defence, as proposed, is on the basis of the Act we passed for compulsory training. Then there is the navy and naval defence ; I ann sure honorable members opposite will not say that they are not ours.
Again, there is penny postage. I have not had time to look up what honorable members said about penny postage a few years ago, but I know that, five years ago, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro introduced a measure to give effect to it with the full consent of myself and the then Treasurer. Who was it who at that time jeered at and defeated the proposal? It was honorable members opposite, who are now taking credit for it as though it were some new proposal which they introduced.
If they had not opposed the measure five years ago, we should have had penny postage established at that time, and it would now be reproductive. When we introduced the measure, we were jeered at. I do not know what was not said about the proposal, but generally we were told that it would result in a great loss to the country. However, as soon as honorable members opposite got into power, they at once brought forward a measure for the establishment of penny postage, and seek now to take all the credit for it.
– And we carried it, too.
– I was always in favour of it. I recognised that it was a progressive measure, which would be of great convenience and advantage to the people. I know perfectly well that the reform will pay, and that very soon. The experience of Canada, New Zealand, and the Old Country is convincing proof of that. Only the other day, I had an opportunity of looking at the returns, and although I did not scrutinize them very closely, it seemed to me that those croakers who declared that we would lose a considerable sum during the first year of the operation of penny postage will be disappointed.
– We shall lose £400,000 anyhow.
– No doubt the honorable member knows a great deal. But seeing that the Act has only been in force a few months, I fail to see how he can know that. Then there is the transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta. I shall have something to say about that presently. The transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth, the repression of trusts and combines, the Federal Capital, and the notes issue - all these proposals formed part of the policy of the previous Government. The Prime Minister knows very well that when he assumed office, he found in the Treasury a Banking Bill and a Commonwealth Notes Bill, together with all the correspondence relating to them which had passed between myself and the Bank of England, and other financial authorities. I have been grossly misrepresented by certain newspapers, and by some honorable members, concerning the action which I took in regard j to those Bills and correspondence when I was leaving office.
-; - I did not see the Bills mentioned by the right honorable gentleman until quite recently.
– The Prime Minister saw the Commonwealth Notes Bill before he introduced it to the notice of this House. That Bill was drafted by Mr. Collins, of the Treasury, under my supervision.
– Those Bills were considered private papers.
– I think it was the honorable member for Hume who mentioned on one occasion that when I was quitting office, I instructed either Mr. Allen or Mr. Collins to burn certain papers but that he took good care they were not burnt. That most incorrect and unfounded statement has been made several times, and I have seen it again in the press during the last few days. As a matter of fact, every single paper - private and public - and every draft of every Bill connected with finance, I left in the Treasury for the benefit of my successor. I did that on two occasions, namely, in 1907 and in 1910. It is discreditable for any person to charge me with petty meannesses of that description. I have never been guilty of anything of the sort. I consider it my duty to render to my successor in office all the assistance I can.
– Will the right honorable member support the Commonwealth Banking Bill?
– The Banking Bill which I left behind when I quitted office merely consolidated the law in respect of banking throughout Australia, but the Notes Bill, which had been drafted under my instructions, was practically the Bill which became law last session.
Paragraphs 7, 8, and 9 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech relate to the building of ships for the Australian Navy, to universal training under the Defence Act, which has now been inaugurated - although the Bill was passed before the present Ministry came into power - and to the manufacture of small arms and cordite. All these things formed portion of the policy of the previous Government. I very much regret that the fruition of our hopes in the matter of the manufacture of small arms seems to be as far off as ever. The time when the requisite machinery should have been installed has long since passed.
– I think that the machines have become obsolete.
– At any rate, the position is not a creditable one’ to the Government.
Paragraph11 of the Vice-Regal utterance refers to the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and affirms that good progress has been made with detailed surveys in the Territory. Those surveys have been in hand a very long time, and ought to have been finished ere now. But I would like to know what is to be done in regard to the building of the Federal Capital, and when it is to be done. Are buildings to be erected this year?
– No, we are, first, going to build the railway to Western Australia.
– We ought to know more about this matter. If the Government are composed of energetic and enterprising men, let them push on with the work immediately. They have the necessary money. As a matter of fact, they are lending money to the States. Surely, then, they are in a position to undertake necessary works for the Federal Government. This stick-in-the-mud and do-nothing policy will ruin the country yet. If the Government do not exhibit more energy we shall not get toCanberra for many years. I understand that the Department of Home Affairs intends to construct a railway to Yass and Queanbeyan, and thus to compel the people of Victoria to journey from Albury to Cootamundra and Yass, and thence to the Seat of Government. Such a proposal is calculated to arouse nothing but disgust. Why cannot we have a railway built from Albury via Tumut, to the Federal Capital? It is said that the country is rough in some parts, but what of that? I say that a railway from Albury, via Tumut, to the Federal Capital, would be nearly 100 miles shorter than the line suggested by the Minister of Home Affairs. Is it not due to the people of Victoria that they should have railway communication with the Federal Capital as direct as possible ? The proposal of the Minister merely serves to show that he does not understand the geography of this country. If he would only visit other lands and see how railways are taken through mountains and ravines, he would not hesitate to put a line through the country I have indicated. It might be necessary to construct a few tunnels, but what of that ? Only the other day I passed through a tunnel which is 12½ miles long. If the Victorian representatives in this Parliament are content to journey to the Federal Capital by the circuitous route via Cootamundra and Yass, they lack the enterprise with which “they should be imbued.
– It is no place to go to, anyway.
– I say nothing about the character of the place, but at least we should give people an opportunity of going there quickly, and of coming away quickly when they want to do so. I have to find fault with my honorable friend the Minister of Home Affairs. He has too much to say, and is not doing enough; whilst the things that he is doing are simply little ones, it is the great things that succeed. As Mr. Chamberlain once wrote to me, ‘ 1 After all, it is the great things that succeed ; it is no use shrinking and peddling nowadays ; those who wish to succeed must risk something, and courage finds its own reward.” Let my honorable friend take that home with him and think about it. He should not be content with talking about putting up a brickyard here, and establishing an avenue of trees there. Let him set about preparing plans for building a railway straight from Albury into the Federal Capital.
Paragraph 12 of the Governor- General’s Speech is a very interesting one, coming from the Ministerial side of the House, and especially as affecting the distinguished member of the house of Tudor. It says -
The effect of the Tariff upon Australian industries is being carefully watched by My Advisers, with a view to revision wherever the information obtained by them shows this to be necessary. “Obtained by them” - they have not the information yet ! They are going to look about to find something. Yet they have been eighteen months in office. Where are those “ strangled industries “ which we read about before the present Ministry came into office? When we were in office we were continually reading references to “ strangled industries “ in the chief Protectionist newspaper, and were constantly urged that something must be done at once.
– They are not strangled now we are in office.
– That may be the explanation. Where is that great prohibitionist, the Minister of Trade and Customs ? Evidently he is not so eager on this subject when he is enjoying the sweets of Cabinet rank as he was when in the shades of Opposition. But he is going to “ watch carefully,” with a view to revision, whenever the information obtained shows this to be necessary. So that no information has yet been obtained on the subject. The Government have been eighteen months in office and know nothing. If the members of the Ministry have all been “ watching very carefully “ and have found nothing, one would assume that there has been nothing to find. Otherwise they would surely have done something. But when this information is obtained the Minister of Trade and Customs is going to do it. My view is that he will not do anything until the next general election is close upon us. I expect that then he will go on the stump promising to protect everybody, and that every one is to grow rich thereby. I myself am a Protectionist, though I am not such an one as he is. I do believe, however, that I am more genuine than he is, because if I were Minister I certainly would do something to keep my promises and to be consistent, whereas he is only “ watching.”
I wish to refer to the proposed amendment of the electoral law. Unless my honorable friends in the Ministry are very careful - and I speak with no self-interest in this matter - they will find that there will be no time to re-adjust the boundaries of electorates before the general election. I can afford to be disinterested, because my own constituency is very large - containing something like 40,000 electors - and the larger the constituency the better chance I have of being elected. Unless Ministers are very careful the old divisions will be in existence when the next elections take place. What will happen? Some time - perhaps towards the end of this session - Commissioners may be appointed. They will not bring up their report during the present session, unless they set about it very early. Next session their report will be considered, but if it does not suit honorable members opposite, it will be referred back, or be kicked out altogether.
– We shall do no worse than the right honorable member’s Government did.
– If we did that we should be following the right honorable member’s example.
– I believe that honorable members opposite will take the course that I have suggested if it suits their personal interests to do so.
– That is what the right honorable member did when it suited him.
– I did not. My own district, according to the recommendations of the last Commissioner, suited me admirably. But, at the same time, I was of opinion that the rearrangement was not a good one.
– We know how the right honorable member voted.
– The honorable member has made a statement ‘that is not correct.
– The report was sent back to the Commissioners.
– It was not in my own interest that that had to be done, because my electorate suited me very well as it was. Suppose that the report of the Commissioners is sent back to them. In that event the elections will take place under the old arrangements, because there will not be time for an amended report to bie received. I have no personal complaint to make, because my electorate, as it is now denned, suits me. Though its extent is large, I have a better chance with a constituency of that size than with a smaller one. Nevertheless the subject requires to be looked into, and I throw out the suggestion in the public interest, not in my own. I also wish to say a word on the present Electoral Act, and, in doing so, I intend to be pretty outspoken. The Act is unworkable. It contains restrictions and penalties which nobody does, nor can, observe. I doubt whether there is a single honorable member in this House whose agents do not break the Act. It must be so. Any political organization that carries on its operations in a constituency is an agent for one or other of the candidates. The Labour organizations, in the constituencies of the honorable gentlemen opposite, are their agents. The Liberal leagues, in my electorate, are my agents. Nevertheless, they do numbers of things that I know nothing about. Such has also been the case in England. Several cases came before the Courts while I was there, and in each instance the sitting member lost Eis seat, because agency was legally proved on the part of political organizations which worked for his return. Much the same would have happened to nearly every one of us if our seats had been challenged. I do not care what an honorable member does - if an organization acts for him it is his agent. If it spends money in his interests, it does so as his agent. At any time an honorable member may have to bear the penalty for what is done by such an organization. There has never been a case arising under our Electoral Act, because every one knows that all those who are elected are in the same boat. If honorable members opposite were to bring a case against us we should bring cases against them, and the whole Parliament would be upside down. Let us bring a little common sense to bear on this matter. Let us see whether we cannot try to punish those who flagrantly evade the provisions of the Act, or violate them. But do not make the law so tight that an organization cannot put on a tree a placard asking the electors to vote for any one without getting into trouble. At present, an organization cannot lawfully issue the placards which are posted all over the country. Let us introduce common sense into our law, in the interests of all of us. I ask honorable members to see if they cannot put the electoral law on a practical basis, making it fair to everybody, so that its provisions can be carried out, and not be a dead letter.
– Does the honorable member think that he could get through the same places as the honorable member for Ballarat?
– I believe that the honorable member for Ballarat is an upright, honorable man in all matters.
– Now, no twisting.
– I believe that my honorable friend’s election could be upset as well as that of the honorable member for Maranoa or mine.
I want to say a few words about a subject which is not referred to in the opening Speech, I think, and that is the sugar industry in Queensland. When I was on my way from England, and also after I had arrived in Western Australia, I read a great deal in the press about the sugar industry - the difficulties which arose in connexion with labour, and the statement made by the Acting Prime Minister. It surprised me to learn that he was in favour of doing away altogether with the protective duty of £,6 per ton.
– He was most emphatic about that, and I believe that he is going to do it now.
– I want to know whether this statement which I saw several times was a Ministerial statement, and whether the Prime Minister himself has adopted it as part of his policy? I do not wish him to say anything against his colleague who was acting for him during his absence from the Commonwealth. Still, it seems to me that it is due to us, and to the people of this country, seeing that the statement was deliberately made, that we should know what is the policy of the Government in regard to the sugar industry. Perhaps I have not read what the Prime Minister has stated during the last few days. If he has said anything on the subject, probably I shall hear of it. Tt is most extraordinary that the acting leader of a party should express opinions as to policy unless he is certain that his chief shares them. T believe that there are public men who have done that sort of thing, but I hold that a Minister who is left in charge of a Government or a Department by a colleague has no right to advocate measures contrary to his views. It is discreditable and disloyal conduct. I hope that it will be denounced by every right-thinking man as very unfair, ungenerous, and improper. I do not believe for a moment that the Prime Minister is in favour of the abolition of the Customs duty, because I remember how valiantly he has stood up here, throughout many years, in his efforts to preserve and protect in his own peculiar way the sugar industry. To take away the protective duty would be, in my opinion, to sacrifice the industry, because the Government could scarcely allow the bounty and the Excise duty to stand. They must be repealed, tpo, and then sugar from all parts of the world where labour is cheap would be dumped into Australia. What would be the result? The land which is now employed in growing sugar-cane would have to be devoted to the growth of other products. We have a right to know whether the Attorney-General voiced the opinion of his colleague when he made this statement, not once, but several times, to deputations, and through the press.
– It was only Ministerial bluff.
– I do not believe in that sort of thing, nor does the honorable member, I think. I hold that if a man is leading a party, he has to consider the interests of that party, and to be loyal to it and to the country. The conduct of the Attorney-General was not right from the point of view of my honorable friends opposite, or from my point of view. I believe that the imposition of restrictions of one sort and another - giving a bounty and charging an Excise - holding the arbitrary power of the Minister in terrorem over the heads of the sugar-growers - will eventually ruin the sugar industry. I have often advocated here that it should be treated exactly as any other industry. Any product of the soil, whether it is sugar, maize, or corn, or oats, should be protected against unfair competition from outside, and placed under no restrictions inside. That is the policy which we adopted in the case of every industry ; we gave each an opportunity to develop. Is the sugar industry a sacred one? Is it holy land in North Queensland? I have been told that the sugar industry has been specially treated because my honorable friends opposite do not want coloured people to work up there. If a coloured man has a right to remain in Australia and work here, I would sooner see him working up in North Queensland than in the streets of Melbourne. If my opinion were asked, I would say, “ Let him work up there, because, if contamination is possible, he is much more likely to contaminate the youth by living in crowded centres than he is in the tropics, to which people do not go altogether from choice.” There is only one real reason for this special treatment. I think that the object of the Caucus Party is to keep control of every producer in that country, so that my honorable friends can always have their hands upon him, giving him something or taking it away, whenever they like. That is a wrong system to follow, and I hope that the Government will get rid of it. The reason why the previous Government did not take that step was because we were under an agreement for a certain time. After that time has expired, why should we continue this foolish retrograde system of interfering with persons who are producing from the land? It is a very bad thing for any producer to feel that the results of his toil and industry are in jeopardy, and that Ministers may intervene at any time and put restrictions upon him. This ought to be a free country, with free men, and if men are engaged in an industry, they ought to be given peace and security. The sugar industry should be no exception to the rule. Why should not a man grow sugar as well as wheat without being subject to restrictions? There ought to be less restrictions in the far-away north’, where the climate is so hot, than in Victoria. The whole system is rotten to the core. What sense ^is there in paying a bounty of £3 a ton to the sugar-grower and charging him an Excise duty of £4 a ton? Why not take j£i a ton from him?
– I am surprised at the honorable member.
– I am speaking of facts founded on my own knowledge and experience.
The next point I wish to deal with - and it is the one bright spot in the Speech - is in this paragraph -
A Bill to provide for the construction of a trans-continental railway with a gauge of 4ft. 86in., connecting the Western Australian railway system with those of the Eastern States, will be submitted for your early consideration.
At last, after ten years of advocacy and weary striving, we have got the Government of the day to promise to undertake this great work. The representatives of Western Australia have always stood by me in my efforts to get Parliament to agree to the construction of the line. It is the only policy on which we have been always all agreed. My only regret is that the line was not made long since. It is absurd to say that it will not pay. In the United States, would private investors hesitate ten minutes about supporting a proposal for the construction of a line to connect the two sides of a continent, especially when that line would pass across a mining field which has produced £100,000,000 worth of gold, and through at least 20,000,000 acres of grass land, joining Eastern Australia with a population of 4,500,000, with the western side, with a growing population of 300,000 people, and giving access to the port that is the nearest to Europe ? Yet we have been ten years thinking about this matter. While the delay has cost me many a sad moment, I congratulate honorable members upon having the promise of the Government that the work is at last to be carried out. Those who fear that the enterprise will be a failure have no faith in their own country. The railway will connect Eastern and Western Australia, and make Federation a reality. I hope that the Government will use expedition in this matter.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member is not using expedition now.
– - I am.
– The railway ought to be made within three years at least.
– Sooner than that.
– If it is done within that time, I shall be satisfied.
In paragraph 17 of the Speech, we are told that on the 1st January last - the Northern Territory was acquired and taken over as a Territory of the Commonwealth. YOU will be invited to consider measures to provide for the government and development of the Territory.
Parliament has already passed legislation which gives Ministers earle blanche in the making of ordinances for its government and development. But what have they done? I have heard practically nothing about the Territory except for some fuss made by the Protector of Natives. It is necessary to have enterprise, public spirit, and ability in those appointed for the work of development. We must make railways to open up the country. If I were Prime Minister, I would say to the Government of South Australia: “Continue your railway to the border, and the Commonwealth will extend it to Pine Creek.” No doubt that offer would be accepted. What are Ministers doing with the Oodnadatta line? We have been told that the grass is growing on it. Is its management being left to the Government of South Australia? That, under present circumstances, is a reasonable course to take. The reference to the Territory in the Speech is a milkandwater one ; the Government should have proposed the construction of a railway. The Territory should certainly be connected with South Australia - perhaps by the extension of the Oodnadatta line to Pine Creek - and with Queensland. The making of such connexions would bring the whole of Australia into communication. There is a great deal of poor country in the Northern Territory, but there is also a great deal of good country there - on the Victoria River, along the Queensland border, and on the Roper River. It needs opening up by the construction of railways, so that people may settle there. I have never thought much of the tropics as a field of labour for white men. It is a good thing to keep Australia white, but, although in the past our attitude to the Northern Territory has been that of the little boy in the advertisement for Pears’ soap - “ He won’t be happy till be gets it “ - I have always wondered what we should do with it when we got it. At least .£20,000,000 must be spent there to make it a country in which white people will settle. I believe in our own race, and prefer our own people to any other. The Minister will do a good work, and his name will go down to posterity, if he succeeds in settling the Territory with white people. Personally, I should be willing to give a big grant of land to any member of the Caucus party who would settle there, on the condition thathe should not return. The honorable member for Maranoa has told us that he has sold the principality which he used to own, and I, for one, should be willing to give him 100,000 acres in the Northern Territory on condition that he went there and never came back, although, on second thoughts, I should not like to see him cut of the House.
In paragraph 31 of the Speech we are told that-
The introduction of penny postage throughout Australia on the 1st May last completed the true Federation of the postal services of the Commonwealth, and, whilst involving a loss of revenue, will provide greater compensating advantages. The system has also been extended to all parts of the British Empire.
There is no reference to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who, five years ago, proposed universal penny postage, a proposal which was defeated largely by honorable members opposite. Why is it not stated in the Speech that penny postage was proposed by the predecessors of this Government, when the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was PostmasterGeneral, but rejected then by the Labour party and others, although proposed again and carried last year, because of a change of opinion? In this, as in other matters, the Labour party has acted very much as a cuckoo does in taking possession of other birds’ nests. It has taken our proposals without saying “Thank you.”
– Why did not honorable members opposite carry them out?
– Because the members of the Caucus party would not let us.
In paragraph 33 we are told that -
The progressive tax on land values is having a satisfactory effect on land settlement, and is attracting a desirable class of immigrants.
That paragraph was not penned with knowledge of the situation, because all the land tax returns are not yet in. How could the Government know that this tax has had a satisfactory effect on land settlement, seeing that it has not had time to have any effect as yet?
– We have only to look at the big estates which are being cut up to see that the paragraph is an accurate one.
– The honorable member for Fawkner has told us that there has always been the cutting up of large estates all over Australia. I do not think that the tax has had any effect whatever in the way of closer settlement in Western Australia.
– The right honorable gentleman has been in Western Australia for only about five days in the last six months !
– I do not represent a part of the country that I do not know. At any rate, only some . £30,000 is paid in Federal land tax, owing to the very few large estates in the western State. Both the statement that the land tax is having a “satisfactory effect” on land settlement, and the statement that it is “ attracting a desirable class of immigrants,” are inaccurate. I am aware that the High Commissioner made the illadvised statement in London that the tax would give more land for the worker.
– It must be admitted that the High Commissioner knows what he is talking about !
– I do not think he did know that time. However, I am not here to criticise my friend the High Commissioner ; but I must say that he has not sent one single citizen to this country at the expense of the Commonwealth.
– That is not his fault.
– I am aware that that is so. Why is it? It is because the High Commissioner has not a brass farthing to pay for sending people here. He is given money to advertise and talk about Australia ; but when any application is made at his office, the intending immigrant has to be sent down to the Agent-General of the State for which he expresses a preference. The High Commissioner is not placed in a position to do anything but talk and advertise; and my complaint against the Government is that it is a talking, do-nothing Government.
– It was the right honorable gentleman’s Government that appointed the present High Commissioner !
– I am not saying one word against Sir George Reid, who, I think, is doing very well ; But he is not put in a fair position when he has to refer applicants to the Agents-General. And what is “ a desirable class of immigrant “ ? Honorable members opposite could not, I believe, name one person that they have introduced of this “desirable class.”
– Are those coming not desirable ?
– But my point is that these people are not conning because of the land tax. Do honorable members mean to say that the immigrants to New South Wales and Western Australia are coming to take up land that has been subdivided ? No ; they are coming to take up new lands thrown open by the Government. The real effect of the land tax has been one of which honorable members never thought when they passed the measure. The effect has been to make 12,000 people of Australia pay £1,500,000 a year. It is a class tax imposed on people who have acquired land instead of some other form of property, and have, in many cases, been the pioneers in the development of Australia.
– We are not quite finished with some of them yet !
– No, that is it. There seems to be a vendetta - a crusade against the landed classes of this country. Honorable members opposite, by their cheers, if not by words, say that the man who has invested his earnings in land is an undesirable person - a person whom they,8 in fact, would appear to hate and envy, and whose possessions they would seem to covet. Then what about the man who, with £20,000 worth of land, has £15,000 mortgage on it? He is taxed all the same; and that is not honest.
– The right honorable member must not so speak of an Act passed by this House.
– I withdraw the remark, and shall say that the tax is specially intended to drive the man who has land from that which he has honestly acquired. Is it not natural that, under the circumstances, men will not take up land. I had occasion to dispose of some trust land the other day; and, though it was worth £15,000, I had to take £10,000, and this was on account of this tax.
– That looks as though the tax was having a satisfactory effect on land settlement I
-But who bought the land? Not a small man, but a large landed proprietor.
– Then he will have to pay the tax !
– Was it the right honorable member’s own land or trust land?
– It was my wife’s land, if the honorable member desires to know.
– The right honorable member would not sell his own land for twothirds of its value !
– I have not got any - that is the worst of it. When speaking at the Western Australian dinner in London, I said that the question of immigration was the great national question, not only for Great Britain, but for the oversea Dominions ; and yet I find no mention of it made in the Government programme.
– The right honorable gentleman desires a lot of cheap labour !
– The more wages men get, and the better they dress and live, the better I am pleased.
Paragraph 34 expresses regret that no settlement of the question of the consolidation of State debts has been arrived at, but states that the matter “ continues to engage the most serious consideration of the Government.” The “most serious consideration “ ! That is like the phrase about the Tariff being “carefully watched.” How long will the Government take over the “serious consideration” of this question? The Prime Minister some time ago said that there could be no arrangement with the States financially until the debts were taken over; and, although the necessary power was given to deal with the two matters together, eighteen months ago, nothing has’ been done. I ask the Prime Minister what financiers he saw on this question when he was in London? I do not believe that he saw one of any eminence, or went seriously into the matter. Three of the most prominent Ministers, with the Under- Treasurer, and other Under-Secretaries, were in London; and yet the Prime Minister never consulted any of the financiers there. I took some trouble to inquire, but I could not find that he had approached the financial authorities in any way. We had an expensive delegation at Home, with this important matter hanging over our heads - debts maturing to. the amount of millions in a few years - and yet the Prime Minister never took advantage of this, the greatest opportunity that could present itself. The Prime Minister, however, has a majority behind him, and he will not even listen to argument. I repeat that the right honorable gentleman did not consult any of the financiers in London, nor take any active steps there with regard to the consolidation of the State debts.
– The right honorable member is incorrect.
– Whom did the right honorable member consult ?
– I have no right to give the right honorable member that information.
– The right honorable member perhaps saw one financier for a few minutes.
– There is no higher authority in London than the gentleman whom I consulted.
– How long did the interview last ? Five minutes ?
– The right honorable member for Swan was in office for eight years, and did nothing.
– We had not the power.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, since- he _ has climbed a little way up the tree of politics, seems to think that he is privileged to make inaccurate statements. I was not in office for eight years.
– Then for how long?
– I have held office at different times in the Federal Parliament for about six years. I was not Treasurer during the whole of that period.
– I beg the right honorable member’s pardon.
– For some years after Federation, Sir George Turner was looked upon as one of our best financiers, and as Treasurer of the Commonwealth he had control of this question.
– But the right honorable member was in the same Cabinet.
– If the honorable member had held office with such an experienced financier as Sir George Turner, what would he have had to do with the finances of the country? The Prime Minister, when in Opposition, was never tired of telling us what we ought to do, and what the people of Australia would gain by the consolidation of the State debts. He has had an opportunity to deal with the question during the eighteen months that he has been in office, yet he has done nothing. He has made no headway with the matter.
– Is the right honorable member rejoicing?
– No; I and my party are sorry, for our desire is that the State debts shall be consolidated. We have been trying for years to get one Australian stock.
– Would the States let us deal with their debts?
– ,In this respect, the States are no longer the masters of the Commonwealth Government. Having an opportunity in London to gain expert assistance and advice, the Prime Minister failed to avail himself of it.
The last question with which I propose to deal is the referenda. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech we have the statement -
My Advisers regret the result of the referenda vote in April last. They are very strongly of the opinion that the ever-increasing exactions of the trusts make an extension of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth imperative.
Is it the exactions of the “ trusts “ alone that make an extension of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth imperative? If so, why did the Government propose to deal with the whole gamut of trusts, monopolies and combines? No one would defend a trust that was injurious in its effects upon the public. I would freely assist to repress trusts of such a character, but, as I have heard the Labour party say, there are both good and bad trusts. The Labour party are parties, for instance, to the Coal Vend, which they have described as a beneficent trust, because it consists of a league or conspiracy on the part of employers and employes to secure good prices at the expense of the public. It is interesting! to notice that the Government deal very gently with the referenda vote, recognising that they are criticising their masters, the electors of Australia. And so they say that they “ regret “ the action of their masters ! I should think they would. To say that they ‘ “ regret “ it is to put their actual feelings very mildly. The result was a terrible shock to them. When the numbers went up at first they said, “ We shall put the whole matter again to the people; we shall have it over again.”They do not say that now, and I do not hesitate to tell them that if they put before the people the same issues as they did last April the people would reject them again. The people having spoken, the Government have a right to obey, and the verdict of the people, I contend, has discredited the present Ministry. It is no longer the powerful Government, with a strong party behind if, that it claimed to be last year, although it is well to remember, even in connexion with tthe referenda, that at the general election of 1910 [they secured, a majority of only 25,000. Can we not all recall how they boasted about that majority of 25,000 against the financial agreement? We were told then that they had a mandate from the people. 1,500,000 voters went to the poll, 900,000 did not vote, and the present Government secured a majority of 25,000, which they said gave them a mandate from the people. They were going, they said, to act upon that mandate. They formulated their policy, called upon the electors to deal with four or five different sets of proposals in one question, and, when we protested, saying that the question should be divided so that the people might vote for what they favoured and vote against the proposals of which they disapproved, they declared loudly, “ No, let us have the whole or none.” The result of the referenda was not a majority of 25,000 in their favour, but a majority of 250,000 against them.
– What about the vote in Western Australia?
– The honorable gentleman knows that the result of the last referenda was the biggest blow that has ever been struck at the Caucus party. It was not only the unpalatableness of the proposals submitted at the referenda, but the Ministry’s record of a year of incompetence, that brought it about. The electors, having given the Labour party an opportunity to show what they could do, saw that when in office they were determined to be the masters of the people, and to ride rough-shod over them.Having been placed in power, the Labour party said, “Let us sweep the Constitution away, and we will show you what we will do. The people, however, stood by the Constitution, and no one can deny that my honorable friends opposite are a very different party from what they were last year. They “ regret “ the decision of the people at the referenda in April last ! They tell their masters - the people - that they “ regret’’ what they did ! I should like to know whose was the arrogant stupidity that suggested such a phrase as “We regret” in this connexion.
– It is nicely put, is it not?
– Political arrogance and stupidity alone could have suggested the use of such a phrase, especially on the part of those who are always boasting of their belief and trust in the people. They ‘tell us that the people are our masters, but when their masters decidea question in definite terms, they say, “ We very much regret their action.”
– The right honorable member did not expect us to say that we were pleased with their action, did he?
– No, but the Government might well have said, “ We recognise that we have made a mistake, and submit to the will of the people.” I have indulged in all the criticisms that I desire at this stage to level at the Government. I have just returned from a trip to the Old Country, and Ido not want now, nor have I ever desired, to give offence personally to any individual. I felt it my duty to criticise the Speech in the way I have done, and have endeavoured to do so by giving my opinions in as fair a way as I could.
.- After the very exhaustive criticism by the right honorable member for Swan, who has dealt with the items in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech seriatim, there appears to be very little fresh ground to be broken. I must congratulate the Government upon padding the Speech to such an extent that they make a very formidable show of attempting to do something after the long recess. However, the programme appears to me to be just the same as an up-to-date menu in any of our cook-shops, and I propose to take out of it such matter as suits my own taste. I am pleased to note that the question of the Postal Department, of which we have previously heard so much in this House, has been severely left alone during this debate. Evidently, matters are going on a little more smoothly than they did in the past. The eighth paragraph in ‘the Speech refers to the success of the compulsory training movement initiated some time ago. I am pleased that that has been successful, but there are one or two matters that call for attention, and possibly the Government are able to deal with them without introducing fresh legislation. The other night I saw a number of lads being compulsorily trained, and outside the drill area were a number of hoodlums who were above the compulsory age, and therefore free. They were a perfect nuisance to the area officer. When he gave one order they would give another, which made things very perplexing to the lads who were being drilled. I hope the Minister will see that the lads now being put through their drill are protected from such conduct. The other day, when opening the harness factory, the Minister referred to the difficulty which the Department have had with contractors. He, no doubt, gave that as one reason why the Government harness factory had been established. I see no reason why the’ Government should not establish factories to provide their own requirements, but the whole of the blame with regard to difficulties with contractors cannot always be laid at the contractors’ door. The Government are themselves to blame to a very great extent in many cases. Only recently I was speaking to a contractor who had had very large contracts for making clothing for the Defence Forces. He told me that he was compelled by the rules of the Defence Department to pay cash for the material which he had to make up into uniforms, and that when he made it up and sent in his account for it, he was sometimes compelled to wait as long as six months for the money. If there is one thing that the Government, as a Labour Government, should aim at doing, it is to give the small contractor an opportunity of competing for Government work. But it is an utter impossibility for any small contractor to pay the Department cash down for cloth, and wait six months before getting any return. I believe there is likely to be a great leakage from the Defence Forces through the want of a proper pensions scheme. A number of very efficient officers are now being retired on account of having reached the specified age. Although they are quite capable of doing good work, they are being sent out into the world to start life afresh. Unless we provide something in the shape of a pension we shall not get the best brains of the Commonwealth into the Defence Forces, and if there is any Department in the service where the best brains are wanted it is surely the Defence Department, on which our safety, and even our existence, depend. I would urge the Government to give the matter very serious consideration. They are no doubt in sympathy with a pensions scheme, but the difficulty in the past appears to have been to get a workable scheme that would apply, not only to defence, but to other Departments also. I think it is a poor thing for any one to have to look forward to an old-age pension, or the indigent allowance meted out now to persons without means. When men have spent the best part of their lives in the defence of their country, they should be able to look forward to an allowance when they reach the age at which they have to be passed out. There has been a good deal of discussion on the sugar question, and I am pleased to know that the Government have decided to appoint a Commission to inquire into the working of the industry. We asked for this to be done some time ago. The honorable member for Capricornia had a notice of motion on the paper, and this was fully discussed last session, but the Government decided that a Commission was unnecessary. In fact, the previous Government had appointed a Commission, but the present Government abandoned it. All that we in Queensland are asking for, and have asked for right through the piece, is a thorough inquiry into the sugar industry, and then we ask that legislation may be introduced, not upon the finding of the Commission, but upon the evidence that the Commission will adduce. It startles one to notice the want of knowledge of honorable members on this great question. I say this with all respect to honorable members, because they cannot be living encyclopaedias, but one does not need to be an expert on this matter - and I do not claim to be one - to realize that the great majority of members of this House have a very poor grasp of the sugar question. We had in the sugar districts lately a strike, which was brought about, not by the sugar workers themselves, but by a few discontents from Chillagoe, who had no interest in the industry whatever.
– They were sugar workers, and members of the organization.
– So far as I can learn, the instigators of the strike had no interest in the business, and were not sugar workers at all.
– That is not correct.
– It is immaterial where the strike started. There has been some discussion on the extra cost of sugar to the public since the strike. It may be merely a coincidence that the rise in the price of sugar throughout the world took place immediately after the strike, but it has afforded some honorable members an excellent opportunity to blame the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for taking advantage of their alleged monopoly to increase the price of sugar as they have done. 1 do not hold a brief for the Colonial
Sugar Refining Company, nor do I know very much about their operations; but I have watched their balance-sheets and their operations for sometime, and I believe they are as anxious as is any one in Australia that there should be a thorough investigation of the sugar industry, and of the company’s method of dealing with the business.I wish to remind honorable members that another monopoly has, as a sort of aftermath of the strike, got its grip on the people. We have heard nothing in this House about that. There was a partial strike of the waterside workers. They united with the Shipping Combine to fleece the public of Australia by putting up freights to the extent of 12½ per cent. In order to pay off free workers who would be referred to by my honorable friends opposite as scabs, they paid the passage of these men back to Sydney, and put up £200, half of which was subscribed by the waterside workers for the purpose ; whilst the public have been fleeced to the extent of 2s. 6d. per ton on freights from the nth of the present month. Nothing has been said about this Combine.
– It is only an honorable understanding.
– It is like the moisture in butter.
– The moisture in butter referred to by the honorable member was only 1 per cent., whilst the increase in the rate of freights amounts to 12½ per cent. The sugar industry is a national industry, the success of which we cannot afford to jeopardize. We hear a great deal of talk about a White Australia and Australian defence. But I would ask, How is Australia to be defended if it is not peopled? I remind honorable members that the sugar industry is admirably suited to the conditions of our northern districts, and affords the best means of closely settling that part of the Commonwealth. If we are to defend this country, the sugar industry should be looked at from a national and political point of view, and we should not be influenced merely by the selfish consideration as to what we have to pay for sugar. After all, I do not think that any one can complain of the price of sugar even at the present time.
– I think so.
– I am aware that the honorable member for Franklin has a leaning towards cheap prices.
– What interests the honorable member for Moreton is cheap salt.
– Not at all. I am prepared to allow a fair amount of Protection to every Australian industry that can support itself and give a fair return to the people for the Protection afforded. I think, therefore, that the honorable member’s reference to cheap salt was uncalled for. I listened to the greater portion of the honorable member’s speech, in which he referred to the terrible state of affairs prevailing in Fiji. I regret that such a state of affairs should be found in any part of the British Dominions, and I hope those responsible for its existence will do something to put an end to it. It is that sort of thing we shall have to contend with in our sugar industry in Australia, if effect be given to the Attorney-General’s proposal to wipe out the Protection afforded the industry at the present time, because we should have to compete with sugar produced in Fiji under the conditions referred to by the honorable member for Grey. We have at present to compete with Fiji in the banana trade, and our bananas are very lightly protected indeed. I wish to show that the cost of the production of sugar amounts to so much that it cannot be contended that the average price of sugar in Australia is too high. The average price paid for raw sugar during the last ten years in Queensland was £11 3s. 5d. per ton. That is to say, practically since the inauguration of the Commonwealth. I give these figures to show the cost of producing a ton of refined sugar -
– Does the price given for raw sugar include the bounty ?
– That is the price paid for raw sugar.
– By the Colonial Sugar Refining Company?
– By any company purchasing sugar for refining.
– That is the mill price of raw sugar to the refinery.
– Yes, but not to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company only.
– To the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in respect of 85 per cent, of the raw sugar manufactured.
– No, I think the quantity purchased by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company does not amount to more than two-thirds of’ the raw sugar manufactured.
– The Millaquin refinery is allowed to refine 24,000 tons, but not a ton more.
– In order to be fair, and that I might not be accused of manufacturing these figures, I have given the American estimate of the cost of refining sugar. I understand that there is an agreement between the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the various mills producing raw sugar, that, when sugar realizes more than £19 per ton, 18s. of every £z in excess of that price is returned to the millers.
– That is included in the £11 3s. sd. which the honorable member quoted as the price for raw sugar.
– It is when the price of refined sugar exceeds £19, but sugar has not often averaged over £20 per ton during the last ten years.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– The figures which I quoted prior to the suspension of the sitting show that it costs the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ^£20 7s. 8d. to produce a ton of sugar. That company may possibly employ some cheaper method of refining sugar than is in vogue in America, but I do not suppose that the difference would amount to .very much. Save in the one item of refining, the figures which I have given represent the American cost of’ production, and their accuracy is indisputable. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has increased the price of sugar in sympathy with the outside markets of the world, and in doing so it has only acted as it must act as the custodian of the rights of the producers. If the company were scooping in the additional price itself, there might be something in the outcry against monopoly.
– The growers get none of the advantage derived from, the increased price.
– But the mills do.
– And most of the mills are co-operative.
– They are not.
– If the Minister of Trade and Customs would only look into the matter, he would find that two- thirds of the growers derive the benefit.
– At least two-thirds do not. It is quite possible that one-third do.
– One can scarcely complain of the company’s action, seeing that the benefit of the enhanced price is passed on to the mills. “ Some of those mills are run upon co-operative lines, and therefore reap the full benefit of their own enterprise. I hope that the day is not far distant when the whole of the mills, and the refinery as well, will be conducted on a cooperative basis. If any profit is to be made out of the industry, it should be made by those people who toil hard to produce the sugar. But I do not know that such a state of things would benefit the public. The consumer seems to be the last person in the world to receive consideration, and it is only natural-th-at the producers of sugar should exact the full benefit accruing from an increased price.
– Does that remark apply to butter?
– It applies to everything. Even the honorable member gets as much as he can, every time. I endeavour to act straightforwardly, but I confess that I am out to make money on every possible occasion. It is just as well to be candid in this matter. We are all after the “ filthy lucre.” During this debate we have heard something of loyalty, and I shall always look back with pride to my parents who brought me up to respect and to love the British Empire. That has become part of my nature. I hope that I shall never be accused of being a lip-loyalist. But apart from any sentimental considerations, there is a selfishness connected with this question of loyalty to the Empire which should appeal to us. Some time ago, Lt. -Colonel FleweSmith visited India at the request of the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of gaining experience. Whilst he was there he was the guest one evening of an Indian prince, who remarked, “ I want to speak my mind to you to-night about Australia. I hope that you will not be offended if I talk straight.” Lt. -Colonel Smith replied, “ Certainly not,” and the prince then went on to say, “My impression of the Australians is that they are arrant fools. I spend a lot of money in purchasing horses, and in maintaining a staff of servants, and I would like to visit Australia. But if I did so, I might be insulted, or my servants might be insulted, and certainly I would be asked to enter into a bond to take them out of Australia again. The result is that I do not go there. We respect Australia, but it is Ma’s ‘ ia-in. guns which make us do it. We are a nation of 250,000,000 souls, and yet a small insignificant nation like Australia, with a population of only 4,500,000, actually dictates to us. If it were not for Ma’s ‘ 12-in. guns, we would sweep you off the face of the earth.” There is a great deal of food for thought in those statements. Then I recollect reading in one of the Brisbane newspapers some eight or nine months ago, certain remarks which were made by a Chinese who landed there, and who was subjected to the usual fingerprint examination. He resented that treatment, and pointing to a Russian who was on board, said, “ They won’t ask him for finger prints. Russia has too long guns. By-and-by China have long guns. Then no more white man in Australia.” There we have another nation, numbering 400,000,000, against which we have to protect ourselves, and which, when thoroughly awakened, will prove to be a very formidable antagonist. When we further consider the proximity of other Powers like Japan, which could sweep us off the face of the earth, I say that we cannot afford to be other than loyal to the Empire. I was pleased to know that the Prime Minister was able to deny the interview that he was supposed to have had with Mr. W. T. Stead just before he left Great Britain, and that the sentiments attributed to him were not his. When I read the report of the interview, I suspended judgment, but I could not help thinking of the oath which the Prime Minister had taken a few weeks previously. Side by side with it, the Stead interview makes interesting reading. As a Privy Councillor, the Prime Minister took the following oath -
You shall swear to be a true and faithful servant unto the King’s Majesty, as one of ‘His Majesty’s Privy Council. You shall not know or understand of any manner of thing to be attempted, done, or spoken against His Majesty’s person, honour, crown, or dignity royal ; but you shall let and withstand the same to the uttermost of your power, and either cause it to be revealed to His Majesty himself, or to such of His Privy Council as shall advertise His Majesty of the same. You shall, in all things to be moved, treated, and debated in Council, faithfully and truly declare your mind and opinion according to your heart and conscience ; and shall keep secret all matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council. And if any of the said treaties or councils shall touch any of the Councillors, you shall not reveal it unto him, but shall keep the same until such time as, by the consent of His Majesty or of the Council, publication shall be made thereof. You shall to your uttermost bear faith and allegiance unto the King’s Majesty, and shall assist and defend all jurisdictions, pre-eminences, and authorities granted to His Majesty, and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all foreign princes, persons, prelates, states, or potentates. And generally, in all things, you shall do as a faithful and true servant ought to do to His Majesty.
So help you, God, and the holy contents of this book. lt would have been astonishing if the Prime Minister, after taking that oath, had given utterance to the expressions attributed to him about pulling down the flag when Great Britain was involved in trouble. However, the incident, as the Prime Minister says, is closed, and for the honour and credit of Australia I am gratified that he was able to deny the interview.
The House is entitled to an explanation from the Prime Minister as to what he meant when he said, at Ipswich, that if the referenda were not carried his party would do something that would cause the people to fall down with fright.
– He denied that also.
– No, he did not.
– He said that he did not use those words.
– I am not quite sure that the Prime Minister denied the words, but I do know that he modified them somewhat when he came down to Melbourne and saw the mistake that he had made. At any rate, he gave a different interpretation of his utterance. I am not quite sure that his party were not responsible for some of the interpretations of what the Prime Minister really meant. In Queensland, it was pretty freely reported that if the Government did not secure a mandate from the people to carry out their new Protection proposals they would introduce a Free Trade Tariff this session, and that that was what was going to cause many of us to fall down with fright.
– It would take a lot of that sort of thing to frighten some of us.
– Another referendum canard.
– If it is a canard, it is one for which some of our friends opposite were responsible during the referenda campaign. However, that subject has been quite sufficiently discussed during this debate, and I have nothing further to say about it, except that I am pleased at the defeat of the Government proposals, and did my best to secure that result, as I should do again if the questions were submitted to the electors in the same form.
As to the operation of the Australian Notes Act, we are given to understand that everything is working satisfactorily. I am inclined to differ from that statement. I have had my suspicions aroused during the last few months when I have seen that the number of notes issued is out of all proportion to the previous requirements of the Commonwealth.
– Are they all in circulation ?
– I am not prepared to say. The Treasurer takes credit for having issued something like £9,000,000 of notes. I have heard that a great number of them were put to the current account of the Government. What appears to have happened is something like this : The banks said to the Treasury, “ We want £8,000,000 worth of notes; we will deposit 2,000,000 sovereigns with you, and give you credit for 6,000,000 more.” The Government accepted those conditions. Then they said to the States, “ We have money to lend ; we will lend it to you at 3! per cent.” Some of the States said, “ We will accept short-dated loans on those terms.” Thereupon the Commonwealth Government drew a cheque for the amount agreed upon, and the States were paid in Commonwealth notes. By-and-by we shall find that the Commonwealth will be paid back in its own notes. It appears to me that the whole business is not on sound lines. A temptation has been placed in the way of the Government into which I am afraid they have fallen, and from which they will have some difficulty in extricating themselves. I do not profess to be an authority on banking, but I know something about business, and it has always struck me that a sovereign is worth more than paper at any rate.
– How many sovereigns have we in Australia altogether? - .£28,000,000.
– We have not so many as we should like, but quite sufficient for carrying on good sound business without so large a resort to paper money. I am not condemning the use of paper money altogether, but I do think that the over-issue is a mistake for which the Government will be sorry. In regard to the Tariff, I am not at one with my honorable friend, the member for Lang. I do not desire to see a Free Trade Tariff by any means. But I would remind the Government that the enormous revenue which has been received from the Customs House during the last year is not likely to continue. There has been a wave of prosperity passing over Australia, for which we are all thankful ; and there has been a great shortage of labour, which has necessitated the importation of very many necessaries of life, and many articles which should be manufactured here, not because sufficient encouragement in that direction was not given, or that there was any serious impediment in the way of their manufacture, but simply because the demand was greater than the supply. We had to import these articles to an extent which increased the Customs revenue very considerably. But as we manufacture our own requirements, the revenue from that source must diminish. I would like to plead with the Minister, though he seems to take very little notice of our representations, to try to remove some of the anomalies in the Tariff.
– What are they?
– I do not propose to go into that question to-night, but I could tell the honorable member of a few anomalies which need immediate attention.
– What are they?
– Will you give us a list of them? The Minister is waiting for it.
– If the Minister is anxious to have a list of the anomalies I refer to, I shall give it to him privately.
– All right, give it to me privately.
– When I speak of Tariff anomalies, I mean anomalies which arise sometimes through certain articles not being protected, and other articles, which are the raw material of certain industries, being too highly protected. I do not claim that I could frame a Tariff which would be satisfactory; indeed, it is not possible, I think, for the House, or any body of men, to do that ; but we should try to get as near perfection as possible. In order to attain that object, one would need to go into many details which, of course, do not suggest themselves in the course of a few moments. 1 consider that the Minister has. taken the right course in trying to get information.
– Hear, hear. Very few honorable members on your side think that.
– I admit, candidly, that the Minister has done the right thing. Whether he will succeed in obtaining the information which he desires or not, is another question. In order to make the Tariff perfect, we must get all the information we can, and get it from those who are engaged in the industries. We are not experts in every line of business; but we are experts in particular lines, and we can give information, for what it is worth, regarding those lines. The Minister is in a position to obtain information; and I hope that he will get it as speedily as he can, and, without any partisanship, do his best to make ours the most perfect Tariff in the world. With regard to bankruptcy, I am pleased to notice that that question is to receive some consideration this session, so that at last we may hope to have a Bankruptcy Act for Australia. This matter has engaged the attention of myself and others for a considerable time, and I think that the Government have received from the Congress of Chambers of Commerce a resolution asking that legislative action be taken as speedily as possible. When the question of trade marks is being dealt with - perhaps this is a matter for administration or regulation rather than for enactment - I hope that the absurd practice of requiring tradesmen to supply seven facsimiles of a trade mark before it is registered will be abolished. I have drawn attention to this practice before, and I would not mention it now except that I am reminded of it by a paragraph in the Speech. It is a hardship upon tradesmen that they have to incur the expense of preparing seven facsimiles of a trade mark before they can know if it is to be registered or not. I think there should be some means for a tradesman to find out, through the original, whether a trade mark can be registered without being put to a lot of expense. This is not a small item. In a case in which I was interested, it cost £12 to supply the facsimiles to the Patent Office, and then registration of the proposed trade mark was refused.
– Was that Sn connexion with a box brand?
– The cost ought to be £12 10s. at the least.
– I am speaking now of the cost of preparing the trade mark itself, not the cost of registration.
– Do you mean the cost of the drawings?
– The cost of the drawings is perhaps a mere nothing. A brand has to be made from the drawings, and that is photographed and afterwards reduced, and seven facsimiles have to be sent on to the Patent Office ; so that, before a man can apply for a trade mark, his expenses amount to about £12. I am given to understand that a facsimile is required for each State, and one for the central office.
With regard to the proposed amendment of the electoral law, I am not quite so keen on preferential voting as the honorable member for Wilmot seems to be.
– It is all right.
– I think that the honorable member, too, has a weakness in that direction. If a workable scheme of preferential voting could be devised, I should be only too pleased to favour it; but, as far as I have seen, not one of the principal schemes which have been put forward appears likely to produce the desired effect. They are open to manipulation, and very often persons are induced to throw away their preference votes in order to block the men who should get them. I hope that no time will be lost in arranging for a redistribution of seats. The census returns show that Queensland is entitled to another representative in this House, unless, as the Minister of Home Affairs said the other day, we have too many aliens. But I do not think that we have more, proportionately, than any other State. At the present time we have on the rolls 293,003 electors, and the quota for ten representatives would be 29,300. The Brisbane division has now on the roll 32,165 electors, or 2,865 above the quota; Capricornia, 32,774 electors, or 3,474 above the quota; Darling Downs, 34,774 electors, or 5,774 above the quota; Herbert, 39,614 electors, or 10,614 above the quota; Moreton, 33,295 electors, or 4,295 above the quota; Maranoa, 31,3 19 electors, or 2,319 above the quota ; Oxley, 32,908 electors, or 3,608 above the quota; Wide Bay, 33,210 electors, or 3,910 above the quota; Kennedy, with 22,974 electors, being the only division which has an enrolment below the quota, it being 6,028 below. The Government should, therefore, take immediate steps to bring the rolls up to date with a view to the proper distribution of seats.
– If Queensland gets ten representatives, it will mean an addition to the strength of the Labour party.
– I shall do my best to see that it does not mean that, though I am at all times ready to give effect to the will of the people when it has fair and free expression.
I was surprised to hear the Minister of Trade and Customs say that he has no control over the refrigerated space of vessels taking fruit from Tasmania. The matter may, perhaps, come more directly under the control of the Postmaster- General, but in the contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company there is certainly the provision that each State shall be entitled to a pro raid proportion of the refrigerated space available. I hope that the honorable gentleman will inquire whether he has not power to require the use of separate chambers and air ducts for the carriage of apples, because these, if carried in the same chamber as butter, taint it seriously, reducing its value by about 2s. a cwt. I hope, too, that the honorable gentleman will consent to alter the regulation which now requires that butter exported from Australia shall not contain more than 15 per cent, of moisture. The standard should be made what it was twelve months ago. At present at least two-thirds o.f the Australian butter sent to London is blended, so that it loses its identity. The honorable member for Richmond has gone fully into the matter, so that it is needless for me to occupy time by traversing the same ground again ; but if the Minister will not do what we ask, we must go to London, and do there what the regulation says must not be done here. The British public is willing to accept butter containing 16 per cent, of moisture, and the butter dealer in London makes a profit by increasing the moisture in the Australian butter, which is. sent away containing only 12 or 13 per cent, of moisture.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir) £8.23].- My original intention was not to take part in the debate, but since Friday I have been thinking over the speeches which have been made. I have never known so weak an attack to be made by an Opposition, and I propose to shortly review the main features of the criticism which we have heard, and of the policy contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. The Leader of the Opposition, of course, was mysterious. He is regarded throughout the Commonwealth as the most mysterious politician who has ever held a prominent place in any country, and on this occasion he has been more mysterious than ever before. The honorable member had something to say _about the Prime Minister’s interview with Mr. Stead, of which so much has been made, and insinuated that the Prime Minister attempted to undermine the loyalty of Australia to the Mother Country. He did not say so in so many words, but those who listened to him could see clearly what he meant - so clearly that even the Age expressed the opinion that it would have been better for him to “ strike out “ and let the country, know what he was driving at, rather than wrap his meaning up in mysterious statements which in no way strengthened his position. Outside of that, in the very elaborate address - in which, as usual, he said nothing and explained nothing, and ended in making it difficult for those who listened to understand what was being talked about - the attack on the Leader of the Government calls for no comment. Subsequently we had the honorable member for Parkes, who at all times is listened to in this House with great attention. He gets an audience which no other honorable member gets, as a rule ; he waits until the House is in a condition to listen, and then he proceeds to lecture it.
– And honorable members enjoy it I
– No man can help enjoying the classic way in which the honorable member rounds his periods and endeavours to prove to the public that he knows something of the subject on which he is talking. It does not follow that the honorable member always does know something ‘of the subject ; and the most remarkable fact is that, with his gigantic intellect, although he has been for many years in State and Commonwealth Parliaments, lecturing the House of which he happened to be a member, it is impossible to find from the records that his overshadowing and overpowering education and enlightenment have ever enabled him to do any. one thing “ off his own bat.” When we have a man posing as a supreme dictator, it is singular to find his political history a barren waste of platitude and superfine speeches that mean nothing. On the present occasion the honorable member laid himself out to criticise the Prime Minister and the members of the Imperial Conference. He quoted from newspapers a never-ending series of paragraphs which he had been assiduously cutting out ever since the delegates were appointed. He read one after another in order ito prove that the delegates had in some way not carried out the trust that this Parliament reposed in them. But the weak point in his attack lies in the fact that only four years ago, when his present leader, who was not his leader then, went Home on a similar mission, and made some of those loyal speeches of which only he is capable, the honorable member stood at the table of this House for five and threequarter hours, doing nothing but ‘flogging that gentleman just as severely as the other . night he tried to flog the present Prime Minister.
– Worse !
– As a matter of fact, 4he honorable member for Parkes was, on the previous occasion, more severe on his present leader than he has been on the present Prime Minister. If there is one thing that undermines the value of a man’s criticism it is his inability to see any good “in either side in politics. It must be patent to every man who scrutinises the honorable member for Parkes that, in his own opinion, no one knows how to address himself to Imperial matters, or to approach those great questions of moment to the present and future of Australia, but himself. In his estimation, he is the only gentleman who should be selected to voice the aspirations of the Commonwealth whenever we require a preventable personage to appear before His Majesty, King George V. Following the honorable member for Parkes we had the gallant colonel, the honoraBle member for North Sydney. One desire that that gentleman had in his maiden speech in this Chamber was to impress honorable members with the fact that he is a military man. But we have only to look at the honorable member in order to see in him an embyro Kitchener. There is no need for any explanation ; he has the carriage and bearing of a great military authority. I am <quite willing to concede, without any elaborate explanation from the honorable member, that ‘he is the one man who is ready ‘to face the music whenever the “ social revolution,’’’ of which he talked, occurs in Australia. I have been told that “the speech which the honorable member delivered has been delivered, well, a dozen, if not twenty, times before. That does not make any difference, so far as this Chamber is concerned ; it is the . first time he ‘has .uttered !it here. I am of opinion that when he comes to criticise this Parliament, and its work, as pertaining to naval and military defence, he, though so great an authority, will not be able to pick many holes in what has been done by the present Administration. Then, we had the alarmist member, in the person of the honorable member for Grampians, who raved in the corner about what is going to take place if the Labour party carry out the policy they have enunciated. The honorable member told us what we had been told often before - though it is well to have it repeated, in case we forget - that if the Labour party remain in power, and are intrusted much longer with the conduct of the affairs of the country, there will be a crisis at no distant date which will spell ruin, not only to vested interests, but to every citizen who has a claim to be considered an Australian. He tells us that capital is going to leave the country, and that, unless we can make some new arrangement between capital and labour, we shall shortly surfer a severe catastrophe. The old “ gag “ that has been used against the Labour party from time immemorial, was rehearsed again and again by the honorable member to his own satisfaction, and, I am sure, to the satisfaction of the members of the party to which he belongs. Then we had the honorable member for Wimmera, who was strong on the effect of the land tax. He tried to show that the tax has not reduced the value of land, and has not made land accessible to the public, but that, on the contrary, values have been increased. But the honorable member’s argument proves nothing. The land tax has not yet had a fair trial j but when it does, within the next two or three years, I am certain that the people of Australia will realize the wisdom of the measure more than they do at the present time. It is because of this that the Opposition begin to talk of its being effective. I could take them to various parts of New South Wales, where land has long been locked up, and show them surveyors’ pegs all over the place, as well as “ for sale” boards indicating the desire of people who have hitherto held the land in large areas to subdivide it so as to escape the burden of the tax. I fully anticipate that one of the effects of the land tax will be a reduction in land values. My belief is that it will bring down the price of land to something like its use value, and do away altogether with purely speculative values. I am not going to say that I did not think the tax would cause a decrease in values, because that would not be a fair position to take up. The lamentations with which the honorable member for Wilmot indulged this afternoon in regard to absentee companies, and the effect of the tax upon them, serve only to support my contention that this law, as we expected, is causing the absentee landholder to disgorge the land he has hitherto monopolized, and that it will ultimately make it available at a reasonable working value to those who will use it. During this debate, we have also listened to the honorable member for Richmond, who, in his own artful way, dealt with the bank note issue, and our proposal to establish a National Bank. He did his work artfully, but also, I admit, artistically, and exhibited a rather better grasp of figures than some members of the Opposition have shown during this debate. I do not say, however, that he was correct in all his contentions. Indeed, we do not expect the Opposition to be too careful of their facts when they are denouncing us, or advocating their own policy. No doubt, the honorable member was right, however, in indicating that the note issue is capable of being manipulated adversely to the interests of the Government that established the system, lt seems to me that an error of judgment was committed with respect to the safeguards with which that note issue ought to have been surrounded, and I fear that, as the result of that error of judgment, we .shall experience some difficulty when we require to take charge of the note issue in connexion with the institution that we hope to bring into existence during the present year.
– Why a difficulty?
– Because we have lost power over the note issue, and there is no indication that we are going to take back that power.
– The notes are only shortdated loans.
– I am not speaking of the question of loans. Then we had the tireless-wireless man from Fremantle - the honorable member who makes a study of wireless telegraphy. He has been endeavouring to show the House that the negotiations between the Government and the company alleged to be controlling in Australia a system of wireless telegraphy not favoured by the British Admiralty, are not exactly clear. The original syndicate has been floated into a limited liability company, with a capital of about £65/000. The Postmaster-General has told us that these gentlemen have no rights in regard to wireless telegraphy in Australia other than the right to erect two stations under a contract which they have entered into with the Government. If that is so, what have they to sell, and what are the shareholders going to receive for their money ? The Telefunken system is not the sole property of the company that claims to control it ir>. Australia. There are other connexions that have not been made clear to the House. The company has alleged that the Indian Army and several of the Departments of the Government of India are entering into contracts for the use of the Telefunken system. I have it on the best authority, however, that there is no truth in the statement. It is by the circulation of such reports that the company is trying to popularize a system which is not indorsed by the Admiralty, and is not safe from attack in the Law Courts. The facts, as far as we know them, show that representations are being made that cannot be upheld.
– Have not the two companies - the Marconi and the Telefunken companies - been amalgamated ?
– A statement to that effect was made after the close of last session, but I believe that it was merely a newspaper canard. I have no information’ to show that there has been any consolidation of the interests of the two companies. As a matter of fact, since the announcement was made, the Marconi Company has proceeded against one of its competitors for an infringement of its patent, and has secured an injunction restraining, that competitor from operating in the future. If the Marconi Company chose totest the validity of the so-called rightsof the Telefunken Company in Australia the result might be that which attended the legal proceedings in the Old Country.. A wireless telegraphy expert has arrived inAustralia. He is, I believe a young manselected by some of our people at’ Home, I suppose, on recommendations. He may be all right, but in a matter such as that of wireless telegraphy, which is going to be of” paramount importance in the days to comeas a means of communication among thenations, we should not be prevented by theexpenditure of .a few pounds from getting the very best experience and skill that theworld is able to offer. We have suffered enough already in our Postal Service by taking what is cheap in preference to what is valuable - valuable, not so much in the matter of money, as in the matter of experience which we have not been able to secure from the servants of the Commonwealth hitherto. I wish to refer to the question of automatic telephones, although I would prefer that the Postmaster-General had been present. I was a little surprised to learn that the Government had found it necessary to enter upon an experiment at Geelong to test the utility of the automatic telephone system. When the Postal Commission was sitting, the matter had not sufficiently developed for us to come to any conclusion about it, or even to realize its practicability or otherwise, but since that time great strides have been made in America, and from the accounts that I have read the system has been put into operation with great success in many of the towns. It is claimed that the system is quite as economical as the old one, and gives the public a far more effective service. We on the Postal Commission thought that in matters of this kind the Department should alwaysbe on the lookout for any improvements effected in other parts of the world in any of the services for which it is responsible, and we recommended that the trusted officers of the Department should be kept in touch with postal, telegraphic, and telephonic doings all over the world, so that Australia might not lag behind. What surprised me, therefore, was that the Postmaster-General had started an experiment at Geelong instead of following the lines that we suggested. It would have been possible for him to inaugurate an investigation in America, where it is claimed that the automatic system has been perfected. He might have sent thither an officer whom he could trust to investigate the subject on the spot, and in that way have secured first-hand knowledge. Instead of that, we are going on in the old way which was followed for many years in the Commonwealth and in the States. We are going to enter upon a series of experiments.
– We are a long way ahead of many places in the Old World.
– I am not satisfied with that. The Commonwealth has a service that is differently situated from the services in most parts of the Old World. It is practically State Socialism that is controlling our. Postal Service, and we should not shelter ourselves behind the crusted ideas and conservative inclinations of older countries when the position of the service for which, we are responsible is being criticised. We ought to have something vastly superior to the Old Country if we are to be up-to-date. We are to haw an experiment of the automatic telephone system at Geelong. If it turns out well, it will simply prove that, at a small exchange, with a limited number of subscribers, the system may be worked successfully. lt will not solve the problem at all for us, but may simply lead us on to more experiments, which may or may not be successful.
– Is not Geelong an important place?
– From a telephonic stand-point, it is only a third or fourclass town. A system that is applicable to a small exchange may prove only a delusion and a snare when an attempt is made to apply it to an exchange with from ten to twelve thousand subscribers and a multitude of wires connected with the central exchange, such as is the case in Sydney. If the system is working successfully in America, and we could get the information by sending a manthere, it is false economy to go on experimenting here.
– The Postmaster-General says it is past the stage of experiment.
– I do not know howhe arrives at that conclusion. I care not what gentleman may assume that he knows such a thing, because he can get his information only by hearsay. The PostmasterGeneral has not got it by hearsay from his own officers. He has probably heard it from interested sources, which are not always reliable when questions of this magnitude have to be decided.
– Was not the Chief Electrical Engineer in America two years ago?
– He was not. If he had been, he had an opportunity of giving evidence before the Commission. If he had any information to offer on the point, he could have offered it to us then. It is of no use for the honorable member to infer that the necessary expert knowledge is already available in the Department, and that, therefore, the Postmaster-General is not acting on mere hearsay or theoretical knowledge. I want to safeguard the Chief Electrical Engineer from the possibility of a charge being made against him, sooner or later, of giving the expert advice upon which the Minister is acting in this matter.
– The honorable member is making himself very safe. No matter what comes about, he will be on the safe side.
– I have been on the safe side of this question for quite a long time. I hope I shall be on the right side at the finish, and that the House will also take the right side later on when they are asked to come to a decision with regard to the fundamental changes that are necessary in order to establish a service that will do justice to the people of Australia and be a credit to this Parliament as well. I hope we shall deal, not merely with sectional issues, but with the big question which, whether we like it or not, will force itself upon the attention of the House, until it is settled in a manner creditable to all concerned. I shall not, at this stage, discuss postal matters any further. .1 intend later on to deal, if not with every phase, with every important phase, of the subject. I shall show how the service has been treated in the past from beginning to end.
– How long will that take the honorable member?
– It does not matter how long it will take. If the result is to enable the honorable member for Richmond to give an intelligent vote on the question, the time will be well spent. No matter what time is occupied, the subject will have to be dealt with, and every hour and every month the settlement of it is delayed will but add to the difficulty of dealing with it. With regard to other matters, I am satisfied that the programme put forward by the Government will, if given effect to, reflect credit on the party they represent, and the Parliament they have trie honour at the present time to control. There are (measures foreshadowed in the programme which must be passed if we are to derive the benefits we anticipated from the imposition of land values taxation. Effective land settlement cannot be expected to follow the imposition of the land tax unless we take control, not merely of the note circulation, but of the banking business generally of Australia, and so be hi a position to relieve the men who will take up land, freed for settlement as a result of the imposition of the land tax, from the oppression of the money monopolists. A number of people in Australia are awaiting an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Decisions adverse to the interests of a large proportion of the work ing people of the Commonwealth will be met by the measure promised in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, so far as our constitutional powers will permit. If it be shown that we have not the constitutional power necessary to make the required alterations in the law, we shall be only the better able to justify our position when we again submit proposals to the people to give us the powers essential for the future good government of the country. I have heard honorable members opposite glory in the fact that they won at the referenda. I remember that the honorable member for Flinders supported our referenda proposals in this House, and said that, general! v speaking, the powers asked for were necessary for the good government of Australia. It was only when it was proposed to include railway servants in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that the honorable gentleman found any reason to object to the proposals. However, during the referenda campaign, we found the honorable gentleman telling the people from the platform, in the logical manner characteristic of him, that our proposals would bring “ blue ruin “ on the country if they were adopted.
– Did I say that?
– No ; but I wish to be as concise as possible; and the honorable gentleman’s words implied that <: blue ruin” would follow the adoption of our proposals. What, after all, did honorable members opposite succeed in doing? Surely they cannot regard the result of the referenda as a victory for them? In view of the differences of opinion expressed by members of this House in discussing the referenda proposals, it may be said that, although honorable members are supposed to be at least students of the constitutional changes proposed from time to time, they did not fully comprehend the effect of the proposals submitted. How, then, could we expect the public at large to understand the great changes involved in those proposals? We can look upon the last referenda campaign as merely a stage in the education of the people. We may- hope to do much better when the Labour party have a press of their own, and the control of newspapers that will put a correct interpretation upon their acts and proposals. During the last campaign we were at the mer>-y of the monopolistic press of this country, and never, in all our experience, were we subjected to such a united attack of misrepresentation and slander as we .were in connexion with the questions submitted to the people on the 26th April last.
– Did not the Bulletin support the referenda proposals?
– Yes ; but every one could not afford to buy the Bulletin.
– What about the Worker I
– The Worker is only a weekly paper, and could have but little effect in counteracting the misrepresentations of the daily press in each of the States. But the workers have learned a lesson from the defeat of their proposals last year. They realize to-day what they knew to a certain extent before, that it is of no use to try to fight without weapons, or with unequal weapons. We must have a press to voice our opinions and. aspirations, and place our views fairly before the people, and to correct such misrepresentations and refute such slanders as were hurled at us and our doings by the daily press, and party politicians, in pursuance of the tactics adopted by the other side at the last referenda campaign. I am satisfied that, when the questions are submitted to the people again, we shall secure the votes of those who refrained from going to the poll on the last occasion. The honorable member for Parramatta apparently derives some little consolation from a comparison of figures in connexion with the voting at the referenda in my electorate. I can tell the honorable member that the votes cast against the proposals did not nearly equal the number of votes cast for my opponent at the last election. It is, therefore, possible that the honorable gentleman has discovered a mare’s nest when he regards the voting at the referenda as an indication of a change in the political views of the electors I have the honour to represent. The same remark is applicable to many of the New South Wales electorates. Tha Labour party have received a warning. They have learned that apathy means defeat, and when we take the field again, the Liberal party will find that each and every member of our organization will fight solidly for the propositions that we intend to put before the people.
– They will never be put before the people in the same form again.
– I am not quite sure that we shall not accept the honorable member’s advice, so as to. leave him no loophole of escape. If I can possibly get him’ into a corner from which he cannot extricate himself, I shall be delighted.
– The Inter-State Labour Conference will determine the questions to be submitted at the next referendum.
– That is very possible, and it is more than the honorable member can say in reference to the supporters of his party. The people whom he represents have no voice in matters of that kind, whereas the outstanding feature in connexion with the Labour movement is that we have to give legislative effect tothe platform which is decided upon at our’ Conferences. We have an open contract in black and white which everybody can understand, and having signed the Labour platform, honorable members upon this side of the Chamber have stood by it to a man. In a free country, it is proper that the people should indicate to their representatives the laws under which they desire to live. But, unhappily, honorable members opposite are the creatures of the press. If they submit any proposal which is not acceptable to the Melbourne Age or the Sydney Daily Telegraph, or the Adelaide Register - which is not palatable to these alleged educators of the public - they are promptly told that they must abandon it. As far as the next referenda are concerned, I venture to make a prediction - and I have made predictions in this House before which have proved to be very accurate-
– The honorable member foretold the doom of the Fusion.
– I warned honorable members opposite in time. I do not like to take any man unawares. I recognised the danger which confronted them, and although they had sorely oppressed me in the days gone by, I was too much of a Christian to be unkind to them. At least, I showed them an example of Christian conduct. I warned them of the wrath to come. In that memorable speech which I made in this Chamber, I pointed out five honorable members, and predicted that after that Parliament had ceased to exist, their services would be no longer required in these legislative halls. None of them came back. They would not heed my warning, and so Nemesis overtook them, and they ceased to exist politically.
– Would the honorable member mind indicating another five?
– I think that the honorable member desires me to be a little too previous. I will not torture them while they are here! It will be sufficient for me to indicate them later on. But I say, without fear of contradiction, that unless they mend their ways quite a number of my honorable friends opposite will never come back here. I refer particularly to those honorable members - like the honorable member for Parkes and the honorable member for Wakefield - who are opposed to the establishment of a Commonwealth bank, and who rave about revolution. They preach the sanguinary doctrine that if the people do what is necessary for their own salvation, there will be a bloody revolution in this country such as was never equalled in France. Who would ever have dreamed of the honorable member for Wakefield entertaining revolutionary ideas? Who would ever have imagined that within the placid bosom of the honorable member tor Parkes there beats a heart which is thirsting for blood ? We have no cause to tear the result of the next referendum, because we shall win by a majority such as we are accustomed to command when we enter into a political contest after having prepared the way for action. Honorable members opposite may talk all night about Labour legislation, organization, and administration, but they are only digging their own graves. They have failed to realize that the workers of Australia are no longer to be handled as they were by the Conservatives of old ; are no longer to be moulded into any shape to suit the purposes of parties who wish to use them. The workers of to-day are benefiting from the education system that was grudgingly and reluctantly established in days gone by. The schoolmaster is abroad, and from the moment when the workers grasp the principles of economics and social science, the arguments of the other side become of no avail. That is a fact that honorable members opposite do not count upon. They are not in touch with the Democracy. The right honorable member for Swan has been telling us that the Labour Government is” not going fast enough. He expected to see the Capital city established by the time he returned from England. He wanted to know why we had not constructed a railway vo take people quickly to the Capital, and bring them back again. I may inform him that the Labour party do not profess to perform miracles. They propose to carry out their programme as common-sense men in a manner that will do credit to them and be of advantage to the people. I can quite understand that the right honorable member for Swan should try to rush us into the middle of a current where we might be swept away, by encouraging us to enter into a huge borrowing policy for the pursuit of this or that policy believed to be necessary for the development of Australia. Personally, I should not care a rap if we never made any progress with the Capital in the position in which it is located. I am not speaking from an electoral stand-point, or because the Capital area is within my own electorate, though I admit that that would be the best place in the world for it to be. .1 was, however, too modest to recommend its establishment there. I am not saying this because the Agc, or some other newspaper, is opposed to the Yass-Canberra site. I did my best to oppose that site up to the time when a choice had to be made of the lesser of two evils, and I had to select between that site and another which I disliked still more. I say now that if the Federal Government were never established at YassCanberra it would be better for Australia, provided we were assured of a site with a more genial climate, better surroundings, better water supply, better landscape - in fact, better everything - than are to be found at Yass-Canberra.
– The honorable member is on a good wicket this time.
– I am always on a good wicket, and the honorable member, is not capable of bowling me. There areplenty of things which the Commonwealthcan enter upon right away for the advantage of the public and the everlasting credit of our party. I wish to say here that if the Commonwealth had been intrusted with the powers that we asked for at the referenda, there is no telling what we might have clone under those powers.
– The honorable member does not know himself what his party would have done.
– I do not say that I do know, but, of course, the honorable member does. 1 do not profess to know. But I am sure that there are many important matters that could have bees settled right away if we had had those powers.
– There would have been no sugar strike.
– None at all, and honorable members opposite know it.
– Did the Labour party, then, engineer the strike for that purpose ?
– No. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company,I understand, did not think that more than 25s. a week, with 10 hours a day’s work, should be given to its employes.
– Twelve hours.
– Better agree about it !
– I am always on the moderate side, and if the day were ten hours, it would be too much for the men to work under an Australian sun in the cane fields.
– We were once told that white men could not do the work.
– Yes, honorable members opposite maintained that this was an industry that white men could not carry on. That was the story in days gone by.
– The hours of labour in the fields are regulated by the Minister of Trade and Customs, not by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company at all.
– I have nothing to do with the Department of Trade and Customs, but I do know that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was asked to pay its men a fair wage for working a fair number of hours, and did not do so.
– The trouble was in the mills, not in the fields.
– The trouble was not in the cane fields, but in the mills all the time. If we want an illustration of the justice of the claim put forward by the men, we require nothing further than the fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ultimately realized that it ought to pay 30s. a week for no more than 48 hours’ work per week.
– The company altered the wages of less than 5 per cent, of its employes.
– If we had had the power we asked for. 1 very much question whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would have been able to hand over the burden of the extra payments it made to the unoffending public in the form of a rise in the price ot sugar.
– That had nothing to do with the strike.
– It had something to do with the demands of the men, who have succeeded in the strike.
– There was not a strike inone of the company’s mills.
– If the strike had not been settled we should have had honorable members opposite howling throughout this debate. But since it has been settled they have been remarkably quiet on the subject. They turn round and say, “ It is only right that it should be settled, and we are in favour of justice being done to the men equally with honorable members on that side.”
– Do you mind saying what we have to do with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company?
– It is alleged- the honorable member knows whether it is true or not - that the exchequer of the so-called Liberal party, that is the Fusion party, has been replenished very liberally from sources such as the one which the honorable member wants to know what the Opposition have to do with.
– Who has alleged that ?
– It is not an ordinary allegation ; the whole of the community are convinced that the money spent at the last referendum in Australia did not come out of the pockets of the members of the Opposition.
– Now, be careful or you will have to withdraw a statement, as you had to do at Liverpool.
– The honorable member has never made me withdraw a statement since I have known him.
– You rushed about saying that you never said it.
– That is one thing which the honorable member cannot get into Hansard. I have never made a statement of any serious moment pertaining to a big question which I have ever had to withdraw.
– If you say that a thing is alleged it is only fair to give vour authority.
– If my honorable friend will refer to the Age he will find articles sufficiently strong to confirm the suspicion which I have expressed. He can also find confirmation in the Sydney newspapers when they are not thinking of fighting or anything of that kind, and are, by accident, performing the function which they arc supposed at all times to perform, namely, that of conveying to the public truthful information. The honorable member for Flinders knows more about this matter than I do. I have not been one of the organizers of the Liberal party. I have not been one of those who have been voting away money.I have notbeenin the same position as the ex-Premier of New South Wales, who is alleged to have been paid during his opposition to the referendum. It is commonly understood, in fact, it was stated in the press, and so far as I know the statement has not been contradicted, that he was paid by the Employers’ Federation a salary per year to light the battle of the so-called Liberals, but, in reality, the money-bags and Tories of Australia.
– Whom are you referring to?
– I am referring to that genial, happy-looking chap called Charles Gregory Wade.
– The statement is untrue.
– Has not the honorable member seen where Mr. Wade has emphatically denied the allegation and challenged proof?
– Well, I have, and so has everybody but the honorable memmer, I think.
– I have not seen a denial, and, what is more, I can readily understand why the honorable member is interposing in this way. I do not think that Charles Gregory Wade, member for Gordon, in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, would deny it.
– He has denied it.
– Were your Leaders, Mr. Holman and Mr. McGowen, who opposed the referendum, teo, paid out of the same fund?
– They never took the platform.
– The best way to settle the point is to ask where the Liberal party got the many thousands of pounds which they spent.
– Not from breweries and other places. We might ask you some awkward questions on that point.
– Where did you get the money ?
– I got mine out of my own pocket.
– Can honorable members on the other side say the same thing?
– Order !
– I know that all over New South Wales organizers are, and have been, doing work permanently in some cases, and spasmodically in others, at salaries of £6, £4 and £3 ros. a week. I want to know from my honorable friends on the other side where they got the money to pay these salaries, the thousands of pounds which they spent on the literature with which they swamped the State, the money to engage the large number of motor cars which they ran in connexion with the referendum, and which were not hired for nothing, and the large number of Tady organizers whom they were able to control, and to use at propaganda work. I want the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to tell me where this money came from, and who is meeting the heavy cost of the organization?
– Who is paying the organizers for the Australian Workers Union?
– Order !
– The expenditure must amount to thousands and thousands of pounds in a year, and they spend money even when there is no contest.
– Will you take my word if I give it to you? I do not know anything about it.
– I will take the honorable member’s word, but, has he not been curious at times to find out where the money was coming from ?
– No; i have never found out.
– Then, the honorable member can excuse my curiosity, when 1 look across at those who have no respect for law and order. If you want an example of what can be done by Liberalism in New South Wales, read the newspapers to-morrow morning. To-day the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly had to bringin the police to remove five members by force, in order that the business of the country might proceed in a respectable way. I wish that the honorable member for Parkes were here to-night for me to read’ to him an object-lesson on law and order, not one taken from a book based on theoretical considerations, but one founded on a concrete fact. Rome met its doom when its leaders began to show their weakness, and had tobe removed from the places which, instead nf honouring, they had defiled. Fancy these men leading the great Liberal party today! When the honorable member for Parramatta opens tomorrow’s newspaper, he will be sorry that he was not in Sydney to go bail for those men who have had to be put nut of the StateAssembly by Mr. Willis. I remember that gentleman well. He used to stand in this Chamber and tell us what an independentpatriot he was. A man who did not know the person whom the Government of that day had sent Home to represent them ! He was surprised that it was some one named Foxton who had been sent Home, while he himself had been left here. What mysterious ways Providence has for meting out justice to those who deserve, it ! Hereis Mr. Willis to-day doing more to put the true brand on Liberalism than has been clone by any one else. There is not a man on this side who is not prepared to stand with his face to the foe, and to give battle with all the vigour and courage that come from honest conviction and determination to do the right. But in New South Wales the Liberals are prepared to strangle constitutional government, to beat down authority under their feet, and to try to humiliate the highest officer in Parliament in the face of his fellows. I look upon Mr. Willis as a visitation. I am very glad he left here. He is in the right place, and where it was intended that he should be. He has put the brand on Liberalism, and has taught the Liberals what true liberty means. He is laying down a code of honour which will last when he himself has been forgotten. This gentleman, who was such an ornament here in years gone by, is a greater ornament in the position which he holds today. He said that he was in the front ranks of Liberalism, and a Radical. If he was in the forefront of Liberalism, as I believe he was, how much in the rear are nil the others ! Honorable members opposite should derive a lesson from what is occurring in New South Wales. It may react on them if the change of parties which they say will take place a year and nine months from now occurs. There are two things that end a cause that is doomed : the insincerity of its adherents, and the fact that its supporters stand aghast at the things that are clone in its name. The Liberals cannot say anything against the programme of measures to be brought in to insure the welfare of the people which is set down in the Governor-General’s Speech. There is nothing in their criticism. We h:ve no need to be afraid of the remnants of the party that opposed us in the past.
– Will the honorable member tell us what authority he had for the statement he made about Mr. Wade? It was not playing the game to make a personal attack on an absent man.
– I intend to take the advice of an austere supporter of the honorable member, who said the other day that he would not reply to interjections so that he could erase them from his Hansard proofs. I am not going to answer his interjections. He has made his speech, and in making it did not hesitate to say hard things about the Attorney-General, and to dig up almost every opinion that that gentleman has expressed in the fighting days of the past. I say of the Attorney-General, “ May hisshadow never grow less.” He was a giant in the fight that recently took place, fighting, not with kid gloves, but with the determination of a man seized of the value of the reform that he sought, and of the position that he desired to obtain. And what had the honorable member to say against the Attorney-General ? Read the speeches made during the referenda. Canany one wonder that some person should become the mouthpiece of the Labour party who could get at least a little space in the newspapers to show the real meaning of the proposition before the people?
– Come back to Mr. Wade, and substantiate the charge made, or withdraw it, as the honorable member ought to do if he is a man.
– I leave Wade to Willis, who will deal with him. We have no need to trouble about the Wades, the Woods, the Levys, the Fitzpatricks, or any of those men - all we have to do is to leave them to Willis.
– Is it a fair thing to make charges, and then “leave them to Willis “ ?
– The honorable member for Lang has not spoken yet, but I have no doubt that when he does, we shall get a rather advanced statement of the aspirations of the Liberals. I hope the honorable member will be able to throw some light on the effect that travel and observation have had on him in the Old World. He may be able to explain what Mr. Stead has said, and reveal to us those mysterious factors that are responsible for the communications which appear in the press from time to time. He may be able to indicate the way in which his party is going to be preserved and saved from the wrath of the people at the next election. The honorable member for Grampians smiles - that is all that is left for him to’ do, and he is wise in smiling when he can. I saw the honorable member the other night, when he was speaking ; and if ever there was a man, to all appearance, on the verge of suffering from some fatal malady, it was the honorable member when he was trying to convince the House of the dire results that would follow the policy of the Labour party. The honorable member desires to know what we are going to do with the labourer and the employer. He wishes to bring them together, and so do we; but the honorable member wishes to bring them together under the regime that has hitherto existed. He is in favour of Wages Boards.
– What did the honorable member for Grampians do when he was a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria ?
– I do not know what he did ; he has never told us anything about that.
– The fact that the honorable member was in the Legislative Council condemns him !
– It is not a recommendation, any way; but I do not desire to know what any of the Irvines did in another place; I leave that to their own conscience. The honorable member has no need to be afraid of the Labour party. I do not, and I never did, favour Wages Boards. I do not believe in craft unionism, which, in my opinion, will be used to burst up the organization necessary to bring about the emancipation of the workmen of this country. Wages Boards are a subtle means, on the one hand, of undermining arbitration, and, on the other hand, the broader system of unionism, as it will be. and as it is expounded by authorities. I have no desire to labour the question. I compliment the Government on the manner in which they have administered the Departments during the time we have been in recess. I compliment the PostmasterGeneral, and the officers under him, for having, during recess, taken as their guidance at least some portions of the report of the Postal Commission, as placed before them at the end of last session. I compliment (hem on having adopted many of the recommendations,, an action which has had the effect, at any rate, of allaying serious trouble in the Department. I do not mean to say that this partial adoption of the recommendations has cured the trouble, because it has only allayed it. I compliment the Public Service Commissioner, who has found it necessary during the recess to change his policy and methods of administration, so as to bring it almost into line with the recommendations of the report, to which he did not give his adhesion when laying his evidence before the Commission. I compliment that gentleman, nevertheless, as I would any man who repents and tries to do better. In the Post and Telegraph Department much has been done, and I am hopeful that more will be done. I hope that the Postmaster-General will find where the cancer is in the Department, and will not handle it in a delicate way, but that he will take a lance, and cut it out by the roots, so that we shall get rid of an element which has undermined proper administration, and prevented a satisfactory solution of the difficulties which have presented themselves. I take no credit away from him, but give him all the credit that is his due. The decks have been cleared, as it were, of a few, or a number of, minor difficulties, and the Department placed on a somewhat better basis. I understand that this year £250,000 has been spent in giving increased wages to the employes in the postal service, and in providing an increased staff to cope with the work that has to be performed. In addition, I am told that £70,000 has been spent in procuring additional temporary assistance. This means £320,000 distributed to bring this Department to the, I was going to say, perfection in which we find it to-day. But what position would the Department have been in if this money had not been available, and if extra assistance had not been procured ? I give every credit to those who found the money, and, while increasing the staff, raised the remuneration of the lower paid officers in an endeavour to bring about a more equitable return for the value of the services rendered. So ‘much has been done ; but it is what has not been done that I desire Ministers to think over before the whole matter has to be discussed in this House. Later, when I discuss the question more fully, I shall be able to show that the Department will never succeed under the present system of organization and” administration, and that it cannot by any possibility reflect that credit upon us, or give the service to the public that they are entitled to expect, until, and unless, we adopt business methods, and place in charge of each section of the Department a man who understands the business of the section, who will be able to advise the responsible Minister without reference to any other person, and will speak with the authority of an expert. We want in charge of each branch a man who will be able to lay down his position in such a way that the Minister will be able to say, “ This is the advice of an officer who is qualified to express an opinion “ rather than that of an officer, who has not even had a training in the important branches of the service, and therefore cannot be qualified to bring to bear upon his task that ripened judgment so necessary to the effective control of a great Department.
Mr. W. ELLIOT JOHNSON (Lang) f°-55]- - Before the honorable member for Gwydir leaves the chamber, I should like to ask him whether he is prepared to repeat outside this House the reflections that fie has made to-night upon the honour of Mr. Wade. Rx-Premier of New South Wales and the present Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of that State - reflections which he has not attempted in the least degree to substantiate. I think it will be admitted that throughout this debate no member of the Opposition has descended to the level of attacking an absent person, and reflecting upon his honour, knowing that that person had no chance of reply. I sincerely hope that no honorable member of our party will ever oe guilty, either inside or outside the Parliament, of such a practice. Indeed, I can conceive of nothing more despicable than the action of a man, who takes advantage of his position as a member of Parliament and the privilege and immunity that he enjoys in this House, to make a personal attack upon the honour of an outside person, more especially when that person holds one of the highest positions in the land. It is a cowardly thing to do.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I shall do so, in deference to your ruling, sir. The debate on this side of the House, has “been conducted throughout upon legitimate political lines. It has been maintained on a very high level, and I deeply regret that an honorable member opposite should have descended to the making of statements of a character that ought never to have been uttered. I only ask that that honorable member will give the gentleman whom he “has attacked an opportunity to clear himself of the aspersions that have been cast upon him. Seeing that leaders of his own party in New South Wales - Mr. McGowen Mr. Holman, and others- took exactly (he same stand that Mr. Wade did in regard to the referenda, does the honorable member for Gwydir suggest that they, too, received bribes from the same source - that they received consideration for their services, in opposing the referenda proposals? In attempting to fasten such a charge upon Mr. Wade, he implicates those members of his own party ; and it is only fair to ask him to repeat his statements in such a place as will enable the subjects of his reflections to refute them, and to call him to account for making them. Mr. Wade is generally recognised as a gentleman whose probity, integrity, and honour are unimpeachable. We have also to meet nonsensical allegations as to misrepresentation and slander on the part of the Opposition in this Parliament - in connexion with the referenda in April last. If such misrepresentations and slanders did take place, then our attitude was only on a par with that of the honorable member for Gwydir’s own colleagues and leaders of his own party in New South Wales.
– Tell us why Mr. Waddell attacked Mr. Justice Higgins in the New South Wales Parliament?
– Perhaps the honorable member will deal with that matter when he speaks. When the honorable member for Gwydir was revealing to our astonished gaze the unsuspected halo which, according to him, adorns his head as a Christian martyr and as a prophet, I could not help wondering why he failed to bring to bear, before the 26th April last, the gifts of prophecy with which he claims to be so heavily endowed. Had he done so, he might have saved his party and himself from the dire disaster that overtook them. He must then have been singularly lacking in those gifts of prevision which he now claims, otherwise he would have used them to save himself and his party from one of the most severe rebuffs and castigations that has ever been inflicted by an outraged people upon a party claiming to represent them. Passing away from that question, let me say that, on returning to Australia .after the Coronation festivities, I was surprised to find still in office a party that had received at the hands of the electors the most emphatic vote of noconfidence ever cast against any political party. The Labour party were defeated by an enormous majority upon referenda proposals which they had declared to be imperatively necessary to enable them to give effect to the policy upon which they were elected ; and in the light of that knowledge - knowing that they had received such a vote of no-confidence- I could not understand how they came to be still in possession of the Treasury benches. No self-respecting party - no Government worthy of the name - would in such humiliating circumstances have held on to office for a moment longer than was absolutely necessary.
– Would the honorable member like a general election? What was his majority ?
– It was 8.000 at the referendum. My majority was a great deal larger at the general election than were some of the majorities on the honorable member’s side, and, even though it might have been somewhat diminished through the misrepresentations and the slanders of the honorable member’s party, it was vindicated when the referendum was taken, and came back to its 8,000 once more. To my astonishment, then, I found that the Government were still clinging like limpets to a rock to the fees, emoluments, and sweets of office, and I am quite satisfied that it will take a considerably greater force than the defeat of the referenda to drag them from their positions. I regret it for the sake of the reputations of our parliamentary institutions, and am sure that no other Government in any part of the world would have continued to hold office in those humiliating circumstances. I am very glad, however, that the Prime Minister and his colleagues and the parliamentary delegation went Home, because I am satisfied that those visits will be productive of much good to Australia in a number of ways. They did good in the way of removing mutual misconceptions between the people of the Motherland and the people of Australia through their parliamentary representatives. I am very glad to see the growth of the Imperial sentiment among some members of what I prefer to call the Labour-Socialistic party. I do not know how that growth of the Imperial sentiment will appeal to some of the organizations upon whom the Prime Minister and his party rely so largely for support, but I am sure it” will appeal to those who hold, as I do, that the ties of unity with the Imperial Government are our surest safeguard from aggression from outside, and our greatest guarantee of progress towards commercial, industrial, social, and political prosperity. I desire to quote from the London Morning Post of the 31st May the admirable sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister in regard to the Imperial connexion. The honorable member said -
This Conference will go down to history as one of the most important ever held in the capital of the Empire, l-‘or the first time in our existence the five oversea nations have been admitted by Great Britain into the Council of Nations. It was not only important so far as the Oversea Dominions were concerned ; it was important in so far as it revolutionized the relations of the Mother Country with the Oversea Dominions, and supremely important in the fact that for the first time in the Empire’s history the Oversea Dominions shared the Empire’s confidence in its relations with the rest of the world.
– We have heard that before.
– There are some honorable members to whom those words cannot be too often quoted, because they are apt to take an entirely different view of matters of this kind. The Prime Minister also said -
This is not a matter of possible future development. It is something achieved. It is something done. We have entered into our heritage of full nationhood. I can go back to my country to-morrow equipped with a knowledge that qualifies the Federation I represent for co-operation with the Mother Country of a more effective kind than was ever before possible, that endows me with an understanding of theMother Country’s policy, of its scope and purpose, that was never before possible. The revelation is complete. There is nothing more theBritish Government could give us. They haveleft nothing more to be said. Indeed, I am. almost tempted to wonder at this splendid1 achievement, to wonder why we have been admilted into the very innermost confidences of the Imperial Government. And the more I wonder the more I realize that this does indeed! mark a new era in Imperial development. . . . We are full partners in all that concerns theEmpire, now and for all time. We are each’ as much as ever independent and selfgoverning units - no more than we were before and no less. But in Imperial matters we are closer together than ever before.
I wish to compliment the Prime Minister upon that utterance. I fully indorse it, and am very glad that he has taken that Imperial stand. He evidently recognises, that we in Australia have to share the burdens of the Mother Country, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with her, that her quarrels are our quarrels ; that what concerns her concerns us ; and that we are one and indivisible. I do not know what the Queensland Worker will say to those sentiments, or what view will be taken of them by the Barrier miners’ unions and other organizations which are identified! with the party opposite, but they are sound sentiments, and I applaud the Prime Minister for holding and expressing them. In so far as he has done that, he deserves the. congratulations of this side of the House, and mine are extended to him in the heartiest possible manner.I am not quite so satisfied with regard to the position that Australia holds in the estimation of the public in the Old Country. We have been most neglectful in the matter of properly advertising Australia. Sufficient money has not been spent-
– Has the honorable member seen the picture in the Queen’s Hall?
– lt is a very nice picture, and 1 hope it may have the effect of concentrating some attention on Australia, but it is useless to advertise this country unless means are provided ito bring people here from the Old Land, lt is useless to say what a beautiful and productive country Australia is unless a genuine effort is made to bring settlers here. lt is. admitted on all hands that population is necessary for our selfpreservation alone, to look at it from no other stand-point. If we are to hold this country secure from foreign invasion, we must people the great empty spaces that mark the map. We must bring millions of people here, and, as a preliminary, we must see that our coastal regions are fairly well settled and populated, because population there is of far greater value from a defence point of view than Dreadnoughts, cruisers or destroyers. We are not going the right way about the advertising of Australia. Honorable members who were present in London during the Coronation will bear me out in indorsing what the honorable member for Grey said about the exhibition he saw al the Festival of Empire at the Crystal Palace. The honorable member briefly outlined a portion of the picture, and I propose to finish some of the details of it. There was provided there a large court for the exhibition of Australian products for the purpose of giving the hundreds of thousands of visitors to London from all parts of the world on that great historic occasion, some idea of what Australia is, and can produce. When some of us entered this building we naturally expected to find a great deal there, but imagine our surprise on entering the great hall to see that it was absolutely empty of anything that was really calculated to give a fair idea of what Australia can produce or is like. After wandering around the room we noticed a bil of a map on the wall at one end, and then some one in the building called our attention tG a couple of dozen of very shrivelled and ill-used Tasmanian apples displayed on a little deal shelf. About two dozen were thus displayed, and there were a few more unpacked in an open case, revealing signs of considerable wear and tear. That was the Australian exhibit in that large hall, and I was informed that even those apples would not have been there but that the Tasmanian AgentGeneral had lent them at the request of one of the officials. We were told that we would see something better in another room. We went into the other room, and saw what purported to represent Australia there. We saw a picture which suggested that Australia was a land of bushrangers and thirst-perishers. On one side of the room there was a very badly executed tableau representing the Kelly gang of bushrangers, and just opposite, another representing a dying prospector or explorer with the remains of a camel lying stark under a blistering blazing hot sun upon a sandy desert. In the circumstances, it was not at all surprising that visitors passing through the Australian Court into the Canadian Court, and seeing the magnificent pictures and specimens of the products of rural and domestic life exhibited there should, if they had any idea of leaving the Mother Country, have their minds turned from Australia, and in the direction of Canada.
– How does the honorable member account for people coming here from Canada?
– One has to go to Canada to discover that the magnificent pictures supposed to represent life in that country, are, to a large extent, a delusion and a snare.
– Does the honorable member desire that we should advertise in the same way ?
– No, we desire that the truth should be told about Australia, and no more. But we do not desire that Australian conditions should be caricatured, and the country maligned pictorially or otherwise. I say that what we saw at the Crystal Palace was a most damaging and unfair advertisement of Australia, and, if possible, steps should be taken to correct the impression which it must have created in the minds of visitors to the Festival of Empire. “ I understand that it is proposed to send the wattle picture Home as an advertisement for Australia, and while it may be of some service we could do much more good by the exhibition of some genuine pictures of our industries, rural and otherwise, on the lines adopted by the Canadian Government, so as to give the agricultural sections of the community at Home a correct idea of the various branches of farming as carried on in Australia. It is the people of the agricultural districts of the Mother Country that we need to attract to Australia. We can get the people who earn their living in the cities at any time. If the country is prosperous the cities will be prosperous. If we can secure a comfortable rural population profitably employed in producing from Mother earth, and utilizing the raw forces of Nature in our primary industries, we can be quite sure that later on we shall have no trouble in getting enough people in our cities to supply the wants of those who are engaged in developing our country districts. The bad impression created by the exhibition to which I have referred was not softened down bv the recollection of the refusal of the present Government to offer a Dreadnought to the Mother Country, and to take advantage of the opportunity afforded for the erection of a Coronation arch on the line of the Coronation procession, where hundreds of thousands of people from all parts of the world were passing day after day. That would not have involved any great expense, but whatever it cost it would have been a magnificent advertisement for Australia. As it was, a false impression was created that we in Australia were not too strong in the Empire sentiment. This bad impression was still further emphasized by the refusal of the Government to do as all the other British Possessions did, and send Home a Coronation contingent to take its part in that great pageant of Empire which took place on the occasion of the King’s Coronation. That refusal was very adversely commented upon.
– By whom?
– By a. section of the press, and numbers of people with whom one came in contact. When I refer to the neglect of our Government to have an Australian arch erected on the line of the Coronation procession. I may add that New Zealand took advantage of that magnificent opportunity for advertising, and, as a consequence, New Zealand was greatly talked about.
Canada was always first mentioned by the people at Home, South Africa next, New Zealand third, and Australia was nowhere.
– What was the honorable member doing that he did not hold up the Australian log?
– I can assure the honorable member that I did hold it up whenever I got the chance, but his Government had made the log particularly heavy to hold up, and I was more than once asked why we did not leave such a benighted country, since it could not -afford to send a contingent Home or to erect a Coronation arch. I was reminded at the same time that other Dominions could do these things and did them.
– But the honorable member knew the facts.
– I did, but unfortunately the people at Home did not. What we desire is that the people whom we wish to attract to Australia! should know the facts. It was the business of the Government to see that they were correctly informed, and they would have been carrying out only the wishes of the people of Australia if they had expended; a little money in the way to which I have referred. It was an additional humiliation to me to see the Prime Minister of Australia dependent upon the good-will andi courtesy of the Prime Minister of Canada for a lift in that gentleman’s carriage, escorted by Canadian troops, to take his place in the Coronation procession. Do honorable members think that that undignified exhibition of Australia’s Prime Minister was a good thing for Australia, or a good way to advertise this country?
– That is helping a pal indistress.
– It certainly had the appearance of giving a hardup pal a compassionate lift, but was not the kind of advertisement calculated to raise us in the estimation of the people of otherlands, or increase our prestige in the minds of the people of any part of the world. I was very sorry, indeed, to see it, andI hope that on a similar occasion such a thingwill never occur again. I noticed that our Prime Minister very graciously acknowledged the cheers which were being sent up for the gentleman to whose courtesy hewas indebted for a seat. While the cheers were going up for the Prime Ministerof Canada, our own Prime Ministerwas acknowledging them. That was not the only humiliation awaiting me..
I visited Buckingham Palace to witness the King present medals to all the troops which took part in the .’Coronation procession, and I felt further humiliated when I found that even the cadets who were sent to England as the result of private .subscription were not present. These things do not reflect credit upon Australia. It is a disgrace to the Government that the Commonwealth should be subjected to that kind of reflection upon the people’s loyalty, patriotism, and generosity. I am glad to note that since the termination of the Coronation festivities an interest has been taken in the cadets by the King and Queen that, in the face of our own Government’s unfriendly attitude, could not sooner have been evinced in that quarter, and that the lads have been accorded some recognition. I am pleased to know that, although they were prevented from receiving medals whilst they were in London, they are to get them through the Imperial representative here. Of course, they would have been very much more satisfied had they received those medals at the hands of the King himself. To my mind the lads were treated shamefully, and it is to the credit of the Premier of New South Wales that he recognised that fact and came to their rescue without regard to the part of the Commonwealth from which they hailed. He acted rightly in supplying them with the wherewithal to return to Australia.
– That circumstance does not redound to the credit of the private enterprise about which the honorable member spoke just now,
– Private enterprise had no right to be called upon to defray the expenses of those cadets in the first place, and, in the second, the subscribers and the public were quite unaware of what was transpiring at Home. The lads were not allowed to join in the Coronation ^procession, but were merely allotted standing places along the line of march. It was not the wish of the people of Australia that that should be so, nor, if I am rightly informed, the wish of the British authorities. The people are not mean or niggardly in their conception of what is due to the Mother Country on such an historic occasion. They would have been delighted if a sum had been placed on the Estimates for the purpose of sending a contingent of troops Home to represent us, and to prevent our cadets from being financially embarrassed.
The ‘ impression created of Australia wasnot a favorable one. But Canada was always to the fore, because she was so thoroughly advertised. In the Montreal Gazette of 31st July last,- Senator Casgrane, in the course of an interview, gave expression to the idea which was general, that Canada was easily first in the minds of the British public in connexion with the Coronation festivities. He spoke of the Canadian contingent being to the fore, and declared that the Canadians were the lions of the hour. He was impressed with the fact that in France, as well as in England, Canada was in the foreground of the picture. He said that one of the sights of Paris is the great map of Canada which hangs near the famous Rita Hotel.
– Did not the honorable member do his best to help Canada to the forefront? .
– No. I resent that insinuation. The honorable member knows perfectly well that I did not. I did my best to bring Australia to the front. I had many arguments with Canadian senators and others as to the relative merits of Australia and Canada. I am surprised that the honorable member should make such an insinuation.
– It is one Empire. Why should not the honorable member help Canada?
– But, seeing that each part of the Empire wishes to rival its neighbour, we ought to enter into that friendly rivalry ourselves. I wish to see all the Dominions develop, .but I do not wish to see them develop at the expense of Australia. I desire Australia to be developed by the best class of Britishers. These are the sentiments which I hold in regard to immigration. On my journey home I passed through Canada, and I was not altogether impressed with the type of a large proportion of the immigrants who find their way there. I found that a great number of Russians, Poles, Greeks, and other foreigners were being admitted, and these did not seem to be the best type of people, even of their nationalities. I was very sorry to see such emigration encouraged. It cannot be good for the future of Canada, and it certainly would not be good for us. I should be one of .the first to” rebel against the encouragement of the immigration of peoples of that type. It would be better to remain as we are than to have them, because I realize that, in course of time, some of these people might turn out to be a source of danger rather than of assistance. Coming to the Gover- nor-General’s Speech, one of the first things to which I wish to refer is the Naval Agreement. It is stated -
The Naval Agreement arrived at after Conference between the Commonwealth representatives and the Admiralty is extremely satisfactory, embodying the policy formulated by the Government and approved by the people of the Commonwealth.
I wish to challenge the correctness of a portion of that statement. I believe that the policy was approved by the people of the Commonwealth, but I deny that it was formulated by this Government. It was formulated by their predecessors. It is substantially the policy of the late Government, and bears not the slightest resemblance to the original policy laid down by the party now in power. It would be only common honesty to admit as much, and not to claim credit for something for which the Government is not entitled to the slightest tittle of credit. The naval defence scheme was formulated by the Liberal Government. Like many other of the measures of that Government, it was found that it could not be improved upon, and that it was the best thing for Australia. Consequently it has been adopted, notwithstanding the most strenuous opposition of members of the Labour party when the policy was originally put before the people. Passing over two or three clauses of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which are simply padding and immaterial, I come to paragraph 10, which deals with the operation of the Australian Notes Act. I am not prepared to say whether the operations of the Act have been satisfactory or otherwise. There seems to be an uneasy feeling, even amongst the supporters of the Government, that the Act 5s not so good a piece of legislation as it is claimed to be. That feeling of uneasiness was indicated by the honorable member for Gwydir. His remarks pointed to the belief that there is something’ radically wrong about it somewhere. Perhaps he did not know where, but he seemed to believe in his mind that the measure was not so sound a thing as the members of the Government pretend. I see, from the GovernorGeneral ‘s Speech, that the question of amending the Act in order to extend its usefulness is receiving attention. There was a paragraph In one of the newspapers stating that it was the intention of the Government to issue a very much larger number of these pieces i:f paper, which have been described as “ Fisher’s flimsies.” It was said that the gold reserve was not to be increased in .accordance with the terms of the Act, but that some attempt would be made to reduce it to 25 per cent., or even less - if not, indeed, to do away with it altogether. I am not in the confidence of the Government, and do not know whether there was any foundation in fact for this newspaper paragraph, but I do express the hope that nothing of the kind will be done.
– I was referring to the statement that authority was to be asked to keep the gold reserve at not more than 25 per cent., and possibly less.
– Not less ; no proposition will be made that it shall be less than 25 per cent.
– If it be proposed to have another issue of notes, and still to keep the gold, reserve at not more than 25 per cent., my own belief is that it will be too small. Indeed, it is too small now ; and, in proportion to the extra number of notes issued, the reserve will be still further proportionately inadequate. 1 trust that no attempt will be made to cut it down to that level. There will always be a temptation still further to reduce the gold reserve available for the redemption of the notes on presentation. It must be remembered that the private banks will hold a very large proportion of notes which have not been issued to the public, and there is always the possibility - I do not say the probability - which should be guarded against and provided for, of a number of notes being suddenly presented oyer the counter for payment in gold. I do not want to see that kind of thing happen in the Commonwealth. It is a weakness in our financial system which ought to be guarded against; in any case, it is. a very bad system of finance to alter the basis of the currency from gold to mere I.O.U’s. A country or a Government that conducts its business on I.O.U’s. is not upon a sound financial basis. I do not think that private individuals could perpetually conduct their business on that system. If they could for a time, they would find, sooner or later, that something in the nature of a substantial redemption might be demanded, and if they were not in a position to meet their obligations, they would inevitably be overtaken by financial disaster.
– Ninety per cent, of the business of Australia is done by I.O.U’s.
Mr.W. ELLIOT JOHNSON. - There is always something substantial behind them. Commercially, most of the business of Sydney is done by the exchange of goods for goods- by the exchange of our wool and other local products for what we import. But presently we may have gold demanded, if we go on with legislation such as is proposed, and such as we have been enacting for some time past. It is a dangerous experiment to indulge too freely in a mere paper currency, without a reasonably safe margin of gold backing for redemption. With regard to the Federal Capital, I see in the Governor-General’s Speech the following paragraph : -
Good progress has been made with detailed surveys of the Territory, and with roads and other preliminary works, and competitive designs for the laying out of the Federal city have been invited. Other works necessary for the establishment of the city will be proceeded with without delay.
There appears to be a great deal of dissatisfaction in the minds of some of the architects in Europe and elsewhere as to the conditions attaching to the competition. It will be recollected, perhaps, that I questioned the Minister of Home Affairs on the subject the other day. His first reply was really a mass of words to which no intelligible meaning could be attached. Whether it was his fault, or that of those who reported his statement, I am not prepared to say, but I must confess that when I heard him giving the answer I tried to analyze it and find out what it meant, but I could make neither head nor tail of it. On the following day I asked a further question with the view of getting the information I wanted. But again the Minister evaded the point of my question, giving me a reply about something which did not form part of theinquirs. I did not desire to pursue the matter further then, because it seemed to me rather hopeless, and I thought I had better wait tor this occasion to say a few words. I wish to bring under the Minister’s notice a letter written by two very prominent architects in Sydney, namely, Mr. John F. Hennessy, President of the Institute of Architects of New South Wales, and Mr. Arthur William Anderson, Honorary Secretary of the Institute. I only propose to quote the material paragraphs of their letter. Referring to the remarks of the Minister in connexion with the
British and foreign architects taking exception to the conditions of the competition for a design for the Federal City, they say -
The preliminary steps in this matter were taken a considerable time. ago. When the Institute of Architects of New South Wales communicated with the other institutes of architects in the Commonwealth and with their cordial consent, offered to the Minister their assistance in drafting the conditions of this competition, the Minister promised to lay the conditions before the institutes before they were published for any suggestions they might make, but he broke his promise absolutely.
Here is a charge made by these two gentlemen that theMinister, having made a promise that any suggestions would be submitted to the institutes before they were published, deliberately broke this promise.
– I have never broken a promise in my life. I cannot allow irresponsible outsiders to run the Department of Home Affaire.
– If the Minister says that he did not make a promise, I am very glad to hear his statement. But this charge went forth to the public in the Sydney press only last week. The letter continues -
When the conditions were published this institute immediately noticed that they were not in accordance with those laid downinordinary competitions, and communicated in May last with the Royal Institute of British Architects drawing their attention to the unsatisfactory nature of the clauses relative to the adjudication and the final decision being in the hands of the Minister, and asking that if the opinion of the Royal Institute of British Architects was in accordance with the views of the Australian institutes, they would assist us by communicating with the foreign institutes.
The writers state in another paragraph that the British and foreign institutes have done as requested. This protest comes as an indorsement of the attitude and the opinion held by the Institute of Architects in New South Wales. I think that in these circumstances the Minister might consider whether some step cannot, even at this late hour, be taken to prevent that feeling of want of confidence in him and those who may have to adjudicate on the designs. The writers go on to say -
The British and foreign institutes have done as requested, so that their action, instead of being an expression of a want of confidence in the honesty and impartiality of Australian professional men, is carrying out the request and confirming the judgment of the Australian institutes, and is an expression of want of confidence in the final decision being left in the hands of the Minister.
Meaning thereby, I take it, all the institutes of architects in Australia -
We have done all we could to assist the Government in obtaining a satisfactory result, but our assistance was rejected, and the present position was inevitable when the Minister refused to be guided by the professional bodies in the Commonwealth. We are emphatically of the opinion that the laying out of the Federal city is of such permanent and national importance that the conditions of competition should be drawn up in such a manner that they will attract the attention of the world’s most gifted town planners.
I indorse the last remarks. I am not prepared to say what communications have taken place between the Minister and these architects, but I consider that the concluding paragraph of their letter is a proper presentation of what ought to be done. The Minister took upon his own shoulders the responsibility of inviting the world’s best men to compete for the honour of getting the first prize for a design for laying out the Federal city, and it is only fair for them to ask that the ordinary conditions should be observed. That the designs should be judged by some responsible men in whom everybody can have confidence, whose professional knowledge and personal integrity and impartiality are beyond question, or, if there is to be more than one judge, that the whole of them should be men of that type, is only a fair request, and I cannot see any reason why the Minister should not go some little way to meet any reasonable objections which the institutes of architects have to the conditions of the competition.
– But they wanted me to bring architects from England and America.
– That was, I understand, only a suggestion thrown out to the Minister as one which might, perhaps, meet with approval, and would establish confidence. What I rather think is that they expected that the Minister might make a proposal which would meet the difficulty they had brought under his notice.
– But I have agreed to take a man from the three professions of engineering, surveying, and architecture.
– I do not say that it should be done, but I would like to know from the Minister if there is any reasonable objection to publishing the names of those gentlemen, and their standing in the community.
– I have not chosen them.
– I think that, at any rate, the Minister, if he has not done so already, might notify those who have raised these objections that something of that kind is intended to be done. I should like to know whether the judges are to be appointed before the designs are submitted.
– Then intending competitors will be able to form an opinion as to their probable competency. That is a fair arrangement. We were told by the Governor-General that-
The effect of the Tariff upon Australian industries is being carefully watched by My Advisers, with a view to revision whenever the information obtained by them shows this to be necessary.
Some honorable members have complained that the Government are not giving effect to Tariff revision. No doubt there are those on both sides who would not vote with me for the kind of revision that I would advocate. When they speak of revision they mean really only an increase of duties. Already, on every hand complaint is heard of the continuing rise in prices, especially of food and clothing, and other commodities used chiefly by the wage-earners. It is the Labour members, claiming to directly represent the wageearners, who are largely responsible for the present high prices.
– For the high price of sugar ?
– Yes ; that, among many other commodities most largely used by the wage-earning classes. The Labour party voted for the sugar duty, and thus increased the price of sugar to the workingman’s household. If any attempt is made to further increase the burdens which press so heavily now on the backs of the workers, I, for one, will strenuously oppose it, as I have done in the past. My principles to-day are those with which I entered political life, one of them being freedom of trade, or as near to that as can be got. If members of the Labour party would help me, I should be delighted to have their assistance. Unfortunately, when the Tariff was last under consideration, we had the peculiar spectacle of the Free Trade members of the Labour party voting for the highest duties on food, clothing, and other necessaries. We found them helping, by imposing restrictions on trade, to build up the monopolies for whose existence they are now responsible, although they denounce them from the public platform. I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether before millions are spent on the proposed railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta careful inquiry will be made as to whether the mono-rail system could be adopted.
– Such an inquiry has been made, and we are informed that what we propose is the best that can be done at the present time.
– I notice that the gauge to be adopted is the standard one of 4 ft. 8i in., and am glad to know that the negotiations for the establishment of a uniform gauge on the lines connecting the capital cities of the mainland are proceeding. The adoption of a uniform gauge is a reform which should be made at the earliest moment, and if the Government succeeds in overcoming the difficulties which now stand in the way of its accomplishment, great benefits will accrue to all the States. I should like some information as to what steps, if any, have been taken in the way of administration to develop the immense area we have taken over in the Northern Territory? Has there been any movement .to have railways surveyed or preparations made for an influx of desirable settlers ? Has if-been determined what type of settlers are to be encouraged to settle in this tropical portion of Australia? I take it that the White Australia policy is the settled policy of Australia, irrespective of party. I do not think that any of us desire to encourage the immigration of alien races, especially those of another colour or of an inferior type. If we are to people the Northern Territory effectively, it will be necessary to secure immigrants of a very virile type. It will take considerable time to get acclimatized; and we desire to see future generations robust enough to insure that the Territory will remain in our undisturbed possession for all time. I suggest that if we cannot get British stock in sufficient numbers, some efforts might be made to induce immigration from the Scandinavian races. It would not be wise, I think, to import people from southern Europe. In the first place, their physical Stamina is not up to the necessary standard to insure a robust race in the future, and there are political - national and international - reasons why such immigrants might be undesirable. The Scandinavian people are very virile, thoroughly law abiding, and loyal to the country of their adoption when they become naturalizedcitizens ; and if we secured immigrants of this type we should insure the White Australia policy coupled with the advantage of the best class of settler. I offer that as a suggestion to the Prime Minister, who may, however, already have given the matter his serious attention. The Government have been very ill-advised, I think, in withdrawing the Vancouver mail service subsidy. A paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech states that the Government have under consideration the establishment of reciprocal trade with New Zealand and Canada; and I point out that we had an opportunity by means of the subsidy to establish such trade, certainly with Canada. I looked forward to the opening up and development of a very large trade with Canada by means of the direct Vancouver route, and I am sorry to see that the small subsidy has been withdrawn.
– It terminated.
– And it was not renewed, as I think it ought to have been. I agree with the honorable member for Grey that the Government have committed a grave error of judgment in not renewing, and even increasing, the subsidy. The time has arrived when such a large volume of trade, as well as passenger traffic, could be opened up that, if we could secure proper cool storage space on board large vessels as could be done under an arrangement for a subsidy, the result would be mutually profitable to both Dominions. Then I think that larger steamers and an accelerated service ought to be provided, for there is no reason that I can see why the trip to Vancouver should not be completed in about eighteen days. In view of the large, number of tourists who pass through Canada and America, a line of steamers between Vancouver and Sydney, calling at Suva, Honolulu, and Fiji, as was the case in the recent service, would attract a large number of temporary visitors, who might ultimately become permanent residents in Australia. Unfortunately, through the non-renewal -of the subsidy, a project of that kind has been hung up, and NewZealand, taking advantage of our want of foresight, has, by means of a direct service diverted the stream of traffic to her own shores. It is not too late to rectify the error, and negotiations might be opened up with immense advantage to our commercial life, and generally to the community of Australia.
– The negotiations are not closed.
– I am very glad to hear it. In this connexion, more vigilance is required in the matter of territorial expansion in the Pacific. I do not know what was done in this respect by the representatives of the Commonwealth at the recent Imperial Conference ; but, from the newspaper reports of the proceedings, it does not appear that the question was brought prominently forward. I conceive it to be one of the biggest questions that the Commonwealth - the Empire at large, and particularly Great Britain - will have to face in the immediate future. I have repeatedly called attention in this House to the continuous foreign territorial expansion in the Pacific. I believe that some representations have been made from time to time to the British Government, but the question has not been presented to them as it ought to have been. Owing to our remote geographical position, we are practically isolated from the centres of the world’s commercial activity; but the opening of the Panama Canal a very short time hence will change the whole complexion of the Pacific question. Its practically deserted waters will then become one of the world’s busiest commercial highways. Other countries, particularly Britain’s commercial rivals, have fully realized this, and are providing for it by securing all the territory they can in the Pacific, by establishing trade, and by acquiring there ports that may, and probably will, be used eventually for naval bases. I realize the gravity of this question as affecting the future of Australia, because, with the opening of the Panama Canal, we shall no longer occupy our present isolated position, but will become the centre of a tremendous volume of commercial activity. A great portion of the trade that now goes round the Cape or through the Suez Canal will be diverted by the Panama Canal route to the Pacific. I hope the Government will take an interest in this question, and that if representations have not already been made to the British Government as to the importance of watching developments in the Pacific, and trying, as far as possible, to keep the Union Jack floating over the Pacific, no time will be lost in impressing upon the Home authorities the gravity of the position from the point of view of the whole Empire. The honorable member for Grey referred to the fact that in Fiji, for instance, the natives are gradually being wiped out. I noticed while there a few weeks since . that the native Fijian, who is a very fine type of man, tall, well-built, robust, and possessing many desirable attributes, is gradually being elbowed out of his place by a very inferior race of people, who will undoubtedy become a very serious menace to our White Australia policy. If that process of development is going on, as I have reason to believe it is, in other parts of the Pacific, the danger must be very considerably accentuated.
– Who are taking their place? Coolies?
– Hindoos, Japanese, coolies, and others of a very undesirable class. We should endeavour to induce the British authorities to transfer to the Commonwealth Government the control and administration of the Pacific Islands. If that is not possible, we should try to arrange that the Commissioner for the Pacific shall be domiciled in Australia.
– We will not even allow the Fijians to trade with Australia.
– We are largely responsible for the present situation; because, instead of encouraging British and Australian settlement in these islands by admitting into Australia free of duty the produce that white settlers must export to tide them over the time between the planting of their cocoanut trees and their reaching maturity, and thus becoming a marketable commodity, we are placing obstacles in the way of white settlement there. We are placing in the way of that settlement obstacles that other nations are not setting up ; and to that extent we are more responsible than are the British Government for the non-development of these islands by Britishers and Australians, and for the gradual passing of some of them into the control of foreign Powers. I come now to the question of the referenda vote in April last, and its association with the question of trusts, monopolies, and combines. It is very amusing to read paragraph 26, which says, “ My Advisers regret the result of the referenda vote in April last.” I have no doubt they do, but a great many of their brethren in the same party, representing State constituencies, do not share the grief which so oppresses the souls of Labour- Socialist members here. “The ever-increasing exactions of the trusts make an extension of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth imperative.” I should like to know in what respect the constitutional powers of the State are deficient in dealing with trusts, combines, and monopolies that grow up within the State boundaries and come under State jurisdiction. Is there a provision in any State Constitution to prevent the State Parliaments themselves dealing with them in any way they like? I ask the members of the Government who are responsible for this Speech to show in what respect the States are powerless to deal with the trusts. The States have the fullest powers to deal with them; they are sovereign States with power to make laws for the welfare of the people within their boundaries. The trusts have not all become Commonwealth concerns.
– What about the Shipping Combine ?
– The Shipping Combine is perhaps one that may be taken out of that category.
– And the Sugar Combine.
– The State of Queensland, or the State of New South Wales, could effectively deal with it. Any State in which the operations of the Combine exist can prevent it operating within its borders. The States could even go to the extent of nationalizing these concerns, so much power have they got. It is therefore ridiculous nonsense to pretend that it was necessary to ask at the recent referenda for those powers to be conferred upon the Commonwealth because the States had not sufficient power to control them.
– The Commonwealth cannot do these things now.
– In the opinion of some of the best legal experts, it can. I will tell the honorable member the reason why the Commonwealth law is not so effective as it might be. When what was popularly known as the Anti-Trust Bill was before the House, member after member of the Labour party, both leaders and rank and file, rose on that side of the House, and pleaded for certain monopolies, combines, and trusts to be exempted from the operations of the Act. Is it any wonder when they come to administer the Act themselves that they find themselves unable to do what they profess to want to do? They themselves are responsible for the failure to do all that was hoped of it by its authors. The Government of the day were powerless to make the Act what they wanted it to be, because several members of the present Government, who were then their own supporters, and by whose favour alone they were kept in office, rose and defended all these combines, including the Sugar Trust, the Newcastle Coal Vend, the Shipping Combine, and the Tobacco Monopoly. They said they wanted them, and did not wish them to be interfered with, because they were good things for the workers. They do not tell that tale now, but carefully suppress all these facts from public knowledge. They go about the country proclaiming themselves the opponents of the trusts, and charging us on this side of the House with being the supporters of the trust. So far as I know, there is no one on this side of the House that believes in injurious trusts, combines, and monopolies. I have fought, and will fight against them, I hope, so long as I remain in public life. I have never heard any one who sits on this side of the House champion any injurious monopoly.
– Would the honorable member nationalize them?
– Certainly not. That is not necessary. It would only be to create the worst and most complete monopoly of all. All that is required is to make such laws as will prevent the combines from becoming injurious to the community’s welfare. The States already have the fullest powers to do this, and it is unnecessary for the Commonwealth to step in and ask that the States should be deprived of their powers.
– The Commonwealth never sought to deprive the States of their powers.
- Mr. Holman, Mr. McGowen, and other members of the Labour party said, or implied, that it did. The present Attorney-General, not long ago apparently had no great faith in legislation to deal with these bodies, unless it was shown what an industry was. Speaking in this House, he said -
The party to which I belong have no great faith in legislation to repress monopolies.
The Government ask for these powers to be transferred to them, to enable them to legislate for the suppression of trusts, combines, and monopolies, and at the same time the Attorney-General has no faith in the power of legislation, to deal effectively with them. The same honorable member, in his Saturday article on “ The Case for Labour,” in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, said - ‘
It is not only illogical and unfair to complain about the trusts; it is also very foolish. For the trust is really a labour-saving device, and the latest and most effective. The antiSocialist who wishes to destroy trusts is like the old Luddites who wished to destroy machinery. The early trades unionist fell into the vulgar error of regarding machinery as a device of the Evil One, which ought to be destroyed. They have now learned better ; they no longer seek to destroy machinery, but to control it. But the anti-Socialist is still a troglodyte in this matter. He wants to club the trusts.
There is an admission by the. AttorneyGeneral that it is the Liberal, - or antiSocialist party, who want to club the trusts. That statement, so far as injurious monopolies and combines are concerned, has the merit of being true, but on the platform the honorable member tells a different tale, saying that it is the anti- Socialist party who desire to promote and protect the trusts from interference. I have shown that the boot is entirely on the other foot. He goes on to say -
The trust or combine is not merely a laboursaving device, and the best and latest at that, but it marks a notable epoch in the history of production and of civilization.
If that had been said by an honorable member on this side, he would be hounded down from every platform in the country by the men with whom the AttorneyGeneral is associated in the Labour party. It would seem that so long as a man is a member of the Caucus, he can say anything he pleases on either side of a question. He may contradict next day his statement of the previous day, and reassert it on the following day, and he will never be called to book for his frequent contradictions. The Attorney-General said further -
The central ideas of the combine are cooperation and systematization.
Surely both very desirable things which our honorable friends opposite are all in favour of-
It substitutes order for chaos and combination for competition. It takes cognizance of factors utterly ignored by the old barbaric ways of cutthroat competition.
If I had heard that some honorable member who was accused of being a red-hot Tory, had given expression to these sentiments, I should not have been surprised, but, coming as they do, from an honorable gentleman who now poses as the archenemy of these institutions, they make curious reading.
– I wonder how much the trusts paid the honorable gentleman to write like that..
– I shall not raise a question of that kind. I leave that sort of thing to the honorable member for Gwydir. Might I inform honorable members opposite that the Barrier Miner took the Attorney-General to task for these utterances, and was very rough upon him.
– Not until after the referendum.
– That is so. The protest was delayed until after the referendum so as not to prejudice the result of that- appeal by the Labour party to the country. It was just after the referendum that the Barrier Miner published this castigation of the Attorney-General. The honorable gentleman subsequently tried to justify his utterances, but in doing so he only got deeper into the mire. He said -
What I said about trusts then, and what I say about trusts now, and always have said, is that, trusts and combines are phases in industrial evolution, and a triumph for sensible co-operation over senseless competition.
I say again it is farcical for the AttorneyGeneral to pose as the arch-enemy of these trusts and combines, which he has declared are phases in industrial evolution and a triumph for sensible co-operation over senseless competition. I do not say that trusts and combines are as the AttorneyGeneral has described them. Though I believe in co-operation and systematization, I think that it is not necessary to form combines or trusts in restraint of trade to secure them. I say that wherever the operations of combines or trusts interfere with the legitimate flow of trade and the production and exchange of commodities, they are an injury to the community, and legislation ought to be enacted to prevent that injury taking place, and to bring such trusts and combines to their proper bearings.
– We say that time has arrived.
– But the Attorney-General, one of the honorable member’s leaders, says that these trusts and combines represent a triumph for sensible co-operation over senseless competition, and, according to his argument, should on that account be left alone. Where is the consistency of these conflicting statements of honorable members opposite? If these sentiments were littered by an honorable member on this side they would be indignantly repudiated by honorable members opposite, but because they were uttered by their own AttorneyGeneral, we find them absolutely dumb. We have heard from time to time a great deal on the subject of trusts of an injurious character, such, for instance, as the Shipping Combine. Yet there were members of the Labour party here and in- another place who stood up to defend the Shipping Combine. They contended that it was a good thing for the workers, and that they had themselves urged that it should be formed. They have admittedly been responsible to some extent for this very Shipping Combine which honorable members of the same party in this House have so loudly denounced. Let honorable members read the utterances of some labour senators upon combines. One of these gentlemen, in speaking of the Coal Vend, said -
It has materially increased, not only its selling price, which I candidly believe it was entitled to do, but also the wages paid to the men engaged in producing the coal. The coal combine has done a very great service up to the present moment.
That was the opinion expressed by Labour Senator Henderson.
– What was the date upon which he made that statement?
– It was last year, I think. It is upon record in Hansard. When the honorable member for Gwydir was accusing us of having circulated slanders, he might have been asked to state the occasion upon which that course of action was adopted. When he accused some Melbourne and Sydney newspapers of having written articles of a similar character he might have been asked to supply the dates upon which those articles were published. He did not attempt to do so. I have merely given a quotation from a speech in Hansard which can be easily verified. The Whip of the present Government, on 3rd July, 1I906 - -as wi]l be seen by reference to pages 936-7 of Hansard for that year - in speaking of the Newcastle Coal Vend, when proposals to legislate for the purpose of suppressing combines and monopolies were under consideration, said -
At Newcastle the miners have practically gone out on strike to get a general agreement with the proprietors, and incidentally to bring the proprietors into a. combine so as to put the business upon a fair basis. I wish it to be clearly understood that I do not wish the position at Newcastle to be disturbed.
He meant to be disturbed by the provisions of the Bill which was then under review.
– How much was he paid to advocate that?
– I cannot answer that question, but the honorable member for Newcastle may possibly volunteer the information to the honorable member for Gwydir. He went on to say - because I believe that to disturb an arrangement of that description would be to do something which would bring an injury, not merely upon the combination of proprietors, but upon all the employes of their collieries.
As the conditions which exist to-day are exactly the same as they were then, I presume that the opinions of the honorable member have not changed. What, then, is the meaning of all the noise that we hear about the evil effects of these combines? On the. same date Mr. Watson, who was the Leader of the Labour party before Mr. Fisher, in discussing the measure, as will be seen by reference to page 939 of Hansard for that session, said -
I am quite with the honorable member for Newcastle that we should take care that nothing is done to prevent such legitimate combination amongst coal mine-owners as may be necessary to enable them to get a fair profit on the capital invested, and insure fair wages to the employes.
He was in favour of the combination for that purpose, and did not want it to be interfered with. At that stage I interjected -
Will not the raising of the price be acting detrimentally to the public?
To which Mr. Watson replied -
I think that the public will take a different view. Mr. Watson stated that the mere fact that the vend charged a particular price for a ton of coal, did not convict them of acting to the detriment of the public. But when the price of coal or of any other necessary commodity is raised, an injury is done to the community at large, and a greater injury to the persons whom Mr. Watson and the Labour party profess to represent. Consequently their acquiescence in a process of that kind is tantamount to their being parties to increasing the prices of commodities to those whose interests they were sent here to represent. But the most marvellous feature about the whole of this peculiar business is that the Newcastle Coal Vend, which is to be clubbed, and which, at the present time, is the subject of some legal proceedings, was not a creation of monopolists themselves, but was brought into existence by the Miners’ Federation - that is, if we are to believe the newspaper reports.
– That is not correct.
– The miners of Newcastle struck and enforced it.
– That had nothing at all to do with the vend.
– In the course of his remarks the honorable member for Newcastle declared that the men almost went out on strike to force the coal-owners into a combination. Does the honorable member challenge that statement of his own colleague? He said that the miners at Newcastle had practically gone out on strike with the object of bringing the proprietors into a combination. The Sydney Daily Telegraph of 6th December, 1 9 10, reports that -
Mr. Peter Bowling’s opinion of the vend is not a flattering one. In fact, he has atdifferent times declared that it was the principal thing the miners were fighting against. In Saturday’s Daily Telegraph a number of extracts from speeches made by Mr. Bowling, were printed, showing clearly what his views were on the subject. Some of his phrases describing the vend were : - “ The combination that is trying to smash up the workers of this community and get its claws on our industries,” “ save the public from its octopus grip,” “ the vend has crushed out employment,’’ ” the conspirators of the vend,” and others of a like character.
In view of these remarks it may come as a surprise to most persons to learn that he was one of the principal actors in bringing the vend into being.
Here is a report of a meeting called at the instance of the Colliery Employes Federation to discuss the question of an increase in the hewing rate of coal. The meeting was held at Newcastle during March, 1906, and the report is published in The Newcastle Morning Herald of 26th March. The following were present -
Mr. F. Livingstone Learmonth, representing the A.A. Company, and, in the absence of Mr. Keightly, the Newcastle Coal-mining Company; Mr. John Brown, representing Messrs. J. and A. Brown; Mr. A. Thomas, representing the East Greta Coal-mining Co., Ltd. ; and Mr. Morrow, representing the Caledonian Company. These companies are the owners of 13 collieries, including some of the largest in the Newcastle and Maitland districts. The Colliery Employes’ Federation was represented by Mr. Peter Bowling, president ; Mr. James Curley, general secretary ; Mr. A. Lewis, district treasurer ; and the other members of the committee of management, Messrs. J. Patterson, W. Brennan, W. Rees, J. M’Williams, S. Rees, A. Burns, and W. Wardle. Mr. Bowling was elected chairman of the conference.
The report goes on -
The chairman, in opening the conference, explained that the reason for calling the conference was because the Miners’ Federation had decided to ask for an advance of 8d. per ton in the hewing rate. He explained that this demand was regarded as reasonable, in view of certain conditions and contingencies which would have a direct tendency to enhance prices at the port of Newcastle, and he went on to point out that “by a combined effort on both sides this could be materially advanced in market value, and thereby be the means of advancing the miners’ hewing rate.”
Mr. Curley, after referring to the object of the conference, said “ the committee was there at the request of the miners working at the various collieries in the district. The men desired that the proprietors should be approached upon the subjects of an advance in the price of coal trade prices, and an increase in the hewing rate. . . . This (the foreign, interState, and home trade) was a large market which the proprietors could, to some extent, control, in the way of preventing undue competition. By proper combination, the same preventive measures might also be applied to some extent to the operations of foreign trade.”
Here was a suggestion from the miners’ secretary for a combination on the part of the proprietors to put up the price of coal, which was to be accomplished by means of restricting competition ; otherwise, creating a monopoly -
Mr. Curley, after endorsing the remarks of the chairman as to the market outlook, and regretting there was not a larger attendance of proprietors, said that unless conferences were held there was a probability that results of a disastrous character might ensue at any time. Nobody knew that better than the proprietors themselves.
These are some of the speeches that were made by Labour delegates at that Conference. It does not require one to have very great powers of perception to guess that the disastrous results predicted followed the huge strike that later occurred, and which I hope we all sincerely regret.
– Did they say who was going to pay the extra price?
– They conveniently omitted to point that out. But they knew that the largest consumers of domestic coal are the wage-earners themselves, who cannot afford fancy electriclighting contrivances to generate heat. They have to buy Newcastle coal - which is generally the class of coal that they prefer - and this meant increasing the price of coal to them. Hence the enhanced price had to come largely out of the pockets ofthe workers. To that extent the workers would be injured by this conspiracy of employers and employed to put up the price of coal.
– If the honorable member knew anything about the coal trade, he would not talk as he is doing.
– I know that the price of coal, as a result of that Conference, was considerably increased to the public, and the output limited to the disadvantage of employes and the public. The honorable member’s remarks might more appropriately be addressed to the AttorneyGeneral and other members of the Government, who are now denouncing this very institution - the Coal Vend - as something which ought to be wiped out of existence, or, to use their own picturesque language, to be clubbed by means of Commonwealth legislation. I also desire to refer to the practice inaugurated by members of the present Government of subscribing to strike funds. That is, I think, a very serious innovation on Ministerial procedure. We have to remember that strikes are being made illegal. We have legislation which was specially devised for the purpose of putting down strikes and substituting a saner method for what honorable members on the other side have described as the barbaric method of the strike.
– A late Chief Justice of Victoria subscribed to a strike fund.
– Cannot a man do as he likes with his own money?
– If it is permissible for a Government to identify itself with a strike on one side, it must be equally permissible for it to identify itself with a lock-out on the other side. Ministers are under oath to fairly and justly administer the laws, and to hold the balance evenly as between all sections of the community, and if it is right for them to subscribe money to assist one section of the people in defying the laws it is equally right for Ministers, holding different views, to act similarly towards other sections of the community.
– They do it, too.
– I have never come across an authenticated instance, though I have heard insinuations that it has been done.
– In regard to die sugar strike, the Government of Queensland helped the employers all they could.
– Did members of the Government subscribe to help the employers to maintain a lock-out?
– They helped them to the next best thing.
– The honorable member cannot shift his ground in that way. It is a most invidious position for any Minister of the Commonwealth to put himself in, and I hope that it will not become a practice.
– I shall give a contribution every time I think it is right to do so.
– The Minister’s view of what is right is, I am afraid, distorted by his political predilections. These should be set aside when he has the responsibility of Ministerial office on his shoulders, and is charged by his oath to administer the law fairly and impartially. A Minister who contributes to a strike fund in this way gives encouragement to law-breaking, when he ought to set an example of law-observance, and when it may become his duty to put the law in motion, to punish the law-breaker. If a Minister becomes a law-breaker, as he does by that act, he must put the law in motion against himself, because he, too, has supplied the means to enable the law to be defied. I hope, however, that this thing will not be continued. If it is continued, of course, Ministers will have to reconcile their act with their oath of office.
– Of course you will have to swallow it.
– Wrong and injustice often have to be swallowed by those temporarily in the minority, but trie power to injure does not always justify the infliction of injury. I do not think that it can be charged to any previous Government, either in the Commonwealth or in a State, that a contribution of that kind has ever been made. I regret very much, for the honour and credit of our parliamentary institutions, that it has happened, or is reported to have happened. I have not any official knowledge that it has been done, but I have not seen the report contradicted, and I take it, from the Minister’s interjection, that the report is correct, in substance, if not in detail.
– I made a contribution.
– I made four contributions.
– I wanted the workers to have an opportunity to get their case considered, and to help them to keep the wolf from the door.
– It may have done some credit to the honorable member’s heart, but he should have remembered that there are some positions in which a man is not always able to give full play to his feelings and yet fulfil his obligation and duty to the community at large.
– But in Victoria to strike is not to break the law.
– We have legislated with a view to practically making strikes illegal by substituting another method for settling industrial’ disputes. Quite irrespective of the merits of the dispute, the principle of the thing is bad. A Minister of the Crown is in a very different position to an ordinary person, and cannot be too careful in avoiding even the appearance of identifying himself with either party to an industrial dispute. I hope that such conduct will not be persevered in. While I have a great deal of sympathy with the legitimate aspirations of those who are engaged as wage-earners for the improvement of their condition, I certainly do not approve of the methods adopted by some of those who call themselves the Labour party. I do not subscribe, for example, to that doctrine of class selfishness, that doctrine of class consciousness, which is eternally drummed into the ears and the minds of the workers by the official organs of the party, and by individual members of the party on various platforms.
– It will be drummed in much more yet.
– I am sorry to hear that statement, because an appeal to class prejudice is a very bad thing for a community to start with. I believe that it will be very much better, to appeal to reason and justice. These are two guiding principles, which I hold to be the basic foundation of the enduring prosperity of a country. Any community which sets aside these ideals and bases its claims for support on appeals to class prejudice, class hatred, and class interest is, in my opinion, doomed sooner or later to fail. It is not wise, in the interests of the community, that any party should be in power which can only make an appeal on those lines to the general public. And in that connexion. I propose to read a quotation from a very eminent authority on the side of the labour organizations, because of the sound sentiments therein contained, and the exact coincidence of my views with those of the writer. I refer to Mr. P. H. Morrissey, formerly the head of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, who was cited by Mr. Theodore Roosevelt in an article in the Outlook of 5th August last. In the course of an address to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, he said -
Labour should put itself on record in no uncertain way as being against all forms of lawlessness. A criminal act committed by a misguided or over-zealous individual supposedly in the interests of labour is as reprehensible as a similar act would be if committed by an avowed opponent of labour. Labour cannot claim greater liberty under the law than any other group of our citizenship, nor can it be expected to accept less. We might consider with propriety whether we are encouraging the members of these organizations to do the best that is within them in the service they give to their employers, and thus indirectly to the public.
He evidently is not an advocate of the ca’-canny system -
I believe it will be accepted as a principle of democracy that the interests of the whole people are greater than those of any class, even itslargest class.
There is no class prejudice, hatred, or bitterness preached there -
And that the interests of any class shall’ predominate only when shown to be identical with the welfare of the mass. Organized labour cannot advance the interests of the workers by holding itself aloof from the other groups, which go to make up society. It should be able and prepared to state its principles and. defend them anywhere. It cannot, in my judgment, ultimately succeed by preaching: the doctrine of hatred, or encouraging labour to withhold its recognition of the great public questions, because, perchance, labour would be associated with some of its enemies past or present.
To make a final quotation -
Bad as selfishness is in the individual, it is infinitely worse when set up as the battle-cry of some one portion of the community shut in by an industrial boundary. It is a crime, and worse than a crime, a blunder; for if the people as a whole come to understand that organized labour’s only interest in politics is to win special privilege for itself, they will “ lay for it “ with a club, and. its last state will be worse than its first. By uniting with saloons and the tough element - as in San Francisco- it may have its brief hour of local triumph, but in the long run it will be heavily the loser.
There is wisdom in every line I have read. These passages are in accordance with the position which I have always taken in regard to labour and economics. In setting class against class, you do infinite harm to the community, and especial harm to those whose interests are thought to be served. I have always preached the doctrine of equal opportunity, justice, and liberty for all, and hold to it as strongly to-day as in the beginning. But there can be no equality of opportunity if preference is given to unionists, because the nonunionists have not the same chance. To coerce by starvation into joining unions men who prefer to remain outside such organizations is, besides being a cruel form of tyranny, a flat negation of the principle of equal rights, equal liberty, equal justice, and equal opportunity. I am sorry that the principle of the spoils to the victors is to be introduced in connexion with the appointments in our Public Service, which is to be the case if we are to believe the reports in this morning’s newspapers of the interview between representatives of the- Trades Hall and the Prime Minister.
– The Commissioners and his officers have the spoils now.
– Hitherto, the principle has not received official or Ministerial recognition, and has not been acted on, but in future only unionists are to get employment in the Public Service. What, then, becomes of the principle of equality of opportunity? This is a denial of justice, liberty, and equal opportunity.
– All the miners are in a union.
– Men seeking temporary employment are often, from the nature of their occupation, precluded from joining unions. I have always been a strong believer in trade unionism, but I hold that the industrial side of unionism should not be subordinated to the political side, and membership should be voluntary, not compulsory. Men’s consciences should not be constrained. Every man should be free to give effect to his political views without coercion.
– There is no coercion at the ballot-box.
– There is coercion when it is made a condition of entrance to a union that the applicant shall vote for the selected candidate of the party. The attempt is now made to fetter and enslave men financially, industrially, and politically; and those engaged in such practices are simply weaving the rope which must ultimately hang themselves. We, in Australia especially, have been reared in an atmosphere of freedom. We come from a race which has fought, and suffered, and bled for freedom in generations gone by ; the freedom that we are now enjoying is a heritage. Although some unthinking young persons may be prepared to surrender privileges gained for them by others, the irk.someness of union restrictions will be come so great as to force them to rebel, and_inside the organization the elements of disruption will ultimately grow so strong as to burst the fabric asunder. The Governor-General’s Speech is a significant commentary on the declaration made by the Ministry responsible for the referenda proposals, that if those proposals were not indorsed it would be impossible to legislate for any of the principles of their platform. This is actually one of the longest programmes ever put forward in a Governor-General’s Speech, and there are embodied in it proposals which are part of the Labour policy just as if no referenda had taken place, and no declaration, such as I have indicated, made. Ministers have evidently forgotten the statements they made prior to 26th April. We find, as we said at the time, that their declarations were just humbug. We are told in paragraph 29 that the purchase of a site, andthe erection of a suitable building, in London for the High Commissioner’s office, toprovide accommodation also for the State representatives, is an urgent necessity, and that proposals to that end will be submitted at an early date. This is a step in the right direction, because the High Commissioner’s office is now most inconveniently situated, so far as the public are concerned. Even those who have occasion to go very frequently into the neighbourhood are altogether unaware of the fact that the office is there. When I inquired for it, I was advised to take a motor ‘bus along Victoriastreet, and ask the conductor to put me down at the right place. When I asked him for the office of the High Commissioner for Australia, he said, “ Do you mean Canada?” I replied, “ No; I mean Australia - Sir George Reid’s office.” The conductor said, “ I never heard of the gentleman, nor of his office.” Ultimately, I was put down, at the Army and Navy Stores, two or three hundred yards away, and was told that I would probably get the information I required in there. I merely give this incident to illustrate the inconvenient situation of the office, which is a reason for finding a more suitable site.
– Is there no sign in front, of the office?
– There is a brass plate, and also a number of other brass plates; but those who have visited London will agree with me as to the inconvenience of the situation of the office.We visited a site suggested by Sir George Reid, and I think there was a general consensus of opinion that it was one of the best for the purpose. It- is that on which the Victorian Agent-General’s office is crected, and I hope that steps will be taken to acquire that site, or another equally eligible, so that Australia may be represented in a proper manner at a place easy of access, and likely to attract public attention. Paragraph 31 of the Governor-General’s Speech refers to the introduction of penny postage, and says that that reform completed the true federation of the postal services of the Commonwealth, and, whilst involving a loss of revenue, provided greater compensating advantages. I desire to know what was the cause of the delay in regard to the proclamation concerning [jenny postage.
– I should not have cared had it not been proclaimed for another five years.
– And possibly I should not, had it not been that my State was suffering an injustice as compared with Victoria. The injustice was that whereas the people of New South Wales were satisfied to submit to the twopenny rate under the old financial system, while the excess which they paid over the people of Victoria went into the New South Wales Treasury ; but under the new system not one penny of that excess went to the State. During the months of delay that elapsed between the passing of the Act and the issue of the proclamation bringing it into operation, the twopenny rate of postage continued to prevail in New South Wales, and the people of that State thus contributed to the Treasury of the Commonwealth about . £13,000 per month which they had no right to be called upon to contribute. Realizing this injustice, I believe the Treasurer of New South Wales made some representations to the Commonwealth, but that no refund has yet been made. I hope that this money, forced unjustly from the people of New South Wales, will be refunded to the State Treasury, but evenhanded justice is not a strong point with the Fisher Government. There are several other matters to which I propose to refer when the Budget is under consideration. One of these, that of the muddle in the Postmaster-General’s Department, I should be justified in drawing attention to at this stage, but as the hour is somewhat late, I shall reserve to myself the right to deal with it on a future occasion. Before I close I feel bound to say that we ought to do something to express our appreciation of the generous and unbounded hospitality extended to the delegates to the Imperial Conferencp and to the Coronation celebrations by the King and Queen, the Government, the members’ of the British Parliament, and the people of the United Kingdom. They left nothing undone that would minister to the enjoyment and comfort of the delegation or to impress upon their minds the good feeling that prevailed in British political, commercial, and social circles regarding the people of Australia. The most kindly sentiments were expressed, and I feel sure that a great deal of good will result from the visit. 1 hope that the Government will submit some motion expressing appreciation of all that was done, in order to make the visit of the Australian delegates successful.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire, by leave, to move that the message from the Senate regarding the Lighthouses Bill be now taken into consideration.
– New business can be taken after 11 p.m. only by the consent of the House.
Motions (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to with concurrence -
That the request of the Senate, contained in its Message No. 2, for the resumption by the House of the consideration of the Lighthouses Bill, be complied with, and that a Message be transmitted to the Senate acquainting it therewith.
That the second reading of the Bill (the stage which the Bill had reached last Session) be made an Order of the Day for the next sitting.
– I desire leave to move the notices of motion standing in my name.
– The honorable member cannot move any of the motions without the consent of the House. Do I understand that that consent has been given?
– We cannot get on with any business at the next sitting unless the consent of the House is given. I desire leave to move the motion relating to the hours of business.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister have leave to move notice of motion No.1?
– I object.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn. 1 regret that we are not allowed to get on with the ordinary business.
– It is absolutely unprecedented.
– Had not the honorable member better begin the session without these mock heroics?
– I regret it, but one can say no more. These motions are generally regarded as formal.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.47a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 September 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19110919_reps_4_60/>.