4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Although last session concluded in December, and it is now August, I have not yet received my copies of the bound volumes of the official report of the debates, and I understand that the same complaint has been made in other quarters. As an election is approaching, it is important to honorable members to have Hansard to refer to, and it seems to me that nine months should be more than sufficient for the binding and distribution of the reports. I ask, Mr. Speaker, if some arrangement cannot be made to effect an earlier distribution?
– It is not the Parliamentary Reporting Staff that is responsible for any delay that has occurred ; the getting of the volumes bound seems to cause the trouble. I understand that the bound volumes of the reports of last session are now available. My own copies were delivered to me a few months ago, and I think that other honorable members have received theirs.
– Some of them.
– Some sets have been delivered, and I shall do all that I can to arrange for delivery in future as early as possible.
Interjection from Gallery.
– I understand that yesterday - I was not- present at the time - a stranger in one of the galleries shouted what appears to have been a deliberate insult at the member, who was speaking, and was allowed to ‘ leave the precincts without let or hindrance. I aSk you, Mr. Speaker, if you will not make arrangements for the punishment of those who are guilty of such grossly improper conduct?
– The incident occurred when the House was in Committee, and during my absence from the chamber. There was an interruption, but the Chairman of Committees did not catch what was said. The Standing Orders give ample power to deal with any person who interrupts our proceedings in any way, and it is for the House to take action. The interrupter was promptly turned out of the gallery.
– I do not think that that was sufficient. He deliberately insulted a member.
– If the House thinks that that is not sufficient, it is for it to take action. I know nothing of the occurrence beyond what has been told to me. There is another matter which I have frequently determined to speak about, but something has always intervened. A number of honorable members are in the habit of speaking to strangers in the gallery, from the back of the chamber, or from the gangway. That is distinctly disorderly, and is forbidden by a standing order. I have at times while in the chair heard what was said, and have had frequently to call order. It will be most difficult for me to control the conduct of debate if honorable members will not assist me. It is distinctly disorderly for an honorable member to stand in a gangway, or in any part of the chamber, and I request honorable members not to continue to do it.
– May I say that, although I was present when the incident referred to occurred, I did not hear the remark that was made.
– With regard to your suggestion, Mr. Speaker, that it is tor the House to take action, I submit that it is for the chief officer of the House to do so. I believe that our presiding officers are able to maintain discipline, and to protect members from insults and contumely by outsiders. It is a very serious matter for a stranger to do what was done yesterday, and to escape without the slightest notice being taken of his action. The Royal Commissions Bill, which we had recently under consideration, provides penalties ranging from fines of £100 to ,£500 and imprisonment for periods of three to five months for much less serious offences than that committed last night. It is time that this sort of thing was stopped.
– I first heard of the matter a few minutes ago. Action should have been taken at the time, but the Chairman did not catch what was said. If the remark was of an insulting nature, the utterance of it was conduct that should be stopped. The person who made it was promptly removed from the gallery. If the House thinks that further action should be taken, I shall make inquiries into the matter.
– I agree with you, Mr. Speaker, that it is for the House to take action ; but surely the lead should be given by some one who heard what was said.. I did not hear the remark ; and - the Argus and Age this morning give different versions of what occurred. I shall not put those versions into Hansard. It is for some one who heard the remark to move in the matter. Had the Chairman heard what was said, he would, no doubt, have brought the matter under your notice.
– No one could bear what was said.
– Has the Prime Minister read the report of a speech delivered by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, at Moonee Ponds, in which he referred to -
Statements as to men shirking work, being In a state of intoxication on the job, and refusing to accept their discharge when dismissed-
– You, sir, ruled the other day that it was disorderly to read newspaper extracts, and to found questions on them. I ask you, therefore, if the honorable member is in order ?
– What I ruled was that honorable members should not found questions on rumours reported in the press. The honorable member for Maribyrnong is quoting a statement alleged to have been made by the honorable member for Laanecoorie in regard to something connected with tha business of the House, which is quite a different matter.
– The speech was delivered on the 6th of August, and the report front which I am quoting appeared in the Essendon Gazette. To continue the quotation, the honorable member said that men refused to accept there discharge when dismissed - as they considered they had sufficient political influence to hold their positions by being able to demand that their “ comrade “ at the top of the tree should protect them from whatever they did or did not do. It was altogether a most absurd position.
I wish to know if the Prime Minister will once more assure the House and the country that no such practices as are alleged- exist in connexion with our Commonwealth public works?
– I have not read the report of the speech, nor had I heard of it. The alleged facts have no concern with me or with any other Minister. No person will retain his position in the Commonwealth service-
– Or lose it.
– Or lose it, because of his political views, or out of love or fear for him because of his ability to pull political wires. I do not think it is necessary for me to say more. I hope that honorable members will embrace the opportunity of seeing some of our public works. I shall be very glad if members of both Houses will inspect the large building which is being erected near here under the day-labour system. When they have seen it, they will cease from slandering men who cannot defend themselves here.
– I wish to know how we stand regarding the practice of reading newspaper extracts when asking questions. The newspaper quoted in this case alleged that certain statements were made by a member of the House when referring to alleged statements by others.
– It was a repetition of a slander on the workmen of Australia.
– I am not now concerned with the nature of the statements, but with a question of order. You, Mr. Speaker, ruled the other day that it was not in order to quote statements from a newspaper in any way reflecting on honorable members, or in any way having to do with the business of the House ; but the honorable member for Maribyrnong has quoted statements alleged to have been made by another honorable member. According to your decision of the other day, the question just asked was entirely out of order.
– I remind the honororable member, and I am doing so now for the second time, that I did not give a ruling in the way he has stated. I told him, only a few minutes ago, that what I said was that it is not customary to found questions on rumours appearing in the newspapers. The honorable member must see that the matter referred to to-day is something entirely different from that. A reference is made to a statement made by an honorable member of this House.
– Who says so?
– The statement appears in the newspaper as a report of a speech by a certain honorable member. If it is not correct, the honorable member concerned has an opportunity to make a personal . explanation in connexion with the matter. He is reported to have made a statement reflecting upon the Government and its administration. That is an entirely different thing from the matter of which I spoke the other day. In the circumstances, I permitted the honorable member for Maribyrnong to ask his question, which, in my opinion, was in order.
– Arising out of the Prime Minister’s invitation to honorable members to inspect the men at work in the trenches-
– I ask honorable members to see for themselves the work that is being done for the Government.
– I wish to know whether you, sir, would be good enough to make arrangements, if any of us should decide to see the men at work in the trenches, to have suitable clothes, shovels, picks, and bowyangs provided for us, so that we may do a little of the work.
– And let the men know that we are coming, too.
– I think we should ascertain, by practical experience, what is a fair thing to expect from the men at work in the trenches.”
– I have no intention that honorable members should make visits to public works of set purpose. I desire merely that they should see for themselves the character of the work that is being done and that no slovenly workmen are engaged in work for the Government at the present time.
– In view of an answer previously given by the Attorney-General to a question put to him about the postponement of the Coal Vend case, I wish to ask the honorable gentleman-
– It is quite impossible for me to maintain order if honorable members persist in carrying on loud conversations across the chamber as they are now doing. I make an appeal to them not to continue such conversations. They must be aware that if they persist the business of the House cannot be carried on.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question, in view of the answer given by him to a previous question by the honorable member for Bourke, as to the reason for the delay in the Vend appeal case, when he assured the House positively that the delay was not occasioned by the Crown, that the Crown did not desire, and was not in any way responsible for it, and, in view also of the remarks by Mr. Justice Barton, when further postponing the case, that the date was fixed for the convenience of all parties, whether the Crown was responsible for, or acquiesced in, the further delay ?
– The Crown is not responsible for the delay, nor does it desire it. The facts are, as I have already explained to the House, that the Crown has been put to a very great deal of trouble, and the interests of the Crown have been seriously prejudiced by the abrupt termination of the Crown Solicitor’s sojourn in England in order that he might get back here on the 29th of July, which was stated by the Chief Justice of the High Court as the day on which the case was to be heard. The Crown was not consulted as to either the first or second postponement, or as to the latest postponement. It is not correct to say that the convenience of the Crown has been consulted in the further postponement. On the contrary,’ the Crown is put to considerable trouble and expense by it.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether he is in a position to give the House any information with regard to the position of” affairs in connexion with Government House, Sydney?
– Unfortunately, I have no official intimation to make to the House on the subject. If the usual course be followed in the mother State, perhaps the information the honorable member seeks for will be published in the press to-morrow.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in the event of any radical departure from the present arrangement with regard to the occupancy of Government House, Sydney, he will take this House into his confidence before any arrangement with the State Government of New South Wales is finally completed?
– Yes; as soon as I am in a position to lay the correspondence on the table of the House I sholl t so.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General what was the nature of the business on which it was found necessary to send the Crown Solicitor to England ?
– I understand that the honorable member has asked what the Crown Solicitor was doing in England ? He was engaged on the business of the Crown.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in calling for tenders for rolling-stock for the railways proposed to be constructed by the Commonwealth, he will see that automatic couplings are provided for in that rollingstock ?
– I am having the matter referred to by the honorable member looked into. Mr. Deane is inquiring into the matter now, and I hope to be able to give the honorable member an answer in a few days.
– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs if, in view of the very high price paid for land in London on which the Commonwealth offices are to be erected, he will consider the advisability of having a more commodious class of building erected than is indicated by the model exhibited in the Queen’s Hall, so that we may get full use of the land.
– If the honorable mern ber had been here some time ago he would not have asked his question. In reply to an honorable member who asked a similar question I stated that we were proposing to erect a building as high as the London County Council would permit.
– Two stories?
– No, the- honorable member will find that the building is to be one of five stories.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to insist that the Commonwealth shall have sovereign rights over the land at Geelong on which it is proposed to erect the Commonwealth Woollen Mills?
– That is a service ; it iff not a Territory.
Dredges - Railway Passes for Cadets
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence give the House any information as to the stage reached in connexion with the proposed construction of dredges for the Defence Department ?
– Tenders were called, and I understand that two were received - one for the construction of the dredges in Australia, and one proposing the importation of parts and the assembling of those parts in Australia. The Minister of Defence is considering the position now.
– Following on a question I asked a few weeks ago, I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether the New South Wales Government have been asked to carry cadets to and from training free on the trams and trains, and, if so, what, answer has been received to the request. Perhaps the Minister will say whether he has any information to give the House on the subject?
– I have no information on the subject.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, whether any action is being taken upon the decision given by the High Court in the matter of the grading of butter?
– I have not yet received a copy of the decision of the High Court. I inquired at the Attorney-General’s Department yesterday on the subject without result. When I have received the High Court’s decision I shall be prepared to take some action.
asked the Prime Minister-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
On the 4th January,1906, the permanent heads of the Trade and Customs Department and the Postmaster-General’s Department were requested to draw special attention to the discretion allowed in Public Service Regulation 158, and to instruct chief officers that such discretion should be exercised whenever justified by circumstances. 2 and 3. This information would have to be obtained from the Departments.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
According to a decision just handed down by the Massachusetts supreme judicial tribunal, the owners of patents are included as coming under the operation of the Sherman Anti-trust Act. The case which this decision covers involved the United Shoe Machinery Company, and the decision, written by Chief Justice Rugg, finds that, while the question of whether the United Shoe Machinery Company is “ an illegal combination in restraint of trade, and has monopolized trade and commerce between the several States,” must be governed ultimately by decision of the United States Supreme Court, no word or phrase in the Sherman Antitrust Act reveals an intent to exempt the owners of patents from its sweeping provisions against monopolistic combination?
– I have not seen the decision referred to, but will look into the matter.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - i and 2. The fullest inquiries will be made by the Department in regard to this very important matter.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
In Committee of Supply (Consideration resumed from 22nd August, vide page 2599), on motion by Mr.. Fisher -
That the first item of the Estimates under division 1, “The Parliament,” namely, “The President, ,£1,100,” be agreed to.
– I have endeavoured, so far as my experience and ability permit, to understand something of the Budget, and to follow the criticism that has been launched from the Opposition benches. The safest course, particularly for a young and new member, is to carefully study any question before the House and weigh the arguments advanced on either side, in order to ascertain where the fault or the truth may lie. This I have done as far as possible; and I absolutely fail to find in the criticism of honorable members opposite any effective condemnation of the Budget. Beyond meaningless talk about “ huge expenditure,” no attempt has been made to show wherein the Budget is faulty, or wherein the expenditure could be, or should be,, reduced. Last night, one member of the Opposition, assuming an air of great wisdom, almost refused to proceed until the Prime Minister had been brought into the chamber; and, naturally, we looked for some effective criticism from this gentleman. By no stretch of the imagination, however, can it be claimed that he submitted one tittle of evidence to substantiate his innuendo that the country is running into reckless expenditure. After all, what meaning can be attached to the utterances of the honorable member for Mernda? He rose up, like one of the wise men from the East, and cited a whole heap of figures which any honorable member can find for himself on reference to the Budget? He told us that, from 1907-8 up to the present time, the expenditure on the Post and Telegraph Department has increased by over .£4,000,000. But the most youthful and inexperienced member could have discovered that fact for himself by even a casual glance at the Budget figures. And this same line of argument has been followed by every honorable member opposite, including the honorable member for Parramatta. The only way in which members of the Opposition could make these figures of any use, would be for them to show in what directions the expenditure could be, or should be, reduced; but this, as I say, they have never attempted ; on the contrary, we find these same members crying out for the new works in their electorates, which entail the very expenditure they condemn.
– The honorable member for Mernda excluded public works from his argument.
– The honorable member for Mernda spoke about expenditure on the Post Office, and that expenditure includes new works, telephones, and so forth. Honorable members opposite seem to disregard the fact that their arguments must, to a certain extent, be treated with ridicule even by their own supporters outside, in view of the fact that the Opposition have practically indorsed! the policy of the Government in supplying new works for country districts and the Commonwealth generally. The most interesting feature of the opposition to the Budget is the variety of voices in which that opposition is expressed ; there is no unanimity in the speeches, this being particularly noticeable in the remarks on theTariff by the Leader and the DeputyLeader of the Opposition. Personally, I am prepared to vote for the highest dutiespossible; like the honorable member for Maribyrnong, I have one voice and one vote in regard to the Tariff. With theLeader of the Opposition and the DeputyLeader of the Opposition, however, theposition is very different. For instance, wehave the honorable member for Ballarat referring to the Tariff in this way-
The rise in the prices and wages in Australia,, and increased cost of living, have been eating down the small protection the manufacturer enjoys. In many cases large quantities of goods- are imported which ought to be made here.
I agree with every word of that; but it isabout time the Leader of the Opposition gave up posing in regard to the Tariff. If-‘ he were in power to-morrow, and desired to make the Tariff more effective, he would not be on his feet five minutes before the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the two-thirds majority of his Free Trade supporters, would be pulling him down by the coat-tails.
– The honorable member will be getting pulled down by the coat tails presently by Free Traders on his own side.
– In . this connexion honorable members on this side are totally different from honorable members opposite. Every man on this side is pledged to new Protection, which means protection to the worker and consumer, with Protection for the manufacturer at the Customs House.
– Then, given new Protection, the honorable member says that all his party are high Protectionists?
– All honorable members on this side_are new Protectionists, which means protection for the manufacturer, the worker, and the consumer alike; whereas two-thirds of the honorable members opposite are uncompromising Free Traders, and recognise no responsibility in connexion with new Protection.
– That is a very vague statement ; let the honorable member tell us where he stands in this matter.
– My desire now is to show the different voices with which the Opposition members speak. For instance, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said -
I cannot see what danger there is in our increasing imports. Our Tariff is almost as effective as that of Canada - one of the highest in the world. It is a substantial Tariff.
– I, said no such thing.
– I made a note when the honorable member was speaking, and I also have the Argus report of his speech, in which I find the words -
It is a substantial Tariff.
– That is correct, but not the other part.
– Did the honorable member say that our Tariff is almost as effective as that of Canada?
– Very well, that is all I have quoted.
– It is a gross misrepresentation to say that I described the Tariff as one of the highest in the world.
– The honorable member said that the Canadian Tariff is one of the highest in the world. ‘
– I said no such thing.
– I must ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to continue interjecting.
-I must deny these- absolutely incorrect statements.
– If the honorablemember desires to make any personal explanation he will have an opportunity to do so.
– I rise to a point of order. You, Mr. Chairman, know that it is the invariable rule in this House, when an honorable member emphatically denies statements attributed to him, that the denial must be accepted.
– I accept the statement of the honorable member, and will read the quotation without the words objected to -
I cannot see what danger there is in our increasing imports. Our Tariff is almost as effective as that of Canada. It is a substantial Tariff.
Did the honorable member for Parramatta use those words?
– That is all I desire. I now wish to contrast those words with the words of the Leader of the Opposition -
The rise in prices and wages in Australia, and the increased cost of living, have been eating down the small protection the manufacturers enjoy.
– Where is the discrepancy ?
– If these are not diametrically opposite statements, I do not know what opposite statements are.
– Indeed, they are not; and the honorable member cannot prove them to be so.
– The Leader of the Opposition went on to say that in many cases large quantities of goods were imported which ought to be made here. The honorable member for Parramatta, by way of covering his own sin, if there be a sin. said that the Minister of External Affairs was in the same position as himself. As a matter of fact, the Minister of External Affairs is in a different boat altogether, because he is a new Protectionist, and, when new Protection is granted, he will support a full measure of Protection at the Customs House. No honorable member opposite is pledged to the new Protectionist policy.
– Every honorable member on this side, equally with every honorable member opposite, is pledged to look after the consumer and the worker.
– Is that a plank of the honorable member’s platform? We know that it is not, because honorable members opposite have neither policy nor platform, but merely something which the honorable member for Flinders described as a gelatinous compound from which the bones have been all carefully removed. In regard to the land tax, we have similar conflicting statements, showing that honorable members opposite do not know where they are in regard to this matter. The Leader of the Opposition said that if his Government had remained in power, it would have agreed to the land tax, but” it would, have “ differed in important details “ from the measure introduced by the present Government. The honorable member did not tell us what these “important details” are, although the country, and particularly the farmers of the country, have a right to know. I ask honorable members opposite if these “ important details “ are the details spoken about by their supporters outside? The head organizer of the People’s party in Victoria says that if the Opposition came into power, the £5,000 exemption would be removed, and every land-owner would have to pay the tax. Honorable members opposite have spoken about this as a class tax; and the only inference we can draw is that, if they had the opportunity, they would remove the exemption and make every farmer in the country pay ; at any rate, that is their object as stated by their organizers outside. I hope every honorable member on this side will take every opportunity, as I intend to do, to let it be known that if the Opposition are returned to power, every small farmer will have to pay the Federal land tax in addition to his other taxation. I now wish to show that the honorable member for Parramatta is just as much at variance with the Leader of the Opposition on land matters as he is upon the fiscal question. I have already quoted the views expressed by the latter in regard to me land tax. Speaking of the same sub ject the honorable member for Parramatta is thus reported -
He denied that the present land tax of this Government had anything to do with cutting up the large estates.
He has frequently made that statement in this Chamber. The subdivision of large estates was one of the chief objects which the Government had in view in submitting their progressive land tax legislation. They wished to discourage the holding of large estates, and if the tax has failed to achieve that end, it will have failed in one of its chief objects. When the honorable member was Postmaster-General in New South Wales, in discussing the Land Tax Bill which was brought forward by his Government, he said -
We believe that the imposition of a land tax will have the effect of forcing the land into extensive cultivation. Its tendency will undoubtedly be not the aggregation of huge estates, but the multiplication of small estates.
– That was not to be a class tax.
– I notice that the exemption proposed under it was very much smaller than is the exemption under our Federal land tax. Consequently it was designed to touch up the “ little fellow.” Honorable members opposite look after their friends very well. It was evidently the want of an effective policy in regard to land matters which inspired the following article in the Farmer and Settler - a journal which, I understand, speaks for the farmer, which exhibits a keen interest in his well-being, and which may fairly be taken to reflect his views.
– Oh. no.
– In discussing the platform of the Opposition, this newspaper says -
Every practical plank in this wonderful platform pledges the Liberals, if elected at the next Federal scramble, to go on doing just what the Labour party is doing to-day. In only two directions does the new platform proclaim itself at variance with the administration of the
Federal Labour party now in power…..
Have the Federal Liberals no creative minds among them? Mr. Deakin we know, is first and last a spinner qf words, an orator, and a dilettante in the political field, with no strength of conviction, and no practical ideas. He makes brilliant cavalry charges, but he has no infantry to follow them up. He makes inspirational speeches, but the kindling is soon dead ashes, because he has no firewood to heap on the flame. He tickles the ear with pretty tunes, but it is music without words, talk without thought. Mr. Joseph Cook, his co-leader, is a plain, honest person of f.a.q. intelligence and of reasonable industry, but with no imagination. He probably never evolved an original political idea in his life. Yet he is a good politican, :ns polticians go. The new twenty-plank Liberal platform appears to have been constructed by these two gentlemen, with no assistance from the party. Alfred contributed the toast of the King and all the light and airy platitudes, whilst Joseph supplied the rest by sawing a huge chunk out of the Labour platform. There was nothing dishonest in this, of course, for political planks cannot be patented ; there can be no private property in ideas. Yet surely there must be in the Federal Liberal parly some man or men with brains of the creative sort, the mind to conceive policies that would be popular with the electors and beneficial to the country ! Is there not one little proposal that the Liberal party could have gone to the electors with and said, “ This is our own ; we conceived it, and incubated it, and hatched it all by ourselves “ ? The Farmer and Settler is “very sorry for the Federal Liberal party. It appears to be dying of premature old age ; but whether it is suffering now for the sins of its youth, or whether this incipient decay is due to its starting out with a poor constitution, we know not. Sir George Reid is the only man who ever looked as though he would get the spineless thing to stand up straight and look alive ; but fortunately, whilst he had a good democratic policy, he had a reactionary party, and while he was whipping up for a forward movement the old Conservatives were pulling back the party coach for all they were worth. . . . Liberalism is handicapped by having an extreme section of Conservatives whose only aim in life is to prevent anything at all being done that will interfere with the rights of the commercial brigands who are democracy’s chief foes. It seems to us that a Country party is needed in Federal as well as in State politics, or at least a party that has brains enough to evolve a policy. We pity the present Liberal party when we think of. their going to the country behind Alfred and Joseph - the one with a neat parcel of platitudes under his arm, and the other dragging behind him the piece he sawed out of the Labour platform.
That is the opinion of a newspaper which speaks from the farmers’ stand-point, and which circulates largely in New South Wales.
– The official newspaper of the farmers and settlers is called The Zand.
– A copy of this journal was given to me by a farmer. I wish very briefly to call attention to other contradictory statements made by honorable members opposite. Very serious allegations were made by many of their number, and I want the country to know how little importance can be attached to those allegations, by reason of the fact that they have been contradicted by honorable members upon the same side of the chamber. Only last night the honorable member for Mernda rose like a wise man from the East and affirmed that the prosperity of which we boast existed before the Labour part came into power. In support of his statement, he quoted words used by the Prime Minister in delivering his first Budget, to the effect that the revenue was due to increasing prosperity. All I wish to say is that no honorable member upon this side of the chamber has denied that, to a lesser degree, prosperity existed in the Commonwealth before the advent of the Labour party to office. It is ali the more shame to their predecessors, therefore, that they quitted the Treasury -benches, leaving a deficit pf more than £500,000. We have made use of Our opportunities, because we have converted that deficit into a surplus of more than £2,000,000.
– Where did the Government get that £2,000,000?
– The honorable member will find where they got it if he peruses the Budget.
– The Treasurer took it from the pockets of the people.
– The honorable member has interjected in the same strain as the honorable member for Parramatta, who some time ago declared that, taking into account the increased expenditure upon works, we had placed an additional tax of 18s. per head, or £4 per family, upon the people of this country. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has repeated that assertion.
– When did I repeat it ?
– The honorable member interjected something in regard to taxation.
– Be fair and accurate.
– I am always willing to withdraw any statement of mine which is not fair.
– Then the honorable member should withdraw that statement.
– The honorable member spoke of the extra taxation which the Government have imposed.
– Was that repeating, the statement of the honorable member for. Parramatta.
– I intend to quote the words of the honorable member for Mernda, in order to repudiate his statement. The honorable member for Parramatta declared that we had imposed extra taxation upon the people of this country to the extent of 18s. per head, or £4 per family.
– The honorable member affirmed that I repeated it.
– I said that the honorable member spoke in the same strain.
– But I did not make any such statement.
– My honorable friends opposite will say anything when they are present at those very interesting afternoon-tea meetings, but they will not stand up to their statements in this House. It is reported in the daily newspapers that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition declared that the additional taxation that we had imposed amounted to £4. per family.
– What I said was that taxation had increased during the past two years by 18s. per head, which is equal to £4 per family.
– That is identical with the statement which I have quoted. I want to refute the honorable member’s statements out of the mouth of the honorable member for Mernda, who is looked up to as a financial genius by honorable members opposite. He said last night that the only form of taxation for which the present Government were responsible was the land tax; and that they had no more to do with the other than they had with the rising sun.
– They have to do with its continuance.
– That is a very different thing. I want to point out to the public of this country that the Opposition are speaking with two voices, or - shall I say - twenty-two voices, because every member that has yet stood up on the Opposition side has contradicted the member who preceded him. Let me ‘take the statement of one of ‘the most sober-minded men on the Opposition side, the honorable member for Angas. I think every one opposite, as well as on this side, will agree with me that the honorable member is a sober-minded man, who speaks coolly, and knows what he is talking about. He said that all the talk about expenditure was unwarranted, and that if public works and utilities are to be supplied there must necessarily be increased expenditure. Have honorable members opposite anything to say to that ? One of the most sober-minded men on their side says that if we require public utilities, and approve of them, there must necessarily be increased expenditure, and there is no escape from that position. Honorable members opposite are crying out for new works in their electorates, and for the extension of those facilities which are so essential for people in the back country, but they cannot have those works unless the expenditure is increased. They cannot have their loaf and eat it too. I wish to refer to other statements made by the honorable member for Parramatta, because these were the funniest. He has continually said that the defence scheme of the present Government was the scheme of the Opposition. Let me ask the honorable member if Lord Kitchener did not disapprove of the age to which the defence scheme of the previous Government in regard to cadets was proposed to be taken. The honorable member proposed to stop at the age of nineteen or twenty, but Lord Kitchener condemned this, and approved of the scheme propounded by the present Government to take the young men on into the Citizen Forces.
– Lord Kitchener said my Bill was excellent so far as it went.
– He said it did not go far enough.
– Yes; but my Bill went quite as far as any Minister on that side had proposed before.
– TEat is not correct; we tried to amend your Bill in that direction.
– It is admitted that there is an important difference in regard to the system of land defence; but the principal difference comes in with regard to naval defence. Will the honorable member for Parramatta, who was Minister of Defence in the previous Government, say that the scheme of naval defence of the present Government is the same as the scheme of his Government?
– There are two very essential features in which the schemes differ. Firstly, the honorable member for Parramatta, speaking in the Sydney Town Hall as Minister of Defence, said he pinned his faith to an increase in the naval subsidy. There has been no increase in the naval subsidy by this Government ; but the most important point of difference is that the Opposition proposed to borrow money from abroad ‘to build the ships they contemplated building, whereas the present Government have been building ships without the aid of a farthing of the foreigners’ money, and have been building them, too, I think, a greater extent. I think one of the greatest differences is that the Government are carrying out the work of fleet construction without the aid of any borrowed money, and without further piling up the enormous National Debt of Australia, which to-day reaches the huge sum of over £260,000,000.
– Our scheme was to build a Fleet Unit in three years. The present Government are building a Fleet Unit in six years.
– The great difference is that the one was a borrowing, and the other is a non-borrowing, policy, and, as I am reminded by the Prime Minister, the present Government are spending £3,750,000 on the Fleet in three years. The honorable member for Swan made st very alarming statement, of which I think no other honorable member on this or the other side really approves. He is reported in the newspapers to have said -
It would be well when the Liberals got into power. They would have to dispel the financial fear which undoubtedly existed. People were frightened to invest their capital.
This “ stinking-fish “ cry by honorable members opposite, particularly outside this House, is doing more to injure and ruin the credit and good name of Australia than anything that has been done by this or any previous Government. Let me quote from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which cannot be said to be a supporter of this Government, a passage which absolutely refutes the statements made by the honorable member for Swan, and often repeated by his colleagues on the other side. The London correspondent of the Daily Telegraph says -
The London Stock Exchange has been of especial interest during the past few months. . . . With one single exception, all securities have shown a heavy loss. And that exception has been in the securities of Australia. . . . Only Australian securities maintained the position they held at the beginning of the summer. . . In fact, Australia has done somewhat better than hold her own. In a number of instances shares have actually improved during the recent troubled season.
That is testimony from a source which is not friendly to this side of the ‘House, offering a distinct refutation of those scare utterances by the honorable member for Swan and others, which are doing more to injure the credit of this country than anything else that could possibly be imagined. I propose now to deal with an important item of the Budget, which I have particularly singled out because it seems to afford an effective answer to the cry about huge expenditure. Every honorable member opposite who has spoken has referred to the increase of expenditure, but I want to let the people and the country know who has benefited by the increase. I think I may be forgiven for presuming, as a new member of the House, to pit my opinion against that of an experienced man like the honorable member for Mernda, but the figures I have extracted from the Budget seem to me to be an effective answer to the question which he put to the Prime Minister last night. Pointing to the expenditure on the Post and Telegraph Department, the honorable member asked, “ Where is this money going? “ I have compared the expenditure on the extension of postal facilities for two years prior to the present Government coming into office with the corresponding expenditure for the two years since the Government took office. I desire that the people of Australia, particularly those who have benefited by the extension of these facilities, should know whether their so-called friends opposite have been acting as much in their interests as have the party on this side of the House, remembering, too, that it was said by honorable members opposite that if we came into power we would not treat the men living in the back country sympathetically. In 1908-9 and 1909-10, the last two years of the regime of the previous Government, the amounts spent on mail services totalled £1,643,492, while the money spent on additions, new works, new post-offices, telephones, &c, amounted in the same period to £1,097,366, or a total of £2,740,858 spent for the two years by the previous Government in granting these very necessary facilities to the people in the back country. When the present Government came into power - a Government which, I repeat, was supposed not to have the interests of these people at heart - they spent, in their first two years of office, £1,838,123 on mail services, or an increase of £194,631 over the amount spent by the previous Government, and no less than £2,225,921 on additions, new works, new post-offices, telephones, &c, an increase in that direction over the amount expended by the previous Government of £1,128,558, or more than double as much. The present Government, therefore, in their two years of’ office, increased the expenditure on mail services, and the extension of postal and telephonic facilities, by £1,323,186. Every man in the country who avails himself of these facilities must know that their extension makes to him all the difference between isolation and civilization, enhances the value of his property, and places him in touch with markets, and on a better footing with those agents who very often do not give him a fair deal. In that way, I assert, in answer to the statements of the honorable member for Mernda last night, that the present Government have proved themselves, not only as sympathetic, but infinitely more sympathetic with the men in the back country than the previous Government showed themselves to be. I can, however, quite understand why the people of the country do not realize these things. All that the Opposition are doing to-day, both inside and outside the House, is to speak in meaningless phrases about the huge expenditure. They build up a scarecrow with which to frighten the people. They talk about an expenditure of £20,000,000, but they never tell the people in the back country to what extent they are benefited by the increased spending. There are so many organizers connected with the other side -going round the country and throwing dust in the eyes of the people, that the people have no way of knowing what is really going on. The people in the country are battened on and fleeced by middlemen, trusts, and combines, and those are the men who are paying the organizers that are going round the country to-day in order to induce the people to allow themselves to be further battened and fattened on,
– What middlemen?
– Fruit Rings, for instance. The honorable member knows as well as I do that, in almost every commodity of life to-day, there is a corner, and no people in the community suffer more through it than do the men in the back country.
– Who are the middlemen that are fleecing the people?
– I will give the honorable member an idea.
– Do not do that ; he might use it !
– I have often challenged the organizers of the so-called People’s parties to tell me who signs the cheques which they receive for their organizing work.
I do not think they can do it. I have here an extract from a newspaper circulating it* my electorate, which gives an account of a meeting of the so-called People’s party. The chairman referred to the central executive of the Constitutional Union, whichexists somewhere in Melbourne. No oneseems to know what the Union is, or front what source it draws its funds. The chairman said that they were anxious to win back the Indi electorate, and they now had an opportunity, for, if the branch collected £300, the Constitutional Union would give another £300.
– Who are they?
– The Union is some mythical organization in Melbourne. The farmers who join the People’s party ought to know who contributes the funds. Some of us have a pretty good idea who it is who does so. The chairman of the meeting continued -
They had gone farther than any other branch in appointing their own organizer. But the money was not coming in as they wished, nor were they gaining the members.
Seeing that there are in my electorate over thirty branches of this party, it is only fair to assume that the same offer has been made to the rest of them. By multiplying the £300 by the number of the branches, we can form an idea of the extent to which the Provisions of the Electoral Act limiting the expenditure of candidates to £100 is being observed.
– It amounts to a bribe. They are buying voles in the country.
– There is no other explanation. The country should know the facts. We ought to know what this mysterious body is, of whom it is composed, and where its money comes from. Certainly, large sums are being expended in order to spread the gospel of misrepresentation amongst the people. Amongst the many misrepresentations made by these organizers, they speak of the heavy expenditure on the Federal Capital. They tell1 their organizations that millions of money are being spent by the Government on what they call “ the useless bush Capital.”
– “£10,000,000 a year,” one of their organizers said.
– Yes; almost all these paid organizers make these misrepresentations.
M-. Joseph Cook. - The honorable member himself has talked about “ the bush Capital “ pretty freely.
– Yes ; I have opposed the expenditure.
-Then the honorable member is in league with these organizers ?
– I want the true position to be made known. The total expenditure incurred at the instance of this Government, up to date, on “ the bush Capital “ has been £80.000. The honorable member for Lang stated that that was a scandalously small sum.
– I do not know about the- adjective, but the rest of the statement is all right.
– I am glad to hear that remark, because it will enable me to reply to those who say that money has been wasted by the Government in this direction.
– I say now, that the expenditure is miserably small. The honorable member can make what use he likes of that.
– I am pleased to have the interjection, and hope, that these organizers will make a note of it. I also want to point out, for the information of these people in the country,, that when a division was taken in this House last week on a proposal to cut down the expenditure on the Federal Capital, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader, and every member of the Opposition except four, voted against it. If this party were put out of power, the expenditure on the Federal Capital would not be decreased. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that it would be increased.
– There is a Capital site Fusion.
– Yes ; and more honorable members opposite than on this side favour increased expenditure on the Capital. Some extreme statements have been made regarding the proposed maternity bonus. In another place, an Opposition senator referred to it as a sop to profligacy. Every woman in the country should be informed of that utterance, as an indication of what Oppositionists think of our womenfolk.
– Who made it?
- Senator St. Ledger; and I have heard other members of the Opposition speak scornfully of the proposal, while none of them have repudiated the statement to which I have drawn attention. It is well that the people should know this. Such remarks are an insult to the women of the country. I am proud to be associated with the party which has been the first that has ever recognised the act of motherhood. The women of the country will appreciate, not so muchthe gift of £5, as the recognition of the act of motherhood, which is the noblest that a woman can perform. The only thing I have to complain of in regard to the Budget is that it makes no mention of Protection. Two-thirds of the members of the Opposition are uncompromising Free Traders; but we, on this side, say that when we get new Protection we shall support a full measure of Protection at the Customs House.
– What is a full measure?
– Duties sufficiently high to make the Tariff protective. My vote will, under all circumstances, be cast for .effective duties. The country has a better chance of obtaining Protection from the Labour party than from the Opposition, especially now that the Opposition candidates in Victoria are being selected mainly by the Women’s National League, which is a Free Trade organization. The candidates for selection in the so-called Liberal interest in the Indi division were absolutely non-committal on the fiscal question, knowing that their selection depends upon the Women’s National League. Honorable members opposite have indulged in scare-crow talk about the piling up of expenditure. Not one of them has pointed to what he considers unnecessary expenditure, nor has any one suggested the cuttingdown of votes. The extension of necessary and useful public works and facilities is impossible without expenditure, and the increased expenditure in the Postal Department has been brought about because the Labour party has given to the people facilities which were denied to them by previous Governments. Notwithstanding all that has been said about the extravagance of the Labour party, I may point out, as a final word, that when the Labour Government took office it had a deficit of £500,000 as a legacy from its predecessor. We were told’ that finance would be the rock on which the Labour vessel would split, but, in addition to having wiped out that deficit, the Labour Government has been able to declare a surplus of £2,000,000. The charge of extravagance, like every other charge levelled against us, has fallen to the ground, and the careful critic must be ready to admit that this Government has done what its predecessors only spoke of doing, and has administered the affairs of the country effectively and well.
– I wish to correct one statement of the honorable member for Indi, the only one 1 shall trouble about now. He said that I stated that 18s. per head of taxation more had been imposed on the people of the country since this Government came into power. What I said was that the taxes being collected from the people are more by 18s. per head. My point was that in the bountiful seasons which we have had, many of the revenue duties could have been remitted. I showed, as to 9s. 2d. per head of the taxation, that that was to provide a surplus, and was not needed. It could have been left in the pockets of the people. 1 further said that, although the Government imposed a land tax, it had not remitted any indirect taxation. That criticism still holds good. Eighteen shillings per head of the population is now being contributed by the people to the Government of the Commonwealth more than was paid by them when the Labour party took office.
– I am sure that we all rejoice in the large measure of prosperity to which the various facts contained in the Budget-papers bear testimony. We have certainly to thank God that the natural conditions of Australia are such that we have a very reasonable expectation of prosperity, even under adverse and damaging political conditions - in other words, that legislation calculated to curb the natural development of the country has failed to do so, because of the very happy and prosperous natural conditions by which we are surrounded. “Whilst the position in Australia has been satisfactory for some years past, the Budget discloses certain facts which show that there is great need for caution. At page 111 of the Budgetpapers statistics relating to agriculture are given, and the first of these tables shows a reduction in the wheat production for 1911-12, as against that for 1910-11, amounting to no less than 23,447,012 bushels. That, translated into money value, gives us, roughly, a reduction amounting to £5,000,000 in the value of the wheat produced. On the following page details are given as to the production of hay in Australia, showing that the output in 1911-12 was 307,835 tons below that of the previous year. That, at a nominal value of £3 per ton, represents. a falling .off of nearly £1,000,000.’ The production of oats fell away during the same period to the extent of 5,880,000 bushels, which, at 2s. per bushel, represents a loss of £588,000. The production of maize was more than 4,000,000 bushels below the production of the previous year, whilst sugar-cane showed a falling off of 318,506 tons, and potatoes
*a diminution of 102,743 tons. On the other hand, the production of wine increased to the extent of about 1,000,000 gallons, whilst there was also an increase, although not a large one, in the production of butter, Then, again, last year’s wool-clip, compared with that of the previous year, shows a diminution in value amounting to over £2,000,000. Taking a roughly-estimated value of this largely-diminished production, and allowing as a set-off the increase in respect of certain products, we find that the community has thus suffered a loss amounting to about £12,000,000. These figures have an important bearing on our Customs revenue. That, as we all know, is determined by the value of our imports, and the value of our imports is very largely determined by the extent of our exports. Indeed, as honorable members know, the one controls the other. If we have a largely decreased production of staple products, we shall have- a reduction in our imports, and so the Customs revenue must fall. It is important that we should remember in this connexion that the most productive parts of Australia have just passed through a very severe drought, the seriousness of which is not truly apprehended by many city representatives. As a matter of fact, the percentage of lambs this year will be so small that I question whether it will be much more than sufficient to make up for the loss of grown sheep.
– Victoria has had no drought.
– We have had a drought.
– The honorable member for Herbert’s interjection shows that he does not truly apprehend the actual position in this State. As the result of the drought, our export trade in lambs will fall this year almost to the vanishing point, and the production of wool will also be very largely affected, both in the matter of quality and quantity. Most of the wool produced in the greater part of New South Wales and, I think, in South Australia and Victoria will have a break in it, and its value will consequently be diminished to an enormousextent. I refer to these facts to show; that there has been at all events a temporary turn in the tide of our prosperity, and that the estimate of Customs receipts in respect of the current financial year is not likely to be realized by a very considerable sum. It is estimated that there will be an increase of £137,000 in respect of the Customs revenue this year as compared with that received during the last financial year, but I venture to think that the facts I have submitted are sufficient to show that there will be a very considerable diminution.
– It is estimated that there will be a decrease of about £300,000.
– The honorable member is mistaken. He is referring to the estimates in respect of Customs and Excise revenue, whereas I am referring ‘ only to the net Customs revenue. At page 8 of the Budget-papers we have the statement that the net Customs revenue for 1911-12 amounted to £12,071,514, while the estimate for the present year is £12,209,000, showing a net estimated increase in Customs revenue of £137,486. Having regard to our diminished production, the Government, instead of estimating an increase in our Customs revenue this year, should have estimated a very considerable decrease. I am satisfied that I am on sound lines in advancing this contention. Other factors, in addition to the unfortunate natural conditions to which I have referred, may conduce to a reduced output, and one of these is trie great difficulty in obtaining labour. This scarcity of labour has had some effect for several years past, and it is becoming more and more accentuated every day. Those who are familiar with rural conditions are aware that producers who have been engaged in mixed farming are discontinuing that class of operations which involves the employment of labour, and that, wherever they have sufficient land to maintain themselves without going in largely for agriculture, they are reverting to sheep production. This is an important fact of which we ought not to lose sight. Part of the policy of the Government party to-day is the encouragement of the Rural Workers Union-
– Yes, they desire that the men shall obtain a fair wage.
– The more the Rural Workers Union gets into operation the more will production from the land be decreased.
– If it cannot afford to pay a living wage it is of no use to us. -
– When you decrease the production of the land you must necessarily decrease your exports, so that your imports will fall, and the Customs revenue will fall with it.
– What has it to do with Parliament ?
– I am demonstrating that the Government are not justified in anticipating this year an increased Customs revenue. The picture that I have presented - and it is a true one - has to some extent a set off in the satisfactory state of our manufactures. The conditions generally in our factories are satisfactory. Wages, for instance, have gone up. According to the Budget figures, in 1903 the average wage per hand employed in factories was £72 4s. 10d., while in 1910 it had risen to £83 4s. 9C1. In regard to factory hands, in 1903 the number employed was 1195,810, and in 1910 the number was 286,831. The value of factories and plants has increased from fifty-one millions, in 1903, to fifty-nine millions, in 19 10-
– You do not blame the Labour party for that, surely?
– No; it indicates a happy and prosperous condition of things, and, perhaps, the best point in the argument is that all the figures I have quoted from the Budget-papers under this head have reference to a period prior to the Labour party coming into power.
– Were we not there in 1910 ?
– Yes; but the operations during the regime of the Labour party have not yet been tabulated.
– The figures for 191 1 show a greater increase.
– Why do not the Government bring the figures up to date, so that we may know where we are ? The condition of things is, as I have said, satisfactory. The flourishing condition of our factories, coupled with the increasing Customs revenue, is also a most cheering indication. It goes to show that the purchasing power of the people is very large. We are able to keep the local factories going to the full. I have it on good authority, from business men, that in regard to various factories they have to place an order, in some cases, months ahead, in order to be sure that they will then be supplied. The argument has been used here that the very large amount of imports is an indication that our protective policy has broken down, that the Tariff ds inefficient’ for the purpose foi;’ which it was devised. I hope that that is not so, because Protection is the policy of this country’, and if the Tariff is not effective it should be made so. When we consider these two facts, we can only arrive at the conclusion that, large and prosperous as our factories have become, and fully employed as they are, they are incapable of producing the quantity of goods which the people require. Consequently, as the people have the means to command things, they will get them from abroad if they cannot get them from the local manufacturers. The important question arises, why, under our protective policy, are not more factories established, more hands employed, and more capital invested in manufactures? The answer to the question appears to me to be on the surface, and it is that there is a feeling of insecurity, a feeling of timidity, a feeling of dread, as to what industrial legislation is going to be.
– lt is not expressed.
– Men with capital will not engage in manufactures which .largely employ labour because of the dread they have that legislation may make it impossible to get a fair return on their investment.
– Your own facts dispute that statement.
– Prosperous as we have been, the large amount of imports indicates that there is room for us to be much more prosperous, and to employ a great deal more capital and labour but for the feeling of dread of the conditions I have mentioned. I believe that there would have been more millions employed in factories here to-day had it not been for the condition of things which has been evolved by our honorable friends opposite. Men dread to come here and invest their capital because of the labour conditions which prevail.
– What conditions did we impose?
– The whole tenor of the Labour party’s legislation is to take away from the capitalist any possibility of getting a fair return on his money. This is said to have been done in the interests of the workers. I say that it works against them.
– What industry is not getting a fair return?
– Tell us one injurious thing that we have done.
– Tell us one Act that we passed with the results you mention.
– I am dealing with factories, not with Acts.
– Give us a specific case.
– Would my honorable friend, if he had £10,000 to invest in a factory here, put his money into the factory with a knowledge of the legislation which is pending?
– There is no better field for investment than Australia. The few coppers I have are invested in Australia. Yours are not.
– I notice- I do not know whether it is with pleasure or otherwise - that a new industry is being established in Australia, and the press commented on the fact yesterday.
– The lambing industry?
– No, it is the industry of making Excellencies. I really think that the Prime Minister ought to encourage the industry by having himself entitled His Excellency; and perhaps he might repeat history by making his colleagues little barons or baronets. In Australia there is any amount of room for the investment of large sums in manufactures, as well as in the development of our land, but the conditions are not such as to encourage investment. A year ago our honorable friends opposite had a good deal of faith in the efficacy of the Arbitration Court. I have no doubt that the more we see of its operation the less satisfactory it will become!
– It has brought about peace in every case with which it had power to deal.
– What about the Brisbane strike?
– The Brisbane strike !
– What about a number of strikes, where it has been impossible for the Arbitration Court to exercise its powers because of the number of men who were in conflict with it.
– Name one case.
– There is any amount of room for industries to be enlarged, butlabour is a fundamental requirement; and, unfortunately for our honorable friends opposite, the policy of those who support them outside is that of keeping out immigrants.
– Nonsense ! You are wrong there.
– Let me refer to a meeting which took place in Sydney on the 8th of June -
Immigration was considered at the continuation of the Trades Unions Congress on Saturday. Mr. J. Ryan (Actors Union) moved -
That the trades unions represented at this Congress request the State Government to discontinue its immigration policy.
The workers, he said, could -feel no security whilst men were brought out and remained in the citv. filling the ranks of the unemployed.
Mr. Peter Bowling said that it was a crime for the Government to continue its immigration policy. Immigration was a weapon to down the forces of unionism.
– That is a sufficient reply to the honorable member’s statement. Is there any opposition to immigration shown there?
– Did the Government do it?
– That is a protest which has been sufficiently strong to prevent the present Government’ from taking any part in introducing immigrants. Every practical step which it has been suggested might be taken by them to help the States in the matter of bringing out immigrants has been frustrated by inaction on their part. There appears to be an order to the Government to stand in opposition to immigration ; and, in doing so, they are preventing the development of those conditions which would increase our manufactures and the productions of the soil.
– The States want assistance in keeping out undesirables.
– Again, on the 12th June last -
After further discussion the Trades Union Congress to-night agreed by 20 votes to 13 to a motion that the State Government be requested to discontinue its immigration policy.
It was further resolved by 29 votes to 11 to repudiate the action of the Sydney Labour Council in indorsing the Government’s action in sending an immigration agent, Mr. Spence, to England, and the resolution added : - “ In the name and in the interests of organized labour we demand the recall of Mr. Spence.”
That is the attitude of those who support honorable members opposite and the Government.
– Was he recalled?
– No; because, thank God, they had backbone enough to stand up against the Congress in that case.
– What are you growling about, then?
– This is a State Government’s action. Coming to Victoria, it is reported that at Wonthaggi, on the 12th January last -
The immigration policy of the State Government was adversely criticised by Councillor McNamara at the meeting of the borough Council last night, and the following motion was agreed to : - “ That this Council considers it time the State Government called a halt in regard to its immigration policy.”
– What is MacNamara, a Liberal or a Laborite?
– I believe that, without exception, the Wonthaggi councillors belong to the Labour party.
– There is one exception, and I think it is MacNamara, though I am not sure.
– I do not think, that the honorable member is justified in making a statement of that sort when he does not know. The point is that the Australian Workers Union, which is the greatest political power in Australia to-day, under the able championship of the honorable member for Darling, is in direct opposition to the immigration policy.
– Nothing of the kind.
– It wants to maintain Australia as a close preserve for the people already here, and to keep out the population necessary to develop the natural resources of the Commonwealth, and develop its manufactures. Without an increase of immigration, we shall not have the necessay men to protect Australia against an invasion. I have demonstrated all that I desired to prove in connexion with that matter ; that is, that those who now occupy the Treasury bench, and their supporters, are largely responsible for the condition of things which necessitates such large imports, reduces the amount of our production, and prevents us from making that substantial progress which would otherwise be attained. There are one or two features illustrated by the Budget-papers upon which I will say a word or two. The first is the Savings Bank statistics. The record of our State Savings Banks is a splendid one. They have, done such excellent work for the people that I am absolutely astonished that the Federal Government have sought to interfere with them. In 1901, one person in four in the whole Commonwealth was a depositor in one or other of the Savings Banks, and the amount to credit averaged£8 3s. In 1910-11, one person in three was a depositor, and the average deposits amounted to , £13 8s.5d. Those figures . cover the period before our friends opposite came into power, and they go to show how great has been the prosperity of Australia, and how good the condition of the people. Men who are willing to work, people who are prepared to save, have very little to complain about in this country. Passing from that subject, I will refer for a moment or two to what has been said, particularly by the honorable member for Corangamite and the honorable member for Indi, in regard to the very large amount of money spent upon necessary developmental works. I am very glad indeed to know that money has been spent in this direction, especially upon the extension of postal facilities. But both honorable members, while referring, very properly, and with a certain measure of pride, to what was contained in the last Budget and the present one, systematically avoided reference to the altered financial conditions. Up to the time when this Government came into office, it was a matter of impossibility to make available large sums for such purposes. The financial arrangements between the States and the Commonwealth rendered it impossible. Ministers were most fortunate in coming into office at the psychological moment when large sums of money became available over and above what any of their predecessors had at command. It would be to the shame of Ministers if they had not used a great deal of this money to the public advantage. But they have no right to pretend that this Government have done so much more than any other Government accomplished, when they know very well that the altered conditions of the finances entirely altered the circumstances.
– I was answering the charge of extravagance.
– There has been extravagant expenditure in some directions. There has been extravagance in connexion with the Federal Capital, but, in saying so, I am voicing merely my own individual opinion. As a straightforward man, I am putting forward certain pertinent facts, which I think ought to be looked into. There is nothing in the Budget of more importance than the proposals regarding the Northern Territory, not because of the largeness of the sum to be immediately expended, but because of the prospective expenditure. The total revenue from the Territory last year is stated to have been £32,000, and the estimated deficiency for this year £430,857, the deficiency having increased since last year by £67,356. In spite of the large amount of money that we have been spending in the Territory during the last two years, it is estimated that the railway revenue this year will be smaller than it was last year.
– Because of the heavy expenditure in improving the service.
– If the expenditure were of a practical nature, there would be reason for expecting an increase in revenue. There is a decrease of revenue under the heading “Territorial,” though I do not know what that heading embraces. But, whereas last year we received in land and income tax £1,678, this year the receipt of £65,000 is anticipated. The Government have put before the House no policy for the development of the Northern Territory. They have not told us what course of action they propose to pursue. When an estimated decrease is found where an increase should be expected, and a big increase where no increase was to be looked for, the inference must be drawn that the Government has entered upon a venture before giving proper consideration to the measures necessary to obtain financial success. Ministers, having been so long in office, should have carefully considered this matter, and should have no difficulty in putting before Parliament and the country an outline of what they propose to do. But we have not received a word to indicate when it is expected that the population of the Northern Territory will increase. We should be told when the large expenditure of the last two or three years is likely to bear fruit. According to the latest statistical information, the population of the Northern Territory is still decreasing. We know that a steam laundry is to be established at Darwin, and the only way I can see the Government have in view for increasing the white population of the place is to capture a few of the blackfellows, and steam them white in the proposed laundry. During the past decade, as shown by Mr. Knibbs’ figures, the white population of the Territory has decreased by 1,500 persons. A policy covering land tenure, public works, and all things necessary to be done to give the Northern Territory a proper start, should have been placed bbefore Parliament, and we should have had an opportunity to comment on it. There is too much legislation by regulation. Heavily as the people of Australia are to be taxed for the maintenance and development of the Northern Territory, Parliament is to have no “ say “ in the matter. It will merely have to submit to the embodiment in the yearly returns of large deficits resulting from the operations in the Northern Territory. Grumble as we may, we cannot effect any alteration in the conduct of affairs. If there is one thing that is calculated to prevent the Northern Territory from prospering, it is the action of the Government in increasing the taxation on the people there. This has apparently been done in regard to the land tax. The policy of the Opposition in regard to the carrying out of large
Progressive and developmental works differs from that of the Government, in that we would borrow the money and provide adequate sinking funds for its repayment, so that all who are likely to benefit by the works would contribute their fair share to the cost. I do not see how the Government can continue for a long period to pay for public works out of revenue. If they continue their policy, the taxation must be so greatly increased that the people will stagger under it. With big developmental works, you must spread the expenditure over a term of years, or borrow, and provide for repayment by means of judiciously-arranged sinking funds. We had the honorable member for Maribyrnong the other night deploring the large amount of money that goes out of Australia for the payment of interest on loans; but I ask the honorable member to consider what we have got for the money borrowed ? I make the statement that, for all practical purposes, we have very little Australian debt at all, because the interest on the money we have borrowed is not taken from the general taxpayers, but from those who are using our railways for the transport of their produce, and who are greatly benefited by the maintenance of those railways.
– Are they not taxpayers?
– They are; but they get value for their money. I venture to say that, had it not been for the borrowing policies of the State Governments, the different States of Australia would never have been developed as they have been. I have a word or two to say in connexion with another matter that is dealt with in the Budget. I refer to the expenditure incurred in connexion with Papua. We do not know very much about the policy of development that is being pursued in that Territory. It is true that we receive certain Ordinances and reports from time to time, but our information concerning the
Territory is not very complete. We have, however, the fact stated in the Budget that the taxpayers of Australia, this year and last year also, are called upon to pay £30,000 to make up the annual deficit in connexion with the administration of Papua. This is a consideration which places Papua upon the same plane as the Northern Territory ; but while we have to take upon ourselves the responsibility for a large expenditure in Papua, we are not given many opportunities to express an opinion upon its administration.
– Would the honorable member say that England should have claimed such a right, in view of the millions of pounds she has spent upon her Colonies?
– I do not question the wisdom of expenditure in Papua. I say that. the Territory should be developed; but we should have more complete information as to what is being done there, seeing that we are called upon to make good the deficiency between revenue and expenditure. Those who are charged with the administration of Papua, may adopt a policy which will involve considerable expenditure, without a proportionate return ; and I say that, as we have to foot the bill, we are entitled to know more about what is being done in Papua than we are able to learn from the Budget-papers, or from the statement of the Treasurer. We find that the expenditure in the Territory is increasing. For the year 1910-11, it amounted to £70,699 and for the last financial year, 1911-12, it- was £74,306, or an increase of £3,607.
– There was an increase of revenue, also.
– No; the figures show a decrease in revenue. The revenue for 1910-n was £45,972, whilst the revenue for 1911-12 was £44,806. Co-incident with an increasing expenditure, we have a decreasing revenue, a wider margin between revenue and expenditure, and a bigger bill for the Commonwealth to pay.
– Is the honorable member quoting from Papuan reports?
– No; my figures are taken from the Budget- papers. They do not disclose a healthy condition of things. I wish now to refer to the fact so pertinently stated by the honorable member for Parramatta, that the average wages paid to postal officials throughout the Commonwealth have not been increased. I was surprised to hear the statement made; but I presume that the honorable member for Parramatta knew exactly what he was talking about. I am aware of the fact that employes of the Post and Telegraph Department largely voted for the Labour party at the last Federal election on the assumption that they would receive very substantial advantages if that party was returned to power.
– How does the honorable member know that they voted that way?
– I know that they did. I venture to say that, when the next elections are being held, they will require to know the reason why the promises of the Labour party have not been fulfilled. Reviewing the actual wages paid to our factory employes, we find that there have been increases of salaries, but those increases have been more than counterbalanced by the increased cost of living. The average increase of wages does not amount to 4s. per week, whilst honorable members, will admit that there has been an increase in the cost of commodities of all kinds which the people have to wear or eat. The promise held out by the party opposite before the last elections was that they were going to make conditions easier for everybody. The position of the Public Service was to be greatly improved, and working people, above all others, were to be benefited. Yet we find that the increases of wages given even in our factories, the employes of which are most directly affected by the legislation of the present .Government, have not been commensurate with the increased cost of living. Have the promises of the Labour Government been fulfilled? It will take a great deal of argument on the part of honorable members opposite to convince the public generally that they are in any better position as the result of Labour legislation.
– Every wife was to have a few pounds to spare.
– They were to have sovereigns jingling in their pockets, but there are no sovereigns there.
– Because they have no pockets.
– Housewives have to cheesepare now in every direction in order to make ends meet. I am truly sorry that they should be disappointed in the hope held out to them that If they only gave the Labour party a chance their conditions would be improved. Their conditions have not been improved. The conditions of men on the land, employes in factories, and of investors of capital have not been improved. Can honorable members opposite point to a single section in the com munity whose conditions have been bettered, or whose wages have been increased as the result of the legislation which the Labour party introduced? They cannot do so.
– The millers are a lot better off than they were.
– I am no more concerned about the millers than about the bakers or the butchers. It is our duty here to consider the interests not merely of the millers, but of all sections of the community. The general trend of Labour legislation is opposed to the interests of the community ; and I say that the party have proved themselves unworthy of the support they have been given in the past. This feeling will find expression when the next Federal elections take place. Some people would propose to regulate the increased cost of living by attempting’ the regulation of selling prices. Why do not such people profit by past experience? Wherever an attempt has been made in the past to regulate prices for the general welfare, it has proved to be a failure.
– The honorable member is making some reckless statements.
– I am adhering closely to facts ; and the sore point with honorable members opposite is that the facts which I have presented to the Committee this morning are of such a character that they will find it an extremely difficult matter to deal with them. Let honorable members attempt to meet them now, and let us have these matters threshed out by fair argument in this Chamber. Let the Government say in what way they justify their proposals to enter upon new expenditure upon proposals pf a vague and shadowy character. In spite of many reasons for believing they will do otherwise, I express a hope that the Government will yet prove themselves amenable to reason. I trust that while they continue to occupy the Treasury bench they will endeavour to serve the interests of the community as a whole, and will no longer seek to serve the interests of one particular section.
Sitting suspended from 12.57 to 2.15 p.m.
– Budget discussions are necessarily robbed of a good deal of their significance by the fact that they are compelled to centre around the future rather than around the past. If we could by discussion and deliberation alter the effect of the actions of those who have controlled the financial operations of the Commonwealth during the past year, there would, perhaps, be some use in addressing oneself at length to the Budget ; but we all recognise, before we begin to make our observations, that the past is gone - that all the money which has been expended has been expended - and that, under present conditions, it is absolutely useless to expect the House to make any alteration in the position of those who have just now control of the finances. Nor would it be possible to get from some honorable members opposite more than a somewhat fleeting attention to remarks made in this particular regard. But the Budget also contains propositions for the future; and these, of course, should always be the subject of discussion, especially by an Opposition. The old theory that an Opposition is here merely to oppose has a good deal in it to justify the attitude which is generally taken by Oppositions. I am prepared, however, to a certain extent, to acquiesce in the desire of honorable members opposite that the dead past shall bury its dead, and that we shall not, at this particular juncture, have a resurrection of the actions of the Government. I agree with those who say, as has been said, I suppose, from time immemorial, that the presentation of the Budget figures could be very much improved. We have had very varied Budgets unfolded to this Commonwealth Parliament since its inception. We had the cold, deliberate statements of the first Treasurer, who had held a similar position in the State of Victoria with great credit to himself, and who gave many honorable members for the first time an insight into the financial working of a big concern like the Commonwealth. Sir George Turner succeeded, on account of his wellordered mind, and his marvellous capacity for detail, in laying all matters before honorable members in such a fashion that they were able to become largely seized of the many points to which he desired to direct their attention. The elaborate system which we have inherited from him is kept for the use of honorable members; but I venture to say that its utility is very much limited by its amplitude. Things are presented so fully, and in such close, complete detail, that necessarily an enormous area is covered which honorable members have very little opportunity to grasp. Honorable members may confine their attention to one or more sections, but they find it impossible to concentrate their minds on the subject as a whole, and at the same time follow the very full information which, -I frankly admit, is given in the Budget papers as presented by the Treasurer. We know that modern evolution is all in the direction of specialization; and it becomes necessary for honorable members to confine themselves almost entirely to one or two subjects. That is what I intend to do this afternoon in the limited time at my disposal ; and I desire to draw attention to the present condition of the finances and to some of those details with which I think honorable members should be acquainted, although I do not expect very much result. The first thing to which one inevitably directs one’s thoughts is the revenue, which has been of a character to bring smiles to the face of the Treasurer and great contentment to the members of the Government and their party.
– It is not big enough !
– Of course, there are minds of such amplitude that no vista is long enough or prospect sufficiently extensive. I venture to say, however, that when the people of Australia realize, as they will before long, that, although it is remarkably pleasant to have a large revenue, the money comes out of their own pockets, they will say, “ We do not see exactly how1 we are benefited by giving these large sums and depleting ourselves of what we may require for our own needs.’’ Such a position is only pleasing when there is increased production and our revenues are enhanced and enlarged by a more complete realization of the hopes of those who are the producers in the community. When I speak of producers, I mean all those engaged in callings which result in the development of articles required for the use or comfort of the people of Australia. Unfortunately, we cannot give to the Government and those who follow them - or those who lead them, just as we look at the situation - credit for the enhanced production which undoubtedly has resulted during the last few years. That enhanced production has been due to circumstances over which they, at any rate, had no control, although some of them do arrogate to themselves the function of discharging those duties which Providence has placed in the hands of what we are pleased to call Nature. The splendid returns which we have been able to record during the last few years have been due entirely to the bounty of Nature, as honorable members will see if they carefully consider the figures. I agree that many have played an important part in gaining from Nature that which has aided us materially in increasing the wealth of Australia ; but, without the rainfall with which we have been blessed, we should never have been able to reach such a magnificent position as that which we occupy to-day. I ask honorable members to cast their minds back a few months, when they will realize the dread of the people of Australia, that they were once more face to face with that most awful of all visitations - a drought. So marvellously recuperative, however, is our country, that, notwithstanding the fact that drought stalked from Queensland right down, through New South Wales, and reached Victoria, within two or three months of the fall of a couple of inches of rain the whole prospect was entirely changed ; and our people are now looking forward to the future just as- hopefully as they were at the same period last year. The reflection which these facts call up should always be with us ; and we members of the human family should not be so prone to take to ourselves the whole of the credit which is due during a season of prosperity. I must direct honorable members’ attention to the enormous amount paid by the people of Australia in revenue duties. Even a cursory examination of the Customs and Excise figures, on page 14 of the Budget-papers, must convince honorable members that, as a people, we are not travelling the same road that we were directed to pursue some five years ago, when the country declared, in no uncertain terms, that our fiscal policy should be of a protective character. From time to time, representations have been made to the Minister of Trade and Customs regarding the condition of various industries owing to the ineffectiveness of the present Tariff. During the time I have been in Parliament, I have had many experiences of Tariff revision; and I realize how uncomfortable it is for honorable members to face those interminable debates and struggles which take place between contending parties on each and every item in a long schedule. I feel, however, that this could be, and should have been, avoided by the Government bringing about some amelioration of the condition of those who are undoubtedly suffering from the ineffectiveness, in certain regards”, of the present Tariff. The anomalies in the Tariff, as they have been called, are not a few. Since the present Parliament was called together, we have had from the Min,ister of Trade and Customs what he is pleased to call a “ rectification “ of anomalies ; but those of us who have taken an interest in the question realize- what that rectification amounted to. It was a simplification of the work to be done by the Customs officials; but, talking in a general sense, there was no real result in the direction which so many people earnestly and urgently desired.
– Except on pianos.
– I am talking of the Tariff as a whole ; and I do not believe that in more than one or two instances can the action of the Government be regarded as indicating an earnest desire to give relief in the direction indicated. There is nothing that speaks with greater eloquence than the figures I have in my hand. Looking at the columns one after the other, one is struck by the enormous increase in the importation of the products of various industries which have been asking for assistance from this Parliament.
– Some of those industries are paying 20 per cent, to-day.
– Of course, the honorable member is, and always has been, a good Free Trader and Revenue Tariffist. I feel sure that he extracts very great comfort from these figures.
– I do, when I read the reports of the operations of the two hat mills which appear in this morning’s newspapers.
– I do not know whether the honorable member is alluding to a 20 per cent, dividend. But if he will look under the heading of “ Apparel and textiles,” which includes hats, he will find that last year the revenue derived from these importations totalled £2,385,786. The previous year returned more than £300,000 less than that sum; and the year before that, more than £500,000 less. What do these figures mean? They do not mean that our people are wearing more clothes. Nor is the increase accounted for by any increase of population. They mean that the importation of these particular articles is larger than it has ever been.
– Several manufacturers told me quite recently that they could not get sufficient labour to do the work here.
– If that statement be correct, we have at once an indictment of the present Government. They are bound to do all that they possibly can to insure that the natural industries of Australia shall receive such a measure of Protection as will cause them to be firmly established.
– The same men told me that they were overstocked, and were only running their factories five days a week instead of six.
– That circumstance may be explained by the enormous importations which have taken place. Our manufacturers may be overstocked because they are being undersold by the importers, who bring materials here which are manufactured under vastly different conditions from those which obtain in Australia.
– One manufacturer told me that the overstocking was due to the dry season experienced.
– I look at the solid fact that there has been an increase of more than £500,000 in the revenue derived from “ apparel and textiles” within the last few years. When the Tariff was introduced in 1908-9 the amount collected under that heading was £1,630,490; the following year it was £1,872,833; the next year it was £2,068,922 ; and last year it was £2,385,786. It will be seen, therefore, that there has been an increase of more than £500,000.
– Our population has increased.
– Surely that circumstance will not explain the enormous increase in revenue.
– It helps to explain it.
– Certainly it does. But if time permitted me to divide this revenue amongst our population, it would be seen that but an infinitesimal portion of the increase is due to an increase of population. As a matter of fact, we know that it is due to the ineffectiveness of the existing Tariff.
– Oh ! oh !
– Honorable members may laugh; but they know that a Tariff which does not protect is ineffective.
– That statement may suit a gathering at a tea-fight, but it will not go down here.
– I know that the honorable member is such ah ardent Free Trader that to appeal to him in this way is useless. But the Minister of Trade and Customs is one of the strongest Protectionists in this Chamber. If he were sitting beside me I am sure that he would be supplying me with any amount of ammunition from a Protectionist stand-point. There is another item, namely, “ Metals and machinery,” which has more than once been brought under his notice. The figures relating to the revenue derived under this heading are equally striking. In 1908-9, the amount so collected was £932,944; in 1909-10, it was £997,972; in 1910-11 it was £1,264,968 ; and last year it was £1,554,980.
– Has the honorable member taken out the figures relating to production for the same year?
– I shall presently supply the Minister with the figures relating to our exports, and ask him to place them alongside those relating to our imports. He will then see that just as the latter have increased so the former have decreased. If, as a staunch Protectionist, he can find any comfort from a realization of these facts I wish him joy.
– All the factories have been busy of late.
– That statement is not correct.
– Why, they are months behind with their orders.
– To what is the honorable member alluding?
– The principal foundry in the honorable member’s own electorate has been working two shifts daily for the past two years.
– I believe that it has. I would like to see it working three shifts daily, or rather, another factory established in that centre. Nobody knows better than does the Minister of Trade and Customs that that foundry does not depend upon the Commonwealth for its output, but upon other parts of the world. It is scarcely a fair thing to select a foundry like that at Castlemaine, which is working full time and under conditions which the Minister himself admires-
– I admire that foundry now more than I did eighteen months ago.The honorable member knows the reason for that.
– There can be only one reason in the Minister’s mind, namely, that the men who are now employed there are unionists.
– It is a union shop to-day, whereas it was not eighteen months ago. It was then the only “ black-leg “ shop that I knew of.
– That is a very hard name to apply to it. The men who are employed there to-day are those who were employed there eighteen months ago. The conditions under which they labour are not one whit better now than they were then. For years that foundry has been an object-lesson to other foundries of a similar character throughout the Commonwealth. By paying high wages and offering good conditions it has attracted to its service the best workmen in the Commonwealth. These are the men whom the Minister finds it expedient to call “ blacklegs.”
– He said that they were “ black-legs “ - not that they are. He said it was a “ black-leg “ shop.
– I will say that it was a non-unionist shop.
– It is a unionist shop now. But I do not think that its work now is a bit better than it used to be, or that the fact that it is a unionist foundry to-day has made twopence difference to it.
– An increase of 2s. per day makes a lot of difference.
– The honorable member is disposed to make a great deal of the extra payment which has been granted to its employe’s. But he will agree with me that that increase of wages is not due to the fact that the men have joined a union. Wages have increased all round, and these men have benefited, just as they would have benefited if they had not been members of a union.
– But union agitation is responsible for the increase of wages all round.
– I know that this is a tender spot upon which to touch honorable members opposite, and that there is a disposition on their part to attribute to those’ who sit upon this side of the Chamber, sentiments which they do not hold. I believe in unionism, and honorable members know that.
– The honorable member is in a strong union himself.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. I am not a member of any union.
– Is not the honorable member a member of the Doctors Union?
– I am not.
– Then the honorable member ought to be.
– It was because I could not find it in my heart to charge for my services quite so much as some “union” doctors do, that I did not join the organization. I do not object to unions, in fact, I am strongly in favour of them. But I have never cut down the fees - I have therefore charged nothing at all. In regard to “ metals and machinery,” I do feel that the Minister, and those who are associated with him, must accept a very grave responsibility by reason of the fact that the duties upon these articles have increased our revenue enormously. Although isolated instances may be cited of foundries and factories which are working overtime, there is no doubt in my mind that the industry is not in anything like the position that it would occupy if it were properly protected. By “properly protected” I do not mean to imply prohibition, but . rather a system of Protection which would place our peopleupon an equality with those who are employing labour in other parts of the world under conditions which happily do not exist in Australia. From manufactures of wood, wicker, and cane, the Customs revenue was, in 1908-9, £336,361 ; in 1909-10, £324,198; in 1910-11, £463,289; and, last year, £501,279; a most remarkable increase, approaching 100 per cent., in the four years. That is another significant example of the result of the inaction of the Government in regard to these industries.
– We cannot get one person to send in a tender for steel work.
– When the Government do have a contract, they give it to an outside firm.
– When it is tendered for locally at double the price, or 50 per cent, more, at least.
– The local price is nothing like double. From earthenware, the Customs revenue, in 1908-9, was £230,795; in 1909-10, £334,834; and, last year, £375,403, another most remarkable increase. The whole of this statement not only gives food for reflection, but brings dismay into the hearts of those who desire to see the country, as far as possible, self-contained.
– Do you think you would get any more Protection from your side?
– I am willing to try. The only Protection we ever got came from those sitting on this side. We have had three Labour Governments in office, and obtained no Protection from them at all. The only Protection we ever obtained came from a Liberal Government. I am free to admit that we obtained it through the assistance of several honorable members sitting on the other side, but, so long as they sit there, and so long as the present Government are in office, they will not have an opportunity of voting for increased duties.
– Out of thirty-one members on that side, you have only six that could be called Protectionists.
– Honorable members sitting on that side know perfectly well in their hearts that if the Government were by any strange chance to go out of office to-morrow, and had an opportunity to vote Protection, they would do it-
– T should not, except under certain conditions.
– Probably, next year, the honorable member will have an opportunity of showing whether he has forsaken those principles which he has so strenuously advocated in this House, and which, I again frankly admit, he materially assisted to put into practice.
– Wages will always be the first consideration with me.
– The honorable . member has now, under present conditions, all the machinery necessary to insure that the wages shall be fair. I ask him now whether, in any of the industries he knows of in the city of Melbourne, he considers that the employes are underpaid ?
– Yes, take the starch industry. The Wages Board gave the men 7s. a day. Does the honorable member think I would vote to give any more Protection on starch under those conditions ? Not much.
– I have never heard that the starch industry is asking for more Protection. It is probably an industry that is doing all right under the present Tariff.
– Paying 7s. a day, with the present cost of living, is not “ doing all right.”
– I agree with the honorable member that that is not right.
– This House has done a good thing for starch, but starch has not done too much for the worker.
– I should like to ask the honorable member, as a profess ing Protectionist, whether he thinks the workers of Australia would have been as well paid as they are if it had not been for Protection.
– I admit the honorable member’s contention ; but I am out for Protection every time, and the honorable member knows it.
– I honestly think that the whole of this sheet gives cause for deep and sincere regret, and for some forebodings in the minds of those who believe in a protective policy. One cannot look at that long list of enormous increases in every line - it is not as though they were in one or two isolated cases only - remembering also that they are accompanied by a diminution in our exports, without feeling that, although we are at the ‘present time on the very top of a high wave of prosperity, this country is not on the right track, and its legislators are not doing their duty to the people of Australia by allowing our industries to be competed with unfairly by those outside. Another industry which surely can be called a natural or native industry is that of leather. From leather imports we had a revenue in 1908-9 of £208,120; in 1909-10, £253>37<5; in 1910-11, £3°3>988; and last year, £386,822. That is ari increase in revenue of over 50 per cent, since the imposition of the present Tariff, with which honorable members on the other side are perfectly satisfied. Contrast that statement with the exports of leather. In 1908 these totalled £519,217 worth; in 1909 they fell to £470,220; in 1910 they rose to £504,012 ; and last year they dropped down to £480,656. I want honorable members to realize what that decrease in exports, accompanied by an enormous increase in imports, means. It has been said by honorable members that the increase in our importations is due in some degree - and one honorable member would have us believe that it is entirely due - to the increase in population; but surely it will not be argued that the reduction in our leather exports is also due to the increase in population. It is due to one cause alone - to the fact that the industry is not receiving that Protection and assistance which it undoubtedly deserves.
– The rate of duty is 15 per cent., and 12 per cent, pays the whole of the wages !
– It is one of the worst paid trades in Victoria.
– Will the honorable member make it a better paid trade by reducing its Protection?
– It ought to give more wages under the present duty.
– Honorable members, especially those who feel that their withers are somewhat wrung, are apparently desirous of drawing me off into by-paths which it is not my intention to traverse.
– The honorable member surely does not call the question of wages a by-path?
– I do in this case, because I am not discussing it. I am dealing with broad, general facts, from which honorable members should be able to make their own deductions. If an industry is a badly paid one, I say we should give it no Protection at all. We should clean it out of existence altogether; but I am not going to accept off-hand the honorable member’s statement that the leather industry is one of the worst paid in Australia.
– I do not think it is one of the worst paid.
– In order that those employed in it may be properly remunerated, it is our duty to protect them against the sweating rates that are paid in other countries. I do not know what rates of wages are paid in the leather trade in the Commonwealth; but I guarantee that they are a long way ahead of those paid iri other countries.
– The bulk of the leather that is imported, and upon which the revenue is collected, comes from America. It is a specialty - -glace kid.
– Perhaps the Minister, whom we admire for his industry and knowledge of his Department, can tell us what the reduction in our leather exports represents ?
– I admit that I do not know.
– The facts I have been giving are all to be found in the Budget-papers prepared by the Treasurer. The man who can look upon them with equanimity must be wanting in some degree in a proper appreciation of his duty, not only as a member of this House, but as a citizen of the Commonwealth.
– Do not abuse your own side.
– I am not like my honorable friends opposite, who are each and every one responsible for the opinions of their fellows. Let me emphasize the fact that we are now paying per head in Customs revenue in the Commonwealth more than we ever paid before, and very much more than the Prime Minister himself said was advisable in any wellgoverned country. When the Prime Minister told the House that 46s. rod. per head of Customs and Excise taxation should never be exceeded in any well -governed country, I am sure he did not expect that this Commonwealth would exceed that limit.
– Was that statement made in the Gympie speech?
– No, it was made in this House during the debate on the Financial Agreement. In 1907 the Customs and Excise taxation reached 46s. 10d. In 1908-9 it was 50s. 8fd. ; in 1909-10,. 53s.; in 1910-n, 58s. 9jd. ; and last year it rose to 64s. 5 id. - that is to say, very nearly 2 OS. per head of the population more than the Prime Minister himself said ought to be paid in any well-governed country. What possible explanation has the right honorable gentleman to give of the present position? Has he forsaken the attitude that he adopted when the Financial Agreement was under discussion? Has he any justification to offer for the action of the present Government in encouraging the revenue from Customs and Excise to rise to an extent so enormously above what he himself regarded as a fair average? With regard to exports, there is a point to which I wish to direct attention. I have already pointed out the. enormous increase in the revenue from imported apparel and textiles. I take it that apparel includes boots and shoes. There has been an enormous decrease in the exports of these goods. In 1908 the exports of boots and shoes were £22,884. By they had dropped to £19,718, and in 19 n had reached £14,922. Leaving that subject, I direct attention to the question of. Defence. I wish to say a few words about the results of compulsory training. Speaking, as I am able to, from personal experience, I consider that the results of our compulsory training system have been of the most beneficial character. There have been moral results, which are valuable in themselves, and undoubtedly there have been physical results as well. As to the moral results, about which, in the absence of the honorable member for Brisbane, I do not desire to speak at length, I will say that the lads - over 1,000 of whom have come under my own observation - have gained enormously in strength of character and in the proper recognition of what is their duty, not only as cadets, but as citizens. If we had spent our money to attain that object alone, it would, in my opinion, have been more than justified. I hold very strong opinions with regard to the beneficial effects of the training upon the lads. Those who are decrying it at the present time are not confined to one party in the Commonwealth. But opponents of the system seem to forget that the compulsory training which is in vogue in Australia, is different from the compulsory training in any other part of the world. It is an improvement upon any other system, in my opinion. It involves a minimum amount of demands upon those who are undergoing it. There is not that loss of time and opportunity which occurs, for instance, in Germany and Switzerland. It is an unfair thing for writers in newspapers and others to compare two systems which are so unlike as the system in vogue in Australia and that which is in vogue elsewhere. We have adopted the word “ training,” and abjured the word “ service,” intentionally. We call our system compulsory military training ; it is not military service at all.
– Our Army is a citizen defence force.
– So is the defence force of Switzerland, but I should be very sorry to have our lads called upon to undergo the training which is carried out in Switzerland, strongly as I am in favour of every physically capable citizen being compelled to make himself fit to participate in the defence of his country. The physical results of the system are more remarkable. Lads who were weedy, roundshouldered, and narrow-chested, have, after this minimum amount of physical culture, been materially benefited. One has only to go into the drill-rooms and look at them doing their, work to notice the enormous improvement that has been brought about in these young fellows. We have there in the records absolute proof of what I am now saying. The lads undergo a physical examination when they first enter, and they undergo another more comprehensive and searching examination when they are passed into the Militia. We are now passing lads into the Militia, and are able to compare in the record-book the physical measurements of them made at the two periods.
– What is the’ period?
– Lads are passed into the Militia when they reach the age of eighteen. The system has been in operation only a year. The lads were examined at the beginning of that year, and those who have reached the age of eighteen are now eligible for the Militia. The marked improvement in their physical condition is entirely due to the training. Those who are decrying the system, and talking about the unadvisableness of”’ continuing it, have no knowledge - they cannot possibly have any - of the enormous benefits that the lads are receiving, both morally and physically.
– That is just the same as the experience of training recruits in the Imperial Forces. You do not know a man at the end of a year’s training.
– It is just the same. The chest measurements alone are remarkable. You find lads coming in who are unable to expand their chests more than an inch, and, at the end of twelve months, they have a 3-inch expansion. It is almost marvellous, and has amply justified the action of the Government in pursuing this system of compulsory training. With regard to the punishment for failure’to drill, evidently there must be some; but, in my opinion, it should be of a different character than has hitherto been in force. I was very glad to see an alteration made in the law, because I do not think that the punishment has fitted the crime. One writer the other day spoke of the claims made upon the lads as likely to engender a distaste for the work. He said that they do not like it, and feel that they are doing it under duress. He argued that the work should be made more attractive for them. There is no doubt that it will be made more attractive as time goes on.
– The lads do not like giving up their Saturday afternoons.
– I know that, and I have a great deal of sympathy with them. As time goes on, I hope we shall be able to give them something to do on Saturday afternoons which will not be mere foot-work, but which will bring into play, not only their muscles, but their brains. We shall be able to give them work of an attractive character. Then they will not be so keen about going elsewhere on Satur day afternoons. At the same time, I believe that excessive punishment does not act as a deterrent of crime. It has long since been proved that it really defeats the very object for which it is imposed. The punishment must be of such a character that it will act as a deterrent instead of spurring men on to commit offences for the sake of being able to boast of having outwitted the law. There are malingerers-
– We get them in all walks of life.
– Quite so, and we must see that they are properly treated. There is no more anxious moment for a medical officer attached to a military area than when he has to decide whether a lad shall or shall not undergo training. These lads are at a critical age, and most of the area medical officers realize that they have not merely to examine them, but to give them good advice as to what they should do to preserve their health, or - if they are out of sorts - to restore it.
– Does the honorable member agree with the proposal in regard to medical lectures, which was made by a deputation yesterday?
– I am afraid we are going a little too far. There is a great deal in suggestion, and as one who has nad a good deal to do with the teaching of lads, I know that one needs to be very careful. A grave responsibility rests upon the area medical officers in respect of lads who are deemed physically unfit. That responsibility should not be confined to one man. Where any doubt exists as to the fitness of a boy to undergo drill, a second medical officer should be called in, and there should be a consultation in regard to him. If they believe that he is malingering, then, of course, they should send him on for training. In every case in which I have a doubt I send a note to the officer telling him of it and asking him to let me know at once if he sees that the lad is not able to do any particular duty. I should regard it almost as a crime to cause a lad to lose his health by engaging in compulsory training.
– Medical men differ now.
– They do; but if a lad is a malingerer and is allowed to escape drill his friends know of it and the effect upon others is very bad. I have had one or two cases of the kind and know that these boys cannot keep a still tongue. A malingerer who has succeeded in escaping duty cannot help talking of his cleverness in deceiving the medical officer, and his friends may be inclined to say, “ He has escaped compulsory training, and why should we be called upon to drill? He escaped by telling a lie ; why should we not tell one?” This could be obviated to a large extent by a system of consultative examinations such as I have suggested. There are some lads who, a medical man can see at a glance, are unfit to train, but some are very cute and it is not fair that they should escape. I wish now to refer to the Postmaster-General’s Department. Promises were made by the Government that some attention would be given ‘to the demands of those who were using the services of the Department as well as of those who were executing such services. The present Minister of External Affairs entered the Postmaster-General’s Department with a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, and he knows how he went out of it. From my knowledge of him and the Department, I am confident that his enthusiasm was considerably dampened before he received his promotion. The Department is one of the most, if not the most, difficult in the Commonwealth to administer. It touches the people more closely than does any other, and makes upon those who carry out its services demands of a character so diverse that it is almost impossible to find the ideal man for the position. The knowledge I gained of the inner workings of the Department whilst I was a member of the Postal Commission showed me that it was a most difficult Department to work because of the failure to assimilate the various methods of administration which obtained before Federation. We had, in those days, six different systems in the six States, and, when the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth, we had not in Australia - and I say this with all respect to the late departmental head - a man who could assimilate and bring together the six different systems in a way that would insure, not only their smooth working, but an effective service for the people. The result is that the Department has ever since been lagging behind the demands made upon it. It is most unfair to the Department itself that it should be so placed that it cannot adequately carry out the services which it is intended to perform. When the Postal Commission was appointed, the discontent in the Department extended almost from top to bottom, and honorable members know that that discontent has not yet disappeared. In grade after grade, and section after section, the trouble that existed four or five years ago still remains. Surely that ought not to be. Then, again, how have the people who utilize the services of this most necessary Department been treated? I think that the Minister of External Affairs realizes that he did not satisfy them when he held office as PostmasterGeneral.
– No country anything like the size of Australia is giving the same facilities for the prices charged.
– We claim to be better than any other country. In regard to many great national reforms, we have given a lead, which other countries have been glad to follow, and it is idle to suggest that we should be satisfied because we have something that is better than is obtainable elsewhere.
– I do not say that. I say that we give greater facilities for the prices charged than are afforded in other countries of like size.
– We have nothing like the facilities we ought to possess. The people, and especially those who reside in certain districts, are not receiving the consideration they deserve.
– In what way?
– They are not even getting the services for which they are prepared to pay, and for which, in some cases, they have already paid. The delays which take place in connexion with the Postal Department are little short of a public scandal. I do not desire to go into details, but let me say that, although over twelve months ago the present Minister of External Affairs issued orders for the construction of a telephone trunk line between Ballarat and Maryborough, that line has not yet been carried out. He also made arrangements for the construction of a telephone line from Daylesford to Glenlyon. The line was surveyed, and pegs put in to mark the location of the poles. Those pegs are still there. I do not know whether they are expected to sprout like Aaron’s rod, and grow into telephone poles, but nothing more has yet been done. I always object to bring before the House cases relating to my own district, believing that it is my duty to go direct to the Minister, or to the Department, in regard to them. But when the Minister tells me, as he has done, that we have better facilities than are enjoyed in other countries similar to Australia, I feel bound to cite cases where, through want of attention, works have not been carried out, although they have actually been agreed to. It is iniquitous that an important town like Maryborough should be connected with the city of Ballarat only by an ordinary “ buzzer “ telephone which no one can use with any degree of satisfaction. Why should I not be able to speak with Maryborough from Melbourne? In the matter of distance there is no difficulty ; the trouble is due to the obsolete appliances which the Department allow to be used, although the money has actually been provided for a better service.
– I was informed that two shipments of copper wire were condemned this year. Perhaps that has caused the delay in constructing these lines.
– But provision was made on last year’s Estimates for this work. What is the use of asking Parliament to vote money for various works when we have not in the Departments the machinery necessary to carry them out ? The Government come down with proposals to provide for various Commonwealth works, but the votes remain unexpended, and it is not fair to expect the Departments to carry out those works unless they have the machinery necessary to deal with them. The Works Branch of the Home Affairs Department is utterly incapable of dealing with the tremendous demands already made upon it, and the sooner the Minister and those acting with him recognise this fact the better for Australia. What we need is a properly-equipped Public Works Branch capable of dealing, and prepared to deal, with all these propositions. Do we not realize how rarely it is that any reduction of the Estimates is made? Does not the Minister know that once he has signed his Estimates they are as good as through. Why does he not procure all the material for the works? He should get his officers to work; he should have the surveys made, and get everything ready in order that directly the money was voted it could be expended, and we should not have these wretched unexpended balances from year to year. That is where the fault mainly lies. That is why the two services to which I have referred were not carried into effect. It was not because they had not the money, but because they did not expend the money when it was voted.
– What is the reason?
– Because the Government nave not at hand the machinery with which to expend the money. They have not the proper staff. I am not suggesting that they should go to other parts of the world, as some seem inclined to do, in order to get men to carry out the works. I think, as I have said before, they have in the various Departments men of special training and capacity who could be drafted at once into a Works Branch, and take these matters in hand and carry them out quite effectively. That is a point of which Ministers are aware. That is a defect which they should rectify at once. They should collate these officers from the Defence, Home Affairs, Trade and Customs, and Postal Departments, confer upon them a proper status, and give them the work to do, and then there would be a chance of the money being spent as it should be spent. What has been the very curse of our system in the past? It has been that we have had a pliant majority willing to vote any sums for which the Ministry were strong enough to ask, and then sit down and let them either decline or neglect to expend the votes. While the people of Australia are demanding that in the Postal .Department they shall receive those services to which they are entitled, the Ministry sit there, and, giggling like the Minister of External Affairs, seem to look upon the whole thing as a huge joke. They fail to realize the very grave responsibility of their position.
– The Commonwealth Department has been relying upon the State Departments to carry out the works.
– Surely the honorable member does not approve of that.
– We have been accused of extravagance in spending money that we had, and now the honorable member blames us for not having spent more..
– The Minister is saying something which is not consistent with fact. I am blaming the Government for not spending the money which Parliament placed at their disposal.
– I mean that your party has accused us.
– I know how strongly the bonds of corporate union join the honorable member to those who sit with him. But I ask him to endeavour to realize that there may be a position where one may feel at liberty to express his own opinion without being compelled to bring it into accord with the view of somebody else.
– Then you do not think that we have been extravagant?
– I have said a little about the Ministry ; I will say a little more about them I expect before I have quite finished, but this is hardly the time or the place to do so.
– He has dealt with me.
– I did intend to make a few observations about the administration of Papua and the Northern Territory, and also the way in which the work is not being carried on in the latter. The Minister has personal knowledge of the Northern Territory. He knows its capabilities, and he was one of those who spoke from knowledge when he described -it.
– Do you think that he knows anything about it?
– I think he knows something about it, or he says that he does, anyhow.
– When did I say that I did?
– The other day the Minister said more than once, by way of interjection, when he was twitted with his failure to appreciate the importance of the Territory, that he knew as much about it as did anybody else.
– When did I say that?
– The other day, when we were discussing the Works and Buildings Estimates.
– I would be very glad to know when I did.
– The Minister has apparently adopted a policy of laissez faire. He is simply going to let things slide as they please. He is not prepared to give that personal attention to these two most important Territories which their importance demands. He was good enough to quote something I said in regard to Papua. If he will look up the speech - and I am sure that it will do him good to read it again - he will find that everything there depends upon sympathetic administration. Otherwise, we cannot hope to make these two great Territories anything like what they ought to be - most valuable adjuncts to ‘ the well-being of the Commonwealth. Unless Ministers, especially the Minister of External Affairs, realize a proper sense of their responsibility in this regard, we shall be simply pursuing a road which will lead us eventually to disaster. The Northern Territory is virtually unknown to the majority bf the people of Australia ; and it is only by the most careful treatment of it, ana* of its possibilities, that we can expect to have it settled as it should be. What has the Minister done in that regard ? He .has talked largely about different kinds of land tenure, but has he really done anything beyond making an arrangement for the establishment of the laundry?
– He has made some appointments.
– I have not made an arrangement yet, evan for the laundry.
– I am surprised to hear that. J think it is about time that the Minister did something, because if he were only able to point to a laundry it would be something. He is losing a very great opportunity. When it was proposed to take over the Northern Territory we were assured of its enormous value; we were told of its potential value; we were informed that it only required to be opened up in order to amply justify all that had been said by those who. were so strongly recommending us to accept the very hard bargain which was driven by South Australia on that point. What do we find to-day ? We have had nothing more than the appointment of a few officials. I should like to know how they are being treated by the Minister and his Department. Are they receiving that support which men who are undergoing, a new experience, and also a very trying ordeal, should get from the Department, or are they being hampered by that red-tape which in the past has proved so effective in retarding the development of not only this, but many other beneficent schemes? The Northern Territory, we are assured, is valuable. What do we know more than that? We have been told, and I agree with the statement, that it is undoubtedly a menace to Australia so long as it remains unoccupied. But what is the Minister doing to occupy it? He does not even show his own faith in the Territory. If I were in his position 1 would go up there and get at first hand knowledge which would be useful when disseminated amongst the people in settling the Territory. If it is to be held it must be occupied, and if it is to be occupied the Minister is the man who is to secure the occupation. Nobody else can do it. In these circumstances I feel that we have a real cause of grievance; that this most important addition, not only to the value of the Commonwealth, but to its responsibilities, should be treated in this cavalier fashion by the Minister who is responsible for its well-being. It would be unfair for us to expect any good to result from the Territory unless in the first place we get information about it - unless the people of Australia are shown that it is a place in which they could live.
– Has the honorable member read the Bulletins which we have issued ? He does not know anything about them,. I suppose?
– These were not written by the Minister.
– By whom were they issued ? : Dr. CARTY SALMON.- That work is done by his officers; we know who are responsible for the Bulletins.
– If they are good, the work is done by the officers; but if they are bad, it is the Minister’s fault.
– I do not say that they are good or bad. I say that they are ineffective, and are not giving us anything like the amount of information which they ought to supply.
– Has the honorable ment ber read any of them?
– Which one?
– Not the first” one. I guarantee the one I did read was not written by the Minister.
– None of them was written by me.
– I know the Minister’s literary style too well to make an error of that sort. I guarantee that it was not written by him. He asked me to say something about External Affairs just now, and he seems to be quite hurt because I accepted his invitation.
– Not at all. I brought in the Minister of Home .Affairs for you just now.
– I want to assure the honorable member that there is no desire on my part to give him any personal discomfort. I want to do what I consider to be my duty, and that is to point out the great responsibility which rests upon him. “ Mr. Thomas. - In anticipation of an item of £4,000 on the Works Estimates being passed, I invited tenders for the supply of rolled steel stanchions, steel, roof principals, and other material for a store at Darwin ; but not one tender was sent- in.
– The Minister, with his old Free Trade instinct, is desiring now to cast some reflection on the people of Australia who do work of this particular character.
– No. fir. CARTY SALMON. - What is he offering them? He is offering them £4,000 worth of work. Of what character is it?
– It means that they are so busy that they cannot tender for it.
– If the Honorary Minister comforts himself with that reflection, he is quite entitled to do so. I will not for a moment admit that the reason the Minister of External Affairs has not received any tenders is that the men are too busy. Men are never too busy to take up a good thing when it is offered to them. If the Minister has made such conditions in his contract as will make it inadvisable to undertake the work, it is he who is responsible. He cannot fasten on to the fiscal system of the country the discredit of having men here who are incapable or unwilling.
– We called for tenders for dredges, and only one offer came from an Australian manufacturer.
– Does the Minister say that that is because they are all too busy?
– I do not know why it was.-
– The Minister will probably find that the reason was that those engaged in the industry were not satisfied with the conditions imposed by the Government. As I intend, to deal with matters connected with the External Affairs Department when the Estimates are under consideration in detail, I shall content myself now with what I have said. I ask the Minister to take into careful consideration the matters to which I have referred, and to endeavour to realize the great responsibilities that rest on him for the success of what must be regarded as an experiment. We have taken over the Territory with a two-fold object : to use it as a source of wealth to Australia, and so that it may serve as a barrier against invasion. It is the bounded duty of the honorable gentleman, irresponsible though he has proved himself, to conduct the affairs of the Northern Territory, and of Papua, in such a way that we shall be safe from scandal in the future, and so that the people may show that they have inherited the self-governing powers and the colonizing instinct which have made the British nation what it is.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY laid upon the table the following paper : -
Public Service Act. - Department of Home
Affairs - Appointment of R. B. Ward to new position of Computer in Class £, Statistical Branch.
House adjourned at 3.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120823_reps_4_65/>.