4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Irise to make a personal explanation. While I was absent from the chamber last night, the Minister of External Affairs referred to an appointment made by a Government in New South Wales many years ago with which I was connected. This is the newspaper report of the reference -
Mr. Cook had stated that all he wanted was the appointment of the very best men. Perhaps that gentleman would remember the appointment of Mr. Jacob Garrard to the Water and Sewerage Board after he had been defeated at a New South Wales general election. Mr. Cook was a member of the Government that made that appointment, and there was nobody outside of the Cabinet at the time thought Mr. Garrard fitted for the position.
I say nothing of the chivalry of a man who would jump on another when he was down.
– The honorable member must not indulge in comment.
– It is true that the Reid Government appointed Mr. Jacob Garrard to a position on the Board of Water Supply and Sewerage, but there was a vacancy at the time, so that no one was displaced to make room for him. In that, his appointment differed from the appointment of his successor. Whereas Mr. Garrard, after fourteen or fifteen years of successful work as a member of the Board-
– The honorable member is going beyond a personal explanation.
– I think not. However, there will be other occasions to do that, and they must be taken. I wish to say now that no one was displaced to make room for Mr. Garrard, and that he was well qualified for the vacancy which he was appointed to fill, as his subsequent career proved. His appointment differs in that respect from that of the. gentleman whom the Minister was defending.
– The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– No. The Minister’s statement was in defence of another appointment.
– The honorable member has nothing to do with that now. He may refer only to that portion of the Minister’s remarks which concerned himself.
– Then I must wait for another opportunity to do justice to Mr. Garrard. I content myself with ‘ repeating that Mr. Garrard was eminently qualified for the position to which he was appointed ; and that, there being a vacancy, no one was displaced to make room for a friend of the Ministry.
– I am not sure that the newspaper report of my remarks is quite correct. What I intended to say was that no one except the members of the Reid Cabinet thought at the time that there were not men in the PublicService of New South Wales who could fill the position as well as Mr. Garrard. I was trying to answer the objection of the honorable member, who said that the Commonwealth public servants should have had preference in the making of some of the appointments for which I am responsible. The Hansard report of what I said is as follows: -
He was appointed as a member of the Board in thefirst 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 likehim personally. But did any one in Australia except the members of the Reid Cabinet think him the most suitable man for that position?
– The honorable member did not object at the time.
– It was Senator Millen who raised the question. I said that I should not have mentioned the matter but for that.
Debate resumed from 3rd July (vide page 410), 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.”
.- Last night I made quotations from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, from which the only inference to be drawn is that he believes that the facts relating to the Brisbane strike were as alleged by the Premier of Queensland, and that had he been in power he would have sent troops to Brisbane.
– I have shown elaborately that there was no need to send troops.
– I have quoted the honorable member’s own words. This is another statement in his speech on the amendment under discussion -
I admit that under that section it was within the competency of Ministers to return that reply. The word “ shall J’ in the section of the Constitution which I have quoted is mandatory, it is true, but that word as applied to a Government would, receive the ordinary interpretation, which requires a Government to shoulder responsibility. It is just possible that some State Premier upon losing his head might ask for support from the Commonwealth when it was not necessary. But this was not such a case. I am expressing my own opinion, and it is a very clear opinion on that point.
The inference is that it was necessary.
– The inference is that there should not have been a refusal ; that there should have been an undertaking that, so soon as it might be necessary, protection to life and property would be given. I have said that several limes.
– Those words do not happen to be in the honorable member’s speech.
– I have said that there should not have been an evasion, but that a direct reply should have been given, and an acknowledgment of Commonwealth responsibility.
– I ask whether, from the three statements of the honorable member which I have read, any other inference can be, or will be, drawn, than that he thought the circumstances of such a character as to necessitate compliance with the Constitution by sending troops to Brisbane ? There is no other inference to be drawn. I repeat, shortly, that the Government have been charged practically with dereliction of duty, with maladministration, and with disregard of the requirements of the Constitution, because they would not, upon the facts alleged to be existent in Brisbane at that time, send troops there to render aid in bringing under subjection those who were not rioters. There is the position, and I leave it at that. But what was the duty of the Premier of the State ? In the first place, I think it is not arguable that under our Federal system the first responsibility for the good order of a State restsupon its Government. What action did the leader of the Government in Queensland take? Did he use the executive powers at his disposal, or did he invite Parliament, which represents the whole people, to give- him power, to bring the parties together? The honorable member for Brisbane has. shown that he made numerous attempts to bring about a settlement. He associated’, himself with clergymen and other leading citizens, and endeavoured to induce the Premier to exert his influence upon this man. Badger in order to effect a reconciliation. Every one of those attempts absolutelyfailed. The Queensland Government refused to take part in inviting the parties to> come together in order that this unfortunatedispute, which? brought about such disastrous consequences to the people of Queensland, might be settled. We have a precedent to show what the duty of a Government is under such circumstances in. the action taken by the Mother of Parliaments in regard to the great strike which I am sorry to say is still being carried on in London. Let us see what that actionwas. I have taken the following cablegram from the Argus of the 3rd inst. Itis headed “London Dock Strike.” Itsays -
An interesting debate on the question of theport of London strike took place in the House? of Commons yesterday.
Let this be noted.
Mr. J. O’Grady, Labour member for the EastDivision of Leeds, moved that a meeting of employers and men was expedient in order toend the strike.
It was not the Prime Minister of Great. Britain, but a Labour member, who took action to bring the employers and the employes together, in order that the strike, might be brought to an end.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith) said that, the intervention of the Government was not expedient on the present occasion, though an. interchange of views of masters and men was much to be desired. He was glad that the employers did not wish to break the unions or penalize the men. The Government could only leave the Industrial Council to inquire as to the best means of enforcing the agreements.
The leader of the Opposition (Mr. Bonar Law) moved an amendment that intervention, would serve no useful purpose, and approving of the Prime Minister’s declaration that the normal attitude of the Government towards- strikes should be one of complete detachment, and impartiality.
Mr. Bonar Law asked the Prime Minister how he was going to vote.
Mr. Asquith replied : ; I don’t intend to vote.
Mr. Bonar Law twitted Mr. Asquith for refusing to vote. He said that the Government was now refusing to lead the House.
Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, leader of the Labour party, was indignant at the suggestion that the House should be passive while capital and labour fought out their battles. The men were prepared to resume if given an assurance that meetings of representatives would be held afterwards. If the strike continued, trade unionism at the Port of London was in danger of being wiped out.
Mr. Bonar Law’s amendment was rejected by 260 votes to 215. Mr. 0’Grady’s proposal was agreed to by 254 votes to 183.
I have quoted that cablegram to show thai Mr. Denham, the Premier of Queensland, failed in his duty. Not only did he personally refuse to do his best to bring about peace by getting the parties together to settle the dispute, but he failed to exercise the powers exercised in the House of Commons in dealing with a similar disturbance. It will be seen that, in that instance, the Labour party were the peacemakers. They were the prime movers in endeavouring to bring to an end this disastrous affair. Last night I charged the Premier of Queensland, and I charge him again to-day, with absolutely failing in his duty, and with playing into the hands of political parties in order that this disturbance might be perpetuated because certain elections were about to take place. Surely in the Commonwealth of Australia we are not so party bound, and so lost to all sense of what is right and just, that, no matter on what side we may be sitting, we will attempt to justify or uphold anything of that- kind. Yet speaker after speaker on the Opposition side has upheld the conduct of Mr. Denham, and has stated that he was quite right in making an application for the military. Honorable members opposite are trying to bring condemnation upon the Federal Government because they, having more common-sense and more knowledge of the people than was represented to the world through the medium of the press, refused to be made catspaws of the State Premier and to play into his hands. By that refusal the Government, I am satisfied, saved the lives of some thousands of people which might otherwise have been utterly destroyed.
– The people of Queensland indorsed their Premier’s action.
– That statement has been repeatedly made, and as often corrected. The position is that the Labour party in, Queensland to-day is stronger than it was before the last general elec tion. More votes were polled for that party then than were polled on the previous occasion. If I am correctly informed, and I believe that I am, in the very centre where these disturbances occurred, and where the people saw day after day what was taking place, the Denham party was absolutely routed, and the Labour party captured a majority of the seats. These are facts which all honorable members know; and I regret that the honorable member for Illawarra, who is usually a fairminded man, did not hear the historical statement made concerning this trouble by the honorable member for Brisbane.
– I heard three- fourths of it.
– I am sorry that the honorable member did not hear the whole speech, because no one listening to it, unless strongly affected by political bias, could fail to be solemnly impressed with the gravity of the position, and with the noble part taken by the honorable member in trying to alleviate the troubles with which Brisbane was faced. During this debate it has been suggested by innuendo, although no direct charge has been made, that the Government and those supporting them are in favour of strikes. I deny that we are. By far the great majority, if not the whole, of the party are opposed to strikes; and I, personally, have never favoured them. I have always advocated measures designed to bring the parties to an industrial dispute before a properly constituted tribunal, whose awards should be observed by both sides. Last year the Labour Government asked the people of Australia to agree to an amendment of the Constitution which would extend the power of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court to deal with industrial disputes. Under the Constitution as it stood, it was pointed out, industrial conflagrations arising in a State could not be brought before the Federal Court until they had extended beyond the limits of that State. It was sought to remove this disability, but, unfortunately, the electors of the Commonwealth rejected the proposal. The Brisbane strike ought to convince the people of Australia that they made a mistake in not agreeing to the desired extension of power; and I trust that their experience then will induce them to agree to an amendment of the Constitution in the direction sought by the Government of the day. If such an amendment were made, the industrial laws of the Commonwealth could be brought into operation at once to put an end to a strike occurring in any part of a State; and I am sure we all believe that if such a power had existed on the occasion of the recent Brisbane strike the Prime Minister would have exercised it, and would have at once gone up to bring together the disputing parties. The Leader of the Government, no matter to what party he belonged, in such an emergency, would, I am sure, have exercised that power and have displayed a full recognition of his position. In the absence of this wider power, however, it is useless for honorable members to talk of the continuance of strikes, since, under existing conditions, a strike is the only weapon to which the workers in many cases can finally resort. In this respect, therefore, there has been nothing wanting on the part of the Government or their supporters. The honorable member for Fawkner was present at a smoke night held at Prahran in connexion with the People’s party on 25th June last.
– The People’s Liberal party.
– I take my information from a report which appeared in the Argus of 26th June last, but perhaps, after all, the name of the political organization in connexion with which the smoke night was held was, as the honorable member says, the People’s Liberal party. There are so many of these organizations that some confusion is likely to arise. We have the People’s party, the People’s Liberal party, the Women’s National League, the Australian Women’s Political Association, and other bodies, all of which seem to have been welded together as one organization, and given the general title of “ the Liberal party ‘ ‘ - a name to which, as I showed last night, they are not entitled. How far this particular organization is entitled to be known as the Liberal party may be gauged from the fact that its VicePresident is Mr. J. T. Packer, at one time a member of the Labour party, but who was subsequently employed, I think, by the Employers Federation of Victoria at a salary of £300a year. Mr. Packer, in rather fulsome terms, introduced to the gathering the honorable member for Fawkner, the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and Mr. Donald Mackinnon, M.L.A. It is unnecessary for me to quote what the honorable member for Fawkner said concerning the Labour party, because he has had the courage to make similar statements in this House. He has said so often that the Labour party is hobbled, and has no freedom, that I think he has come to believe the statement is true. As a matter of fact, the Labour party is the freest to which I have ever belonged, and I speak as one who was a member of the old Protectionist party. According to this newspaper report, Mr. Donald Mackinnon said that -
The Labour party deserved credit for its defence system, which would have an immense influence on Australian character. As to the £5 baby bonus, Australians would be better at £5 each than imported people at£15 each.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad to hear the honorable member cheer that statement. How many members of his party would do so? Are not some of them at present denouncing the proposed maternity allowance? Has not one of their number, who has been chosen to stand for the Senate in the interests of their party, described it as a “dirty low-down political trick”? Mr. Mackinnon went on to say -
Under Mr. Lloyd-George’s scheme 30s. was allowed for maternity expenses. It was a great relief to mothers in need of assistance.
And here we have the party tinge -
These matters would no doubt secure a certain amount of support for the Labour party, but-
He could not discuss even a humanitarian proposal of that kind without pausing to consider how it would affect his own party - speaking generally of the Labour party’s legislation, it appeared to him like white ants at work on a building, where all seemed secure outside, whilst inside the work of destruction was going on.
His reference to ‘ ‘ white ants “ was taken up by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, who sought to make some political capital out of it. But the structure which, based on humanitarian principles, has been raised by the legislation of the Labour party, can defy all ants, black or yellow, to be found within the party opposite. There is only one class of ants which can be found on this side, and that is the class of white ants - we stand for a white Australia. Are there not honorable members opposite, within the fold of the Fusion or Liberal party, who have, in this House and outside, openly advocated a black Australia policy?
– I say that undoubtedly there are, and amongst them the honorable member for Parkes. Then, one of the members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, who is connected with the so-called Liberal party, has been writing to the papers week after week, urging the introduction of coloured races in order to further the development of the northern parts of the Commonwealth.
– I do not know him - I never saw him !
– That may be, but the honorable member knows that I refer to Dr. Arthur. Is that gentleman not a member of the Liberal party?
– I never saw him in my life !
– The honorable member has not lost much. I merely wish to point out that it would be folly and madness - a suicidal policy - for the Labour party to raise the edifice to which I have referred, and then, like termites, attempt to destroy it.
– We are all in favour of a White Australia.
– The honorable member may speak for himself: but Hansard can be quoted against other honorable members, with whom he is now associated, and who have openly advocated the introduction of coloured races for the purpose of populating the northern parts. These are actual facts of which there can be no denial. Certainly, the Labour party will not destroy their legislation of the past, nor, so long as they are the trustees of the people, will they allow any party, called by whatever name, to destroy it. There is another matter that has been twice or thrice mentioned in the House. It has been stated that the Minister of Lands in the Labour Government of New South Wales has indulged in sundry threats about drastic legislation against land-owners, in order to compel them to dispossess themselves of their land. I think it was the honorable member for Parramatta, though I am not quite clear, who quoted an extract containing this charge, and I then interjected that it was not true. The honorable member, in reply to my interjection, asked me how I knew that the statement was not true, and I said that I knew because I was alongside the New South Wales Minister when he made the speech. When the honorable member for Parramatta was speaking, I could not. of course, offer any evidence in support of my statement ; but I have with me now the report from the Daily Telegraph of Sydney, which is an organ bitterly opposed to the Labour party. I read this for the double purpose of showing that the State Minister made no such statement, and, further, to show how this boasted freehold system has resulted in locking up some of the best lands in New South Wales. This is the report -
Finley, Friday. - The Government intends to break up all large wheat areas and other agricultural areas held close to the railways whichdo not seem to be sufficiently closely settled. Another laud tax apparently is to do it.
Mr. Beeby, Minister for Lands, announced1 the method to be adopted to-night at a meeting in the School of Arts. He remarked that thebiggest problem in Australia was how to deaf with holdings which prevented land development. During the past twelve months he hari made inquiries about land within 5 miles of the important towns. He had had a good many estates inspected and scheduled in order to find out the exact position.
I should like the honorable member for Fawkner to listen to this, because he has. some knowledge of New South Wales ; and I invite any honorable member to say whether the figures I now intend to quote are not correct. The figures refer to lands held by a few persons within 5 miles of important towns, and are as follow : -
There is evidently a mistake in regard to Deniliquin, and the honorable member for Fawkner will admit that there are considerably larger holdings within 5 miles of that town.
– Why say it is a mistake when, the figure is small and it suits the honorable member’s purpose? Some of the larger figures may also be mistaken.
– Does the honorable member challenge the figures? They are contained in an official statement given to the Daily Telegraph.
– All I say is that it is nor fair to say that the small figures are a mistake, and that the large figures are all. right.
– I am not doing so,, but only pointing out what I think is ai> error. I refer to the honorable member. for Fawkner, who, like myself, knows something of the particular locality. However, the list proceeds -
1 myself know all these places. In regard to Hay the statement is made -
Some of this last area was clearly not suitable for farming, and on it a man could obtain a handsome living on 5,000 or 6,000 acres used for pastoral purposes.
The list continues -
Those figures show the result of the freehold system in New South Wales. The immense aggregation of 4.500,000 acres is held by 270 persons, and all this land is within five miles of important towns. Furthermore, the State has expended millions -of pounds in constructing railways through private holdings containing good agricultural land, and the comparative disuse of :this land is killing the towns and starving the railways. These facts show that interference with existing conditions is necessary. The land must be put into the hands -of those who use it.
– How could there be twenty large estates within five miles of a town?
– What I said was that each of the estates mentioned is within live miles of an important town. The figures are not my own compilation j they were supplied officially by the Lands Department, and given to the proprietors of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and were published in that journal. In my own electorate, as I said last night, one family recently held between 700,000 and 800,000 acres of freehold close to Deniliquin, Moama, Finley, and other important centres. I do not blame the large landholders - it is the weakness of human nature to be grasping; but at the present time this freehold land is worked by men who, after supplying their own horses, machinery, labour, and enterprise, take only half the produce, the other half going to the landlord, who insists on having the stubble for his stock. To continue my quotation from Mr. Beeby’s speech -
The total around those alone - and they were the only inquiries he had had completed - showed that 270 holders occupied more than 4,500,000 acres in land, within reasonable access of the railway.
The bulk of the good land in the State was held by a few men, and it was useless to be trifling for ever with the question. Why was it worth constructing a railway from Wyalong , to Hillston to open up wheat country when there was wheat land 200 or 300 miles nearer Sydney, of which not an acre was being put to its proper use. All over Australia the railways were running through unoccupied land, and settlement was being put out back, which should be nearer the centres of population. This had been done in the past, because the Governments had been afraid to tackle the problem of ownership. As regards the large men who held the land those men had certain rights, but the time was approaching when the country would not agree to the construction of railways unless with that construction the automatic breaking -up of those estates into reasonable areas took place.
The Minister criticised the Liberal method of resumption of estates by purchase, and observed that if the desired object could not be achieved by purchasing it must be secured in some other way. He believed the Government could envolve a scheme which would be fair to the man on the land but which would practically force his hand to cut up his area, and let it go at reasonable prices, and on reasonable terms. Then the 700 holders in the State who occupied the best land, he believed, would begin lo realize the pressing needs of the community, and that the question was one, which Australia could not allow to remain unattended to much longer. We already had the progressive land tax, which had done a great deal in this respect, but the holders of these lands would gradually, be faced with further responsibilities.
The failure of the freehold system in New South Wales is undeniable. Coming to the Northern Territory, I found from inquiries there that between 700,000 and 800,000 acres were sold by the South Australian Government to an absentee company which has not used the land, and that, although the State constructed a railway through it, the railway has been starved, and will be starved until steps are taken to make the land productive. I have been into every State of the Commonwealth, and everywhere I have found that the aggregation of land in private hands is a curse, making the position of those who work the land that of serfs. Not long since, I visited the Corangamite division, and there found that £6 an acre rent was being charged for land which the holders bought from the Victorian Government for £i an acre on condition that they fenced it. Is that state of things to be allowed to continue? In the Northern Territory the area alienated is in ratio to the whole area as a drop to a bucketful, and I ask honorable members who resolved that the land within the Yass-Canberra Federal Territory should never be sold, how they can conscientiously condemn the present Government for determining not to sell land in the Northern Territory ?
– The two territories are not on all-fours.
– I think that they are. Had our early rulers possessed the experience which w<e have, there would have been no alienation of the public estate, and rich agricultural land on which now a. few sheep are grazing would be supporting hundreds of thousands of happy families. Something has been said during the debate about the impossibility of fixing prices under a protective system, but the following statement, which appeared in the Melbourne Herald two days ago, shows that prices can be fixed -
Interesting evidence concerning the working of the butter market was given before the Butter Factories Wages Board to-day.
Charles Edward Meares, secretary of the Dairy Factories Association, and general manager of the Coastal Factories Society Ltd., said that the selling price of New South Wales butter was fixed in Sussex-street for six months. Prices were regulated by the London market, and, for the rest of the year, by the production in the Commonwealth. Recently there had been a demand on the New South Wales market by Victoria. His association fixed the prices. The price was subject to review once or twice a week. The Victorian market was governed in the same way, and, added witness, “ We are working in harmony. There are three companies in Victoria, and we do not encroach on their market. We follow their prices if the seasons are equal.”
If the butter merchants of Sussex-street can fix the prices to be paid to the butter producers, why cannot the prices to be paid by consumers be fixed?” I offered a few words last night, and wishto say a few more to-day, in regard to Protection. I stated, and now repeat, that I am and always have been a ProtectionistI will vote for Protection every time I get” an opportunity of doing so. I would votefor it even if it were not accompanied by the principle of new Protection. I think it is better, even under conditions with’ which I do not altogether agree, that weshould have more manufacturers in Australia employing Australian people at some wages than that we should employ foreignworkmen at lesser wages, from which other countries get the whole of the benefit. I hold very strongly to that view, which, however, is merely my own personal conviction. But I am entirely at one withmy colleagues in saying this : that I want to get, if I can, an assurance that Protection shall not only benefit the manufacturer and give employment to the worker, but shall also give to the worker a legitimatewage fixed by the Courts of this country; and shall give to the consumers the articles somanufactured at legitimate and fair prices,, and not at prices which rings and combinations choose to charge, amounting in many cases to absolute robbery. I wish to compare the position of the two parties in regard to the policy of Protection. Thereis not one member of the party now in. power that is not a Protectionist. They are all new Protectionists - every one of them. Can the same be said of the party led by the honorable member for Ballarat?
– The honorable member will admit that we cannot get the new Protection until we secure an alteration of theConstitution.
– I admit that, but even so, I would sooner have the old Protection than no Protection at all. I will endeavour, in every possible way, to bring about such an amendment of the Constitution as we require.
– The honorable member said that he was expressing the opinion of the whole of his party. I do not think that what he said expressed my view.
– Probably what I said was misunderstood by the honorable member. I will give him another opportunity of hearing my view. What I said was that every member on this side of the House was a new Protectionist. But I was about to point out that on the Opposition side there are many honorable members who are neither new nor old Protectionists. They would have no degree of Protection whatever. What hope, then, have those people who clamour for Protection that their policy will be carried out by the Opposition? They cannot look to a party, some of whose members are pledged against any phase of Protection, new or old. Of course, it is impossible to get the new Protection without the old. The one must go with the other. Speaking for myself, I say that assuredly the party now in power are a party of effective Protectionists. They believe in effective Protection for the manufacturer, in effective Protection for the worker, and in effective Protection for the consumer. Can the party opposite declare for a policy of that kind ? I fear not. I give honorable members opposite credit for their convictions, which they have as much right to hold as I have to hold mine. Many of them have been Free Traders all their lives, and if they hold to Free Trade views still, they are perfectly free to vote as they like on this Tariff question.
– Does the honorable member propose to increase the Tariff, then?
– Yes. While the honorable member for Illawarra, who has just come in, was absent from the chamber, I stated that there was a combination in existence to fix the price of butter. I read an extract from the Melbourne Herald of two days since, containing evidence given before a Wages Board by Mr. Meares. I presume that the statement was made on oath. I believe that the Wages Boards take evidence on oath. This gentleman stated that the Sussex-street ring was a combination which had fixed the price of butter for six months ahead.
– I saw that.
– The honorable member may know whether the statement is correct or not.
– Mr. Meares is a most reputable man, and I do not suppose that he would give evidence which was not correct.
– What is the attitude towards Protection of one of the sections of the Fusion party? I allude to the Women’s National League.
– A very live political body.
– I fancy that the honorable member has been round the country at the League’s meetings pretty often. 1 notice that this League has a motto. A few years ago I went to an opera in which one of the actors, dressed as a jockey, sang a song in which he declared that he had “ had a motto,” which was to be “ Always merry and bright.” Nevertheless, he was about the most doleful looking individual I ever saw in this world. . The possession of a motto does not always indicate that the person boasting of it is fairly described by it. This Women’s National League sports the motto, “ For God and Country.” What right have they to assume that they alone can subscribe to that precept ? It has been hurled as a charge against the Labour party by some of the members of this League that we are an irreligious body who have no reverence for God or for country.
– The honorable member’s own Labour journals say so.
– I do not know what the Labour papers may say, but will the honorable member, with all the responsibility attaching to his position in this House, say that there is one single member of this party that can fairly be charged with being irreligious?
– I have never said so ; but the Labour newspapers frequently say that the Labour party has nothing to do with religion, and is purely materialistic.
– I venture to say that in comparison the wives and daughters of the members of this party are as reverent as are the ladies forming this Women’s National League.
– I think they are.
– They are perhaps more religious, because they are more humane, have come more in contact with the depths of society, know the troubles of society, and are not afraid of brushing their skirts, which do not happen to be silk, against the poor and distressed.
– The honorable member must not blame us because of what people outside say.
– -The honorable member and his party associate with these people, and use them for political purposes.
– Would the honorable member be prepared to take the responsibility for everything said by outsiders in his own party?
– Fortunately, there is only one party over here. There are a dozen parties at the back of the Opposition. If, however, there were more than one party supporting the Government, and one of the parties associated with us made
Use of such arguments as this association does, I would very soon say that that branch of the party would have to be broken up or disowned.
Mr.W. Elliot Johnson. - It is a pity that the honorable member does not take his own pol.tical organs to account.
– The honorable member may be surprised to learn that 1 do not read these journals very regularly. I prefer to take my experience from the book of the world.
– They are the subsidized political organs of the Labour party, and the honorable member cannot overlook them.
– Is there a metropolitan newspaper in the Commonwealth that is not subsidized? Ask Senator Fraser ! Who subsidize the great metropolitan newspapers here?
– I simply said that the honorable member must recollect that these subsidized party newspapers of his’ are the worst offenders in the matter of irreligion.
– There is only one newspaper of which I have any knowledge to which the description would apply that it is subsidized, and that is the Worker newspaper in Sydney.
Mr.W. Elliot Johnson. - And in Br.sbane.
– That journal belongs to the Australian Workers Union, whoset aside a certain amount of their subscriptions to support their organization. Is that wrong? Is it extraordinary on the part of these working men that they should put aside some of their earnings to subs dize a newspaper in their interest? But they are blamed for that, whilst at the same time honorable members opposite appear to think that it is perfectly right for the great metropolitan journals to be subsid.zed by the great shipping companies and other concerns of the kind.
– What I said was that there subsidized newspapers are the worst offenders in the matter of irreligion.
– The honorable member cannot produce proof of that charge.
– I have done it over and over again. The honorable member can find the record in Hansard. I have quoted frequently from the Brisbane Worker.
– One newspaper said this morning that Mr. Mauger had too much religion about him, and that is why the Women’s National League will not select him as a candidate for the Senate.
– I intend to quote what a speaker for the Women’s National League said yesterday.
– She is not a subsidized organ.
– This Mrs. Morton, whom I intend to’ quote, is a subsidized organ of the party opposite.
– Subsidized by “ fat.”
– Thefunds of a number of mercantile houses go to help this League and the honorable member’s party to delude the electors of the Commonwealth. Let us see what Mrs. Morton said.
– The honorable member is playing it pretty low infighting a woman.
– I think it is fair to quote what this lady said.
– Would the honorable member be prepared to meet her on the platform?
– She would run rings round the honorable member if he did ; I would back her every time.
– Very well. I have frequently stated my opinion of this League on the public platforms of the country, and I will do so again. From the very head to the tail of this association, from the president downward, the whole purpose of it is to protect the interests of the wealthy and land-owning classes, and to keep the lands of this country away from people who want to use them, and gain a livelihood upon them. Honorable members opposite, although they practically get behind or hang on to the skirts of this League to hide themselves from the electors, know perfectly well, if. they were permitted to speak, what the object of the association is. Mrs. Morton is an executive officer of the Women’s National League, and the following quotation from this morning’s issue of the Age will show what that association thinks of Protection and Protectionists -
Mrs. Robert Morton addressedthe annual meeting of the Women’s National League at Healesville on Tuesday. She spoke foran hour and a half on the Labour party’spolicy and administration, but her mission was mainly to persuade the branch to indorse the league’s action with regard to Mr. Mauger’s Senate candidature. In this she found a difficult task, finding a strong feeling in favour of Mr. Mauger, and a much stronger one against causing a part)’ split.
Asked whether, in the event of Mr. Mauger standing, the league would support him, Mrs. Morton said it was not the league’s duty to advocate any candidate.
This answer was not considered satisfactory, and the question was put in more direct form : “ Would the league recommend or suggest that the branches should support Mr. Mauger?” Mrs. Morton said she could not answer that until the executive had its next meeting.
What about the Caucus? She could not answer that question. Although these people boast of the freedom of every member of the parties associated with the Fusion, this lady had to refrain from giving a reply to a pertinent question until she had got her orders from the executive. I understand that the honorable member for Balaclava sometimes attends these executive meetings, and takes tea with the ladies.
– I should like to be invited.
– The honorable member could not be selected for a position on that executive.
– Let me give the honorable member some information. A lady, somewhat fairer-minded than others associated with the Fusion organizations, asked why the honorable member for Hume and I could not be invited to address this association. The reply was that it “ would never do,” since our policy was altogether different from that of the association. These ladies did not want the light. They were quite satisfied with what the honorable member for Balaclava and the honorable member for Fawkner could tell them. They were afraid to allow a man of experience like Sir William Lyne to address them. They did not desire that the women whom they were deluding should hear the truth. The report continues -
Mrs. Morton was then asked, “ On what questions dues the league hold Mr. Mauger to be an extremist?” She. replied, “In regard to religion and the liquor question.”
An extremist in regard to religion ! Could any man be too extreme in the reverence he should pay to his God? Yet Mr. Mauger is to be condemned because this lady holds that in the matter of religion he is an extremist ! The report continues -
A lady pointed out that the league professed to eschew the religious questions, and that temperance was one of the main planks of its platform. “ But,” said Mrs. Morton, “ Mr. Mauger is an extreme protectionist “ ; to which the lady replied, “ Is that not the whole secret of the trouble, and does not the league profess that the fiscal trouble is buried?”
Mrs. Morton also said, “ Mr. Mauger is a city man “ ; and on being asked whom she pre*ferred, she replied, “ Personally, Mr. Dully.” To this one of the ladies replied, “But is not Mr. Duffy more a city man than Mr. Mauger, or equally so?” Mrs. Morton replied, “But every one knows his ability.”
How is it possible to pin down to anything a lady of that kind -
Mr. Fairbairn and Mr. F. Clarke were also mentioned as possible substitutes, but their names were not received with much favour.
The honorable member for Fawkner has been attending social evenings held by these ladies, taking tea with them, and contributing to their funds, yet when his name is mentioned we are told it is not received with favour. What kind of support can he look for from such a motto-fed party -
Mrs. Morton referred to the numerous replies adverse to Mr. Mauger received from the country branches, and was met by the query, “ But weren’t those replies received a bit too quickly to be properly considered?”
Throughout her address the speaker vehemently attacked the Age and the policy of protection.
What has the Leader of the Opposition to say now in regard to the Women’s National League, which is a supporter of his party? I believe that another party supporting the Fusion has, as one of the planks of its platform, “ The retention of the existing Tariff.” What does that mean? Is there on either side of the House a Protectionist who considers that the existing Tariff is of a sufficiently Protective character? Yet, when we ask for an effective Protective Tariff, these ladies, who have banded themselves together to return men to Parliament as voting machines, tell us that we must not interfere with the existing Tariff.
– What have the honorable member and his party done in regard to the Tariff? They have a big majority.
– T have done more than the honorable member has done to secure an effective Tariff. Hansard will give the honorable member my record. I have always voted for Protection, whether it was for an industry in the honorable . member’s State or in any other State. Whilst my votes in this House have always been cast for higher duties, the honorable member has invariably voted for lower duties.
– He was consistent on jam.
– And potatoes. I should like now to refer to another statement made by one of the three or four gentlemen whom the Women’s National League are escorting over the new suburban electorate to be called “ Henty.”
– -They are being led round.
Mr. CHANTER.Practically, some of the ladies have apron-strings long enough to lead them round.
– The honorable member and his party are a brave lot of men - fighting women.
– We have shown that we are, at least, worthy of the name of men by our efforts to build up the Commonwealth on sound substantial lines. But organizations of the character to which I have been referring must, because of their interests, be opposed to the classes for whom we are fighting. We claim to be doing men’s work. We do not cast upon ladies the duty of going from house to house and telling a lot of tarradiddles to women whose knowledge of politics is insufficient to enable them to judge of the truth of their statements. The women who are thus deluded find out the truth too late ; but, while that state of affairs may go on, it cannot continue for all time. The schoolmaster is abroad, and even these women will not be able to hold back from the great mass of the people the teachings and the lessons of experience. The gentleman to whom I was referring, when interrupted, addressed various meetings in the Caulfield district and laid down the policy of his party in a statement that has not been challenged. I regret that I cannot for the moment recall his name; but when he was asked what was to be the policy of the socalled Liberal party, he said, “ Retrenchment without taxation.”
– -That was the statement of
– And, if I am not mistaken, he is connected with a family owning large properties in Australia. What does that statement mean? Retrenchment means reducing your expenditure and making no provision for it. I present this statement of policy to the public servants of Australia. It means the cutting down of the salaries of the men in the lower ranks of the Public -Service in order that the Government of the Commonwealth may be carried on without further taxation.
– Including old-age pensions.
– The honorable mem ber for Flinders has very clearly expressed his opinion regarding the question of oldage pensions, and has been brought to book for doing so. I think that he was taken into the caucus of the Fusion party.
– That statement is absolutely incorrect.
– The honorable member for Flinders is opposed to the present system of old-age pensions. As the honorable member for Balaclava has such a fund of information at his disposal, will he be good enough to say whether the honorable member for Flinders has renounced certain views to which he is reported to have given utterance ?
– Order !
– The Opposition are silent.
– The Leader of the Opposition made a long explanation to the press regarding the “ knee drill “ of the honorable member for Flinders.
– I know of that. We have heard a great deal about the subsidized newspapers and organizations that are said to be working in the interests of the Labour party ; but I wish to point out that political associations supporting the Fusion party are paying men and women to visit the various electorates as organizers on their behalf. In my own electorate, men are still being so employed. Wherever they can obtain a renegade from the Labour party, these organizations will employ him at a salary of £200 or ^300 to do this work. That was the course taken in Packer’s case.
– Does the honorable member say that a man who leaves his party is necessarily a renegade?
– If he “rats” upon his principles for the sake of personal benefit he is undoubtedly a renegade. Men of that class are now being employed as organizers for the Liberal party in my electorate.
– They are in every electorate.
– I speak only of what I know to be actually occurring in my own electorate. I hope this will serve for all time as a reply to the denials we have heard respecting these matters. I am now going to bring before honorable members a statement, not from the Worker, but from the Sydney M orning Herald, which has been, and still is, supporting the Opposition. Sometimes the Sydney Morning Herald unwittingly lets out the truth. There is great trouble and strife amongst our cousins in
America in reference to electoral matters; and, in commenting on this, the newspaper to which I have referred says -
The Republican party, which bears some resemblance to our Liberal party, has the backing of the great financial and business interests which are vitally interested in the result of the election.
Mark the observation that the party has “some resemblance to our Liberal party.” That statement is made, not by a Labour paper, but by the Liberal party’s own organ. The interests in Australia to which I have referred can find money to send armies of organizers around to delude the electors. In conclusion, permit me to say that now this unjust and unwarranted attack has been made upon a humane Government and party for their refusal to send troops to Brisbane, and thus aid in the slaughter of innocent men and; women, who were seeking only their just and equitable rights, the attack must assuredly fail here, as I believe it will also fail when submitted to the great body of electors in Australia. The people will know before then that the structural legislation for which this party is responsible is based upon their own will and command, and that it is for their benefit and protection and future well-being. They will know that its demolition is threatened by a combination of political parties, acting under a variety of names, but now terming themselves Liberals. The cloven hoof of individual greed and self-aggrandisement will be discerned, and the electors will thoroughly approve what this party has already done, and propose for their benefit in the future. They will again triumphantly return the Labour party in sufficient numbers to continue their humane work. This work will be approved, not only by the humanitarians of this world, but will insure the blessing of the all-seeing One, who commands us to assist the weak, uplift the fallen, and do justice to all, as we are now honestly endeavouring to do.
– We have listened to some very lengthy speeches on all manner of subjects diverse to the motion or amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition. I do not intend to talk on every conceivable political question, but to try to keep my remarks to the amendment. Before dealing particularly with that, however, I should like to say a word or two respecting the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. It is a very lengthy document, but there is not very much in it except words; the Government seem abso lutely gravelled for lack of matter. There are really no concrete propositions amongst the thirty-nine articles, and we hear nothing from Ministers or their supporters but that there must be a great change in the economic state of affairs - that the Democracy or the people must “come into their own.” How much they are going to take of other people’s property in “ coming into their own “ we do not hear, and as to what the phrase really means, or how the intention is to be achieved, we are uninformed. It is clear, however, that the Government are really on a sandbank. They admit that, now the people have given them a decided rebuff by rejecting the referenda last year, they cannot carry out their policy any further until that decision is reversed. It seems to me that, if they were to get an affirmative reply to the referenda, even in the form asked for last year, they would find it difficult to reconcile what they asked for then with their new policy about the people “ coming into their own.” They have not shown us how to connect these two things although we hear that the referenda are to be presented again. Of course, anybody who followed the proceedings at the Hobart Conference last- year knows that they must go on whether they like it or not ; they have been told by their masters to do so, and they have had such a long course of submission that they will have no trouble in submitting once again. That is the chief reason we see in the Governor-General’s Speech the statement that the referenda proposals are to be once more submitted. I am glad to see that the Government intend to make a start towards granting Tasmania £500,000. I am thankful for small mercies, but I feel that if the Government did what they ought to do, seeing that they appointed the Royal Commission on the matter, they would adopt the unanimous recommendation of the Commission to grant ,£900,000. However, if the Government are not prepared to go so far, I am here to take what they will give, in the hope that, in a few months’ time, when they are relieved of their onerous duties at the Treasury and other Departments, a Ministry will be installed prepared, if Tasmania needs any further assistance, to give the rest of the £900,000. A remarkable feature in the position is that this is a Governor- General’s Speech supposed to come from those who are always declaring themselves to be great Democrats. If there is one thing more than another that can be called democratic, it is the principle of majority rule. How is it proposed to give the people of Australia majority rule? As a matter of fact, the Government do not propose to do so; they intend to go on with the antiquated block system of voting. They are afraid to allow the people outside to speak as a majority, or there would have been some reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to electoral reform in the shape of the preferential vote. This would give the electors the choice of the largest number of candidates, instead of confining them, as now, to a candidate nominated by each party. Under the present system, we cannot afford to have a split vote, and the people are bound, in the most undemocratic way, to select one of two men.
– At the Liberal Conference the other day, it was moved to abolish the present system in Tasmania.
– I am referring to the preferential system, to which I do not think the Conference alluded.
– It is all right now !
– The present system is all right for those in a majority, but it is not all right for the people; and it is the people’s interests, and not our own, to which we should look. With the preferential system, the people would not only have the largest number of candidates to select from, but the one selected would represent the majority of those who voted. When a party which flies the banner of Democracy fails to include this reform in their propaganda they have forfeited any claim to the title of democratic. There is nothing in the Governor-General’s Speech about making our old-age pension system a sound and safe proposition for the country. There is a reference to amending the system; and I suppose it is proposed to give more money in the shape of pensions. We may be able to increase the pension some day; but the Government, in the meantime, ought to devise some scheme to better the present plan on lines similar to those followed in Germany and other countries, or on some contributory basis adapted to Australian circumstances.
– We are satisfied ; we do not desire a new system !
– It is the Labour party’s self-satisfaction that is such a danger to the country. They are satisfied with everything they do; but I am not, and I think we shall find in about twelve months’ time that a good many people in Australia are of the same opinion as myself. There is the assumption in the Governor-General’s Speech that the land tax has done something wonderful in the way of assisting immigration. I do not know whether to regard that statement as impudent or hypocritical; perhaps it is both. If there is any body of men in Australia who have not done anything for immigration, it is our friends opposite. They are always saying they are in favour of the immigration of the right people, and yet they ever fail to do anything to induce those people to come here. Within the last twelve months, the Minister of External Affairs found that he could not even help the States by chartering a few vessels to bring out the people who are crowding the wharfs in the Old Country. What immigration we have is due to the activity displayed by State Governments, and to the State land systems, more than to the land tax. Most of the immigrants who have gone on to the land, say in Victoria, have not gone on areas specially cut up in consequence of the land tax, but on to Government blocks purchased for closer settlement, and so forth. When the Labour party claim that the land tax has greatly assisted immigration, they make a most impudent assumption, for the truth of which there is not a tittle of evidence. It seems to me that the Government are very neglectful in regard to a matter on which the people of Australia laid great stress when Federation was accomplished. The Commonwealth Parliament were instructed to deal with the question of the State debts; and in reference to that, we see in the Governor-General’s Speech a hope expressed that “ an early opportunity will present itself “ for settling the matter. The Government, so to speak, take the position of a. man who owes money, and who walks about hoping for something to turn up to get him out of debt.
– If the honorable member knew what the State debts question meant, he would not touch it.
– If the Labour party had any respect for the commands of the people, they would tackle the problem, difficult though it may be. They ought not to run away from it because a difficulty is in front of them, they should make some advances to the State with a view to arranging a scheme to be brought into operation at the earliest possible moment. Debts representing something like£20,000,000 will be due in a few years.
– Forty millions in three years.
– The case is worse than I thought. If the Commonwealth Government were doing its duty, it would arrange to take over these loans as they fell due.
– How could it do that?
– A scheme should be arranged with the States. I admit that the Governments of the States could put obstacles in the way which would prevent it; but has this Government done anything to arrive at an agreement with them?
– The Treasurers of the States have consistently opposed every scheme.
– I blame this Government for not having done anything to give effect to the commands of the people in the matter. The difficulties are being increased by the present practice of the States in issuing short-dated loans, thus increasing the debts that will fall due in a few years. That makes it the more incumbent upon the Government to put forth earnest efforts for the settlement of this matter. I shall not refer to the Northern Territory, nor to several other matters on which there will be subsequent opportunities to speak. The Government has not treated the public fairly in determining the land policy of the Northern Territory without consulting the representatives of the people. Vast expenditure will have to be undertaken to make the Territory a success, and a false step now may involve the loss of millions of pounds which wise measures would save. The Leader of the Opposition has charged the Government with having failed in its duty in regard to the settlement of the industrial unrest which prevails in our midst. Honorable members opposite have tried to excuse their inaction by asserting that industrial unrest exists in England and all over the world. That I do not dispute, but it does not excuse the Government. I have nothing to say against unionism in itself. The men are right in forming unions for their protection.
– The honorable member is a member of the Barristers’ Union.
– There is no such union. This is a critical period in our history. No one can look upon the industrial unrest which seethes around us without being impressed with the gravity of the situation. I believe that every industry should pay the best wages that it can afford ; but the trouble is that, although high wages are exacted, there are persons “ living on the game,” if 1 may use a- vulgarism, who incite the workers not to do a fair day’s work, lt is a current complaint that, although wages to-day are higher than ever before, work is not done as efficiently as it used to be, the men trying to do as little as possible. The position is most serious if this is so, because it means that the workers are becoming demoralized. The man who to-day tries not to do a fair day’s work in return for honest wages will, in a few years time, be capable of putting his hand into another man’s pocket. This demoralization strikes at the character of the nation, and without character no nation can have permanence.
– What must the honorable member’s character be like? He never did a day’s work in his life.
-The honorable member cannot prove that I have taken money from any one without giving a quid pro quo. In many cases, the unions have got into the hand; of persons who, having made for themselves easier billets than they had when working at their trades, sometimes even go so far as to declare a strike without allowing the members of the union, who will have to bear the brunt of the strike, to express their opinions by ballot. It is in Australia that the secret ballot for ascertaining the opinions of the people at elections was initiated ; but these demagogues, as I call them, though they term themselves Democrats, refuse to allow the workmen the privilege of the secret ballot when the question is whether there shall be a strike or not. It is the abuse of unionism of which I complain, and Ministers have never, individually or collectively, made a statesmanlike protest against this, or administered a sensible rebuke to those who are injuring our industrial life. In support of what I have said, let me quote the criticism of the *Builder * a Sydney journal, on the conduct of operations at the Federal Capital. That publication complained some time ago that the workmen employed by the Department of Home Affairs were not giving a fair return for their wages, and that things were at “sixes and sevens.”
– The Builder is the contractors’ organ.
– The honorable member can refute the criticism if it is untrue. The Department, having denied the accuracy of the charges, the paper sent a man to the Capital, who, after staying there seven months, made a report, upon which the paper returned to the attack, and published this criticism - “We csm now unhestitatingly say, and are prepared to prove, that the day labour system of work at the Federal Capital site is a public scandal.”
There is no system but a “ jumbled order of things, disgracing the administration of the Home Affairs Department, and retarding progress generally at the site.” “ The work is not only snail-like, the men are not only at the lowest stage of demoralization as regards honest labour, but the work itself is a disgrace to good construction.”
The recommendation is made that, instead of there being no one practically to direct operations, a Board of Commissioners, or some other authority, should be made responsible for the proper conduct of affairs. I do not object to the adoption of the day labour system by the Department if it considers that best, but I say that the taxpayers have a right to a proper return for their money. We do not want “badly mixed cement” and “ chimneys that will not draw.” I quote this to show that some people think that even in our own great Department of Home Affairs the men employed by the Government are in too many instances doing what is commonly done outside - not giving a fair day’s work for a fair’ day’s pay. I maintain that the members of the Government should offer some protest or rebuke to make it clear that they, at all events, do not hold those views. Ministers are, however, too fond of making loose statements. When the Postmaster-General was in Hobart, he is reported to have said -
They had started training the youth of Australia, and under this system every one would have a rifle as well as the other fellow.
– Quite right, too.
– The honorable gentleman was talking about strikes at the time.
– Oh !
– Have I misquoted him ?
– Not necessarily, but that is not all that I said on that particular question.
– I do not want to make any charge against the PostmasterGeneral unfairly, but the newspaper from which I quote did not report any further observation on the subject. I took it to be a pretty accurate statement, and. at all events, it requires some explanation. When a Minister of the Crown comes forward, and talks to the people, whether they are strikers or ordinary individuals, he should be guarded in his utterances.
– I had a very fine, intelligent audience that night.
– For a, Minister of the Crown to express such sentiments is not at all conducive to the discipline which we hope to see maintained in our Military Forces. If a man who joins a regiment is not going to use his rifle when occasion demands, and when the law clearly lays it down1 as his duty to obey his officers, I say that he is not doing what he has taken an oath to do j and for any Minister of the Crown to introduce such sentiments into the minds of the youth of Australia is conduct that must be condemned. I am glad to know that the Minister of Defence has repeatedly said things of quite the contrary character in the Senate and elsewhere.
– No, he has done nothing of the kind.
– The Minister of Defence, speaking last year on Senator Rae’s motion - which provided that the military should not be used against fellowcitizens - said that the troops must be used in case of necessity, as there was no other practical way of suppressing domestic violence.
– But he expressed the view that the country must be in desperate straits before we do anything of the kind.
– I think we are all at one in that. Another act of maladministration for which I have to blame the Government is in regard to the Sugar Commission. When they came into power everything was” ready for the appointment of that body. At first they said that the Commission could obtain no evidence of which the Government were not already possessed. They found, however, that this House was altogether in favour of such an inquiry being held. Finally they appointed a Commission, which, in my opinion, was scarcely the best body that could have been formed for the purpose. The Commission started its labours about eighteen months after it might have begun, if the Government had taken up the work left over by the Fusion Ministry. The very fact that Ministers instituted the Commission shows that they made a serious bungle in not taking up the work where it was left by the Government which I had the honour to support some three years ago.
Another mistake which this Government has made - or which, at all events, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank is making - is in starting the banking business by opening a Savings Bank.
– Is it an act of maladministration to do what is in accordance with the law?
– There was no necessity to carry into effect the Savings Bank portion of the Act at present, arid it is a grave mistake to do. so.
– The Act is there.
– Poison might be on the table, but that is no reason why any one need swallow it.
– Would the honorable member repeal the Act?
– As the question has been put to me, I am prepared to say that I would vote for the repeal of the Savings Bank sections at any time when that could be done; but I do not say that we shall be able to do so after a Savings Bank has been in operation for some time. I suppose it would be impossible then for any Government to revere to the state of affairs existing to-day.
– What has been done shows the capacity of the Government.
– It shows their capacity for getting the country into trouble. When the general election was being fought in 19 10, we heard a great deal about what this Commonwealth. Bank was going to do; how everybody was going to get an overdraft who wanted one, and how all the troubles of life were to be eased per medium of the bank. Well, we passed an Act enabling a Commonwealth Bank to be established. After many months a Governor was appointed; and the first thing he does is to put into operation that portion of the Act which is going to prove most detrimental to the people. I say that it is going to be detrimental, because we shall have two sets of machinery doing one piece of work for the same people. After all, the people are the same, whether they are taxed through a State or a Federal agency. If the State Savings Banks had not been doing their work well, if they had been losing the money of the people, or getting their banking affairs into disorder, the Commonwealth might be justified in coming to the rescue. But I do not see how it can benefit the people of Australia to have two Savings Banks competing with each other for money. The evil which will arise has started already. In to-day’s newspapers it is announced that the Victorian Savings Bank is going to raise the maximum of deposits to . £350. The Commonwealth has fixed the limit at£300. The State limit previously was £250.
– Competition is the soul of business !
– I thought the honorable member’s party wanted to do away with the harsh and cruel methods of competition !
– Hear, hear ! Cooperation is the thing !
– This competition has already started. We have the State of Victoria competing with the Commonwealth for Savings Bank business. If trouble comes, who will have to bear it? Not the Governor of the bank, or the Commissioners of the State Savings Banks, but the taxpayers every time.
– What trouble?
– Trouble may arise if competition becomes so keen that the Commissioners get off the safe lines of business which they have been following. If a panic arose, and the Commonwealth Bank was rushed by depositors, whilst at the same time money was demanded suddenly from the States Savings Banks, consider what a hole this country would be placed in. The States would have suddenly to provide money which they had invested in securities and public works. I maintain that we have begun our banking business at the wrong end. Another thing of which the public have a perfect right to complain against this Government is that they have allowed the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank to draw three guineas a day travelling allowance. I suppose that his travelling allowance, before he was appointed to this position, was not more than 15s. a day. I fail to see why he should be permitted to run all round the country, and call it “ travelling,” at three guineas per day.
– We can cut down the allowance !
– The Government have guaranteed to this officer£4,000 a year for seven years. If the bank does not run for six months - if Mr. Miller sits down and does nothing - he will still be able to take his salary, with three guineas per day extra whenever he travels. I also protest against the allowance to which Ministers have helped themselves, and fail to see why the Prime Minister should draw two guineas per day whilst ordinary Ministers, like the Postmaster-General and the Minister of Home Affairs, are to be entitled to draw only 25s.
– It is marvellous how the honorable member kept his mouth shut when it was announced to the House that these allowances were to be paid.
– I wasnot present when the Prime Minister made his statement, and even if I had been here I should have waited for my leaders to take the first move.
– One honorable member opposite said that the amount was not enough.
– A matter with which I will deal while the Prime Minister is present is the reduction of the gold reserve against Commonwealth notes to 25 per cent.
– That has not been done yet.
– The law became operative on the 1st July.
– But the gold reserve has not yet been reduced.
– Because of the Prime Minister’s assurance that he would not allow the reserve to fall to less than 40 per cent. until after the next election. The Prime Minister is very much to blame in this matter, though, no doubt, he is of opinion that 25 per cent. is a sufficient margin.
– Parliament thinks so, too.
– A majority of Parliament thought so, I suppose, or the Act would not have been passed. The Prime Minister gave us his assurance that if his measure were allowed to pass, he would not allow the reserve to fall to less than 40 per cent. of gold until after the elections.
– That was after the Bill had been passed.
– I think not. I think the assurance was given during the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– What does it matter?
– I hold that to reduce the gold reserve to 25 per cent., after only one year’s experience of the system, would be to take a very serious step.
– Do the private banks hold 25 per cent. of gold for all their labilities?
-I am discussing, not what the private banks do, but what I believe is a reprehensible mistake on the part of the Prime Minister. I wish to direct the right honorable gentleman’s attention to the fact that gold has been with drawn from Australia during the last six months at an increasingly high rate. The Australian Insurance and Banking Record, of 2 1 st May last, shows that the notes held for the March quarter amounted to £5,873,416, that the amount issued to 28th February was £10,095,160, and that the amount in effective circulation was £4,221,744, or thereabouts. In view of the fact that notes representing over £5,500,000 are not in effective circulation, and, therefore, might be presented to the Treasury at any time, does not the Treasurer think it highly necessary to keep up the gold reserve? Is there not a danger of a heavy demand for gold, in exchange for these notes, now in the vaults of the banks, being made on the Treasury in a time of financial trouble?
– If the honorable member will pardon me, I find that I did give the assurance to which he has referred during the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
– I thought that I was not mistaken. When it was first proposed that the gold reserve shouldbe reduced to 25 per cent., the banks warned the Prime Minister that the proposition was a dangerous one, and, in view of the fact that so many notes are not in efficient circulation, and that gold is leaving Australia at an increasingly high rate, the right honorable gentleman should be thankful that he made this promise, and has observed it. While the present state of affairs continues, the Prime Minister will walk into the danger zone if he allows the gold reserve to be reduced below 40 per cent. of the note issue.
– Why does the honorable member make that statement?
– Because of the facts I have just stated. For the first six months of 1911, the exports of gold from Australia amounted to £3,091,474, whilst during the first six months of this year, our exports of gold have amounted to £5.907,864, or an increase of £2,816,390.
– For what purpose has that gold been sent away?
– That’ point does not concern me. My contention is that this is a fact which the Treasurer should take into his serious consideration, and my complaint is that he is not doing so, since, only a few days ago, he told the Housethat a gold reserve of 25 per cent. was a sufficient’ margin to allow. Under existing circumstances, I hold that it is not sufficient, and in that opinion I am supported by financial experts. Another point to be emphasized in this connexion is that, not only are we exporting gold very freely but that the production of gold in Australia is declining. This year our production of gold will probably be £2,000,000 below the production for 1910.
– The honorable member knows that he cannot obtain any authentic information as to that.
– The figures at present available suggest that such a decline is probable. My figures can be easily substantiated.
– Why does the honorable member use the word “ probable “ if they can be proved ?
– Because I am not going to bind myself down to a few pounds. In framing an estimate, we have to be guided by the production up to date. I am satisfied that when this motion of want of confidence was launched, we were well justified in referring to what might then have been fairly considered to be partisan appointments made by the Government. In the light of the explanations that have since been given, some people may think that, in that respect, the Government have nothing to blame themselves for. Having listened to those explanations, I admit that things are not as bad as I thought they were; but on one or two points I am not yet satisfied. I am not yet convinced, for instance, that the Government did their best to secure the most suitable men for the several positions to which reference has been made. I care not whether the man selected for any of these positions is a Labour supporter, a Liberal, or a Conservative, as long as he is the best man that could have been chosen. The Government, however, have not satisfied me that they used every effort .to secure the best men for the positions that they were called upon to fill. We find that so many of their own political colour have been appointed to various positions in the Service as to justify the suspicion raised by this amendment. I should like to know whether the Minister of External Affairs, in appointing a journalist to the High Commissioner’s office, gave other journalists, in addition to those engaged on the Labour press, an opportunity to offer their services. As far as we can gather, the position was first offered to a gentleman on the staff of the Sydney Worker, and when refused by him, it was -offered to, and accepted by, a jour nalist engaged on the staff of a Labour paper in Adelaide. I have not heard the Minister say that other journalists were given an opportunity to apply for the position. Then, again, we find that the position of Director of Lands for the Northern Territory was first offered to Mr. Nielsen, then Minister of Lands in the New South Wales Labour Administration. Mr. Nielsen first of all accepted the appointment, but later on declined it. For some reason or other, his presence is required in the United States, where, I understand, he is drawing a high salary.
– In another position found for him by the State Labour Government.
– A better position?
– After Mr. Nielsen had declined the position of Director of Lands in the Northern Territory, it was offered to and accepted by Mr. Ryland.
– A good man.
– I do not say that he will not prove the best man for the position. My charge is that, so far as I can ascertain, the Government did not trouble ro look for a better man.
– They advertised the ‘ position, and there were a number of applicants.
– I find that Mr. Ryland was a Labour candidate at the late Queensland elections. Another appointment made by the Government is that of Dr. Jensen to the position of Geologist for the Northern Territory. Dr. Jensen has excellent credentials, but possibly, had an effort been made, a man of still higher attainments might have been found for the position. I do not know how the Government came to discover Dr. Jensen ; I do not know whether his discovery was due to the fact that he was a member of the Political Labour League of New. South Wales.
– There is a man in the Public Service with at least equal, if not superior, qualifications.
– Did he apply for the position ?
– I do not know; but if I were a Minister, and two men applied for a position, one being in the Public Service and the other outside it, I should be inclined to lean to the man in the Service, provided that his qualifications were equal to those of the other applicant. That consideration should, I think, be extended to our public servants. I do not know whether the Government tried to find a more capable man than Dr. Jensen-
– They advertised the position.
– I am glad to hear it. Dr. Jensen is a member of the political league to which I have referred, and is also the author of a publication known as The Rising Tide.
– He won the Syme prize for research work.
– Quite so; I am not saying anything against his capabilities, but merely referring to the method of selection. Then, there is a gentleman against whom nothing is to be said, but I doubt if he is the one who should have been appointed to that important Commission which was arranged at the Imperial Conference.
– He is absolutely unsuited for the position.
– This gentleman, Mr. Campbell, was a Labour candidate or Labour member ; at. any rate, he was connected prominently with the Labour movement. Have the Government ever attempted to discover in Australia the man who was in the Prime Minister’s mind when he spoke, and spoke well, on this subject at the Imperial Conference? The right honorable gentleman then did justice to the occasion; and seems to have had a proper idea of what was required in the representative of this great Commonwealth on a Commission which is to inquire into the resources of the Empire. But is Mr. Campbell the man to fill the position ?’ Who ever heard of him before he cropped up in this way ? Was there any attempt made by the Government to secure a man like, for instance, Mr. Dugald Thomson, who, at one time, represented North Sydney in this House? He, in my opinion, is the sort of man who should have been asked to take the position.
– Is he a Liberal?
– I am not saying whether he is a Liberal or a Labour man, but merely suggesting that he is a man fitted for the post. For all the Government knows, it is quite a fluke or chance whether Mr. Campbell will “come out on top,” or not.
– He is a lawyer, remember.
– He has passed a legal examination !
– He is a lawyer, as the honorable member knows.
– Has he ever practised ?
– He has just been called.
– When dealing with the question of appointments, we cannot help referring to the constitution of the Sugar Commission. There are five Commissioners, three of whom have peculiar leanings with regard to the sugar industry. Mr. Anderson, for instance, is the leader or manager in the jam combine; and I ask whether we are likely to get from him a’ fair, unbiased opinion, seeing that those engaged in the jam industry have been complaining of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the price of sugar for a long time.
– While the honorable member may criticise to the fullest extent the composition of the Commission, I do not think he is entitled to criticise their finding or judgment in advance.
– I quite agree with you, sir, and I shall satisfy myself by saying that it is curious that we have the head of the jam combine-
– Who says he is the head of the jam combine?
– I do. Then Mr. Hinchcliff e is a member of the Brisbane Worker staff.
– The chairman of. directors.
– And Mr. Shannon, was a defeated Labour candidate.
– If he was not-
– - He was.
– May I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether MrShannon has left the Labour movement?’
– Sp far as I know, he has. I do not know that he ever belonged to it.
– Then the Minister does not know as much as I do. Considering that the Sugar Commission is a nonpolitical body it seems strange that thereshould be appointed to it men representing bodies who are antagonistic to the sugar industry as at present conducted, and whoadvocate nationalization. We know that the Government, when they at first refused’ a Royal Commission, said that their great idea was nationalization; and the BrisbaneWorker advocates the nationalization, notonly of the sugar industry, but of all industries. I should not dwell so much onthese appointments, after the explanations given by the Minister of External Affairs,. if it were not that I remember other cir cumstances with a similar bearing. This Government found a new sort of preference to unionists, and gave orders that preference should be given to unionists amongst the casual or temporary employes of the Commonwealth. This is a most serious matter, because it means giving preference to those who are the backbone of their support politically. Public money, chiefly contributed by° non-unionists, seeing that these much outnumber the unionists, is used to provide bread and butter for unionists, while non-unionists have not the same privilege. This, I think, is approaching very nearly to what is called “spoils to the victor.” After the Brisbane strike, the Postmaster- General was reported, rightly or wrongly - wrongly, I hope, for his sake - to have said that he was prepared to find billets, or do his best to find billets, in the post-offices for unionist strikers who found themselves unable to return to employment. We have, therefore, not only preference to unionists, but preference to strikers, and this gives rise to a lingering suspicion that some of the appointments to which I have referred, notwithstanding the explanations given, were made because those appointed happened to be supporters of the Labour movement. This Government abolished postal voting, and thus denied a great many women the opportunity to take part in Commonwealth elections. In the same Electoral Act, all sorts of harassing conditions are placed on the press of the country, and there are many little provisions likely to hamper the Government’s opponents throughout the country. Under the circumstances, it takes much to remove the suspicion, which, I think, is firmly embedded in the public mind, that the Government have a peculiar way of finding billets for their supporters. Under all the circumstances, the Government have, in my opinion, lost the great reputation which they formerly enjoyed as administrators.
– Who says so?
– I say so. I am satisfied that the people outside will indorse my opinion. The honorable member will not be long in finding out that I am correct. If the Labour party were supposed to stand for anything, and were so regarded not only by members of Parliament, but by the people, it was for pure and active administration of the various Departments; but. now that they have been given the power, with a majority strong enough to put their policy on the statutebook, and have shown0 themselves as they really are, we find that in two years their reputation in this respect has been lost. They .have done things absolutely against the traditions of British government, things such as I hope we shall never see again in the political history of Australia. They have shown partiality for a section of the community, although they are the trustees for the whole of the people, and should know neither creed nor party. They should see that no section of the community gains an advantage at the eexpense of another, and do their best for every section. They have, however, lost the confidence of the people of Australia, and I believe that before very long, unless there is a great change, the people will show clearly that they do not intend to trust the Labour party with the reins of power any longer. I now desire to say a word on the finances. Ever since, and before, the Labour party came into power, Australia has enjoyed unbounded prosperity; and at the present time the revenue has reached the unprecedented figure of over £20,000,000. My charge in this connexion is that the Ministers are acting with extravagance and recklessness. The chief source of our revenue is the Customs House. It *is our primary production that enables us to export as largely as we do, and, with large exports, we, of course, have a correspondingly large return through the Customs. We must always remember, however, that we are committed to a very heavy expenditure, whether the revenue be large or small. We have to meet the cost of old-age pensions, the Northern Territory, Defence, the Federal Capital, and various other undertakings, absorbing a great deal of the abounding revenue. The probability is that in a short period the lean years will come, with dry seasons and a lessened production.
– Do not be so pessimistic !
– No one desires such a state of things; but the contingency is one for which the Government ought to be prepared. There would be nothing surprising in the revenue coming down £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, thus leaving a deficit; and yet the Prime Minister talks to us as though the good seasons were going to last for ever. He is reckless, and does not seem to understand that we are now going through a boom period, with the sure prospect in the near future of a less return.
The right honorable gentleman says “ All is well,” and then? proposes a maternity bonus and various other items of expenditure which are to be recurrent, but not productive. I am not saying anything against the allowance; it will be early enough to speak about it when we know exactly what is intended. I wish to point out now that the Treasurer has not made satisfactory provision for the payment of old-age pensions,, nor has he shown any desire to provide against unemployment by a system of insurance.
– Are there unemployed?
– There are always some unemployed, and if we had bad seasons there would be more. The Treasurer shou’ld have “ taken thought for the morrow,” and put aside something out of his abounding revenue.
– He has saved £z, 000,000.
– He has a surplus of £2,000,000, but it is all to be spent. The increase of our expenditure has been so .rapid that it is not surprising that the public think us extravagant. In 1901, when our population was 3.773,881, the expenditure of the Commonwealth was £3,733,218; and, in 1909-10, the expenditure was £7,499,516- In the year 1910-11, after the Braddon section ceased to have effect, the expenditure rose to £[11,3 26,641, and this year it is £14,383,382 ; an increase over expenditure in 1906-7 of £9,500,000, though our population, according to the Government Statistician, was, on the 3rd April, 191 1, only 4,455, °°S. ot an increase of only 681,124 since the advent of Federation. The Government is open .to the charge of not having done enough to induce persons to come to Australia to help to bear this burden of taxation. What has it done to assist immigration, or to buttress the oldage pension system? The maternity bonus at the present juncture is a reckless proposal. The Prime Minister said that the granting of such a bonus had been the dream of his life. If so, it is strange that we did not hear of it earlier. The proposal, coming as it does just before an election, from -one who was responsible for preventing a certain number of women from exercising a vote at elections, looks like a sop ; but if the right honorable gentleman thinks that he will win over the women of Australia with a bribe of that sort, he is mistaken. If every mother accepts the bonus, it will increase the expenditure of the Commonwealth by .£600,000 a year.
We are promised an amendment of the Oldage Pensions Act. If the ideas of the Labour party are carried into effect, and widows are granted a weekly allowance, and children are fed at school, it may come about, according to the Premier of Victoria, that 2,000,000 bread winners will have to find £16, 000, 000 a year for pensions - an impossible position. My charge against the Government is that it has made no special provision for the payment of pensions, and is content to take from the general revenue the money required for them. Consequently, when the. revenue falls, and another Government is in office, the rates of pensions may have to be reduced from 10s. to 7 s. 6d., and honorable members opposite will then be the first to howl against the reduction. 1 do not desire such reduchon, .and, therefore, I want the pension system to be made secure. In the past, it has been necessary for Governments to reduce pension rates, and I do not wish that to occur again. The definition of absentee in the Land Tax Act, which this Government forced through Parliament, is most iniquitous, and does great harm to Australia. To term a man who has never been to Australia an absentee merely because he has invested money here, from which, perhaps, he draws very little income, is cruel and unbusiness-like. It has caused capital to be withdrawn from the country, and has prevented the inflow of fresh capital. Other speakers, no doubt, will give figures showing what a large stream of capital flows to Canada compared with the miserable trickle that comes to Australia. This definition of absentee has done the country great harm, and has made us look petty and mean in the eyes of the world. Now a word on the Brisbane strike and I shall finish. I was surprised that at the eleventh hour the Attorney-General should bring forward the quibble that the Government was not justified in sending troops to Brisbane because no proclamation had been issued. The Prime Minister, in what he said at Brisbane, showed that the issue of a proclamation was never in the mind of the Government. Had it been, the Queensland Government should have been informed that the Commonwealth would stand behind it for the maintenance of law and order should the occasion warrant, and should have asked if a proclamation had been issued. Ministers say that they were not bound to come to the assistance of the Government of Queensland until the police powers of the State had been exhausted. The Premier of Queensland appointed a large body of special constables, and, as things turned out, no serious damage was done, but a great deal of trouble might have occurred.
– If the military had been sent to Brisbane.
– The Prime Minister had a discretion in the matter, and would have been responsible for anything that occurred as the result of sending the military to Brisbane ; but had he informed the Government of Queensland that, if the occasion warranted, he would stand behind it, the strikers would not have gone to the lengths to which they did go. The honorable member for Brisbane suggested that the enrolment of special constables excited the populace, and that had the military been present there would have been more excitement. I do not think that the military would have had to fire a shot. Although the honorable member made a very interesting speech, he could not minimize the seriousness of the occasion. To show how serious it was, let me quote from a letter which he wrote at the time. He was an eye-witness of what he describes -
Weare living on the edge of a volcano, and while the leaders of the strikers are doing their very best, to uphold law and order, and consistently urging the men to avoid any disturbance of the peace, the fact remains that any quite unpremeditated action may precipitate a serious disturbance.
As the days go by the danger will inevitably increase, and every good citizen should seriously consider what it may be possible to do to guarantee the safety of life and property.
What are the military here for but to be used in case of necessity for the. suppression of domestic violence and for safeguarding the lives and property of innocent persons?
– Then the honorable member’sargument is that my letter was as good as calling out the military?
– Not at all; I am using the letter to show that the position was very serious, and that the honorable member recognised it as such. My charge is that the Prime Minister allied himself with the Strike Committee. He has told us that he disavows the idea of a general strike, but he is reported to have said since that the strike was “ justified.”
– What strike?
– The strike in Brisbane. Ipresume. On another occasion, the Prime Minister said -
You have been slandered as strikers,mob rulers, and red ribboners ; and I am one of yon.
The right honorable gentleman also sent a telegram to Mr. Coyne, who had asked for the military and naval services to be employed to keep the special constables in order - that he hoped “ good sense will prevail to the end.”
– Hear, hear !
– In those very words, the Prime Minister stands self-condemned. He allied himself with a body of men who, without law or authority to justify their action, placed themselves in an unconstitutional position and held up a city as effectively as if an invading force had taken possession of it as an act of war. Nothing that has come from the Ministerial side has shaken our charge against the Government in this particular ; and it is one of the most serious charges that can be launched against men holdingthe reins of Government to say that they have allied themselves with men who were breaking the law.
– The Prime Minister subsidized them, too.
– The Prime Minister’s subscription was given to the Strike Committee, athough he said that he gave his pittance to help to keep the wolf from the door. I quite sympathize with that sentiment; but the right honorable gentleman should have taken care that the Strike Committee did not get the subscription. It should have gone to the proper relief fund. As it was, he allowed the Strike Committee to do with his money what they thought fit. Whether Mr. Badger was right or wrong, the Prime Minister should have recognised that the men belonging to forty-three unions had come out, and that there was an attempt by Messrs. Coyne and Co. to create a general strike throughout Australia.
– They tried to induce the wharf labourers of Sydney, and other people working on the wharfs throughout Australia, to join them. They did their best to paralyze the trade of this country. They placed themselves above the law. For a Minister of the Crown to ally himself with such people, and to call himself one of them, showed how utterly the Prime Minister misconceived the great trust which has been reposed in him. He is not there to recognise strikers as opposed to other people. It is not for him to make these points of difference. If non-unionists had set themselves up to defy the law. I wonder whether the Prime Minister would have sent so mild an answer. Would he not have said thatif they did not retreat from their unlawful position, he would do his best to make them? But he did not return that answer to the unionists of Brisbane. It is all very well to say that the unionists themselves must take the blame in this matter. I say that the Prime Minister must share the blame. The Strike Committee were all unionists. The Prime Minister is a unionist. So is every honorable member in the Ministerial party. They must all share the responsibility. The Prime Minister did not do one thing to induce these strikers to desist. He never raised one statesmanlike protest. He merely hoped that “ good sense would prevail to the end.” Was it “ good sense “ for four or five men to seize a city and to place the whole community in a state of siege?
– Not four or five men.
– I am talking of the Strike Committee, who were virtually the dictators of Brisbane at the time. They issued their orders, and even commanded that ali wages due to unionists should be paid to them. 1 maintain that any Minister who expresses sympathy with that sort of thing is unfaithful to his trust. But what are we to expect ? Did not the Labour Conference at Hobart say that the troops of the Commonwealth were not to be used against people engaged in industrial strife, but merely to repel invasion ? . We can see there the effect of the machine. It brought Ministers into line, even against their better judgment. The Prime Minister knew as well as any one that he had taken a false step, and it is a sad spectacle when a man who has attained so eminent a position in this country - who has reached the top of the tree - should take a step which in the pages of history will not redound to his credit, or that of the party which he leads. The attention of future generations will be called to this act. The people will recognise that the authority of the Commonwealth has been completely undermined by the action of the Prime Minister, and I am satisfied that they will record a verdict of censure in due course.
– I should like at the outset to congratulate the honorable member for Werriwa on the excellent speech he made in moving the adoption1 of the Address-in-Reply, and also the honorable member for Indi on his contribution to this debate. The speeches made by both honorable members reflected credit on. the party to which they belong, and will, I am satisfied, demonstrate to all the marked intelligence of the electors who chose such representatives. I shall deal very briefly with the points brought forward by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. He asked the question, “ What do the Labour party mean by the worker coming to his own’ ? “ What we mean is the suppression of the Pecksniffs, and that we shall have no more Tom Pinches in our midst. We mean what old Adam Smith, meant 200 years ago when he wrote in Book I., Chapter VIII., of his Wealth of Nations, that the worker is entitled to obtain the produce of- his own labour. As to the referenda proposals of this party, what we mean by them is that we have already progressed as far as the Constitution will allow us to go on present lines. But the people of Australia are continually crying out for more progress. They have given us certain instructions, which are on record in the proceedings of the Hobart Conference. But we cannot carry out the policy which we desire for the good of the country unless we obtain extra power. Therefore, we should be failing in our duty if we did not resubmit our propositions to the people at a fresh referendum. With reference to immigration, notwithstanding what has been said by honorable members opposite, I maintain, with all the emphasis at my command, that there are more people in Australia to-day than there were ever before, and that more people are coming to Australia than ever came before. They are coming because we are making Australia attractive to them. It is attractive, just as the United States of America was when the great influx of population from the Old World took place years ago. We are making it more and more possible for every man who comes here to obtain employment when he arrives. When we establish that condition, we shall have no need to charter special steamers to bring immigrants out. They will find their owncapital, and come of their own accord. We want to make the conditions of labour so good that the immigrants who arrive will immediately be able to find employment at good wages. We also want to insure that the best class of men shall come here - not the Londoner who is a failure in the Old Land, but the man who will be a valuable asset to the country. I am speaking particularly of the “ submerged tenth,” who suffer from a system which, I am afraid, members of the Opposition would like to perpetuate in this country. We have been told by gentlemen in authority in the Old Country that there are 8,000,000 people there continually on the verge of starva- tion, who do not know where the next day’s meal is coming from. The late Sir Henry Campbell’-Bannerman, a few years iago, said there were probably 12,000,000 of such people. Mr. James Bryce, who is now visiting Australia, wrote, in a work published some years since, that there were probably 13,000,000 so situated. Why is that ? Because England has been governed alternately by Liberals and Conservatives, who have never seriously tackled the social problem. Here we have a Fusion party composed of Conservatives and Liberals merged together, bringing about a conglomeration which is not capable of valuable political work. We have in England a comparatively small class enjoying immense riches. According to a recent statement by Mr. Lloyd-George, there are 2,000,000 people there who are continually wondering how they can while away the time. On the other side, we have millions of people on the verge of starvation. I venture to say that, if we had the same population per square mile as England has, we should have precisely the same results here. In this country of ours we have many of the conditions that prevail in England. How
Are parties built up there? The history of politics teaches us that the Conservative party represents the landed gentry whilst the Liberal party represents the manufacturers and others desirous of one day joining the idle rich to whom Mr. Lloyd George has referred.
– To what section of the community does he belong?
– I am satisfied that if he were in this Parliament he would be sitting on this side of the House, and not with the honorable member. What did Carlyle, who was not a politician, but an independent man, say of the condition of England. He went down from Scotland, and viewing the industrial system, portion of which was being conducted under the -share system which our opponents are now advocating, he said, at a time when England was supposed to have reached the zenith of its manufacturing glory, that British industrial existence was fast becoming one vast prison swamp of reeking pestilence, physically and morally - a hideous living Golgotha of souls of bodies buried alive. Such a Curtius Gulf, communicating with the nether deep, the sun never shone upon until now. Thirty thousand outcast needlewomen working themselves swiftly to death, and three million paupers, rotting in forced idleness, helping the needlewomen to die.
These were the items in the sad ledger of despair. Thirty thousand outcast needlewomen working themselves swiftly to death, and 3,000,000 paupers living in forced idleness ! This was the condition of affairs in England as seen by Carlyle, an independent man who spoke of things as he saw them, and that is the condition of affairs which honorable members opposite would have in this fair land of ours. The Opposition say that they favour immigration, and for what reason? Because they, and those whom they represent, as rich men, control the money volume, and know that the value of one of their sovereigns is doubled when there are two men instead of one .chasing it. The Opposition speak on the question of immigration as if riches were absolute, as if it were possible by following scientific precepts for every one to become rich. Can they not see that riches, like electricity, are obtained by working on inequalities and negations of itself? The power of a shilling or a. dollar, which the honorable member who has just resumed his seat has in his pocket, depends upon the default of a shilling or a1 dollar in the pocket of his neighbour. If he has a sovereign, and I have one, and I will not work for him, or he for me, what is the position? Is it any wonder that the Opposition, and those whom they represent, want immigrants to come here, so that they may secure cheap labour. The Labour party favour immigration. We want immigrants, but we desire to make it possible for them when they do come here to earn their own living, without adding to the already overcrowded state of our cities. We desire to make it possible, and we are making it possible, for them to get on the land, and, by getting on the land, to produce that wealth which is so essential to the prosperity of every country. If we can make the land available, then we shall soon have plenty of immigrants corning here.
– What is the Government doing to select the right sort of immigrants for Australia?
– The Commonwealth is doing more than the States ever did. When I was in England last year, I had the pleasure of visiting the Norwich agricultural show, where I saw a young man who, I understand, formerly occupied a position on the staff of the Age explaining to visitors the possibilities of Australia. I do not know whether he was a Labour man or a Liberal ; I only know that he was a thorough Australian. He knew Australia well, and as a lecturer was doing better work than was ever done in the provinces of England by any of the agencies of the States. We are sending men to England to tell the people what are the prospects in Australia, but, unfortunately, many men who never saw a farm are being brought out. What power has the Commonwealth to settle immigrants on the land ? We do not own an acre outside the land recently acquired for the Capital site. If we owned land we should bring immigrants to Australia and settle them on the soil, but until we get control of and. own the land, what is the use of bringing people out here ? As to the references made by the honorable member for Wilmot to the .question of the State debts, I should like to ask whether he does not know that representatives of his party, when in office, sat in conference with the representatives of the States, and made all sorts of suggestions, but did nothing practical to provide for the transfer of the State debts. This party has kept its promises. Every measure that we promised to pass has been passed by us, and I say without fear of successful contradiction that our party in due time will take over the State debts, and take them over more effectively than any Government drawn from the present Opposition would have done. 1 appreciate very much the splendid example set by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the opening stages of this debate. I appreciate the high tone at which they kept the debate, and I am trying to follow their excellent example. It is hard, however, to do so, in view of the abuse to which we have been subjected by men who may not be of gentle birth, but who, by reason of their education and environment, should have known better than to use the language that they have addressed to this party. They have spoken of us as parasites, and of our organizers as thieves, and so forth. What is an organizer? According to the honorable member for Wilmot, he is a man who will not work for his living. There is no harder work than is that of an organizer of the workers. When he is approaching a wool-shed, for instance, he does not know whether the dogs will be set at him, or guns fired at him.
– Oh !
– I invite the honorable member to ask Senator Rae to give him some of his early experiences as an organizer. He and others in this House will tell the honorable member what the position of an organizer for the workers involves. An organizer first of all comes along and tells the men whom he desires to organize that individually they cannot obtain justice, but that collectively they ran. He urges them to organize, saying that if they do so, an effort can be made ‘ to secure for them a living wage. The honorable member for Franklin, if he is just, will bear out my statement that, until an organizer went amongst the men employed in the timber-mills in his electorate, their position was very bad. The men so employed seldom had a coin. When I was there recently, a lady said to me, “Tn the old days my husband, after working for three months, would not have perhaps more than ros.” The employers owned the stores, and the employe’s, who were paid very low wages, had to obtain their commodities from them. As the result of the work of the organizers, however, bushmen there are now getting as much as ros.,, and, in some cases, ns. a day. There was an old saying amongst the men, “ Everything is six and six.” It was 6s. 6d. for a pair of dungaree trousers, 6s. 6d. for a saw, 6s. 6d. for an axe; the logs were cut into lengths of 6 ft. 6 in., and the men who pulled the saws backwards and forwards got 6s. 6d. a. day.
– And what was the area of the ground that they pegged out?
– When any of their number died, he was buried, I believe, in a 6 feet by 6 feet block - the only earth he had ever possessed.-
– The Wages Board improved the condition of those men.
– It would not have done so but for the fact that the men were organized into unions. Before they were organized, their own children, in many cases, did not know them. The little ones were in bed when they left home in the early morning, and in bed when they returned at night. That was the state of affairs until the organizers came along. Today the mills are getting from their men just as effective work as they did before, and the living conditions of the workmen themselves are better. All this is the result of organization, and it is one reason for the prosperity that we enjoy in the States at present. When men are well paid, they live well - they raise their conditions of living - and, after all, we are not all so badly off.
– The honorable member knows that the organizer in the timbermills in my electorate fought his hardest against the Wages Board, and that I beat him.
– The honorable member will admit that the organizer, in fixing the agreement, was just; that he was never aggressive, and that all the matters in dispute were amicably settled, lt may be that the organizer did fight against the Wages Board, but if he had not entered the district and organized the union in question we should never have obtained the splendid results to which I have referred. I have met many of the workers’ organizers I myself am a member of two unions. I joined the Waterside Workers Union in Hobart, so that I might represent them at a conference in Melbourne between the Waterside Workers and the shippers. I have come in contact with leaders of many unions, and I have never yet known one of these men in my State to agitate for, or to desire, a strike. As a matter of fact, they have repeatedly prevented a. strike. Only a few nights ago I was requested to take the chair at a gathering of carpenters, painters, and other members of the building trade unions in Hobart, which had been called in order that a ballot might be taken to decide whether or not tlie men should go out on strike. Mr. W. A. Wood, a member of the State Legislature, addressed the meeting for something like three-quarters of an hour ; and 1 was also allowed to speak. We advised the men not to strike, and they decided not to do -,so, with the result that a few days later the question in dispute was settled by the Wages Board. It was the Labour party that made the. Wages Board system what it is in Tasmania to-day. Mr. Wood, to whom I have just referred, submitted no less than thirty-two amendments relating to it. and many of these were carried in both Houses, with the result that we have to-day in Tasmania a Wages Board system that is working fairly well. I say “ fairly well,” because I do not think the system is working as well as an Arbitration Court, removed from parochial influences, would do. The Wages Boards, however, are better than none at all. Our Wages Boards could not be effective unless we had unions ; and that being so, why should the union men be so bitterly misrepresented and criticised. The Opposition try to she’er themselves behind the statement that they have no objection to unions. If a union is not to be formed for the betterment of its members - to do what the unions are doing to-day - why should it be established ? It has been said that we favour strikes. In this great land of ours, every man and woman is able, once in every three years, to strike at the ballot-box. That is the place at which our unions should strike; and they are going to strike there, anc strike most effectively at the next general election. We say to the workers, “ Do not waste your money by striking, organize yourselves politically, strike at the ballotbox, and you will be able to return to Parliament men who will carry out your will.” Why should we favour strikes? Who suffers most severely as the result of a strike? The strikers themselves, and the innocent women and children of these men. The capitalist, who controls the money power, when a strike takes place, shuts down his business, sits back, and simply waits until the men are starved into submission. Honorable members on this side will bear me out when I say that not one of us desires a strike at any time, and we have always done our best to prevent them. I feel deeply grateful to the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Brisbane for having laid the facts of the Brisbane strike’ so clearly before the House. I only wish that the honorable member for Brisbane could have made his. speech before the State elections in Tasmania; because, had he done so, the Labour party would undoubtedly have been in possession of the Treasury benches. Apparently, it was found impossible by the Liberals in Tasmania to find ladies capable of using language strong enough against the Labour party, and one from New South Wales, a second from Victoria, and a third from New Zealand, were imported, together with Mr. Trenwith and Mr. Watt, for a few days. The ladies engaged in this work told so many untruths that, when one of them entered the house of a working woman, who happened to know the facts, the next thing seen was the visitor flying away with the floorcloth after her. This canvasser had simply told this woman what she knew to be untrue; she spoke of the people who were in the hospitals in Brisbane, «nd described the streets of that city as flowing with blood; and, further, a circular was issued saying that a Minister of the Crown had urged that arms should be distributed, so that the strikers might be able to shoot as well as others. The result of such tactics was that the Labour party were defeated in the State elections. But there is hope of matters being righted, for at present a no-confidence motion is being discussed, and the people generally know the facts. My own opinion is that many people who voted against the Labour party now regret their action; that the speech of the honorable member for Brisbane has had much to do with the adverse motion now being discussed in the Tasmanian Parliament. The honorable member for Wilmot told us much about the shipments of gold from Australia, but he did not bring forward any proof in support of his statements. In 1908, when the members of the Opposition were in power, there was only £25,000,000 in gold in Australia, and I say that now there is more gold in the banks to-day by £2,000,000 than at any time during the regime of honorable members opposite. Honorable members tell us that we are faced with financial ruin; but I think that when statements are made likely to injure the credit of this country they should be supported by some authority. If there was a great withdrawal of capital from Australia, would not the exports far exceed the imports ? I have a return which shows the excess of exports over imports for the past six years, and there is a. marked and practically continuous decline from £24,992,851, in 1906, to £12,514,770, in 1911.
– Does that include gold?
– Yes, all exports. I desire information and criticism from honorable members opposite, because it is a subject to which I have given much attention in my anxiety to find out whether the statement as to the withdrawal of capital is correct. There is no means of finding how much private capital is invested in Australia ; but I have visited Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, and Perth, since this Government came into power, and I find more building going on than at any time previously. This does not seem to show that private capital is being withdrawn. Further, we find that the flotation of Australian loansin London has practically ceased ; and in this regard I have had my figures checked by a gentleman who is one of the keenest financiers in Australia, but whose name I am not at liberty to divulge. I spent a morning with this gentleman, and he told me that my conclusions were quite correct. On the 30th June, 1906, the Australian loans in London represented £190,870,001, while, in 1911, the figure was £189,067,671. In 1906, the loans floated in Australia amounted to £47,540,819, while, in 191 1, they had risen to £78,059,612, bringing the total indebtedness of Australia at the present time to £267,127,283. This shows that wealth is being produced locally, and that the Australian people have such confidence in their own country that they are investing their money here. Now if there is any financial barometer, it is the Clearing houses of Melbourne and Sydney; and I should like to lay the following figures before honorable members -
The last Melbourne Clearing-house return shows an increase of £1, 396,005, or about 34 per cent. as compared with that for the corresponding week (four days) last year. The Sydney return shows an increase of£96,346, or nearly1¾ per cent. Clearances for the week and total clearances since the beginning of the year compare with those for corresponding periods last year as follows : -
The Melbourne total shows an increase of £8,964, 878, as compared with the corresponding period of last year, and Sydney an increase of £10,901,743.
– What is the inferenceto be drawn from those figures?
– The inference is that if money is withdrawn from the country, business must become stagnant, and the clearances must be less.
– Those figures have nothing to do with the matter.
– I am speaking on the authority of the gentleman to whom I have previously referred, and whose name, if I were at liberty to give it, would be convincing to honorable members. The AttorneyGeneral has just handed to me the
Year-Book, on page 857 of which we find set out the average assets of banks in the Commonwealth for the quarter ended 30th. June in the years 1902 to 1911. The figures are as follows : -
In the face of these facts and figures, we have honorable members telling us that the country is going to “blue ruin.” I may here read a note by my authority -
Those figures indicate that during this period there has been a large increase in the amount of Australian capital invested locally in public securities, while trade statistics furnish no evidence of any marked exportation of capital for investment abroad.
That comes from one of the highest financiers in Australia ; and once more I express my regret that I am unable to mention his name publicly. I am prepared, however, to impart the name to any honorable member who will give me his word not to divulge it. Another financial barometer is furnished by the deposits in the Savings Banks used by the working people. In 1908-9 the number of depositors in the Savings Banks of the Commonwealth was 1,398,456, but in 1910-11, when the so-called terrible Labour party had come into power, and living had gone up, so that, according to the honorable member for Wentworth, people could not save a shilling, the depositors numbered 1,600,112, an increase of 201,646. The amount of the deposits was, in 1908-9, £49^77,939, or £11 11s. j id. per head; and in 1910-ir, £’59>393>68z> or £13 8s. sd. per head. Since the Labour party came into power there has been an increase of .£10,314,743 in the deposits in the Savings Banks. What has brought about this wonderful prosperity? This is a subject on which L have read carefully. I have had conversations with such men as Professor Fisher, of Yale University, whom I had the pleasure of meeting when travelling between Calais and Paris, when we discussed the subject. He proved to me that the cost of living’ has gone, up, not only in Australia, but in every other part of the world. If his excellent work on currency is consulted, it will be found that he does not say that this is due to the increase of wages, but attributes it to the increased production of gold in Australia and South Africa. Economists of another section say that it is due to the action of trusts and combines, while a Japanese economist attributes it to both causes. Professor Fisher is not positive. He desires an International Commission to investigate the subject. Yet honorable members here glibly blame the Labour party. Recently I was in a shop where a lady was making purchases, and I heard the shopkeeper tell her that prices had gone up because the Labour party was in power, and would keep up while it remained in power. Her reply was, “ I admit that my rent has been increased, and that the cost of living is more, but in my household that has meant ari increase of only 4s. a week, whereas my husband’s wages have been increased by 10s. a week, so that I have 6s. a week to bank.” We do not mind the cost of living being high if wages are still higher. Honorable members opposite attribute the present prosperity to continued good seasons, forgetting that recently there has been a drought in New South Wales and Queensland, though, thank God, it did not last long. They fail, too, to remember that good seasons do not always bring good times. I have known seasons in Tasmania in which very heavy crops were obtained, and yet potatoes could not be sold for 15s. a ton. What is the history of the financial crises of the nineteenth century? There never were better crops in Great Britain than in 1907, but times were very bad in that year. Why ? Because what Edwin Kelly calls the Wall-street push, cornered the money volume. It controls millions worth of gold. By controlling this gold it can govern prices and affect prosperity. The workers pay their debts, not with the goods they produce, but in coin. A bootmaker cannot pay his debts in boots. He must sell his boots at the best price he can, and pay his debts with the money which they bring. If there is over-production, and he cannot sell at profitable prices, he is ruined. Most of the financial disasters of the Old World have been due to overproduction and faulty distribution, a few persons controlling the money volume. I am of opinion, though I have not conversed with any one on the subject, that previous to the Commonwealth note issue Australia was suffering from a limited currency. Many of the men who work on the land for wages have no banking accounts, and had no means of exchange. My opinion is supported by the statement of the honorable member for Bendigo that, whereas the banks circulated only £4,000,000 worth of their own notes, there are now £5,000,000 worth of’ Commonwealth notes in circulation. I had a man working in my own orchard, digging round the trees, manuring, and attending to them, and thus increasing their production, and he did this for three of Fisher’s notes. This sort of thing is going on throughout Australia, and that is why we have such prosperity at the present time. I am borne out in my belief by a statement made by a banker in Switzerland during the1 907 crisis, when there was very little trouble in that country. Why? Because they kept their circulation and currency at the normal, and did not put up discount rates, whereas every bank in Great Britain and the United States increased the discount rates and paralyzed business men ; so that even the manager of the great Knickerbocker Trust could. not finance that institution, and hanged himself. After the Wall-street crowd had effected its nefarious object, and madea huge fortune by buying things cheaply, it released the gold, and prosperity came again. Gold does not disappear as if it dropped into the sea, but it goes out of circulation. With the establishment of the Commonwealth note issue and Bank, it will be no longer possible for a sections of financiers to monkey with the currency of the country. Those whom the Opposition represent do not mind the increase in wages, because they get it back in rent. The “ cost of living “ bogy is used by them to frighten the worker from voting for the Labour party. The private hanks will still carry on business, but they will be sounder. They may deal in accommodation bills, but the Commonwealth Bank will not do that. There will be plenty of other work for it. We shall have good sound finance, and I hope that the credit of the country will be kept what it should be. But honorable members opposite realize that there will be no more 20 per cent. dividends. There will be only a fair interest returned by capital. I hope that 5 per cent, is as much as will be given. The Government, notwithstanding the criticism passed upon it, has given effect to its platform promises. One of the most effective measures on the statute-book is the Land Tax Act.Is there any other part of the world in which the Government has had the courage to impose a tax which will take half the economic value of land when it reaches £200,000? No. The honorable member for Flinders was correct in saying that a section of the people are now paying enormous sums which they never paid before. This is owing to the courage of the Government in taxing the great land monopolists. What injustice is there in the absentee tax of which the honorable member for Wilmot complained? The Van Diemen’s Land Company was granted a large area in Tasmania, and sent there a. few people, and some sheep and cattle, at what may have been a fairly heavy cost: but if it does not receive another1d. in interest, the unearned increment on the land will give it a better return from the money it has invested than it could get in any other way. Land in Burnie is now worth as much as 30s. a toot. They are asking £24 per acre for farm land that is worth only about £12. It is these pioneers, who have to pay such rents, who have made that land more valuable by clearing and cultivating it ; yet all that they get in return is an increase of rent. The Commonwealth land tax is, however, making this company disgorge. It is anxious to sell, and I hope will be compelled to sell at a fair value. If not, I hope that honorable members opposite will help us to impose a tax that will compel the company to cut up its big estate. Again, we have the defence scheme, which has been so well carried out that honorable members opposite now wish to take credit for it. But if they had remained in office, how would they have paid for our means of defence? They would have borrowed money. We, however, have copied the example of the Mother Land, and are paying for the defence of this country out of revenue. From what source have we obtained the revenue? From the rich people whom honorable members opposite represent. The honorable member for Ballarat said in his speech on the 12th of last month that the Labour party failed to realize that 95 per cent. of the people of this country were workers. But we do recognise that. We know it so well that we say that it is the people themselves who have failed to realize the fact. As soon as they are cognisant of it there will be no Fusion party, and the strength of our party will be enormously increased.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– I desire now to give reasons why I am a whole-hearted supporter of this Government. I am of opinion that they have carried out to the letter the platform which they submitted to the country. We have heard much about the extravagance of the Government, and honorable members opposite have particularly referred to old-age pensions. They say that the Government are now paying £2,250,000 per annum in that direction. But that money is not wasted. It is not being dropped into the sea. It is parcelled out amongst the people. When they get it, they do not bury it or throw it into the river. A portion goes to the grocer, a por- tion to the butcher, a portion to the baker, and a very large portion is paid away in rents. This money gives added prosperity to the districts where it is spent. To illustrate what I mean, let me tell honorable members that a business man told me that last Christmas he took over the counter £24 4s. more than in any other previous year. Why was that ? Because the workers had the money to spend. A large proportion of them were old-age pensioners - soldiers of the ploughshare and the spade. Why should they not receive pensions as well as those who enlist to kill their fellow-men? It is that kind of expenditure to which we have no objection. It is expenditure that brings prosperity to the country. Can we be charged with extravagance for bringing about that reform which the other side promised for years - namely, penny postage? Of course not. We made the promise that this reform should be effected, and it has been. The result is that the merchant and the business man generally has been assisted. Yet we have honorable members opposite asking what we have been doing. Many promises were made to Tasmania that the mail service between that State and the mainland should be improved. But little was done until this Government came into power. We now have a mail service with Tasmania that is a credit to the country. Previously, as the honorable member for Bendigo will bear me out, we had one which would have been a disgrace to any civilized land. By whom has this improvement been effected ? By the Labour party, at the instigation of Senator Ready and other Labour senators, and of the honorable member for Bass and myself. We are getting credit for this service, not only from our own people, but from our opponents. A deputation from the Chamber of Commerce waited upon the Postmaster-General at Hobart, and eulogised our Government and party for the excellence of the service that they have given us. The Government has also established wireless telegraphy. We. now know immediately a vessel leaves the shores of New Zealand. Every night we are in communication with Macquarie Island, as well as with boats coming from South Africa, who are able to get into touch with Australian wireless stations when they are within two days’ steam of our coasts. Who reap the benefit from this? Not the workers only, but the commercial classes, and the shipping companies in particular. The Attorney-General will bear me out when I say that, previous to the establish ment of wireless telegraphy, waterside workers were often kept waiting on the wharf for two hours before the arrival of a vessel, and they demanded payment for the time they were kept waiting. What do we find now? These men are not called down to the wharf until about ten minutesbefore they are wanted, because the ship is able, by means of wireless telegraphy, to communicate with the shipping companies concerned, and they know within a quarter of an hour at what time she will reach the port. This party propose to establish wireless communication throughout the Commonwealth, and what they have done in this direction so far has been of very great benefit to commercial people, and especially to the people of Tasmania.The Government have acquired the land for the Federal Territory, and they have made a start with the construction of the transcontinental railway, which, in my opinion, is essential to the development of Australia. Although I reside in the little State of Tasmania, I voted for that railway because I realize that its construction will assist the progress of the Commonwealth. We have taken over the Northern Territory, and, in this connexion, I may say that we have heard much about the appointment of officials in the Territory. Because Dr. Jensen happens to be a Socialist, or has leanings towards the Labour party, capable man as he is, honorable members opposite have said that he should not have been appointed. I ask honorable members opposite whether they will say that S-r Oliver Lodge should not have been appointed Warden of the University of Birmingham, that Sir Sidney Oliver, who is a valued contributor to the Fabian Society, should not have been appointed Governor of Jamaica; that Sidney Webb should not have been appointed Lecturer on Political Economy to the London College; or that Thorold Rogers should never have been sent to Oxford to teach? They will not say so. These men have announced themselves as Socialists, but the King, in appointing the Governor of Jamaica, did not ask him what his politics were, nor was such a question asked by the authorities who made the other appointments to which I have referred. If a man is capable of doing good work for the Commonwealth, no Government has a right to ask him what his politics are. I was surprised to hear honorable members opposite speak as they did of so able a man as Dr. Jensen. They also questioned the appointment of Mr.
Ryland ; but we can go to an independent authority outside of Australia for an opinion as to the qualifications of Mr. Ryland. What does Russell, the writer of The Uprising of the Many, say in reference to Mr. Ryland? He regards him as an ideal man, capable of filling almost any position, and as a man in whom every confidence may be placed. The whole of the work to which I have referred has been done by the Government without the borrowing of a shilling in the good old way. The honorable member for Bendigo has said that we have borrowed about £9,000,000 ; but we have not borrowed any money under the old system, which I shall contrast shortly with the system which the present Government have adopted. The Government have £10,000,000 made, available for use, and have given an equivalent to the banks, who are not suffering at all. We have that money without paying a cent in interest. A portion of the money is well invested, returning, as it does, 3! per cent, interest, or, as the Prime Minister has said, a net profit of ,£180,000 a year. This amount is now being re-invested at compound interest, and it is difficult to estimate what revenue we shall be receiving in this way within, a very short time. Honorable members opposite have objected to what has been done on the ground that the Government have adopted new forms of government ; but we have not invented this system of borrowing. It is described in the writings of teachers who have explained the difference between political and mercantile economy. The Liberal, Conservative, or Fusion party have all along been guided by the commercial system of economy, instead of by the principles of true political economy. We on this side are being guided by the writings of men like those to whom I referred - Sir Sidney Oliver, Sidney Webb, Thorold Rogers, and I shall include also Karl Marx. From our reading of the works of these men we have evolved the system of government which we are now trying to carry out, much to the benefit of this country.’ Let us .consider for a moment the system which our honorable friends opposite would have us continue. The States under the old system of finance have, according to the latest figures at my disposal, borrowed no less than £267.000,000.
– And they have made a very good use of it.
– They have not made .good use of it, as I think I can show. The railways of Tasmania are run at a loss, and we have hardly any public works in that State that are paying. Under the old system, items were charged to loan which should have been met from revenue. Let us consider what the States are paying in interest on the ,£267,000,000 to which I have referred. The people of the Commonwealth, as citizens of the States, are paying over £9,000,000 a year in interest on this money. A consideration of these facts will supply some of the reasons why the Labour party are so strongly opposed outside and inside this House. The average price of the money borrowed by the States is £95. What do I mean by that? I mean that the Treasurer of a State when he floated a loan got only ,£95 for every £100 he was supposed to get, and gave an I 0 U for ,£100. What has been the result of this practice ? It has been that, of the total amount borrowed, we have never seen £13,350,000 at all. I shall not take into account what has been lost in the way of accrued interest by borrowing £r, 000,000 and having it for only three months, whilst we have paid six months’ interest on it, But J find that, in connexion with the State loans, underwriters’ fees and brokerage expenses have run up to as high as 2 per cent., and account for no less than ,£5,000,000 on the total loans floated. So that of the £^267,000,000 borrowed by the States there is an amount of £^8,350,000 which we have never seen at all, and not a penny of which we have handled, but upon which we are paying interest. The interest on this amount represents an annual payment of ,£642,250, or over £1,700 a day. That is an amount which we are paying in interest on money which we have never received at all. Is it any wonder that there should be opposition to this party when by the methods of finance we have adopted we strike at the root of the capitalistic system? A proposal was made in New Zealand a few days ago that a loan of £4,000,000 should be raised. One can well understand a country being prosperous on borrowed money ; but the Commonwealth to-day is paying out of revenue for works which under the old regime would have been charged to loan account. What splendid use former Governments used to make of borrowed money ‘ I can speak of this from long and practical experience. When I was asked to give an estimate foi the construction of a telegraph line which was to be paid for out of loan account, no restriction was placed upon me - the cost of the line was to be charged up to loan account for posterity to pay - but if the line had to be paid for out of revenue we could not be too careful in our expenditure. I cannot speak of the position in other States, but I know something of what has been done with loan money in Tasmania. I recently visited a district in Tasmania where I found that three out of four bridges that had been constructed out of loan account had been washed away. The only asset for that expenditure was the remaining bridge. At the end of the river over which these bridges were constructed a breakwater was erected years ago by a Government, the head of which afterwards entered this Parliament - a gentleman who “ made himself,” so to speak, by the expenditure of loan moneys in his own district. He erected a swing bridge over the river, and I do not think a boat carrying cargo has ever passed through it.
– Where was this?
– On the Forth River, and the gentleman to whom I refer was the late Sir Edward Braddon. He caused a breakwater to be constructed out of loan money at .the mouth of the river, and a few piles peeping through the sand are all that remain to-day to tell the tale. Coming further down the coast, near Table Cape, we find what is called a deep-water port, which was also constructed out of loan moneys. A vessel that attempted to enter it was wrecked, and not one has since been inside it. This is the sort of ‘ 1 good government “ to which the Opposition would have us revert. They favour the old system of expenditure. The honorable member for Flinders said recently that he would make great savings in the Postal Department, by cutting down to the old bedrock, I presume, the salaries of his officers. In my own State, girls in the telephone exchange who used to receive from ,£35 to ,£50 a year now receive £110 per annum.
– I never made any such statement as that which the honorable member has attributed to me. If he is going to quote my words, he might as well quote them correctly.
– The honorable member may not have been correctly reported.
– I was never reported as saying anything like that which the honorable member has attributed to me, and he cannot show that I was.
– When the honorable member was in office in Victoria he, too, pursued the old policy of borrowing. Not only did he do so, but he was careful to see that the workers paid the ‘interest on the loans. It was the worker, not the rich man - the big land-holder - who was taxed during his regime. Summed up, the old system was, “ Let us accumulate the wealth in the hands of the few, and then find an opening for that wealth, because a sovereign is no good unless you keep it moving. Let us find an outlet for this wealth in the hands of the few. and let the worker pay.” That is the policy former Governments have pursued. Before the Labour party came into power, the Customs was the chief source of revenue; and that revenue was obtained largely from duties on tea, kerosene, cotton goods, moleskins, boots and like commodities. These duties the worker paid every time ; and the trouble with the Opposition is that they know that while we occupy these benches they can no longer put such taxes on the workers - -the people whom they are always abusing save at election time. They speak .of us as “ white ants,” and apply to us other epithets ; but I would remind them that the schoolmaster is abroad, and that the time has gone by for their fairy tales. The workers, as the result of the educational influences of our political leagues and the public platform, now know who are their friends. They know who relieved them of taxation, and why the Opposition desire to change places with us. We are bringing about a more equitable distribution of wealth. We are giving back to the worker a larger proportion of the wealth that he produces. The honorable member for Wentworth said that we were introducing class legislation, and setting class against class. After all, there are only two classes. We have in the one class the professional men, who draw fees or salaries for their services ; and the artisan and the labourer, who receive wages. The employer also is really a worker, and should be supporting us, because he generally has a bank overdraft and is paying rent for his premises. We have these men in the one class, and they should be supporting our party, because they are well and truly represented by us; while on the other side we have the aristocracy. I do not wish it to be thought that I am abusing, them. While the principle of one man one vote is in operation we are responsible for the existing state of affairs. On the one side we. have the wage-earners, and on the other we have what some describe as the “ aristocracy “ and others as “ the privileged few.” Ex-senator Dobson at a religious gathering recently spoke of them as “ the idle rich.” Call them what you will, I shall not abuse them. They live on the earnings of the wealth-producers, and they secure their riches by means of rent and interest. If rent and interest are high, there is so much less for the producer and the worker. A shipping company in England which objected not long ago to the payment of reasonable wages is paying 60 per cent. dividends; while English railway companies are paying dividends of 3 per cent. on watered stock, but amounting really, I am told, to 15 per cent. on their original capital. I could go on enumerating case after case of the kind in Australia; but, as the Attorney-General said last week, the great awakening has come. The worker is coming into his own. Instead of, as at present, getting only onethird of the wealth he produces, he will, in the time to come, receive a far greater proportion, with the result that a greater number will be employed, with benefit to themselves and the community. The honorable member for Ballarat, when speaking in his constituency, was quite correct when he said that there was only 5 per cent. of nonworkers in Australia, leaving 95 per cent. of - workers. I am sure that the honorable member for Ballarat did not exaggerate, because we find, according to statistics, that 1 per cent. of the people in the United States own 99 per cent. of the wealth there; and a similar condition is to be found in the Old Land. In Australia, 5 per cent. of the people are immensely rich ; and by whom are they represented ? By honorable members who sit opposite, and call themselves Liberals.
– How can 5 per cent. return anybody?
– I have already said that, as soon as the 95 per cent. of workers realize that they are workers, they will support the Labour party, and there will be very few Opposition members left. The workers, however, do not realize their position; they have been “side-tracked,” and Kept interested in something apart from politics. At one time in my own State they were induced to take a great interest in the religious question - the “ Orange and the Green “ was brought out to divert their minds from the true issue. At an exhibition of aviation which I attended, it was thought that everybody’s attention was fixed on the flying machines, but it was subsequently found that amongst the crowd there had been some few persons very busy picking the pockets of the spectators. And so it is with those gentlemen who divert the attention of the workers and so obtain an undue share of the representation in Parliament. But the time is past for that; and the day is not far distant when we shall come into our own.
– The honorable member wishes to “come into” other people’s “ own.”
– The honorable member should be the last to say that. There is a certain class of people producing wealth, and another class living on the wealth produced. I have no desire to be personal ; but I should like to know from the honorable member for Flinders whether he ever ploughed a furrow or sowed a grain of wheat. The honorable member has not done so, but he has lived well, and rightly so, and I have no fault to find with him on that score. Ruskin put the matter beautifully when he said that those who live on others produce “ illth,” and not wealth. If the Labour party bring about prosperity, is not that “better than having millionaires on the one hand and the poor on the other? A gentleman who was chosen as a candidate in the Democratic interest in America has said that the only people who take politics seriously are the Socialists. Why? Because the Socialist can see that it does not matter whether the Democrat or the Republican, the Free Trader or the Protectionist, the Liberal or the Conservative or Fusionist be in power, the workers suffer all the time. But we are introducing a system that will bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth ; and here let me use the language of Tennyson -
Is it well that while we range with Science glorying in the Time,
City children soak and blacken soul and sense in city slime?
There among the glooming alleys Progress halts on palsied feet,
Crime and hunger cast our maidens by the thousand on the street.
There the Master scrimps his haggard sempstress of her daily bread,
There a single sordid attic holds the living and the dead.
There the smouldering fire of fever creeps across the rotted floor,
And the crowded couch of incest in the warrens of the poor.
Such conditions are a product of the old system which we are attacking, and intend to break down. Notwithstanding that there is much to do in the way of ameliorating the sufferings of the workers, we can say that the people of Australia have the highest standard of living in the world. We are the happiest people, and simply because there is a greater proportion of the workers represented in the Parliament than there is in any other country. They are fairly and judiciously represented ; and that is why we have such prosperity. Much has been said about the “ Caucus rule “ of the Labour party ; and to-day the honorable member for Wilmot declared that we must obey our “ masters “ outside. But if I read the press correctly, what do the mistresses of the other side say? To indulge in a little allegory, the fairies of the Women’s National League are leading the honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Flinders, looking for a political “ Blue Bird “ for the Senate.
– They are not looking for a bluebird, but for a “ green “ bird !
– That may be better. Honorable members opposite should be the last to talk about “ masters “ in connexion with the Labour party, when we find the President of the Women’s National League criticising other Governments for their action with reference to Protection, and rejecting a selected Senate candidate on the ground of his religious views and of his views on the drink traffic. Putting aside promises made to the people - and all such promises should be redeemed - honorable members on this side are freer than any other members of this Parliament. Individually the members of the party, and also the members of the Government, have full liberty ; and in support of this we were told last night by a gentleman who has been in both the Liberal and the Labour Caucus, that he found much more freedom in the latter.
.- The Speech of the Governor-General which is before us is full of platitudes, vague promises, and hopes. For instance, it is hoped that “ an early opportunity will be presented for settling the question of consolidating the State debts.” We are also informed that “ the question of constituting the Inter-State Commission is receiving serious attention.” Again, we are told that the settlement of the Northern Territory “ has engaged attention,” and that the work of preparing for oversea settlers “is being proceeded with.” Again, we are assured that “ efforts are being made in regard to developing our exports.” Lighthouses and surveys are “ receiving special attention,” and the report on quarantine “ is under consideration.” When certain things have been done we are promised that the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway “ will be immediately proceeded with.” It will thus be seen that the Speech is largely composed of the expression of hopes, of intentions, and of promises.
I propose to deal with a number of subjects of maladministration, and, after that, to attack the grossly partisan appointments of the Government. Finally, I shall deal with the flagrant neglect of duty on the part of the Ministry to uphold law and order during the recent Brisbane strike. Honorable members will recognise that my task will necessarily occupy some time.
In the first place, we are told that there has been a very marked increase in the volume of oversea immigiation, to which the land tax and general polecy of the Government have largely contributed. That is a pretty bold statement to make, and it is also an incorrect one; and I regret to see it in the Governor-General’s Speech. I do not think that audacity could go further than to say that the land tax and general policy of the Government have largely contributed to an increase of our population. I would like to ask what part of the Ministerial policy has had that effect? How much have the Government spent in bringing immigrants to Australia ? Have they done anything whatever to induce immigrants to come here, and how have the land tax and general policy of the Government contributed to an accession to our population? We all know that honorable members opposite are opposed to immigration. To my knowledge, they have been opposed to it for a quarter of a century. Do they deny that statement? Do they deny that they have retarded immigration to Australia for the past quarter of a century ?
– We are all silent.
– Honorable members opposite would not be silent if my statement were not true.
– If the honorable member wants a denial, he can have it.
– I deliberately say, from my own knowledge, that the Labour party has opposed immigration for the past quartet of a century. Last night, we heard the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - 1 am very glad he is not present, because he is rather prone to interrupt - defaming the country. He is not like the honorable member for Denison, who has just extolled it, and who declared that Australia is the finest country in the world.
– That statement was intended for home consumption.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said everything that he could to prevent persons being attracted to Australia.
I come now to the operation of the land tax. The Government declare that its effect has been to attract immigrants. T. do not think that their claim is justified. I believe that the tax has had one effect in that it has created a desire on the part of those who have become unduly burdened by it to subdivide their lands, and thus escape it. In so far as any just system will tend to create closer settlement, it will always find in me a warm advocate. I have advocated closer settlement since 188;. There has not, however, been much movement in the way of real closer settlement in Australia as yet, as a result of the operation of the land tax. If there had been a good deal of real closer settlement, the amount collected from the tax would have been materially reduced. But the position is that, in 1910-11, the tax realized £1,370,000, whereas in the following year the amount collected under it was £1,366,000. In other words, the revenue derived from it was reduced by only £4,000 during the second year of its operation. It has been stated that £18,000,000 worth of land has been subdivided since the tax became operative. That is satisfactory, but 1 do not think that the land tax has as yet exerted any great influence in placing poor men on the land, otherwise the revenue derivable from it would have been considerably reduced, instead of being diminished by only £4,000. The subdivision which has taken place has evidently affected for the most part only persons who had £’5,000 worth of land already, and who have added to their holdings. ‘ I would like to ask the number of poor persons who have secured land since the imposition of this land tax. That, it was said by honorable members opposite, was the chief object of the tax and would be the result. It has not been the result yet. I always said that it could not have that effect, because a poor man cannot get £5,000 worth of land. It was only a vote-catching sort of measure, so that all those who had that value of land would escape. As I said just now, I am a believer in closer settlement. I have worked all my life in that direction. The Homestead farm and Agricultural bank system, and the Land Purchase Act, which I introduced in 1894 in Western Australia have stood the test of eighteen years’ operation, and have been eminently and completely successful. There was not anything like the homestead farm and agricultural bank system at the time I moved, and I do not think there is anything like it now. They have flourished so well that many thousands of poor persons have been settled on the land. That is an evidence that I have never been in favour of large areas of land being held by persons who did not properly develop them. When the Land Tax Bill was introduced, I said that it was not a fair way of dealing with the question, that it was not a straightforward plan, and I have not changed my opinion in that regard. It was brought forward with the desire to drive a coach-and-four through the Constitution, to try to do that which we had no constitutional authority to do, viz., to interfere with the occupation and settlement of land, which, under the Constitution, is altogether a matter for ‘the States, and also with the desire to get a large amount of revenue on the ostensible plea that we were about to subdivide the lands and people the country - a thing which we all knew we had no power to do. I said then, and I repeat to-night, that the only way to settle poor men on the land is for the Government of the country to acquire estates which they can subdivide into convenient- sized sections, and dispose of, on an easy system of deferred payments. By assisting those persons by advancing them money on easy and definite terms, helping them in making a home, we can give poor men with families, especially men with good, strong arms and of good grit and enterprise, a chance to become land-owners and to flourish. That, however, is a matter over which we have no control under the Constitution. It is a matter which is in the hands of the States, whose statesmen have been carrying out the principle, and will have to continue to carry it out to a greater extent than they have already done. The result must be beneficial to the whole people of the Commonwealth.
I should like to say a few words about the Commonwealth Bank. I do not wish to say much, nor do I desire to say anything which would in any way militate against its success. I can see great use in a Commonwealth Bank, but I would not have done what the present Government have done. As I said at the time, I prefer the basis of the Bank of England or the Reichsbank of Germany, or the Bank of France, to the system which was adopted. I do think that the Government want a bank to transact its business, especially its loan business and its Note issue in the same way as the Bank of England, which is a commercial undertaking, and works in accord with the Imperial Government, not under the thumb of the Government of the country, but both working in concert and amity together.
When the Commonwealth Bank Bill was first introduced, the uppermost idea in regard to that measure in the minds of honorable members opposite was not a Savings Bank. The Savings Bank provisions seemed then a sort of afterthought. But now we find that they are the most prominent part of, the scheme. The Governor of the Bank is setting himself, as his first act, to arrange a Savings Bank business. Unless the States hand the State Savings Banks over to the Commonwealth on certain terms which they do not appear to be willing to do, the Commonwealth Savings Bank will do an immense harm to them, because it will force them to open offices all over the Commonwealth. I am informed that there are something like two thousand offices in which a Savings Bank is carried on. If that be so, the States will have to get offices all over the country. For what purpose? The State Savings Banks are going concerns. They are filling the bill, they are doing all that is necessary for the people. They have liberal constitutions, which give complete satisfaction, so far as I know, to those who use them. Therefore, I think it is very unwise for the Commonwealth, at this time, to duplicate the work now being done by the States.
– The right honorable gentleman was in favour of it.
– I do not see where the people will benefit.
– Answer that remark.
– Of course he was in favour of it.
– I do not want to argue with the honorable member, but 1 never said that I was thinking of taking away the Savings Banks from the States. I said at Brisbane, in 1907, when Acting
Prime Minister, in a controversial argument, that it was within our constitutional powers. That is all I said. The people will not benefit. By this invasion of the work of the going concerns of the States, there will be an immense loss and no gain. This is, I think, a great misuse of power on the part of the Federal Government. It is carrying out, however, the policy of honorable members opposite, which, from the beginning of Federation, in 1901, up to the present time, has always been “ Down with the States. Deplete their powers, deplete their resources, and when that is done it will then be easy work to destroy them.” That expresses the policy of honorable gentlemen opposite. We do not hear it expressed so loudly now as we did a few years ago, but for years the mention of a State right or a State Government in this House only met with decision, and I think I may say with insult, from honorable members opposite.
The Prime Minister and Treasurer is not here, otherwise I would ask him when he is going to give us the Budget. Honorable members opposite may well laugh, because on the 29th June, 1909 - that is, before the end of the financial year - the present Prime Minister asked me when I was going to bring down the Budget. He stated last year that if he had the pleasure and honour of introducing the Budget next year - that is this year - he would be surprised if it was not presented in July. Let us see him do it.
– He is doing his best to carry out his promise.
– He said he would be surprised if the Budget was not presented in July.
– And that accounts for his absence.
– He would be doing much better to be here to listen to what I have to say. I shall have something very hard to say about him before I have finished. I do not think it is very courteous on his part, when he knows that he is going to be attacked, to run away on some paltry excuse or other. Honorable members opposite know as well as we do the difficulty of getting the Estimates ready early in the financial year. Information from all parts of Australia cannot be brought together in a few minutes, or in a few days. The Estimates are framed to show in connexion with every item the amount proposed to be spent this year, and the amount spent last year. The
Departments need time to get that information, and to put it together. Therefore, I say that it would hardly be possible to deliver the financial statement before the end of this month. Not having had a Budget statement, we are, of course, at a disadvantage now when dealing with the finances, and cannot do more than cast a cursory glance at the position. The revenue for 1909- 10, the year in which the Deakin Government left office, and the last year in which the Braddon section operated, was j£i 6,000,000, of which £8,500,000 was returned to the States, leaving only £7,500,000 for the whole Commonwealth expenditure. But the revenue for the year just ended was £20,500,000, of which only £5,750,000 had to be returned to the States, leaving nearly £15,000,000 for the present Government to spend. Such an opportunity for a financial debauch never before came to a political party in Australia. The honorable member for Denison seemed to think that ‘this Government is doing a good thing for the people by taxing them. The Prime Minister, however, when in Opposition, and speaking in this House on 25th August, 1909, said that £2 10s. per head was a fair return from Customs and Excise duty. A little more than two years ago he thought that £3 10s. per head was enough to take from the people in Customs and Excise duties, but now he is taking £3 5s. a head from them by taxation through the Customs House; an additional contribution to the revenue of 6s. per head of the whole population of the Commonwealth is levied through the land tax, which, however, is paid primarily by only 14,000 persons. In my opinion, the people are being taxed too heavily. But what do honorable members opposite care so long as they have the money to spend?
– Does the right honorable member favour the re-opening of the Tariff?
– My present business is to criticise; when I am sitting on that side of the House I shall be willing to answer questions that are put to me. Apparently there is a surplus this year of £2,000.000. That means that more money has been taken from the people than is required for the services of the Commonwealth. To overtax in this way is contrary to every dictum of political economy. Notwithstanding the lavish way in which money has been spent by the Government, it had £2,000,000 last year which it could not spend.
– Why not put the money into a Trust Fund to provide for lean years ?
– It has gone into the Trust Fund to prevent the States from claiming it, but I regard it as a foolish and disastrous policy to take from the people money which should be spent by them on the development of the country. A Government which extracts from its people more money than is necessary for the public services is doing a great injury, and is retarding the progress of the country. Our people should be allowed to devote to the fullest extent as much of their capital as is possible to the development of their enterprises. The expiration of the Braddon section had the effect of giving this Government £12,000,000 more than its predecessor had, but what is there to show for the expenditure of that huge sum? Whatever honorable members have done with this money, there is not sufficient to show for it. It appears to me that, as soon as they get into office, their disposition changes entirely. They are quite amiable now - especially those who are sitting on the front bench. They know that they are on what is commonly called “ a good wicket.” But when they are compelled to come over to this side of the House, they become quite venomous. I shall be saying some hard things about them, but there is no venom in me. I never wish to be personally offensive; but I do say that my honorable friends are absolutely vicious when they are in Opposition. What did the Treasurer have to say about the State debts question when he sat on this side? On 7th December, 1909, the right honorable gentleman said -
The money of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth can be saved only by means of a national scheme for the consolidation of the State debts.
Again, he -said -
A scheme for the transfer of the State debts, in my opinion, is the only way to safeguard the financial interests of the Commonwealth.
The Government have been in office for two years. Last year, the Treasurer went on a visit to Great Britain. It was a very pleasant one, and I am sure that he enjoyed it, as he had a right to do.
– The right honorable member was there, also.
– I was there, at my own expense. I have never, for very many years, claimed any public money when I have been travelling on public duty. When I went to England in 1897 as Premier of Western Australia to attend the Diamond Jubilee of Her late Majesty Quean Victoria, with my wife and a private secretary, I only took £500 for the whole of our expenses, including passage money. Since the rule was established early in Federation, no Minister of State was allowed any expenses when travelling on duty within the Commonwealth, until the present Government took office.
– Would it not be just as well if the right honorable member left that aspect of the matter alone?
– Why should I? 1 have never drawn travelling expenses as a Commonwealth Minister since the rule was made a short time after the beginning of Federation. As a matter of fact, the whole of my travelling expenses were paid by myself when I went to Great Britain in 1902, in 1906, and in 1911. What does the honorable gentleman insinuate?
– The right honorable member introduced the matter himself.
– I did so in answer to an interjection. I take no credit for having gone at my own expense,but merely mention the fact.
The Prime Minister, when in England, surely had an opportunity of dealing with this matter.I know that he had a great deal to do, and had a very busy time. But he had his officers with him, and might have done something. But, from inquiries whichI made, I could not ascertain that he even tried to do anything.
– What could he do?
– I am informed that he did not try to do anything, though he had a great opportunity. Ministers, I say again, have been in office for two years, and have made no effort to carry out the views which the Prime Minister expressed when he was in Opposition. The two attitudes are inconsistent. There is merely a passing reference to the subject in the Governor-General’s Speech, where the hope is expressed that anearly opportunity will be presented for the settlement of the question of the consolidation of the debts. That is all. Two years have passed, and we get nothing more than that. I guarantee that if we had been in office we should have had the Prime Minister, and the whole of honorable members opposite, at us like a pack of wolves. They would have denounced us for being negligent of the interests of the country, and unworthy of the confidence of the House. What I have said proves that the attitude of this Government when in office and when in Opposition is quite inconsistent.
The next question about which I desire to say a word or two is the referenda. The honorable member for Denison made an extraordinary statement. When he sees it in print to-morrow, he will wonder why he was so indiscreet as to give his party away as he did.
– I spoke for myself only.
– The honorable member said that his party had got to the end of their tether, and that there was nothing more for them to do unless the country gave them more powers.
– I stand by that.
– The honorable member does not speak for his party?
– No. I speak for myself.
– That is very convenient ; but the honorable member also said that that was the opinion of ‘ all honorable members on his own side. At any rate, we have had an opportunity of learning the reason why the party opposite wants these extended powers. They want them in order that they may move further in the direction of Socialism. Is not that a fair statement?
– Decidedly not.
– If it is unfair, I am very sorry to say it; but that is how I understood the honorable member’s remark. I believe that my honorable friends have sufficient argumentative power to argue anything. Like Goldsmith’s schoolmaster, “ even when vanquished they can argue still.” They do not seem to take defeat very kindly, because their masters, the people, told them very plainly at the last referenda a little over a year ago what their views were. But the party opposite mean to try again. . They are, apparently, determined to destroy this Federation and to build up in its place a unified form of government. The sooner they tell the country so plainly, the better it will be. They want this Parliament to be all powerful over every interest in Australia. But they forget that we are a Federation. The powers given to this Parliament were voluntarily surrendered by the six States of Australia. The Commonwealth did not pursue and conquer them. It obtained its powers by voluntary gift, made in order that the national concerns of the country might be managed by a central authority”. But no sooner have we received the gift of those powers than honorable members opposite want more and more. They remind me of the spider and the fly. It is a case of “ Come into my parlour,” and when the fly gets there, we all know what happens. That is how the Labour party want to treat the States. They themselves were opposed to Federation.
– No, we were not; only to the Commonwealth Bill.
– As a party they were opposed to it. I did not like the Bill myself. I was, however, responsible for its acceptance by Western Australia., though I admitted at the time that I should have liked it to be a little fairer to that State. But now the Commonwealth has obtained these powers, the Labour party want to get more, and to destroy those who were generous enough to give us the powers which we have. I do not think that that is an honest attitude. Having had something given to us, we now wish to destroy those who gave it to us - that is to say, to deprive the States by force of what they retained for themselves, and did not give us. The Labour party wish to have all power in their own hands. Suppose any one of my honorable friends
Opposite were treated like that ? If any one induced him to give up some of his powers on the plea that they would be better used, and that person then turned round and forcibly demanded more of his powers, or that he should be allowed to assume them all, the honorable member would probably regard that as a rascally transaction.
It seems to me that one of the reasons why the referenda are required is that honorable members opposite are not satisfied with the arbitration laws that have teen passed here. They consider that they are not far-reaching enough, because they do not invade the realm of the States, and apply only to disputes extending beyond the boundaries of any one State. They seem to desire to ignore the Courts of the States from, which they come. I cannot understand that. I have great confidence in the State Courts of Western Australia. Their Judges are learned, and above suspicion.
– Has the right honorable gentleman great confidence in the Government of Western Australia at the present time?
– No, I have not; but I have confidence in the State Courts. Honorable members opposite have so little confidence in the State Courts that they wish to manufacture disputes which will extend from one State to another, in order that they may pass by the Courts of the States. We have had an astonishing admission of this kind from the Prime Minister, -and one which I think was not creditable to the right honorable gentleman. He admitted that he tried to manufacture a dispute so that it would extend beyond the limits of a particular State, with the object of having it brought before the’ Federal Arbitration Court. That is really an admission that he tried to evade the Constitution, and to break the law. The Judges of the Courts of the States are learned men who have the confidence of the communities in which they live. In my own State there is no breath of suspicion against any Judge of the Supreme Court. But the insinuation behind all the opposition on the other side to State Courts dealing with disputes within the States is that it is believed that greater satisfaction can be obtained by the Labour unions from the present Judge of the Federal Arbitration Court than from any of the Judges of the State Courts. I cannot see why that should be. The suggestion is a reflection on the Judges of the State Courts and upon the Judge of the Federal Arbitration Court. I can imagine that the learned Judge who presides over the Federal Arbitration Court will be very much pained to learn that a large class of people represented by honorable members opposite desire to bring their causes before his Court, because they think they will get more favorable treatment from him than from Judges of the Courts of the States. It should, I think, also be painful to him to learn that that feeling has been fanned by every honorable member who has spoken on the other side. We should not in this House pit one Judge against another, or suggest that more favorable verdicts can be obtained from one than from another, and that it is right to manoeuvre to have a case brought before that particular Judge.
The Prime Minister has admitted that he manoeuvred to have a dispute extended beyond the boundaries of a particular State, with the sole purpose of having it brought before the present Judge of the Federal Arbitration Court. We have been told that there has been no dissent from the judgments of the Federal Arbitration Court. We know that, as a matter of fact, the verdicts of that Court have generally, and 1 think invariably, been in favour of the men, and when a verdict is given in a man’s favour he is not likely to raise any objection to it. But if a verdict is given against a man, whether he be a unionist or not, he will not be as happy as if it were given in his favour. Honorable members will remember the story of the working man who took a dispute to arbitration, and when the verdict was given against him said, ‘ ‘ They call this arbitration ; why they gave it agin me.” His idea was that he had only to go to arbitration to win.
I should like to say a word or two about the Northern Territory. It comprises an area of 524,000 square miles. It is six times as large as Victoria, and is larger than either New South Wales or South Australia. The population of white people over twenty-one years of age is 971 males and .172 females. The revenue is £30,000, and the expenditure £364,000 per annum. So that last year there was a loss of ,£334,000 on the Territory. The population was last year decreased by fifty-three. Nineteen persons left the Territory, and the deaths there exceeded the births by thirty-four. This is not pleasant reading. I attach no blame to the Government on this account, but I wish to state the facts that honorable members may realize the true position in the Territory. The imports have decreased within the last ten years from £37,000 to £14,000 in value.
– That is the result of forty years of Liberal Administration.
– We shall see what honorable members opposite will be able to do in the short time that is before them. ‘ I hope the Territory will progress; but, judging by the inexperienced persons who have recently been appointed to control it, it is not likely to do so. If we are to succeed with the Northern Territory we should place in charge of it the very best men with the greatest knowledge and experience of tropical countries. I do not think that any one will say that the present Government have set about the work in a business-like way by securing the very best men- to manage the Territory,
I complain that this House has not been, fairly dealt with in respect of the land laws to be enforced in the Territory. We have a. great problem before us in its settlement and! it is only by Executive warrant that the land, laws applicable to it have been’ framed. That is not right. The land laws to be enforced there should have been submitted to us for consideration. They should have been passed clause by clause by this Parliament, and not -merely gazetted by the Executive. I should like to know who framed those laws. I should like to know who amongst the Ministers and chief Executive officers of the Commonwealth knows anything about the Northern Territory, or the management of tropical lands. Who is there who has had experience of that country, arid is able to advise the Government in the matter? The Government cannot expect to succeed in the management of the Territory if they continue to act in this haphazard, slipshod way. I have not seen these land laws, but I believe they have been gazetted. I understand that leases of 2,000,000 acres of third class pastoral land are to be allowed. If the third class pastoral land is the spinifex country of Central Australia, of which I have some knowledge, the areas proposed to he leased are not too big. Very little good will be done with such country, no matter how large the areas allowed may be.
– The right honorable gentleman means that nobody will take them up?
– I do not think that any one will live on them.
– I’ do not either.
– The kind of country to which I refer is country covered with spinifex triodiairritans. Such country comprises a large portion of Central Australia, in which there is no river system other than short storm-water creeks running into salt marshes. Even 2,000,000 acres of such country would be of very little use. I should like to know, however, how the Government propose to deal with the first class and second class lands. It is not fair to the House that the land laws rel at - ing to the Territory should simply be laid on the table, and that it should be left to some honorable member to move that they be objected to. They should be passed by Parliament clause by clause. This is not a party matter, and I urge the supporters of the Government to insist that these land laws shall be dealt with’ by the House just as is any ordinary Bill, so that we may bring to bear upon them our experience, and make them as thoroughly suitable as possible. I should like to have some information as to the areas of first, second, and third class land in the Territory. The Government have been in power for two years ; they have had officers travelling all over the Territory for over a year; and yet I have not seen a report or a map furnishing the information for which I seek.
As to the question of land tenure, honorable members are aware that I favour the- freehold system. In the case of the Papuan lands, we were confronted by a wholly different problem. There we had to deal with a very large native population of whose habits we knew little, and whose rights had to be respected. We had to be careful in dealing’ with the land which this race had owned for ages-; ‘but the position in regard, to the land of the Northern Territory - that uninhabited wilderness - is different. There we have, perhaps, not more than a couple of thousand aborigines, and there should be no difficulty in doing justice to them, while at the same time dealing with the land in a business-like way. In little more than 100 years, we have built up this great Commonwealth, and have done more in the way of enterprise and development than has been accomplished by a like number of people in any other part of the civilized world. No doubt, we have not taken up the worst of the lands of Australia, but it is reserved for us now to deal with this vast Territory, where everything is against us. The climate, more especially in summer, is most oppressive, and, in passing, I should like to say that it is noteworthy that the Minister of External Affairs does not visit the Northern Territory during the summer months. I should like him to do so, and to give us the. benefit of his experience. There we have stretches of magnificently watered country, with magnificent scenery along the rivers, all very pleasing to the eye, and we have also, I regret to say, immense areas of worthless spinifex desert, and everything that is inconvenient and uncomfortable to the body. There we have a burning tropical sun, mosquitoes, flies, ants, alligators, and malaria.
– I think that the right honorable member has been reading my speech on the Northern Territory.
– No. But whilst I have not actually visited the Northern Territory, I have been close by at Cambridge Gulf, so that I am familiar with the conditions prevailing there. Australia has been built up by men who came from the Old Country, and established here new, homes for themselves, and it fs our desire that the Northern Territory, where there is. plenty of land, and but few people, should be settled with people of our own race. Why then should we put obstacles in the way of settlement by denying freeholds to those who go up there? We should give men with strong arms and stout hearts who are prepared to settle in the Territory, not only their freeholds, but every possible encouragement to go on the land. I fear that the Government will not induce them to go there under the leasehold system, but even if they do, the settlers will within a very short time demand their freeholds. We have had an experience of the leasehold system in Western Australia. In the early days of Kalgoorlie, and other gold-fields, many persons clamoured for the leasehold system, because men with money came along, and bought up the land on which they desired to establish their homesteads. We thought the request a fair one, and we said to them, “ Very well, we will give you leaseholds.” Thousands of persons obtained residence areas, but before very long they clamoured for freeholds, and they got them. Then, again, freeholds after all these years are to be reverted to in New Zealand. In this new country of ours, the people will” npt be content with mere leaseholds, and I ask the Government and their supporters why they should introduce such a system. It has emanated from those who have had no experience - from those who are trying to build up here a sort of Utopia altogether unsuited to our conditions, and a system to which we ave quite unaccustomed. As it is, we have simply to wait and watch the results. If the system succeeds, well and good. I hope it will, but I fee sure that it will not. Who is likely to prefer a leasehold in the Northern Territory to a freehold in Victoria, or one of the other States’?
I desire now to refer to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. I am glad to hear that there is some likelihood of its construction being pushed ahead. On 22nd September last, I expressed in this House the hope that that railway would be completed within three years, and the Minister of Home Affairs interjected, “ In less time than that.” Is he prepared now to repeat that prediction? As a matter of fact, although nine months have elapsed since that statement was made, the work has not been entered upon. Not a sleeper has been ordered, nor have we in the Commonwealth any rails for the line. The chaos that prevails in connexion with the whole undertaking is due to the interference and incapacity of the Minister. He should be prepared to place confidence in those who know something of these matters, and ought not to put his finger into every piewhether he knows anything about it or not. Why has nothing been done to push on with this railway during the nine months that have elapsed since the passing of the Bill ? Why were the little difficulties between the Commonwealth and the South Australian Government not settled during the six months’ recess? They should have been disposed of long ago, and I cannot help saying that the position is by no means creditable to the Government.
As I have said, sleepers have not yet been ordered, and rails have not come to hand. Naturally, I have no desire to find fault with the timber of my own State, but I ask whether it is wise in connexion with a great undertaking like the building of a transcontinental railway to use for sleepers timber which is not being used for that purpose in any part of Australia ? We have in Western Australia magnificent forests of karri - trees unrivalled, I suppose, by those of any other part of Australia - but that timber is never used for sleepers. Karri sleepers were tried, but proved unsatisfactory, and have never since been employed.
– Why were they unsatisfactory ?
– Because the white ant attacks them. We used them on 240 miles of railway from Albany to a point near Beverley, but within a few years the whole of them had to be pulled up and replaced by jarrah sleepers. We also used karri piles for the Fremantle and Carnarvon jetties, but had to take them up. Karri is magnificent for superstructures, but not for use as sleepers or piles.
– How long did the Western Australian Government use karri sleepers before they found out that they were unsatisfactory ?
– We had not much experience of karri ; But the responsible engineers said that they were suitable, and they accordingly used them. This timber is as good as jarrah for superstructures; and I am informed that there is a system called “ Powellizing,” which means the use of some solution containing arsenic, and which resists the white ant and renders the timber suitable for such purposes as that of railway sleepers. Per sonally, however, I should not trust to a system of that kind, unless after a very long test ; and I cannot understand why it has been resolved to use this timber, treated as it may be, when we have jarrah at our disposal. Jarrah will last for at least fifteen years, showing its durability to be beyond question ; and to use timber which has been proved to be of no use for sleepers is reckless and foolish, and is courting disaster. Jarrah has a great reputation all over the world ; and I urge, in all seriousness, that we ought to use a timber we know, and of which we have had experience, whatever that timber may be, putting aside all experiment, in a great national work of this kind.
In the Governor-General’s Speech we are told-
The development of an adequate wireless telegraph scheme has received the close attention of my advisers.
I should say that the attention must have been very “ close.” The contracts for the Pennant Hills and Fremantle stations were let before this Government came into power. There was some necessary delay in selecting the sites. All through the recess the building has been going on ; and when I visited the Fremantle station five months ago, I found it a very extensive work, which I fancy will cost about five times as much as the contract price. I have no positive knowledge on this point, but I should say that the construction at Fremantle will cost £20,000. However, as soon as this debate is disposed of, some questions will be asked on the subject. The contracts for the Pennant Hills and Fremantle stations were let over two years ago, and neither is yet open to the public, though the stations at Hobart and Melbourne have been completed and are working. And yet the contracts for the Pennant Hills and Fremantle stations were let before those at Hobart and Melbourne.
– The work at Hobart was carried out by day labour.
– And the work at Fremantle may be by day labour, for all I know.
– The Pennant Hills station is completed, and is undergoing three months’ test.
– At any rate, the station is not open to the public. The only words I can find to describe the conduct of the Government are criminal neglect.
– Criminal ?
– Yes, political criminal neglect on the part of the
Government. The whole resources of the Commonwealth are’ at the disposal of Ministers, and yet we have this scandalous delay. The sad mystery of the loss of the s.s. Koombana might have been, cleared up if the Government had in this matter done its duty. I hope that the honorable member for Gwydir will have something to say about this matter-in caucus, at any rate.
I now come to two unpleasant questions - the appointments to the Public Service, which I consider constitute maladministration ; and the .Brisbane strike. I do not know any of the officers to whom I arn about to refer.
– Is it fair for the honorable member to refer to them if he does not know them?
– I think it is ; they are men of the same political colour as honorable members opposite, some of them being defeated members of Parliament or closely associated with the Labour party. The conduct of the Government in this connexion appears to the ordinary individual outside as a public scandal ; and I think I am justified in referring to circumstances, of some of which I have knowledge, while others I have to take on hearsay. At any rate, it is the system I am attacking, not the individuals; that unfair and dishonest system commonly described as “ Spoils to the victors,” which I thought had gone by the board long ago. When the Federal Parliament commenced its work, we passed a Public Service Act. This Act may or may not apply to the appointments with which I am about to deal ; but, in any case, the spirit of that Act, and the public policy it expresses, should be observed, so that there may be no patronage or favoritism, and that character and ability shall be accepted as the sole qualification. I have been a Minister pf the Crown for many years, in some Departments with this Public Service Act before me, and in the Defence Department, to which it does not apply, and in which the Minister has sole power. While at the Treasury and the Home Affairs Department, I never influenced any appointment in the slightest degree, not even that of a messenger boy, leaving all such matters to the Public Service Commissioner and the Secretary of the Department, in accordance with the spirit of the Public Service Act. In the Defence Department, where, as 1 have said, I had the sole power of recommendation, I never once, directly or indirectly, influenced an appointment during the three years I was Minister, but left all recommendations for appointment in this connexion to be made by the General Officer Commanding. I desired to put down, with all the force at my disposal, any favoritism, partiality, or preference; and, therefore, having never sought to take the slightest advantage of my position, I think I have a right to speak now. Can honorable members opposite say that they have never taken the slightest advantage of their positions in’ regard to appointments? I do not think so. We thought that patronage had gone for ever; but, apparently,’ “ Spoils to the victors “ has come again in full blast. Unknown persons, whose principal qualification seems to be that they have rendered the Labour party political service, have been appointed to high offices. For instance, a Royal Commissioner was required to represent the Commonwealth in London, and to this position Mr. Donald Campbell, of South Australia, was appointed. I do not know the gentleman, but I do know that he was a defeated Labour candidate, and that he had just been called to the bar. I ask the Government whether he was the most competent man in Australia for the position? Had he any commercial) experience and training, and was he qualified for the office in public opinion? Is he a man of the very first order? When seeking the appointment of this Commissioner at the Imperial Conference last year,- the Prime Minister said -
The question is whether this Commission shall be of such a character as would perhaps include Ministers, or men of the standing of Ministers, in the United Kingdom, or in the Dominions, because I assure you that is an important point. I should not for one moment support a resolution of this kind except under the belief that the men who compose the Commission shall be men of the very first order, both in the United Kingdom and in the Dominions, because I assure you they will not be treated with courtesy, but with indifference, unless that is so.
The real man, Mr. Fisher, was speaking then. I have a. regard for the Prime Minister, and I would like to say good things about him. At that time he was far away from this country amongst distinguished men of the Old Land, and was endeavouring to uphold the prestige of the Commonwealth. He was far removed from Caucus domination, and far away from political jobbery. The soul of the honest Scotsman was in the ascendant. But “ what a falling off was there.” Can it be urged that Mr. Campbell, the defeated Labour candidate, and the newly-fledged barrister, is a man of the first order in Australia? ‘
– In my opinion, Mr. Campbell is a man of first-class ability. He will bear comparison with any man in this Parliament.
– I am content to leave the matter there.
Then a journalist was required for the High Commissioner’s Office. I do not know what means were adopted to obtain the gentleman who was appointed. I have been told that a member of the Sydney Worker staff was offered the position, but that . he declined to accept it. The Government then turned to Adelaide. . Mr. Kneebone, of the Daily Herald, the Labour journal of that city, accepted the position. What were his qualifications amongst those of the journalists of the Commonwealth ? We know that he had one qualification in that he was a political partisan, and had rendered political services to the Labour party. I would like to know whether there are not journalists in the Public Service of the Commonwealth who are as qualified as is Mr. Kneebone. Why was he selected? Who recommended him for the post, and was he the best man available?
Similarly, in the Northern Territory a Director .of Lands was required, and Mr. Ryland was appointed. ? Who recommended him ? We know that he, too, like Mr. Campbell, was a defeated Labour candidate. Is he a land exeprt, and was he the best man available for the office?
– Then a geologist was wanted. To that office, Mr. Jensen has been appointed - a gentleman, it is said, with a European reputation. But I do not know that he was the best man in Australia for the position. How old is he? It must be recollected that we require the services of young men there.
– He is a young man.
– I know that he possessed this qualification - that he was a member of the political Labour party of New South Wales, and the author of a book called The Rising Tide, an exposition of Australian Socialism.
Whatever political views one may entertain, these appointments look suspiciously like political jobbery. It is not fair to the Commonwealth to send men to the Northern Territory who lack experience of tropical culture, and a knowledge of- tropi cal country. What are we going to get out of them for years if they have to go up there to gain their knowledge? These appointments look like maladministration. In settling the Northern Territory with white people we have a most difficult problem to face, and we’ require to* avail ourselves of the services of the’ most experienced and most capable nien. . Are” the officers whom I have mentioned the best men who were available?
– The honorable member has said nothing about the appointment of the Administrator.
– I have heard that he is a well qualified veterinary surgeon, and a man of good common” sense and ability. But whether he is the best qualified man to settle the Northern Territory in the quickest way - it has fo be done quickly, because we are losing an immense amount of money - I do not know.
– Do you say that that was a partisan appointment?
– I do not say that.
There is another matter to which I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs. I am going to say what I have heard in regard to another appointment - that of the engineer whom he has appointed in Kalgoorlie to manage the’ business at the western! end of . the great transcontinental railway. I refer to Mr. Chinn. I do not know him’,- but the Minister knows him well enough. I understand that the main qualification of Mr. Chinn’ was that he had rendered political service. I charge the Minister with knowing that Mr. Chinn had served the Labour party at _ .the last elections in Western Australia. Having had a strong recommendation from the Premier of that State. Mr, Scaddan, whom he had served to the utmost at the elections in October last, Mr. Chinn came to this State armed with that, introduction, and was appointed to this high and responsible position.
– He is a great man.
– The Minister has had enough of him already, I expect. The Premier of Western Australia recommended Mr. Chinn, arid .the Minister thereupon appointed him. He was a Labour partisan, and was appointed as a reward for his help at the late elections’ in Western Australia. I understand that he has no professional record of distinguished service, as an engineer, and no engineer whom I have come across has a good word to say for him. He was not the best man obtainable for this important post. The Minister of Home Affairs knows that, and so do his colleagues, because they were told it in Western Australia. The Minister knows that Nemesis will follow him. He will, from what I have learnt, have a lot of trouble with Mr. Chinn before he is done with him.
There was no reason why a man who has no record of service should have been appointed to one of the most important posts in connexion with the transcontinental railway. Within a short time we shall see whether this Ministerial interference with professional responsibility, this giving of appointments to persons solely because they have served the party politically, is going to make the construction of this railway a success.
– That is what has been done all the time by your party.
– That is not correct. I have not done it.
– I will quote a list of appointments.
– And, not having done it, I have a right to denounce it. We want the best and the most experienced men in the service of the Commonwealth. Political bias and political jobbery should have nothing to do with the making of these appointments. Merit and character should be the paramount qualifications if you wish to succeed and run an honorable course. Conduct such as this is maladministration. I charge the Minister of Home Affairs with maladministration in this matter. It can only lead to corruption of the worst kind, and ultimately to certain disaster.
– Be careful.
– I am here to do my duty, and to denounce anybody who I think is doing wrong. In this matter, the Minister has, in my opinion, done wrong.
– Did you never make a wrong appointment ?
– If I did, I did not make the appointment for political purposes.
I now come to the last matter I want to deal with, and it is a very unpleasant one.
I regret that I shall have to say something very hard before I sit down in regard to the conduct of the Prime Minister. He has, I think, failed to do right. He has not been true to the great trust which the people of Australia reposed in him. I am going to place the matter before honorable members in the way in which it appears to me. In my opinion, the Commonwealth Government, in the words of the amendment, merits grave censure - 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.
I am going to denounce the Prime Minister and the Government because I believe that they have done wrong. There was an insurrection in Brisbane, a revolt against the constituted authority of the Government. A strike committee had taken forcible control of the city. Honorable members opposite say that there was no strike; still there was a strike committee. It had taken forcible control of Brisbane. The strike leader even asked for troops to suppress the police, the constituted guardians of peace and order. They had proclaimed that no man or woman should be able to buy a loaf of bread in Brisbane without a permit from the Strike Committee. The Strike Committee had usurped the civil power. The following notice was issued in the Strike Bulletin -
The Combined Unions Strike Committee hereby instructs all men now on strike that until the general strike is settled no rent is to be paid.
Harry Coyne, President.
A. Moir, Secretary.
That instruction meant that the law was not in force, and that anarchy reigned supreme. Finding the strike weakening, on the 5th February Mr. Coyne, the strike leader, issued this manifesto -
If any man went back to work before the victory was won he would be a traitor, and he would be dealt with as a traitor deserves. It would be no use his going to New South Wales or any other State - they would be on his track.
That is, I believe, part of the policy of honorable members opposite. They are on the track of any man who offends them. They are unrelenting. They will follow a man until he, is dead.
– Quite right, too.
– There is a fine type of a man for a Minister, He ac- quired these ideas, I suppose, from Texas, or somewhere where he would have us believe he had to fight with Red Indians. This is part of the policy of the Labour party. It is the treatment in store for those who wish to use their own judgment. Insult, persecution, tyranny, despotism, trying to starve a man and drive him out of his billet - this seems to be the order nowadays when a man offends the party. We read the other day of a man - he was a unionist, too, I believe - who offended two or three others. They went and interviewed the manager of the newspaper employing them and said, “ If you do not dismiss this man, your paper will not come out to-morrow,” and the manager had to send the man away. He did not dismiss the man, but he sent him away, and paid him for months. It appears that the man who was thus driven out of his position brought an action against the three tyrants, and, I believe, was awarded £500 damages and costs. It will make these tyrants think twice before oppressing their fellow men again.
In dealing with this matter, one has to ascertain the evidence on which the Government refused to grant assistance to the Government of Queensland. The leader of the strike committee, who seemed to think the position serious, telegraphed to the Prime Minister in these words -
Strike Combined Committee have maintained absolute order up to this morning. Peaceable processions have taken place, also peaceable public meetings this morning. Permit to hold procession refused ; foot and mounted police fully armed posted all corners preventing people proceeding peaceably along streets. Many serious unprovoked assaults by police. Vie have Vigilance Committee keeping perfect order if not prevented by police. Will you assist us with your naval and military to maintain peace and order? Reply urgent. He asked for the navy and military to suppress the police. The telegram showed that the strike committee had usurped the functions of the Government of the State, that there was an insurrection, and that the Government of the Commonwealth was desired to supersede the police by employing the military and naval power. What would have happened had there been a conflict between the police and the Military Forces sent to suppress them, and had firearms been used on both sides ? The result would have been terrible. The King’s Government in Queensland was’ advised by its Commissioner of Police, that he could not keep the peace and maintain order, and thereupon sent the following telegram to the Governor-General -
In consequence of general strike riot and bloodshed are imminent in Brisbane. State police are not able to preserve order. Firearms have been used to prevent arrest of a man guilty of riotous conduct.
The Executive Government of State request that you direct steps to be taken immediately to protect State against domestic violence in terms of section irg of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.
As situation is extremely grave my Ministers urge immediate action.
The Commonwealth Government refused to comply with that request In reviewing the matter afterwards, the Prime Minister said to a representative of the press -
I have received two communications, one from the Queensland Government, one from the Strike Committee. It amounts to this : that they complain of each other’s actions.
He placed the Government of Queensland on the same footing as the revolutionary committee which was usurping its powers. The honorable member for Gwydir said that the action of the Prime Minister was strictly impartial; but, in my opinion, it was the action of a partisan, and that he failed to uphold the dignity of his office. The Age was right in sayingMr. -Fisher’s great political crime -
– The right honorable member must not quote from a newspaper in reference to a matter before the House.
– Then, I shall content myself with saying that the newspaper described the Prime Minister’s action as a great political crime, pointing out that he was putting the King’s Government of the State on the same footing as the anarchists and revolutionaries who were seeking to control matters in Brisbane, and that he had not the courage to uphold the fundamental law of the land against insurrection. The right honorable gentleman was afraid to do his duty - afraid to do the right. The King’s Government in- Queensland, 1,000 miles away, had officially informed the Governor-General that “riot and bloodshed were imminent, that firearms had been used to prevent the arrest of a rioter, and it asked that the Commonwealth Government should direct steps to be’ taken immediately to protect the State ‘against domestic violence. I have read documents which have already been quoted during this debate in order that those who read my speech may know the reasons for the conclusion to which I have come. . .1. am r.of afraid to give my opinion upon -the- action of the Government.On the above evidence, I consider that the request of the King’s Government in Queensland should have been complied with at once. If confidence cannot be reposed in the King’s Government of a State, whom can we trust?
– That means that the right honorable member would have sent the military ?
– My words are clear and their meaning is clear. The object of the Queensland Government in asking for assistance was to protect the people from violence, to maintain law and order, and to prevent anarchy and bloodshed. To prevent, not to cause, bloodshed ! A disciplined military force is more likely to prevent bloodshed than undisciplined special constables. To my knowledge, the military, on three occasions, has been used to assist in maintaining order and protecting life and property in Australia-once in Victoria, once in New South Wales, and once in Queensland - but in no instance was blood spilt, or any person injured. Honorable members say that , the assistance of the military in Brisbane would have meant bloodshed. They say this merely with the object of trying to secure a political advantage. I am not surprised that the Prime Minister and his colleagues refused to assist the civil power in Queensland. * No doubt, they had in their minds the resolution carried at the Hobart Conference on the 8th January last, declaring -
Under no circumstance should any person enrolled inthe CitizenDefence Force be compelled to bear arms against any fellow Australian citizen, notwithstanding anything contained in the path of allegiance, or in any other of the conditions of compulsory service.
– That had nothing to do with the Permanent Forces, nothing to do with the Militia.
– I think it had. The Permanent Forces and the Citizen Forces are the same; they are the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.I am pursuingmy own argument, and honorable members opposite can make what they like out ofit.
– The right honorable member must not twist the facts.
SirJOHN FORREST. - The Government had this resolution of the Hobart Conference standing up before them, and if the Prime, Minister had done his duty and complied with the request of the Queensland Government, realized,thatbe would have signedhispoliticaldeathwarrant.
– That is the reason why the Opposition wanted the Government to send the troops.
– What a position to be in ! The Prime Minister was afraid to do his duty.! “How are. the mighty fallen ! “ This is the great patriot who tells us so often what honour demands, and he is afraid to do his duty ! I am very sorry to think that throughout this debate, Ministers and their supporters have, by interjection, sought to justify the Brisbane strike. Do they denounce that strike now ? There is not one of them who dare do so. Why ? Because’ they are afraid. Sympathy towards the strikers has been expressed. The fact that they took possession of Brisbane, and usurped the powers of the properly-constituted authorities,has either been gloried in or overlooked. The Prime Minister says that the strike was “ an uprising of manly feeling to protect their fellow-citizens.” This usurpation of the rights of civil government - which led to the telegram to the Federal Administration asking that steps should be taken immediately to protect the State against domestic violence, the telegram from Mr. Coyne, the ‘leader of the strikers, asking for the Naval and Military Forces to be sent to suppress the police - the Prime Minister wishes us to believe occurred by reason of the manly feeling of the strikers and their desire to protect their fellow-citizens. What was there manly about it? Was this manliness exerted in support of freedom and independence, or in support of despotic tyranny? I am sorry the Prime Minister is not here, because I should have preferred to say these things to his face rather than behind his back. Hewent on to say, “ No act of tyranny should be allowed to disgrace a free community.” What hypocrisy ! What a misuse of words from one in the Prime. Minister’s position, who is at the head of the Government of this country, and who refuses as faras. he can to allow a non-unionist to work! “No act of tyranny shouldbe allowed to disgrace a free community !’” And this “from a man who tolerates and sympathizes with men who call non-unionists “scabs” and “blacklegs “; from a man who believes in giving preference, and showing favoritism to people because they happen to be members of unions ; and from a man who contributed to the Brisbane strike fund. Are these things excluded from the. definition of tyranny? When the Prime Minister says that” No act of tyranny should be allowed to disgrace a free community,” does he say that these things are not acts of tyranny? I say that all these things which are supported by him are . acts of tyranny, of oppression. They are all opposed to freedom and independence, all opposed to divine and human law, all opposed to the sacred name of natural justice.
Yet the right honorable gentleman supports them and says in an outburst of fervour that “ No act of tyranny shall be allowed to disgrace a free community !” We on this side of the House are, always have been, and I hope always will be, supporters of law and order. We are not in sympathy with law-breakers and acts of violence. But an attempt has been made by honorable members opposite throughout this debate to place us in the position of bloodthirsty inhuman brutes. An attempt has been made to lead the public to believe that if we had been in power we would have given orders to the military to shoot down the people of Brisbane. The honorable member for Riverina said last night that we would have been guilty of such conduct. I asked him, “ Do you think that we desired to shoot people ?” and he said, “ Yes, I do.” I do not believe that that is the honorable member’s opinion. I have known .him too long to believe such a thing of him. He should not have. said it. Interjections have continually been made by both Ministers and honorable members opposite - “ Would you have given the military? “ “Would you have shot down the people?” - all with the intention of stigmatizing us and holding us up as would-be inhuman, bloodthirsty villains, as would-be murderers of our fellowmen. Let us unmask this conduct and hold it up in all its nakedness. Let us show what honorable members opposite have been trying to send forth to the public. They have, I say again, by their interjections and conduct, tried to obtain some chance expression which they could use to stigmatize us as would-be bloodthirsty villains and murderers of our fellow-men. I want to ask those who have been putting forth this view a simple question. Are we less honorable and less humane than they are? Have not our lives been as free from reproach as theirs? Have we ever done anything to justify this disgraceful attempt to heap this untruthful calumny upon us? Why, then, even by inference, seek to do us this injustice? I think- that these are not tactics which should be resorted to between one man and another. They are unworthy. We ought to deal with this question on its merits. Let us hold our strong opinions, but do not let us try to insinuate that any man in this House would be so brutal, so inhuman, as to desire to shed the blood of his fellow-man. What has the Prime Minister himself said? He said that, “If he found himself in circumstances that compelled him to use troops to protect the rights and liberties of the people, he would do so.”
– He denied that.
– I hope he has not denied it, because it was his duty to say it. If a Government does not do all in its power to maintain law and order and preserve peace, it has no right to exist, and ought to be hurled out of office; and those who compose it ought never to show their faces in public again. I believe that such circumstances as the Prime Minister there referred to did exist during the Brisbane strike, and that he failed to do his duty.
I shall not say, because I do not think so, that honorable members opposite are in favour of strikes. Their good feeling and their self-interest are against strikes. Why, therefore, should they incite people to strike? But I do say that when a strike occurs, and the law is broken, their sympathy is with the strikers. The honorable member for Maranoa is one of the kindliest men in this House. He is straightforward, and he is a personal friend of my own. The honorable member made a statement which I do not approve of, and which, I think, was absolutely wrong. He said, “ I am on the side of the strikers every time.” These are fine heroics. One might imagine that they came from a man of great boldness, who risked much in making them ; but, when carefully considered, it is clear that this was not a brave and bold statement at all. The honorable member for Hindmarsh told us that he was brought up amongst the people who generally go out on strike, and that he would devote his life to them, and stand by them whether they are right or wrong. Of what use is a man like that? He mixes up right and wrong.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman stand by his country, right or wrong?
– Yes. That is quite a different matter. “ My country ! May she always be in the right; but my country, right or wrong.” I subscribe to that. After all, there may be some self-interest iven in that sentiment, if one analyzes it. My patriotism, my interests, and my life are concerned with the fate of my country. If she suffers disaster, I suffer with her. I am considering, however, what might appear to be the bold statement of the honorable member for Maranoa. I wish to point out that neither the honorable member nor any other honorable member opposite dare say otherwise in this or in any similar debate. The strikers are industrial unionists. I have nothing to say against them on that account. I have thousands of friends amongst industrial unionists. So far as honorable members opposite are concerned, the industrial unionists are the controllers of this country. They frame the political platform of the party opposite, whether it be framed at Hobart, Brisbane, or Sydney. They select members for this Parliament. No honorable member on the other side could get into this Parliament if the unionists did not select him. In the circumstances, whatever their private opinions may be, they must publicly say, “ We are on the side of the strikers every time, right or wrong” - and they so act, every one of them. I should prefer to say something complimentary to the honorable member for Maranoa, but when he said that he is on the side of the strikers every time, it was not a bold or brave statement at all. Its foundation was self-interest, and, in making such a statement, he was saying something that would please those to whom he will soon be appealing for nomination for a seat in this House.
I should like to remind the AttorneyGeneral that we are a Federation of States, and that the States gave up their sovereign and military powers, in regard to their defence and their protection from domestic violence, on certain conditions, relying upon the good faith of the Commonwealth Government and Parliament to protect them from domestic violence, in the same way as they were accustomed to protect themselves before Federation. However, on the very first occasion in Australia when the Commonwealth Government was appealed to by the Government of the King a thousand miles away from here, they failed to fulfil their constitutional obligation. I make a point of the fact that the request was made from a Government of the King a thousand miles away, because there was not time for the Commonwealth Government to make inquiry or to visit Brisbane and see the condition of things existing there. The King’s Government in Brisbane told the Federal Government that - to use the exact words of the telegram from the Governor of Queensland -
Riot and bloodshed are imminent in Brisbane.
There was no time for the Commonwealth Government to make inquiry. Riot and bloodshed were imminent, and it was necessary for them to consider the position of affairs, the request for assistance, and immediately act accordingly. When appealed to by the King’s Government in Queensland, the Commonwealth Government refused to do their duty. They refused to assist in maintaining order and in protecting life and property. By that refusal, in my opinion, they violated their obligations under the Constitution.
The Prime Minister is now. present, and I may inform him that I have been saying a good many hard things about him, which. I should much have preferred to have said to his face. I ask the right honorable gentleman to say now whether he approved of the Brisbane strike, and whether he and his party approved of Brisbane being taken out pf the hands of the constituted authority? At any rate, we know that the right honorable gentleman did not denounce the men who went on strike. We know, further, that he eulogized them, and approved of their action. He said that it was “ an uprising of manly feeling, to protect their fellow-citizens,” and he went on to say “ No act of tyranny should be allowed to disgrace a free community.” I have shown that the action of the strikers, instead of being an uprising of manly feeling, was an act of tyranny. I should like to ask the right honorable gentleman what he thinks would have happened if the strikers had not been overcome by the police and had been successful. We do not know what would have happened, but I . feel certain that if the strike had gone on, and the strikers had not been overcome, bloodshed must have resulted, because these people had no right to be there in authority. They had no right to take possession of the city of Brisbane. .They were bound to obey the law like every one else, but they usurped the functions of the civil power, and constituted themselves the controllers of the city.
I should like, further, to say that the action of the Labour party in this House during this debate has been a painful exhibition of partisanship towards the lawbreakers and strikers in Brisbane. Was it likely that a Ministry in sympathy with the strikers, who, notwithstanding the telegram from the Governor of Queensland, considered their action . “ an uprising of manly feeling to protect their fellow-citizens,” would do their duty? It was not likely, and they did not do their duty. During the years I have been in this House in friendly association with Ministers and their supporters, they have been continuously posing as a pure, patriotic party. I must say that I have never thought them so, but after so much pretence it might well have been expected of them that they would endeavour for a time, at all events, to make an effort to live up to their professions. Have they done so? I hold that they have not. Their policy has been one of “ spoils to the victors,” preference and favouritism all along the line, legislating for their own interests, refusing to protect the people from domestic violence, and to maintain law and order, and generally acting without fairness to or sympathy for any who oppose them.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Webster) adjourned.
Bill returned from Senate without request.
MINISTERS laid on the table the following papers : -
Census and Statistics Act -
Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth, No.5, 1901-1911.
Cost of Living in Australia,1910-11 - Inquiry into, by Commonwealth Statistician.
Australian Statistics - Monthly Summaries, 1912 -
No. 1. - January.
No. 2. - February.
No. 3. - March.
No. 4. - April.
No. 1. - Population of States and Territories.
No.2. - Persons of non-European Race.
No. 3. - Ages.
No. 4. - Population of Counties, Local Government Areas, &c.
No. 5. - Population of Commonwealth Electoral Divisions and State Electoral Districts and Provinces.
No. 6. - Birthplaces.
No. 7. - Length of Residence in Australia.
No. 8. - Religions.
No. 9. - Education.
No.10. - Blindness and Deaf Mutism.
No. 11. - Schooling.
No. 12. - Conjugal Condition.
Finance - No. 5 - Summary of Australian Financial Statistics, 1901-1911.
Population and Vital Statistics - No. 28 - Commonwealth Demography 1910, and previous years.
Production - No. 5 - Summary of Commonwealth Production Statistics 1901 to 1910.
Social Statistics - No. 4 - Statistics as ‘ to Education, Hospitals and Charities, and Law and Crime, 1910.
Transport and Communication - No. 5 - Summary of Commonwealth Statistics of Transport and Communication, 1901 to 1911.
Trade, Shipping, Migration, and Finance - No. 59. - November, 1911. No. 60. - December, 1911.
Land Tax Assessment Act - Federal Land Tax Office - First Annual Report to Parliament of the Commissioner of Land Tax.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I should like to intimate that it is proposed to close the debate on the AddressinReply on Thursday next. I think that Thursday is a more suitable day than Friday to fix for the taking of a division.
– We shall do our best.
– I. trust that both sides will co-operate with the Government in an effort to close the debate on the day in question, and I think we shall be able to agree with the Opposition as to the time when a division1 shall be taken, if they think a division necessary.
.- We shall be happy to co-operate with the Government in their effort to bring the debate to a close next week. . So many honorable members have already intimated their desire to speak that the Prime Minister might consider whether we ought not to sit a little later than usual on the first days of the week.If necessary, we may ask that the time for closing the debate be extended to Friday.
– We shall be prepared to sit all night if the honorable member and his party desire it.
– We do not.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 July 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120704_reps_4_64/>.