4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
-A subpoena wasyes- terday served on the Clerk, requiring him to attend on the 27th instantatthe Court of Petty Sessions, Melbourne, in connexion with an information filed against Robert Murray Smith, and others, for permitting the publication in a newspaper which they own of an unsigned article contrary to the Electoral Act, and to produce the writ issued on the 6th May for the election of a member to serve for the division of Werriwa, and the letter from the Chief Electoral Officer to me, dated 12th June. If honorable members do not object, the Clerk, or his representative, will attend and produce the documents required.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a Message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending an appropriation for the purposes of the Bill.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations -
Labour and Industrial Statistics (Agents and Correspondents) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 116.
Quarterly Returns of House Rents by House Agents (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 118.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Statutory Rules 1911, No. 204.
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 53.
Customs Act - Proclamation prohibiting the ex portation of leather, &c., when for human wear, containing barium.
Defence Act - Military Forces - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 111.
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 112.
Financial and Allowance Regulations
Amended(Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No.110.
Excise Act - Regulation Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 5.
Naval Defence Act - Naval Forces - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 108.
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 109.
Papua - Ordinance of 1912 - No. 2 - Supplemen tary Appropriation 1911-1912, No. 2.
Public Service Act -
Appointment of W. H. Vincent as Assistant Engineer (Electrical), Class D, Public Works Branch, Department of Home Affairs, Central Staff.
New Regulation(Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 117.
Department of External Affairs - Promotions of -
A. Carrodus as Clerk, 4th Class.
C. Elvins to new position of 4th Class Clerk.
L. Smallhorn to new position of 3rd Class Clerk, Northern Territory Branch.
Quarantine Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 105.
– I wish to know if the Prime Minister has any communication to make to the House in reference to the hitch in the negotiations with the Government of South Australia in connexion with the granting of land for the proposed transcontinental railway.
Mr.FISHER. - The information we have supports the supposition that an amicable arrangement will be arrived at, but I cannot, while the amendment on the AddressinReply remains undisposed of, answer questions relating to policy.
Debate resumed from 21st June(vide page 107), on motion by Mr. Bennett -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
Upon which Mr. Deakin had moved -
That the followi ng words be added to the Address : - “ and to inform Your Excellency that the Government merits the censure of the House and the country for its failure to realize its national and constitutional obligations, for flagrant neglect of its duty to secure industrial peace and good order, and to uphold the law within the Commonwealth ; for its maladministration of public affairs and public departments ; for its grossly partisan actions and appointments, and its reckless irresponsibility in the financial affairs of the Commonwealth.”
– The very lengthy speech made by the Leader of the Opposition on- Friday in moving his amendment prevented me from having more than a few minutes in which to reply to him then. The most remarkable thing about his speech was the absence of statements in support of the charges made by the amend-, ment. The honorable and learned member has been longer in prominent political positions and in office than any other member of this Chamber, and it could not have been from mere inadvertence that he failed to deal with the charges made in the amendment. What his. motives are it is not for me to determine, but his action has placed me, as Prime Minister, in a difficultyin which an opponent with ordinary courtesy would not have placed me. We have been told that we shall hear enoughabout our financial unfitness, and the press has reiterated its declarations about our extravagance so often that its writers are beginning to believe that they are true, although they have not had the courage to make charges to which replies could be furnished.
– I should have needed a week to state all my charges against the Government.
– Then the honorable and learned member -should have taken a week. We would gladly offer him another day before replying, our desire being that the fullest light shall be thrown on our administration. His position and his abilities demand some reply. I shall commence by dealing with his statement that we made provision tor a Commonwealth Savings Bank in order to embarrass and injure the States by taking business from their savings banks. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has characterized the gentle man whom we have appointed Governor of the Commonwealth Bank as not a first-class hanker, a remark which I very much regret.
– He said that he did not stand in the firstrank of bankers in Australia.
– In any case it seems unfair to criticise the appointment, seeing that the appointee is the only one this Government has made who is not an ex-Labour man.
– That statement is as far from the truth as any could be. The name of the gentleman appointed to the important office is Denison Samuel King Miller, who was born on the 8th March,1860, at Fairy Meadow, near Wollongong, in New South Wales. On the 19th August, 1876, he was a probationer in the Bank of New South Wales, at Deniliquin ; on the 1st April, 1882, he was a clerk at the head office, in Sydney ; on the 27th August, 1895, he was an accountant at the head office; on the 28th November, 1900, he was assistant to the general manager; on the 1st January, 1907, he was general manager’s inspector; on the 1st January, 1909, he was metropolitan inspector, and on the 1st June, 1912, he became Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. That, I think, will speak for itself, regarding the standing of the gentleman who occupies this high position.
– Yes ; but what does the honorable member’s statement prove?
– The charge which was made regarding the Commonwealth Bank by the Leader of the Opposition had reference, not so much to the question of the bank itself, as to the question of the Savings Bank management, and the action of the Government in regard to it. What was our action regarding the Savings Bank proposal ? We stated, as a matter of policy, as we have always told the people from the platform, that a Commonwealth Bank, without a Savings Bank, would be an anomaly. When both banks were provided for in the one measure a discussion arose in this House and I stated, on behalf of the Government, that we were ready to co operate with the States then, and at any future time. As an earnest of what we proposed to do I stated that we had an open; door. We were prepared to take them into partnership ; we said that in proportion to the capital they subscribed they should share in the profits, and all that we asked for that would be that they should do their banking business with the Commonwealth Bank as far as practicable.
– We proposed to giveto the States exactly the same importance in the management as the Commonwealth Government itself would have, neither more nor less.
– The final decision?
– That matter has been placed absolutely outside of political control. That is the policy of the Government, and we could not allow any party to come into an arrangement of the kind with greater power than we have had ourselves and interfere.
– Why did you not consult the States before you passed the measure ?
– Does the honorable member say now that the appointee of a State was to have equal power with the Governor of the bank ?
– No, not at any time.
– That is a contradiction of what the honorable member has just said.
– The honorable member should restrain himself.
– There is no restraining about the matter.
-I am rather favorable to interjections, because we desire to be attacked wherever we can be attacked. The Government passed an Act making the control of the Commonwealth Bank absolutely free from political interference. We could not allow the State Governments to have larger powers than those possessed by the Commonwealth Parliament and Government under the Act. Therefore we did not propose that the States should have control, although we went so far as to suggest that there might be boards of discussion which could advise, with the power left in the hands of the Governor to veto their proposals if he thought it desirable.
– Hear, hear ! That is the point. Then they were not to have an equal voice in the management?
– The proposal made to the Premiers’ Conference in Melbourne was concise, and, I think, easily understood. It was submitted in these words -
The States to become partners with the Commonwealth in the Commonwealth Bank -
by supplying portion of the capital, not exceeding one half ;
by each State becoming responsible for the liabilities of the Bank in proportion to the capital subscribed by it;
byeach State sharing the profits in proportion to capital subscribed by it.
Each State to use the Bank as far as practicable as its banker.
The Commonwealth Bank to take over the Savings Bank of each State, whether Government or Trustee, as a going concern.
After the Commonwealth Bank has taken over the business of the State Savings Bank, the State Government to have first call on any amount which it repays to the Savings Bank in redemption of loans existing when the Bank was taken over; also, to have first call on threequarters of the amount of deposits in the State available for investment.
Yet, after that proposal being submitted to the Premiers, we have the Leader of the Opposition stating that the States have been dealt with unfairly so far as the Savings Banks are concerned.
– For how long was that to be - for one year or for ten years?
– For all time.
– That means for no time.
– The way in which the honorable member reads his calendar is different from the way in which I do. “ All time “ meant as long as they wished to have it. They were to have it absolutely for as long as they wished to keep it. That was the proposal made to the States.
– But who offered this proposal for all time - this Government ?
– They did.
– Then there is political control in the management of this bank after all.
– Apparently the honorable member has been in dreamland. At that time there was no Governor of the bank appointed, and we were free to negotiate. We did negotiate, and the Government were condemned for taking too long in trying to make an arrangement. It was said, “ Why do you not appoint your Governor ; why do you not do this thing, that thing, and the other thing?” As soon as the Governor was appointed under the Act the Governor had command of this concern, and we were not free then, without coming to Parliament, to make an arrangement with the States. Unfortunately the States did not weigh the proposal which we submitted to them. In my opinion, the proposal was altogether too broad if you were dealing with it as a practical proposition ; so broad indeed that it gave to the States full control for all time of the Savings Bank money there was at the time. It gave them first call on 75 per cent. of the new money available for investment afterwards, and an equal chance with everybody else for the balance of the money available for investment. Could anything more generousthan that have been placed before the Premiers? Yet it was turned down as though it was an attempt on the part of the Commonwealth Government to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the State enterprises.
– Was not that offer submitted after the passing of the Act ?
– Yes. It was submitted to the Premiers’ Conference in January last in furtherance of a promise made in this House, clearly set out again and again, by myself ; and if there is any point in what the honorable member says, it is that we should have felt ourselves incapable of carrying that out.
– Likewise you should have conferred with the States before passing the Act.
– I am glad to be able to tell the House that all the State Governments were not against accepting these terms, but up to the time of the appointment of the Governor of the bank we were unable to bring about an agreement with them all, and there the matter stands.
– The Victorian Treasurer would not accept your terms if you gave him the lot.
– I cannot speak absolutely as to that, but there is every indication that the statement is correct, because the Victorian Government immediately gave us notice that they did not desire to continue the use of our post-office premises after a certain date. The Queensland Government followed suit, with the result that these Governments have absolutely freed us from any responsibility in the matter. I do not think that I need dwell any further on that point.
– The Commonwealth Government declined their alternative offer.
– What was their alternative offer ?
– The main article of it was -
That in consideration of the Commonwealth Bank refraining from entering into savings bank business, the States agree to provide on loan to the Commonwealth Bank, on terms to be arranged, a monthly amount equal to 25 per cent, of the increase in the excess of deposits over withdrawals in the States’ Savings Banks.
– Does the honorable gentleman approve of that?
– I ask the Prime Minister.
– We were unable to agree to that. I ask the honorable gentleman whether he approves of it.
– I should require to consider it.
– I pass now to another matter dealt with by the honorable gentleman. He referred to the failure of the Land Tax Act to give effect to the policy of this Government. Honorable gentlemen opposite, as honorable members will remember, told us that the land tax would bring in a revenue amounting to from ,£3,000,000 to ,£5,000,000. As a matter of fact, it brought in a revenue, of something less than £1,500,000. This year the estimated revenue from the land tax is even less than that amount, and that is a clear indication that it is having the effect we desire. Land is being cut up into smaller areas and, as we hoped, large estates are being broken up. I have a report from the Land Tax Commissioner, in which he says that in his opinion not less than £18,000,000 worth of land has been broken up and sold.
– Within nine months.
– Yes. There is a return showing that sales and purchases of taxable land had been effected between the 1st October, 1910, and 30th June, 1911, to a total value of ^18,188,293.
– Does that include sales of Irg city properties?
– It covers taxable land as I have just said.
– Will the honorable gentleman lay that return on the table, with a description of the land?
– Certainly, and we shall supply all other information asked for by honorable members during this debate if if is possible for us to do so.
– Is there any statement available as to the number of new settlers on the land?
– Obviously, the Land Tax Commissioner is not in posesssion of that information. That is quite another matter.
– Has the honorable gentleman any figures showing the subdivision of country lands?
– The figures I have given cover both city and country lands. I shall be prepared to give honorable members opposite all the information they ask for.
– The honorable gentleman has referred only to sales of land, and they are always going on.
– Exactly. I have already said so. The complaint made on the other side was that our legislation has had no such effect. The honorable member for Bourke informs me that he knows, not only of hundreds, but. he believes, of thousands, of estates that have been broken up as the result of our land tax legislation.
– Perhaps the honorable member will give the Prime Minister a list of those estates.
– Our honorable friends have contended that the Act did not operate at all in the way we said it would, and yet it is now estimated that the revenue from the tax will be reduced.
– The Land Tax Commissioner’s return shows the number of large estates has been reduced by 1,000, and that they have been broken up into 19,000 small farms.
– I hope that honorable members opposite were not disappointed because the Land Tax has been operative. I have stated some facts from a return I am hoping to get, and I shall lay it on the table immediately it comes into my hands.
– That is what we want.
– Does the honorable gentleman suggest that the Land Tax Commissioner would withhold any information ?
– No; but that what the honorable gentleman has quoted is almost irrelevant.
– Is the amount of the tax being reduced?
– It is estimated that the revenue to be derived from the tax this year will be less than it was last year. I pass from that matter to deal again very briefly with what was said about the Australian note issue. It is as well that honorable members should know how the money has been invested. The Australian Notes Act has been singularly successful, notwithstanding the opposition to it, and the fact that honorable members opposite suggested that it was dangerous legislation
– Who said so?
– It was suggested by the Opposition generally. The Opposition press, and some people who claimed to be financiers, have condemned it, and we are promised more of this condemnation. An honorable member sitting behind the right honorable member for Swan has promised to tell us more about the unsoundness of that legislation. The point I wish to emphasize is that the basic principle of our note-issue is that neither the banks nor private persons are asked to bring their gold to the Treasury and accept notes instead of it. If they prefer to have the notes they can bring their gold to the Treasury and get them, and if at any time they want gold they can bring their notes back to the Treasury and get gold for them. They have perfect freedom in the matter. It is true that the notes are legal tender as between person and person, except in the case of the Treasurer, who must pay in gold. There is, therefore, absolute security to all who hold our notes. We have to remember also the great convenience it is to have an Australian currency passing between State and State without any charge for exchange, and that it also provides for greater safety.
– What will the Treasurer do when the gold is exhausted?
– It cannot become exhausted, because, as the honorable member for Indi pointed out the other night, if half-a-dozen lorry-loads are taken away by the banks we can bring the gold back again by calling in our accounts and balances, which in many instances are at very short date. At any rate, the first forty lorries could be filled up.
– Supposing that eighty lorry loads were required?
– We would provide them with eighty lorries full of gold.
– But the Government have not got that quantity of gold.
– Oh, yes we have. The interjection of the honorable member has disclosed the crux of what he conceives to be a danger, namely, the probability that the banks and the people will all demand gold for their notes at the same time. I will not speak for the great financiers on the Opposition side of the House, but I will speak for the electors who vote for the Labour party, and I say that they will never be so insane. They have confidence in their own country, and in a principle which is sound, although it may be new to my honorable friends, and in no circumstances will they do what has been done in other places, make an unreasonable demand on the Treasury for the sake of precipitating a financial crisis. I go so far as to say what I recently said on the platform in the electorate of Werriwa, that the banks are too intelligent and too careful of their own interests to make a raid on the Treasury, because such an act would undoubtedly recoil upon themselves. But if they did make a disloyal attack on the Treasury we could meet it, and afterwards they would require to be dealt with as people should be dealt with who endeavoured to do an injury to the community. Then I would ask, “ Where has this money been invested?” It has been invested with! the banks themselves and with the States. When we hear the chatter - I ought not to say “ chatter “ perhaps- -
– Say “patter.”
– It has been said that we have taken moneys from the States which we are using for Commonwealth work. What have we done? In the first place we advanced New South Wales £1, 000,000 and Victoria £980,000. Western Australia received , £650,000, and Tasmania £500,000. Then by way of fixed deposit New South Wales received another £1,000,000; Queensland, £730,000; the banks in Melbourne, £200,000; the banks in Brisbane, £200,000 ; and the banks in Launceston, £25,000. The balance on current account is £19,215 4s. 6d., the total note issue being £9,494,043, against a gold reserve of £4,305,107.
– The banks were compelled to take those notes because they wouldbe liable to a 10 per cent. tax if they did not.
– I assure the honorable member that that is not so. The banks are liable to no tax at all.
– If they do not use Commonwealth notes, they must use their own notes, and if they use their own they are liable to a tax.
– This is a new phase of the subject. The honorable member says that each bank must have its own notes.
– No. I say that it must use either its own notes or Commonwealth notes, and if it uses its own notes it must pay a tax of 10 per cent.
– Then if a bank must use notes we provide it with the best paper currency that it can possibly have, and we provide an adequate supply.
– Besides, look at the money the Government are making out Of it.
– The point Which I wish to bring home to my honorable friends opposite is that we do not want the States’ Savings Banks to provide money for the Commonwealth. Why, we have returned to the States all the money that we have obtained from them.
– If they had not received that money from the Commonwealth they would have obtained it from somewhere else.
– The right honorable member is quite correct, and I will say this in compliment to him, that when circumstances demanded it in his own State at the time of the gold crisis, he did not hesitate to get money. But my point is that the States have obtained this money from the Commonwealth at a cheaper rate than they could have got it anywhere else. They secured it without commission charges. Some time ago an agent from the Queensland Government walked into the Treasury office, and it was arranged at once that he should have all the money that his State required. Is it not much better that the Commonwealth shall protect the States, whatever our political views may be-
– There is not enough cash in the country to permit of that.
– It is all the more to the credit of the Commonwealth Government that when the cash was scarce they advanced it to the States.
– The Government took it away from them in the first instance.
– Then from where did the Government get it?
– From the Australian public; from those intelligent citizens who recognised that they could use Australian notes more conveniently than they could carry gold. By that means we got a free loan, and were thus enabled to advance money to the States.
– The Government robbed Peter to pay Paul.
– No. I wish to show the right honorable member that what has been done has really escaped his attention. The quantity of Commonwealth notes now in circulation is more than double the quantity of private bank notes in circulation.
– Half of the notes held by the banks are not in use.
– By doubling the number of notes in circulation, a larger amount was made available for investment with the States, which were thus saved the necessity of paying interest abroad. As a result the Commonwealth was enabled to draw interest, and I may say that up till the end of June of the current year the net income from this source will probably be
– Does the Prime Minister think that the people of the Commonwealth are richer in consequence?
– I do. They are richer to the extent that that money is being used when it would otherwise be unused, and, further, a Commonwealth note offers them greater security than could any note issued by a private bank. The States had previously derived about £90,000 a year from the note issues of the private banks. Up to the 30th June of the year we shall have doubled that amount. Up to the end of June we shall have £180,000 net income, which is being reinvested, and is earning interest itself, as a double protection against the presentation of notes at any time.
– Is that £180,000 after paying all expenses ?
– Is that after deducting the £90,000 or £100,000 the States got before ?
– I have just explained the position to honorable members.
– Will the Prime Minister answer the question?
– This is the inconvenient point.
– The honorable member for Wilmot is a lawyer, but I have just explained to the House that there is £90,000 plus the £90,000 the States had when the private banks issued the notes.
– We are clearing £90,000, and not £180,000 - that is what the position is.
– Does the honorable member say that this money is not worth having? As to the note issue, we have been able to obtain beautiful Australian designs for the new notes. It is proposed to print the notes here before the beginning of the new year, and also to have a 10s. note, which, in my opinion, will add to the circulation by at least £1,000,000, and prove a great convenience, while bringing in an additional £30,000 or £35,000 annually to the Treasury.
– That will allow another £1,000,000 to be transferred to London.
– The honorable member is laying down a financial position which no financial authority here would approve. It is a worn-out fad that paper displaces gold; we are a gold exporting country because we produce more gold than we require.
– There has been an additional export of gold during the last twelve months.
– During the last twelve months there has been £7,000,000 increase in the export of gold.
– To listen to honorable members opposite, who speak, I presume, with financial authority, one would think that the note issue had disturbed the finances of the whole world. I have been told that the issue has increased the rates of interest here; but we all know that money is dearer everywhere. British Consols are now worth over £3 5s., and not very long ago the position was a great deal better.
– How much extra cost will be incurred when the notes are renewed ? Will £35,060 cover the expense ?
– Less than that. The expense of the first issue was heavier than we expected. We had to pay for the old notes, printing across which involved an additional charge. I should like honorable members to see the beautiful designs for the new notes.
– Shall we be given samples ?
– I think honorable members might be given samples, though I must warn them that the notes would be cancelled. The honorable member for Ballarat said that the Government had exercised a very delicate touch in the Governor-General’s Speech regarding the Inter- State Commission. I understood, more from the tone than from the actual words of the honorable member, that he would be interested to know what we had in our minds.
– Hear, hear !
– I am interested to know what was in the mind of the honorable member, as Prime Minister, when he four or five times mentioned this matter in the
Governor-General’s Speeches, for which he was more or less responsible. We looked for the reference to the appointment of an Inter- State Commission as we looked for reference to the Divine blessing ; but, nevertheless, nothing was done. That is not our way of doing business. Where we have power to give effect to policy, we do not mention matters in the Speech, unless we mean to give them serious attention ; and, the more so, when we find the honorable member for Wimmera tabling a motion, at the first sitting of the House, in favour of the appointment of a Commission to deal with irrigation and the Murray waters question, and indicating that an Inter-State Commission is desirable for the protection of the interests of Australia. I agree with the honorable member that there are very useful functions which I have always thought ought to be performed by an Inter-State Commission. This is a question demanding serious consideration ; and I am happy to be able to agree with the honorable member in something, namely, that the members of the Inter-State Commission ought to be men of unexceptional ability and experience. The honorable member for Ballarat was unfortunate in his references to t he construction of the Warrego in Australia.
– Has the Prime Minister finished with the question of the Inter-State Commission ?
– I think so.
– Is that all the Prime Minister has to say ? What are the purposes for which the Prime Minister proposes to use the Inter-State Commission?
– We have not yet proposed legislation for the Commission ; when we do, we shall declare our policy. I am now dealing with what the honorable member for Ballarat said. He desired to know whether we had anything in our minds, or whether the reference in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech was a mere placard; and I am now telling him that we do not put up placards where we have power to carry out our policy. The matter will receive consideration ; and when a Bill is brought down, honorable members will be made thoroughly acquainted with the policy of the Government. As I say, the honorable member for Ballarat was unfortunate in his reference to the construction of the Warrego. Who delayed the construction of the
– Hear hear; who did?
– Honorable members opposite, if anybody.
– In what way?
– If honorable members’ will turn their minds back to a period when there was a difference of opinion between the first Government of which I had the honour to be the head and honorable members opposite regarding the best method of defending Australia and the Empire, they will remember that orders were given for the construction of the River class of boats.
– The Prime Minister said nothing about the Empire in those days !
– It will be remembered that in consequence of public discussion, and of an arrangement made between the then Opposition and the party led by Mr. Deakin-
– And yourself; you were in it, you know.
– An arrangement was come to to form a party ; and as soon as the then Government met the House we were defeated on a motion submitted by, I think, the honorable member for Wentworth, with the consent, as I discovered later on, of the honorable member for Ballarat. This prevented me from making a statement of our policy on the floor of the House.
– The Prime Minister made a statement of his policy outside.
– When honorable members opposite came into office we had already given orders for the cruisers, two to be constructed abroad, and one to be sent out in parts and put together in Australia. Negotiations had been opened up with the Government of New South Wales - Mr. Wade was then Premier - and the Government were favorable, as were the Federal Government, to the Warrego being put together in Sydney. From the time honorable members opposite came into office, on, I think, the 2nd June, until the 26th January, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Wade probed them again and again in his desire to know whether anything was to be done in the way of constructing the boat, not a single official communication passed from the Federal Government to him.
– But did that delay the boat ? The boat to be put together was not here when I left office.
– And whose fault was that?
– I should say that it was the fault of the people who ordered the boat.
– The honorable member was Minister of Defence for eight months, and he made no arrangement during that time with the Premier of his own State, who was on his own side of politics.
– There was absolutely no reason to do so.
– Preparations were necessary; but the honorable member allowed those eight months to pass without giving an opportunity to the State to make the necessary provision to expedite the construction of the Warrego in Australia. And these are the people who talk about delay ! The charge is made against this Government that we delayed the construction of the vessel. Any one would think, hearing honorable members opposite, that we had delayed the work and sent the order to another country. But, as a matter of fact, the parts were brought here as soon as they possibly could be, and the work was at once handed over to the New South Wales Government. We assisted that Government in every possible way in accelerating the construction of the vessel, even to the extent of incurring serious criticism for our partiality towards the State of New South Wales. We were anxious that the vessel should be put together in Australia; and I am satisfied that, after the example we have set, larger vessels will be constructed in this country in the near future. Surely it comes ill and unfortunately from honorable members opposite to speak about delaying the construction 1 The delay which occurred was something which the State had a right to regret, and which we regretted ; but I am happy to be able to say that the vessel has now been certified as being one of the very best. If there has been a little delay, we have, at any rate, initiated the construction of warships in Australia, and this has resulted in an order for a larger boat being given. This policy will be developed later on. We initiated the policy, and I am satisfied it is one which will be continued long after we are no more.
– The honorable member has not answered or referred to any point that I made in that regard. He never mentioned it.
– He never does ! .
– He has smothered up the issue!
– What was the point?
– When the work was placed in the hands of the contractors for execution, it made such slow progress that actually a Committee had to be appointed to inquire into it; and that Committee brought up a condemnatory report as to the whole character of the dock. That is the point that I raised.
– I speak from memory when I answer that question. My recollection is that there was some oversight in the construction which delayed the work, but that the report to which the honorable member refers was subsequent to the Warrego being launched.
– That is a matter of fact which can be determined later. The honorable member for Ballarat was unfortunate in dealing with the redistribution of seats when he referred to Victoria. I think he was unfortunate for two reasons. First, it is unwise to suggest that our statistics are incorrect, or cannot be relied upon.
– I dealt with the influx of population.
– No one knows better than the honorable member that there is a legal way of determining what the population of Australia is.
– Very well, then. The honorable member was also unfortunate in another sense, because it appeared in the press that he had stated that the Commissioners appointed were not duly qualified, or did not exercise proper judgment in the redistribution. Indeed, the statement that I saw in the press as having been made by the honorable member went a great deal further than that. I mentioned this matter by way of interjection on Friday, not because there was any advantage to myself in doing so, but because I thought it advisable that the point should be cleared up. I interjected in order to give the honorable member an opportunity to say, if he chose, that he did not allege any bias in regard to the gentlemen chosen to redistribute the electorates in Victoria. Undoubtedly, as I read the press report of his speech, he left such an impression on my mind. That, however, is at an end now.
– No; the matter has to come before this House with a scheme of redistribution, and then we can deal with that point.
– It is only fair that the House should know whether the honorable member had in his mind any thought that the gentlemen appointed were either incompetent to deal with the question, or worse.
– Their personal honour was not involved ?
– I am glad to hear that. The honorable member’s statement clears up a matter which I am very glad to have cleared up.
– It clears up that side of the matter, but the other side has yet to come before the House.
– As long as the question of personal honour is put on one side we can deal with the general question as we like. The one point in the honorable member’s speech to which he returned again and again was what he called “ industrial unrest “ Undoubtedly he made the most of it, and no one can object to that. The honorable member has a favorite phrase, which I have had the pleasure of hearing him repeat, and have read in his speches, frequently. He speaks of this as “ The one question.” There is always “ one question “ with him. His “ one question “ is the Northern Territory to-day, it is defence the next day, it may be industrial unrest the day after. On Friday last the “ one question “ was industrial unrest.
– Hear, hear. It is going to be, too.
– The honorable member went on to say that industrial unrest in Australia was greater than in any other part of the world.
– More strikes.
– Yes; more strikes. I am glad to say, however, that that is not a fact. I do not think that the industrial unrest as regards strikes in Australia shows as high a percentage as in other countries. Indeed, I am sure that it does not. I am absolutely certain of it.
– Does the right honorable gentleman think it ought to be so?
– With our improved conditions and better wages?
– No, sir, I do not think so ; and had it not been for the Opposition, the trouble would not have been as great as it has been. Honorable members opposite laugh, but I will prove my statement. It is not an idle assertion that I am making.
– It is a humorous one !
– What has caused these great strikes in our midst?
– Turning to the Hansard proof, I see that my statement was that we have had a greater measure of industrial unrest than we have ever before known in the history of Australia - and more strikes than at any other period of our history.
– I wish ‘to quote accurately what the honorable member said. I made the statement just now that the Opposition are mainly responsible for the strikes that have taken place lately. I ask honorable members, as I shall ask the public, what have been the main causes of those troubles? The main cause has been, Mr.. Speaker, that those people who felt that they had grievances desired to go to the one Court that has been able to settle industrial disputes in Australia. The party opposite, when they had the opportunity to give the people engaged in industrial disputes free access to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court of the Commonwealth, denied them that access in Parliament, and also in the country, at the referendum. They led the people of the country to believe that if they did not keep up a barrier between the workers and the Conciliation and Arbitration Court presided over by Mr. Justice Higgins their position would be endangered, and the country would run riot. Go back to the Broken Hill strike - a strike that caused great turmoil and apprehension. It continued until an InterState dispute occurred by the action of the Port Pirie workers. It was the best thing possible for Australia that an InterState dispute was able to be declared, which could go before the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. There was a strike that threatened to cause an industrial struggle in Australia that would have been remembered as long as the maritime strike or the shearers’ strike, but when it reached the Arbitration Court it was settled, and settled permanently, within a week. What happened in New South Wales in connexion with the great coal strike? I spent a good deal of my time in the effort to get an Inter-State dispute, and if an Inter-State dispute had actually arisen during the first week of that great struggle in the coal mining industry, the trouble would not have lasted another week. We could not, however, have an Inter- State dispute declared within the meaning of the law. with the result that that great industrial upheaval had to go on month after month, causing great loss to the State and much misery and suffering to the people concerned. All this happened because of the artificial barrier raised between the two Constitutions, which rendered it impossible for the people involved in an industrial dispute to gain direct access to the Court appointed by law to inquire into such matters.
– Why did they not go to their own State Court?
– They went to it, but it could not settle the trouble. Again and again cases that have been carried without success to a State Arbitration Court have been permanently settled by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– The Conciliation and Arbitration Court-
– I have repeatedly called the honorable member for Echuca to order, and I have again to do so.
– Is it not remarkable that there is not one case which on being taken to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court has not been settled permanently ?
– In one way.
– Peacefully and permanently.
– What does the right honorable member mean by “ permanently “ ?
– For the term of the award. I ask the honorable member, who has held office as Attorney-General, what more we could have? I am quoting the language of the Court.
– Order ! I name the honorable member for Echuca for using insulting language to the Chair.
– I trust that the honorable member will apologize if he has said anything offensive to Mr. Speaker.
– What did he say?
– I do not think Mr. Speaker is called upon to state the word* used by the honorable member. He has the command of the House, and I must uphold his command. I hope that the honorable member for Echuca will at once withdraw the words used.
– I certainly withdraw any statement I have made which is a reflection on the Chair.
– In the circumstances I require something more than a mere withdrawal of the remark. The honorable member must apologize.
– What was said, Mr. Speaker? No one knows what has happened’.
– Owing to the continuous interruptions, it was necessary for me a minute or two ago, in the exercise of my duty, to call upon the honorable member for Echuca, by name, to refrain from interjecting. The honorable member immediately left his place in the House, and offered some very insulting remarks to me. I am in an unfortunate position, since, as I am not on the floor of the House, I cannot defend myself. If I had been, I should probably have taken a different course. In the circumstances, I adopted the only procedure open to me to defend my position, and that was the naming of the honorable member. If he desires to apologize for what he said, the matter may be regarded as at an end.
Mr. Palmer. - I certainly offer an apology, Mr. Speaker, for any remark I have made that is offensive to you. When you called upon me to. cease interjecting two or three minutes ago, I understood you to say that you had frequently called me to order. If you have done so, I must offer a double apology, because I certainly never heard you call upon me, save on the one occasion.
– When interrupted, I was dealing with the charge that the Opposition were mainly responsible for industrial troubles owing to their political efforts to try. to prevent access to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. I shall not labour that point further, save to venture the opinion that as soon as all parties have direct access to that Court, we shall hear much less of industrial disputes. The Leader of the Opposition suggested profitsharing ‘as the remedy for industrial trouble. The suggestion is as old as the hills. Profit-sharing has been tried again and again. I spent my early youth in a centre of population where the experiment was often made, but it is not a remedy for the immediate trouble. I would remind the House that profit-sharing, as a system, can be carried to any length, and that it might be carried to such an extent as to be described by some people as Socialism. Everything depends upon the extent to which the honorable member would go ; but I think he is safe in putting forward such a proposition. Community of interest - each and every’ person engaged in an industry having a share of the profit in that industry - is undoubtedly something like an ideal system of social government. No one could complain of that.
– Does the right honorable member’s party approve of profit-sharing?
– Certainly. Their complaint is generally that the workers do not get a sufficient share of the profits of an industry. The Leader of the Opposition was also unfortunate in leaving that high ideal to quote -and re-quote - to iterate and reiterate - statements that during the Brisbane strike dynamite was found on the tram lines, and elsewhere, and that it was little short of providential that people were not injured and property damaged. I presume that the honorable member fathers those statements.
– I quoted them from an official return.
– For what purpose? Did not the honorable member desire to insinuate that dynamite was laid on the tram lines, and elsewhere, by strikers?
– I said that the strikers were responsible only so far as they sought to govern the city and the country, which they were not entitled to do..
– The suggestion was that some of the 26,000 artisans and others who left their employment in connexion with this strike laid dynamite on the tram lines with a’ view of doing injury.
– Absolutely no.
– I. am glad to have that denial. It seemed to me that the suggestion was that this dynamite was laid by strikers with a view of damaging the property of the tramway company.
– That they were blackguards and murderers.
– The other “crowd” would do the same thing.
– I ask the honorable member for Dalley and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to cease interjecting.
– This is a very serious matter, and should not be lightly passed over. The Leader of the Opposition made this charge against men whose company I would choose amongst the best in this or any other country. I have laboured with them, associated with them, and lived with them. I know what they are, and what they are worth to a country. That they came through a great struggle peacefully is a great honour to them, and to their friends. That there was not a single case of the fire-stick being used is marvellous. It shows the control they must have had over every one of their followers who might have been weak. I believe that the only building destroyed by fire during the strike was the co-operative store at Bundamba, which belonged to the unionists. No one would charge the capitalists with having burned down that store, but when dynamite was found on the tram lines the matter was treated differently. I draw attention to the fact that it was always discovered in time to prevent anything happening. The honorable member for Ballarat possesses an analysis of the material that was discovered. I am not concerned with whether it was dynamite, gelignite, or some other explosive, and do not challenge the analysis of Mr. Henderson. We are all delighted that nothing happened ; but is it to be thought that if the men who placed the explosive in position had meant anything to happen they would have failed? My honorable friend may put his statement into Hansard to malign the industrial classes of Australia, but that will not work.
– Read exactly what I said.
– As I do not wish to create a wrong impression, and have not read the report of the speech, I shall read from the corrected report the passage indicated to me by the honorable member. Referring to the matter upon which . I am speaking, he said -
That justifies no deduction that these outrages were attempted by persons connected with the strike, or that they were committed with their knowledge, but you must realize that in every city of any size you will find, not only a certain number of criminals who seize any opportunity which a disturbance presents, but also a number of unbalanced people who in times of seething excitement, processions, marches, and so on, identify themselves with a cause with which previously they may not have had anything to do, and act without authority, under the impulse of the excitement generated. You have to recognise the fact, just as you must recognise that in a city full of wooden houses there is always the danger of a conflagration.
– The Prime Minister cannot get anything out of that.
– I am quite willing that my remarks shall be qualified by the state ment which I have read; but even that statement attributes to the action of the unionists the excitement that prevailed. What about the action of the Government of Queensland?
– The Government of Queensland was keeping order. That is what a Government is for.
– Before the demand was made for military assistance, the Government of Queensland had arranged to swear in special constables, although it is universally admitted that the unionists had done all in their power to prevent unlawful acts. I was not in Brisbane at the time, though my opinion is that, had the Government shown wit regarding the young men who in the early days of the strike went round the shops, it could have dealt with the situation at once. But that is another matter. The unionists were law-abiding to the last degree, and the city most peaceful. The police record shows that while the strike lasted serious assaults were being committed in Melbourne - here, there, and everywhere ; but there is no such record for Brisbane.
– The honorable member for Corangamite suggested that the outrages were due to immigrants.
– I do not think that he made that statement, and I believe that he denied the allegation. I advise my honorable friend to read what a New South Wales Judge stated the other day on the subject. The honorable member for Ballarat complains that I dealt differently with two telegrams asking for the assistance of the military. That is so. One of the telegrams was official, and the other was not. Was I to be expected to treat in the same way telegrams from the Government of the State and from Mr. Coyne?
– Having told one party the Commonwealth Government would not interfere, there was no reason why the same thing should not have been said to the other.
– We considered very carefully the request of the Government of Queensland. Many persons held that it was mandatory on us to grant that application, but I took another view, and I am. delighted that the honorable member for Ballarat, who has been Attorney-General, and was a member of the conventions that framed the Constitution, supports it, holding that the responsibility is with the Commonwealth Government to say whether a case is one for the granting of military aid. We came to the conclusion that there was no occasion for the granting of military aid. I admit that, as the honorable member has pointed out, we were fortunate in the after-event, but we had t’o deal with the application in the light of the then known facts. I knew the people of Queensland, and I am glad to say my faith in them was not misplaced. A great deal has been said about my; being in favour of strikes, but I have never been so. I have often participated in strikes, even when very young ; but I do not wish to enter into personal matters, and I hope that I conducted myself as a man would in like circumstances. In the period from 1890 to 1893 the talk in the labour movement was : “ Let things come to their very worst and then they will mend.” I have never agreed with that view, and never will do so. “ Hold on to every advantage you have gained and climb a little higher,” is my motto. That is the view which I have contended for from the very first. Those who remember the 1890 strike will recollect about the military. We want to forget the incident. I do not want to arouse passion. My honorable friends remember the Broken Hill strike, too, when the leaders were arrested and put in prison. They remember the 1891 strike in Queensland, the one which was referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, and made the subject of an interjection by the honorable member for Fawkner. I am fairly well acquainted with that strike. The honorable member for Maranoa is the only member present who is more intimately acquainted with the strike than I am. There the military were used, too, in my opinion in a most unfortunate way. What were the men fighting for then? The issue was brought down to the simple question . of freedom of contract, as it was called. What were the conditions of the shearers at that time? They had not living places equal to a decent pig-stye’. Their food and conditions were such that no respectable civilized people would have tolerated them if known.
– The horses were better housed than were the men.
– I have seen the places. The men preferred to sleep out of them rather than in them. THe consideration with the masters was, “What can we get out of the men?” The full demands that the employers could get out of the men they took out of them. At that time I think that the highest rate paid was 17s. 6d. per hundred, and the conditions were almost as bad as they were in the early stages depicted by the honorable member for Darling. The fight was practically free from crime, with few exceptions, and very bad exceptions too. During the early days there were allegations of murders, attempted murders, poisoning of water tanks with arsenic, the tying up of an old lady and an old man to a tree, going over towards Warrego run, committing an outrage and leaving them. There was the poisoning of a militiaman who, I knew, came from our own place - I refer to what is called the “ poisoned apple case.” The unfortunate fellow, whenever he took a certain kind of drink associated with some fruit, always had the appearance of having been poisoned with strychnine. The whole country flared with the allegation that the shearers were poisoning by strychnine. Happily, I knew the medical man who attended the sufferer, and whose name I can give, and when we inquired, he said, “Oh, strychnine poisoning? It is nothing of the kind. He has been drinking so-and-so.” It was absolutely the case. Happily, there was a medical man from the same town in that district, and immediately he examined the man the talk about the poisoning of tank water ended. It was lucky for the shearers that they got a sample of that water. It was analyzed, and what did the analysis show ? It showed that there was more strychnine in the sample than the water in the bottle would absorb. Was not that case very badly managed too? They should have taken care not to put so much strychnine in the bottle. What could arouse the passions of the people ‘ more than a thing of that kind ? In my opinion the analyst suffered because of that true statement. He did not remain long in office after it was made.
– What about the alteration of the police report?
– I am coming to that matter, in which the honorable member for Darling Downs may interest himself, and which occurred later. In 1894, when there was a fight for better conditions, what happened? The shearers maintained that the things reported did’ not take place, although some cases of shed burning, which I deplored, and which everybody must condemn, occurred. A Peace Preservation Act was passed, and special con- stables were sent out. When the Commissioner of Police sent in his report on the matter the Colonial Secretary altered the report before it was submitted to Parliament, and made it read in accordance with the Government policy, and not in accordance with the facts recorded by the Commissioner. Owing to a little family quarrel we were able to get wind of this alteration, and demanded to see the original report. In the Votes and Proceedings of the Queensland Assembly for 1895 honorable members can see, shall I say, the expurgated copy, and the report which was submitted by the Commissioner, and which put the matter much more in favour of the shearers, strikers, and those accused of crime, than did the report presented to Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition speaks of the people who are influenced. Does he suggest that a Minister sitting in his office would be influenced by causes like that? There are two kinds of criminals. Both cream and scum come to the top, and you have to know which is which. I rely on the good sense of the people generally of Australia. I must get back to my statement regarding strikes. In 1894 I submitted to the Queensland Assembly a motion to this effect -
That the time had arrived when steps should be taken to prevent the constant recurrence of industrial disputes in the shape of industrial legislation.
That was not a new idea with me. But it was the first official statement which was made. My motion was seconded unexpectedly by the Premier, and carried unanimously. Holding these views, and having that evidence, I need not enlarge further on this matter. My efforts have always been directed towards establishing Courts to deal with industrial troubles, as with others. Honorable members in this Parliament know that not only did I hold strong views regarding the settlement of disputes between private employers and employes, but at one of the very first opportunities which offered for amending the Arbitration Act here, I was in favour of including Government employes as well as private employes within its operation, because I believe that our civilization, advancement, and security can be better promoted in that way than by any other method I know of. It is for that reason I regret the attempt to make this an issue now, or at the next election. I welcome it, but that is, ofcourse, another matter. I would ask whether the Leader of the Opposition, or his colleague, the honorable member for Parramatta, remembers an instance that occurred in New South Wales in the early days of Federation, when a strike by the New South Wales Government took place in connexion with some wire-netting. At that time our law was absolutely defied, but Sir Edmund Barton, the then Prime Minister, in the largeness of his mind, regarded it as a paltry little matter, and felt that the State Government might be left to get over their little pettiness.
– If I remember rightly, some of the honorable gentleman’s party badly wanted the Prime Minister of the day to turn out the soldiers to deal with that strike.
– I did not ; and I briefly told my reason on Friday for objecting to make use of soldiers at all in dealing with such a matter. I have said that if the soldiers had Been brought into the difficulty at Brisbane when the request for their assistance was made, it would have meant an end to our defence system for twenty years to come. That is my honest opinion as to what the effect of complying with the request made at that time would have been ; but that is not saying that the law should not be preserved. It merely goes to show how much care should be taken in dealing with such a matter. On the question of what soldiers can do, the Leader of the Opposition told us that the mere appearance of the soldiers on the scene in Brisbane would, have quelled the whole disturbance. I do not agree with the honorable gentleman. I believe that it would have caused disaster as surely as that I stand here. Let us consider the difference in this connexion between a policeman and a soldier. A policeman is able to go up to a person, talk to him, and persuade him to go home, and conduct himself like a good fellow. But what is the position of the soldier when the Riot Act is read? He must fire, and fire to kill. That is the business of the soldier. He cannot go up to a man, and say, “ You are doing wrong; you must go home; you should not stand there.” The soldier must take his orders from his superior officer. On the contrary, the trained policeman has a power which was described in better terms by the late Sir Charles Lilley, when Chief Justice of Queensland, than by any other person I have heard refer to the matter. A gentleman took exception to his arrest by a policeman because he was not the person who ought to have been arrested, and the then Chief Justice of Queensland said to the person who made the complaint, “ If I were coming to the Supreme Court, and were asked by a policeman to go to the police office with him, it would be my bounden duty to go, because in that capacity the individual policeman is greater than the Chief Justice.” This is a wonderful power possessed by the police, and where it is well exercised, the policeman is one of the most useful members of the community. It is for this reason I contend that the military should never be brought into conflict with the citizen in matters of general civic government. The resort to the military can only be justified in the case of a revolution or something akin to it, and when it is clearly necessary to prevent the destruction of life and property.
– What the honorable gentleman has said is not what the Broken Hill strikers said about the police.
– I am speaking for myself at the present time. 1 am accused of backing up strikes. I have said, as regards the Brisbane strike, that it was wonderful that the men were able to restrain themselves as they did during that strike. I have told honorable members that they desired that their case should go to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and if they could have got there, there would have been no strike.
– But they were there.
– Yes, they were.
– Honorable gentlemen mean that their claim was in the “ plaint,” as they call it.
– But before that plaint was considered by the Court the Tramway Company had determined to dismiss every man who wore a badge, and every prominent unionist.
– Supposing that were true, what has it to do with the matter? There was the case to be heard, and they would have had to obey the Court.
– They have not obeyed the Court.
– I shall leave the legal question to legal gentlemen. Here is the position : Some of the tramway employes were members of a union. The manager had a union of his own that was really no union. He would not have a unionist at all ; he did not deny it. He would have nothing to do with a union at any time, and did not want it. I am in the happy position of being able to quote the exact words reported to have been used in London by a gentleman who was speaking for the Tramway Company, and knew their views. He tells us exactly what he thought of the matter. The honorable member for’ Ballarat, in his best efforts, spoke highly of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– Hear, hear !
– The gentleman to whom I refer does not think as highly of the Act as does the honorable member.
– Still I hold to my opinion.
– No doubt the honorable gentleman does. This gentleman says that immediately they discovered that some of the men wanted to wear a badge, they were put off the tram; not because there was any fault to be found with them, but because they were prepared to break a regulation of the company. Was it not the duty of the Tramway Company to permit the wearing of a simple badge by their employes until the matter was settled by the Court, rather than to dismiss them first, and so prejudice the case before it got to the Court? This was especially their duty, in view of the fact that the men were told on high legal authority that they had every right, as citizens, to wear the badge. But each man, as he came along with a badge, was brushed aside. They were put off the trams, and the company used their students to run the trams. They did without the unionists. Then we are calmly asked, as honest citizens of Australia, to believe that this was a conspiracy on behalf of the unions. It was, on the contrary, a demonstration of manly feeling for the protection of their fellow men. The unionists were determined that no kind of tyranny would be allowed to disgrace a free community like this. Dealing with what was said in London, I make the following quotation from a document which has come to hand : -
At the eleventh annual meeting of the Brisbane Electric Tramways Investment Co. Ltd., held in London on 21st May, the chairman, Mr. H. R. Keeton, said that since the opening of the current year they had suffered from a strike which had seriously affected the company, vitally concerned the Commonwealth of Australia, and had interested the world at large. Under the laws of Queensland the wages, hours, and conditions of labour were settled under the Wages Board Act 1908, and under the operation of that law the company and its employees were perfectly satisfied, and the coal- pany had voluntarily, without any pressure, actually conceded an advance on the terms which had been settled by the tribunal under that Act. Indeed, it was no exaggeration to say that the company’s employees were as contented as any body of tramway men in Australia. However, an Act had been passed, entitled the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which constituted a Court for the same purpose as the State Wages Board, but consisting of one Judge, who was bound by no rules of evidence, was entitled to refuse legal assistance to either party, and had jurisdiction in all industrial disputes, and against whose award there was no appeal.
The speaker impugned the very Court which was brought into operation by the honorable member, and suggested that it was called into existence after Wages Boards had been created in Queensland in 1908. Then he proceeded to give a hisrory of the strike.
Shortly afterwards agitators were sent up from Melbourne, and extraordinary demands were embodied in a plaint which was forthwith presented for determination. Without, however, waiting for a decision of the Court the agitators resolved to provoke a strike, and to this end they resolved on 18th January that the members of the Federal Union in the company’s employment should wear union badges, in violation of a regulation of a company. The recalcitrants were interviewed by Mr. Badger, and, as they insisted on their right to wear the badge, they were not allowed to board the cars. By availing themselves of the services of students who were under instruction for drivers, they were able to continue a reduced service. The company’s depots and offices were picketed, but, assisted by the constant presence of the police, general quiet was preserved. .But, four days later - on 30th January - a general strike of all trades was declared, and the industrial crisis which followed was the worst in the history of Brisbane, if not in that of Australia; practically all business was shut down and brought to a standstill. In these circumstances it redounded greatly to the credit of the general manager that, in spite of three futile attempts to blow up cars, no depredations on the company’s properly were committed and no injury to workmen ensued. The chairman then proceeded to give an account of the strike, and remarked that, although the company had suffered severely in traffic and expenses, they had been sustained by the approval of the entire community, except the labour unions, and with the resumption of normal conditions, which already obtained, the board had hopes of recovering in the course of the year a large part of the loss which had been sustained.
There the position is set out in polite language. It is urged that when unionists claimed the right of citizens they were not dismissed, but “ were not allowed to board the cars.” That is the official statement of the London chairman of that company. Surely he is not prejudiced in favour of the men. In the face of that statement, and in the face of this attack upon organized labour, what can be said by my honorable friends opposite? It was the declared policy of the Government of which the honorable member for Ballarat was the leader, as it was also the policy of the Queensland Government, that labour must be organized, otherwise the Conciliation and Arbitration Court would be absolutely worthless. Unless labour be organized it can make no progress whatever. But the Brisbane Tramway Company would have no organization of labour. It would employ only men who swore unqualified allegiance to it. I say that the day when such a state of things can exist has long passed. Men must be allowed to associate with their fellows for their united protection, and especially when we have to deal with combines, trusts, and monopolies. I was very nearly going to imitate the Leader of the Opposition in the methods which he employed on Friday last. I do not recollect ever seeing him thump the table of the House as he did upon that day when he was declaiming against delay in prosecuting the Coal Vend. But here is another combination which -has a great franchise, and one which it did not obtain with my consent or that of the honorable, member for Capricornia. But it must conform’ to the laws of the country, and I have no hesitation in saying that it did an injustice to its employes when it put them off the tram cars because they insisted upon wearing a badge. When the matter came before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, Mr. Justice Higgins declared that as citizens the men had a right to wear a badge. Consequently, they had merely done a lawful act. Yet for having performed a lawful act they were dismissed.
– Mr. Justice Higgins held that it was illegal and unreasonable for the company to refuse its assent to the wearing of the badge.
– My common sense tells me that it was unreasonable, but I did not know that it was unlawful. It is unreasonable for the company to compel its employes to wear a prescribed uniform and at the same time to forbid them to wear anything to show that they are free men. Without that freedom they might as well return to the days of serfdom, and wear prescribed collars and leg rings. That is a modern kind of barbarism. We all know that some persons will not allow their employes to speak upon certain subjects when they are employed in their factories. But surely men ought to be at liberty to wear a form of dress which gives them pleasure, if it occasions nobody annoyance.
– What a tyrant the Prime Minister must be to require a postman to wear a uniform !
– A postman is at liberty to wear the photograph of his best girl in a prominent position upon his clothing if he so desires. I would further remind the honorable member that, ‘ during my first tenure of the office of Prime Minister, I had the pleasure of granting absolute freedom to our public servants to discuss politics, thus showing what are my own views. Let there be perfect confidence between employer and employe, and we shall hear less of strikes in the future. Why should an employer, whether that employer be the Government or a private individual, object to allowing the Courts of the land to determine matters in dispute? On the ist February of the present year, Mr. Denham is thus reported in the Age -
The mediation of the Minister of Works having failed, and the strike having been entered upon, it was now the duty of the Government to protect citizens in case of lawlessness. To that end the police force would be augmented, and a large body of special constables would be sworn in. … In conclusion, the Premier said that the Government had done everything possible to arrange a settlement. It would do no more in that matter. Its object was now to preserve peace and good order, and it would do so at all costs.
Later on Mr. Appel visited Sydney, and in the course of an interview he said -
By his refusal to give the State authorities military assistance, Mr. Fisher had missed a good political point.
Imagine the mental stature of Ministers who declare that I missed a good political point by failing to send the military. Apparently that was all which was in their minds. What cared they whether or not industry was paralyzed and misery produced, so long as they made a good political point ? When Mr. Denham was asked at Rocklea, after the strike, what he had done to settle it, he is reported to have said -
I did not do anything. I did not intend to do anything. I left them to stew in their own soup.
– The Premier explained that statement in Maryborough after the Prime Minister had spoken.
– I quoted the statement in Brisbane. Much more was said in Maryborough. A statement in reference to my refusal to send the military was published in Maryborough, and I did not even deny it.
This, amongst other things, I was content to pass over ; but when the Leader of the Opposition takes a hand, I think it time to “put a spoke in.” At any rate, I quoted literally what appeared in the Courier about the ice business and the hospitals. This I did in Brisbane; and what was the result? It was stated that the strikers prevented the hospitals getting ice, and great cartoons were issued showing how, in consequence, little children suffered. I also quoted from the same newspaper a report by the superintendent of hospitals to the effect that the institutions were very little inconvenienced by the strike, beyond the fact that the erection of a pavilion had been delayed. The contractors were able to supply all necessities with little trouble ; and yet people were > audacious enough to issue cartoons in order to prejudice honest-minded people with the suggestion that the strikers were prohibiting or preventing the supply of ice necessary to save life. The next day reporters were sent to the hospitals, but they could not find the principals, and those whom they did see did not desire to make any explanation. What was the effect of all this? In Brisbane, the centre of the trouble, the electors, who were acquainted with the facts - with all the circumstances, including the allegations as to the placing of dynamite to the risk and danger of the community - spoke unmistakably when the elections came round. The party that is accused of being the cause of all these troubles practically swept the polls throughout the whole metropolitan area. Why? Because the electors knew the truth. The statements made by those opposed to the Labour party could not influence men who were on the scene, though our opponents were more fortunate in the backblocks, where the people are not so well acquainted with the facts. It is in these parts of the country that the Opposition benefited and hope to benefit. There are a great number of people in Australia, perfectly sane in every other respect, who think that the farmers are a class apart from the town artisans and others engaged in city avocations. No greater fallacy was ever indulged in. Farmers, like other people, value liberty; and their interests are interwoven with those of the residents of the cities and towns. The farmers’ sons and daughters become, not only acquainted, but inter-related with the sons and daughters of the artisan class in the populous centres, and in this way the interests of one class become involved with the interests of the other. Of what use would it be for a farmer to be well off if the artisans and others with whom his sons and daughters intermarry were in misery and starvation ? None whatever. Yet there are many people who make appeals to the prejudices of the farmer. Dwellers in the country have not the opportunities for knowing all the moves so well understood by those in the towns ; but the interests of town and country are bound together, and the sooner this fact is recognised the better. There is much more that 1 ought to say ; and I cannot conclude without referring to the financial matter with which I opened. The charge of extravagance and of - shall I say ? - misuse of our “powers of administration, was not touched on.
– I had not time.
– Well, the point was not touched on ; and I may say that I am not complaining, but merely making a statement of fact.
– It was most unfair on the part of the honorable member for Ballarat.
– As I say, I am not complaining.
– It is “ unfair “ that the honorable member for Ballarat did not do just what honorable members opposite desire.
– However, since Friday something has happened. Meetings have been held, and statements made in public. These statements dealt with finance, and were made by honorable members who sit behind the honorable member for Ballarat. And in what way did those honorable members deal with the financial question? They pointed out that the expenditure in the Post Office has increased, that the remuneration to the post-office employes has been increased, and that the expenditure on invalid and old-age pensions, and on defence, has also increased. They further pointed out that the maternity allowance will increase the expenditure of the Commonwealth. In connexion with this last proposal, there has been an anger and bitterness displayed by members of the Opposition that are not complimentary to them. We may pardon biting, .angry statements; but some have gone so far as to forget to be gentlemen. The proposal for a maternity allowance is not a new one ; and such an allowance is an economic necessity, in my opinion, in every civilized country.
The Government can best provide some assistance at a time when we are ushered into the world whether agreeable or not. Such an allowance will protect the mother, and also the child, the young Australian. It will assure the mother of a few shillings under reasonable circumstances, and make her certain of a friend, if not in love, at least in service.
– I thought the payment was to be on registration.
– Exactly. It is a law of human nature that if a person sees a five-pound note he will endeavour to secure it if he may do so by rendering some service; and if the money be paid on registration, the mother will be assured of the necessary service. When, however, a woman under the circumstances is without anything, and has nothing to look forward to, such an allowance, so far from degrading her, will maintain her independence. A maternity allowance of the kind will not burden the Commonwealth finances, and will, I hope, prove an undoubted help in every home in Australia. I do not claim any special consideration in this connexion ; but I am happy to be associated with a party which regards such a policy as right, and is prepared to give effect to it whether it be popular or not.
– The point I wished to be informed on was whether the payment was to be made in one sum, and at registration?
– That is the intention of the Government. The view in the honorable member’s mind is a very reasonable one; no man can approach this question without seeing many ways in which the donation might be conveyed. As to the legal aspect, I leave that to the AttorneyGeneral ; but, in my opinion, our general powers are enough to enable us to give the allowance. Indeed, I think we have other powers under which it might be made. If it cannot be done now, we shall have t® seek power to do it.
– Are the Government going to make the proposal retrospective ?
– The other point is regarding the extent of the invalid’ and oldage pensions. I, as Treasurer, am accused on the one hand of taking too restrictive a view of the terms of the Act in my administration, and, on the other hand, we have members of the Opposition declaring that we are running riot in spending an enormous amount of money on pensions. We have had a prominent member of the Opposition laying down the principle that our policy is framed on absolutely wrong lines ; that is to say, if the honorable member for Flinders has been rightly reported. Well, we are prepared, as a party, to meet that charge. Here is the Act. It is not a question of whether the sons and daughters are prepared to help their aged parents. We claim that this pension is for the purpose of enabling the aged and the invalid to be as independent as persons in their situation can be. Such is the law as we understand it. I want to say more to my honorable friends opposite and to the country - that the last step has not been taken in this matter of old-age and invalid pensions yet. We must, of course, husband our finances. Wherever we find that an improvement can be made, we shall gladly make that improvement in the Act. But, vast as the sum that has been expended up to the present time is - and the amount that has been quoted is even less than the actual sum, which amounts to over £2,000,000 - it will undoubtedly grow. I am of the opinion, Mr. Speaker, that, although this expenditure is growing, it is, perhaps, the best expenditure that we can incur. I will tell the House my reason for that view. This idea of the family looking after the “ old man “ and the “ old woman,” to use a familiar phrase, comes down to us from a very early age. But what happens in many a family? Experience shows that the best members of it have had to contribute the whole amount for the support of their aged parents. 1 do not care what kind of law you pass, the ne’er-do-wells of a family will flit away, leaving the boys and girls who are the best sons and daughters to look after their fathers and mothers, and, perhaps, also their invalid sisters. Consequently, those citizens of the better class become less vigorous and less able to do their best for the country. They are able to do less than they could otherwise do in the development of the country, because of their contributions to the maintenance of their parents or the sick members of their family. But, under this system of ours, the independence of the fathers and mothers is maintained, and the best men and women in the community are left free to apply themselves to their various avocations in life; to devote themselves to labour, to purchase machinery, to expand production and industry, and thereby to increase the wealth of the community. Some of the econo mists opposite make two diametrically opposite statements on this subject. What do they say? They say, in the first place, that there is unexampled prosperity in Australia at the present time. In the next place, they say that there is unexampled extravagance on the part of the Commonwealth Government.
– Are those statements necessarily contradictory?
– They go on to complain, further, that we are not borrowing money. That statement is true. They urge against us that we are sustaining capital charges out of our annual income. We have been doing that successfully, and honorable members opposite know it. I wish to give the House a few figures which will be handy for reference, showing the capital expenditure of the Commonwealth out of revenue from the 1st July, 19 10, to the 30th June, 1912 - two years -
That expenditure is all on account of works which, under the system advocated by honorable members opposite, might have been provided for out of borrowed money. That is what we have been doing.
– Money taken out of the pockets of the people which might have been used in development.
– How much extra money have the Government had to do that with ?
– The honorable member for Parramatta asks me how much extra money we have had. We have received no more money than honorable members opposite would have had under the arrangement they proposed to make between the Commonwealth and the States - not a penny more and not a penny less.
– How much is that?
– Four or five millions,at any rate.
– I will tell the honorable member when I deliver my Budget speech. I will give the complete information then. What is more, I will make this promise as Treasurer- that, if honorable members opposite, in the course of the debate, want more information, I will give it to them, even though I cannot at present lay the figures upon the table. Further, they can, if they prefer to do so, go and see the Secretary to the Treasury, and get the information from him with my consent. I cannot say more than that.
– The Government have had £5,000,000 more than we had ; that money used to go to the States.
– I shall leave the question of the Coal Vend to my honorable friend the Attorney-General, and the question of the Northern Territory to my honorable friend the Minister of External Affairs. But as a question has been asked concerning the referenda, I think it is only fair that I should not sit down without saying a word about them. It is, in my opinion, a national question, and one that it is absolutely necessary to settle, that this Parliament should have larger powers. The advisableness of this Parliament having power to pass one company law for Australia is obvious. A person wishing to invest money in this country should be able to know exactly what the conditions are. By that means greater security will be given to investments, the wheels of industry will turn quicker, employment will be greater in volume, and complications will be avoided. There are six company laws in operation in Australia now. By passing a Commonwealth law at present we should merely make a seventh. I believe that when the question is properly explained to the people, they cannot fail to give this Parliament larger powers. In regard to trade and commerce, the honorable member for Flinders’ has been bold enough to express the opinion that the arm of the great United States Federation is paralyzed because of the absence from the Federal Government of such, powers as we seek. The AttorneyGeneral has urged, in speeches reported in Hansard, and ‘from many platforms in the country, the necessity of endowing this Parliament with larger powers in respect of trade and commerce, both as regards trade between State and State and trade Intra state.
– We can legislate in those matters now.
– Not as we ought to be able to. I hope the people will give us those larger powers that we require.
– We can do what we want now.
– No, we cannot legislate as to Intra-State trade. Then there is the question of industrial powers, which I have already touched upon. The desirableness of an amendment of the Constitution in that respect is obvious. Now I come to another phase of the amendment that has been launched in this peculiar way by the honorable member for Ballarat. This motion of want of confidence in the Government was submitted as an amendment of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency, after I had told the honorable member that if such a motion were submitted, I should accept it as, and give the Opposition all the advantages of a debate on, a motion of want of confidence. As I said at the time, we do not intend to accept the amendment, and I wish now to emphasize the point that, since the only charge made against the Government is that they did not send troops to Brisbane on the occasion of the strike, every honorable member who votes for this amendment will be voting in favour of the sending of troops on that occasion. Nothing is plainer. In the whole of the long speech made by the Leader of the Opposition there is only one accusation. The honorable gentleman says that we have failed to deal with the industrial unrest, but the main complaint hidden under the verbiage of the amendment is, “ You did not send troops to Brisbane, and because of that failure you are to be condemned.”
– Were there no troops in Brisbane?
– Then why did the Government require to send troops?
– I thank the right honorable member for his interjection. The right honorable member might have a chauffeur in another part of Melbourne, and require his attendance here. If he did, he would have to direct that he be sent here. We had troops at Brisbane, but we did not intend to employ them against the civilians of Australia. We prefer to maintain them to fight the enemies of our country, and we certainly had no wish to employ them when it was quite unnecessary to do so. I repeat that those who vote for this amendment will declare that they would have supported the sending of troops to Brisbane at the time of the recent industrial trouble. They are welcome to all the advantages that they can reap from such a declaration, and from trying to make the people believe that we have not done our utmost to smooth out the industrial difficulties that have arisen from time to time. As a matter of fact, we, as a party, have stood in the very forefront of all efforts in that direction. We fought for industrial peace when the Leader of the Opposition did not think of such a thing.
– What is the difference between employing a lot of police and employing the military ? Both have to maintain order.
– I have explained that point. The basic principle of unionism is peace. Unionism means a. gathering together of men to present their case to their employers, and so to prevent strife and individual injury. I have told the House what unionists have done when compelled to. strike. I have told honorable members of the conditions under which the shearers laboured in days gone by, and I could speak also of the conditions of the seamen twenty years ago. Largely owing to the efforts of the Attorney-General in connexion with the Waterside Workers Union, the working conditions of seamen have been greatly improved. By the efforts of men like the honorable member for Darling the conditions of the bush workers have been vastly improved, and to-day we have also in our cities men organizing labourers with the same object in view.
– What about the story of the pushing of a man overboard.?
– This is not a laughing matter. The affluent man may laugh at any charge levelled at industrialism-
– The right honorable member is himself an affluent man.
– The right honorable member makes a personal reference which is rather unfortunate. His interjection is quite out of place, but since he has made it I must refer to yet another matter. The right honorable member has always been regarded as possessing the most gentlemanly qualities, and as the very embodiment of courtesy. Quite recently, however, I read a report of some remarks made by him in which he referred to me, not as “ Mr. Fisher, of 50 Dinsdale-street,” but as “Mr. Fisher, of Oakleigh Hall.” What did he mean?
– I was only pointing out that the right honorable member was very much like ourselves. I was comparing him to others who, like myself, like to have a good thing.
– The right honorable member is by no means singular in his allusion, but I did not expect such a remark from him. I have no desire to avail myself of my position to make an explanatory statement regarding the purchase to which the right honorable member refers, but I do not think I can be accused of want of taste.
– I did not intend my remark to be impertinent.
– My difficulties in dealing with this attack on the Government have been largely increased by the manner of its presentation; but I have no doubt that before the debate is over that which is to be the vital attack will have been launched and heard in this chamber. Until then the country may well go on in its own quiet, progressive way. A strong point sought to be made by the Leader of the Opposition in statements to the press is that we, as a Government, largely owe our large revenue and. flourishing financial condition to a beneficent Providence, whereas when they were in power the reverse was the position. In this connexion it is interesting to turn to what the Leader of the Opposition put into the mouth of the Governor-General from time to time. In the first place, on 26th May, 1903, when the Barton Ministry, of which he was a member, held office, we had the following statement in the Governor-General’s Speech -
The return of good seasons, which is now so widely expected, will give new impetus to the development of our resources and the expansion of our industries.
On 21st September, 1905, the Deakin Ministry put the following words into the Governor-General’s Speech when opening Parliament -
The Commonwealth is entering upon an era of prosperity. Trade isflourishing. The last two years are unexampled in the yield and value of our primary products.
Again, the Governor-General, in opening Parliament on 7th June, 1906, when the Deakin Ministry also held office, made the statement -
A season of general prosperity throughout the Commonwealth, production having increased.
On 12th October of the same year, when the Deakin Ministry was still in office, we had the further statement by the GovernorGeneral -
The prosperity of the Continent in production, exchange, finance, and accumulation, surpasses anything since the establishment of Federation.
-The right honorable member should not forget that we returned three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue to the States, whereas the present Government have had to return only 25s. per head of the population.
– The question with which we are immediately concerned relates, not to a -per capita payment of 25s. or 505., but rather to the bounty of Providence. We have been told by the Opposition that Providence has been smiling on us, but did not smile on them. Two more quotations, and I shall have finished. The Governor-General, in opening the Parliament on 20th February, 1907, when the Deakin Ministry was in power, said -
It affords me much pleasure lo congratulate you on a period of unprecedented prosperity throughout the Continent.
Finally, on 3rd July of that year, while the Deakin Ministry were in office, we had in His Excellency’s Speech the statement that -
Last year was one of great prosperity throughout the Commonwealth.
I can add nothing to these references to the bounty of Providence, and, in conclusion, have only to thank honorable members for the kindly attention they have given me.
– A great many of the supporters of the Government seem to be seized simultaneously by the impulse to leave the chamber, their champion having ceased to speak. I hope this is not an imitation of tactics pursued by the party in another place.
– What about the members of the Opposition?
– Many of them have had to leave on unavoidable business, but will return presently. Of course, my “honorable friends need not stay unless they choose. The Prime Minister complained that the Opposition is making its attack in its own way, and not as he would wish it :to be made, and he said that he had been given nothing to answer. Before the dehate is concluded he will be satisfied -that every portion of the plaint has been opened up. His reply to the speech of >the Leader of the Opposition was not an answer to it. Following his usual custom, he made a few general remarks, slipped over the facts, but met “none of the charges brought against his .Administration. Before complaining that there were no more charges ito answer, He might well have answered those that were made. As to the Brisbane strike, he would have us believe that every one connected with it was an angel, and that nothing occurred to which exception could be taken; that every one responsible for the laying idle of Brisbane was merely an injured innocent. Here is one fact 1 should like him to note, and to inquire into. The honorable member for Moreton was good enough while the strike was in progress to send me a telegram conveying information about it. There was nothing in his message which might not have been proclaimed from the house-tops, but he was surprised to hear it quoted from the window of the Trades Hall in Brisbane the next day, and to hear a statement to the effect that the strikers had their own men in all the Government Departments, who supplied them with information, and enabled them to get ahead of the Ministry every time.
– Did the honorable member for Moreton make a complaint about the matter?
– I believe so.
– I promise to have inquiry made.
– He got no redress. I heard of this only the other day, because the telegram reached me as I was on the point of leaving home, and I did not reply to it.
– Does the honorable member vouch for the facts?
– I vouch for what I have stated, and I do not think that any honorable member would suggest that the honorable member for Moreton would say what was not true. If I do not say anything more regarding the Brisbane strike, it is because I wish to meet the complaint of the Prime Minister by obliging him with criticism on other matters besides those already referred to by the Leader of the Opposition.
But before proceeding further, I offer my congratulations to the newly-elected member for Werriwa on his maiden speech. Through the action of the Labour party in applying a gag to the press, the public was not much informed about what took place during the Werriwa campaign. There were about ten members of the party, stationed in various parts of the electorate in charge of districts, who, knowing that the newspapers would not report them, said some very strange things - things which surprised even me. The honorable member himself, however, conducted the fight in a straight-out, manly way, and I have no complaint to make against him. The claim that his election must be regarded as proof that the people of Werriwa will vote for the next referenda may be forgiven, he being only a young member. The Prime Minister made some rather tall statements in the Werriwa division, to which I shall not refer just now, but I should like to draw attention to an utterance by the honorable member for Adelaide. A man who was present at Binalong when he made a speech there sent this statement to me for correction - *
Roberts stated Binalong last night Fusion intended attacking principle of old-age pensions, with view to economy, and that you had made such statement.
– Is not that correct?
– Is that correct !
– The honorable member for Flinders has stated that all the time.
– Have I ever said anywhere that I would attack the principle of old-age pensions for the sake of economy ?
– Where have I made such a statement?
– But the honorable member is not the whole of the Fusion. There are half-a-dozen members who have made the statement.
– I have supported earnestly and heartily the principle of old-age pensions ever since it was first mooted, and I to-day stand for an amplification of the principle. I believe that some amendments could be made which would help it, and certainly would not curtail it. But for the honorable member for Adelaide to say in an out-of-the-way place, when the representatives of the press were not present, that I had stated that the Opposition would attack the principle of old-age pensions with a view to economy was simply to call upon his imagination, to use no stronger term. Later, when he got to Goulburn, under the glare of the representatives of the press, he made this statement: “I fear me,” he said, “ that the honorable member for Flinders and the honorable member for Parramatta will attack the old-age pensions if they again get into power.” There is the difference between speaking with reporters present and speaking with them absent. I shall leave that election alone with this remark. My honorable friends, I am afraid, do not in their hearts take very much com fort from it. The honorable member for Werriwa told us the other day that their party had polled eight votes more than they did on the last occasion. With the place full of politicians, and with two years to carry out all their humanitarian schemes, eight votes was all the plus they could muster. While they polled eight votes more for their party, we polled 1,500 votes more for ours. They are quite entitled to get all the comfort they can out of the election. Another fight or two like that one, and they will have to come out of their comfortable positions and return to their screaming farce over here. I have always had in my mind - and I think I will carry it there to my dying day - the exhibition they made of themselves during the last occasion on which they occupied the benches on this side.
Coming to the opening Speech itself, it is the longest one I ever remember seeing in print, and about the emptiest.
If I take the matters in their order, perhaps we shall get on very much better. The complaint is that we Have not opened out this debate, and I want, if possible, to make one or two statements which I think will need more reply than that given already by the Prime Minister. First of all, there is a reference to the appointment of anImperial Commission, as agreed upon at the last Imperial Conference. We are told that “ a representative from the Commonwealth has been appointed, and is now inLondon.” That, of course, is an obvious fact. What appointment is it which hasbeen made? Who is the gentleman appointed, and what are his Qualifications?This appointment is, perhaps, the highest gift which this Government will ever have in its power. Nothing could be of greater importance than an inquiry of this kind,. with the whole Empire as its ambit, and! the whole of the resources of the Empire as its function to inquire info. Nothing: could possibly be of greater import than the making of this appointment. That is not my opinion only. It is the opinion of thePrime Minister himself when he asked for the appointment of the Commission. Here: is what he said -
The question is whether the Commission shalt be of such a character as will perhaps includeMinisters or men of the standing of Ministersin the United Kingdom, or in the Dominions.
My right honorable friend almost insisted” that Mr. Asquith should put one or two of his own Ministers on the Commission, and for this reason -
I assure you it is an important point.
I should think so.
I should not for one moment support a resolution of this kind except under the belief that Hie men who compose the Commission shall be men of the very first order, both in the United Kingdom and in the Dominions, because I assure you they will be treated with courtesy but with indifference unless that is so.
Sir Joseph Ward laid down similar conditions ;
I have no’ doubt we shall have a little trouble in selecting suitable mcn in the over-sea Dominions. We will have some trouble in finding men who possess the requisite qualifications, with impartial minds as they require to have. But a Commission of the kind must he a strong and representative one.
Mr. Asquith, following him, said ;
In regard to its composition, I can assure Mr. Fisher that, so far as the Government of the United Kingdom are concerned, no pains will be spared to secure the services of the ablest and most representative men that we can get, and the men that will command the greatest confidence to sit upon it.
Here, therefore, the Prime Minister laid down the conditions that the representative of Australia shall be a thoroughly representative Australian, that he shall be a man of Ministerial status, or the equal of a man who has been a Minister ; that he shall be a strong, well-known and honorable representative-. Well, what is known of Mr. Donald Campbell? Does he fill the bill as sketched here by the Prime Minister? Is he known throughout Australia? I confess that I had never heard of the gentleman before.
– That is very sad.
– It may be very sad that I had never heard of Mr. Donald Campbell before. I do not think that he has ever been in my State to make himself known there. I do not think that he is known throughout Australia. I do not think that he has been in a Government, and therefore he has not the status of a Minister. All that we know of him is that lie was a defeated Labour candidate at the last election in South Australia. The only thing of note I have heard said of him is that in one of his fine frenzies rolling, he got out this remarkable piece of electioneering -
The Labour party has the farmer, like an opossum in a hollow log, with Fisher smoking him out with his land tax, and Vaughan waiting to slay him with increased taxation.
This gentleman is supposed to be a man with an’ impartial mind, a strong and wellknown representative of Australia; and that is all that I can find to his credit to warrant his” ‘appointment to a position of the kind. I venture to say that no Government but a Labour Government would have made the appointment of Mr. Donald Campbell to the Imperial Commission. I do not want to say anything in derogation of his ability. He may be a good man, but he fulfils none of the conditions laid down by the Prime Minister in presenting the question, in stressing these qualities so strenuously at the last Imperial Conference. Then there have been other appointments of a similar kind. Some of them are worth noting. For instance, there have been some appointments to positions in the Northern Territory, to which the attention of the Minister of External Affairs might be directed. There is Mr. Ryland. Who ever heard of Mr. Ryland until he bobbed up here? He was known, I believe, in Queensland ; but I do not know that he proved himself to be a very distinguished administrator there. I dpnot know where he got the experience toqualify him for the position to which he has been appointed in the Northern Territory He is to be the pioneer of new paths, and to strike out a new course of administration in that Territory. No one in these latitudes ever heard of this man until his appointment by the present Minister of External Affairs. I should like the honorable gentleman to tell the House and the country why this gentleman has been appointed to his position in the Northern Territory, and what are his special qualifications for that position. Of course, I know the Government had to get some one to take up the appointment offered to Mr. Neilsen. Mr. Neilsen turned the position down, much, I believe, to the chagrin and disappointment of the Minister of External Affairs. The honorable gentleman had set his heart upon Mr. Neilsen. Why, again I do not know. He is noted for his industry and application, but his experience in all these matters is nil. All I know of Mr. Neilsen or Mr. Ryland is that they happen to belong to the same party, and both happened to be wanting a position of some kind. Mr. Neilsen, it seems, has got a better position than this. He is getting very much more than ?800 a year away in America, and when he is coming back nobody seems to know. He is getting ?4 4s. a day expenses there, plus ?fi per week as a member representing his constituency - no, he is not representing it, and it is disfranchised the whole of the time he is away. I venture to say that a grosser political trick was never perpetrated in the public life of
Australia than to send Mr. Neilsen away to America under the conditions under which he went.
– Had that anything to do with the Federal Government?
- Mr. Neilsen belongs to the honorable gentleman’s party. It is one party, is it not, and one caucus? The Minister is a representative of New South Wales, and, I believe, attends Labour conferences over there. At any rate, he is associated with a very important union charged with the administration of affairs over there, and is, therefore, as much responsible as though he and his party in Federal politics had made this arrangement with Mr. Neilsen themselves. Labour is one party throughout Australia, and the Minister of External Affairs ought not, therefore, to say, “ What have I or my party to do with it? “ He has to do with it in this way : that his colleagues and confreres in another State found Mr. Neilsen to be a very inconvenient person to keep in the State Government, because he wished to stick to his election pledges. They found that he was a Jonah, who must be hurled overboard, but, unlike Jonah, he did not land in the whale’s belly, but in a fine remunerative billet. There he is to-day, getting ^4 4s. a day expenses, plus his remuneration -as member for an electoral district. He is doing very much better than he would have done had he stayed in the New South Wales Government. I would not mind being tossed out myself some time, if I became inconvenient, at ^35 10s. a week.
– Sour grapes.
-“ Outrageous.” I believe, the honorable member’s epithet describes that proceeding more accurately than I can. Of course, the trick of it is that if they paid Mr. Neilsen 6d. per day salary his seat would be forfeited, but they have found a way under which they could pay him £10 10s. a day and enable him to keep his seat, while the party would remain intact, and his appointment would not endanger their existence. So he is living in America at ,£35 10s. a week, and nobody knows when he is coming back. Another gentleman has gone home to attend the meetings of the Imperial Commission at twenty-eight guineas a week, and I suppose that also is plus his travelling expenses.
– Yes, plus his net travelling expenses - the same as the Imperial Government are paying their representatives.
– And a very good position it is for a man, too.
– I did not say “outrageous.” I said, it was “ sour grapes “ on the honorable member’s part.
– An old fox like the honorable member for East Sydney ought to know everything about “sour grapes,” but there are no sour grapes in this matter, so far as I am concerned. I am concerned only with the. appointment and the best man to fill it. The Prime Minister himself laid down the conditions for the appointment to the Imperial Commission. He said that the man to lie appointed must be well known throughout Australia, must have a status equal to that of a Minister, and must be a strong, capable”, and able representative - a man such as is alleged to be difficult to find in Australia. I ask again, does Mr. Donald Campbell fulfil these conditions? Does Mr. George Ryland fill the bill as Administrator of the Northern Territory?
– He is not Administrator of the Northern Territory.
– No; he is Commissioner of Lands in the Territory.
– Then why say he is Administrator of the Territory?
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon. In the presence of a perfect Minister, I may be pardoned for making a mistake, and I hope the honorable gentleman in his goodness and generosity will condescend to pardon me for making that slip. I did confound Mr. Ryland for the moment with Professor Gilruth - I beg pardon again ; I should have said “ His Excellency.” That reminds me that there is a person who is styled “ His Excellency “ in the Northern Territory. I should like the Minister of External Affairs to explain why the Government have created a Governor of the Northern Territory.
One of the distinguishing features of the administration of this Government is one man rule everywhere they can get it. One man is to be in supreme authority. The day of Democracy would not last five minutes if they had their way. I believe that the Administrator of the Northern Territory used to be called the “ Government Resident.” That title was considered sufficient by the democratic Government of South Australia, but now that this officer comes under our auspices, he is created a Governor with the title of “ His Excellency.” I believe that he holds court, and does just what any other Governor in Australia would do whenever anybody pays a visit to the Territory.
– The honorable member does not accuse Professor Gilruth on that account.
– I do not know him, and I am not blaming him for anything. I hope that his is going to be a good appointment. I am only pointing out that these gentlemen, who have a programme in which the abolition of State Governors is contained, have started their career by the appointment of an additional Governor in Australia. Now with regard to Mr. Ryland. Why was Mr. Ryland appointed? Of course, we know that the honorable member for New England is very sensitive upon this question of Northern Territory appointments. I believe that his nose is out of joint - quite.
– Not for a moment.
– Is not the honorable member disappointed that he did not go there himself ?
– He did go there.
– He did go there, but I think that he wanted to stay there.
– Only Mr. Ozanne.
– I did not hear that Mr. Ozanne wanted to stay there, but I did hear that the honorable member wished to stay there in an official capacity.
– That is not a fact.
– Is it not a fact that the honorable member was an applicant for any of these positions? That is a simple question. I may tell him that my information is that he even wanted the supreme position of Governor of that territory. Then I am informed that his ambitions became more modest, and that he was prepared to accept the position of Director of Lands in the Territory. Is the Minister of External Affairs prepared to say that my honorable friend was not an applicant for any position up there?
– i am prepared to say what I like when it suits me.
– One cannot get much else out of some animals than some sort of a noise. I am obliged to the Minister for his statements. They are all rude, as is customary with him. I ask him this simple question, “ Was the honor able member for New England an applicant for any position in the Northern Territory?”
– The honorable member will get my answer when the time comes.
– Then there is Mr. George Ryland. Who is he? I have no objection to any Labour member receiving an appointment for which he is fitted. If he is the best man offering for a position, he ought to secure it. That is the only condition which I lay down.
– If he is equally as good as any other applicant, he ought to get it.
– In my judgment, there are no appointments of half as much importance as those which have recently been made by the Government.
In the Northern Territory are to be found the greatest problems which Australia has had to tackle. Those problems will be with us for many years to come, so that everything depends upon the character of the appoint ments which we make now. A mistake by sending the wrong men there at the present juncture will not be remedied for many years to come. Consequently, it is of the highest consequence that, irrespective of the position of any applicant, irrespective of the money which we may have to pay, the very best men in the Commonwealth should find their way to the Northern Territory. Is Mr. George Ryland one of the best land experts in Australia? Is he as good a man as hundreds and thousands of others who would have eagerly accepted the position to which he has been appointed if they had had an opportunity of doing so? So far as I can see, Mr. Ryland was sent there merely because he lost his seat in the Queensland State Parliament, and because he happened to be an erstwhile colleague of the Prime Minister in the representation of the constituency of Gympie. We have come to a pretty pass when the highest appointments in the Commonwealth must be given to men for no other reason than that they have been unfortunate enough to lose their positions at the poll.
– Tammany is nothing to it.
– It seems to me that the passport to the best appointments in the Commonwealth is to be rejected by the people. That seems to be the one prerequisite to a good position at the hands of the present Government. Then there are other appointments. For instance, there is the appointment of Mr. Clarke. 1 believe that he is the agricultural expert. I wish to say nothing against him. I believe him to be a very good man, but I do not believe that he is the man who should have been sent to the Northern Territory. All the tropical agricultural experience which he has had, so far as I am aware, has been gained in the office of the Agricultural Gazette in New South Wales. He has certainly had no practical experience. None of these men have had practical experience which would qualify them to lay down the conditions of land tenure which should obtain, and to administer these important offices in our great undeveloped Northern Territory.
– Mr. Clarke was not an ex-member of Parliament.
– I did not say that he was. I am not blaming the Minister of External Affairs for having appointed ex-members of Parliament. I am blaming him for not taking care to secure the best experience that Australia can produce. If the honorable gentleman can satisfy us that that condition has been fulfilled, he will hear no more from me.
– I do not care whether I satisfy the honorable member or not.
– I am sure that the Minister does not. He wishes merely to satisfy his own following. If they are satisfied with him, everything is all right.
– It is quite immaterial to me whether I satisfy the honorable member or not.
– I hope we have not reached that time of day when a responsible Minister can contemptuously throw himself back in his seat and say, “ I do not care for you.” That is a fine attitude for a representative of the people, and a Socialist who believes in the brotherhood of man, to assume. The honorable gentleman voices contempt for everybody outside his own little circle. He says, “ I do not wish to satisfy you ; you may go to Jericho. The only thing I am concerned about is that I satisfy the few men here Who keep me in office.”
I wish to ask one question in reference to these appointments. Was any attempt made to offer promotion to the able men in our Public Service before these outsiders were appointed? We have experienced and able men in the departments to whom all these positions would have been acceptable - men who are ambitious and capable, and who have given this country years of ungrudging service. Yet they have all been passed over to make way for the friends of this Government. I say it is an insult to the Public Service to be treated in that way in regard to these supremely important appointments.
– I wonder how many of these public servants applied for the positions.
– Why should my honorable friend trouble? He does not care. He is the most self-satisfied Minister who ever held a portfolio. He is satisfied with himself, although hardly anybody else is. Let him go to the Postal Department and ask if the employes there are satisfied with him. The Post Office to-day is “ seething with’ discontent, notwithstanding that we have Been expending upon it the millions of pounds of which the Prime Minister has spoken. This year £1,600,000 extra has been spent upon it, and yet so far as New South Wales is concerned, I declare, and I challenge contradiction, that there is more discontent in the Sydney Post Office to-day than there has ever been.
– Why did the ex-Post-‘ master-General run away from the Department?
– What does the cx-Postmaster-General care about the employes? He had had two years with them, and he passed on, satisfied with himself, and not caring about anybody else.
The honorable member for Indi said that the Labour party had falsified the statements of their opponents since they had been in office. In that I cordially agree with the honorable member. It is a perfectly fair remark for him to make. They have falsified the statements of their opponents ; and why ? Because the Labour party have falsified every statement they made to the country.
– What is the honorable member reading from?
– From the honorable member’s speech.
– The other day, here. It is one of the concluding statements of the honorable member. I repeat that the statement is quite true, because the Labour party have succeeded in falsifying all the statements of their manifestoes, and all the promises they made, to the people of the country.
– Does the honorable member take the report of my speech from Hansard t
– I took it down when the honorable member spoke. Does the honorable member deny it?
– Hansard will show !
– Is the statement correct or not? If the honorable member denies the report, then I shall say no more. I agree that they have falsified the statements of their opponents, but they have only done so by falsifying the statements made by their own people on the platform.
Now I come to this precious bank - about the only thing they have left to crow about ! lt is a great success, they say ; and we are told that everything has been done on sound banking lines. I desire to contrast their statements in this respect with the statements they made to the people of the country, Above all, we are concerned in carrying out our promises to those, who sent us here. It is the first principle of democracy, and of representative government, that we should pay some respect to what we promised the people on the hustings, and on the faith of which we gol their support. Here are the statements of the party behind the Government at the last election. The Brisbane Worker, commenting on the proposal to establish the bank, said -
The establishment of a bank of issue, deposit, exchange and reserve would be a big step towards making the Australian nation master of its own currency and liberate its citizens from the talons of the money power.
Then, in a manifesto issued in Victoria at the same time, we read -
Banking is one of the frauds by which capitalism bleeds the people. The Labour proposal is not to nationalize the existing banks, but to establish a Commonwealth bank with unlimited powers which will have a branch in every considerable centre of Australia, and will enter into competition with the company-owned banks. The proposed banks would be one of the strongest in the world, and would, of course, manage the public debt of the Commonwealth. The gradual extinction without compensation of the present banks would follow as a matter of course.
Then, later on, only the other day, Senator Pearce, in Western Australia, said -
In respect of the Federal Bank and Savings Bank system the Government was simply fighting monopoly and boodle.
That is what is said by honorable members opposite when they go’ on to the platforms in the country; but how do they act? When in the Werriwa electorate the other day, the Honorary Minister, the honorable member for Adelaide, said there never was such a Government as the present one - prosperity had crowned the country since the Government took office, and everything that Ministers had done was for the welfare and success of the community - so much so, said the Minister, that the banks were now paying better dividends, and all the large companies were doing better than ever they did. Hear those Labour champions in the country alleging that, as a result of their legislation, the banks they had set out to fight and extinguish - to stop the bleeding of the people - are now bleeding the people more than e%’er, inasmuch as their dividends are better than ever before ! Then as to the trusts, which this Government set out to curb or demolish, the Honorary Minister, followed by an ex-member of this House, Mr. Hall, who is now a State Minister, said that the large companies of Australia were more successful than ever before. Are these Labour arguments? If so, what becomes of their programme? I thought this was to be a people’s bank; but it turns out that it is not a people’s bank at all. It is to be a bankers’ bank. Here is what they have done, according to the Minister of Home Affairs - the great banker of the Ministry -
Many people say it will be detrimental to the existing trading banks.
The manifesto said that this bank was to extinguish the other banks without compensation. This, Minister, however, says that is wrong -
Of course, they say so, but that is where they are wrong. This bank of ours is going to be the centralized financial institution of Australia. Its establishment will strengthen the position of the trading banks. There is nothing for those Christian brethren to be in the least apprehensive of any harm. It is just the other way round.
I should think so, too. Then we have Mr. Miller telling us how he is going to administer the Commonwealth Bank. I understand that Mr. Miller has been given a free hand, and the cardinal principle is that there shall be no political control. This has been reiterated here to-night by the Prime Minister. Mr. Miller, about whom there can be no cavil as to his ability and competence, said -
I can say quite certainly that the thing is going to be all right, and I intend to make it a source of strength to the other banks.
Banking, we are told, is one of the frauds by which the people are bled, and all the Government have done is to appoint one of the bleeders at £4,000 a year to bleed the people a bit more, for we are told that the Commonwealth Bank is to be made a source of strength to the other banks ! This is not a stray expression of Mr. Miller, because he comes to the point again later -
Side by side, the Commonwealth Bank and other banks would all grow as Australia grew.
The other banks are going to grow !
– Then the other banks are not going to. be extinguished without compensation, and are still to continue to bleed the people. That is a different tune from that which honorable members opposite sung at the last election.
– The rates of interest have been reduced.
– When the honorable member for Indi says that the Labour party have falsified all the statements
– The honorable member Will not find that in Hansard.
– Then all I can say is that it has been edited out of Hansard; I took it down as the honorable member said it.
– Does the honorable member still say I said it? It is not in Hansard. I made one alteration in Hansard.
– It is a statement made by almost every member of the Government.
– It certainly has been stated many times by the Prime Minister himself.
– The honorable member ought to withdraw the statement he has made.
– We. have always said that the Commonwealth Bank was to be. like the Bank of England or the Bank of France.
– Have the members of ‘ this Government never falsified the statements of their opponents? They do so in almost every speech they make. They point to the unprecedented prosperity of the country as due to their administration, and the Honorary Minister has even pointed to the way in which the banks are bleeding the people and getting bigger dividends for their shareholders as something of which their party has reason to be proud. They say that they regard the formation of trusts as one of the great economic evils of the world, and nevertheless they claim that as soon as their party came into office, these trusts commenced to make larger profits than they ever did before. Good old Socialistic party !
– What is the trouble then?
– The honorable member had better go and ask those 1,500 people who voted for us at Werriwa this time, but who did not at the last election. Ask them’ what the trouble is ! Ask the electors all over the country ! When we go forth to discuss political questions with them nowadays, they hear us in peace and quietness, whereas they used to call for “ three cheers for Andy Fisher.” There is no cheering of that kind now, and the members of the party in this House are apologizing for their existence.
– The honorable member has no hope of ever getting back into office.
– I hope that when we do come Back, we shall not so completely falsify the statements we have made to Australia as this Government has done. Mr. Miller goes on in this interview to say -
I want the bank to be like the -Bank of England. It should grow so strong that, should there be a crisis, we will be able to stand behind other banks and help them. From my varied banking experience I know that the Commonwealth Bank can and will be a great strength to the other banks.
So much for their promises to the people of the country, and so much for their actual performances !
– The honorable member does not want to see any banks break, does he?
– I do not; but the party opposite are supposed to be fighting monopoly and boodle with this bank. That is what Senator Pearce said the other day when talking to the Perth Trades and Labour Council. But the Honorary Minister goes to Werriwa, and wanting to get the votes of the people in Goulburn, sings quite a different tune. He tells them that the trusts are all right, making larger profits, and that the banks are all right, paying larger dividends than ever they did. Therefore, when the honorable member for
Indi claims that honorable members opposite falsify the statements of their opponents, I reply that they have falsified the statements of their own friends.
– Both statements are correct.
– I see; and they are matters which the honorable member takes credit for?
– But that is the point.
– They are correct, because we have no power to suppress the trusts.
– Not at all. The honorable member for Adelaide said -
They had on the Labour side a definite clear policy, which was printed and published to the best of their ability, because they were proud of it. In this contest the efforts* of the other side were confined mainly lo abusing the other side. He traced the growth of the Labour Party. He went on to say that not one of the evil predictions of their opponents had come to pass. To-day there was more capital in the country than ever there was. There were more men at work. The banks were paying better dividends; all the large companies were doing better than ever they did.
As the result of Labour administration !
– Quite correct.
– Quite correct? My friend says, then, that the result of Labour administration is to strengthen the banks which, we were previously told, were bleeding the people, and to enable the trusts to make bigger profits than they have ever done before?
– To make the country prosperous, that is the result.
– I see. The honorable member is going back on Providence now !
About the Commonwealth Bank, all that I want to say is this : While the honorable member for Indi congratulated the’ Government on the appointment of Mr. Miller as Governor of the bank-
– The honorable member has made one mistake about me; do not let him accuse me wrongly of something else.
– I made no mistake.
– The honorable member made an accusation a few moments ago that is not justifiable.
– What accusation?
– About falsifying statements.
– Order. I point out to the honorable member for Indi that if he has any grievance concerning any statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta he will have ample opportunities for making a personal explanation.
– May I be allowed to make a personal explanation now ?
– The honorable member can do so at the proper time.
– Is this statement correct - that the honorable member congratulated the Government on having secured Mr. Miller as Governor of the bank ?
– That is correct.
– I congratulate Mr. Miller on getting this excellent appointment under the Government. I repeat the statement made in another place by one of my colleagues, that Mr. Miller is a fortunate man indeed in securing a position of this kind.
– Does the hon.orable member say that he is not a good man?
– I do not say that he is not a good man. I believe that he is. But I still say that he is a fortunate man in getting a billet worth £4,000 a year ; and it is true that no frontrank banker has been found to take the position at one of the best salaries paid in all Australia.
– They are all too old.
– How does the honorable member know that our bankers are all too old? He seems to have an intimate acquaintance with all these “bleeders.” I do not know them. He evidently does. He must have been in the bank parlours to know so much about them. I believe that there are> plenty of prominent bankers in Australia young enough, strong enough, and energetic enough to take control of this bank, but the Government were not able to obtain their services.
– Prominent bank managers in Australia ?
– No, there are not.
– Again I remark upon the superior banking knowledge of honorable members opposite ! I still hold my opinion that this gentleman is very lucky indeed to have got into a position of this kind at such a huge salary. I believe that he is a very good officer as far as he goes. That may not be against him. All that I wish for him is that he may have a career which will be prosperous, and as long as he pursues the sane and safe policy that he has already sketched out for himself I shall not make very much complaint.
As to the bank itself, the Prime Minister is going about the country trying to make us believe that honorable members on this side have always been opposed to the establishment of a national bank, and that we have always been opposed to a Commonwealth note issue. He has been trying to make the country believe that all the measures which have been passed since this Government came into office have been passed in the teeth of the Opposition; whereas the contrary is the case.
– Very funny !
– Let the honorable member take the proposals submitted to Parliament by this Government as they were brought down to the House, and contrast them with the proposals which have been placed upon the statute-book, and he will see that there is nothing very funny about my statement. He will see that that legislation has been shaped and moulded by the criticism of honorable members on this side. To say, therefore, to the country that the Commonwealth Bank and the Savings Bank as they exist at present have been established in the teeth of the Opposition is not true. Nothing of the kind is the case. It will not be found that views have been expressed on this side against the bank as such after the proposals of the Government had been amended and safeguarded as we thought they ought to be; and it is most ungracious of my honorable friends to go to the people of the country and tell them that the Government had to jam these banks down the throats of this House. The contrary is the case. The Opposition has moulded and shaped these measures, and has given them the safeguards they have to-day.
– That is why the honorable member and his party ought to remain on the Opposition benches.
– It is a reason why the country should be grateful to a competent Opposition. I think I am entitled to make this statement, because one of the charges made by the Prime Minister, when in the Werriwa electorate the other day, was that we had in this country a feeble Opposition, without any policy.
Why he. of- all men, should begin to measure the intellectuality and status of other people is beyond comprehension. But let that pass.
I do not hesitate to say that the Note Issue Bill was amended drastically as the result of discussion in this House.
What, after all, is this precious Note Issue Act considered from the point of view of a Labour measure? Is it any longer a Labour measure? What Labour purpose is it serving? Is it bringing any more grist to the mill of the worker? Is the worker obtaining any more wages because of the passing of that Act? How does it affect him in his daily life? It is quite true that this Government have issued Commonwealth notes, and have got from the banks nearly £10,000,000 in sovereigns. It is quite true, also, that they have lent out something like half of that amount to the States, and are receiving interest upon it. The remainder is in the Treasury till. I am told that the seals are on it, and that no one can get at it. T am inclined to think; however, that the Treasurer is going to get some of it very shortly. At the end of last session he succeeded in passing a Loan Bill, which enables him to take some of that money, in excess of the stipulated reserve, whenever he chooses to do so, and I understand that he intends to supplement his other financial resources from the money which he says is no longer needed as a backing for the Australian note issue. I mentioned this at Werriwa the other day, when I tried to trace this matter to its economic issue. I asked, for instance, who was paying the interest that the Treasurer is obtaining on the money loaned to the States. Are the States paying it? They are. But where do they get the money with which to pay it? Out of the pockets of the workers of Australia - out of the Consolidated Revenue. And where is the difference to the working men of Australia between the Government adopting that course and floating a straightforward loan in the money market?
– Fancy the honorable member talking of the working men of Australia !
– Have I no right to consider the matter from the point of view of the workers?
– Do not overdo it. We shall begin to think that the honorable member is in earnest if he keeps on speaking in this way.
– Has the honorable member finished ? I cannot rise to his heights, and I shall have, therefore, to leave him alone up there.
When we come to consider the banking and note issue question from the point of view of the working men of Australia, whose sole guardians the Government claim to be, we find the position ludicrous in the extreme.
What does the Treasurer claim for the Note Issue Act? The only benefit that has resulted to Australia is, according to him, that the Government have made a profit of ,£1:83,000 by loaning at interest the sovereigns they have obtained from the banks for nothing. My remark at Werriwa was that the Government had given the banks an I 0 U for this £1 0,000,000, and that they proposed, under the Loan Act, later on to send some further I 0 U’s into the Treasury vaults, and to bring the money on to the counter of the upper chamber, and with it pay the expenses of the construction of works by the Government. Is that a misstatement of the facts ?
– Is it right or wrong?
– It is right, I believe; the Prime Minister is going to do this. By means of his note issue he has obtained from the banks practically £10,000,000 in gold. The banks are minus that amount with which to earn dividends; yet their dividends, according to Ministers, are greater than ever they were. The moment the banks lost the use of this £10,000,000 in gold they had to re-adjust their interest-bearing deposits. They must pay less for their money, or charge their customers more for it. At all events, as the result of losing this £10,000,000 in sovereigns to the Government, they are paying, not less, but larger, dividends, and it is but small consolation to the business men, the farmers, and others of Australia, that they have to pay a bigger rate of interest on their overdrafts as the result of this splendid financing on the part of the Commonwealth Government. Although the Treasurer claims that he is making a profit of £183,000 per annum, he is not making a penny. The whole of that amount has to be paid by the people of this country ; but instead of paying it direct to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, they are paying it to the State Treasurers, who are passing it on to the Commonwealth Treasury.
– Instead of paying it to the Jews, they are passing it on to the Federal Government.
– If I had to pay £183,000 a year, what does it matter to me whether I pay it to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth or to a Jewish financier ? If I had to pay it to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, would I have in my pocket any more than I should have if I paid it to a Jew ? When we come down to the economic position of this matter, we cannot find one farthing of reform in the whole Commonwealth bank system or the Australian note issue. It may be a very good thing from a financial point of view. I do not say it is not. But when my honorable friends opposite, who are dying to help the workers of this country, tell them that the establishment of another bank is going to help them, they are talking moonshine, and they ought to know it.
Sitting suspended from 6.2g to 7.45 p.m.
– With regard to the appointments of which I have spoken, I wish to repeat that my only ground of criticism is that the persons chosen were not the best who could have been obtained for the positions to be filled. So far as the Commonwealth Bank is concerned, I hope that it may be a success ; but if it becomes successful, it will be in spite of the bungling of Ministers. When the Bank Bill was before us, I pointed out that the Governments of the States, if their cooperation could be obtained, would help to establish the institution, and I suggested that the Prime Minister should invite them to join with him.
– The honorable member knows that they would not join with him.
– I suggested that the States should be invited to come in, and that a board of control instead of a governor should be provided for, to enable them to be adequately represented in the management of the institution. I pointed out that their financial business, their current accounts and loan arrangements, would do much to make the bank a success from the start,; and stated that there is room for a National Bank * to do legitimate and bond fide national business. My suggestion was ignored. The attitude of the Prime Minister towards the Governments of the States was made plain by his statement that there was no room in the post-offices for two savings banks, and that it would not be the Commonwealth Savings Bank that would have to go. That was a clear intimation to the States that they must remove their savings banks from the post-offices. Now, having established the Commonwealth Bank, the Prime Minister is doing what I suggested should be done before the bank was established. (Having treated the Governments of the States most cavalierly, he is now inviting them to assist him, and they do not seem disposed to do so. Their attitude is, “ You have told us to go out of the post-offices, and we are going. You would not consult us when establishing the Commonwealth Bank, and you cannot have our business now.” As a result, the Commonwealth Bank has a hard time ahead of it, and will not make profits for a long while. This result will be due to the way in which the Government has treated the States in the establishment of the bank. I hope that, ultimately, the bank, by good management arid control, will gradually obtain the business of the States. It must do so to become a National Bank. The States have the business which could make the bank a success from the start.
It is stated in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and was repeated by the honorable member for Indi, that the Federal land tax is operating very satisfactorily, land being cut up and sold in large quantities because of the tax. According to the honorable member - quoting from a monthly bulletin - £22,000,000 worth of .land has been made available for settlement by the subdivision of large estates ; but the statement is not supported by figures. The table which he quoted needs explanation. It is stated that £18,000,000 worth of land was sold up to the end of September ; but, apparently, only £9,250,000 worth had been purchased up to the end of May. We are not told who the purchasers are. It is generally known that persons holding land in common have -had their shares divided in order to escape taxation as far as possible. But those subdivisions have done nothing to increase settlement. The Commonwealth Statistician, when asked for a summary of the statistics which have been furnished to another honorable member, replied -
Herewith I have pleasure in forwarding copy of summary of Australian statistics, on pages 34 and 35 of which is given the latest official information with regard to land tax. No official statement has been published concerning acreage subdivided by owners as a result of the tax.
The statement made by the honorable member for Indi is his own interpretation of the figures, and is not a fair one under the circumstances. I shall be glad to learn that settlement is increasing rapidly in Australia. Many of the large estates in the Commonwealth should be cut up to allow of closer settlement. But I again say that it would have been better to leave this matter to the States, because they have at their command administrative resources which would have enabled them to act in a very much more effective way than the Commonwealth Government are doing.
– They have occupied twenty years in not dealing with it.
– A statement like that does not prove anything. I am only concerned now with showing that this table of figures quoted by the honorable member for Indi, and made so much of by the Government, has no substratum of fact to support it. It has been claimed that £22,000,000 worth of land has been sold and purchased, whereas, according to these figures, £18,000,000 worth has been sold up to the end of September. On the purchasing side, there is only £9,250.000 worth accounted for.
– Read right through that report.
– There is no more to read that I know of.
– What is the number of that bulletin?
– It is the bulletin issued in April, 1912, which the honorable member quoted from.
– But this return is up to the 30th June, 191 1.
– I know that it is. The bulletin says that £18,000,000 worth of land has been sold and purchased, but it says nothing about the land tax. It includes all the operations of selling and buying land which take place in the Commonwealth. I have not the figures, with me, but it will be shown later, I believe, that no more land is being sold and bought in Australia to-day than has been the case for some years past.
– Do you suggest that the land tax is not high enough ?
– There is no argument in that snigger. My honorable friends make a proposal, and say, “ If you do not believe in this, you are against any. thing we advocate, in principle.” It never seems to enter their craniums that there is any other way of doing anything but the one which they have. These same people say that this matter has yet to be dealt with, and that they are going to deal with it. In spite of your tax, these estates are not being cut up, so says Mr.Beeby, the Minister or Lands in New South Wales.
– The tax cannot be doing much harm.
– That is what puts you in opposition - this going to do business.
– According to this statement, you have not done it. Your own party in the States say that you have not done it. They say now that they are going to deal with it.
– Will you kindly ask the Van Diemen’s Land Company in Tasmania if we have not done it?
– I will not ask them any question of the sort. I do not know the company, nor do I want to know them. My contention all through has been - and it will be found in the sequel, I believe, to be the correct attitude - that those people should undertake to unlock these lands, who can follow the unlocking of them with their administrative resources.
– Would you repeal the land tax, then?
– What twaddle to talk. I tell the honorable member that I am as keen on land settlement as he is. The only difference between us is that I propose to make a little less politics out of it than he does. The statement is made by the honorable member for Indi that £22,000,000 worth of land has been sold and bought as the result of the land tax. Mr. Knibbs says, “ You have made a mistake ; no such statement has ever been made.” It is one of those inferences which are made for political purposes alone. I believe it is a fact that in Australia to-day less than 12,000,000 acres of land are being cultivated agriculturally. Yet my honorable friends say that there has been this large increase. I have not the figures by me, but I believe it will be shown there is not an acre more being cultivated agriculturally to-day than there was a year ago.
– Yes, there are 2,000,000 acres more under wheat.
– I advise my honorable friend not to persist in that statement.
– Altogether there are 11,000,000 acres under cultivation in Australia.
– There is many a million of acres under some sort of cultivation, but not under the cultivation contemplated in breaking up these estates.
I believe that the time has arrived long since when the towns of Australia ought to have their lands unlocked. It is our landlocked towns, I believe, which have given my honorable friends their position on the Treasury bench to-day. But are they dealing with that problem? Hear what Mr. Beeby said in Finley only the other day -
Large holders must bring themselves face to face with the fact that these huge areas must give way to closer settlement.
Clearly, therefore, they are not giving way to closer settlement under the operation of this tax which is so much vaunted.
These estates cannot be broken up by the repurchase system. Something more drastic must be done. In the coming session the Government will place before the House a scheme which will be fair to the big man who owns the land to-day, but it will place upon him a far more serious responsibility when we construct new railways. We will force him to cut up his land, and let it go at reasonable prices and on reasonable terms.
– And force all the trade into Sydney.
– One of the things claimed by the authors of this land tax, and set out in the manifesto of the Labour party at the last elections, was that our cities were growing inordinately, and out of all proportion to the development of the country districts. Fifty per cent, of the people lived in the cities, so said the manifesto. Of course, that statement was not correct, but it was near enough for my honorable friends when they were on the platform. Thirty-eight per cent., I believe, was the percentage for the two large cities. The cities are growing larger, and not smaller, relatively to the country. My honorable friends have not touched that portion of the programme. The cities today are growing out of all proportion to the country; and my honorable friends’ scheme of forcing the people back from the cities into the country has absolutely failed, as Mr. Knibbs’ figures undoubtedly show.
Have they made land more plentiful and cheap? They themselves are beginning to claim now that they have not made it cheaper. Land values have not fallen, and therefore it is no less difficult to-day for a man with small means, or no means, to get a piece of land to cultivate for himself. My honorable friends have done nothing, so far, to make the condition “of the man who wants a small farm any better than it was before. On the contrary, there is a condition of things in our own State which is a little sinister, having regard to the protestations of these honorable gentlemen. While the Government of Mr. Wade cut up and let out 2,300 holdings, of an average size of 398 acres, during his last year, the present Government have let out 1,200 holdings only; but while the holdings are fewer, the average farm is 200 acres more than it was in Mr. Wade’s time, so that the Labour Government are increasing the size ot the farm, and distributing that land amongst fewer people.
– That was in New South Wales.
– Yes. The average farm of the Wade Government was 398 acres, whilst the average McGowen farm is 596 acres in extent.
– Poorer land.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– Because it is mostly Crown land. The Government are selling their own land now, and not repurchased land.
– We get an answer here, for everything. At any rate, there is the fact, and it is worth looking into. We have the statement of Mr. Beeby that he is going to compel these people to break up their estates by some other process than that adopted by honorable members opposite.
– Is he going to repurchase land, as Mr. Wade did.
– He says, “ No, that will not do.” He says that that is too expensive a way. He is going to try some other way, which I suppose was referred to in the statements which were made at the Hobart Conference.
– What about the Upper House ?
– I do not think that the honorable member ought to complain about the Upper House in New South Wales, because the present Labour Government there went into office pledged to the abolition of the Upper Chamber, and have ended up by making thirteen new appointments to it. Its abolition is set aside now that they are in office.
– It is nearer than ever.
– The honorable member will find that nothing will be said about the “abolition of the Upper House in
New South Wales until the Labour party go again upon the platforms of the country . My honorable friends opposite deal with Upper House abolition as they do with trusts. The trusts seem to serve no purpose for them until they are approaching an election. They keep the tiger in the backyard, chained up securely while they are in office, and there is nothing particular doing in the way of electioneering. But the moment election time approaches, they fetch out the tiger from the backyard, fed up and fat, show the electors his great teeth, and say, “ If you do not vote Labour, these trusts will gobble you up.” The trusts are the best friends honorable members opposite have, and that is why they are not in a hurry to do anything to them, or with them. They will not do anything to them’, because they are far too useful upon the platform-. We shall hear very little about the trusts from them until they get on to the platform again.
– They will not trust the honorable member.
– N.B. : That is a joke - one of Webster’s jokes. Honorable members opposite have made a mistake in relying upon the land tax to do for them what they said it would’ do at the last election. They said that land monopoly must be broken up in Australia. They have had two years of the breaking-up process proposed, have been collecting land tax for two years, and Mr. Beeby says that in New South Wales they have not broken up land monopoly, that the job is left to him, and that he proposes to do it with quite another policy.
Maybe he is going to do what our honorable friends left him to do according te their statement in Hobart. When discussing this question in Hobart, in March last,. Mr. Watson said -
The ^5,000 exemption was intended to give the States an opportunity of raising taxation from the land. In every State in which theLabour Party might get control it would impose a land tax, and therefore the States should havethis opportunity given to them.
The Prime Minister, speaking on the same matter, said -
The exemption of ^5,000 was a logical position to take up, because the Federal tax operated over a certain amount,” leaving the amount under to be dealt with by the States.
– Who said that?
– That is a statement by the Prime Minister. He said that they left all lands below £5,000 in value to be dealt with by the States, and that that was a logical thing to do; whilst Mr. Watson said that all under £5, 000 in value were left to the Labour parties in the States to tax, and he gave the undertaking that in every State in which the Labour party . might get control, it would impose a land tax. These statements were made upon a proposal to lower the exemption.
– Mr. Watson was thinking of Wade’s Government.
– I do not know whom he was thinking of. I am concerned with only what he said. It has been stated by the Prime Minister that the Government are getting less from the land tax this year. I do not know where he gets that statement from.
– From the Land Tax Com- . missioner.
– How does he know? The year is not up yet.
– Very nearly.
– I have an estimate for this year which shows the amount to be derived from land tax as £1,430,000 as against £1,370,000 for last year.
– The honorable gentleman should reverse the figures.
– These are the official figures : For 1910-11, £1,370,000, and the Treasurer’s estimate for 1911-12 is £1,430,000.
– It is still under £1,400,000.
– It may be, and may still be above the 1910-11 collections. I have heard this statement so many times, and from so many quarters, that I should like to have the matter cleared up. Do I understand the Prime Minister to make his statement on the strength of what he has been told by the Land Tax Commissioner?
– How much below the estimate quoted does the Commissioner say the revenue will be?
– I forget the actual figures.
– Is the reduction something substantial?
– I take it that by the amount by which the revenue from this source this year is less than the revenue for last year, we shall have an indication as to the extent to which the land tax is operating in the bursting-up of estates.
– We shall be able to give the honorable gentleman the actual figures before this debate closes.
– But would it not be better for honorable members to stop making these statements until they can produce proof of their correctness? These statements are made outside and inside this chamber, and when we ask for proofof them it is not forthcoming. The only information we have is contained in the latest bulletin issued from’ the Statistician’s office for the month of April,1912, and it shows under the heading of the Consolidated Revenue Fund that the land tax revenue for 1910-11 was £1,370,000, and that the Treasurer’s estimate of that revenue for this yearis over £100,000 more. Now we are told that the revenue to be derived will be less than the estimate. Do I understand the Prime Minister to say that the amount to be collected in land tax this year will be less than the amount actually collected last year?
– I shall give the honorable gentleman the figures?
– Then I must leave it there. At present we cannot see exactly what is being done in the way of breaking up large estates. Evidently not much is being done in this direction, for here is the voice still crying in the wilderness - the voice of Mr. Beeby - who says that these areas which are fit for settlement, and which are near railways, have not been broken up. He says that large owners still occupy them, and that he shall have to take much more drastic steps than have hitherto been taken to open them to the public of Australia. As he says that these estates have not been broken up and made available for settlement it is clear that the operation of this land tax has been a failure as applied to the large areas to which he alludes. Either that or Mr. Beeby is engaging in a bit of bluff, and I do not believe he is.
– There are the figures. They are an answer to the honorable member’s challange.
– I am thankful to the Prime Minister for supplying me with the figures, which show that the estimated revenue from the tax . was £1,413,738.
– For what year ?
– For 1910-11. Of that amount. £1.-370,000 was collected. The estimated revenue from this source during the current year is £1,303,328.
– Is that more or less ?
– It is less by £111,000. I invite honorable members opposite to look at those figures.
– They will take some looking at.
– It is well known that there has been a decision of the Court which has knocked down this assessment very considerably. The Treasurer is aware of that. Does he correct me ? Has not the decision of the Court adversely affected the collection of this tax?
– I promised to supply the honorable member with the figures, and I have done so.
– Now I want the explanation of them. The estimated revenue from the tax this year is only £111,000 less than, the estimated revenue from it last year. Everybody knows that arrangements have been made during the course of the year which would account for infinitely more than that. Land held in common has been divided under separate titles, and thus the tax has been evaded. I venture to say that that operation alone would account for more than £100,000. It would more than make up this difference, to say nothing of the decision of the Court, which has operated against the collection of this revenue to the extent anticipated by the Treasurer. Under this land tax, which was supposed to break up the large estates in Australia, when all these adjustments have been made, and, despite the decision of the Court, there will still be collected this year £1,303,328. There is no evidence in these figures that the tax is bursting up the large estates.
– Give it time.
– It is wonderful how my honorable friends plead for time when they are on the Ministerial benches.
These things, then, are no longer urgent. But everything was urgent when they were in Opposition. Their attitude on this matter reminds me of their attitude towards the Post Office. When they were upon this side of the House a crisis occurred every month or two in regard to the Postal Department, but now that they are upon the opposite side of the chamber things are all right in the Post Office. We have had sheaves of papers laid upon the table, with a view to proving how well off the Post Office employes are; notwithstanding that to-day they are seething with discontent, and are no nearer the end of their troubles than they ever were. But more of that anon. How many more years must elapse before the revenue from the land tax becomes a substantially diminishing quantity. It is idle to impose such a tax if it does not achieve its purpose. Yet the fact is that Mr. Beeby says that the New South Wales Government will have to take the matter in hand and to deal drastically with land-owners for the purpose of opening up lands for settlement.
– Where did he say that?
– He said so the other day, in the honorable member’s own electorate.
– I happened to be present, and he did not say that.
– Did not Mr. Beeby say -
Large holders must bring themselves face to face with the fact that these huge areas must give way to closer settlement. These estates cannot be broken up by the repurchase system. Something more drastic must be done. In the coming session the Government will place before the House a scheme which will be fair to the big man who owns the land to-day, but it will place upon him a far more serious responsibility when we construct new railways. We will force him to give up his land and let it go at reasonable prices and on reasonable terms.
Does the honorable member say that he did not make those statements.
– I say that he did not use the word “drastic.”
– Did he say-
We will force him to cut up his land and let it go at reasonable prices and on reasonable terms?
– He did not.
– Then I hope Mr. Beeby will correct the press reports at the earliest possible moment. Up to the present, he has not attempted to do so. All the newspapers report him in the same way. According to another journal he stated that -
The policy of the Government was no longer to purchase large estates for closer settlement, but it might pass legislation to compel large owners to subdivide on their own account.
Is that correct?
– lt is.
– Clearly, then, this tax is not compelling large land-owners to subdivide on their own account.
– That is another matter.
– It is the same matter, I think. I am obliged to the Prime Minister for having supplied me with these figures, because “they prove that the tax is not interfering with the revenue that has been derived from it in any substantial way, having regard to the arrangements which have been made by persons who held land in common, and having regard also to the decisions of the Court which have had an adverse effect upon the revenue.
Then we heard from the honorable member for Indi some statements in reference to immigration. He stated that the Government are not opposed to immigration. The Prime Minister has said the same thing ; in fact, he has stated that they are in favour of immigration. But the honorable member for Indi said -
I think I can say, not only for myself, but for every member of the party with which I have the honour to be associated, that we believe that in Australia there is room for twenty or thirty millions of people.
A little later on he said -
Until every mother’s son in this country who is able and willing to go upon the land has his wants supplied, I believe it would be a right attitude for a Federal Government to take up to discourage others from coming here.
This’ latter statement really gives his own views upon the matter, and also those of the party with which he is associated. What is their attitude in regard to immigration?
– The honorable member did not finish my statement.
– There’ is nothing more that modifies the statement, so far as I know. However, I shall read this further passage -
I think much more effective work will be done, and a much better regulation will come into vogue, than that adopted by the State Governments, after the institution of the new scheme mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, to provide a maternity allowance for the mothers of children born in the Commonwealth.
That, no doubt, is a good thing in itself ; but what has it to do with immigration? Will paying a maternity bonus induce immigrants to come here?
– Yes; people are getting married by the gross every day !
– I am only concerned as to whether the maternity bonus is to be retrospective, for, if so, there will be some .£45 for me.
– Then I can beat the honorable member, for 1 could claim ,£50 !
– There is .nothing more hypocritical than the attitude of .this Government and some of the State Governments towards immigration.
I could understand these Governments if they said straight out that they did not want any more immigrants to come here for many years, and that no provision would be made, for them; but it is said that immigrants are desired, though not until every “ mother’s son “ in Australia has got what he desires. That, I take it, is tantamount to saying that we do not wish for immigrants for years to come - that they may be allowed to go to Canada, into which country they are pouring at the rate of 400,000 a year.
– And pouring out again.
– No; there are 8,000,000 or 9,000,000 of people in Canada as .against 4,500,000 in Australia. No doubt some people do leave Canadathere is an ebb and flow in all these matters - but this year Canada anticipates 400,000 new arrivals. In Canada last year £36,000,000 of British money found investment, as against £3,250,000 invested in Australia.
– Australians are lending their own money.
– I am glad tr, hear it ; indeed, they must be, because, according, to the Minister of Home Affairs, the banks are making bigger dividends than ever - are still “ bleeding the people.”
The other day Mr”; Holman went to the city Trades Hall, and. the newspaper report says that he was mobbed when leaving, after he had explained the Government attitude on immigration. Mr. Holman went there to justify the attitude of his Government in making provision for a certain number of immigrants to come to Australia, and he was assailed by one speaker after another, who declared that they did not want immigrants - that there was no room for them. These same speakers reminded the Government that, they had declared a definite policy of stopping immigration when they got into office. Mr. Rocke on that occasion, referring to. the election in .Mr. Holman’s district, said that it was then promised that the Government would stop immigration, and thus improve on the policy of the previous Administration. Instead, however, of stopping immigration the Government are bringing people here; and, so incensed were they with -Mr. Holman, that, the report says, he was mobbed.
– Be fair. The mobbing took place after Mr. Holman went out of the hall.
– I was Just about to say that the mobbing, I believe, was. pretty harmless; but there was the heading in the newspaper.
– The mobbing was outside in the street.
– The fact is that he was met at the door, and some angry people followed him.
– They met him up the street.
– They were the unemployed.
– All I want to emphasize is the fact that Mr. Holman was severely criticised by the Trades Hall Council for his attitude on immigration ; and this is his attitude -
The intention of the Government, as then stated, was not to increase the number of immigrants, but to alter their character. Instead of the miscellaneous system of nominated immigrants, an officer possessing the confidence of the trades-union movement had been sent to England to select men, particularly in view of the railway works that the Government intended to carry out within the next three or four years, and to see that they were sound unionists.
Here we have preference to unionists in immigration ; and, in this connexion, there is a singular fact.
When, some time ago, Sir George Reid asked for the assistance of a journalist to write advertisements in London, a man was selected who was associated with the Trades Hall. Mr. McGowen and Mr. Holman clinched this matter by selecting Mr. AndySpence, secretary of the Bread Carters Union, to go Home and help to select immigrants. Thus we have selected a man from the Trades Hall, who does not believe in immigration, to write immigration advertisements, and a Trades Hall representative to pass the immigrants. How many immigrants are We to get under such conditions?
– That has nothing to do with this. Government.
– Yes ; this Government sent Home a man to write the advertisements.
– It was a State matter.
– No; I am now talking of the advertising from the High Commissioner’s office, with which this Government have to do. They sent Home a man who was associated with the Trades Hall ; and we know that the Trades Hall isagainst immigration, hip and thigh. Then, as I say, the New South Wales Government, clinched the matter bysending another Trades Hall man to pass the immigrants. This is the attitude of the Western Australian Labour Government towards immigration -
The Labour Government’s attitude towards immigration is indicated by the proposal to abolish the Immigrants Home in Perth; to house new arrivals in the dilapidated Old Men’s Home in Fremantle, and to break up the Immigration Bureau Staff.
The fewer immigrants the better - that is the policy of the Labour party. It is said that the present Commonwealth Government is not against immigration; but when they were asked by the. States to take the only step they could take in the present circumstances, the proposal was “ turned down.” What for? Here is the statement of the Prime Minister -
The resolution of the recent Premiers’ Conference quoted in your communication appears to amount to a recommendation that the Commonwealth Government should contribute a sum of approximately£150,000 per annum to the cost of the work of introducing immigrants to Australia, now carried out by the State Governments, without, however, altering any of the other arrangements incidental to that policy.
What other arrangement does the Prime Minister desire altered? He will not even say what he wants. What other arrangement incidental to a policy of immigration does he desire? Does he wish to have control of the lands of the State, so that he may send immigrants direct to these lands? Is that what he has at the back of his mind ? Is it not timethat the Government said exactly where they are in the matter of immigration?
– The honorable member will say it for the Government.
– This Government has done less by way of explanation to the country, since they came into, office, than any other I remember.
– They have so little to explain.
– Instead of explaining to the country, they go upstairs and explain behind bolted doors.
– It saves a lot of time.
– It does.
– Where did the honorable member for Flinders explain his conduct?
– I have been hearing so many versions of what the honorable member for Flinders has and has not done from my honorable friends opposite, that happily it has come to be a thing to be joked about.
– It is a nightmare with the Opposition.
– It is wonderful what my honorable friends know about what takes place in the Opposition room.
I constantly hear them say that this, that, and the other has taken place in our room. I have been in the room constantly, and have not heard anything like what they say takes place. The honorable member for Flinders is here to speak for himself. He is able to do it. He is perfectly at liberty to do it, and can still remain one of the party, an occupant of the room, and a member of the Caucus, so-called. That is the distinction between our side and the other .
– The Opposition have a Caucus, then?
– The fullest pos sible freedom of criticism is allowed to honorable members connected with the Liberal party.
– Some of the Opposition would make the honorable member for Flinders sit up for what he said if they could.
– What did the honorable member for Boothby say?
– The honorable member for Boothby also carries a similar right of free and independent thinking. We do our own thinking over here. Honorable members opposite in their Caucus remind me of that statement in Bunty pulls the Strings, where a boy says to his father, “ I cannot understand this catechism, father.” The father replies, “You have not got to understand it, my boy ; you have only got to learn it.” That is the case with this Caucus. Honorable members opposite have not got to understand these matters ; they have only to subscribe to them and sayas little as possible about them. There is no room for independent thought for them. They are lined up and regimented.
– Willis is keeping up the credit of the Caucus.
– What Willis? The celebrated Henry Willis? Before the Caucus has done with Mr. Willis it will be sorry.
– Which Caucus?
– There is only one Caucus in Australia; it is all the same body.
This Government professes to be almost dying to get at the trusts of Australia. They tell us they want more power to deal with the trusts. This is what they say about them in the Governor-General’s Speech : -
Proceedings under the Australian industries Preservation Act were instituted against certain persons engaged in the production and shipping of coal, and, after a protracted hearing, decision was given in favour of the Government and penalties imposed upon all the defendants. Notice of appeal has been given.
Has this notice of appeal struck my honorable friends opposite dumb? Has it paralyzed their arm? Why is it that they have not gone on with prosecutions against other trusts ? As they have been so successful why have they not prosecuted some of the trusts enumerated a little while ago by the Attorney-Generalhimself? There are trusts in Australia, he said, the existence of which has been proved. Information in the possession of his Department shows that these commodities are being controlled by trusts -
Kerosene and all subsidiary oils, bricks; tobacco, confectionery, shoe machinery, manures; trucks, photographic materials, certain proprietary articles, flour, meats, jams, wheat, certain lines of dairy produce, dried fruits, galvanized iron and timber. These are not all. but all these have been before the Department and have been declared to represent monopolies.
What is the Department doing about them ? The Government have only tackled one trust as yet, and that prosecution we set going before we left office. We prepared the ground for them, and they could not get out of the prosecution. It is only a fair inference that if they could have got out of that they would. They have not touched another trust up to date. Why are they paralyzed in regard to trusts in this way? It is time they began to do something, and talked less. They will have plenty to say about this and other matters on the platform in a few months’ time. The public will be asking the Government, “ What have you done during the three years you have been in office?” They will be compelled to answer that they have done nothing, unless they hurry up; and that is the last thing theywant to do in connexion with these trusts.
– The Brick Trust is being dealt with very successfully in Sydney.
-Since the Brick Trust has been mentioned, and bricks are included in the list of the AttorneyGeneral, perhaps I had better say a word about it.
Mr. Griffith, the Minister of Public Works in New South Wales has begun to make bricks, and is charging his Department £2 per thousand for them. The public have not got a brick yet at less than £2 5s. per thousand.
– Who are the public?
– Who are the public? A very pertinent question frorn these gentlemen when they are in office!
There are other things which are up in Australia besides bricks - up even more than bricks. Bread, that the people can eat. is up. Bricks, which the people cannot eat, are down to a Government Department but not down to the public. There never was a greater piece of make-believe than is being practised at present by the Socialistic Government in my own State. What is taking place there? Bricks, cement and lime are to be made by the Government. No cement has been turned out yet. A few bricks are being made for the Government Departments.. Not much lime, if any, has, I think, been produced. The last thing is a joinery works ; £50,000 worth of plant has been purchased. Mr. Griffith says that it is going to be the greatest joinery works in Australia. He is a regular political Barnum ; he is always going to run the “ greatest show on earth.” The whole of these works represent about £150,000, spent in two years. Mr. Griffith is going to catch up to private enterprise and strangle it, and displace it by State enterprise. Yet the Government has in two years spent £150,000, whilst private enterprise in that time has laid down £3,000,000 worth of additional plant - £3,000,000 to get away from him ; £150,000 to catch up to them. When is Mr. Griffith going to overtake them? This is a policy of make-believe - mere chips in porridge - without making any substantial impression upon the private trading enterprises , of this country.
– Who is putting in the £3,000,000?
– Private enterprise.
– I thought that the capitalist was taking his money out. of the country.
– He is taking some of it away, but evidently enough is being retained to put down that additional plant. . We have an expenditureof £3,000,000 to further entrench the private enterprises of Australia, while a Socialistic Government, which sets out to destroy it eventually, has spent, up to date, about £150,000.
– What is the increased capital that is being put into the brickmaking industry ?
– I know of one kiln which has just been erected by a company, the managing director of which - our old friend, Mr. Sydney Smith - was at one time a member of this House, and
I believe that it will turn out more bricks than the State Government kiln will do. Evidently, our old friend is not afraid of the kind of Socialism that the Labour party is palming off on the people of Australia
– They will palm off that company on somebody.
– For all that the honorable member can do to stop them, no doubt they will.
The Labour party told its supporters at the last general election that theywere going to put a stop to this kind of thing. The Commonwealth Bank was going to stop the “ bleeding “ of the people, and their Socialistic administration and undertakings were gradually to substitute State for private enterprise.
– “ Gradually “ - that is right.
– At the present rate of “gradual Socialism,” the Labour party will need to have about thirty years in office in order tomake any substantial impression on the people of Australia. My honorable friends opposite give the people outside just enough Socialism to keep them going while they are comfortably ensconced inside.
Honorable members may ask, “ Why, then, complain if this is what they are doing ?” Let me say frankly that I see signs of a very serious development in this country in the near future. Syndicalism is already beginning to rear its head in Australia. The working man outside is tiring of his champions inside the Parliament, and he is beginning to say so. He is beginning to see that there is nothing in this political game for himself, but everything for his champions inside. I am afraid that, unlessthe position is carefully handled, the next development that we shall see will be in the direction of syndicalism, than which I can conceive of nothing more calamitous to the working man of Australia.
– That, carried to its logical conclusion, means profit-sharing.
– Does it really? Quite recently, at a Trades Union Congress at Sydney, resolutions were proposed which every one ought to read with considerable anxiety. It is true that the first, which was to abolish arbitration proceedings, and to resort to the general strike, was turned down, but the principle of the general strike ran through every line of the amendment, that was eventually carried. They decided to tolerate such institutions as Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards until the Federation of Labour had been completed ; but every one, reading between the lines, knows what they propose to do when that Federation shall have been completed. The proposal means, in one sentence, the principle of the general strike in Australia.
– It does not.
– It means power to enforce a general strike.
– Not even that.
– I shall be very glad to hear from my honorable friends what it does mean; but just now I am placing upon it my own interpretation.
– It is a wrong one.
– Perhaps so. I shall be glad to be corrected.
– I know that it is a wrong interpretation, because I was secretary of the Federation.
– At all events, when I see our old friend Peter Bowling, and men like him, at such a gathering, and more particularly when such resolutions as that which I have mentioned are discussed, I think that syndicalism is in view.
– There were more than Peter Bowling present.I and others were at the Congress.
– Then does the honorable member subscribe to the motion that was carried ?
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Dalley to cease interjecting.
– I shall leave that point, but I trust honorable ‘members will believe that I was never more serious than I am in expressing the hope that both sides will vie with each other to keep syndicalism out of Australia. We do not want it here. We have, I hope, in this sunny land of ours a more excellent way of dealing with these matters. What I fear is, however, that the people outside will become disgusted with the legislative tinkering of Labour Governments from time to time. As a matter of fact, if I am any judge of the situation, they are becoming disgusted. Their votes on every conceivable occasion show that they are. So far as honorable members opposite are concerned, the handwriting is already on the wall. They may smile, but the people of Australia, and their own supporters in particular, are turning from them in thou sands, and it is important to note in what direction their faces are set. It becomes us to inquire very seriously into the question of industrial unrest. I subscribe entirely to the statement made by my leader that something ought to be done to encourage to the fullest possible extent greater cooperation - greater harmony and better and more intimate relationships - between the capitalists of Australia and their own workmen. It is time that the trades unionism of Australia assumed a constructive aspect. I believe in constructive trades unionism, at this time of day, as against the old destructive form, which simply lays waste, and can do no more. The trades unions of Australia, I understand, are subscribing, in one form or another, close upon £750,000 per annum. What is being done with that money? We have Courts to settle industrial disputes throughout Australia
– And a lot of the money is being spent in those Courts.
– One strike, I should think, costs a great deal more. Only a fraction of this money is being spent in the Court. Is it not time that the unionists of Australia began to do something with the huge funds at their backs? Why cannot those in the established and more thoroughly organized industries, at all events, go to the proprietors and say, “ We want to. buy into these concerns. We have the money behind us, and are prepared to pay spot cash. You must let us come in “?
– Will you walk into my parlour, said the spider to the fly.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. The honorable member likens his unionist supporters to flies, that cannot look after themselves. I have a better opinion of the trades unionists of Australia. I believe that there is intellect, ability, and patriotism enough in the movement to enable those connected with it, if they go about matters in a business-like way, to utilize these huge funds to advantage by some co-partnership or profit-sharing arrangement. Men ought to share in the return from production in proportion to the worth of the work which they put into it.
– What is the dividend paid on watered stock in Australia?
– The interiection is quite irrelevant. Why should not the workers take part in the management of these well -organized concerns? Then they could put an end to the watering of stock. Nearly £750,000 is contributed annually in one way and another by the unionists of Australia, and this huge sum should be turned to better account than its present use.
Honorable members opposite preach the doctrine of class hatred, and strive to create further division between the factors of production. They know that it is economically unsound to contend that there is a fundamental disagreement between capital as such and labour as such. What I suggest would assist the working man to better himself, and would put an end to fratricidal strife. I suggest to them that they should use their great resources instead of wasting them on strikes, and the more they do so the more will they increase their efficiency. I read recently in the Pall Mall Gazette that in certain of the ships of the Navy the gunnery this year is said to have been beneath the standard of last year, and that it is understood that there is disaffection below deck on some of the vessels whose shooting has been bad. “ An unhappy, discontented ship does not shoot as well as a contented one,” comments the writer, who applies the theory industrially. I believe that the production of Australia would be greatly increased if both factors could do their best with the certainty that each would benefit fairly in its distribution.
– The. suggestion is not original.
– I do not pretend that it is. Almost every day we read of a fresh instance in the Old Country of the co-operation of which I, am speaking, and it has never been discontinued where tried. These arrangements are worthy of a trial in Australia. I must postpone what I intended to say on the subject of defence, though I have been amazed to hear members Of the Labour party in both Houses claim credit for the defence scheme. They must think that the people are fools who cannot read.
As, to the Warrego, all. arrangements were made for putting her together on Cockatoo Island before her parts were landed in, Australia, and no action of mine affected the matter. I had plenty to do during the eleven months that I was in office. This Government has contracted with the Government ofNew SouthWales for the building of an unarmoured cruiser, for which the term of twenty-two months is to be allowed. The report of the Defence Conference contradicts the statement that our scheme of naval defence was initiated by this Government. We are told in it that -
Under certain conditions the establishment of local defence flotillas, consisting of torpedo craft and submarines, might be of assistance in time of war to the operations of the fleet.
The Government had no fleet unit or anything beyond the small vessels which, in the report, are called “ adjuncts to a fighting fleet.”
Such flotillas cannot co-operate on the high seas in the wider duties of protection of trade and preventing attacks from hostile cruisers and squadrons. The operations of destroyers and torpedo boats are necessarily limited to the waters near the coast, or to a radius of action not far distant from a base, while there are great difficulties in manning such a force and keeping it always thoroughly efficient. A scheme limited to torpedo craft would not in itself, moreover, be a good means of gradually developing a self-contained fleet capable of both offence and defence.
It is said that even as a beginning the establishment of such a fleet would be unwise.
The fleet unit to be aimed at should, therefore, in the opinion of the Admiralty, consist at least of the following : - Armoured cruiser (new “ Indomitable “ class which is of the Dreadnought type). . . .
Honorable members opposite sneer at the idea of constructing a Dreadnought, but that, according to the experts, should be the first vessel built in commencing the formation of a fleet unit. Other vessels should be laid down so that they might be finished simultaneously with the armoured cruiser. The construction of the armoured cruiser should be undertaken as soon as possible, and the remaining vessels should be constructed under conditions which would insure their completion, as nearly as possible, simultaneously, with the completion and readiness for service of the armoured cruiser, which it is understood would be in about two and a half years. It is three years since the armoured cruiser was arranged for, and it is, I believe, only awaiting the completing fittings. It was arranged for before this Government took office. Now Ministers are letting a contract for an unarmoured cruiser, to be finished within twenty-two months. It will therefore not be finished until five years after its construction was first projected. It has taken this Government, therefore, five years to complete one of the subsidiary vessels of this fleet. That kind of administration wants speeding up at the earliest possible moment. I shall return to this matter later. The time has gone, and I cannot deal with it here.
I have here, too, the scheme of the Fisher Government for land defence set out in their Gympie proposals, and elaborated later in a way by Senator Pearce. It is quite true that the honorable member for West Sydney must be given the credit of agitating the question of compulsory training before almost anybody else in the Chamber; but it is also equally true that his proposals were absolutely unworkable. He confessed them to be so. ‘He wanted to train everybody between the years of fourteen and forty- five fourteen days per annum, and make them train for nothing. He himself declared, later, that the scheme had to be put aside. While he is entitled to all the credit for originating the notion in this Chamber, when his colleagues were cutting out of existence the standing army we were supposed to have, when they did destroy every semblance of naval defence, and laid down the proposition that something under ,£600,000 a year should suffice for land defence, his voice was one amongst all his party. As a Government, my honorable friends can take no credit for the present schemes of defence. Give the honorable member for West Sydney all the credit which is due to him. Do not detract one iota from it. When you have said that, you are quite justified in saying that for organizing the schemes of defence which are being carried out the previous Government, of which I had the honour to be a member, must be given the sole credit. This Government is carrying them a little further. Let them have the credit which is due, but do not let them make those impudent assertions which they are constantly making on the platforms, that these are their own schemes. They are nothing of the kind. My honorable friends are carrying out the schemes of other people, and are entitled to whatever credit good administration merits. That administration needs criticising to-day, and is going to get a little more criticism than it has had.
Here is one instance of the administration. It takes the Government five years to build a subsidiary cruiser. A new policy of administration altogether wants inaugurating in regard to the building of this fleet. The Government are spending almost £5,000,000 per annum on defence, as against their own .scheme, which, as set out in the table here, would have, meant this year an expenditure of ,£1,990,000 odd. The land scheme was to be carried right up to 19 1 7- 18, and their training was not to extend beyond the twentieth year, either. Everything after that year up to 1938, where their schemes went to, was to be on a purely voluntary basis; and all the men were to get for the training was 12s. 6d. per week at the very highest. These are their schemes which we had to brush aside. The present schemes are ours. Without going into any greater elaboration, when I see this Government spending nearly £5,000,000, instead of less than £2,000,000, I say “ Good’ luck to them.” I will not be over captious and over critical, but will get behind them as far as the substantial side of their administration goes, while they pursue this course. I only lodge an objection when now, at this time of day, they want to jump every bit of credit for the schemes which are at present in operation.
With regard to this programme generally, there is nothing of reform contained in it. Nothing of reform is intended except the one thing relating to the referenda. If they do not get their proposals’ put through at the next election, they will not have anything to do in the next Parliament. The referenda is to be the be-all and the end-all of the next battle at the polls, because the Government cannot go on without the proposed alterations of the Constitution, so they say. They cannot move, hand or foot, the AttorneyGeneral has previously said,- until the referenda proposals are put through. It will be our duty- to interpose objections when the time . comes to the proposals, believing, as we do, that the adjustment of the relations between the States and the Commonwealth can be so arranged as to lead to cooperative, harmonious and united - work, instead of friction such ‘ as is contemplated by my honorable friends. We do not need to strip the States of every vestige of power to make the Constitution a success. That is the main fundamental issue between us. They want to destroy the Federal character of the Constitution; we want to maintain that character, making such adjustments and developments from time to time as the growing requirements of Australia shall show to be necessary. That is the issue to be submitted at the next election. My own opinion is that the people will decide in no uncertain way. Already they are telling honorable gentlemen opposite that they ought not longer to be there. Already they have shown the Labour party that the confidence of the people has been withdrawn. Already they have said, in unmistakable terms, “ We gave you our confidence, and you did not make good.” I believe that an opportunity is only wanted for the people to sweep away this Administration and put in a Government that will not make fulsome promises which they are afterwards not able to perform, but will carry on in the paths of sanity and progress and moderation to the infinite advancement of this country.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. In his speech, the honorable member for Parramatta attributed to me words which I said I did not use. He said that in seconding the Address-in-Reply, I stated that “that we have falsified the statements of our opponents.” When I referred to Hansard to prove that I did not use the words, the honorable member said that if the statement was not in Hansard it must have been edited out of the report. I naturally took that remark as a reflection, not only upon myself but upon Hansard as well. I hold in my hand the Hansard proof of my speech, and there is no foundation for the charge made by the honorable member that such a statement had been edited out of the report.
– I desire to make a word of explanation in order to clear up this matter. I withdraw the statement in its entirety. It is not a statement of substance, any way. It does not matter a straw to anything I said. If the honorable member assures me that he did not use the words, I am prepared at once to say that I must have made a mistake.
Mr.HUGHES (West Sydney- AttorneyGeneral) [9.14]. - I desire to offer my congratulations, both to the Leader of the Opposition and to the honorable member for Parramatta, for their two most excellent speeches, both characteristic of the men and their manner ; the one redolent of his ancient eloquence and full of those lofty and ambiguous references to events other than those which are before the Chamber; and the other characterized by that sweeping indictment of those who happen to be associated with this side, and that force with which he invests all his utterances that makes him always worth listening to. I think they make an admirable pair. One seems to be always . building inaccessible mansions in the skies, and the other is always consigning his opponents to perdition. The honorable gentlemen between them have said a very great deal, and it would be difficult to attempt to traverse even a tithe of their utterances. There are but two or three matters which I shall attempt to deal with. I shall not attempt to-night to touch on the matter connected with the Coal Vend case. Since my Department has been impugned, I am particularly anxious that what I have to say on that point should have the publicity given only to utterances made at an earlier hour of the day.
There are two matters to which I shall refer this evening. One is the Brisbane strike, already thoroughly dealt with by my right honorable leader. I wish, to add only one or two words to what he has said. The Leader of the Opposition said a very great deal about the Brisbane strike. Amongst other things, that we had failed in our duty, and that a very lamentable and serious state of affairs arose at that time as a consequence of our dereliction of duty. The right honorable the Prime Minister has dealt with and refuted this charge in detail. We have heard a great deal about our constitutional obligations. All I wish to do is to explain the law in relation to the constitutional obligation on the part of the Commonwealth to supply troops in cases where domestic violence exists in States. Having done that, I shall leave the Brisbane strike alone.
It is perfectly true that in certain circumstances it is the duty of the Commonwealth, under the Constitution, to supply the military forces for the purpose, where a State is unable to do it, of suppressing domestic violence. But before that can be done several conditions require to be fulfilled. One of them is that the Governor of the State in which it is asserted that domestic violence exists must issue a proclamation making that statement. Subsequent to the issue of that proclamation there must be an application made to the Commonwealth Government, in whose discretion the matter then lies. There is no duty cast upon the Government of the Commonwealth to send troops whether they will or whether they will not. But there are these two conditions - one that a proclamation shall be issued by the Governor of the State; and, secondly, that having been done, and the matter having thus been brought under the notice of the Commonwealth, that an application shall be made to them for military assistance. The Commonwealth Government, may then, having reviewed all the circumstances, if they think fit, send troops or refrain from doing so. The Commonwealth Government is to be the judge of whether, as a .fact, the circumstances call for the despatch of troops.
Under section 51 of the Defence Act passed by a Government of which the Leader of the Opposition was a member, and of which the right honorable member tor Swan had charge, it is provided that- -
Where the Governor of a State has proclaimed that domestic violence exists therein5, the Governor-General, upon the application of the Executive Government of the Slate, may, by proclamation, declare - and so on. Therefore, the issue of a proclamation is a condition precedent hi, all cases where the military is asked for. There was no proclamation issued by the Governor of the State of Queensland. The first condition precedent to the sending of troops to that State was not fulfilled, and therefore any request made to the Prime Minister was improperly before him. NOW for the second point, viz., whether, as a fact, the circumstances warranted the despatch of troops. Two cases may be cited as to what constitutes domestic violence. One is ‘Luther v. Borden, United States Reports, and- another United States v. Cruikshank, volume 93, page 588 United States Reports. The following extract from the judgment of Chief Justice Waite may be cited -
The charge as made is really of nothing more than a conspiracy to commit a breach of the peace within a Stale. Certainly it should not be claimed that the United States have the power or are required to do merely police duty in the States. If a State cannot protect itself against domestic violence the United States may, upon the call of the Executive, when the Legislature cannot be convened-
Their conditions are different from ours. They require no proclamation - lend their assistance for that purpose. It is a guaranty of the Constitution, but it does not apply to a case like this.
Therefore the Prime Minister was quite right not to send troops to Queensland, for two sufficient reasons : one that the requirements under the Constitution and the Defence Act had not been fulfilled ; and the other that the circumstances did not call for them. There had been no proclamation, and the request was therefore improperly and illegally before him. Tn the second place, it was clear there was no domestic violence within the meaning of the judgment I have just cited. It was a case for mere police duty, as was proved conclusively by the fact that Mr. Denham, the Premier of Queensland, was subsequently able to maintain order, and did maintain order, by the ordinary methods of the police, aided by special constables. So much for the failure of this Government to fulfil their constitutional obligations. The Queensland Government apparently did not take the trouble to acquaint themselves as to what those constitutional obligations were. They merely tried to set a trap, as it were, or to endeavour to involve my right honorable friend the Prime Minister in a morass in which he would have hopelessly floundered to his doom. I cannot be suspected of having any bias against the military. My honorable friend the honorable member for Parramatta has complimented me, and other men have censured, for what I have done in connexion with the promotion of military defence. But I say most emphatically that before I would cast a vote to send the military to interfere in a case of this sort it . would have to be shown to me that a state of domestic violence did exist in which life and property were absolutely unsafe. It is, most emphatically, not sufficient that the cause of the capitalist employer is in jeopardy.
The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Parramatta have spoken about strikes, and have deplored their existence under our regime. No one can deplore strikes more than I do. But what does the honorable gentleman propose to do to prevent them? I have had something to do with strikes. The honorable gentleman, has been only a looker on from a safe distance. The Leader of the Opposition has talked about profit-sharing, which I learn for the first time from him is a new method of settling industrial unrest. From the day I first had the honour of listening to the honorable gentleman until to-day, I should have imagined that it was some bureau, board, or commission to which we should look for the solution of, and the panacea for, all industrial trouble, But during the recess he has evidently been doing some reading. He has stumbled upon profit-sharing under the “ P’s,” and co-operation under the !I C’s.” He has been reading these things up, and we now learn that this is the new method to which we are to look for industrial salvation. The honorable member for Parramatta said that wherever this method has been tried it has proved a great success. What are the facts ? It has been tried in England, and is being tried now, yet the past three years in England has been a time of such industrial turmoil that the like of it has never been known in the history of that country, or, indeed, in the history of the Englishspeaking race. Mr. A. J. Balfour has said that before the industrial question the great questions of Home Rule and the disestablishment of the Church sink into utter insignificance. He declared that industrial unrest is shaking Great Britain to her very base. Yet my honorable friend, at this hour, calmly puts forward profit-sharing as a method of settling industrial difficulties. He suggests to the plutocrats of Great Britain, as well as to the toiling millions who are starving, and who are being goaded on by the ever-increasing greed of the men who control prices to do things which are foreign to their natures, that profit-sharing and co-operation are the means whereby they can both obtain economic salvation. I say that his is the talk of an economic Alice in Wonderland. There is exhibited in this crude revelation of my honorable friend’s attitude a rate of progress in economic literature that is most appalling. It is perfectly true that Cadburys, the manufacturers of Sunlight soap, Lever Bro-; then. and other firms, have tried profitsharing and co-operation, and no doubt their employes are very much better off than are the employes of some other firms. I do not deny that for a moment, any more than I deny that teetotallers, amongst a race of drunkards, are always better off so long as they are alive to their opportunities. But if all men were teetotallers there would be nothing in it. Similarly, if all men were profit-sharers and co-operators, where would the benefit come in? And, in any case, how would such a state of things solve the problem of industrial unrest ? It deals only with one side of the question. There are two sides to this question, and my honorable friend has seen only one side. With him profit-sharing concerns only the producer. It does not touch the consumer at all. Is not one side of the problem of this great question the cost of living? What about the unfortunate persons who have to buy things? We only produce to the end that we may consume, and consequently consumption is the primary object of our industrial existence. Does profit-sharing and co-operation offer any solution of that problem ? Absolutely none. In my time
I have seen, in many avocations, the kind of nature that runs through us all. Whether we be engaged in manual, clerical, or professional work, we are the same men at bottom. There is no difference between us. Our own interests sway cur judgment, motives, and actions. Take, for instance, the coal trade, the iron trade, the boot trade, and the baking trade, under theprofitsharing system. Who is to fix the prices of coal, iron, boots, and bread ? Has each group to fix its own price ? If so, that group which is strongest will fix the price. If the coal miners are strongest they will say, “ Never mind whether you can pay it or not. Now that we are all in the swim, the more we charge the bigger will be our profit.” But what about the other people? Take the case of the clerks. They must live, like everybody else. How will they get on? Consider the position of the lawyer. Imagine the pathetic depths to which our profession would be reduced by recourse to this system of profit-sharing. Profit-sharing would not embrace half the community, and would only touch one side of the question and it would not settle industrial unrest - on the contrary, it would excite it. lt is very clear that the question with which we are faced to-day is not so much a question of production as of consumption. ‘It is by the regulation of profits and the regulation of prices alone that we can hope for any solution of this problem. The workers of the world have made up their minds by some means or other to get enough wages to live upon. But there is no method at their command by which they can control profits and prices, and therefore there follows after every strike a turn of the wheel - prices go up, the wage received is insufficient, and the whole ghastly business has to be gone over again. The party to which I belong does not believe in strikes, and, above all, does not believe inthe general strike. I think, of all men, I have shown that. In a conflict with those who did believe in a general strike, and who did all that they could to enforce it, T was able with the organization to which I belong to prevent Australia being plunged into the dreadful effects of a general strike.
I do not believe in the general strike for two reasons. Its effects are dreadful to the community, and are certainly not less dreadful to the men who engage in it.
I wish to say no more about the Brisbane incident. There it is. We are not asked to approve it, yet it is easily understood. Mr. Badger is a man, I suppose, of very strong convictions, and he had his own idea about the wearing of a badge, whilst the tramway employes had theirs. Their views did not coincide. If I had been a tramdriver, or the honorable member for Ballarat and I had been tram-drivers, I am sure that both of us would have been inclined to go out on strike. It is all very well for persons who are able to live in sheltered nooks and glass houses to censure strikes; but let any man be compelled to work for a bare living wage, and exposed to the taunts, the pin-pricks, and the irritating tactics of an industrial tyrant, and he will throw wisdom to the winds, and engage in a strike.
The honorable member for Parramatta dealt with still another question. He said, “You have imposed a land tax, and it has not done any good. There is no mo]e land - indeed, there is less - under cultivation to-day than there was previously.” He said, further, that round about the great cities land was still held by large owners, showing that that land tax had done no good. All I can say is that the information at my disposal does not coincide with his. As to the land under cultivation in the year ] 909, the year before the tax, there were 9,891,243 acres, and in 1:911, the year after the tax, there were 11,893,838, being an increase in a year and a half of 2,002,395. Further, it is to be remembered that we see the operation of the land tax for only some seven months, that is, up to the 30th June, 1911. On that date everybody who owned land was taxed and returned as an owner, and subdivisions since that time would not appear in the land tax returns for this year. We have, therefore, seen the operations of the land tax for little more than half a year, yet its effects are, I venture to say, truly extraordinary. Land long held out of use has been put in use; and an ever growing stream of immigrants have poured into Australia. In regard to immigration, I desire to point out that in 1908, when the honorable member for Ballarat was in office, the excess of arrivals over departures was 13,150, and that in 1909 this figure had risen to 28,933, while in 191 1, which was the first year of the land tax, the number jumped to 77,703. For the first four months of this year the excess of arrivals over departures amounts to 25>33z> thus showing, in the most effective way possible, that, under our regime, immigration is steadily increasing in volume. And the immigrants are now able to get something they never could get before, namely, access to decent lands. This represents a tangible and practical policy of immigration. By the honorable gentleman, on the other hand, we have been fed on dreams. We have been supplied with admirable dissertations and orations on immigration and other things, which were not sufficiently attractive to induce immigration to any greater extent than is shown by the figures I have quoted. Of course, the honorable member may, if he likes, say that we have had good seasons. That is very true ; and the good seasons are not our fault. The honorable member was in office during many years when there were good seasons, and he had a number ot most excellent chances to pass good, effective legislation for the benefit of the people; but he wasted those chances, and is now seriously concerned because we have not done the like. The people of this country, in spite of the gloomy jeremiads of the honorable member for Parramatta about the people turning against us, have, in the most unmistakable way, proved that they are not so turning. The Werriwa election stands out as a veritable monument. It was an appeal to Cæsar in excelsis to those people who were addressed by the Sydney and Melbourne press particularly. I mean those people who never voted at previous elections, but who were adjured by the press to “ come up “ and they “ came up “ in such numbers as have never been seen before. The result was that a Labour candidate was returned. As I am reminded by the Prime Minister, the circumstances of that election were singularly unpropitious to us. We had a candidate quite unknown, opposed to whom was a man very well known, who had the additional advantage of a month’s start in the canvass. This Opposition candidate is a past-master in election methods, and he had spoken about a ruin settling on the land like a pestilence. He had pointed out the very many defects of the Labour party, its sins, vices, and shortcomings ; further, he had dwelt on the Caucus rule, and all that it meant behind “ bolted doors,” and so forth. Still further, this candidate had broken or sprained his ankle in a way calculated to make all chivalric, sentimental persons “do the right thing” for him; and yet, in the face of all this, and in the face of the most terrible drought that that part of the country had known since 1902-3, the farmers voted for the Labour man. In the face of the Brisbane strike, during which men who belong to our movement had, very naturally, being provoked by the tactics of the employers and their Government, done foolish things for that movement, the people supported the Labour party as still better than the Denham party. In Tasmania the Labour party came so near winning that the Government of the day was at the mercy of the gentleman who used to sit just at that pillar opposite. Once, in this Parliament, he had the Government of the day at his mercy. After having lectured Mr. Reid for about one hour and three-quarters, consigning him to every imaginable inferno to which a politician can be sent, Mr. Cameron decided to support him. To such pitiable depths has the Government in Tasmania been reduced. And this is the decadence of the Labour party ! This is the writing on the wall ! All that I have to say is that it is not capable of several interpretations, like the recent speech of the honorable member for Flinders. My honorable friend opposite has been speaking about strikes. He said that, during our regime, there has been industrial unrest; that we were called into being to settle such discontents, and that we have lived in an atmosphere of them. He quoted from a New South Wales newspaper to show how many strikes there had been. Statistics, of course, are most valuable - if they are carefully selected ! I have taken the trouble to have some prepared, so that I might supply the House and the country with those which the honorable member omitted. I wish to remind the honorable member that, during his regime, there were many strikes. I will take only one - the coal strike.
– Will the honorable member connect that with our Government ?
– I have before me figures showing the number of days’ work lost. The number of persons on strike multiplied by the number of days lost during the coal strike shows the loss to industry. That strike lasted about five months. Such was the facility for settling disputes under the honorable member’s Administration. The calculation shows that 1>937,6o° working days were lost during that strike.
– That strike was confined to one State, and did not come under the Commonwealth law at all.
– I think that that is a pretty fair record for the honorable member’s Administration. He went out shortly after, which, I take it, was a dispensation of Providence. The honorable member for Parramatta alluded to the fact that during the two years and two months this Government has been in office, it has had to make some appointments. Apparently, we have been guilty of appointing to office some persons who share our political opinions. When one comes to think of it, that, after all, is not a very singular thing, nor is it a very heinous offence. Why are we here? We are here because our opinions are the opinions of the majority of the people of Australia. Has it come to this then : that the opinions held by the majority of the people of the Commonwealth are such that any person holding them is to be precluded at once from public office or public appointment in this country? If it is not so, these references to partisan appointments are simply so much hot air. Have honorable members opposite anything to say against the fitness of any individual who has been appointed to any position ? If so, that is another matter entirely. But I challenge honorable members opposite to point to one appointment which we have made where we have chosen an unfit person.
– The honorable member for Parramatta gave half-a-dozen instances.
– Take the case of Mr. Campbell. What was that case? He was appointed an Imperial Trade Commissioner. His duties are to sit on a Commission appointed by the various selfgoverning Dominions and Great Britain to consider the question of Imperial trade. In what respect was Mr. Campbell unfit for that position? Was he mentally deficient? Was he a criminal? Had be been guilty of any disgraceful act?
– By the honorable gentleman’s test, Mr. Campbell was ineligible because he was a defeated candidate at a public election. The honorable gentleman said that an individual whom the majority believed in ought to secure public appointment. That disqualified Mr. Campbell, who was a defeated candidate in South Australia.
– Then I suppose it amounts to this - that Sir Joseph Ward was improperly appointed to the same Commission by the New Zealand Government, because, just before his appointment, the Dominion had rejected the Ward Administration.
– That is not my argument ; it is the Attorney-General’s.
– Might I ask why it is that during the whole of the régime of the Government of the party opposite, they never appointed one man holding Labour sympathies to one position? They never gave a Labour man so much as a tidewaiter’s job. If the Leader of the Opposition wants a list of partisan appointments I can read one, but I do not want to do so. I do not say that the men appointed by his Government were unfit. They do i.he work, and they dD it well enough for all I know - just as well as Mr. Campbell does the work for which we appointed him, no better, and no worse. We do not need to look very far for examples of appointments made because the persons appointed supported the cause of honorable members opposite. We can look to England. Why was Sir George Reid appointed High Commissioner? Because he was their friend ; but, also, because he was not so much their friend as all that !
– He was appointed because he was the best man for the post.
– Very well; he was the best man. Certainly he was the best man out of this I
– Not only so, but he has proved it.
– Let mc say that I know of no better man. But I also say that he was appointed by the honorable member for political reasons. If we had had a better man on this side, he would not have been appointed.
– If honorable members opposite had had a better man, he would have been.
– It comes to this-that any appointment that we make is a political appointment. Whether we appoint a Commission or a man to any office, the appointment is at once declared to be a partisan appointment. There never was a Government that appointed so few of its friends. What are the chief appointments we have made? We have appointed as Administrator 06 the Northern Territory - the best position, so far as I know, in our gift - Professor Gilruth. Will the Opposition say that he is a supporter of the Labour party ?
– I do not know.
– I will say, if you want me to, that he is not. We have also appointed a gentleman to the office of Judge in the Northern Territory. Will the Opposition say that he is a Labour supporter?
– Who is the Judge?
– The Leader of the Opposition does not even know his name. If there had been any suggestion of partisanship,, the honorable member would have known, not only his name, but his pedigree, and everything connected with him. Of the three appointments made in connexion with the Northern Territory - that of Professor Gilruth as Administrator, Mr. Bevan as Judge, and Mr. Ryland as Director of Lands, it is said that one man holds Labour views. But absolutely no evidence has been brought before the House, and there is none forthcoming, to support the charge that we have been, guilty -of making partisan appointments. It is a baseless statement, made upon platforms by mcn who ought to, and do, know better, but who seek to make people believe that which is not. true. Their statements would be absolutely discredited if they had not at their backs the great press of Australia. We have seen them lately in such an unholy mess that if they had not had behind them the press of Australia to make explanations, or to cloak up certain matters, they would have been politically tarred and feathered. We have, then, two charges laid against the Government, and both fail. The first is that we have not fulfilled our constitutional obligations in regard to the maintenance of law and order, and the second is that we have made partisan appointments. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made some statement in regard to Mr. Ryland when I was not in the chamber, but I ask him whether he asserts that Mr. Ryland is not fit to carry out the duties of his office. .
– I said that, in my judgment, he had not the requisite experience.
– I do not accept the statement made by my honorable friend in the rôle of biographer to Mr. Ryland I d< not know what experience Mr. Ryland has had as an agriculturist, but I am perfectly certain that he would not have been appointed by my colleague, the Minister of External Affairs, and this appointment would not have been approved by the Government, if he were not fit in every way to carry out the duties of his office. I do not know what qualifications Professor Gilruth possesses for the position of Administrator of the Northern
Territory, but I am perfectly certain, by the look of the man, and by his record, that he will carry out his duties properly. He certainly has had absolutely no previous experience in regard to the administration of the Northern Territory, but any man who looked at him, and knew him, could see that he would carry out those duties successfully, if any man could do so. I say, also, that Mr. Ryland will prove conclusively the man for the job. WhenI held office as Minister of External Affairs in the Watson Administration, I had the honour to recommend Judge Murray for appointment as Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, and my recommendation was carried out by Sir George Reid when he came into office. What previous experience of Papua had Judge Murray ? He had never been there, and he knew nothing of work in the tropics; yet he has proved a great success. He was recommended by me as a member of the first Labour Government that came into power in Australia. Was he, too, a Labour man ? No. And yet he was the first appointee that we ever had the opportunity to recommend. Throughout the whole of our career we have consistently appointed the best man for the office to be filled, no matter to what party he belonged. Some mention was made of Dr. Jensen, who has been appointed Geologist for the Northern Territory.
– He is a Doctor of Science.
– I believe that he is; and he is a geologist who, Professor David says, has a European reputation. There is in Australia no man except Professor David who is superior to Dr. Jensen as a geologist. So much for our partisan appointments. I propose next to deal with the Coal Vend case, but I now ask the leave of the House to continue my speech to-morrow.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 June 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120625_reps_4_64/>.