4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 2nd July (vide page 356), 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 following 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.”
– - I join with other members in congratulating the mover and seconder of the AddressinReply on their speeches. I am surprised that an amendment amounting to a motion of no confidence has been moved to the Address. I cannot see that anything is to be gained by this course. There will be no wavering among Ministerialists; the Government can rely on the solid sup port of its party. I suppose the motive of the leader of the Opposition is to rally his following in a united attack. The Opposition reminds me of similar Oppositions which have appeared from time to time in- the French Parliament, made up of fragments of parties’ united only in their hatred of the Government of the day. While fighting that Government they are a happy family, but immediately the Government is dislodged their troubles begin. I do not think that this Government will be dislodged during this Parliament, or during the next.
– Or during the Parliament after that.
-I would not go so far as that ; but year by year the interest taken by Australians in the affairs of the Commonwealth grows, and as it grows the difference between the Liberal party and the Labour party will become plainer to them. There is no mistaking our aims and objects,, and the public knows that, whether in or out of office, we shall keep faith with it. One of the charges with which the Opposition makes its. attack is the existence of industrial unrest under the present Administration. In the. first speech I made in reference to a proposal for the amendment of the conciliation and arbitration law, I pointed out that the problem which faced us was a difficult one, and that it would take time to reach finality, if that were ever reached. I said that we were experimenting,, and that a true solution would require the exercise of all the patience we possessed, but that, as Australians, we should not be afraid of difficulties. It was in that spirit that the proposals of the Government were dealt with. I am not surprised that there is not industrial peace. It will be many years before we have industrial peace in the sense in which most honorable members use the term. There is industrial unrest all over the world. Thank God, Australian workers enjoy more favorable conditions; than do their English brothers, but the same causes are at work here and in England. This industrial unrest is not confined to the peoples speaking the English tongue, but prevails throughout the nations that are alive to the seriousness of their position. We have been told that the Labour party has not prevented strikes. But strikes have been prevented in ratio to the power of this Government to deal with them. The only successful method of settling industrial disputes is provided by a tribunal such as that which is presided over by Mr. Justice Higgins. In what instance have the awards of that Court been defied or treated with contempt? Notwithstanding vague generalities to the contrary, such instances cannot be found. The President of the Court has been assisted by a friendly Government. When he has complained of being hampered, the Government has proposed the amendment of the law, and in proportion to’ the extension of his. powers the peace of the community has been, increased. Any honorable member who judicially studies contemporaneous economics must be struck with that fact. It was the same in New South Wales under the Wise Act, which had force for a period of seven years. The Court established under that Act did so much to bring about industrial peace in the State that our friends opposite, and those politically associated with them in New South Wales, came to the conclusion that it must be killed. They thought it ought to be killed “ stone dead,” and they killed it “stone dead.” They were wise in their own generation. If I had looked at matters from their point of view, no. doubt I should have done the same; but that Court brought about, in New South Wales, a very considerable measure of industrial peace. Had there been in power during that seven years period a friendly Government to remedy the defects in the Act disclosed from time to time it would have done still greater service. There was a hostile Government in power during the whole of that period, however, and an Amending Bill to give the Court a wider scope was not passed. We come now to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and I say to honorable members, “ Look here upon this picture,, and on this.” The Federal Court cannot lay claim to much originality. It is very largely a copy of that created under the New South Wales Act, but in connexion with it we have enjoyed the advantage of having, in power a Ministry friendly to the Court and anxious to give it every opportunity to deal with industrial troubles. On the other hand the New South Wales. Government, during the seven years period to which I have referred, hated the State Arbitration Court, and was glad when any weakness in the Act, which tended to limit the scope of the Court, was discovered. Leaving aside party prejudice, I ask honorable members whether they do not see in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court the proper road to travel? I am not going to say that if we travel that road we shall secure an absolute settlement of all indus, trial difficulties-
– But we shall go a long way towards it.
– Quite so. One must be careful not to prophesy with regard to the settlement of all difficulties of this character. Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, declared that it was impossible that banking should be conducted upon cooperative principles, yet it is being so conducted to-day. Adam Smith was led to make that prophecy at a time when banking was conducted only on proprietary lines, and I refer to this historical fact to warn honorable members that whilst we may say that we are going to do this or that with regard to industrial matters, we cannot say what will happen in the days to come. We must simply, rest content with efforts to better the conditions of the people in our own time. No man can say that he personally will bring about that which in the abstract is known as industrial peace. Let us look at yet another picture: that of the Wages Board system in operation in Victoria. Whilst I do not intend to say one word against it, I should like to ask whether we are going to secure industrial peace by means of such a system, under which boards consisting of representatives of the workers and of the employers are created to deal with conditions of labour. The representatives of the workers on such boards have their livings to get, and we know exactly the difference between their position and that of the employers. The difference between the Opposition and the Government and their supporters is that we have been “ through the mill.” We know what it means to be so situated, and I do not hesitate to say that only a single man is capable of holding a seat as a representative of the workers on a Wages Board. Such a position cannot be taken by a man with a wife and children depending upon him, if he has any regard to his own interests. We also have Wages Boards in operation in South Australia. I am not in favour of them, and have never favoured them.
– They have done a lot of good, and the working men of South Australia admit that they have.
– I have been connected with the workers of South Australia for thirty-two years, and I am in quite as good a position as is the honorable member to ascertain their feelings. I am not going to sneer at or condemn any system that will help to bring about better conditions; but I do say that the Wages Board system is not an efficient method of obtaining industrial peace. It is not the best, and therefore we cannot obtain from it the best results. I trust that our Victorian brethren and those in my own State will derive great good from the Wages Board system, and that later on I may be compelled, as Macaulay says, reluctantly to alter my opinion.
– Hundreds of cases have been inexpensively and satisfactorily settled by Victorian Wages Boards.
– I do not want to go further into the question; it is simply a matter of common sense. I ask honorable members whether they do not think that a still better tribunal to deal with industrial difficulties is that which has the power to consider them judicially - to call for papers ; to obtain information as to the earnings of a firm which is a party to a dispute - and in which the trained experience of judges like Mr. Justice Higgins and Judge Heydon, of New South Wales, can be brought to bear upon the facts? Both those judges are bright ornaments of the judicial bench of Australia, and if anything happened to them I believe we should be able to find equally good men to take their place. But if two and two are four, and the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles, then, as men of common sense, honorable members must admit that we cannot obtain from Wages Boards what can be secured from an Arbitration Court. The present Government have done all within their power to strengthen the Court and to widen its scope, and I hope that the people of Australia will see the wisdom of agreeing to such an amendment of the Constitution as will give us more power to follow up this issue. The working men of Australia simply ask for a fair deal. There may be amongst them one or two wild men just as there are one or two in the ranks of the Opposition. We have not a monopoly of all the wild men of Australia; but if there are one or two among the workers it is because of the feeling that they are not getting a fair deal under existing conditions. To that feeling must be attributed the absence of that contentment which we should all like to see. One of the chief motives of the Opposition in submitting this motion of want of confidence was to drag before the people the question of the Brisbane strike. That strike was one of the greatest blessings that ever befel the Opposition. It has given them an opportunity to say everything possible from their point of view with regard to the Labour party. They do not need an argument against the present Government ; all that they have to do is to assert that in some way, directly or indirectly, the present Government was connected with the Brisbane strike. I am not in favour of strikes; I favour conciliation and arbitration, and there is not in Australia to-day a working man who has ever lost a day’s employment by accepting my advice. If honorable members opposite knew the anxiety and worry that a strike means to honorable members on this side - if they knew the difficulties of the situation - they would hesitate, not once, but three times, before they charged us with being fond of such conflicts. We are asked why we do not denounce strikes. Over forty years ago I made up my mind that the rest of my life should be devoted to the benefit of the working people, and for twenty years or more of that period, when there was no strong Labour party, such a position meant abuse and ignominy, and being looked down upon as an agitator. If the people to whom I have given my life make a mistake, am I to turn round and denounce them ? No. If they have committed an error ofjudgment. it is my business to defend and help them, as honorable members on this side will always do.
– The honorable member is afraid to do otherwise !
– I can leave such a charge as that to those who know me best. There are two sides to the Brisbane strike.
– Why call it a strike?
– I am not particular whether it is called a strike or a lock-out ; “but I know that, for party purposes, as -much as possible has to be made out of it by honorable members opposite. It does not matter what evidence is brought forward, not a speech on the part of the Opposition will be altered. I shall be brief, because the speeches during this debate have already been too long, and the whole ground of the Brisbane strike has been covered by the honorable member for Brisbane who had the privilege of being on the spot. One of the advantages of the Federal Parliament, to whichmembers are called from all parts of the country, is that, when there is an incident of this kind during recess, the House, when it meets, is in a position to get the truth from those who know the facts. There are only one or two points to whichI desire to refer. We have in Brisbane a franchise which ought never to have been given to a private company, andthe giving of it constitutes blunder number one. As the manager of that franchise we have an up-to-date American who hates trade unionism. He is typical of those coalowners who, when an American State Parliament passed an eight-hours Act, defied the law, and constituted themselves masters of the situation. That is the sort of man who is employed by this British tramway company ; and the results are obvious. The Government of Queensland has neither sense, tact, nor judgment. Queensland has always struck me as one of the richest of the States ; but it has a most remarkable history so far as its Governments are concerned.
– Queensland never had a Labour Government.
– Yes, it had, for three days.
– And that Government did some work during the three days I
– The Governments of Queensland have been conspicuous for their unscrupulous methods and lack of judgment. When the dispute arose the men assembled and marched in procession ; and any one with a grain of common sense must know that unemployed men are better marching about and holding meetings than in doing nothing. But the wonderful Premier of Queensland did not appreciate the fact. The evidence shows that the whole of the trouble was brought about by the highhanded proceedings of one man ; and it is difficult to come to any other conclusion than that he was backed up by the State Government. I do not suppose we can get any legal documents to prove that statement, but the truth of it must be apparent, for this Badger would, otherwise, never have played the antics he did. The State Government called for the aid of the military, and the Federal Government wisely declined to send troops. I indorse the policy of the Government in every respect, and say, further, that, if the Opposition had been in power, they would have acted in precisely the same way.
– The members of the Opposition say that they would have sent the troops.
– I do not believe that they would.
– The honorable member for Bendigo said he would have sent them.
– He might have been prepared to do so, but I do not think a Government composed from the Opposition would have agreed with him. The sort of statements made by the Opposition are all very well in a full-dress no-confidence debate - it is part of the comedy of life, and, perhaps, of Parliament - but I tell honorable members opposite that in their present attitude they are “ playing with fire.” I was hoping, and still hope, that this amendment will be withdrawn, for then all references to the calling out of the military will, as a matter of fact, cease. Responsible members of the Opposition should be ‘very careful in a crisis of this kind, and try, rather, to attempt to elevate the thought of Australia. We know that honorable members opposite have their tongue in their cheek when they talk about the calling out of the military ; but the people outside believe that the Opposition would have acted as they say the Government should. That is a serious matter for honorable members on this side. We have passed a defence scheme that is against all the prejudices of the Australian people. Our brethren on .the other side of the world ‘have -nothing of a compulsory character in their defence methods ; and we have persons coming into Australia every week and criticising our Defence Act because it is contrary to the notions of ‘the Old Country. There has been a loyal determination on the part of the Government and their supporters to uphold this defence system. I have stated more than once in my own State that it is not a party question. But if the Opposition, for the purpose of damaging the Government, are going to impress upon the people of Australia the idea that they are prepared to let loose the military whenever there happens to be a small cabbage garden riot-
– What does the honorable member mean by “ let loose “ ?
– The same as I mean by “ calling out the military.” I am told that the honorable member for Ballarat has had a pretty good record in connexion with calling -out troops. Do honorable members opposite think that their present action is going to make the defence system more popular? It appears to me that they are quite prepared to wreck the system by scaring the people of Australia with the idea that, in a matter that can be -dealt with by the ordinary police force in « judicial way, they are .prepared to call out the military. If that be so I am satisfied that I committed an error of judgment when I said that defence was not a party question. I am not going to “ carry the baby “ of defence if the Opposition are determined, on the slightest pretest, to pursue that policy. Let there be no misunderstanding on that point. Action of this kind may be all right for party purposes, but the front Opposition benchought to realize that an important issue of this kind ought not to be .played with. The people of Australia ought to be made .to understand that the military forces cart never be used in a case of mere disorder, and that it is only in a most grave and’ serious crisis that they can be called into service.
– Hear, hear !
– I have heard allusions made to calling out the troops inGreat Britain during industrial disturbances. I do not know what the Opposition would do if they had to face anything like the trouble which the present British Government had to meet. It was my goodor bad - fortune a year ago to be in England -when the railway strike took placeI saw troops in all parts of the country, but I did not see them parading about tothe annoyance of the people. They were not brought out to fire on the strikers, but for the purpose of guarding the railways.
– That is .the sort of thing that they were wanted for in Brisbane.
– Nothing of the sort. In England the -whole of the railway traffic was paralyzed for three days. Does any one mean to tell me that that situation was .anything like the little bit of a twopenny-halfpenny affair in Brisbane? Let honorable members opposite exercise a little common sense. I am referring to a real difficulty. I have, in the Old Country, and in my own .State, eulogized the tact and judgment .shown by the Asquith Government on that occasion. I saw troops guarding both ends of .the Severn Tunnel. I was myself stuck up for twelve hours on the railway, with .theIrish mail train behind me. Two companies of infantry were sent for from Cardiff, and soon appeared upon the scene. A parley took place betwen the leaders of thedisturbance and the local authorities, and the condition was arranged that if thetroops were taken out of sight the trainsshould be allowed to proceed. The troops were used, not for the purpose of harassing or worrying the people, but in a grave emergency to protect the public interests. I say again that the tact and judgment of the British Government were much to be admired. A similarly serious position had to be faced this year during the coal strike. Honorable members opposite who talk about strikes in this country ought to form some idea of what has been going on during the last three or four years in the Old Country, in orderto realize what strikes really are. We absolutely know nothing about them in Australia, and I hope we never shall. I again express the hope that the Leader of the Opposition will see the desirableness of withdrawing his motion, because I am satisfied that he and his party are making a fatal mistake in causing the defence of Australia to be looked upon as a party question. There are some things as to which the members of this House cannot escape their responsibility. They are responsible for the defence of Australia, and they ought to make it perfectly clear that the defence forces are not going to be used for any but the most serious troubles, and in the last resort. They should only be used when all other means have failed. I regard it as next to impossible that occurrences of that kind can take place in Australia.It is unthinkable that they should occur in a country where every man and woman has a vote. Therefore, we ought to make it clear that the Military Forces will not be called out to deal with ordinary industrial disputes. . I am satisfied that a grave blunder has been committed by the Opposition, because we cannot afford to have so grave a subject as defence treated as part of the by-play of industrial life. I should like to say a word about industrial unrest. I pointed out a short time ago that we have had much of it, and are likely to have much. What is the cause of it? I am not going to pose as a doctrinaire, but we have to look at the plain and simple facts. I am told that wages in Australia have during the last five years risen 30 per cent. I doubt that very much, but the amount of the rise does not trouble me. Prices and rent have risen equally with wages, or nearly so. My own impression is that we have not sufficient information on this subject. I am sorry to say that our YearBook, for all the information it affords on this subject, might as well not be in existence. I should not wonder if it contained information about the colour of people’s hair and eyes, which, of course, is very in teresting ; but, unfortunately, information of the character which ought to be at our fingers’ ends is not given at all. We have no economic unit, no standard by which to measure the wages in a particular year as compared with another. That is the sort of information that we ought to have, but it is not given. My own impression as an observer is that wages in Australia have risen a little higher than prices and refit have done, but I admit that I have no manner of proof of my assertion.
– The evidence in England shows that wages have fallen in comparison with their purchasing power during the last ten years.
– I do not know whether the honorable member has any reliable information to that effect. If so, the House will be very glad to hear it.
– Taking into consideration both the rise in the rates, of wages and the fall in the purchasing power of money, there has been a decrease in England.
– From the Board of Trade tables and other information, we know that in the. Old Country wages have risen 5 per cent., and that their purchasing power has fallen 10 per cent., so that the workers are now 5 per cent. worse off than they were ; but we do not know exactly what is theposition in Australia. During the last five years the standard of comfort here hasprobably increased, because employment has been more constant, but there has been no great improvementinthe general welfare of the workers. The increase in the returns from property and manufacture have been larger than the increase in wages, and property owners and manufacturers were better off when the increase began than the workers were. What we must know is the economic position of Australia. Until the facts are known, we shall continue to indulge in what is useless recrimination. I have here Mr. L. G. Chiozza Money’s work, Riches and Poverty. The writer is a well-known economic authority, and he has drawn up what is practically a balance-sheet, showing the condition of the people of the Old Country. His conclusions are based on statistical tables such as cannot be obtained in Australia. The tenth edition of this work is not in our library, as it ought to be, and therefore I have no later information than the figures for 1905 ; but it is the principle enunciated by Mr. Money that I wish to apply. In the year 1904 the annual income of the Old Country was £1, 700,000,000.
Of that sum ,£830,000,000 went to 5,000,000 persons, whose income was £16° a year or more - 2,000,000 of whom are those to whom Lloyd-George referred as the idle rich - while £880,000,000 went to 38,000,000 persons whose income was below £160 per annum. The position of the people of France, Germany, and the other so-called civilized countries of Europe is about the same. We cannot apply similar statistics for the ascertainment of the conditions of our own people. But there is another method by which a national balancesheet can be made out. It is based on the valuation of the estates of deceased persons, as giving an indication of the manner of distribution of the capital of the country. Mr. Money points out that there has been a demise of the Crown eight times in the past two hundred years, or once in about twenty-five years, and taking the mean of a large number of actual cases he estimates that, on the average, estates change hands every thirty years by reason of the decease of their proprietors, and that there are thirty living property owners for every dead one. In 1905, according to our Y ear-Book, the value of the estates of deceased persons was £17,210,473, and of all estates £516,314,190, while in 1910 the value of all estates was £660,000,000.
– But are the English statistics compiled in the same way as ours? Are estates valued in the same manner?
– That does not affect the application of the principle.
– The principle is purely arbitrary, and a great many authorities utterly disregard it.
– My authority is one of the best in England.
– No doubt he is questioned- by the honorable member and those who share his opinions.
– And by many others.
– The value of the property increased by £143,000,000 in five years.
– The value of the method applied by the honorable member must depend a good deal on the number of deaths occurring during the period under review.
– We must take the law of averages. Does the honorable member know anything about statistics?
– You can prove anything by statistics.
– I know that there is a saying that figures cannot lie, but that liars can figure. Were my assertions based on my own investigations, I should be prepared to have them treated lightly.
– Are not the returns of the savings banks a more reliable index to the wealth of the community? The savings banks deposits have doubled in ten years.
– Are those returns of any value in drawing up a balancesheet for Australia? Who are the investors in the savings banks?
– The multitude possessing small means.
– And many others.
– The savings banks returns are more reliable than the method of Chiozza Money.
– I do not say that the Australian workers are in the sad position of their English brothers; nor do I reflect upon those who are well off. But, as a public man, it is my duty to try toascertain the facts. What is needed is a better distribution of the wealth earned by the community. There will be no industrial peace until there is a better distribution of wealth. I am proceeding to show that the wealth of this community has increased by £143,000,000 in five years. Has the wealth of the workers increased proportionately ?
– Far more.
– The returns show that.
– I hazard the opinion that it has not.
– That suits the honorable member’s argument.
– The honorable member was in office for some years; why did he not see that the statistics which we need for the ascertainment of our economic conditions were compiled?
– The information isavailable; but it does not suit the honorable member’s argument.
– During the past thirty years, production, by reason of the application of science to the improvement of machinery and methods, has increased marvellously ; but, to bring about industrial peace, means must be taken to provide for a better distribution of the wealth that this is creating. I do not propose te go fully into that matter this afternoon, because its discussion would be more appropriate in a debate on the Budget. A charge has been brought against this side that we are not doing what we can to secure industrial peace. My answer to that is that we shall not be able to secure industrial peace until we have solved the problem of a better distribution of wealth. We have industry, brains, and pluck, and wealth is earned in Australia as in other countries. What other countries may do in this matter is their own business, but it is certainly our business to see that something should be done to bring about a better distribution of wealth. One of the attacks upon the Government is based on the ground that expenditure under the present Administration has gone up by leaps and bounds. My answer to that is very simple. It is a charge which is made throughout the Commonwealth. Some honorable members opposite have visited Hindmarsh to enlighten my constituents on the matter. We all know that the increase of expenditure has been brought about by the defence scheme, the payment of oldage and invalid pensions, and the increase of pay given to postal servants. Do the Opposition propose to repeal any one of these matters? They are silent. We know they will not do so. In the circumstances, what object, other than the desire to mislead the Australian people, can honorable members opposite have in going round the country talking about the tremendous expenditure at the ‘present juncture? Owing to the expiration of the Braddon section of the Constitution, the Federal Parliament has had a freer hand, and has consequently assumed certain duties which have been forced upon it by the logic of facts. The Opposition may refer to the increased expenditure of the Commonwealth, but they cannot escape the fact that they could not, or would not, attempt to reverse the action of the Government in any one of these directions. While the honorable member for Ballarat was speaking on the subject of the proposals of the Government for the referenda, he said that if the powers asked for were granted by the Australian people the State Parliaments would be left in the position of glorified shire councils. All I have to say to that is that, if we are given the powers for which we propose to ask the Australian people, Australia will then be in the position occupied by Germany and Switzerland to-day. I leave those who are acquainted with modern history to say whether the various States of Germany and Switzerland to-day are in the position of shire councils. The great mass of the people outside do not understand our political problems, and have to depend on public men to enlighten them, and what I regret, perhaps, more than anything else in public life is that, in the circumstances, they should be misled, instead of a statement of the facts being given them upon which they might form a just opinion. The statement made by the honorable member for Ballarat is preposterous when we consider that, if granted, the powers we propose to ask for will place us on a level with all the Commonwealths in the world, with the exception of the United States. Honorable members who love the American Commonwealth have a glorious spectacle confronting them in that country now, where three or four kna ves are trying to get to be top man,and do not care a snap of the fingers for the welfare of the millions of the American people. If that is government, the sooner we escape from anything of the kind the better. The honorable member for Parramatta stated that we should have left the imposition of a land tax to the State Parliaments to deal with. With a knowledge of the history of this question, for the last thirty years in Australia, I can only characterize that statement as double-distilled trash. For the last thirty years attempts have been made to bring about land taxation through the State Parliaments. No wonder certain people do not like the present Government or their supporters. What is our crime? It is that we do not promise the Australian people merely in order to fool them ; but when we make promises we carry them out. We have the progressive land tax now on the statute-book, and the land-owners know it. We are told that if we had left this matter to the State Parliaments they would have dealt with it. lt is a pity that romancing of that character should be indulged in. The Government are challenged also because they have not taken up the question of the consolidation of the State debts. There is not a member of this House who does not know that we cannot take up that question. The members of the Federal Conventions and the candidates for election to the first Federal Parliament must all have known that they were only humbugging the Australian people when they talked about the Commonwealth taking over the State debts.
– What is to prevent this Parliament taking over the State debts?
– I shall tell the honorable member. It is because no Federal Government, whether it be one the honorable member would support, or one I would support, is prepared to take over the State debts without getting some guarantee with regard to State borrowing in the future. Honorable members opposite are aware of that; and what is the use of humbugging the people about it?
– What attempt have honorable members .opposite made to get the State Governments to come into line with them on this matter?
– We have asked the Australian people to give us the powers necessary to deal with great and important problems, but the party opposite have never asked for any additional powers at all. On the contrary, they have systematically blocked every proposal of the kind made from this side. They have had great opportunities to do evil, and have never missed a single one.
– The last Government secured an amendment of the Constitution to enable the Commonwealth to take over the whole of the State debts.
– We must grapple with the question somehow.
– I admit that the Constitution was amended in the way described, but I ask the honorable member for Wimmera to say whether the Leader of the Opposition or any honorable member on the front Opposition bench is prepared to take up this question before some arrangement with respect to future borrowing has been come to with the State Governments? We know that not one of them will do so. My own opinion is that in this matter the State Parliaments realize the handwriting on the wall, and that is the reason why they are going in for the policy of boundless borrowing which they are following at the present time. They know that, sooner or later, the Australian people will pull them up, and when they do honorable members opposite will be converted on this question.
– Victoria has done very little borrowing in the last few years.
– I am dealing with matters of principle, and I do not propose to go into details. I have stated the position with regard to the consolidation of State debts. I have attempted to show that we have tried to do all we possibly could to bring about industrial peace; but we do not hold out any hope of industrial peace until there is a better distribution of the wealth of the community. That is my personal opinion ; and, though I do not ask honorable members on this side to shoulder any responsibility for it, I think that is the view generally held on this side. I was pained the other evening to hear an honorable member opposite refer to us as parasites of Labour. There are honorable members on this side who began the practice of throwing in their lot with their mates years ago, when they could have no hope that they would ever become members of Parliament ; and they got nothing but abuse for it. In season and out of season we spent our leisure in trying to improve the lot of our fellow-workers, and it is most unjust that men who have grown grey in the service of their fellow-workers - men who have recognised that if the conditions of the working people be improved, if justice be done to them, then every other section of the community must in turn be benefited - should be thus aspersed. We have done this, believing that if the lower rungs of the social ladder be sound, attention must be paid to the remaining rungs, and that an appeal for justice by the professional and other classes could not then be neglected by the Parliament. I have not at hand the particular work to which I had intended to refer, nor. is it to be obtained in the Parliamentary Library, but I have a keen recollection of a passage in which the great historian. Froude, refers to the effect which a university education has upon most men. What does it do for them? It develops their intellect, he says, and gives them greater facility for study, but. for the most part they use that development of their intellect in the maintenance of existing conditions, and in finding arguments to support the oppression of the people. Ninety per cent, of the graduates of universities are trained only -for that purpose, and both in Parliament and out of it we find amongst men who have had a university training more cads than are to be found in any other section of the community.
.- I must congratulate the honorable member for Hindmarsh on the candid admission he has made, that he is for his party right or wrong. Very few of us are game to make such a. statement, but this frank admission on the part of the honorable member makes it rather difficult for us to know when be believes his party is in the right, and when he thinks it in the wrong. I can only conclude that when he is most vehement he thinks his party wrong, and since he was particularly vehement in his declarations regarding the question of industrial unrest, I have come to the decision that he thinks that in that regard his party has been at fault. I have no desire to discuss the matter at length, but it was news to me to learn from the honorable member that the Labour party favoured the New South Wales Arbitration Court. I have not had time to look up the facts, but, speaking from memory, I think it was the Labour party that killed that Court.
– No; we forced it to the front.
– Not suspecting that such a remarkable suggestion would be made, I did not come prepared to answer it, but my recollection is that the Labour party converted the arbitration system of New. South Wales into a Wages Board system. I have always upheld Wages Boards, and believe that the Liberal party has likewise from the first held the view that the Wages Board system, affords a proper means of settling industrial disputes. The Arbitration Court of New South Wales was established under an Act introduced in 1902 by the See Government. That was a Liberal Administration, and we have in this House to-day several members of the Liberal party, as well as one member of the Labour party - the honorable member for Gwydir - who assisted in the passing of that measure.
– Compulsory arbitration was introduced by Mr. B. R. Wise.
– The Bill in question was introduced by the See Government in 1902, and I was astonished to hear the statement made this afternoon that the Labour party were in favour of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales. The Arbitration Act of New South Wales contained a section under which the funds of unions were made responsible for the nonobservance of awards of the Court. That alone, I should think, would destroy its value from the Labour point of view. The difficulty that arose with the Court was that its business became so congested that no progress whatever could be made.
– The State Government of those days tried to destroy the Court.
– I do not think that statement is correct. The first President of the Court was, I think, Mr. Justice
Cohen, who retired, fairly broken down under the weight of its machinery, which, apparently, would not work at all. Judge Heydon then became President of the Court, and he publicly declared that its business had become so congested that it was impossible for it to do the work of the country. The people of the State, therefore, demanded a change, and the Wages Board system was introduced.
– The Court was allowed to die.
– I do not pretend that my statement of the position is absolutely accurate, because, as I have said, I have not had time to look up all the facts ; but I am confident that the people of New South Wales demanded the introduction of the Wages Board system with the result that the Arbitration Court was abolished. Coming to the Governor-General’s Speech, I think it is the most paltry we have had since the day when a speech of one paragraph was put into the mouth of the GovernorGeneral by the Reid-McLean Administration. This fact convinces me that the Government are already showing signs of senile decay. It is but two years since the tom-toms of the Trades Hall were loudly beaten to proclaim the victory of the “ glorious 13th April.” We were told that that victory would remain for all time a bright spot in the annals of Australia. Yet to-day we find the Government coming down to the House with a few paltry platitudes and suggestions.
– We have translated the’ whole of our platform into1 legislation. What more could the honorable member expect ?
– If that is so, the Government should make room for another Administration that is prepared to do something. The honorable member for Bourke, in his celebrated “ Sedan “ speech, was very outspoken concerning this very matter. According to a report published in the Age on 22nd March last -
Mr. Anstey said there was no Government more entitled to the support of the democracy than the present Federal Government, but there was none that would have such .1 hard struggle for the maintenance of its position. When it was deposed, however, as it would be at the next elections, there would be nothing left for the succeeding Government to do within the limits of the Constitution. . . . To carry any progressive legislation would be impossible, because there would be nothing progressive unaccomplished.
If the Government have completed their work, why should they not make room for some one else? -
The Labour party however had to cany the referendum on its back, and it was so badly beaten on the last occasion that it was hardly possible that a sufficient transformation would occur to reverse the position next time.
That was an outspoken utterance, and clearly foreshadowed, I think, what is actually going to happen next year. Later on we shall hear people speaking of another “glorious 13th” - the glorious election of 1913, and when the result of that election is declared we shall no longer hear the tom-toms of the Trades Hall. I join in the congratulations in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech on the bounteous season before us, though, speaking from long experience, I never saw in Australia a more threatening state of affairs. I am surprised that the Government do not claim any credit for the prospective glorious season ; they display a degree of modesty with which I did not credit them. As to the Commonwealth Bank, the great trouble is that this institution is going to rob the States of their Savings Banks. A proposal has been made to the States in this connexion, but it is a proposal most inadequate and ridiculous. The Commonwealth Bank is like a burglar who says to the poor States, “You have some property; we shall take the whole of it and give you back three-quarters.” If any institutions are doing well, they are the Savings Banks of the States. They use the money of the people in a splendid way. The Credit Foncier system in Victoria is deserving of all commendation, and I had always hoped that it. would lead to a solution of the rent question. The only solution is that every man shall own his house; and, under the Credit Foncier system, the poor man has that chance. If, however, the Federal Government are going to take away the money from the State Savings Banks, the solution of the rent problem will be rendered impossible. From that point of view alone, and from many other points of view which have been and will be mentioned, it is very ill-advised for the Commonwealth Government to endeavour to rob the State Governments of their Savings Banks. The Commonwealth Government object to a dual control of immigration, and why do they not object to a dual control of Savings Banks, as they must do if they are at all logical? The Australian note issue is also said to be doing very well, but the small amount of profit derived, when we deduct what was formerly received by the States, renders it problematical, indeed, whether there is any real profit. There is £5,107,936 cash in hand; and that is going to be further depleted before very long. One point to be considered is that twenty-four members of the Permanent Forces are taken away from the forts, where they are so much required, in order to guard this gold. Formerly, the gold reserve was guarded by three, or four caretakers of the banks.
– There is no hope of the Opposition getting at the reserve.
– I may mention that it was just as hopeless for me to get at the gold reserve before, although for many years I kept a key of a bank where there was over £1,000,000. The question has just been suggested to me whether the cost of this guard of twenty-four men is included in the expenditure when the net profit is arrived at. I suppose, however, that such a cost is charged to the Defence Department.
– Would the honorable member, in such a balance-sheet, include the cost of the police who parade the streets and guard the banks?
– No, I should not; but I should certainly include the cost of the twenty-four soldiers when treating this transaction on its merits, because such a guard was never required by the banks. I see that the State debts are to be consolidated one of these days ; but I should have liked some definite assurance as to when. We have before us a great prospect of dear money. Australia has enjoyed many years of cheap money, but interest on both deposits and overdrafts is rising fast, and finances have, therefore, to be carefully looked into. We are a borrowing nation, and we do not desire to pay any more than we can help from a business point of view. I- desire to refer to one remark of the Prime Minister, who, I am sorry to see, is not present. I suppose the right .honorable gentleman spoke in a moment of annoyance, because I cannot think of any other frame of mind to justify such a remark; but, after returning from the Queensland strike, he said -
As regards what Mr. Denham may say about the indications afforded by the Gympie returns, I have only to say that Mr. Denham will be in trouble long before I am. The finances of the State of Queensland are in a bad way.
That, is a most “‘extraordinary remark from one who is responsible for those finances.
I have always been taught, as a business man, that the better the credit of our partners is kept up, the more cheaply we are likely to get money ; and Queensland is a partner with the Commonwealth in Australian borrowing.
– As a matter of fact, the Queensland finances are not in a bad way.
– I should like to contradict the Prime Minister’s statement on the assurance of the honorable member for Darling Downs and others, because, in my opinion, the finances of Queensland are in a very good way.
– That is not what the Argus said this morning.
– It is a great pity that, whatever one may think, this sort of remark should be made. Between now and 1915, inclusive, ^14,324,300 worth of Queensland loans has to be renewed ; and when those loans go on the English market, it is very possible that the remark of the Prime Minister may be trumpeted about, and made use of to increase the interest. It is quite time, I think, that some other gentleman was placed in the right honorable gentleman’s position. His remark is calculated to damage the credit of the great State of Queensland, a credit which, I feel sure, however, will stand high years after the Labour Government have disappeared.
– The honorable member will be dead long before the Labour Government disappear.
– I refer the honorable member to the honorable member for Bourke, who is the only true prophet on that side.
– Thank God, I have one virtue, anyhow.
– I am glad to note from the Governor-General’s Speech that the land tax is encouraging immigration. That is one feather in the caps of Ministers, at any rate. Although the Government admit that they desire immigration, still we have already heard that they have declined the invitation of the States to import 25,000 immigrants every year. That was a commonsense proposal, which should have commended itself to men of ord:nary intelligence; but the Government said, “Oh, no ! we must not have a dual control in this matter.” After offering to consider any reasonable scheme put before them, they escaped on that quibble. which simply means that they encourage immigration w:th their tongue in their cheek. My posi tion, and, I think, that of the Liberal party, regarding immigration is this : We must people Australia if- we desire to hold the country for the white race. Both sides say that they are going to do it, but the Labour party does nothing when if has the chance, whilst the Liberal party is in earnest. The Liberal party would import the proper kind of people, not loafers who would take a job from another man. There are two views of immigration. One is that every man or woman imported into Australia is going to do another man or woman out of a job. The other view is that every man or woman who comes here, if he or she be one of the proper sort, is likely to make work, particularly if the immigrants go on the land. Instead of doing a man out of a job, they are more likely to make other people’s jobs secure by increasing the area of work, and doing good to the country generally. We do not wish to consider the proposed maternity grant seriously, until we see how it is proposed to be administered. We want to see the Bill. I wish, however, to express the greatest sympathy with any woman who is in distress at that period, and I feel sure that if the present means of assist;ng such persons be not sufficient, every Liberal is prepared to give .£5, or more, if required.
– We should not be willing to make a grant to those who can afford to do without it, I hope.
– That would be one trouble. We want to see the Government Bill before we can say whether the grant is likely to do good or not. We do not want the money to be paid to people who can afford to do without it, whilst we tax those who can ill afford to give money for this purpose. I wish to make a suggestion to the Government, who, I hope, are not above taking one. I read in this morning’s newspaper a telegram from Wellington, New Zealand, as follows: -
Since the establishment of maternity homes in New Zealand 4,608 children have been born in these institutions, the cost of each child being £l ‘7s- 6d. At the opening of the new home the Prime Minister said he thought this better than paying ^5 per child, as proposed in Australia.
– That home is for people who have no homes of their own. We are more Christian than that, I hope.
– We want to give the grant to the right people, and T hope that, as the honorable member suggests, we shall maintain a Christian attitude regarding it. But I am afraid that, in mam instances, the money will not benefit the poor women who need it at all, but may go to the public - house. I hope to see safeguards provided, so that the grant will really reach those who are in distress. Of course, we can see why the Government have made this proposal. The purpose is obvious. A tyro in politics like myself can see that it is only a bribe. Every Labour man will strike his breast, and make out that his support of the policy comes from his heart. But it does not. It comes from the fact- 0
– It comes from his pocket.
– Oh, no ! the money is not to come from the pockets of honorable members opposite. The fact is that when the Labour party abolished the postal vote there was a great outcry amongst the mothers. Our Labour friends cudgelled their brains as to what on earth they could do to quieten the discontent. So they said amongst themselves, “ We will sling them a fiver in the form of a maternity grant.” But I do not think that the mothers of Australia are going to be satisfied like that. It would take more than a fiver to purchase their votes.
– Make it £10.
– I do not think that a free citizen who was worth his salt would part with his vote for that. Would the honorable member sell his vote for £10? Would he vote for me for that sum?
– Not if the honorable member offered me £10,000 !
– I do not believe that this grant will buy the mothers of Australia, but the object of it is perfectly clear. It is nothing better than a bribe, and I am satisfied that the mothers will regard it as such. I see that we are to have other referenda on proposals to amend the Constitution. On the last occasion the proposals of the Government were defeated by a majority of 250,000. Surely that ought to have convinced our friends that the people do not want to surrender the powers which the States at present have.
– “ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”
– If honorable members opposite try for ever they will not get what they want in this regard. The cost of the referenda was over £47,000. Now we are to have another huge expenditure to get another refusal. However, it may be worth while to teach our friends wisdom, even at this tremendous cost. Another matter with which the Government are inclined” to juggle is the Inter-State Commission. I should like to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether that Commission will deal with the Fiscal question? The suggestion on this side is that it should do so.
– Does the honorable member speak for his side on the question ?
– There has .been nothing more outrageous since I have been in Parliament than the way we have dealt with the Tariff. What has occurred has been nothing short of disgraceful. The manufacturers have rushed up here to see members of Parliament, and while .the Tariff was before Parliament I never had an opportunity of sitting in the chamber and listening to the debates. We cannot blame the manufacturers for coming up. Parliament is the arbiter on the Tariff, and the manufacturer who has not sufficient prolection has to do his best for his industry. Members of Parliament have to go out and see these visitors, .and obtain the information they desire to present. From that point of view alone we require an Interstate Commission, or some body of the sort which will deal thoroughly .and scientifically with the question. Members of Parliament will then be able to form a deliberate opinion, and give their votes in accordance with the evidence. I admit that I gave a wrong vote when the Tariff was formerly before us, but I had an opportunity of putting it right at a later date, and now I arn glad to know that the industry affected is flourishing under sufficient protection. We on this side are twitted with being both Free Traders and Protectionists. But we are common-sense men, and can make a bargain amongst ourselves. We recognise that Protection is the settled policy of Australia, and I feel sure that our Free Trade friends will agree with us that the proper way of handling the matter is by means of a Tariff Board. Promises were made at the last election that this matter should be properly considered, and our Labour friends said that if they remained in power they would do what was wanted at once. They have given us a few paltry matters to deal with, and a still more paltry explanation of them. I hope that if an Inter-State Commission be appointed, one of its duties will be to deal with the Fiscal question. A great number of Government workshops are to be started, and one thought which occurs to me is, Are we going to have a balancesheet for each workshop, or to carry on in the hugger-mugger way in which we have been doing? For years, as the Minister of External Affairs will admit, we have been promised a balance-sheet for the telephone branch. We have not received a balancesheet yet ; we never shall have it.
– I hope we shall. I admit that it is about time that we did get a balance-sheet.
– Have not officers been appointed forthe purpose?
– A balance-sheet ought to have been presented here years and years ago.
-I am very pleased to hear that admission from the Minister, and I hope that if he be in power when new workshops are started he will see that in each case a sensible commercial balancesheet is produced every year. The workshops will belong to the people, who, of course, have the right to know whether they are carried on at a profit or at a loss. If they are to be made a mere dumpingground for political supporters, they are likely to become places where the refuse of political parties will be shot. What I am afraid of is that balance-sheets will be suppressed for political reasons, and that the workshops will be carried on at great cost to the country. I hope that the Minister at the table will take a note of my suggestion. He admits that we ought to have had a balance-sheet of the telephone branch. When new workshops, are started a good opportunity will be afforded to produce a balance-sheet.
– The Prime Minister has already told us that separate accounts will have to be kept.
– If followers like the honorable member do not keep the Prime Minister up to the mark, he will forget all about the matter. We are told that the system of wireless telegraphy is to be brought into good order very shortly. I hope that it will be run for the people, and not the people for it; because I am rather disappointed to learn that one ship is not to be allowed to send a message to another ship, even though it is of the same line, and using the same system-. It is something the same as telling me that I am no to have a conversation with my honorable friend the member for Swan, but must go to a telephone and have a chat with him because I would then pay a halfpennya chat instead of having one free. Wireless telegraphy, which is the greatest possible boon to everybody in the community, ought not be hampered unduly. Of course, if it should not pay when it is used in a free way, then some restrictions might be imposed. 1 would give the system a good fair trial and let everybody use it with everybody else at the start. As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, no really big questions are mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. That is our great trouble. The great industrial question is not touched The Attorney-General asked, What does the Leader of the Opposition or the honorable member for Fawkner know about industrial unrest? I have known a good deal about the matter in my time. The Minister went on to depict an era when his financial horizon was bounded by one week ahead. I am sorry that he is not in the chamber ; but 1 do not think that he would object to me saying whatI believe to be a fact. At that timeI was his employer. He was working in an industry with which I was connected. He depicted then the position of the poor employe who could not see his way financially more than a week ahead. I suppose he depicted me as a man living in luxury, with everything wanted supplied to me, and having a magnificent time. He thought that if he could turn society upside down he would have the best of it. But what was the fact? At that time I was managing a big financial company in which I was deeply interested. If it had broken down, I would have gone down, too. I assure honorable members that for three years I could not see a day ahead. Here was I, the employer, who could not see a day ahead; whereas the financial horizon of the employe - the AttorneyGeneral - was seven times as far as mine. What did we both do ? Did we make a hueandcry about the matter? No; we faced the position like men, and fought it through. I undertake to say that the Attorney-General’s financial horizon now is immensely more than one week ahead. From what I hear he has been earning a lot of money and adding field to field and house to house.
We know that he is a landlord and has, or had, one tenant. I cannot believe that the cure for the industrial unrest is to turn the present system topsy-turvy. The Liberals’ recognise that the present industrial surroundings are not perfect by any means, but we say” Let us mend them ; let us patch up the old ship which has carried us over the sea so long, and in which the Attorney-
General has been so very successful, but do not let us end it.” I feel sure that the idea of the honorable and learned gentleman that there must always be industrial unrest until the whole system is changed, is not sound. Before election time we hear more of this sort of talk than we do at other times. One cannot help thinking that it suits our friends opposite to have a little industrial unrest when they want to be elected again. To have people exclaiming against things, and to be able to tell them, “ We are going to put things right when we are the elect of the people “ - to stir up a bit of strife so as to get themselves another lease of power suits them very well. It is very disconcerting, indeed, to a man of peace like myself to find that notwithstanding all the methods which the Labour party have proposed to solve this problem, there are more strikes than ever. Government ownership will not heal this strife, because I think there have been more strikes to a square inch at Wonthaggi mine, which is a Governmentowned mine, than in any other industry in the whole community. I find that our honorable friends opposite are a good deal divided among themselves upon this question of striking. Some of them say, “ We are for a strike every time,” whereas there are others who do not like a strike. The Minister of Public Works for New South Wales, Mr. Griffith, is reported to have said -
If a section of the community declares war against the general public, and tries to starve it out, it is only natural to expect that when the opportunity comes the public will hit back. That is what has happened, both in South Australia and Queensland. Only let the strike promoters get to work and organize a general strike in Sydney just prior to the next general election, and our party will get rubbed out, but not otherwise. The best thought in the Labour movement regards the strike as a barbarous and obsolete weapon, and the public resents its reintroduction just as it would resent the reintroduction of the feudal system, or trial by torture, or any institution which did service in the past, but which has been superseded by more civilized methods.
Mr. Griffith ought to be a Liberal.
When the strike was the only method of obtaining a fair deal for the workers a strike before an election helped the Labour party very materially, but when the strike has been superseded by intelligent legislation, to strike is a retrograde movement, and is naturally resented by a progressive people.
I entirely agree with every word that Mr. Griffith uttered, and therefore I felt very disappointed when I discovered that no measure dealing with this matter is outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech. I had hoped to see in it some mention of a Bill requiring a compulsory secret vote to be taken by every union before resort could be had to a strike, and I also desired that the women should be allowed to participate in the ballot. We must all recollect that it is the women who have to bear the heat and burden of the day in -connexion with any strike. We know that a glass of beer will keep up the spirits of the men, and that, in reality, it is the poor unfortunate wives and families who are the chief sufferers. During the course of this debate, we have heard a good deal about the Brisbane strike,’ and I have no desire to discuss it at length. But it does seem deplorable at this time of day - especially in view of the fact that a remedy has already been provided for industrial disturbances - that a lot of otherwise sensible men should have struck work for such a trifling cause. We know that Mr. Coyne triumphantly claimed that he had reduced Brisbane to the state of a cemetery. We also know that another gentleman - a unionist - in the person of Comrade Munro, said -
If a man would not join a union they were justified in dealing with him as the Broken Hill miners or the Sydney wharf labourers did. Drop something on him, or push him overboard. If a girl refused to join a union, .put something in her way so that she would fall over it and break her neck.
I do not suggest that the author of this utterance is a “ comrade “ of any honorable member of this House, but I do hope that my honorable friends opposite will repudiate his wild statements.
– The honorable member does not think that we indorse them?
– I do not imagine for a moment that Comrade Munro would do anything. He would take very good care of his own skin, but he might incite persons of weak intellect to acts of violence. That is the object of his remarks, and therefore my honorable friends ought to repudiate them.
– It is not necessary to do so. We are not lunatics at large, nor are we murderers.
– I would-like to tell my honorable friends what happened in the great shearers’ strike of 1891. At the time, there was a man of weak intellect in the unionist camp, and when we took the free labourers to Barcaldine, this individual had been so wrought upon by the impassioned utterances of reckless agitators that he asked the police to induce the pastoralists to engage him, as a free labourer. We did so.
That evening he slept at the Barcaldine woolshed. In the middle of the night, he rose, grabbed a rifle and bayonet, and put the bayonet right through a man who was lying alongside him. He murdered that man. He was subsequently tried for his life, and at the trial, it was conclusively proved that he was a man of weak intellect.
– From where did he get his bayonet unless the pastoralists supplied it? That incident illustrates the class of man whom the pastoralists were prepared to employ.
– We believe in the principle of freedom of contract, and of our right to employ any individual whom we may choose.
– And at whatever wages you like to pay them?
– No. I am in favour of paying only the best wages ; but, in return, I want the best service. If my honorable friends opposite would denounce the remarks of Comrade Munro, they would be rendering a service to the community. We want to settle industrial disputes in a civilized way. We wish to do away with strikes. Personally, I am a man of peace, although I seem to have the unhappy knack of always getting into the firing line.
– The other day the farmers at Kerang threatened to starve Melbourne. Why does not the honorable member repudiate that threat?
– I certainly do. I think it was a very indiscreet remark.
– We will say the same of the utterance of Comrade Munro.
– I am very pleased to have extracted that expression from the Minister of External Affairs. I listened with very great interest the other evening to the speech which was delivered by the honorable member for Brisbane. His kindly Scotch accent suggests that he has not been long in this country, and he naturally looks upon soldiers as an enemy of the people. But I would remind him that in Australia we are governed by the people, and if they do not wish the military to be employed to quell any civil disturbance they have a perfect right to say that they shall not be so employed. The position in Scotland is very different. There, only a few persons possess a vote, so that the military may be controlled in an autocratic way. I cannot understand why, in a democratic country like Australia, any sane mortal should fear the police or military. It will be recollected that, in connexion with the Brisbane strike of tramway employes, both sides wished to have the military called out. Mr. Coyne wanted them called out on behalf of the Strike Committee, and Mr. Denham also asked for their assistance. It is evident, therefore, that both sides regarded the position as an “alarming one. If a majority of the people do not desire the services of the military to be em, ployed in the way that has been suggested, they have a constitutional method of ex. pressing their will in the matter. It is easily conceivable that a State Government might be put to very great expense in providing a means of checking industrial strife, because, when such disputes arise, passions become inflamed, and a lot of gaol-birds collect for the purpose of disturbing the peace of the community. The honorable member for Brisbane takes rather the Old World view of the military force. He conceives it to be necessarily a force controlled by an autocrat, not a force composed of, and controlled by, the people themselves. To my mind, the fear of the military is groundless. In this country there has never been a man hurt by soldiers. Coming back to the big shearers’ strike, if it had not been for the calling out of the military, blood would have been shed then. I took up the first lot of free labourers to Claremont. We got a telegram from a place 250 miles away, saying that 1,000 men were coming to pull us out of the woolshed. Before they left Barcaldine, they wrecked the township. As day after day they got nearer, it became a question whether they or the troops would arrive first. We were away in the interior, far from any help or protection.
– Did the honorable member feel queer?
– I did not feel too well, and the honorable member would not have enjoyed the position.
– No doubt, the honorable member’s courage was in his boots.
– I was determined to see the matter through, and very glad when the military arrived, .because we were all afraid of bloodshed. No one desires the shedding of blood in this country. We know what it has done in Ireland to prevent the peaceful settlement of difficulties. The big shearers’ strike was not connected with any question of wages or housing accommodation, though the housing accommodation of the day was not all .that could be desired. Still, the conditions of the industry at the time must be remembered. We had been in the country only twelve years, and Rome was not built in a day.
– A decent shed could not be built in twelve years !
– The honorable member is a Collins-street farmer, and knows nothing of the difficulties to be faced when new country is taken up. We took over that country from the kangaroos, and to get to it had to cross two mountain ranges, over which all our materials had to be carted. We had to be content to start in a very small way, and were just as badly housed as our employes. I have slept under a tent many a time, and have slept many nights without a tent, and enjoyed them. No doubt, it did me good.
– I lived for twenty years under canvas, and some railway employes live under canvas all the time.
– Had the strike been on the question of housing, we should have conceded the demands of the strikers. Their demand, however, was that we should employ only union labour, and I held then, as I do now, that an employer has no business to ask a man whether he is a unionist or a non-unionist. It was really on that question that we fought. Nowadays, the shearers do not waste their earnings on frivolities, but bank their money. In those times, there was a great deal of gambling, and men would get into a state in which they could not work, and would then declare the sheep to be wet. and throw shearing operations into disorder. However, this is an old tale, and the past is done with. I refer to the matter only in reply to the statement of the Prime Minister.
– Would the honorable member sooner have things as they were, or as they are?
– As they are. I desire the settlement of industrial disputes by properly constituted Wages Boards, Arbitration Courts, and other civilized methods, and not by the savage method of striking. The honorable member for Brisbane seemed to think that the workers would be afraid of the troops. He and many others treat them as if they were children. We in Australia are an educated people, and the workers know as much as any other section of the community. The honorable member spoke of catching glimpses of the dawn from the pinnacle of education, the pinnacle of universal suffrage, and other pinnacles raised by the
Labour party, though, in point of fact, none of the benefits he mentioned are due to the efforts of Labour members. What the Labour party will bring about is a state of chaos leading to the disappearance of these pinnacles. The working men and women of Australia are too well educated to be afraid of soldiers. I am glad that I converted the Minister of Home Affairs to my opinion that a remedy for industrial unrest is for the unions, instead of wasting their money on strikes, to buy shares in industrial concerns. I made this clear in a speech delivered in this Chamber on the 30th September last. It is to be found in Hansard, at page 842 of the debates of last session. I am pleased to see that I have made one convert, and that there is one little ewe lamb that I can call my own.
– I should call the honorable gentleman a long-woolled sheep.
– It is no little achievement in one’s political career to be able to claim that he has made a convert from so united a phalanx as I see opposite me. I quote the following statement of the honorable gentleman’s remarks -
The Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. King O’Malley, yesterday made an outspoken condemnation of strikes, which he declared to be responsible for the recent Labour reverses.
– Was that before or after the Tasmaninn strike?
– I believe it was after the Tasmanian strike. The honorable gentleman went on to say -
I have noticed since I have been in Australia, and particularly since I have joined the Labour party, that nearly all these strikes are created or developedby splendidly enthusiastic young fellows who have studied economic questions and looked into the whole history of the great fights between capital and labour. They realized the accumulated evils of centuries of wrong inflicted on the great majority by the selfishness of small coteries on the other side. The results of the realization of this causes them to start a strike, and their brethren feel that they are bound to stand by them. Now, the greatest sufferers in the community are the women and children, because it is like a great domestic war, a great family fight, and when families fight nothing is so bitter. These questions must be settled by discussion after these terrible strikes, and after the commercial life of the community has been paralysed. Both sides must sit round a common table and discuss some mode of settlement.
The Minister was here clearly advocating Wages Boards -
If they do not one side is defeated. If capital is defeated it is revengeful. It plans and organizes with its capitalistic brethren. It strengthens its flank and front, and does every- thing passible ‘to renew the war at the earliest possibility. If Labour is defeated it is bitter. It is full of revenge and, like France after the fall of Metz and Strasburg and the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, the cry is “ Revenge.” Every resource is exhausted to prepare for buttle, and when >the -time comes suddenly a great war between Labour and Capital starts. Now, it would be a good thing if the organizations of Labour in Australia, like the A.W.U. with Mr. Spence, the philosopher and the historian of the Labour party, at its head, were to call a conference of all the great Labour organizations in Australia and lay down that “‘before they would support any strike, with their capital or .call upon the great organizations to levy strike pay wherever those workers felt that they suffered a wrong, they must have a secret ballot, and in .that secret ballot they must allow the wives, mothers, and the sisters of the members of the union to .vote as w.ell as the men “ Yes “ or “ No.” If the vote is “ No,” then they must go on and negotiate. If the vote is ““Yes,” then a ‘Strike. My own idea is that the strike is useless.
If the women had ito deal with the matter, w.e ‘Should very- seldom ha.ve a declaration in favour of a strike. This is the point I have always been trying to impress on honorable members opposite -
Itf the unions would create an Australian central finance committee connected with all the trades halls, and take the money that is wasted in fighting these strik.es and pay it into a fund that could be utilized for purchasing the shares of those industrial organizations, for which they work ,on falling markets -
That is the commercial man coming out - they can then attend the meetings .of those corporations .and have their own say as representatives of the Trades Hall, and, where they had bought stock enough, might be able to elect a director. By that means they could regulate the corporations; and, at the same time, share in the dividends, so that they would be not only workers, but partners. It is about time the workers of Australia be.gan to think, not with their toes, but with their brains. They must learn that they can progress and civilization .can advance only as they employ their intellects for their work, as they use their thinkers before they start to work. The great combinations of capital are all directed by expert business men. What the worker wants to do is to sharpen his intellect and match his brain against the brain, of his opponent. Let them sit down and meet with them and talk with them, and each .will find that the other is not as bad as he thought. There is no doubt in the world that strikes have been responsible for the recent Labour reverses. While there are as great strikes in other parts of the world there are no Labour Governments in those countries. Any stick is good enough to beat a dog with. Here we have Labour Governments, and our opponents, in using the facts of the strikes against us, a-re doing only what we might do if we were on their side. They blame all these strikes on to the Labour Government, and naturally timid voters in the country get frightened. They fan the flame, and the result is that the strikes have been the Muse of the defeat of Labour. The election for Boothby was just after the strike of carters in Adelaide. When the Victorian elections were on there was another industrial strike. Now at the South Australian elections there is the great strike in Brisbane. Naturally our opponents use these facts and profit by them.
I wish again to make this suggestion in the advocacy of which I have now so able and responsible a colleague. I ask honorable members to think it over, and see whether this continual industrial unrest cannot .be put a stop to. Let us -see whether they cannot make the workers of Australia the capitalists of the country also. We have made every man equal in the .matter of education in Australia, and can -we not, by a little further effort, make every man equal in respect of worldly substance as well?
– The honorable member is not far from the Kingdom of Heaven.
– I remind the Minister of External Affairs that this is not a “ Pleasant Sunday Afternoon.” In connexion with the land tax, the honorable member for Brisbane suggested that we should organize a passive resistance league and refuse to pay the tax. I thought for a moment that that would be a good plan ; but I am afraid, on consideration, that it would >not work. I should like to review the position with respect to the land tax. We cannot say very much about it, because it has been for so short a time in existence. I find that there are 15,271 taxpayers, of whom 12,988 are residents, and 2,283 are absentees. Town lands pay £458,132, country lands .£946,837, of a total of £1,404,969. There should be at least £100,000 a year added to this total in respect of the taxation of companies, because the company assessments have not yet been made. Their tax is two years overdue, owing to the difficulty of assessing all the intricate interests in companies not having been surmounted up to the present time. Since the Government said they wanted to secure a revenue of .£1,000,000 from, this tax, and they are going to get about £1,500,000 from it, it is clear that a 4d. rate would have been sufficient ; and had’ that been adopted, the Prime Minister would have kept faith with the people of Australia, because he undoubtedly said in his policy speech at Gympie that the maximum rate would be 4d. in the £1.
– Then the honorable member must have made a very reckless prediction when he said the revenue from the tax would not be less than £4,000,000.
– It would take so long to explain to the honorable member how that came about that I shall not worry the House with the explanation. I shall give it to the honorable member privately if he will spare me an hour some day. The number of people who own land valued at over £5,000 and under £1 0,000 is 8,736 ; the number owning land valued at over £10,000 and under £15,000 is 1,792; and the number of people owning land valued at over £15,000 is 4,743. I do not hold any brief for absentees, but I want to put a commercial proposition before the Government. Absentees are taxed on land valued at from £1 upwards. The number owning land valued at up to £5,000 is 1803 ; the number owning land valued at over £5,000 and up to , £10,000 is 189; and the number owning land over £10,000 in value is 201. This accounts for the total of absentees affected by this tax. The revenue derived from the tax imposed on absentees over and above the tax imposed on residents amounts to £21,425. I agree that it is perfectly justifiable, under a properly regulated system, to require the absentee, who does not spend his money amongst us to encourage production, to pay a little more than the resident; but I ask whether it is worth while, for the sake of £21,425, which is a rapidly diminishing amount, to impose this differential taxation upon absentees. It causes a great deal of ill feeling amongst people who lend Australia an enormous sum of money. We pay in interest to these people about £9,000,000 a year on money borrowed from them, and, in view of this fact, I think that it is hardly worth while to make the difference which is made under our legislation in the taxation of absentees.
– Do they lend the money in charity ?
– No; but I say they may resent our differential legislation, and be induced in consequence to make harder bargains with us. It is not reasonable to suppose that they like being taxed in the way they are. I ask honorable members to consider the position of these men who have to pay an absentee tax in Australia and a heavy income tax in Great Britain. The continuance of this differential treatment will simply mean the withdrawal from Australia of a vast sum of British capital. I have no personal interest in this matter ; I put it forward only as a business proposal.
– Does the honorable member think that the A. A. Company, which obtained a very large area of land in New South Wales free of charge ought not to pay taxation ?
– I quite agree that it should be taxed, but is it worth while imposing what is really an absentee tax? A company may be registered abroad and yet have amongst its shareholders many residents of Australia. Another point to which I desire to refer is that, of the vast amount of British capital which is scattered abroad in fertilizing streams, £36,000,000 goes to Canada every year, and , £18,000,000 to the Argentine, while only £3,000,000 finds its way to Australia. Whatever may be the views of honorable members as to immigration, and one man competing with another, I do not think that any one will object to the competition of capital, which means cheap money for the people. On the occasion of a. recent visit to Canada, I found that, although it is not half as good a country as is Australia, its prosperity was phenomenal: Its flourishing condition shows that it is a good thing for a country to have a large amount of British capital to assist in its building up and development, and we ought not to do anything to discourage the introduction of capital into Australia. In conclusion, I hold that every effort should be made to secure closer settlement and to encourage immigration. As I am not a believer in long speeches, I shall not detain the House further.I thank honorable members for the encouraging attention they have given me.
– I do not think any one can complain that the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition as a motion of want of confidence is lacking in comprehensiveness, or that the area covered by it is not sufficiently wide. Viewing it, I am reminded of a deputation which waited upon me whilst I was at Pine Creek, in the Northern Territory, and the members of which told me that they came as the representatives of a mass meeting at which the resolutions submitted to me had been unanimously agreed to. When I inquired how many attended that meeting, I was informed that twenty-two persons were present. The deputation then proceeded to ask for the construction of a transcontinental railway, the building of two spur railway lines, the provision of an amalgamating plant and a concentrating plant, and for a few other things which would involve a total expenditure of nearly £15,000,000, or nearly £500,000 in respect of every person present at that meeting. I promised that 1 would take their proposals into consideration, and mentioned that I should be returning a week hence, when they would be able to place before me any little request that they had overlooked. In the same way I dare say that if the Leader of the Opposition, in framing his motion of want of confidence, has forgotten anything, he will have an opportunity on some other occasion to make good the omission. The Opposition propose that we shall be censured because of reckless, irresponsible dealings with the finances of the Commonwealth, because of partisan actions and appointments, and the maladministration of public affairs and public Departments. But although several ex-Ministers have contributed to this debate, we have heard up to the present very little as to the alleged maladministration of the Departments, or the reckless spending of the public moneys. There has been a casual reference to what some members of the Opposition claim to have been partisan appointments made by this Government, and since most of those appointments come within my own Department, I think it would not be unwise for me to review them. The first appointment made by us was that of the Administrator of the Northern Territory. Professor Gilruth accepted that office, but very few are able to say whether he belongs to the Liberal or the Labour party. I do not know to-day whether he is a member of the Liberal party or theLabour party, or, indeed, whether he belongs to any political organization whatever. I had an interview with him when I was endeavouring to obtain his services for the position of Administrator of the Territory, and I frankly admit that I then put to him two questions. The one was whether he believed it possible to develop the Northern Territory by means of white labour; the other was whether he favoured the leasehold as against the freehold principle in land settlement. He told me that he was in favour of white labour in the Northern Territory; that he believed that the white man was quite able to do what the black man could do, and that he was also very strongly in favour of the leasehold system. Those were the only questions of policy that I put to him, and I thought it only reasonable that respecting those two matters I should have the view of the person who was to be sent to the Northern Territory to enter upon the work of its development. It is the policy of the Government to attempt to develop the Territory by means of white labour, and we also believe very strongly in the leasehold as against the freehold system of land settlement.
– Based on what experience ?
– It may be right or wrong, but that is our policy ; and I thought that, in fairness to my colleagues in the Cabinet, I should be quite sure, before I suggested to them the name of a gentleman to act as Administrator, that, concerning those two questions of policy, he was absolutely in sympathy with the Government.
– If the honorable member is succeeded by a Minister who is in favour of the freehold principle of land settlement, what is to become of ths Administrator ?
– It will be for him to decide. It is not often that the Argus makes any complimentary references to me, but it has, in a leading article, congratulated me upon the appointment of Professor Gilruth as Administrator. While I was communicating with Professor Gilruth, I wrote to Sir John Madden, the Chancellor of the University Senate, thinking that he ought to he notified before the facts were publicly known; and Sir John was good enough to send me the following reply -
I do not know whether to be very sorry or very glad that Professor Gilruth is likely to leave the University in the circumstances you mention. The national importance of wisely and permanently establishing the settlement of the Northern Territory cannot be exaggerated, while to Victoria the loss of the administrator of our new and initial school of veterinary science, being the man he is in individuality, as well as in learning, will certainly be a severe blow from which we shall not easily recover. However, our Commonwealth has the right, and properly so, to command our very best, and the University has no right to stand in the way of the attainment of the proposed, great distinction by Professor Gilruth. Therefore I, for my part, cast aside the regret in sincere congratulation of him.
That was the chief appointment we made, in the Territory ; and I think there is no honorable member who can claim that it was political or partisan, so far as the Labour party are concerned. It is the first time, I believe, for many years, that an Administrator has been appointed from any other than political reasons. If we refer to the history of the Territory, we find that Governments who have been responsible for its development in the past have appointed men, not necessarily because they were wise or able to do the work, but because of the political exigencies of the day.
– There have been some very excellent appointments.
– I do not say there have not; but the first consideration has been political. Professor Gilruth owes nothing to us politically, and we owe nothing to him. He was appointed simply because we believed him to be the best man for the position. We may have made a mistake, but there was no political allegiance on either side.
– It is a first class appointment !
– The next appointment made was that of Mr. Bevan as Judge. The honorable member for Darling Downs, in the course of his speech, expressed the opinion that we have not treated the public servants well enough in some of the appointments. I take it, however, that that opinion does not apply to the appointment of a Judge, because every lawyer in the community would, I fancy, fall down dead if we selected a Judge from the Public Service. If, to-morrow, a Judge were required for the High Court, and we were to appoint some civil servant - although, by the way, I think Mr. Garran is as good a lawyer as any - the legal profession would be utterly astounded. .
– How many people are there in the Territory for him to judge?
– It is necessary to have a Judge.
– Did the Government think they could get a better Judge than the man on the spot?
– I am now dealing, with the appointment of Mr. Bevan. I do not know to what political party he belongs, though I believe he at one time stood as a candidate in the Liberal or Conservative interest.
– In the Conservative interest against the honorable member for Laanecoorie, in 1903.
– I may say that this appointment, although in my Department, had to be dealt with through the AttorneyGeneral.
– Why not appoint the man on the spot?
– I am dealing with the way in which appointments have been made. The Attorney-General assures me that, before making any appointment, he consulted leading Judges in South Australia and Victoria, including Sir John Madden and Mr. Justice Cussen.
– Whom did he consult in South Australia?
– Chief Justice Way and Mr. Justice Gordon. Whether this appointment be good or bad, it cannot be said that we went to the Labour party for a man.
– Where would be the harm, even if it were so ?
– I should not be alarmed, but accusations have been made, and I desire to put my side of the question. The next appointment that we had to deal with was that of Director of Lands, and we called for applications at a salary of , £650.
– How many applicants were there? Did they run into hundreds?
– No, they did not. We received a certain number of applications, but I do not care to lay these with the names on the table of the House. Personally, I should not have the slightest objection to doing so; but some of those who applied might not care to have their names made public. If, however, any honorable member on either side of the House would like to see the names in confidence, I have them here, and they may be seen. I was not quite satisfied with any of those who applied; and at this time Mr. Nielsen, who was a member of the New South Wales Parliament, saw me, as he had previously seen my late lamented predecessor, Mr. Batchelor, about an appointment in the Territory. Mr. Nielsen applied for the position of Administrator, as did also the honorable member for New England, though I should not have mentioned the latter fact had the honorable member not publicly stated it in this House. It will be seen that had we any desire to make a partisan appointment to the position of Administrator we could have chosen either of those gentlemen.
– Is that why Mr. Nielsen was chosen ?
- Mr. Nielsen was not chosen as Administrator; he did not in every sense fill the bill in our opinion, and he was not offered the position. But before Mr. Nielsen went to America, he told me that, under certain conditions, he was prepared to accept the position of Director of Lands at . £800 a year, and, after he had left, I offered it to him. I have already said that I was not satisfied with any of the applications made for the position at £650 a year. The honorable member for Parramatta has said, in this House, that he did not think that Mr. Nielsen was fitted for the position of Director of Lands. But the honorable member’s opinion is not generally accepted. Mr. Nielsen is known to many of us. When he entered the New South Wales Parliament he very quickly forged to the front, and was regarded as an authority on land questions. Even the Sydney newspapers - not only the Labour journals - referred in complimentary terms to the fact that I had offered this position to him. In addition to that, Mr. Nielsen was a very strong advocate of the leasehold principle. So firm- was his adhesion to it that he was even prepared to resign his position as a member of a Government, because he could not get his way on the leasehold question. I am very sorry that, after a while, he declined to take the position.
– Did the Minister try to secure the services of experienced men from the Lands Departments of the States?
– I offered the position, in the first instance, at £650 a year. As I have stated, I am prepared to allow any honorable member, in confidence, to see the name of every applicant at that salary. After Mr. Nielsen turned it down, I called for fresh applications at £800 a year, because I thought that the increased amount would probably widen the field from which I could draw. Again, I am prepared, not to lay the papers upon the table of the House - honorable members will know why - but to show to any honorable member who desires it the names of those who applied for the position at the higher salary. The appointment was ultimately given to Mr. Ryland. In my opinion, a person appointed to be Director of Lands in the Northern Territory must have certain qualifications. In the first place, he must understand land ; then he must be able to classify land ; he must know land values ; he must know what stock land can carry; he should be a man of undoubted honesty and probity ; he should be a sober man ; and he should, lastly, be in accord with the leasehold principle. The reason for that last requirement is this : I have made up my mind that, as far as possible, the Territory shall not be governed from Melbourne, but from Darwin. In my opinion, it is utterly impossible for any one in Melbourne to try to conduct the administra tion. But, at the same time, the Government cannot shirk their responsibility’. They have to be responsible for what is done. In view of the policy which I have laid down, and am trying to carry out, I maintain that it is only right, fair, and proper to myself, and to the Government, that we should have some officers there who are in accord with our general policy, so that we may have confidence in what is being clone. We have to take the responsibility for their action, whilst. at the same time, we must try to govern, not from here, but from Darwin.
– Will the next Government be justified in removing the Director of Lands on the same grounds?
– There is no anxiety in my mind about the next Government. I am only troubled with what is to be done under the present Government.
– What is the duration of the appointment ?
– The Director of Lands is appointed until he reaches the age of sixty-five years.
– It is a permanent office?
– How old is the Director at present?
– I think between fifty and sixty years. The positions of Director of Lands and Director of Agriculture are permanent. They are under the Public Service Act, which enables the officers to maintain their positions until they reach the age of sixty-five.
– It is an extraordinary doctrine that public servants must hold certain political views.
– It is not an extraordinary doctrine, nor is it a new one. I say again that in connexion with these administrative positions, especially at the present moment, I consider it is only fair and proper that we should have one or two officers who are in accord with our principles.
– The charge made by the Opposition is proved out of the Minister’s mouth.
– All right; the honorable member need not get excited. I say again that in view of the fact that I want to govern the Territory from Darwin instead of from Melbourne, it is only fair that we should have such a man as we can depend upon to carry out our policy. Suppose, for instance, it were a matter of carrying out the White Australia policy. or the policy of leaseholds elsewhere. Would it be wise for a Government _ to appoint a man to carry out such a policy who did not believe in it? As far as Mr. Ryland is concerned, he was born on a farm, and has had practical experience. He has studied agriculture. He was a member of the Queensland Parliament for a number of years, and made the land question a specialty. I have it on the authority of the Prink. Minister that he is a man of undoubted honesty and probity. No one can question the appointment on that ground.
– He is a teetotaller too.
– That is a certain consideration. Again, I am prepared to do this. I will show to any honorable member who desires to see them - of course, in confidence - the names of the applicants for this position.
– I desire to see them, for one.
– Very well, the honorable member shall do so. If there is amongst those who applied a person possessing the necessary qualifications who, in the opinion of any honorable member was entitled to be appointed, I am prepared to hear argument upon the point by-and-by in this House.
– What good will that do?
– Well, we shall see. I come now to the appointment of the Director of Agriculture. If we have officers in the Territory in whom we have confidence, let me show the House what will happen. Some time ago we were fixing np the Land Ordinances. The Ordinances were altered a little here and there. In the interval,, Profesor Gilruth had been appointed. I asked him to look into the Ordinances before we put the final touches to them and see whether he could make any suggestions for their improvement, and hg did so. Mr. Nielsen had not seen the Ordinances, and before he went to America, I asked him if he would be good enough to give me a general idea of the lines which he would like to have carried out if appointed Director of Lands. When I compared the suggestions of Professor Gilruth and the notes which ‘Mr. -Nielsen left behind him, I noticed that in two or three important matters they were in agreement. I immediately realized that I could go into the Cabinet with confidence and suggest the alterations. The alterations were made, and I think that the Land Ordinances were thereby improved. After appointing a Director of Lands, we appointed a Director of Agriculture. Only five persons applied for the latter position. I am quite prepared to show the names of the five applicants to any honorable member who desires to see them; and if he thinks that I did not. appoint the best applicant, let him say so here, and pit the qualifications of his man against those of the man I appointed. The Director of Agriculture was a public servant when he received the appointment. It does seem hard to please -some persons. Some members of the Opposition have complained that we do not appoint civil servants enough. In the case of the Director of Agriculture we appointed a civil servant, and the honorable member for Parramatta is afraid that Mr. Clarke is not competent. For many years, including the time when the honorable gentleman w.as a member of the New South Wales Government, Mr. Clarke was a public servant in charge of the Agricultural Gazette. He has had practical experience in farming. Surely if a man was fit to teach all the farmers in a State how to run a farm, he ought to be able to run a farm on his own account. I think I was justified in appointing to this position a person who for a number of years was employed in that capacity. I wish to explain my position in regard to public servants. The honorable member for Parramatta, and also the honorable member for Darling Downs, complained that we had not given public servants the opportunity of going to the Northern Territory. As regards any appointments which I have to make or to recommend in that direction, I shall not give a public servant more show than a man outside the Public Service, nor will I give a man outside the Public Service more show than a public servant. They will be treated on exactly the same footing whenever an appointment in the Northern Territory has to be made.
– Why is that?
– Why should it not be so?
– The Public Service Act says that appointments are to be made from inside the Service.
– Not so far as the Northern Territory is concerned.
– The Minister gets outside the Public Service Act as soon as he can.-
– I am very glad that the honorable member ‘ has made that remark. Under the Public Service Act, the Commissioner cannot appoint any person in the Federal Service to a new position, unless it is* in the Professional or higher grade, until he certifies that there is no person in the Federal or a State Service who is qualified to do the work.
– Why was that?
– I am not one of those who want to see political appointments made in the Federal Service. Whilst I was Postmaster-General, probably I had a great many faults, but no one can say that I wished to belittle the Public Service Act or to interfere with the functions or the work of the Commissioner. It is quite possible that I might have won a fleeting popularity if I had said a few words against him, but I did not.
– The honorable gentleman might have done somebody justice.
– I believe in the Public Service Act and the Commissioner. I would not take away a single power which he possesses, but would add to his powers. If I had my way, I would repeal that part of the Act which I referred to, and allow the Commissioner to appoint a person from outside the Service if he had passed the necessary examination and could do the work better than some person in the Service, so that men outside should have exactly the same chance as men inside.
– He can do that now.
– Yes, but he has to certify that no person in the Public Service can do the work. He might be able to get an officer to do the work, but he might oe able to get a man outside the Public Service who could do the work better. As ong as he says that there is an officer who can do the work, he has to fall back on the Public Service. As regards appointments to the Northern Territory, whilst I am not in favour of interfering with the Public Service, I would give public servants and men out of the Service exactly the same opportunity. 1 believe that the Northern Territory could be very materially helped if it were possible to make an arrangement with the States that a permanent officer who is chosen from a State Service to fill a position in the Northern Territory shall not lose his rank or his grade, or the opportunity of promotion in the State Service by reason of that act. Suppose, for instance, that a State is employing permanently a person who, we think, could render a service to us in the Northern Territory. He will hesitate a good deal before he agrees to accept a position in the Northern Territory, unless the salary offered is very much higher than he is getting.
– You will lose some good officials if you do not do that.
– If it is possible to make an arrangement of the kind I have mentioned with the States, we shall be very glad, because then we could have some officials in the Northern Territory who, after serving there for four or five years, could, it they so desired, fall back into the State Service from which they came. If any honorable member thinks that Mr. Clarke was not the best out of the five applicants for the position of Director of Agriculture I shall be glad to hear him say so. There is still another appointment which I made, and that was the appointment of Mr. Day, from South Australia, as Chief Surveyor. It is only fair to Mr. Day to say that he was an applicant for the position of Director of Lands, at a salary of £650.
– And a man of lifelong experience.
– I do not mind saying that he was a good deal in the running, but, to my mind, he did not possess quite the qualifications necessary to fill the bill, and 1 then offered the position to Mr. Nielsen. I was very pleased with the recommendations which were submitted in favour of Mr. Day. When I had to appoint a Chief Surveyor, at the same salary as I had previously fixed for the Director of Lands, I sent for Mr. Day and gave him the appointment. He was a civil servant. No one spoke to me on his behalf, except one member of Parliament, and that was Sir Josiah Symon. Having mentioned his name, I think it is only fair to tell honorable members what Sir Josiah Symon said. He said, “ I understand that Mr. Day is an applicant for the position of Director of Lands. I do not wish in the slightest degree to influence you in making an appointment to that office. I merely come to you as a public man to say that I know Mr. Day. He did some work before the Court that dealt with the disputed land boundaries case of Victoria and South Australia a little whole ago which was eminently satisfactory. In my opinion, he is an able officer, and I think it is only fair, as a public man, that I should make this statement regarding him.” I did not ask Mr. Day his political opinions, and I do not know what they are.
– What are his duties ?
– His duties are those of Chief Surveyor.
– What does the Department which employed him say of him?
– It speaks most highly of him.
– He is the one experienced man whom the Government have appointed.
– I am very glad to learn that we have appointed one experienced and capable man, even though he happens to come from South Australia. Perhaps that fact weighs with the honorable member. Then there was the office of Government Geologist to which Dr. Jensen has been appointed. He is not a South Australian. He comes from New South Wales. He applied for the position-
– Has he any political proclivities?
– I believe that he has. But I am not prepared to say that’ I will not appoint a man to any Government position merely because he holds political opinions. We have given to the public servants of Australia full political rights. I dealt with Dr. Jensen as a geologist, and I have it on the authority of one geologist- I refer to Professor David - that he has a European reputation. Professor David told the Prime Minister and myself that, not only has Dr. Jensen a European reputation, but that his opinions are quoted in the textbooks of Germany. We have abundant warrant for appointing such a man, even though he happens to have Labour proclivities.
– What is the name of the book which he wrote?
– I have not read it. I dealt with him simply from the point of view of his standing as a geologist. He was a civil servant in New South Wales. It cannot be urged, therefore, that I have not appointed civil servants. There is another appointment to which I desire briefly to refer - that of Mr. Francis, who fills the position of Superintendent of Railways in the Northern Territory. He receives a salary of £650 a year. He was appointed by our Government.
– Whence did he come?
– From Victoria. A number of honorable members and myself who visited the NorthernTerritory had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Francis, who makes no bones of the fact that he does not belong to the Labour party.
– What are his qualifications ?
– He was employed in the Victorian Railways Department, where he did a good deal of work before receiving his present appointment.
– What are his qualifications ?
– He was appointed before I became Minister of External Affairs.
– I do not care two straws about where he came from, so long as he is qualified for his office.
– I do not bother myself as to whether Mr. Francis holds Labour or Liberal views. I merely want him to do his work there. As far as I know, he has been doing it. So that, in filling these seven appointments, only two men were selected who in any way can be said to belong to the Labour party.
– Or who have the requisite qualifications for their positions.
– I do not understand the honorable member. Surely he will not call Mr. Miller, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, a militant Labourite.
– I do not know anything about him.
– If he had ever written anything in favour of the Labour party, the honorable member would, I suppose, have known something about him. The honorable member for Parramatta stated during the course of his speech that though he did not know Mr. Ryland, he did not think he was competent for the office which he fills.. I have it on the authority of the Prime Minister, who has known Mr. Ryland intimately for twenty years, that he is qualified for the position of Director of Lands. When I receive an assurance of that sort, that is sufficient for me.
– What are his qualifications ?
– We haveheard a good deal inreference to Mr. Ryland. But did anyhonorable member ever say a single word about Mr. Kidston’s action in appointing himself to the Land Board in Queensland? I am rather glad that this matter has been raised, becauseit will give us an opportunity of going upon stive platform and meeting the people of Australia. The present Government have been in office, and have held power for some time. There is no doubt about that. We have hada solid majority at our backs.Parliament was ; in recess for six months, and if we had chosen to appoint to the positions which I have enumerated, men exclusively from our own ranks, would we have been blamed by our own party ? Yet we have selected only two gentlemen with Labour proclivities to fill positions, notwithstanding that seven vacancies were offering. Instead of being blamed for our action, I am reminded of the historic reply given by Clive, when he was informed that he might have accomplished more in India. He was “ amazed at his moderation.” We could have appointed all these men from the Labour,ranks had we chosen to do so.
– The Government would not have been able to get qualified men for the positions.
– We could have appointed men who were not qualified had we so desired. But I maintain, that we have selected men who are qualified
– They are strong Labour partisans.
-I am about now to mention one name, and I would not have done so if it had not been mentioned by Senator Millen in another place. In discussing this motion, the honorable member, for Parramatta said that all he desired was that we should appoint the best men-. Does any honorable member representing a New South Wales constituency recollect the time when Mr. Jacob Garrard was defeated at a. general election, and when within a week or two afterwards he was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Water and Sewerage Board.?
– As a member of the Board first.
– He was appointed as a member of the Board in the first instance. By whom was he appointed? By Mr. Reid’s Government, in which the honorable member for Parramatta was a Minister at the time. I have nothing to say against Mr. Jacob Garrard. I like him personally. But did. any one in Australia except the members of the Reid Cabinet think him the most suitable man for that position ?
– It is only fair to add that a subsequent. Liberal Ministry put Mr. Keele into. his. place.
-.- Mr. Garrard was appointed merely because he was an exmember of Parliament.
– That does not make the appointment a right one.
– There has been a good deal of criticism in the press upon our proposal to substitute the leasehold for the freehold principle in the Northern Territory. Not much has been said about the matter in this chamber, though last night the honorable member for Kooyong found fault with our’ policy.. The. honorable member for Ballarat did not deal with the matter. He told us that he had not time to enter into all his charges against us. But just before the session opened, when speaking at Ballarat on the Liberal policy, he said that he believed in closer settlement on freehold lines. I take it, therefore, that he advocates, the adoption of the freehold rather than the leasehold principle for the Northern Territory.
– For closer settlement areas.
– When Sir Edmund Barton was Prime Minister, and the honorable member his; distinguished lieutenant, the Government of the day submitted a motion in connexion with the Federal Capital site.
– The Labour party forced them to do so, no doubt.
– Well, the honorable member was- a member of that Government. It was laid down in that motion, which was carried by the House, that the Federal Territory must for ever be dealt with on the. leasehold principle. A little later, a Bill; was introduced to provide a Constitution for Papua. The honorable member for Laanecoorie, who, according to the newspapers, intends to “ twitch his mantle blue,” and “ seek fresh pastures new,” said, on that occasion -
It is desirable that at the outset we should set ourselves firmly against any attempt at land alienation. . . . We should avoid the mistakes made in the States of the Commonwealth in parting with the fee simple of the public estate. I am sure that the financial position of the States would have been very different to-day if we had’ not squandered our patrimony and robbed future generations of their true heritage by selling our land at prices representing a very small percentage of its true value.
If the newspapers speak correctly, the honorable member is to be a candidate for the Senate. I understand that the Liberalpolicy is to uphold the principle of freehold, and no doubt he will have many opportunities to explain that speech. Many other honorable members spoke on the occasion to which I refer ; but I shall not go into the matter further now, except to repeat what the honorable member for Ballarat said at Ballarat. I do not know whether he was correctly reported, but, according to the press, he stated that he believed in closer settlement, but it should be on freehold lines, and he went on to say that, as far _as closer settlement was concerned, whilst he believed in freehold, these freehold lands must not be dummied or sold. A freehold which could not be dummied or sold would not be very far removed from a perpetual lease j but I do not quite understand how there could be a freehold without the right to sell. If the honorable member says that he did not make that statement, I accept his denial of it.
– I did make it, though the report is an extremely abbreviated rendering of my remarks. The Minister appears not to be aware that what I spoke of is a form of tenure now in use in Australia.
– The honorable member for Parramatta, like many others, sometimes makes speeches outside this chamber ; and I should like to read from the report of 6ne published by the Lithgow Mercury. I believe this newspaper is not opposed to the honorable gentleman, but is rather friendly to him. He may have been misreported in it, but I do not think that it can have been wilfully or deliberately done. He is reported to have spoken in this way at Lithgow -
He criticised the action of the Minister of External Affairs in regard to the Northern Territory. The Minister fixed his land tenure in Melbourne, and then went to the Territory to see the land.
– At the coolest period of the year, too.
– 1 suppose that the right honorable member for Swan and 1 would agree that it is wise to go there about that time.
– But one could not know what the place was like unless he went there in the summer.
– Let me resume the quotation -
He had fixed it so that any bloated squatter could go up there and have a lease of 3,000 square miles, the maximum, without any rent for twenty-five years. So that if 176 persons took up this maximum area they would possess a territory which was ten times as large as England and Wales together. This was pretty tall for a man who got into office on the faith of his unrelenting opposition to land monopoly. lt was assumed that this House would be greatly interested as to what Mr. Coyne had said, and I may assume that the House will also be interested in what the honorable member for Parramatta says. In the .quotation I have made there is no objection’ expressed to leasehold, but it is sug gested that the area proposed to be leased is too great. I should like honorable members to understand what we purpose doing in the Territory. It is quite possible that under certain circumstances 176 persons could take up the whole of the Northern Territory. In just the same way, if he had money enough, one man could buy the whole of the State of Victoria, because the land here is given in freehold.
– No, he could not. o
– Is there any limit to the sale of freehold?
– Yes. there is.
– If there be, the same limitation would apply in the Northern Territory. I admit that under our Land Ordinances we do permit a man in certain circumstances to take up an area of 3,000 square miles.
– Under what tenure ?
– I do not know that there is any limit as to the length of the lease. A man could, under our Ordinances, take up 3,000 square miles of land, but certain conditions have first to be complied with. We have appointed a Land Board, consisting of the Director of Lands, the Director of Agriculture, and the Surveyor. It is admitted that of these officers at least one is able and competent, and he is the Surveyor. It will be the duty of the Board to classify the lands of the Northern Territory into agricultural and pastoral areas. The agricultural areas have further “to be classified into cultivation farms, and farms for mixed farming and grazing. The pastoral areas are to be classified into pastoral leases of the first, second, and third classes. It is only when we come to deal with lands classified as third-class pastoral that it is possible for a man to secure an area of 3,000 square miles.
– Why not say 2,000,000 acres, then we shall know what it means?
– Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the three men appointed as a Land Board are honest and capable, and then before 176 people could hold the whole of the lands of the Territory the members of the Board would have to come to the conclusion that there is no land in the Territory better than third-class pastoral land. I say that if the members of the Board are honest and capable, and come to that conclusion, the Territory must be worthless, and it will be of no use to try to develop it. It would cost hundreds of millions of pounds to settle and develop it if that could be truly said of it.
– Where does Parliament come in? Are we not to have a Land Act?
– Perhaps the honorable member will permit me to continue in my own way. There is another way in which 176 men might hold the whole of the lands of the Territory. There might be a great deal of good agricultural land there; and a great deal that could be properly classified as first and second-class pastoral land, but the men we have appointed to carry out the classification might be dishonest and incompetent, and in spite of the character of the land, might decide that any man applying for it should have 3,000 square miles of land. It must be remembered, however, that all leases have to be signed by the Administrator, and before what is suggested could happen, all the officials dealing with the matter would need to be dishonorable. I have been to the Northern Territory, and though I do not profess to know a very great deal about it, I do not think it is so absolutely hopeless that all the land there must be included in third-class pastoral areas. We may have appointed men, some of whom are not as competent as they might be for the duties they will be called upon to perform, but I believe they are honest men, and being so, the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta is utterly ridiculous. There is nothing in the statement that men will have the land for twenty-five years without rent. I say candidly that the Government are. not out for rent. In their opinion, the chief thing is to get people settled on the land. We say that in the case of agricultural areas, we are prepared to grant 5,000 blocks to people who will settle there and occupy the blocks, rent free, for life, with a. minimum period of twenty-one years. If a lessee dies within that period, his wife Orchildren may continue to hold the land rent free for the balance of the twenty-one years.
– What are the conditions of occupation?
– . I cannot give the whole of the information now. So far as agricultural areas are concerned, we say that people who are prepared to go to the Northern Territory and occupy agricultural areas can have the land rent free for ten years.
– How many blocks can theyhave ?
– Each person can. have only one block. What we mean by occupation is this : There is a condition of residence attaching to the lease, and there must under the lease be a certain amount of stocking done, and a certain amount of improvement upon each holding.
– What residence will be required?
– If I remember rightly six or seven months in each year is the minimum condition of residence but in certain circumstances the Land: Board may modify that condition.
– How long must a person occupy a holding before he can sell or transfer his lease ?
Mr.THOMAS.- Hemay sell or transfer hislease at any time, but only with the consent of the Land Board.
– Is a lease obliged to fence inhis land or cultivate any of it?
– There is a condition of improvement. “ We are not bothering about rent for the first ten years. What we say to intending settlers is, “ We do not want you to buy the land, but to put your moneyinto it.” We are prepared to give people the land so long as they will utilize it. We say that they must utilise the land, and that they may put the money which would otherwise go for the purchase of the land into its improvement.
– Did I understand the Minister to say that a lessee could sell his lease to anybody?’
– With the consent of the Land Board, yes.
– Is itnot a fact that he can sell only to a man who does not hold other land ?
– Every transfer or sale must have the approval of the Land Board, and the conditions of residence and occupation must be complied with. Land cannot therefore be transferred to anyman who is unable to reside upon it, and carry outthe conditions of the lease. What does it matter whether the land is held by John Smith or Bill Jones so long as the conditions of the lease are carried out? During this debate, very little has been said by the Opposition in regard to the leasehold system of land tenure, the alleged financialirresponsibility of the Government, or its alleged partisan appointments ; but a vigorous effort has been made to show that we have not done our duty in the matter of social unrest. The Opposition have come forward with a panacea for the social unrest of to-day, and that panacea is cooperation, or co-partnership. The Leader of the Opposition told us that the future of Australia lay in co-operation, whilst his lieutenant - the honorable member for Parramatta - speaking at Lithgow quite recently, said also that co-partnership was the solution of the present difficulty. The honorable member for Parramatta, in the course of his Lithgow speech, said -
He believed in having his own opinion, and would not allow any caucus to think for hiin or to come between him and his constituents. He had not altered his position ; the others had done the jumping round, and now imagined he had.
Thorold Rodgers has defined a statesman as an eminent person who is at liberty to change his opinions, and a politician as a man who is bound to stand by them. Until I read this statement by the’ honorable member for Parramatta, I was inclined to think that he came within this definition of a statesman, since he not only had the right to change his opinions, but had done so. If we are to be guided by his recent utterance at Lithgow, however, he has not changed his views. Others had changed them, he told us, at the dictation of caucuses, but he had remained true and loyal to the opinions he had always held. It is rather important that we should know what the honorable member believes and thinks. During this debate we have been told what “ Comrade Munro “ or some one else at Brisbane said, but it is far more important that we should know what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition believes in and advocates. Speaking at Lithgow, he said -
In the old country they were trying copartnery in many places, and had never gone back on it. He knew it would be pooh-poohed and blown out by the men interested in blowing it out, but the people who paid the piper should begin to think about it for themselves. His opinion was that the future belonged to co-partnery. and not to Socialism as preached to-day. Co-partnery was capable of infinite expansion in all good ways; the other would bring them no good.
I should not have made this quotation but for the assertion made by the honorable member for Parramatta that he had not altered his position. Addressing the people of Lithgow, who first returned him to Parliament some twenty years ago, he asserted, the other day, that his position remained unchanged. We of the Labour party had shifted our ground, but he had not done so. In the old days he made this statement -
Because somebody has been fool enough to give the best portion of our lands away, and some lucky men have come here and picked the eyes out of the country, we are to be told that we ought to respect the rights of these persons and pay huge sums of money and make huge concessions in point of time before we can lay claim to any possibility of getting a livelihood from them. As some one has said, “ In the name of the prophet, figs !_”
He also said -
It is because all the gold and all the coal beneath the surface belong to the people as a whole that good care should be taken that no compensation should be allowed to people who for the time being monopolize the right to use those materials.
That suggests the advocacy of no compensation for monopolies. It certainly savours of something more than “co-partnery.” I have here a rather lengthy extract from a speech made in the New South Wales Parliament by the honorable member for Parramatta, in reply to a statement made by Sir William- then Mr. - McMillan, that because of strikes coal had not been sold ; just as the honorable member for Kooyong - whom I am glad to see present - declared, yesterday, that a similar state of affairs had arisen at Wonthaggi. Sir William McMillan had said that it was necessary to have more enterprise and thrift, and, in reply to that statement, the honorable member for Parramatta said -
Would thrift and enterprise bridge over the tremendous handicap that exists in the matter of railway freights in the Western district at the present and enable the people at Lithgow amongst others to get more coal trade? I wonder would thrift and enterprise prevent the development of coal mines in Japan and the consequent losing of trade by the Newcastle miners ?
Mr. McMillan. The strikes did that.
– It is all nonsense to say that strikes have been the cause of it.
Mr. McMillan. I say that strikes had a good deal to do with it.
– The honorable member and other members know better. . . .
One could hardly believe that these were the utterances of the Deputy Leader of the Conservative party in this House. If a member of the Labour party had made such statements, he would have been charged at once with being a blatant demagogue. But these were the solutions which the honorable member then offered for the prevailing social unrest. He went on to say -
The great evil in this country is that while its industries are declining there is, under the present system of government, no possibility of creating alternative employment for the people. To put the matter in plain language - the land grabbers and land speculators have this country by the throat.
Mr. McMillan. Why does not the honorable member tell men the truth?
– I am telling the truth, and the honorable member knows it is truth. . . .
The honorable member for Parramatta had nothing much to say about “co-partnery “ in those days. He then held the opinion that the social unrest which existed was due to the fact that a few land-grabbers had the country by the throat. The honorable member told this House, a day or two ago, that the Federal land tax had not broken up the big estates - that they still existed - and I should like to ask him whether “ copartnery “ is likely to break them up. As a member of the State Parliament, he said -
We want a good, stiff tax on land value which would drive capital out of those speculative enterprises and lead to its investment in more legitimate channels. . . We want some of the best soil we have in the country made available, so that the unemployed may hare a fair chance.
That, I suppose, is “ co-partnery “ ! Let me make one more quotation -
The honorable and learned gentleman to-night made much of the fact that there are sacred rights of properly held in the shape of land. It seems to me, however, that the trend of economic thought, and even of popular thought, realizes the iniquity of the recognition of private property in land.
– When did the honorable member for Parramatta ma&e that statement ?
– A good many years ago.
– Was he not then a member of the Labour party?
– Yes. But speaking at Lithgow, the other day, he declared that his position remained unchanged - that whilst other men had changed, he had not done so. It is for that reason that I make this quotation. He went on to say -
It is the one thing above all others that has cursed this country, and has cursed every other country of which we have any knowledge, and unless it be abolished it will curse these countries in the future as they have never yet been cursed. The initial wrong done to society is in attempting to recognise such a thing as property in land. There can be no property in land in the sense that there is property in houses or in anything else that men make by the use of their muscles and brain.
It was the sacred rights of property in land, and not co-partnership, that stood between the people and content, rest, and prosperity.
The land has been sold, and we recognise such a thing as the “ sacred rights.” I have been rather amused to hear some people twitting us with not being supporters of arbitration, in view of the fact that it was the Labour party that forced arbitration to the front. I cannot speak with authority in regard to other States, but I can so- far as New South Wales is concerned. There the Government, of which Sir George Reid was the head, and the honorable member for Parramatta was a member, introduced a Conciliation Bill. Sir George Reid would not accept compulsory arbitration, and we had to fight him on the question ; and this was one of the reasons why that Government was defeated. The honorable member for Hume, who was then in the New South Wales Parliament, agreed to bring in a Compulsory Arbitration Bill, because that was what the Labour party had fought for and had put on their platform.
– I introduced a compulsory arbitration measure in Western Australia and passed it when there was no Labour party.
– Quite so ; and now it is only fair to say, what has been publicly stated, that the honorable member for Swan did so in Western Australia just before Federation, when there was a motion of censure against his Government, and three votes were in question.
– That is absolutely without any foundation. It has been so stated by members of the Labour party, and no one else. It is not correct; there is not one word of truth in it.
– I must accept the honorable member’s denial.
– I have no feeling in the matter; but the statement is without foundation. I had introduced a measure the year before. It is the second occasion when a Bill was introduced that the honorable member is talking about.
– As I say, I have to accept the honorable member’s statement. Compulsory arbitration has been one of the planks of the Labour platform; and when it was first proposed, who opposed it? It was adopted in the teeth of Conservative opposition. I can remember one night in the New South Wales Parliament when Sir George Reid “ stone- walled “ for a whole night a measure for compulsory arbitration ; and if a good “ stone- waller “ is wanted we have only to send for that gentleman.
– Was the Labour party supporting Sir George Reid at that time ?
– No; we were, a little time before; but Sir George Reid objected to compulsory arbitration. I am for arbitration every time. I have taken an active part in one strike, and I do not care .to take part in another if I can help it.
– The Minister of External Affairs walked in procession with the strikers when he was Minister.
– Yes, and I am prepared ‘to do so again if need be; but Ihave no desire to take part in strikes; because I believe in such matters being settled by reasoning, if possible. The honorable member for Ballarat, in the course of his speech, referred to members of the Peace Society ; and I think there was a twinkle in his eye as he looked ; at me. He apparently feels that members-‘ of the Peace Society ought to take a more prominent ‘ part in the settlement . of. industrial, difficulties. I arn. a member of the Peace Society; and i believe’, L arn. expressing, not only. my own views, but. the views of every honorable’ member, .’when I say that we look forward to’ the . time’ when it will not be necessary for nation to fight against nation,’ but when, arbitration will settle all such difficulties’. I shall be glad, in a very humble way, to do anything to aid such a great and glorious movement. At the same time, although we may ,be members of the Peace Society, it does- not necessarily follow that, if some nation attacks Our supremacy in Australia, we need find fault with Australia. If some great European Power were to assail- the Motherland, we, although members, of the Peace Society, are not called upon to denounce the Motherland, especially if she be in the right. I am in favour of arbitration, and would be glad to see industrial difficulties thus settled : but, if the time comes .when there is to be a strike, it does not necessarily follow that I must find fault with the men who. belong to the trade unions. During the Brisbane strike, we did our best to have the question referred to arbitration, and those connected with the strike would have been glad to have it so settled.
– The. honorable gentleman has tried to defend the strikers ever since !
– I do not: know that they were in the wrong. The honorable member for Parramatta, in a’ peroration which he delivered in this House with-. a good deal of vigour, stated that the Labour party and the Labour Government had lost the confidence of the people - that we had been weighed in the balance and found wanting - and he prophesied that when we went before the people we should be swept out of office and power. It is the easiest thing to make statements; and there is a large army of false prophets in the world. Whether the prophecies are fulfilled or falsified is. a question of time; but, whatever the future may have in store, I say that it cannot bs with the party opposite. Whether or not at the next election we are shifted from office, the party opposite cannot guide the. destinies of this country. No party .that has no higher ideals of statesmanship, no keener vision or wider horizon than that of a director of a co-operative store, can govern this country for any length of time. Whether the party to which I belong will be able to .govern the destinies of this great Commonwealth for the future - and by the “ future “ I. do not mean merely to-morrow or the day after, but the great future - I-‘ am- not presumptuous enough to say. But I _do say this - that’ the only party that can definitely control the destinies of this nation, and’ hold its future in the hollow of its hand, will be that party which more clearly, more definitely, and more accurately than any other realizes the great fact that in our midst are two great forces. The one is adult suffrage, and the other is the schoolmaster. Democracy has to a very great extent had power in the past; but when we accepted Federation Democracy in Australia entered upon a further exercise of power. Although our Constitution is somewhat limited and narrow, yet by means of it I am prepared to admit the Democracy if they so desire can sweep away every State Parliament and bring under the purview of the Federal Parliament every -activity of public life. Consequently there has been granted to the people of Australia full power to direct their own destinies. I do not think, however, that they have at present full knowledge. The schoolmaster has been abroad, to some purpose; but hitherto it has been the object and work of those who possess privileges, wealth, and leisure to blind the people by throwing dust in their eyes. To a great extent, they have succeeded, and the vision of the Democracy has been obscured by passion, prejudice, and ignorance. But, little by little, knowledge k progressing ; and when the time does come - and I think that that time is not very far distant - when the Democracy will be able to rise in the plenitude of its power, it will be able to say with confidence, “Once I was blind, but now I see.” When that day comes social unrest will cease, for the people will have entered into their own. Whether the Labour party will have the ability and courage to lead and guide in this direction I will not say; but I am emphatically of opinion that a party whose highest ideal is co-partnership can never do so. To suppose that social unrest can be settled by means of co partnership is as idiotic as to suppose that you can sweep back the incoming tide with a broom. I believe that I shall be expressing, not only my own views but the views of every member of the Government, and I feel sure of every member of the party that has so willingly and loyally supported us, when I say that I. rejoice that this motion of censure has been submitted. I am delighted at the language in which it is couched. We are pleased beyond measure with the speeches that have been delivered in its support. Very little has been said, up to the present, about partisan appointments or the extravagant expenditure of money. Four ex-Minis ters have spoken, and scarcely a reference has been made to these subjects. The gravamen of the charge against us has been that we have refused to unsheath the sword, to fix the bayonet, to put ball into the rifle, in order to overawe and shoot down our own kith and kin in the streets of the capital of Queensland. We shall be able to go before the people and prove that we have done more than any other Government to provide an army and a navy for this country. We were not content merely to pass a Bill. We had the courage to take action. We breathed life into the dry bones. We have created and are creating an army and a navy to-day, so that, if ever the occasion arises - which Heaven forbid ! - the people of Australia will be able to give a good account of themselves in face of a foreign foe. While we shall be able to go before the people and prove these things, we shall also be able to show that the Opposition have endeavoured to censure us because we refused firmly to use the power created in this way to trample Australians into the dust. The result of this debate is a foregone conclusion. Nobody on the Ministerial side, no Minister, has had one anxious thought about the issue. Not one of our supporters has had any doubt about the conclusion. It has not raised one false hope in the minds of honorable members opposite. They know that our majority is assured, they know that our phalanx is unbroken, as far as this House is concerned. We all realize that this is but a mimic battle. But in a few months the conflict’ will be transferred from the circumscribed area of this chamber to the whole field of Australia. We shall not then be speaking merely from the floor of this House, but the public platforms will be our sounding-boards. From every one of our platforms, I can assure the Opposition, there will be emblazoned this motion, and the natural corollary to it. That natural corollary is that if honorable members opposite had been in power, the troops would have gone to Brisbane. If that is not the natural corollary, then the submission of this motion is a mere waste of time. If it is not the natural corollary, the speeches that have been delivered in support of the motion have been nothing better than “ sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.” We are prepared to face the battle on this great question. It will not be long before we shall have to meet those who can either send us back here in triumph or dismiss us with contempt. We are quite prepared to face the people, who will be asked to decide between this party, which believes that the products of the world should be in the hands of the producers, and the party opposite, who have nothing to offer the disinherited but a co-operative store and the rattle of musketry. We shall enter into that conflict with all the confidence of victors; we shall throw ourselves into the battle with all the assurance of those who have victory in sight.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 7.45p.m.
– I have followedthis debate from its inception very carefully, and the further it has proceeded the more satisfied have I been that the launching of this vote of no confidence in the Government is justified. The very weakness of the position taken up by the Ministerialists is evidenced by the peroration to the recent speech of the Minister of External Affairs. Their whole aim has been to conceal the real gravamen of this vote of no confidence, and endeavour to make members of the Opposition declare that if they had been in the position of responsibility in which the Government were placed lately, they would have called out the military, and sent them to billet themselves upon the citizens of Brisbane. That, I think, is not carrying on this discussion in a manner which will commend itself to the common sense of the people of Australia. There has been no statement made by any member of the Opposition which indicates anything of the kind.
– The honorable member for Bendigo stated it.
– The honorable member for Bendigo merely stated what he would do if the circumstances justified action. So far as I recollect - and he is well able to defend himself - he made no direct statement that in the circumstances which existed he would have called out the military in connexion with the Brisbane strike.
– Read his speech.
– No statement made from the Opposition side in this debate is more drastic than the statements which were made during times of quietude by the Prime Minister and members cf the Ministerial party. Of course, I can quite understand how it has been found necessary that the whole trend of this debate should be sidetracked, in order that the Ministerial partymight excuse themselves for backing up a strike which represents the first taste of syndicalism we have had in Australia. I venture to say that no responsible Ministers in a National Parliament could possibly blow hot and cold as Commonwealth Ministers have done in connexion with that strike and retain the confidence of the people. Every speech from the other side has been an apologetic support of the strike. Honorable members opposite have endeavoured at every opportunity to fasten upon the Opposition the statement that they would have called out the military if they had occupied a similar position, when, as a matter of fact, there has been no statement made on this side which is consistent with any other interpretation than that if the Opposition had been in power the course they would have taken would have been to give to “the Premier of Queensland an assurance that this National Parliament would see that the law was vindicated, and the civil authority maintained. That is all that was required. I was not in Queensland during the strike. It is not a matter on which I intend to speak at length to-night. I have followed this debate as carefully as I possibly could. I have heard the speeches on each side. I heard the impassioned eloquence of the honorable member for Brisbane, who, in the first part of his speech, did not excuse the strike. The only conclusion I can come to is that, as at one time the civil power was overthrown in Queensland, as the control of that city had been passed over to the leaders of the strike, it was the bounden duty of the Commonwealth Government to state firmly and definitely, in response to the request of the Premier of that State, that, whilst they did not see the necessity then of calling out the military to preserve order, he might depend upon the National Parliament to see that order was maintained. That was all that was necessary, and that is all that is asserted by the Opposition. But instead of doing that, the Prime Minister forwarded a spineless kind of reply that he did not see the necessity of sending the military. This reply, in effect, was an apology for the strike. It gave an opportunity to those who wished to defy the law to continue to do so, showing as it did clearly that the present Government, being under the domination of unions, was unable to express, freely and fearlessly their sense of the obligation which rested upon them to see that the civic authority of the State was maintained. The question of the right of the tramway men in Brisbane to wear badges was to be referred to the Arbitration Court. Whilst that matter was contained in the plaint, and the Court was waiting to hear the case, the men insisted upon the right to wear the badges. This was clearly against the instructions of the Tramway Company, and the men were not allowed to go to work. I admit that, technically, that was a lock-out, but the real cause of the lock-out was the insistence on the part of the men in acting in defiance of the instructions and regulations of the Tramway Company whilst a case was already filed and waiting to be dealt with by the Arbitration Court. The result of that mistaken and misguided action on the part of the tramway men, who, the honorable member for Brisbane told us, were not informed that the question of the right to wear the badges was contained in the plaint, was that no less than forty-three unions came out in sympathy with them. What was the object of their coming out if it was not for the purpose of paralyzing trade, overthrowing the civil authority, which they did, and taking into their hands the reins of government? It was an experiment in syndicalism. Notwithstanding the disaster and the magnitude of the strikes in Great Britain, I know of no place in the world where, during the last year or two, such a general attempt has been made to enforce the revolutionary principles of syndicalism as was witnessed in Brisbane. Anybody who reads the history of the Brisbane strike later will wonder that this exhibition of syndicalism, which contemplates the general strike, did not work much more disastrous effects. When the civil authority had been overthrown, when the strike leaders had taken in hand the control of the city of Brisbane, and when the Premier of Queensland had appealed to the Prime Minister for military aid, all that Mr. Fisher required to do was to send a firm reply intimating that whilst he considered the time had not yet arrived for calling out the troops, he would see that the laws of the country were upheld, and that the civil power and Executive authority of Queensland were amply vindicated. After all, it must be recollected that our military force consists of our own citizens, who would not be likely to injure their fellows. A statement of that kind would have had such a moral effect on the citizens of Brisbane, and such a terrorizing effect on the strikers, that the Queensland Government, instead of being obliged to swear in special constables, would have been able to maintain and vindicate the civil power without interruption from the strikers. Whether the need existed for calling out the military is not a question which demands serious discussion. It is merely an attempt to side-track the real issue. The weakness of the position taken up by the Ministerial supporters is in condoning this first exhibition of syndicalism in Australia. In order to excuse the action of the Government the real issue has had to be obscured.
I come now to the speech which was delivered by the Governor-General at the opening of the present session. I have carefully perused it, and I have endeavoured to extract the “meat” from it. I have studied the thirty-nine articles which comprise it - a very significant number from a constitutional aspect. I have endeavoured to pick out the questions mentioned in that speech which are likely to come up for serious discussion during the present session. These I have reduced to four in number, excluding the recrudescences from previous Vice-Regal utterances. They comprise the maternity grant, constitutional amendment, the Northern Territory policy, and the Navigation Bill. There are several other measures mentioned, such as Bankruptcy and Copyright - measures which were promised in previous Governor- General’s Speeches, and measures in respect of which the Government have failed to fulfil their pledges. 1 do not intend to deal at length with the financial proposals of the Minis try, because I recognise that it is very difficult to criticise a Government which has produced a surplus of £2,250,000 for the year. At the same time, the Ministry cannot escape responsibility for having increased our expenditure during the past two years by £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 per annum. However big the surplus may be, however buoyant the revenue may be, we know that that revenue comes from the pockets of the people. The taxpayers of Australia may be able to pay the taxation imposed upon them during years of unprecedented prosperity, but when the lean years arrive they will inevitably feel the pinch. I rejoice to know that we are evidencing a wonderful capacity for production. We are able, by reason of the good seasons which we have experienced, to pay the heaviest taxation which has yet been imposed upon us. But the time will assuredly come when we shall have to adopt a policy of retrenchment, and probably that thankless task will devolve upon a Liberal Government. I repeat that while our expenditure has increased by £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 per annum during the past two years, the Government have incurred new. liabilities to the extent of £12,500,000. The construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, which work we all approve, will absorb £4,000,000, the Oodnadatta railway and Northern Territory debt now amounts to £5,500,000, which means an annual loss of £500,000 for many years. Then the contemplated expenditure upon the Federal Capital will amount to another £3,000,000. As to the wisdom of incurring that expenditure there is a good deal of difference of opinion amongst honorable members who will fully express their views upon it at a later stage of the session.
The case of the Northern Territory was dealt with by the Minister of Externa] Affairs in the spirited speech which he delivered before the suspension of the sitting to-day. But before he announced the nature of the land policy to be adopted in connexion with that Territory, it seems to me that he should have submitted a Land Bill to this House in order to permit the whole question to be discussed,, and tq afford honorable members an opportunity of sanctioning whatever . form of land tenure they chose to approve. The honorable gentleman made it quite clear that leaseholds in the Territory will be immediately negotiable - that those who take them up will be able to transfer at once under conditions’ which he did not state, but which will require the consent of theAdministrator. That is a very loose way of conducting the business’ of this House.I Cinder-stood that the present Government is a Democratic one,- and that important questions of policy’ had to be ratified by Parliament.’ But it appears- that a kind of bureaucracy has been set up in connexion with the Northern Territory- a bureaucracy which not’ only deals with the administrative problems of that Territory,- birt also formulates a- system -of land tenure-‘ without- this House being consulted iri any way. If that is not an ex-ample of irresponsibility on the part- of the present Government,- it will be difficult ‘t6 find one. I- shall -be prepared to discuss this question more fully when a lifting opportunity presents itself.- I hope that that opportunity will fee afforded us very soon, because I am’ sure that- every honorable member iri the interests’ pf th’6 country which he loves so well, desires- to lay down a sound and permanent system of land tenure for the Northern Territory: No Government in the British Empire has ever been called upon to attack a’ greater problem than that which confronts us there. Not only have we to lay down the terms connected with the settlement of its lands’, but we have to solve agricultural problems by means of scientific experiment, and to devise a system of living amongst its residents which will enable them to discharge their individual and, corporate responsibilities equally as well as those persons who live in more temperate climes. Many of us who reside in the southern districts of Australia iri comfort scarcely realize that two-thirds of this great continent lie within the semitropical and tropical zones, the problems in connexion with which must be solved by this Parliament. I am not prepared to pass any criticism upon the acts of the Government in connexion with the purely administrative work’ of that Territory. But I take serious exception to the Minister’s proposal to adopt a land policy for that Territory without this House being first afforded an opportunity cif saying whether or not it agrees- with it. However perfect the Minister’s administrative policy may be, if ‘ it’ be built upon a fundamentally wrong foundation, it is bound to end in failure. Judged by the systems of land tenure which obtain iri different parts of the world, my own view is that we shall never develop permanent settlement in the Northern Territory unless we adopt the freehold principle iri connexion with its lands. Experience teaches us that every European desires to have a piece of land which he can call his own.- It is true that the settler who is’ anxious to go upon the and is prepared to~ accept any form of title in the first instance* But after he has erected permanent improvements upon it, when his’ family are growing, up’ around him, and he has to consider his family responsibilities, he looks for a better title than leasehold to secure his’ property and the improvements which he has effected on it* The desire for freehold is an instinct implanted in the Britisher, and deep-rooted in the principles which govern family life.
– - How many persons’ in Great Britain possess freeholds?
– It is an element of weakness in that country that there are s& few. But in Ireland, at the present time, tens of thousands are acquiring freeholds by means of the grant of over ^100,000.000 made by the Imperial Parliament to that end. The reason why there has been less discontent in Ireland of late years is that those who were tenant farmers are becoming freeholders, and are prospering. Those who have read the history of France know that before the Revolution there was a system of leasing and sharing the produce of the land which produced great discontent. But since that time the French peasantry has become the backbone of the country. Something like 48 per cent, of the population of France is engaged in agricultural Industries, and the prosperity, content, and stability of the country are largely due to the great number of freeholders there. Great Britain hrs largely neglected agriculture to become the workshop of the world, only 10 per cent, of its population being on the land. That deplorable condition of things is due largely to the impossibility of acquiring anything better than a leasehold tenure. 1 live in the north-west part of Victoria, in a district which in 1883 was divided into leaseholds with a twenty years’ tenure. In 1896 the lessees were asking for a better title, many of them having highly improved their land, and being desirous of securing these improvements. There was a division of opinion in the Victorian Parliament as to what should be done, and an Act was passed giving the lessees the choice between taking leases in perpetuity and purchasing freeholds. The rent of the perpetual leases was made merely nominal, and the charge for the purchase of freeholds from 5s. to £1 an acre, and at least live or six -times the rental value, was charged. But the lessees, after sixteen years’ experience of a leasehold system, nearly all bought freeholds, only 1 per cent, of those who had taken up 11,000,000 acres being content with a leasehold title. Then, hi New Zealand, where I have recently investigated the subject, the late Mr. Seddon a few years ago repurchased several large estates, and, .subdividing them, leased them out at a rent equal to 4 per cent, on the purchase price. There was a rush for the land, a larger area being always applied for than .could .be given. But no sooner were tenants put in possession than they clamoured for the conversion of their leaseholds into freeholds.
– The same thing happened with the New South Wales homestead leases.
– I was going to refer to that incident. I doubt if the Minister can give any instance in which the leasehold system has produced permanent settlement.
Coming .to another matter, I recognise the Australian Notes Act as the best stroke of constructive policy for which the Government are responsible. I shall leave it to expert financiers to speak on the subject of finance, merely saying that it is the bounden duty of the Treasurer, having made bank notes a Commonwealth monopoly, to see that nothing is done which may injure our credit. Australia has now a splendid credit, though it does not possess the reserves, the accumulation of wealth, and the financial stability of older countries. We cannot claim :to have the huge accumulated reserves of capital possessed by such countries as Great Britain, France, and Germany, and,- therefore, in entering upon a new departure in connexion with our Australian Notes Act, we should have made provision for a gold reserve for our notes certainly not less than that provided for by Statute law in the older countries I have mentioned. -We can develop this country only by broadening the basis .of our trade relations with other countries of the world. We must in this way be more or less influenced by the systems of currency operating in the countries with which we have established trade relations. In the circumstances I say that this National Parliament, charged with the duty of establishing and safeguarding the- credit of the country, should have provided even a much higher gold reserve for its note issue than has been found necessary in olderestablished communities.
There is one paragraph of the Speech the discussion upon which I thought would be left to the debate on the Budget. It ,has reference to the £500,000 proposed to be given 10 Tasmania under section 96 of the Constitution. I am prepared to admit that some honorable members on both sides will regard this as a considerable sum, but as one cf the members of the Tasmanian Customs Leakage Commission, I say that the Government proposal treats the Tasmanian people in a niggardly manner. That Commission was composed of members from both sides, of all shades of political opinion. They visited Tasmania, and made exhaustive investigations into- .the financial relation^ existing between that State and the mainland. After their in- quiry ,they unanimously decided that Tasmania is entitled, -under section 96 .of the Constitution, to an amount from the National Treasury of something like £900,000. The Government, in cutting their estimate down ito £500,000, are treating .the Chairman and members of that Committee very cavalierly, to say the least of it. The Tasmanian Government, .through the transfer .of their .Customs revenue to the .Commonwealth, lost during .the .first nine years of Federation between £900,000 and £ 1., 000,000. Direct, taxation , in the State amounted to 12s. rod, per .head at the beginning of Federation, and it had increased to 3.2s. -fid. per head in. 1909, . or by 19s. ,8d., whilst .the increase in direct taxation over the whole Commonwealth for the same period was ‘Only 2s. 10d. per head. I should, perhaps, make it clear that these figures cover a period no later than 1909. We know .that taxation in. the Commonwealth since 1909 has been increased substantially. Tasmania is the smallest State in the group, and, if we are a true Federation, it is our duty, not merely because of the provision contained in section 96 of the Constitution, but because this Parliament is bound to see that the citizens of no one State shall suffer financially through the operation of Federal laws, to come to the assistance of such a State as Tasmania. That State has suffered severely financially as -the result of Federation. For various reasons the Tasmanian Parliament has not had the same opportunities of .securing ‘ revenue” as have -the Parliaments of ‘the mainland States. Customs revenue .in .-the other States has increased by £14,640,000 within nine years, whilst Tasmania has lest in this way from £900,000 to £1,000,000 during the same period.
When we were discussing Supplyon Friday last, I said something on the subject of our defence system. I am willing to admit that, after “the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence is probably the best asset the present Ministerial party possesses. I believe that the success of the Minister of Defence, so far, has been mainly achieved because he has endeavoured to carry out the monumental piece of legislation passed by the Liberal Government of 1909, in establishing for the first time within the British Empire a system of compulsory service, and laying down a fleet unit, on lines suggested at a Conference held in Great Britain, which is unanimously approved in Australia, because it maintains the connexion between the Commonwealth and Great Britain, and gives us a fleet which for practical purposes we can really call our own. The schemes of compulsory military citizen defence and the building of a fleet unit at the disposal of the Admiralty, should extraordinary occasion render that necessary, are two monumental pieces of constructive legislation which must be placed absolutely to the credit of the Liberal Government. The success of the present Minister of Defence is due to the fact that he has loyally endeavoured to carry out those two great, schemes initiated by the Liberal Government, and to the amplification of the military scheme suggested in the report of ‘Lord Kitchener, the eminent soldier from the centre” ‘of the Empire, who was invited to visit the Commonwealth by the same Liberal Government.
– The words “monument “ and “ Liberal “ go well together.
– That is so, if one considers that both convey the idea of permanency. If we are to look for permanent measures that make for the amelioration of the people, and do justice to every class in the community, we must go back over the list of measures passed by the Liberal Governments that have successively held office in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member’s namesake pulled down certain permanent pillars.
– I am trying to do what little I can to assist in pulling down the present Government.
– I have a speech here in which the honorable member’s deputy leader denounced the compulsory business.
– It stands to that honorable gentleman’s credit that he had sufficient constructive ability to successfully pilot through this House the two great measures to which I have referred, in the face of the fiercest opposition that this Parliament has ever seen.
I should like now to call attention to the neglect of the present Government on the important question of establishing an all-red cable service from Australia to Great Britain. The Liberal Governments some years ago. laid a cable across the Pacific Ocean to the coast of Canada, and it is generally understood that that has had the effect of bringing down the cable rates, both to the general public and the press of Australia. At a conference of pressmen held in London in September last, it was acknowledged that, owing to the competition of the Pacific Cable, the rates for ordinary cable messages had been reduced from 4s. gd. to 3s. per word, whilst a substantial reduction had also been made in the rates for press messages. The credit for the laying of that cable belongs to the Liberal Governments of Australia, and so far its working has resulted in a loss - but fortunately a diminishing less - amounting at present to about £20,000 a year. At the Colonial Conference held in London in 191 1 Sir Joseph Ward moved -
That in view of the social and commercial advantages which would result from increased facilities for intercommunication between her Dependencies and Great Britain it is desirable that all possible means be taken to secure a deduction in cable rates throughout the Empire.
Following upon the adoption of that resolution, Senator Pearce, as a representative of Australia, moved -
That this Conference recommends the nationalization of the Atlantic cable in order to cheapen and render more effective telegraphic communication between Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand by thus acquiring complete control of all the telegraphic and cable lines along the All Red route.
A further resolution was carried -
That in the event of considerable reductions in trans-Atlantic cable rates not being effected in the near future it is desirable that the laying of a State-owned cable between England and Canada be considered by a’ subsidiary conference.
As the result of these resolutions, a slight reduction has been made, but not such a reduction as would warrant a continuance of the present system. In September of last year press representatives from- India, Australia, Canada and Great Britain - in short, from all parts of the Empire - held a conference in London, and unanimously requested the Governments interested either to compel the ring controlling the Atlantic Cable to reduce their rates or to lay down a State-owned Atlantic Cable. lt was shown at that conference, as well as at the Colonial Conference held in June last year, that the ring controlling the Atlantic Cable charged no less than 3d. per word for conveying press messages over a distance of 3,000 miles, leaving only 4d. per word to go to the Pacific Cable Board for carrying the same messages a. distance of 10,000 miles over the Canadian line which it has leased, and the Pacific Cable. In view of the resolutions unanimously carried at the Colonial Conference last year, and the backing up which they received from the press representatives assembled in conference in London a month or two later, we ought to know why the present Government has not taken action either to lay down this new cable or to force the ring to reduce its rates for carrying messages over the Atlantic Cable. How is it that we find in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech the same platitudinarian references to the laying of the Atlantic Cable and the cheapening of cable rates as appeared in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the session of 191 1 ? This is an omission which the Government ought to justify. Here they have an opportunity to do something real and substantial towards bringing the Mother Country and Australia into closer relationship - to do something substantial in the direction of cheapening the cable rates for private messages, to give our newspapers an opportunity to publish fuller cable news, and in every way to facilitate social intercourse and trade and commerce throughout the Empire. But they have done nothing. It seems to me that, in connexion with this Imperial question, we have the same overweighting of the present Government, by influences which appear to exist in Great Britain, as was applied to our delegates at the Imperial Conference of 1 91 1 on the question of the Declaration of London.
Associated with this matter is the important question of the establishment of wireless stations on the islands of the Pacific. In December, 1909, when the honorable member for Bendigo :held office as Postmaster-General, an important conference of experts met in Mel bourne and considered this question. It seems to me that it has remained for the Liberal party to initiate all these great schemes. Although we have in power a Government that professes a readiness to do something, it does not appear to be ready to move a hand towards carrying out the great measures that have been initiated, or ai least outlined by previous Liberal Administrations. The conference that was held in Melbourne in 1909 consisted of expert electricians and representatives of the Defence Department. It was presided over by the honorable member for Bendigo, and it unanimously recommended that a series of stations should be established upon the islands of the Pacific. It was pointed out by that conference that our trade with the various islands contiguous to the Commonwealth was growing, and that by establishing wireless stations on those islands we should bring them into closer relationship with the Commonwealth. It was urged that the taking of such a step would facilitate trade; that it would help to make the Pacific Cable line pay, and that it would be most valuable in case of shipwreck. It should be further represented that in the near future the Pacific Ocean would probably be the theatre of some of the most severe naval contests the world has even seen; and that, as its importance would also be increased by the opening of the Panama Canal, it was the duty of Australians to establish these, wireless stations, which should go hand in hand with the establishment of stations round the coast-line of Australia. The total cost, it was stated, would be ^42,800, which would be apportioned as follows: - Great Britain, ^23,000; New Zealand, ^2,300; Fiji, £3,500, and Australia, ^13,000. I think it would pay some of us, as Commonwealth legislators, to give a little more attention than we do to the importance of these islands from the standpoint of trade. Their population is larger than many imagine; and in such places as the New Hebrides, French influence is expanding because of the partial neglect of the Commonwealth to develop these trade relations. Australia and New Zealand combined already have a trade with these islands amounting to ^2,900,000 per annum, Australia’s proportion being ^1,500,000, while that of New Zealand is ,£1,400,000. Another point to be considered in this con.nexion is that the bringing of much of the land of Australia under successful agriculture very largely depends upon the continuance of the supplies of phosphatic manures. In the islands of the Pacific there are large deposits of phosphatic rock that could be, and would be, brought to Australia in increasing quantities if transport facilities were provided and we established closer trade relations.
I should now like to again refer to the maternity grant. This, as proposed by the Government, is merely the affirmation of a principle ; and I do not intend to pass any opinion upon it until the details are before the House. It appears to me, how ever, that this time of great prosperity would have been the very time for the Government to introduce a comprehensive and statesmanslike scheme of national insurance, such as that proposed by the Liberal Government at the last election. Such a scheme would provide for millions, instead of a million or two, and could have been carried out so as to cover sickeness, unemployment, and maternity. A scheme based on the principle of that recently introduced by Mr, Lloyd George, and carried in the House of Commons, could have been’ successfully initiated on a subsidy amounting to little more than that now paid in old-age pensions. The scheme of Mr.Lloyd George is supposed, in the first year, to provide, under compulsory insurance, for about 14,000,000 citizens. The weekly contributions of workmen and employers is estimated at , £1,300,000. The total revenue under this insurance scheme will be something like £16,000,000 and the only Government subsidy required will be one of£2,000,000. There is something broad, far-reaching, statesmanlike, and. humane insuch a proposal; it will help to develop the character of the individual by inculcating the habit of thrift, and enable every one, at a certain age or during times of sickness or unemployment, to claim assistance as a right. But, in Australia, a scheme, which encourages thrift and helps to make better citizens by inducing them in time of prosperity to provide for a rainy day, is absolutely repugnant to a Socialistic Government, which does not desire that citizens shall be trained into self-reliant entities, but prefers a parasitical system developed and controlled solely by the Government.
– That is the honorable member’s own definition.
– It is the logical outcome. We have models on which to carry out such a scheme as I have suggested. In September, 1910, Mr. Knibbs, the eminent Statistician of the Commonwealth, presented to the Minister of Trade and Customs one of the clearest, most concise, and comprehensive reports on the question of insurance against old age, sickness, and unemployment. I have made it my business to read up this question in books descriptive of the system as applied in Germany, and also some able pamphlets written by Sir John Cockburn. As I say, the fullest and most comprehensive report is that compiled by Mr. Knibbs; but, like a good many other valuable documents of the kind, this has teen relegated to the archives of Parliament. For some reason or other, this Government, which has had the best, and, indeed, the only, opportunity in the history of Federation to deal with the question, neglects to pay any attention to its most obvious duty. The population of Germany is 62,000,000, and the wage-earners number 15,500,000. The insurances against sickness number 12,500,000, those against accident 19,000,000, and those against invalidity 14,000,000. The German system, in many respects, without going into details, forms the ground on which Mr. Lloyd George built his comprehensive scheme last year. Under Mr. Lloyd George’s scheme, male workers who earn under £160 a year contribute 4d. per week ; employers, 3d. ; and the State, 2d. ; so that each worker for his contribution of 4d. is given 9d. worth of insurance. Each woman worker who earns under £160 a year contributes 3d. per week, while her employer contributes 3d., and the State 2d. ; so that she gets 8d. worth of insurance.
– How many workers can afford the 4d ?
– That is the industrial question, andwe have quite enough to do when we attend to one thing at a time. If there is any defect in the industrial system - if there is not a proper adjustment as between employer and employe - that can be dealt with in a separate measure.
– Has any honorable member opposite advocated the German system?
– I did when the oldage pension proposals were before the House ; at that time, of course, Mr. Lloyd George’s- system was not in existence.
– Would the honorable member wipe out old-age pensions?
– Nothing of the kind ; the old-age pensions must remain as they are for a reasonable period ahead. In a time of abundant prosperity, by putting on one side a fair proportion of the surplus to accumulate in a separate fund, it would be possible, in the course of years, to alter the present pensions system by introducing the contributory element. This, as I have said, would encourage, and not, like the present system, discourage, thrift, while enabling, perhaps, twenty times the number of people to enjoy pensions.
– The English trade unions asked Mr. Asquith to introduce the German system.
– Yes; so I understand. I have dwelt upon this matter long enough, especially as it will have to be discussed again when the maternity grant is formally before us. But I emphasize the point in order to show the absence of any statesmanlike attitude on the part of the present Government, or ofany inclination to grapple with great national questions such as the problem of the unemployed, old-age and invalid pensions, and national insurance. Models are afforded to us in other parts of the world., and moreover our opportunities for grappling with these questions are favorable. We have an overflowing Treasury which would enable us to establish a sound scheme. We have a favorable opportunity in the present prosperity of the country to establish a scheme which might be contributed to by those who would reap benefits from it later on. We also have a favorable opportunity presented because we are just embarking uponother schemes of this kind. Yet there is either an absence of statesmanship, or a disinclination to grapple with these great problems ; or the Government do not touch them because they do not fit in with their Socialistic principles.
The claim is made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that the Federal land tax has been responsible for bringing a large number of immigrants into Australia. That is an audacious claim. I shall not discuss the question of the revenue producing capacity of the tax, because we all know that it yields a large sum to the Commonwealth Treasury - about £1,500,000 a year, or between 7s. and 8s. per head. This taxation is superimposed upon a growing Customs revenue, which must come out of the pockets of the people. I wish to make one or two remarks on the claim that the land tax has been responsible for inducing immigrants to come to this country. It is sufficient for every honorable member to speak for his own State. If each one brings data referring to the State which he represents, it will be possible by the accumulated information thus obtained to get some idea of the operation of the tax in bursting up large estates. I have taken the trouble to obtain some figures from the State Government Statist, and also from the Victorian LandsDepartment. The Federal land tax commenced to operate in June, 1910, so that it has been in force two years.
– It was ante-dated.
– Yes. I find that, so far from the results supporting the claim of the. Attorney-General, that millions of acres have been subdivided, and that there has been an enormous increase in settlement in consequence of the tax, nothing of the bind is the case. The figures furnished to me by the Victorian Government Statist show that in June, 1910, we had in this State 60,240 holdings over1 acre in extent. It is only by taking the number of holdings oyer 1acre that you can completely exclude the city properties, and obtain a fair idea of the progress of land settlement. This number of holdings had, by June, 1912, two years later, increased to 66,849, an increase of 6,609.
– Was there a decrease prior to 1910?
– No; there was not a decrease. In 1906, there were 52,000 holdings of the kind, whilst in 1910 there were 60,000. So that there has been a steady increase all the time. I also went to the Lands Department to obtain particulars of the number of holdings settled by the State Lands Department. I find that in 1911 the Victorian Government settled 3,870 persons on Crown lands and under the Closer Settlement Act. In 19 1 2, the Government settled 1,622. I may as well give details in order that there may be no mistake. In 1911, the Victorian Government settled 1,717 persons on Crown lands, 1,436 on mallee lands, and 717 under the Closer Settlement Act, making a total of 3,870. None of these settlements was affected in any way by the operation of the Federal land tax.In 1912, the Victorian Government settled on Crown lands 400, on mallee lands 405, and under the Closer Settlement Act 717, making a total of 1,622. So that, in the years 1911-12, no fewer than 5,492 persons were settled upon the land by the Lands Department of the State of Victoria, leaving a balance of only 1,117 for two years.
– Victoria is not the whole Commonwealth.
– But the AttorneyGeneral himself said that Victoria had largely benefited from the disintegration of large estates, to the extent of settlement on hundreds of thousands of acres. To my mind, it is absolutely conclusive that the only result of the Federal land tax in Victoria has been not to burst up large estates and to settle people upon the land ; certainly not to the extent of more than 500 cases a year. Even as to those, I do not suppose that the most ardent advocate of the land tax will claim that a few of the 500 settlers did not obtain their land in ihe ordinary way of purchase and transfer quite independently of the operation of the Federal land tax.
– What was the rate of settlement before 1910?
– The rate was about the same.
– Not more than 500 a year ? Considerably more, was it not?
– I. have not the figures, but I think that the increase would be about the same. I may state, in reply to the interjection, that during the last two j-ears there has been a good deal of activity in the settlement of the Mallee which did not obtain for a number of years.
– Prior to 1910?
– In 1910, we had a steady increase in the number of holdings. We had a bigger increase in closer settlement. We had a larger subdivision of estates in 1908-9, because money was cheaper, and there was a greater demand for land. These figures show conclusively that the claim that the Federal land tax has increased the number of immigrant settlers is a dismal piece of make-believe. It has had no such effect. Nobody disputes the fact that it is a large revenue producer. That is a question which we do not wish to discuss now ; I, for one, am not prepared to do so. I believe that every member of theOpposition would have been pleased if any legitimate Federal law had had the effect of bringing out a large number of immigrants to people and cultivate the unoccupied areas of Victoria, or other parts of Australia. But when the Government make, in the Governor-General’s Speech, the audacious statement that, through the operation of the land tax, a large number of immigrants have been placed on the land, and that land is now easy to obtain, it is nothing more or less than an attempt to deceive the public. Seeing that during the last twelve months the largest number of immigrants have found their way into Victoria, if the Government’s claim had a tittle of foundation, it must show that the number of settlers placed on the land through the operation of the Federal land tax was greater in proportion than could be found in any other State in the Union.
– Do you want us to make the tax heavier?
– I am not suggesting a policy for the Government in “this connexion. I have made other suggestions where I believe the Government have been guilty of a grave dereliction of duty in bringing forward measures which contained the impress of some statesmanship upon them; but I do not intend to state a policy for the Government. It will be quite time enough for the Liberal party to announcea policy when we come to grips at the next election. We could have had no better proof of the desire of the present Government to continue to rule this country under a system of close water-tight organizations than the absence of a reference to electoral reform from the Opening Speech. We have the most defective electoral system to be found in any part of Australia. This is supposed to be a Democratic Parliament, and to lead the State Parliaments in enacting measures democratic to the very core. The very foundation of Democracy is electoral machinery, to insure that the will of the majority shall be given expression to, and the Parliament be truly representative of the corporate intelligence of the people. Yet that is the very thing which the Government seemed to fight shy of.
– Why did not the previous Government take some action ?
– The previous Government was not able to do everything. It made a legislative record which is unparalleled in the history of Commonwealth achievement. At present, it is impossible for our party to do anything. It was only through the extravagant promises of the Labour party - promises which have never been fulfilled - that the people, for the time being, were hypnotized into giving a vote which I hope they will never repeat. The figures have been frequently quoted. They were published some time after the elections were held, and they were recently revised in the Age in connexion with the question of the position we occupy relatively to the Ministerial party. They disclose the narrowness of the voting, and the most unrepresentative characterof this House, based on the votes recorded. At the last election, eighteen senators were elected.
– I think I have heard that before.
– Yes. It is such a shocking example of electoral injustice that it will stand repeating, and I hope that it will be repeated until electoral reforms wipe out the possibility of its recurrence. The Labour candidates for the Senate polled 2,021,090 votes, while the other candidates polled 1,997,029 votes; so that the majority cast for Labour in Australia was 24,000 votes. Eighteen senators were returned pledged to the Labour platform, and as members of the Labour party ; but the Liberal party has not a single representative in the Senate, based on the last vote.
– How is it that you never complained until the stream? flowed our way?
– It was never so bad before.
– Do you reckon that all the votes for Miss Goldstein were against the Labour party?
– They were not cast for Labour. The actions in the Caucus meetings and the actions in the Political Labour Council go to prove that the view of the Labour party is that everybody who is net for them is dead against them.
– Have you got electoral reform on your proposed policy?
– We always have.
– I am ashamed to think that this Parliament is so far behind the States in enacting a measure of equitable electoral reform.
– We brought in two Bills for preferential voting.
– Why did you not carry them ?
– Because we had not a majority.
– Although at the last general elections for this House the voting was largely similar, yet Labour scored fortytwo seats, and the Liberal party thirtythree seats. I intend to take the present Government at its word. It says that it is the truly Democratic party - the truly humane party. It is the party which believes in the enactment of equitable principles, and says that adult suffrage is one of the finest principles ever enacted. If honorable members are sincere in that claim and boast, why is it that they do not bring in such a measure as would make the voting effective and give true representation in this House to the adult population, and set an example to every State Parliament? If the responsibility of the Government rested in this House, it would be loudly clamouring for some such electoral reform; but as the real responsibility rests with the bodies that control the Government, but are outside the House, Ministers believe that they can score best by perpetuating the present unjust system, because, whatever differences Of opinion might arise in connexion with those outside their own fold, there is no possibility of such differences arising within their own fold. This is, after all, only another evidence that the outside organizations are controlling this plank as well as other planks of the policy which honorable members are elected to carry out, and which they must carry out at their political peril. I have addressed the House much longer than I intended to do. I have endeavoured to avoid ground which has already been traversed during this debate. I believe that the discussion of this motion, as it will be recorded in the pages of Hansard, will be read at the next election as the indictment which will result in the deposition of the Government from the Treasury bench. The very fact that Ministerial supporters are harking back to the question of whether or not the military should have been called out during the recent Brisbane tramway strike is an evidence of the weakness of their case. It is an admission that they cannot defend the indictment which has been hurled against them, and consequently I say that the Government should suffer for their misdeeds when they face the people. I believe that the electors of Australia have already declared their preparedness to displace them. I hold the view that the people of the Commonwealth are too strong believers in Democracy, too great lovers of liberty to allow their freedom to be bartered away, or to permit of their institutions being undermined by a party whose members are bound hand and foot - a party which seeks to transfer the responsibility of government from this deliberative Chamber to a secret caucus outside of it.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat, like many others who have preceded him, started out to severely condemn the Government. He ended hisspeech with a peroration, in which he stated that the Labour party was bound handand foot. That statement has beendenied so frequently that I do not propose to refer to it other than to say that if time permitted I could prove that honorablemembers on the opposite side of the Chamber enjoy much less freedom than do mem- bers of the Labour party. In making that assertion, I am speaking from experience of both parties. I repeat that moreindividual sacrifices have been made- ‘by members of the party which designates itself the “ Liberal party “ than havebeen made by members of the Labour party. Why honorable membersopposite should call themselves Liberals . Iam at a loss to understand.Certainly no dictionary will justify their claimto that title. Before I deal with the drastic motion which has been submittedby the Leaderof the Op- position, I would like toreply to a statement made by thehonorable member for Wimmera in regard to the operation of the land tax. He was careful to say that he spoke only for his own State.I intend to speak only for any State. But before doing so I wish to point out that the Commonwealth . Statistician declares that although the land tax has been operative for only a very briefperiod, it has resulted in £18,000,000 worthof land being unlocked.
– Which means nothing.
– There might have been £20,000,000 worth oflandsubdivided during the previous year.
– The honorable member for Kooyong does not know what he is talking about, whereas I do.
– Nobody would suspect it.
– I have never heard an honorable memberfounder so much upon the subject of the land tax as the honorable member did.Honorablemembers opposite do not like the truth. I am telling them what the Commonwealth Statistician has said. According to him, £1 8,000, 000 worth of land has been subdivided.
– Those figures mean nothing.
– To the honorable member nothing hasany meaning unless it emanates from the Women’s National Association, which, from its president down wards, is associated with the large landowners, and is afraid of the Act. Can it be denied that 1,000 landholders have so subdivided their land that they have given place to 19,000?
– Does the Commonwealth Statistician say that?
– Yes. The honorable member can find the information in the library. In New South Wales, station after station has been cut up, and where “there were only a few families thousands of persons have settled. The large landholders there do not hesitate to admit that the land tax makes it too costly to retain valuable land merely for sheep grazing.
– Are we to understand that the population of Riverina has been increased by severalthousands since the land tax came into operation ?
– That is my statement. Perracoota Station, which contained about 80,000 acres, has been wholly subdivided; as has been also Moira Station, containing about 90,000 acres, and on Tuppal Station, which comprised 50,000 acres, there are now 420 farms.
– Yet the land-tax returns keepup.
– That is the honorable member’s statement, not mine. I am speaking of adistrict which I know. It is useless to tell the people thatthe tax has not had the effect of breaking up large estates. Does the honorable member for Wimmera desire to see the land settled? If so, why does he not go to the Government of Victoria and point outthat in theColac districtfreeholders are charging £6 an acre rent for their land, and Victorians have to go to New South Wales, where there is a LabourGovernment, to get land ? During thewhole of my political life I have fought to enable every man who desires to do so to obtain a piece of land, and I shall continue my efforts until the end. I have seen the way in which large estates have been aggregated, acre by acre, until in my own district there is. a family which possessed nearly 800,000 acres in freehold, and there are as many persons inthe State holding no land at all.
– Mr. Beeby complains that theycannot get land, notwithstanding the tax.
– The New South Wales Secretary for Lands has been maligned. I heard his speech, and know that he did not make the remarks which have been attributed to him. He asserted that it is the duty of the large land-owners to subdivide to enable settlement to take place, and that on the Government lay the responsibility of spending money in the making of railways to convey its produce to market.
– Did he not threaten to increase the State land tax,?
– The honorable member has been interjecting freely ; I ask him to discontinue.
– No such statement was made. Mr. Beeby said that if the land was not subdivided fast enough, the Government would have to consider the best way of acquiring it in the interests of the people. My long knowledge and political association with the Leader of the Opposition makes me surprised that he should have moved this amendment. Before many months have passed he will be sorry that he did so, recognising that it puts him and his party into a position from which there is no escape. Does any one believe that the amendment will be carried, and the Government displaced?
– The electors will displace the Government.
– The speeches which are being made by the members of the Opposition are intended, not to influence honorable members, but, through the medium of the newspapers, to mislead the electors. There has never been a direct censure motion carried in this Chamber. In 1901, the Barton Government was challenged in regard to the White Australia policy, and seven days wasted, but the motion was defeated by about forty-nine votes to seven. Here, Governments have been displaced wholly on side issues. The members of the Opposition do not believe the statements made in the amendment. The moving of the amendment is part of the political engineering which commenced in Queensland eighteen months ago, and has been continued quietly ever since, the object being to induce the electors to vote against the Labour party in favour of the Liberals.
– They will have a difficulty in doing so, seeing that the Liberal party is half-a-dozen parties rolled into one.
– I was going to deal with that matter. By what right does the Opposition term itself the Liberal party ? This is the dictionary definition of Liberal -
One of a free heart, bountiful, generous, not characterized by selfish, narrow, or contracted views, favorable to civil, political and religious liberty. Favorable to reform or progress, and in politics often opposed to Conservative, and who advocates greater freedom from restraint, especially in political institutions.
That will not apply to any honorable gentleman opposite, but the definition of Conservative will -
One who adheres to existing institutions, opposed to radical or democratic changes of a radical, or democratic kind, in the State or Government, a Tory
– It may be cruel, but it is true. Honorable members opposite are a Conservative party. They embrace the wreckages of all the old parties - the People’s party, the Liberal party, the Squatter’s party, and many other parties.
– The honorable member belonged to this party a little while ago.
– Idid not. I belonged to the old Protectionist party before the Fusion; and while I belonged to the party I was loyal to it. I did not, like the right honorable member for Swan, leave the party in a hole.
– The honorable member left us, anyhow.
– I did not leave the party, the party left me. It went into an unholy alliance with Free Traders and Conservatives, who were opposed to the political convictions I have held for a lifetime, and I refused to follow it. I had better say no more about that.
– It hurts.
– It hurts severely. It so hurt one of the grandest old members this House has seen since the establishment of the Federal Parliament in 1901, that he is now almost on the verge of the grave.
– The honorable member left the party, anyhow.
– I did not leave it, but the right honorable member for Swan left it at a very critical juncture indeed. I am not going to attribute motives to the honorable gentleman, but he knows why he left the party. I refused to follow the party when I found that its members were going in a way opposed to my political convictions and to the pledges I had given to my constituents. I could not associate myself with those to whom 1 had been in opposition, with men who had been fighting the principles I have been advocating all my life. I am here now with the Labour party, and I am proud to be here. The Labour party is the Democratic party. I find that the definition of a “ Democratic party “ or a “ Democracy “ is -
That form of government, in which the sovereignty of the State is vested in and exercised by the people at large, the populace regarded as rulers.
Not by a section of the people.
– And not by a Caucus.
– Not by trusts, rings, and combines, but by the great mass of the people. We are here as the Democratic party pledged to do all we possibly can by legislation for the amelioration of the conditions of the people.
A Democrat is one who adheres to Democracy, or a government by the people. As reformers they seek to change from worse to better, to amend, to correct, to reclaim ; to abandon that which is evil ; to amend that which is defective, vicious, corrupt, or depraved ; to change the regulations of parliamentary institutions.
The party opposite includes the Free Trade party, the Protectionist party, the Liberal party, the People’s party, the Single Tax party - the honorable member for Parramatta will not deny that - and a number of other parties. These different parties are joined in a fusion for what purpose? For the purpose of getting on to the Treasury bench. That is their first consideration, and not the true interests of ‘the people. I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that one of the charges made against the Government by the honorable member for Ballarat, and one of a very small character, indeed, was that they had delayed matters in connexion with the prosecution of the Coal Vend. I need do no more than refer honorable members who did not hear it to the speech of the Attorney-General in reply, to that charge. They will in all fairness admit that the honorable gentleman absolutely proved that the Government did everything they possibly could in that matter, and that th.rs* was not a moment’s delay in the prosecution of the Trust for which they could be held responsible. The result of the prosecution was that some forty different offenders were fined ?500 each. That money will go into the people’s Treasury now, because, from what I have seen in the press, I understand that the defendants have abandoned their appeal. Speaking on the question of industrial unrest, it will be found at page 80 of Hansard for this session that the Leader of the Opposition advised this Parliament and the people, as a panacea for that evil, to introduce the principle of profit-sharing. I believe that the honorable member for Parramatta holds the same view. The Leader of the Opposition said -
Those methods possessed enormous advantages over any attempt at State control. It implies a handling of business directly between the employers or owners of the works and their employes. When the latter are satisfied with their lot, as they appear to be most abundantly satisfied in England in several great enterprises, and in a few elsewhere, we have a solution of the problem.
Let me tell honorable members what is the position in England to-day as described by one of the principal members of the Imperial Government, Mr. Lloyd-George. I make the following quotation from a cablegram dated as late as the first of this month : -
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Lloyd-George) addressed a gathering of 5,000 persons at Woodford on Saturday on the benefits of his National Insurance Act.
In the course of his speech he said : - “ We boast that we’ have the largest navy in the world, the greatest commerce by land and sea, the greatest mercantile marine, and that we are the greatest Empire the world has ever seen ! When shall we think it worth while to boast that we are an Empire of the happiest people, free from poverty and from the terrors of children crying for bread? In front of you is the biggest task the democracy of Great Britain has ever undertaken. We have got to free a land shackled with the chains of feudalism from that which is a shame and disgrace to the richest country in the world. The Insurance Act is a beginning, and, with God’s help, it will be but a beginning.”
These statements also appear in the press -
It is rumoured that the Asquith Ministry is preparing a Radical land policy, which will include provision for the minimum wage for agricultural labourers, and land courts, which will fix rents and terms of land tenancy.
The Daily Nevis states that Mr. LloydGeorge has inaugurated n far-reaching inquiry into the land question in England and Wales, and has appointed a commission for the purpose.
Later, this statement was published in the press -
An interview with Mr. Lloyd-George is published by the New York Outlook, of which Mr. Roosevelt is associate editor.
Mr. Lloyd George states : “ There are two millions of idle rich in Great Britain, who lounge about London clubs, walk about the country with guns over their shoulders and dogs at their beels, and have motoring and golf as their serious occupations. The sole business of their lives is to enjoy themselves at the expense of the great multitudes living arduous lives, without sufficient food, raiment or repose.”
That is my answer to the Leader of the Opposition’s statement regarding the abundant satisfaction which the principle of profitsharing is giving to the people of England.
– There are only three members of the Opposition present. These quotations are too rough for them.
– I know that. I regret that honorable members of the Opposition are not prepared to remain here to listen to some truths that I intend to give them concerning the position within the neighbourhood of their own homes, and which show the absolute necessity for some of the legislation that has been passed by this Government. The Labour party is determined, whether in office or out of office, to constantly press forward with proposals that will enable every man, woman, and child in Australia, not only to live, but to be properly fed and clothed. I have now a quotation regarding a strike at Adelaide which should interest the honorable member for Wakefield, who, I regret, is temporarily absent from the chamber. The quotation, which I take from the Herald of 30th ultimo, is as follows -
About thirty girls engaged at the white work factory of G. and R. Wills and Co. have ceased work because a request for higher wages has been refused. The girls were mainly employed to manufacture underclothing, and the rates for certain articles have been 2s. 3d. per dozen. As only half-a-dozen could be made in a day the girls asked for 3s. a dozen, but the demand was refused, and the girls went on strike.
Is there an honorable member of the Opposition who would not justify the action of the girls in striking, or resorting to any other means of resisting the demand that they should work from morn till night for a wage of about 6s. 3d. per week? This is what is happening in Adelaide, where the honorable member for Wakefield has had an opportunity to Break down such a condition of affairs. Would he send out the military to shoot down these girls who went out on strike? I come now to the question of Protection. I have always regarded the Leader of the Opposition as a sound Protectionist, and I believe in my heart that he is a Protectionist to-day. I ask him, however, whether he has surrounded himself with a body to whom he can look with any hope of carrying into force a Protectionist policy? Can he expect to obtain Protection from the honorable member for Lang, the honorable member for Parkes, the honorable member for Illawarra, the honorable member for Wakefield, and other members of his party whom I could mention ?
– Or from Mr. Conroy?
– The Leader of the Opposition tried to secure the return of Mr. Conroy as the representative of Werriwa, but had he been elected, he would have given him no help whatever to secure a thoroughly Protectionist Tariff. The Sydney Daily Telegraph, which is supporting the Opposition at the present time, is pointing out now, as it has before, that the fusion compact does not bind one Free Trader in the Opposition to vote for Protection. It points out that the members of that party have a perfectly free hand to vote for as wide a measure of Free Trade as they please. Then, again, outside bodies with whom the Leader of the Opposition has associated himself - I refer particularly to the Women’s National League - have in the very fore-front of their programme the retention of the present Tariff. They would not interfere with it. It is a good old Conservative principle that existing institutions should not be interfered with, and therefore the Women’s National League say that, although the Tariff is not good enough, we must retain it as it is. The Leader of the Opposition can have no hope of securing a vote for Protection from the party with which he is associated. I desire to make my own position clear. I have always been a Protectionist, and in this House have voted every time for the highest duties. When the Tariff of 1908 was before us the honorable member for Bendigo, who was a member of the old Liberal party to which I belonged, refused to vote adequate Protection in respect of many Australian manufactures, simply, because the rate of duty proposed was higher than that which the Tariff Commission, of which he was Chairman, had recommended. He wanted to make himself the absolute arbiter of the measure of Protection to be granted to Australia, on the ground that the Commission, of which he was chairman, had declared that certain duties ought to be imposed. When it was shown in this House that the duties proposed by the Commission in many cases were insufficient, he, amongst others, declined to vote for a higher duty.
– Did the honorable member vote for the highest duty on wire netting ?
– Every time, and I would do so again to-morrow. Whilst there are some good Protectionists in the ranks of the Opposition, there are also some excellent Free Traders, who have been returned to this House to prevent .the adoption of adequate Protection as the policy of this country. On the other hand, Protection is the policy of the Labour party. We have not in our party one man who is not a Protectionist.
– What about the honorable member for Werriwa?
– He is a Protectionist, and said so throughout the recent contest.
– He is a Protectionist, and so is every member of our party. What we desire, however, is not the protection of one section of the community, but the protection of the manufacturer, the wage-earner, and the consumer. We desire effective Protection to uphold the manufacturer, and to help him along ; Protection to help the wage-earner, the artisan, the mechanic, the labourer, and the clerk, and also Protection for the consumer who is now, in many instances, being robbed. I was proud to follow the Leader of the Opposition when he introduced in this House a Bill providing for Protection for the manufacturers in a certain industry, Protection for the workers engaged therein, and Protection for the consumer of their products. In that case, he proposed, and properly so, to fix prices, and, as a matter of fact, prices were fixed. That principle was good enough for every member of the old Liberal party in those days, and they voted for it. If it was good then, how can it be said that it is bad to-day? That, after all, is the policy for which we have declared - the policy embodied in an Act of Parliament, but subsequently held by the High Court to be unconstitutional. It is absurd to say that it is impossible to fix prices. Every one is really doing so at the present time. For instance, produce merchants are fixing the price of butter. In the newspapers yesterday, we saw a statement that the Sussexstreet ring in Sydney had fixed the price of butter for six months, and they have “ honorable understandings “ with similar associations in Melbourne and elsewhere. The unfortunate housewife has to pay for this. What cure does the Leader of the Opposition propose for all this? If I understand him aright, he would hand over to the Inter- Sta te Commission the determination of all such matters. When one looks at the Constitution, and sees the multitudinous powers and responsibilities with which that body may be clothed, one wonders how it would be possible for it to deal also with this great question of the Tariff.
If the Inter-State Commission carried out the primary duties for which it was created, it would be impossible for it to give to the Tariff question the time necessary to enable it to be properly dealt with. Honorable members themselves know what is really required in respect of the Tariff. They can obtain sufficient information to enable them to deal with it, and whenever any Protectionist proposal is submitted to this House, I shall vote for it, always keeping in view the necessity for protecting, not only the manufacturer, but the wage-earner and . the consumer. Time will not permit me to justify the Leader of the Opposition in the action he then took in regard to agricultural machinery. This was made the subject of inquiry by the Royal Commission on the harvester industry, of which I, among other honorable members, was a member. It was known then, and it is known now, that the_ farmers, who are being gulled into voting against the Labour party, were and are being robbed By the Agricultural Machinery Combine day after day and week after week. The accusation of partisan appointments has been dealt with by the Minister of External Affairs, and I shall not further refer to it. There is one question that has been raised by every speaker, particularly by the honorable member for Wimmera; I refer to the question of freehold versus leasehold, particularly as applied to the Northern Territory. Fortunately for us, we have not to go beyond the Northern Territory for’ experience in this connexion - an experience which no man who thinks well of his country would care to see perpetuated. About 145 miles of railway have been built from Port Darwin to Pine Creek, and land on both sides of the line, aggregating nearly 800,000 acres, has been sold in freehold at 7s. 6d. per - acre to an absentee company, which has never put a hoof or employed a man on it ; while, recently, the present Administrator - and I join with those who have spoken so highly of him - found that the South Australian Govern- 1 ment had parted with a number of permanent water-holes in freehold. The eyes of the country have been picked out, as they were originally picked out in Victoria and the other States, for the purpose of speculation. The freeholders of thisland in the Northern Territory are simply sitting down, metaphorically, in London waiting for the Commonwealth Government to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds, or, it may be, millions, in placing settlers the presence of whom will enhance the value of the holding. When the settlers go there, the company will subdivide their land, and thus obtain the unearned increment which belongs to the people.
– The company has been waiting a long time !
– I invite the honorable member for Swan to go to the Northern Territory and see for himself. The line has been absolutely choked by this absentee company, which, like the dog in the manger, will not use the land itself, or allow any one else to use it. The leasehold system may be difficult to apply in the more settled States, like Victoria and New South Wales, but the Government are to be commended for their determination that the land in the Northern Territory shall be leasehold. Why is the freeholder backed up in this House by so many? It is simply because, when he gets his title, he can traffic in the land, holding it for a rise without producing anything whatever, and reap the increment which belongs to the people. No land should be disposed of by the Government except for the purpose of production ; and that end will be attained under the leasehold system. In the first place, the leaseholder will get the land for many years without payment, and afterwards at a very low rental. Further, he is to be assisted by the much maligned Commonwealth Bank, to enable him to make the necessary improvements, and provide for himself and his family.
– Going to get it from the bank !
– Who says so?
– I am surprised, not at the interjection, but to hear the honorable member for Swan laugh, seeing that the right honorable gentleman applied a similar plan in Western Australia.
– That was in regard to the agricultural land.
– It does not matter what the land is called, so long as the men producing on it are helped - it does not matter whether the assistance is obtained from the Commonwealth Bank, the Savings Bank, or, even, the Yarra bank. The point is to help the settler; and the hon-. orable member for Swan himself has done so.
– I myself introduced the system.
– And I give the honorable member credit for his action. But if such a plan be good in Western Australia, why is it bad in the Northern Territory ?
– I did not say anything against the system.
– The honorable member’s party are against it. The Commonwealth note issue has been condemned ; but what was the position in the past? Then the notes were issued by the Associated Banks, which paid a small tax of 2 per cent, to the various State Governments. A person had to pay 20s. into a bank in return for a piece of paper, which was a promise to pay on demand ; and money was poured into the banks by millions. Now, however, the position is reversed, and the banks have to go to the Commonwealth Treasury and pay money for the people’s piece of paper. That is a considerable reform; and already, notwithstanding what the honorable member for Bendigo has said, over £180,000 has been earned in this way by the Commonwealth. Will any one tell me that the guarantee behind the notes of theAssociated Banks, with their few millions, is as valuable as the guarantee of the Treasury, backed by the whole of the resources of Australia ? What is the good of speaking about £4,000.000, or any other amount, as a reserve ? Every citizen of the Commonwealth is a shareholder in the Commonwealth Bank, and all would rise to their duty if ever an attempt was made to deplete that reserve. The Commonwealth has a revenue of £20,000,000 per annum; and the argument that we cannot have a ‘ note issue of £10,000,000 without being involved in difficulties is one that might be used at a debating society or a meeting of the Women’s NationalLeague, but not in this House. The motion of the honorable member for Ballarat is a most drastic one, charging the Government, amongst other things, with maladministration; but not one tittle of evidence in support of that charge has been produced. Speaker after speaker - with the exception, perhaps, of the last - has dealt with one phase of the question, and one only. They have endeavoured to condemn the Government on account of what they call the Brisbane strike, though history and’ truth know it as the Brisbane lock-out.. The honorable member for Brisbane, to his credit and glory - and his action will be remembered for many years to come, and long; after he has gone - endeavoured to act as a peacemaker, and did everything possible in that direction. He told us in his speech last week how he attempted to approach the Queensland Premier time after time, in company with clergymen and others, in order to bring about a settlement. But the Premier studiously avoided him. The honorable member traced the history of this disturbance from the very moment when the plaint was filed with the High Court. He showed what led up to the disaster - because a strike is a disaster. I have always said so, and consequently have always advocated arbitration methods. The honorable member showed that a political move was being engineered all the time. Inasmuch as the motives of honorable members on this side of the House have been impugned, I am going to impugn the motives of certain persons with whom honorable members opposite are associated. I say that they had no other purpose in the world than to engineer a disturbance in order to influence the South Australian, Queensland , and Tasmanian elections. That is a serious thing to say, and I say it with a full sense of responsibility. When the trouble arose in the first place, when this man Badger, who was imported from outside Australia, deliberately tried to rouse peaceful men to violence by getting on one of the trams himself and going down the streets of Brisbane, why did not the Premier of Queensland make, an attempt to preserve the peace? The honorable member for Brisbane dealt with all the charges that have been made on this subject by the Leader of the Opposition. The socalled strikers have been charged with trying to starve the people of Brisbane, and with placing dynamite, gelignite and other explosives on the tram-lines. It has been shown to my satisfaction that not one of those packages was placed on the rails by the so-called strikers, but that this charge was part of a manoeuvre to inflame the minds of the electors. All who listened to the honorable member for Brisbane must admit that he spoke honestly, sincerely and truthfully, without any political bias. In answer to the charge that the so-called strikers endeavoured to starve the people of Brisbane, the honorable member produced circulars sent out by the Employers’ Association to the food producers, asking them to close their establishments for two days for the purpose of starving out these recalcitrant workers. Strikers they were not. They wished to follow their peaceful avocai/tion, but were denied employment. Why?
Because this autocrat from America, backed up and supported by the Government of Queensland, decreed that the men should not wear little pieces of metal on their watch-chains. Have I not a right to wear this metal badge upon my watch-chain? A number of the people of Australia gave me this right, and the laws of Australia give any man or woman the right to wear what they think proper as long as they are decently clothed. But simply because these tramway-men wore a badge of this kind in a non-obtrusive manner, they were told that they should not work. I suppose that if they had consented to discard the badge, they would next have been told to take off something else, until practically they were completely unclothed, to suit Mr. Badger’s wishes. The trouble was entirely with the man Badger. The Queensland Government knew that, and if they had been honest and wished to stop the trouble, they would have stepped in at the beginning. But it did not suit them to do that. They wanted to get up a scare. The South Australian elections were coming on, and everything done in Brisbane was engineered with the object and view of influencing the result. Honorable members opposite have made the most of the affair, and they will be sorry that they have said so much about it. They have admitted that they are seeking to dispossess this Government on the ground that, knowing that the Brisbane men were peaceful and. not riotous, they refused to call out the military for the purpose of shooting them down. That is the position which the electors of Australia will have to face and decide for themselves.
– Does the honorable member think we wanted to shoot any one?
– Yes. What did the Opposition want to send the soldiers to Brisbane for? What are soldiers for but to shoot? They are different from a police force. A policeman is different from a soldier in this respect. Citizens are accustomed to policemen, and are ready to pay heed to their persuasive powers. A policeman can say, “ Now, my good man, this sort of thing is not quite right; go away home quietly.” But a soldier cannot do that. His business is to obey when he is ordered to “ Level ! Present ! Fire !” The soldiers were wanted to fire at people who had done no wrong - who, indeed, were doing right. When the employers sent out that circular with the object of starving the men into submission, the workers opened shops for themselves. The employers closed down establishments and the so-called strikers opened them. They said to the public, ‘ ‘ You can get coupons from us ; present them, and we will honour them.” That action stands to their credit. Nevertheless the Queensland Government engineered this charge of trying to starve the people of Brisbane. It was published in the press throughout the length and breadth of Australia. The attempt to show that riot and disturbance prevailed in Brisbane is nonsense. It has been said that a shot was fired in Brisbane. Who fired the shot ? Ari honorable member said here that he was prepared to name the individual who did, and to bring an eye-witness of the act. The shot was not fired by a striker, but by a sub-inspector of police. Why was it fired amongst innocent persons who were not disturbing anybody? Was it not a part of the game to rouse them? If anything will rouse passion in the breast of an ordinary man it is the danger of either himself or those belonging to him being injured in that way. Notwithstanding all these attempts to make the men break the peace, the authorities could not succeed, and then they went to the Commonwealth for assistance. The Constitution was made by the people of Australia, and the Defence Act was passed in conformity with the Constitution by their representatives in Parliament. The Act clearly provides what should have been done before any call was made upon the Federal Government for military assistance. First there had to be a proclamation by the Governor of Queensland that a state of domestic violence existed. That proclamation was not issued, nor has. it yet been issued. Why was not that course taken? Why did the Executive alone make an appeal to the Commonwealth Government ?
– That is only a quibble.
– There is no quibbling about the matter. I invite the right honorable member to take up the Defence Act–
– I take the Constitution Act.
– In conjunction with the Constitution Act. The right honorable gentleman is now against his leader.
– We are free men over here, you know.
– The right honorable gentleman is not free.
– We are not like you - in shackles.
– With a number of other honorable members, the right honorable gentleman is bound to the Women’s National League. He is trotting round after them night after night.
– I do not mind that.
– The right honorable gentleman is not free in other ways. He is not free, even from the institution of the caucus. He has been a member of a caucus party. I was in a caucus with him when I belonged to his party.
– You are in a caucus now right enough.
– I was in a caucus then, and the honorable member for Bendigo moved a motion when proposals were made for an alliance with certain persons.
– You must not give away the present caucus like you do the other one.
– The honorable member will get his dose directly. The honorable member for Bendigo said that a proposal had been received from the Reid party and the Labour party to form an association with them, and he moved a motion to the effect that it would be better in the interests of the Protectionist party not to form a direct alliance with them. That was done in caucus; not a word was let out.
– It is being let out now.
– The doors of the room were closed, and messengers were stationed outside to see that nobody got in. That is only one caucus which was held by the party.
– Were you there?
– I was.
– If I were a Labour man I would not trust you in a caucus.
– Fortunately for me there is not a member of the Labour party who does not trust me, and there is not one of them who believes for a moment that I would divulge one thing which ought not to be divulged. The Opposition claim that they hold their meetings with open doors, and disclaim the idea of a caucus. There was no division, and the motion of the honorable member for Bendigo was carried unanimously. Yet he was one of those who broke the agreement arrived at in the caucus, and formed art alliance with Mr. George Reid and Mr. Cock. That is, I think, enough about caucuses.
– What about the election of the honorable member for Laanecoorie as Speaker?
– That was a caucus matter also.
– What about the white ants ?
– I think that white ants will bite the honorable member for Laanecoorie when the Hansard report of a speech that was delivered here last night is read.
– The honorable member need not worry about that.
– I do not worry about myself, because I do not change my coat. I should be exactly the same to-morrow as I am to-day. I have not changed my coat or my principles. What I advocate here to-day I advocated in the New South Wales Parliament years ago. I have acted consistently. I have not said that I was in favour of leasehold, as the honorable member for Laanecoorie did two years ago, andput it on record in Hansard, and then risen in my place, as hedid last night, and stated that I was in favour of freehold.
– You are stating something which is not correct.
– It is in Hansard.
– As I have not spoken yet, how could I have got up last night and spoken?
– It is in Hansard.
– Last night’s Hansard is not published. The honorable member is saying something which is not correct.
– The proofs are published.
– Where are they? It is very improper for the honorable member to say that I made a speech last night.
– If I did that I made a mistake. What I meant to say was that the honorable member made a speech when the matter was debated, and it was quoted against him last night.
– You said just now that I got up last night, and said I was in favour of freehold.
– What I meant to say is that last night the honorable member, by interjection, if not by speech, proclaimed himself in favour of freehold.
– That is absolutely incorrect. Mr. Speaker-
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– Will some honorable member get the Hansard which the Minister quoted?
– I was not in the chamber last night.
– The honorable member ought to have been present. He is paid to be here, and not elsewhere. I am not further concerned with the difference between the Minister of External Affairs and the honorable member. The Minister quoted the statement here to-day.
– The statement was quoted word for word, and it astonished me.
– When the Queensland Government found that, in the performance of their ordinary duties, the policemen could not stir up the people in the streets to commit a riot, what did they do? They swore in a large number of special constables. Were these men drawn from those who would act sympathetically, and persuade those persons who they feared were doing wrong to do better? No. They were drawn from the country classes - from the squatters’ sons, who were inflamed against these people. All these things were done for the purpose of inflaming popular feeling at that particular time. The true facts have been declared in this House, but, of course, we cannot expect the press which supports honorable members opposite to print, for example, the speech delivered by the honorable member for Brisbane. The charge against the Government is that they did not send the military to preserve law and order, and that consequently they should be deposed from power.
– That is nonsense.
– The motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, which has been supported by a great many honorable members, though it was quibbled at by the honorable member for Wimmera, who declared that the Prime Minister ought to have gone to the Premier of Queensland on bended knees
– I said the very opposite.
– The honorable member is not in this round. He stated that the Prime Minister ought practically to have gone to the Premier of Queensland on bended knees, and said to him, “ I do not think there is any necessity for troops being despatched just now, but I intend to preserve law and order.” Does the honorable member for Wimmera suggest that if a state of riot had obtained in Brisbane the
Prime Minister would not have discharged his duties?
– Then why has he not sufficient pluck to say so?
– Because there was no riot in Brisbane - because the strikers declined to be tempted to acts of violence. Every honorable member opposite who votes for this no-confidence motion will emphatically declare that if the honorable member for Ballarat had been in power, on the facts as they were, he would have called out the military to shoot down innocent men and women.
– The honorable member ought to be ashamed of himself.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member for Wakefield to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I am not ashamed of myself, but I am ashamed of the honorable member for Wakefield.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. I invite honorable members to seriously consider what the honorable member for Ballarat did say, and to explain how they propose to get out of the hole which they dug as a trap for the Labour party. The honorable member for Ballarat said -
How are disturbances or violence, illegitimate and illegal, to be coped with, and at what stage do such disturbances call for the intervention of the central Government? That point has not yet been settled, but this precedent on the part of the present Government will be taken into account in any pressing contingency of the same character. It is therefore absolutely necessary that it should not end without there being registered the protest of those who believed that a mistake was then made.
What mistake? The mistake of not sending the military. At this stage the honorable member for Melbourne Ports interjected -
Surely the honorable member did not want militarism and bloodshed?
To which the Leader of the Opposition replied -
I desired to prevent bloodshed. The honorable member admitted just now that there is a better guarantee of success when authorized persons undertake the control of a popular rising than when that control is left to unauthorized persons. For that reason, if for no other, the Commonwealth Government should have stepped in on the occasion in question.
What inference can be drawn from these remarks. In the first place, the honorable member declared that it was necessary that a protest should be registered by those who believed that a mistake was then made. A protest against what?
– A protest against the failure of the Prime Minister to assert the supremacy of the civil authority.
– The Leader of the Opposition affirmed that it was necessary, in the first place to register a protest. How can that protest be registered except by vote? That vote will stand on the pages of Hansard, and will go before the electors. What will it amount to? A condemnation of the Government because they refused to send military to shoot down people. How can my honorable friends opposite escape from that position? If they are loyal followers of their leader, they must stand by his utterances and condemn the Government for their failure to send the military. What is the inference to be drawn from the statements which I have quoted? Simply that had the Leader of the Opposition been in power, he and his Cabinet would have despatched the military to shoot down the strikers. The honorable member for Bendigo was more courageous when he spoke in this Chamber. He said -
I would have acquiesced in the proposal to send troops to protect life and property and to preserve law and order.
At this stage, the honorable member for Wilmot interjected -
It would have been the honorable member’s duty to do so. .
To that interjection the honorable member for Bendigo replied -
Undoubtedly, if I believed that the facts were as alleged.
Does he believe that the facts were as alleged ?
– The facts as alleged by the Premier of Queensland.
– Exactly. The Minister of Trade and Customs then inter-‘ posed -
Does the honorable member believe it?
To that, the honorable member for Bendigo replied -
I do believe it. I consider that the troops should have been sent.
– It all turned on the question whether the facts were as stated.
– The honorable member has said that he believes that the facts were as stated by the Premier of Queensland. What were troops to be sent for? The honorable members for Swan and
Bendigo and others on that side have witnessed or known of serious disturbances in Australia in the past, but can any of them give an instance in which armed forces have been called upon to quell disturbances before the Riot Act had been read? I recollect a disturbance in New South Wales many years ago, but on that occasion the Riot Act was read by a proper official. If Brisbane was in a state of riot, why was not the Riot Act read there? The fact is that there was no riot. I listened with pleasure to the speech made by the honorable member for Brisbane the other night, and particularly to his remarks about the manner in which Mr. Coyne and the other leaders of the men, instead of inciting them to disorder, moved among them, and counselled them under no circumstances to resort to violence. No one can deny the truth of the honorable member’s statements.
– Then what happened at Brisbane?
– The men were prevented by their employers from doing their work, and when others saw that they were being unjustly treated, they stood by them. If I saw any one attempting to wrong the right honorable member, I should go to his assistance, and the workers of Brisbane, seeing that a cruel wrong was being done to the tramway employes, stood by them. But there was no violence. All they did was by force of numbers to defend a principle, and to show to Queensland and the world that a cruel wrong was being done.
– Why did Mr. Coyne ask for troops to be sent?
- Mr. Coyne’s telegram was satirical.
– It was seriously received and replied to.
– Democrats should be impartial, and this Ministry showed its impartiality by declining alike the requests of Mr. Coyne and the Government of Queensland. Honorable members opposite have dug a trap for the Labour party which we have refused to enter, but which they have fallen into. But with the permission of the House I should like to continue my remarks to-morrow.
– I ask your advice and guidance, Mr. Speaker, in regard to a personal matter.
– The honorable member for Riverina must be regarded as in possession of the Chair until the conclusion of his speech, and no interruption of it can be permitted. The honorable member will have an opportunity to say what he wishes to say when the adjournment has been moved.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That this House do now adjourn.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, which I regret I did not have an opportunity to make when the honorable member for Riverina was speaking. He said that the Minister of External Affairs last night read from a speech of mine delivered about two years ago, in which I stated that I was in favour of the leasehold principle, and that I had last night interjected a denial of the statement.
– I think it was during the present sitting.
– Exactly. That is one of the inaccuracies of the honorable member to which - 1 wish to call attention. He said that I had last night denied that I was in favour of the leasehold principle. I asked the honorable member to withdraw that, and was called to order by you, sir, and ordered to resume my seat, which of course I immediately did. I wish to say that I am not aware that the Minister of External Affairs made any speech last night. He did make one to-day, in which he quoted from a speech of mine made some time or other. I shall satisfy myself by a reference to Hansard, which the honorable member for Riverina will pardon me for saying I prefer to a second-hand statement, as to what the Minister did say about myself. But I most certainly did not, last night, or at any other time, deny the truth of anything said by the Minister of External Affairs. The honorable member was in error in making that statement. I do not know why it was made; but he will probably do me the justice-
– Order ! The honorable member must not go beyond a personal explanation.
– If I was going beyond a personal explanation, I shall say nothing more on that. But, as an honorable member reminds me, the motion now before the House is for the adjournment.
– The honorable member rose to make a personal explanation.
– I wish now to speak to the adjournment of the House.
– The honorable member has not resumed his seat after making a personal explanation.
– The honorable member should sit down, andgetup again.
– I do not wish to cause any trouble. You, sir, must be aware that you have no more loyal supporter in this House than I am. I do not propose to come into conflict with you. I desire to give the honorable member for Riverina an opportunity of absolutely withdrawing the statement he made as to my denial of what was said by the Minister of External Affairs. The honorable member reiterated his statement, notwithstanding my assurance that I did not make the interjection attributed to me, to the effect that I had withdrawn from the position which the Minister of External Affairs said I had taken up with regard to the leasehold principle.
– That means that the honorable member is in favour of the leasehold principle?
– -This ends my personal explanation, and. it will not, I hope, deprive me of the right to speak on the motion for the adjournment.
– I have no desire to do the honorable member for Laanecoorie, or any other honorable member, an injustice. When he says that he was not here, and did not make the interjection I attributed to him, I withdraw my statement unreservedly. I think it is as well that the honorable member and the House should know what was said, and how I came to couple the honorable member’s name with it. The Government party is now being attacked, amongst other reasons, because they advocate the principle of leasehold in the Northern Territory. I said that the Minister of External Affairs had made certain statements regarding the honorable member for Laanecoorie to-day; and that the honorable member had now changed his mind. He says he was not here, and has not changed his mind, and I accept his statement. All I can say is that the honorable member is associated with a party who are now challenging the Government on this very principle.
– Order ! The honorable member must not go into a discussion of the debate which has been adjourned.
– This is the statement attributed to the honorable member for Laanecoorie by the Minister of External Affairs this afternoon. He quoted from the honorable member’s speech on the Papua Bill- -
– The honorable member need not trouble himself to read the quotation. I shall look it up in Hansard to-morrow.
– I think it would be better if I read it now. The honorable member is reported to have said -
I do not agree with the altitude-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to resume his scat. I took it that he rose to speak to the motion for the adjournment of the House. He did not say that he was going to make a personal explanation.
– If you will pardon me, sir, I think I did, though you may not have heard me.
– I did not understand the honorable member to rise in explanation.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask you, sir, whether after an honorable member has risen to make a personal explanation which was rendered necessary by his being misrepresented by another honorable member, and that honorable member has in his turn risen to make a personal explanation in which he withdraws the statement objected to by the first honorable member, the incident should be allowed to go any further. I make no statement at all with regard to the accuracy of the report in Hansard which the honorable member for Riverina apparently is now about to read.
– The honorable member for Riverina rose to make a personal explanation in connexion with something said during debate. He feels that he has a right to explain why he made a statement which has been objected to, and he is in order in doing so.
– The honorable member withdrew the statement.
– I based my remarks upon the following quotation by the Minister of External Affairs from a speech made by the honorable member for Laanecoorie - 1 do not agree with the attitude of the
Prime Minister in regard to the inadvisability of providing in the Bill for the non-alienation of the lands of New Guinea. In my opinion, we cannot begin too early in such a matter, and, in a Bill of this kind, it is one of our first duties to make a declaration regarding the principles of land tenure to obtain in the territory. I agree with the right honorable gentleman, however, that it is not to be expected that we shall have a very large number of settlers who intend to acquire land and remain in New Guinea for many years to come. But the absence of persons anxious to obtain land in fee simple in order to settle upon it and work it is an advantage to those who want to acquire it for the purposes of speculation, because they are thus enabled to secure it at low prices, owing to the want of competition.It is, therefore, urgently necessary that we should, from the beginning, prohibit the alienation of land in Papua. The leasing system is the better one to adopt in the interests of the Commonwealth, and I think will also prove better in the interests of settlers than the system of sale. It must be recognised that if we make the terms upon which land can be leased sufficiently liberal, people will be as ready to lease land as to purchase it. We are in a position to give liberal terms and we can best conserve the interests of the natives of New Guinea, who should receive our first consideration, by adopting the principle of leasing. In leasingthe land we cannot only secure to them their present rights, but can afford them opportunities to ascend the scale of civilization by preventing the speculator from trafficking in it. We have been told that the territory contains enormous mineral wealth, and that its soil will grow with marked success all kinds of tropical products. But if the land can be sold in fee simple, large areas of it may be acquired and held by speculators, who may prevent persons desiring to cultivate or to use it in other ways from obtaining possession of it. Furthermore, the conditions of the natives under such circumstances will practically amount to a state of semi-slavery. The industrial legislation passed by this House would be evaded, and our desires frustrated, if these tropical products were raised by the labour of the natives, and exploited by the speculator. Not only will the practice of selling the land give opportunities to exploit the country, but its unfortunate aboriginal inhabitants will be dispossessed of their property, and will become virtually the bond slaves of those who acquire it.
That was the statement upon which I based the remarks to which the honorable member for Laanecoorie has taken exception. I withdraw my remarks with pleasure, as the honorable member assures me that he was not here and did not make the interjection I attributed to him. I am very pleased to know that the honorable gentleman is against his party on that question.
.- I shall not detain the House for more than a moment, but I wish to say that during the recess I received a communication from the Defence Department saying that Mr. Smail, the woollen mill expert, would make a second visit to Tasmania, of which I should be duly informed, and that I should be informed of the date of his proposed visit. I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether the expert is going to make a second visit to Tasmania.
– That is a matter of policy, and the Opposition by their motion of no confidence have shut down on all such matters.
– I desire to make my acknowledgments to the honorable member for Riverina for having given the House and the people generally an opportunity of reading twice in the same volume of Hansard a report of a speech which I had the honour of making in this House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.47p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 July 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120703_reps_4_64/>.