4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
City Telephone Areas - Postage, Railway Letter-boxes - Norwood Post Office - Day Labour - South Australian Employees.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral take into consideration the advisability of amending the telephone regulations so as to place towns on the sea-board, which have a stretch of 10 miles of country in one direction only over which to speak by telephone without incurring extra charges, on the same footing as towns that have 20 miles of country in every direction to speak over ?
– I should like to have time to look into the matter before expressing an opinion.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral taken into consideration the regulation under which late fees are now charged on letters posted in boxes on the railway stations of Victoria? Previously such letters were charged at ordinary rates.
– As I stated some time ago, the alteration in the practice was made to bring Victoria into conformity with the other States in this matter. Areturn is now being prepared in all the States, which I hope will be ready in a few days, which will show the distance of the railway stations from the post-offices in all the railway townships, and it may be that where this distance is considerable public convenience may be served by providing additional facilities at the railway stations.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if it is intended to carry out any further work at Norwood Post-office.. If so, is it to be done by day labour, and at what cost?
– We called for tenders for the construction of the Norwood Post-office, and the lowest price named was £999. The departmental estimate of the cost of the work was £750, and we carried it out with day labour for£7893s,3d, a saving of , £209 16s. 9d. on the lowest price asked by a tenderer.
– Was it carried out on the plans on which tenders were asked for?
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will inform this House, in the event of the Post and Telegraph Association of South Australia obtaining a favorable award in respect to their claims - (1) emoluments, (2) increments, (3) . age of retirement - if it is in the power of the Arbitration Court to make that award date back from July, 1904?
– The question is hypothetical, and cannot be fully answered without knowing the terms of the award. But I am not aware of anything in the Arbitration (Public Service) Act to prevent the Court dealing with claims in relation to past services.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs what it has cost to keep Government House, Sydney, in order, and whether the cost has been incurred by this Government or by the Government of New South Wales ?
– I shall reply to the questions to-morrow.
Day Labour - Rates of Wages - Preference to Unionists - Australian Material
– Has the Government adopted the plans prepared by the London architects for the Commonwealth offices in London? if so, is it intended to call for tenders for the construction of the work, or will the building be erected with day labour?
– We received plans from the London architects, and, after looking into them carefully, suggested some minor alterations. The architects . were good enough to meet us in nearly every instance, and new plans have since been sent out. There are still a few alterations which’ we should like to have made, and Mr. Murdoch, the architect of the Department of Home Affairs, will leave for England very shortly to put before the London architects our wishes in this matter. As for the construction of the building, we received a communication from the High Commissioner some time ago stating that a federation of the English unions had asked that the Commonwealth Government should agree to the insertion in the tenders of the conditions that union rates, of wages must be paid, that all the stones. used must be cut in London or in the metropolis, and that absolute preference must be given to unionists. We replied that we were not prepared without more information to say that all the stones must be cut in London, or in the metropolis, but that, of course, there would be a condition requiring the payment of union rates of wages, and that regarding preference to unionists we. were prepared to go as far as we go in Australia, that is, to give preference to unionists, other things being equal. We have since received a communication from the High Commissioner, stating that he has put our views before the master builders and contractors of London, and that they say that in their opinion if this were insisted on none of the leading contractors or builders would tender for the work. We have therefore asked Mr. Murdoch to bring together a staff when he gets to England, so that the building may be done with day labour.
– I wish to know whether the Minister has considered the suggestion made more than once that a portion, at any rate, of the building should be constructed with Australian stone. Does he not think that the front, or at least some portion of the outer walls, might be constructed with stone prepared in Australia? Such stone would make a very good display.
– We have taken into consideration the possibility of using both Australian stone and wood, and shall be very glad if it is found practicable to use such material in a prominent part of the building.
Abolition of Excise and Bounty
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, since the passing of the Sugar Bounty Bill, at least two or three meetings of canegrowers have been held in the Bundaberg district, and that the cane-growers there have decided by a majority of S3 to 17 in favour of the abolition of the bounty and Excise? Further, whether he is aware that the sugar-growers in the Childers district have unanimously decided in favour of the abolition of the bounty and Excise; and whether the right honorable gentleman makes it a condition precedent to the repeal of our bounty and Excise legislation that the Queensland Government shall secure the passing of legislation prohibiting the employment of aliens in the sugar industry? Finally, I desire to ask the PrimeMinister whether he proposes to request the Queensland Government to pass legislation which will have the effect of protecting the interests of the workers engaged in the sugar industry?
– I can only make the general statement that the matter is receiving consideration, and that a communication will be made to the House as early as. possible.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he will obtain from the Attorney-General an opinion as to whether section 51, sub-section xxvi., of the Constitution does not give us power to legislate in relation to the payment of special rates ? Under that provision we have power tomake laws with reference to the people of any race other than the aboriginal race in any State, and I invite the Prime Minister to obtain from the Attorney-General art opinion as to whether that does not givethe Parliament power to pass legislation declaring that coloured labour shall not be employed in connexion with the industry.
– I shall submit the matter to the Attorney-General.
– I desire -to ask the Minister of Home Affairs a question relating to an advertisement whichappears in the Commonwealth Gazette of 14th September, inviting tenders for the supply of Tasmanian hardwood lining for the Naval College at Jervis Bay. I wishto know whether there is any reason whythe timbers of other States should be excluded? Is it considered that New SouthWales hardwood, which, is regarded asamongst the best, is not suitable for the purpose? If not, why have the timbers of all States save Tasmania been excluded?”
-O’MALLEY.- We do not exclude the timbers of any State.
– Timbers of alb the States save one are excluded in this instance.
– No. TheDirector of Works is especially anxious, in connexion with this work, to intermix Tasmanian hardwood with that of other States. He can obtain on the spot otherhardwoods, and the desire is to have a. general mixing up of the whole so as to* strengthen the superstructure.
Views of the New Zealand Minister of. Defence.
-‘ I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he has read in to-day’s Argus a report, appearing under the heading “ Empire Defence,” of a speech made by the Minister of Defence of New Zealand, Mr. Allen, and, if so, whether he has any information to give with respect to that report?
Mr-. FISHER.- I was delighted to read the report of the speech made by the New Zealand Minister of Defence, for it seems to indicate on the part of the sister Dominion a policy that is closely in touch with the naval defence policy of Aus-‘ tralia. It appears to show on the part of New Zealand a desire for whole-hearted co-operation in the South Pacific, and that, I believe, embraces almost entirely the public mind of Australia.
– I believe that it is also the view of the Imperial Government.
– Although I know something of the policy of the Imperial Government, I am not in a position to express it. I know, however, that the opinion expressed by Mr. Allen embodies the view held by a large number of the leading advisers of the British Government in the matter of naval policy. They are desirous of a strong naval force being established in this part of the world, so as to make it secure, while the British Fleet is attending to matters nearer Home and dear to us all.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether it is a fact that a number of men employed at the Fitzroy Dock, Sydney, were recently discharged, and, if so, whether this putting off of men will in any way interfere with the due fulfilment of the contract for the completion of Commonwealth ships to be built there?
– I am not aware that any men have been put off, but if they have been, that fact certainly will not interfere with the completion of the work in hand for the Commonwealth Government.
Absent Voters Provisions. Mr. CHANTER. - Has the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs been directed to the report of a speech delivered by the
Leader of the Opposition at Ballarat which appears in yesterday’s Age? The honorable member is alleged to have said that the electoral system permits an elector to make a mark on a card without voting, and that, therefore, there is nothing to prevent any one from putting a mark on half-a-dozen cards. Is that statement in accordance with fact?
– I saw the press report, and it was obvious to me that the honorable member was labouring under a multiplicity of delusions in this matter. The new system of voting is a great improvement on the “ Q Form “ system, under which a man who could not sign his name made his mark, and the ballot-paper was put into the ballot-box. Now an elector has to make a written declaration, which is witnessed., The voting paper is put into an envelope bearing the declaration, and sent to the Returning Officer. If more than one person has voted under the same name, . the signature on the declaration can be compared with that on the elector’s claim card at the Central Office of the “State and the vote of the bond fide elector only admitted. Even Paul the Apostle would only be able to give one vote under this system. If the paper is properly marked, if the elector’s name is on the roll for the division in which he wishes to vote, and if the declaration is in order, the vote is counted, but otherwise it is disallowed. The voting papers are treated very much as letters of credit on foreign banks are treated.
– I wis! . task the Minister of Home Affairs ‘ E he will kindly direct me to his a c g ‘ for the statement he has just mad. ,§ 3 explain why no reference to the ft.? payment he has mentioned appears on the electoral card which has to be filled in by each applicant for a vote? The application is only witnessed by “an elector or person qualified to be an elector of the Commonwealth “ in Victoria, but voted on in Queensland. It is further stated on the card that -
The signature of the claimant must be his natonal signature. If unable to sign his name in his own handwriting he may make his mark as his signature ; but such signature must be made in the presence of the person who signs as witness.
I would recall to the mind of the Minister the statement that he has made again and again in this House that the check he relies upon consists of a comparison of signatures.
How does he identify marks? This: was my question at Ballarat, and I beg to ask the Minister for an explanation.
– The Leader of the Opposition stated at Ballarat that any one could get six or ten cards.
– No; I said that a claimant who could not write was allowed to make his mark, and, there being no identification, why could not half-a-dozen cards be marked by one man? I said there was no real check.
– An absent voter for the electorate of, say, Batman, desiring to vote at, say, Toowoomba, would make an affidavit that his name appeared on the roll for the electorate of Batman, that he had not yet voted, and would not vote elsewhere. The presiding officer would then require him to sign his name, or, if he could not write his own signature, to make his mark. The declaration would be made before the presiding officer, and if the elector made his mark as his signature it would be witnessed by a scrutineer or poll clerk, and the ballot-paper would be enclosed in an envelope and sent to the Returning Officer for Batman for scrutiny in conjunction with a certified copy of the roll. Let us say that the applicant’s name was Johnson, and that there was only one person of that name on the roll. In that case, although half-a-dozen declarations had been obtained, there would be only one vote. If six cards had’ been issued, there would have to be six Johnsons on the roll before there could be six votes. Whether, the claimant writes his signature or makes his mark, only one vote can be recorded.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether it is not the intention that a person making application to have his name on the roll shall sign his name on a card, and that that signature shall be a check as against any other person seeking to vote in his name as an absent voter? I understand the object is that when the absent voter goes to vote> his signature is obtained, and can be compared with the signature on the original application. If they do not correspond, it is known that somebody has been breaking the electoral law. Does the same safeguard exist in the case of an ordinary marksman?
– In the early days of this country, when it was under the thraldom of Liberalism they did not have free schools. Consequently thousands of good honest men are not able to sign their names, but they are capable of putting their names by means of a dot to cheques that are worth thousands of pounds. We cannot deprive those men of their right to vote. Consequently when one of them wants to vote as an absent voter, he goes to the presiding officer, makes a declaration to the effect that he is on the roll for such and such a place, and if unable to write puts his mark to it. That is witnessed, and sent to the Divisional Returning Officer.. The ballot-paper is not put in the ballot-box, as under the “ Q Form” procedure, but in an envelope bearing the elector’s declaration. If his name is on the roll the elector gets his vote.
– Is it not a fact that the absent voting system was in vogue at the last election without the extra safeguard of being able to compare the signature of the man who can write?
– Yes. We have strengthened the whole system now by the declaration and the check arrangement. It is exactly like a letter of credit where your signature goes on ahead of you.
– Is it the duty of the Returning Officer who receives the absent vote to compare it with the signature he possesses on the card before he counts the vote, or does he simply count it when he receives it?
– The Divisional Returning Officer has not the enrolment card. The man may be on the roll for Wilmot, and may want to vote at Mareeba, in Queensland. He simply makes an affidavit, and signs the declaration printed on an envelope. The ballot-paper is put in the envelope and sent to the Returning Officer at Wilmot., That officer conducts the scrutiny. A comparison of signatures can be made at the Central Office at Hobart if the circumstances so require.
– How long after election day does the Minister think it will be before the poll is declared?
– I can assure my honorable friend that if an election is in doubt the result will not be finally determined until a comparison of the signatures has been made.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs say when he is likely to proceed with the motion relative to the elec«toral divisions in Queensland?
– As soon as the Maternity Allowance Bill and one or. two other essential measures are out of the way.
– Has the attention of the Minister of External Affairs been drawn to the following statement, made by the chief immigration agent for New South Wales in London : -
Australia is losing this year tens of thousands of the most desirable settlers through lack of steamer berths. Shipping agents get disgusted, and say, “ Oh, it is no use talking about Australia, you must go somewhere else 1”
In view of these and several similar statements, is the Minister taking any steps to relieve the congestion in London by providing further shipping accommodation, in order that more desirable settlers may come to Australia ?
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Can he say whether there is any provision made at the present time for storage of food and water at Middleton Reef for shipwrecked people; and, if not, will he look into the matter with a view to such provision being made?
– Middleton Reef is situate in the Pacific Ocean, latitude 29.28 S., longitude 159.4 E., nearly midway between Clarence River, New South Wales, and Norfolk Island. It is about 300 miles from the Australian coast, and about 135 miles north of Lord Howe Island. It is from 1 1/2 to 3 miles broad. Its outer edge dries at low water. There is an anchorage on the north-west side, between the north-east and north-west horns of the crescent. There is no provision dep6t there. As the reef is submerged at high water, a large expenditure would be required to establish a provision depot. In view of the more pressing necessities on the Australian coast to be dealt with ar the present time, the question of establishing such a depot must be deferred.
Age of Retirement
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
At what age do the Justices of the High Court retire from service?
– There is no age fixed for the retirement of the Justices.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the public conviction that a meat combine is seeking to control the meat industry of Australia, will the Minister consider the necessity, in the interest of the public of Australia, of prohibiting the export of meat that has been kept in cold storage for a longer period of time than two months, and so destroy the most dangerous weapon of the American Trust, viz., the indefinite cold storage of meat, butter, and food products?
– I shall be glad to give the suggestion consideration, but I very much doubt if given effect to it would be attended by any beneficial results. The cold storage of the produce in question is not limited to Australia, where alone we may exercise control.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY laid upon the table the following paper -
Landa Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at -
Fremantle, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Pinkenba, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Debate resumed from 24th September (vide page 3364), on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That this Bill be now read a second time. Mr. OZANNE (Corio) [3.1].- The
Prime Minister, in introducing this measure yesterday, laid emphasis on the fact that it was not a baby bonus Bill, but a measure for a maternity grant. While I recognise that there is a difference between the two, I believe that this Bill will have a very material effect on the population of Australia. We possess a magnificent country of the enormous area of 2,974,581 square miles, and it is remarkable that, on the 31st March last, the white population numbered only 4,602,352, equivalent to 150 people to the 100 square miles. In view of the possibilities of the future, the fact is forced upon us that we must either fill this great continent by means of immigration or pay greater attention to our natural increase. Some of the States have adopted a policy of immigration; but, unfortunately, the system does not commend itself to me. Instead of starting at the foundation of our wealth, and opening the land to our own people, or the people from abroad, a number of artisans and labourers are being introduced. It may be thought by some people that an overcrowded labour market will lead to cheaper labour; but, with our Wages Boards and arbitration laws, I see very little likelihood of such a result. Under the circumstances, if we have great numbers of unemployed, it means extra taxation, because, in Australia, we cannot permit any man, .woman, or child to starve or go homeless. It is for that reason I say that, while the policy of immigration adopted by the States is a good one, the system by which they are proceeding is bad. Our natural increase concerns the medical fraternity more, perhaps, than it does laymen. A very interesting address was delivered in Adelaide by Dr. F. S. Hone, B.A., M.B., B.S., President of the South Australian Branch of the British Medical Association, who said -
But we are so interested in this side of the question (immigration) that we are in danger of forgetting our own natural increase, which, after all, is the true criterion of our future success as a nation builder.
I believe that that utterance strikes the true Australian sentiment - that the success of our nation depends much more on natural increase than it does on immigration. We are all anxious, I am sure, that the population of Australia should be great enough to protect the country from possible invasion. There is no doubt that, if we do not put the country to its best use, some other nation, which can do so, and is strong enough, may take the matter out of our hands. I find that last year the increase in our population totalled 143,624 ; and I cannot think that ny honorable member can be satisfied with such a state of things. If our population does not grow more rapidly we may, as I have already indicated, find some other nation confiscating the acant territory. It is necessary, in considering this matter, to pay regard to the excess of births over deaths, and of immigration over emigration. From 1907 to 1911 the excess of births over deaths was as follows -
ft will be seen that the increase in population by this means has been anything but rapid. The increase of immigration over emigration in the same period was -
This shows remarkable progress during the last five years, culminating in a record last year ; and 1 only wish our natural increase had been as satisfactory. The prosperity of a country is to a great extent denoted by the marriage rate, and last year I am pleased to say the number of marriages registered was 39,482, the largest ever recorded for Australia. Very interesting results are arrived at by comparing the marriage rate of Australia with those of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In the five years to which I have already alluded the marriage rate in Australia slightly increased, as the following figures show. In France, notwithstanding that the birth rate is dreadfully low, we have the rather remarkable fact that the marriage rate is almost as good as that of Australia. In Germany the marriage rate is also good. A comparison is made in the following table: -
In Scotland and Ireland the marriage rate is not as high as it should be, because, by reason of the conditions of those countries, their best sons and daughters have been driven away. I now come to the birth rates, and have taken out the statistics for the same countries. They are as follows -
In 191 1 the birth rate of Australia constituted a record for this country, no fewer than 122,193 births being registered during that year, another record on which the Prime Minister should be congratulated, as it has occurred during his regime. As might be expected from the high marriage rate and the prosperity of the country, the birth rate in Germany is very good, but that for France is most unsatisfactory. Many nations to-day are much concerned about the growth of their population. In France legislation has been introduced to tax celibacy, and to reward productivity, for sterility must make amends to the nation it hurts, since productivity is essential to national progress. In Berlin, the wages of the municipal employes, who form a. large body, are increased as their families grow. Prescott, in his History of Peru, shows that among peoples who have been looked upon as savages the obligation to reward the performance of family duties was recognised, increases in families being rewarded with grants of land. But in our topsy-turvy society married and single are on the same plane, notwithstanding that it is essential to our welfare that our population should increase. I come now to the figures for infantile mortality. They are these -
Although in 191 1 the death-rate of infants in Australia was the lowest on record, there were many more infantile deaths than should have taken place. Australia’s position, when compared with that of other countries, is very satisfactory, but the death-rate of infants could be materially reduced, and I believe that the Bill will tend to lessen it. Dr. Hone, in his interesting and valuable report, says that only a small number of the infantile deaths are due to causes connected with birth. Most of the deaths are due either to pre-natal causes, or to causes arising out of the subsequent environment of the children. He says that 35 per cent, of the deaths are due to prematurity, debility, and malformation, 25 per cent, to diarrhoea and enteritis, and 5 to J per cent, to bronchitis and pneumonia. Some of these diseases may be inherited, and that, of course, raises the question of the fitness of certain parents for marriage. This is a subject more suitable for discussion by medical men; but I have no doubt that in the near future it will have to be dealt with in the interests of the nation, it being desirable to protect future citizens from diseases transmissible by heredity. Another matter of concern, in addition to the birth and death rates, is the relation between the two. Although the human birth rate is among the smallest in the animal kingdom, man has spread over and occupied a large part of the world. This has been possible because he combines with the lower birth rate the greater gap between his births and deaths. Food, water, air, and light are all essentials to life. The last three are obtainable by all, but food cannot be got without money, and to get money it is necessary to get work. When work is not obtainable, or obtainable only now and again, starvation, or semistarvation, overtakes part of the population. This accelerates disease, and shortens the gap between life and death. Such a condition of things is detrimental to that portion of the community which is unmarried, but it is much more harmful to the married members of society, and the sufferings of the parents are handed down to their children. Consequently, any measure which tends to better the condition of the people should receive the mature consideration and the active support of every section of the House. Australia has richer lands to work, and fairer fruits to pick, than have any of the nations to which I have referred. It is only beginning its national life, and has large empty spaces to fill. Consequently, it is the duty of this National Parliament to study the comfort and welfare of every section of the community, and, so far as it can be done, to make unemployment impossible. In 191 1 about 9,000 children of less than one year of age died. In view of the fact that the registration of stillborn children before burial is not required, and that practices which’ cost thousands of lives are well known to exist, it is obvious that the number of infantile deaths could be considerably decreased. When at the Werribee sewage farm I had undeniable evidence of the destruction of child life which goes on in this city, and could tell tales that would cause a feeling of the greatest repulsion. I do not desire to do that. Although not a medical man, I have seen evidence of the destruction of life, and I believe that it is the duty of not only the State, but the Federal Government, to see if it is not possible to prevent it. In dealing with this phase of the question, Dr. Hone said -
And seeing that the death rate among infants under twelve months of age is at once the source of greatest loss to the nation, the most preventable and the least prevented, and that it has been the last to yield to modern sanitary reform, it seems well for a short time to concentrate our attention on this.
In emphatic language this medical man has practically denounced the present system. Whilst we are endeavouring on the one hand to increase our population by immigration, we have lamentably failed hitherto to legislate for the protection of our natural increase. I know that many reforms are necessary to secure that protection, and I recognise that this Bill will provide only a moiety of it. I should like to see the Commonwealth Parliament pass legislation which would provide, first of all, for proper nourishment and rest for the expectant mother. It is all very well for some medical gentlemen to tell us that women employed in some of the factories of the Old World work almost up to the day of their confinement, and that the children do not suffer ; but we cannot overlook the fact that they say very little about the health of the mothers themselves. My desire is that consideration shall be shown to the mothers of the community. During my years of farming life, it was my experience that the greatest consideration was shown to live stock when an increase was about to take place. It appears to me that when there is a prospect of material gain to the extent of a few pounds, many men are prepared to show special consideration to our fourfooted friends, but that they are not prepared to listen to a proposal to expend a few pounds to help the mothers -of the country. The question of proper attention at birth and efficient nursing also arises. I know from personal experience that some of the people who undertake these duties are not competent to carry them out. They are prompted in some cases perhaps by the best of motives, but in others the sole object is to make a few shillings. In the interests of our people, those who undertake the duty of nursing should be competent to carry it out. The supply of pure food is also necessary for the health and development of the child. I was very pleased to read the other day a report by Dr. Jeffreys Wood, in which he referred to the very fine result achieved by the Lady Talbot Milk Depot. He showed that that depot since its establishment had been instrumental in reducing the infant mortality in the municipalities in which it is at work from 88 per 1,000 in 1907 - when we had one of the coolest summers for years - to 64 per 1,000 in 1911. In other words, in closely populated centres, where the infant mortality was higher than that recorded for any year for Australia, this pure milk supply brought down the rate of mortality to 64 per 1,000, as against 71 per 1,000, the record for the whole of the Commonwealth. That, I think, is a very fine achievement. If our municipalities would undertake the control of our milk supply, and see that only pure milk was delivered, splendid results would, be achieved. I come now to the question of environment. In the great cities of the Commonwealth houses are piled one against the other. We have miles and miles of streets closely lined with houses,, and with hardly a break save for an occasional cross street. What has become of the breathing spaces - the “ lungs,” se* necessary to the health of the community ? Had it not been for the energetic work done by the late Mr. FitzGibbon, when Town Clerk of Melbourne, even the few parksthat we have here to-day would have been alienated. It was owing to his splendid work that those we have were saved to us. . It is a generally accepted principle that public parks are essential to the health of a city, but, unfortunately, owing perhaps- to want of foresight in some cases, and to greed in others, many open spaces havebeen handed over to a few individuals toenable them to make a few pounds at a. probable sacrifice of thousands of lives. If we desire to be practical in our legislation we should see that the homes of the people are habitable, that adequatebreathing space is provided, and that instead of being packed closely together they are separated by a space wide enough topermit of a small garden being made. between each. In that way we should secure a healthier and more artistic environment than we have. There are honorable members whowill say that all these reforms would cost millions to bring about. No doubt they would ; but we find that these same gentlemen are quite ready to vote tens of millionsfor defence purposes in order to protect Australia against a possible foe from outside, whilst at the same time they are prepared1 to combat a proposal to expend a paltry half -a million to enable us to cope with a foe within our own boundaries. I cannot understand their attitude. I would sooner vote this amount to protect the people already within Australia than vote for the- expenditure of millions to protect us from a possible foe outside. I come now to a phase of the question that has agitated the public mind for some months - the question whether unwedded mothers should participate in the maternity grant. A deputation from the Council of Churches recently waited on the Prime Minister, and leading speakers on that occasion referred to these unmarried mothers as being unworthy of consideration. I find that during 191 1 6,721 of these unfortunate women brought an equal number of innocent children into the world. Are we to sacrifice the children because of the sin of the parents? No. I am confident that the great majority of honorable members will agree with me that we should not do so. One of the arguments advanced by the deputation was that, if the grant were extended to unmarried mothers, it would encourage other Australian women to do what they had done. Words fail to express my indignation at suchl a statement. It is surprising that gentlemen occupying such an onerous position should think so little of our Australian women, f do not fear the result of our consideration in that particular direction. One would think, according to these men, that motherhood was simply a frolic, and that they forgot that, as one writer has so aptly put it, motherhood has been more dangerous to life than war itself. These unfortunate girls have not only to pass through a time of great mental anguish and suffering, extending over months, but by their fall they are ostracised from society. I cannot understand the attitude of these reverend gentlemen who every Sunday preach of charity, love, and kindness, and for the rest of the week forget all about them. I do not think that such women should be eternally punished. The Christianity in which I believe declares that in time of trial we should render them a helping, hand, if not for their own sake, at least for the sake of the unborn babes. I do not fear the result of this form of Christianity. I indorse the statement made by the Rev. E. Culliford, in a very able article on this question, that -
When Christ shows me he is fearful that a kindly act will not be responded to it will then be time for me to become fearful.
I am delighted to find that many of our great churches - the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, and even some sections of the churches supposed to be represented bv the deputation to which I have referred, do not share the sentiments expressed by the members of that deputation.
– They did not. The Anglican newspaper, the Church Commonwealth, in a recent issue, expressed its gratification at the contemplated introduction of this measure, and congratulated the Government on what it termed a humane piece of legislation. In the course of an article on the subject it made the statement - “ Of course we have the expected outcry against the proposal, as, in some cases, putting a premium on immorality, encouraging fraud by the possible diversion of the bonus money to the purchase of drink, and involving wasteful expenditure. The main point, however, is that a child, however born, is a valuable asset to the country, and every means must be adopted to conserve his and his mother’s life, and to provide for his receiving a good start. Surely the best human instincts would not refuse that.” “ This brilliant piece of legislation does infinite credit to the hearts and minds of those who originated it, and will be welcomed by thousands of women, for whom the time of confinement will be robbed of its terrors, and who will be able to claim the bonus as of right, and not as of charity.”
That is the sentiment of a great church, and it is one that I heartily indorseThen again, Dr. Strong, preaching on this proposal in the Australian Church a little while ago, said -
The question has been asked, “ Should all mothers have the benefit of the endowment?” Those members of the deputation who feared that illegitimacy would be encouraged were, doubtless, quite honest. But often young women who made a false step in life should be as respectfully and as tenderly dealt with as married mothers. They needed all the help they could get to prevent them . from sinking.
I trust that the reverend gentlemen who comprised the deputation to the Prime Minister will read and re-read that last sentence, and that while they preach of their charity from their pulpits every Sunday they will not forget to practise it during the remaining six days in the week. Dr. Strong continued -
The young woman had made a fatal mistake, but it was not for them to judge her. For the child was in danger of being thrown upon the world and made to suffer.
Therein is the true ring of the Christianity which should actuate every honorable member in this House. Day after day in this House we supplicate the Deity to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. Surely if honorable members have any sincerity when they make that prayer they should use every) effort to assist the Government in this laudable measure.
– Then you take up the ground that there is no room for a difference of opinion in a matter like this?
– There is room for difference of opinion, but, unfortunately, the Opposition feel always anxious to sacrifice humanity as an offering to the golden calf. Now, let us contrast the fine sentiments expressed by the foregoing quotations with those voiced by some of the supporters of the Opposition. Take the Ladies’ Benevolent Society, for example. Its members should know something about distress, because they are supposed to be relieving the distress that unfortunately exists in many of our great cities. If they do not know anything about it, who does? But, listen to their charity. At a meeting held in the Town Hall about a week ago, with Mrs. W. Kerr in the chair, the following resolution was carried -
In voicing the opinion of the majority of ladies’ benevolent societies, this executive committee strongly protests and disapproves of the proposed £5 maternity bonus.
– What reason do they give?
– They give none. The trouble with the Opposition and their supporters is that they give reasons for nothing.
– How do you know they are our supporters?
– Birds of a feather flock together. Senator McColl also referred to the proposal as a political job.
– Hear, hear !
– The ex-president of the Employers Federation says, “ Hear, hear I”
– - And even his Own supporters among the ladies look upon him as a weak man, because they said, “The reason we want Sir Alexander Peacock to stand in place of Mr. Mauger”-
– Order ! What has that to do with the question before the Chair?
– The honorable member for Flinders, in an address to the Women’s National League at Camberwell, said -
As a piece of political flypaper, it might be considered one of the most profitable articles put on the market. It was not a dream altogether; it was an inspiration. (Laughter.) But how ought they to receive a proposition of this kind? He said they ought absolutely to oppose it by every means in their power. If they were to pay always increasing old-age pensions, invalid pensions, and unemployment pensions, why not extend the principle in other directions? There was no end and no stopping place to this kind of thing. Why not provide for young couples who wanted to furnish?
If the honorable member looks upon this proposal as political fly-paper, I look upon him as a political blotter, because both in the State and this Parliament he has shown that all sentiments of love towards humanity have been dried out of his heart. On every occasion he preaches in the interests of one class alone. He advocates always the worship of the golden calf. It would be far better if the honorable member had a little more sympathy, and a heart full of love, instead of a heart like a piece of lead, as it is at the present time. These latter quotations I have given are from the gentlemen that are asking the electors to hand back the reins of government to them at the next election. God save the women and children of Australia if those gentlemen ever get the reins again ! Let us contrast with those remarks the sentiments expressed by the women who know - the working women of Australia. Although they are doing their duty to Australia by bringing the unclothed immigrant into the world, they do not know from week to week how they are going to meet their ordinary expenses, much less maternity expenses. What do those women say, those women who are quite willing to nurse a baby instead of a poodle? It is recorded that, at a meeting of the Women’s Organizing Committee, representing the women workers of Victoria, the following resolution was unanimously carried -
That this committee, on behalf of the workingclass women of Victoria, expresses its utter detestation of and resentment at the foul slanders levelled at our class by the members of the deputation which waited on the Prime Minister on the 4th inst. in regard to the maternity bonus, namely, that the moral nature of poor women is so low that £5 would be an inducement to a girl to sell her honour, and even enough to buy a mother’s consent to her daughter’s shame. We further express our warm appreciation of the noble and wise act of the Prime Minister and his party in conferring the instalment of the mother’s maternal rights, and we hope when the finances permit to also have a child pension.
And so do I. I trust that we shall be able to see our way to help the family obligations in that way in the near future. Another meeting of women workers of Australia - these women do not belong to a Labour organization - was that of the
Women’s Political Association. They passed this resolution -
That this association deeply regrets that the Council of Churches, or any body of men or women, should say that the payment of the proposed maternity grant of £5 to the mothers of illegitimate children would offer a bonus to vice. Apart from the hideous slur cast on the whole of womanhood by such a statement, those making it prove they have no real knowledge of the social and economic causes that contribute to a woman’s downfall, or they would be amongst the first to compel society to’ make some compensation to the woman for the sins society commits against her.
– Will the honorable member tell us what he means by a child pension ?
– I shall tell the honorable member when the Bill comes before the House. I trust that we shall be able to submit it next Lession. In conclusion, I fully realize that the Bill does not cover all the ground that I desire to see it ‘cover. At the same time, if I cannot get the full loaf, I am thankful for a part of it, and whilst the individual to-day is going to benefit, twenty years hence the first reward will be reaped by the nation. This is the dawn before the day, whose break- N ing will fill with joy many a mother’s heart, bring back the sunshine to many a tired life, and restore the smile to many a sad face. The babe of to-day is the citizen of the future, with all the grandeur, all the possibilities, of citizenship ahead. None can prophesy the future of the child. Shakespeare, Edison, Arkwright, Stevenson, Milton, Marconi, and other illustrious men came, like the rest of us, into this world helpless. They left it their debtor. In the child we have the nation’s priceless heritage, the gift of God, and this the Prime Minister and his party in their humanity are endeavouring to protect. I am specially proud to be a supporter of a Government that is paying the first national homage to the motherhood of Australia, through whose children our beloved nation will either rise or fall.
.- In connexion with a measure of this description, involving as it does an important principle, and the expenditure of a sum equal to the annual interest charge on the capital cost of our two transcontinental railways, I think we had a right to expect some attempt to be made by the Prime Minister and his supporters, first to show us the necessity for this legislation, and then to prove that it would be effective. With the exception of the last speaker, who has made a valiant attempt to compare the statistics of other countries with those of Australia, we have not heard a single word as to the relative position occupied by the Commonwealth as regards its death rate. The great point which the Prime Minister might have set himself out to prove in connexion with this Bill was, that there was something extraordinary about the infantile mortality of Australia which warranted the Federal Government in entering a field wherein considerable activity has already been shown bv State and municipal bodies, and the various friendly and philanthropic societies throughout Australia. Had the Prime Minister attempted to quote those statistics he would have shown that in Australia at the present time, before the Commonwealth Government suggested a grant of this description, we were enjoying the lowest infantile death rate of any country in the world. I am not going to contend that every effort should not be made to reduce that mortality, and make our country compare even more favorably with others. I merely say that in Australia, with all the difficulties of pioneering a huge continent, occupying it with a handful of people as we have done, and with so much work requiring to be undertaken, we as Australians have reason to be proud of the public and private effort that has been made in the past in the creation of those humanitarian institutions which exist to-day, not only in the various cities, but in many remote country districts. I venture to assert that had the Prime Minister taken the trouble to search the records of other countries, he would have been compelled by the logic of facts and statistics to admit that there is no other country on the face of the earth where so much effort has been made to ameliorate suffering, to give comfort to those who require it in their hour of need, and to make available medical and nursing assistance where they are wanted. Speaking more particularly for my own State, I venture to assert that there is no woman in South Australia to-day who, if she required it, could not obtain, without cost and without the stigma of charity, as good medical attendance as could the wife of the richest man in the State. In the city of Adelaide to-day, and in the metropolitan area, with its system of districttrained nursing - and, if we carry the comparison into the country districts, with the creation of the district hospitals that are being multiplied - I cannot say that every effort, but a very large effort, has been made on the part of the State to attend to this national question of reducing to the lowest possible limits infantile mortality. I am not pointing this out in support of any argument that there is not room for further activity. I merely desire to show that, up to the present, any stranger listening to this debate would have some cause to come to the conclusion that we in Australia have been neglectful of our obligations - that we have not done as much as other and older countries in the same direction. But when we compare Australia with those other countries, we find that the comparison is not to the discredit of the Australian public. Neither did the Prime Minister make any effort to inform the House, as I think we had a right to expect him to do, of what is being done in other countries. He referred, in passing, to Switzerland, and also, slightly, to Germany; but he made no attempt to tell us of efforts which have been made in various countries along similar lines, in order to prove that this grant of £5, under the conditions laid down in the Bill, is likely to be effective in the direction which he, and we equally on this side of the House, desire it should be effective. I am going to attempt to show that, while it is competent for something more to be attempted and accomplished than in the past, there are authorities which indicate, at least, that the granting of a sum of money, under the provisions of this Bill, is not calculated to do all that the Prime Minister and the rest of us desire. I am speaking of the provision of greater medical comforts for those who require them, more nursing assistance, and every effort that it is possible to make to save human life. Dr. F. S. Hone, before the South Australian branch of the British Medical Association in Adelaide, in July last, dealt with this very question. I was so interested in many of the points that that gentleman made that I wrote and asked him if he would be kind enough to send a copy of his address to every member of the Federal Parliament, thinking that the statistics he quoted and the inferences that he drew would be of some special guidance in the discussion of this measure. The honorable member for Corio quoted from the same address, and I intend to supplement those quotations.
– Dr. Hone did not make much more than a passing reference to this subject.
– I take it that we have no need to reduce a question of this kind to mere party politics. At any rate, I am not going to attempt to make any party capital out of it. I join with other honorable members in the desire to do everything possible to provide medical attention, reduce suffering, and save child life. It is not a party question with me, although I may differ as to the effectiveness of the distribution of a mere money grant. Dr. Hone, while admitting that much has been accomplished in Australia in reducing the death rate of infants to the lowest possible point in any country, recognises that there is room for increased effort. He said -
The appropriateness of such a discussion has been further borne out since this paper was written by the proposal of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to dole out apiece to the mother of every infant.
That shows that he had this legislation in his mind at the time.
– And the use of the word “ dole “ indicates political prejudice !
– I hope the honorable member will not try to introduce any feeling into this discussion. I cannot help the language used by Dr. Hone; I am merely quoting it.
– The honorable member is quoting it with approval.
– I am quoting it with approval of the statistics, and some of the inferences drawn, because I regard them as informing ; and I have yet to learn that there is anything objectionable in reading a quotation from a public address available to all other honorable members, if, in my opinion, it bears on the subjectmatter under discussion. Dr. Hone went on to say -
One knows that this proposal is made with the best motives in the world; but it is a most striking illustration of the utterly wrong perspective in which the general public views this vital national problem; and the remedy proposed is only adding a waste of money to the waste of life that is already one of the most distressing aspects of the question. In no other department of public life would any one be listened to who proposed to distribute ^500,000 without the slightest attempt at control of how the money should be spent. It might be worth while to spend half a million pounds to save the lives of half the 9,000 babies who annually die in Australia in their first year of life, but it becomes a very different matter when there is no assurance that even 1,000 of these 9,000 will be saved, when no steps are taken to see that the money is put to the best purpose, and when it is clear that the expenditure of a much smaller sum on lines suggested later in this paper would bring about much greater results.
For as far as this Commonwealth is concerned only a very small amount of infantile deaths are due to circumstances connected with the time of birth. Most of these children are doomed to die either by pre-natal causes or from their subsequent environment. In the former case a subsidy at birth is ineffectual because it is too late ; in the latter case because it is too little - unless the environment is alcoholic, when it is too much. What would .be said to a proposal to bestow on shipping companies a bonus of £s a. head for all immigrants leaving England, if it were known that one in every ten of those immigrants would die within la months of their arrival here, and there were no stipulations with the companies as to selection in England, or conditions of life on the voyage? Yet this is on all fours with the present proposal.
– As a matter of fact, that is the case to-day in regard to immigration - the medical supervision is very scanty.
– There is practically none.
– I am not answerable for all the arguments used here ; I merely quote them on the ground that, on a proposal of this kind, we are entitled to bring before honorable members all the information we possibly can in order to ascertain whether this proposed expenditure is in the right direction, or whether it is not possible that this sum, or even a larger sum, might not be made available in other directions, and thus rendered more effective. The infantile death rate in the Commonwealth is hot only low, almost the lowest in the world, but it has. been steadily falling for years without any monetary gift, such as that proposed in this Bill. In South Australia, according to Dr. Hone, the death rate for the last five years has been the lowest in the world, averaging 68.5 deaths under one year per 1,000 births. I ask, as I asked at the beginning, how has that been brought about? It has been brought about by a recognition on the part of the State, of the municipality, various philanthropic and friendly societies and other institutions of their national obligation to do what they possibly can to reduce the waste of child lite.
– And on the part of parents.
– And on the part of parents. I may mention that in Adelaide another institution has recently been started in the shape of a school for mothers. All this shows that a great deal of activity is being displayed already in the direction proposed by this Bill.
– Most of it is due to better industrial and economic conditions.
– Yes. I do not intend to argue that it is not possible, nay, desirable, that this 68 per cent, should be reduced, but contend, with the authority of medical men and statistics to support me, that the State, the medical profession, municipal bodies, public and private institutions, and the public spirit of the community are alive to their obligations and responsibilities; and I believe that thosebodies, with a little assistance, possibly, from the Federal Government, would be in a better position to deal with this complex question, and produce better results, than the mere granting of a sum of money on the part of Federation without following up that money and ascertaining whether it is effective or not. The mere statement made by the Attorney-General last night that the administration ,of this measure wilt not cost more than 1 per cent, shows very clearly that little supervision is going 10 be exercised. °Dr. Hone then proceeded to emphasize a point of special importance in respect to our efforts to reduce the death rate of infants. He said -
Turning to an analysis of the chief causes ot infantile mortality, we find that by far the greatest proportion of deaths are “ comprised under two heads - and that these two alone give- 55 per cent, of the deaths, 30 per cent, being, constantly due to prematurity, congenital debility and malformation, and 25 per cent, todiarrhoea and enteritis. Bronchitis and pneumonia, so fruitful a source of death in colder climates, only account for 5 to 7 per cent., and here again we are reminded of the favorable natural conditions we enjoy.
We have to remember that this proposed grant of money can have no possible effect on the pre-natal influences referred to by Dr. Hone, and that, therefore, it cannot be contended that the mere grant is likely to have an effect on the death rate of infants throughout Australia. The Prime Minister, not by a direct statement so much as by inference, suggested yesterday that those efforts to which I have referred were not in the direction that would be helpful to the motherhood of this country. I find, however, that Dr. Hone points out that, according to Dr. Borthwick, in his last annual report for the city of Adelaide, a systematic effort is being made in the metropolitan area for nurses to visit the homes, to give instruction and information required by the mothers, and to do all that is possible within the limitations by which they are bound. He points out that the supplying of pure milk is not sufficient, and mentions that medical men find it difficult to induce mothers to carry out their advice. I make these quotations to show on the authority of at least one medical man, that there is room for doubting that the proposed monetary grant would be asconducive to good as honorable members desire that it shall be ; but I met with a storm of interjections by Ministerialists, suggesting that I support this contention for party reasons. That being so, I shall quote the opinion of a Minister in the Labour Government of New South Wales which proposes a maternity and endowment scheme covering the whole State. That scheme was being prepared by Mr. Flowers, and he says -
The essence of the scheme, the cost of which is estimated at about ^60,000 a y».ar, is free medical and skilled attendance in maternity cases. The project is altogether independent of the maternity bonus proposals of the Federal Government.
We are told that Mr. Flowers regards the ^5 grant by the Commonwealth as pinmoney. Had I said as much, I should have encountered a storm df indignation. He says -
The State of New South Wales is in a better position than the Federal Government to take a systematic plan of maternity assistance in hand, having already at its disposal subsidized public hospitals, a system of local government, medical officers in country districts, and a bush nursing institution. Under the scheme the Government will pay medical and nursing fees, and so far as possible, the public hospitals will be utilized. Medical and nursing treatment will be made compulsory, and since the State will undertake the responsibility of paying, the beads of families will be obliged to secure such treatment under penalty.
The State and municipal Governments, having existing institutions and machinery under their control, are in a better position to deal with this matter than the Commonwealth Government, and I am sure that the desire of the Prime Minister to benefit the mothers of Australia would be realized to. a greater extent if the Commonwealth, instead of giving £5 to each mother applying for relief, subsidized the State and municipal machinery. One of the finest and most active philanthropic institutions of Australia is the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, whose members devote a large part of their time to understanding and meeting the requirements of the people. As further evidence that doubt exists as to the wisdom of the proposal under consideration, I shall quote what has been said of this Bill by the president of the Adelaide branch. I regret that honorable members opposite are so impatient of criticism. A measure involving a new principle should be discussed from every point of view. It should not be thrown on the table, and Parliament told to take it as it is, the Government saying, “ We shall not permit you to dot an ‘ i ‘ nor to cross a ‘ t ‘ ; we do not desire discussion, because we do not wish for information, nor do we want to hear the opinions that have been expressed by those opposing this measure. This is the last word on the subject; we have a majority behind us, and are determined to pass the Bill into law.” Ministerialists resent any expression of opinion that does not exactly coincide with their own views. The statement which I wish to read is this -
The maternity bonus proposed by the Prime Minister does not commend itself to the members of the W.C.T.U. It seems patronising, degrading to motherhood, and savours too much of petty politics and too little of broad statesmanship. . . . Far better spend the money -
– Read the whole passage. Mr. GORDON. - I have no objection to doing so -
In its application to the mothers of illegitimate children it can do little good. and may do definite harm by encouraging an evil that is already too prevalent. It is almost a premium to crime.
That is a view that I do not share.
Far better spend the money on subsidizing institutes that quietly provide succour for those who really need help, and, better still, for the prevention of illegitimacy by more careful moral education, more healthful surroundings, better housing.
In France, a system of puericulture has been adopted with such promising results that it is making progress elsewhere in Europe. The system involves notification of birth within a few hours; a prompt visit from a health visitor, and, if necessary, medical attendance; instruction of the mother in the treatment of the child and of herself ; instruction as to the importance of breast feeding, which divides infant mortality by three; the resting, and, where necessary, the support of working mothers for a period of at least one month before and after birth; provision for proper suckling rooms for women employed in factories ; and an educative system for creating a nation of competent mothers. Much may be done by the multiplication of maternity homes, the guaranteeing, where necessary, of free medical attendance, and the instruction of mothers. If a Federal grant were made to assist the activity of the States and the municipal bodies, and to extend district and bush nursing, better results would be obtained than can be expected from the making of a mere monetary grant. A broad, comprehensive scheme, having for its object the assisting of mothers and the saving of child life would have my sympathetic support. Much has already been done in Australia to this* end, and our death-rate is now the lowest in the world, but the last word has not been said on the subject of social legislation.
– Did the Women’s Christian Temperance Union carry a resolution?
– I do not know. Mrs. Nicholls is the head of a large institution, and a well-known public woman, and the views I have quoted were uttered in her presidential address. I think them worthy of notice as being the opinions of one who has taken great interest in social matters.
– Mrs. Nicholls is a most estimable woman, but this is not the first time that she made a mistake in political matters.
– The Government would have- done better in going into this matter carefully, to see whether more could not be gained by taking advantage of and extending the usefulness of the existing machinery for giving relief and preventing the waste of child life, which is a matter 01 national concern. Had a bold and broad scheme been proposed, it would have re- ceived the unanimous support of honorable members. We, on this side, no less than Ministerialists, are agreed that everything practicable should be done to improve the social conditions of Australia.
.- No one could have listened to the debate without being impressed with the desire of honorable members generally to do what they can, as members of Parliament, to prevent the waste of child life, and to help the mothers of the nation at the critical period of child-bearing. We all know that the value that we attach to human life is the test of the standard of our civilization, and that the neglect of the aged and the sick was one of the blots of the civilization of the early days. Imperial Rome and cultured Greece, in learning and in literature, had reached a stage in many respects equal to our present day standard, but their standards of efficiency were very largely vitiated by the little value which they attached to human life. We find, however, that under a common belief that has come down to us through the centuries every possible effort has been made to save life, and especially the young life of the community, as well as to care for the aged. All-round efforts in this direction have been made since the beginning of the common belief of the present day, and this is but another step along the same path. It is one concerning which there is room for a difference of opinion, and a difference of opinion is being expressed in this House to-day re garding the best methods of bringing about the object that every right-thinking person must have in view. A review of the efforts that have been made since what may be termed the mediaeval ages to bring about the betterment of the human race teaches us that there has been no want of sympathy in this respect on the part of modern communities, and no lack of effort on the part of individuals, as well as Parliaments, to devise means by which the afflicted and those least able to take care of themselves might be provided for. The study of sociology has brought home to our statesmen and thinkers generally the fact that the old means of providing for the infirm and for the alleviation of pain - through the agency of hospitals and kindred charitable institutions - is quite insufficient, and that it is imperative that they should devise some general scheme of aid - outside the scope of these noble institutions - that” will not sap the individuality of citizens. It must not be imagined that we are dealing with a problem first hand. A common conception of this measure would lead some to believe that a proposal of the kind had never previously been put before a Parliament. As a matter of fact, in some countries where the study of sociology and economics has had to be grappled with in a way of which we know little, there have been placed on the statute-books measures of far-reaching importance, designed to cover, not only such cases as we are discussing to-day, but the whole gamut of misfortune, and accidental incapacity. My complaint is that there is a lack of statesmanship in the conception of this Bill, and in the method of its application. Information of the fullest character has already been placed before the House in the shape of a comprehensive report by the eminent Australian Statistician, Mr. Knibbs, who gives a /isumi of schemes in operation all over the world. Every European country has adopted some scheme to provide, not only for assistance or aid of the character we are now discussing, but for help during periods of incapacity, unemployment, and so forth.
– But the honorable member has no information concerning Bobby Burns’ question as to the reason why they do it ?
– A quotation from Robert Burns cannot solve every problem that a statesman has to face. We have, in this Bill, not a mere expression of sentiment, but a direct proposal to give practical relief. I regret very much that the Prime Minister, who stated in moving the second reading of the Bill that it embodied a scheme which is only part of something to come, should have made so little reference to the larger and more beneficial schemes that have been working for a considerable time in the older countries of the world. I regret that there should have been brought before this Parliament, which is supposed to be the most democratic in the world, a scheme so lacking as is this in the essentials of statesmanship, in the breadth and scope of its application. Other countries furnish examples of wider schemes of social reform than those before us to-day, and I _ regret that we have not made a greater study of them. Two great nations have already adopted schemes of a far-reaching character. Germany has in force a system upon which is founded the larger and more comprehensive scheme passed successfully through the Imperial Parliament by Mr. Lloyd-George last year. In 1878, Bismarck translated into something like concrete form the growing sentiment of the sociologists of Germany. He based his proposal for a scheme of social insurance on these premises -
In order to realize these views a Bill for the Insurance of Workmen against Industrial Accidents will first of all be laid before you, after which a supplementary measure will be submitted providing for a general organization of industrial sick-relief insurance. But, likewise, those who are disabled in consequence of old age or invalidity possess a well-founded claim to a more ample relief on the part of the State than they have hitherto enjoyed. To devise the most appropriate way and means for making such provision, however difficult, is one of the highest obligations of every community based an the moral foundations of Christianity. A more intimate knowledge with the actual capabilities of the people, and a mode of turning these to account through corporate associations, under the patronage and with the aid of the State, will, we trust, develop a scheme which the State unaided would have found beyond its power.
This forecasted pressing into the service of the National Legislature all those subsidiary bodies, such as friendly societies and like organizations engaged in the dispensation of relief, in order to make the national scheme a success. Bismarck realized, as a great many thinkers realize at the present time, that a scheme under which it was proposed to grant a subsidy to any section of the community without first of all providing a means by which those who were to participate in its benefits should contribute to it was calculated to affect seriously and fundamentally the self-reliance and character of the citizens.
– What authority did he have for that view?
– He had only to go back to the Roman Empire to find plenty of illustrations to support it. The Roman Empire, as we know, reached a very high standard of civilization, but crumbled into decay; whereas the nations of Europe, under a new dispensation, have risen to positions of great power. At a time when Germany was rapidly developing from an agricultural into also an industrial state, Bismarck thought that it was advisable to bring in a scheme, not to pay pensions, grants, or aids out of the Consolidated Revenue only, but to provide for compulsory social insurance. As Mr. Knibbs states -
It was not, however, until Bismarck had come to the conclusion that the best way to counteract the growing influence of social democracy, which he regarded as an evil, was to improve the social position of the working classes as much as possible, by means of measures introduced by the Government, that an extension of the principles underlying the creation of the miners’ funds … to the majority of the wage-earning classes took practical shape. It was on the 17th November, 1881, that the Imperial message recommending the establishment of various social insurance systems was communicated to the Reichstag.
This system of compulsory contributory insurance was introduced to make that ample provision to which reference has already been made, while at the same time preserving, as far as possible, the self-reliance and character of the people.
– How could that apply to young women ? Would the honorable member compel all of them to insure?
– I shall come to that point later on.
– The honorable member knows that the High Court would not allow us to do so.
– There is no occasion for the honorable member to drag the High Court, like King Charles’ head, into everything. Schemes for insurance against sickness, accident, and old age, and embracing other special provisions, were covered by the German measure, which applied even to prisoners. These enactments covered a period running from 1883 up to the present time. The extent to which the German system has gone is an evidence of its great success. I know it has been subjected to a good many criticisms, and a number of weaknesses have been found in it ; but no great body of people will be found in
Germany at the present time prepared to ask for its repeal. The whole population of Germany is 62,000,000. The wageearners number 15,500,000. Those insured against sickness total 12,500,000. Those insured against accident number 19,000,000 ; and against invalidity, 14,000,000. The total number of cases benefited by the various branches of social insurance since the introduction of the different insurance laws, to the end of 1907, was 81,000,000. The total benefits and compensations paid amount to no less than £315,000,000. The workmen have paid less than half of the contributions, while the compensation paid to them has already exceeded their contributions by ^135,000,000.
– The employer contributes half ; but, in reality, the employe” pays the lot.
– Roughly, the State pays about one-third, the employer about a third, and the workman about a third.
During the consideration of these Continental schemes, the same problems have been agitating the best minds of Great Britain. The question of providing for the aged and sick has been discussed in the Old Country since 1772. These discussions were generally of a theoretical character till 1885. From 1885 onwards, the weight of minds like that of Mr. Chamberlain was thrown into the advocacy of a voluntary system, while Mr. Charles Booth, the eminent sociologist of Great Britain, and others, were in favour of a universal State system. Those alternatives were discussed side by side, and, in order to settle the difficulty, quite a number of Royal Commissions were appointed in Great Britain from 1 885 onwards, cul:minating in the Old-age Pensions Act passed some two or three years ago. The various Commissions offered reports that differed widely from one another. The voluntary system was abandoned as being impracticable, and attempts were made to engraft . a voluntary system upon the great scheme of friendly societies already operating in Great Britain. This was finally abandoned, because it was believed that a voluntary system would not be satisfactory, judging by Continental experience, and also by reason of the fact that people will not voluntarily readily contribute to a fund for old age when the period of old age is generally far distant. It was generally recognised that the question of provision for old age ought to be considered on a slightly different basis from the provision for unemployment, sickness, maternity, and other beneficent objects. The result was that the cost of the old-age pensions scheme passed two or three years ago in Great Britain was to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue.
The scheme introduced last year by Mr.LloydGeorge for national insurance was, in the light of larger experience, almost wholly founded on the German experience of contributions from the employer and employ^, with a subvention from the State. That is the scheme which I think should have been considered by this House in the first instance, instead of the bringing forward of a proposal such as we have before us, in a purely partial spirit. I recognise that the problems that the older nations have had to face in their greater amount of poverty and smaller wages have made the passing of schemes of the kind I have indicated infinitely more difficult than anything that we shall have to face in Australia, where the conditions are so much better. If it was possible to pass a scheme of the kind that they have operating in Germany, and on the statute-book in Great Britain, it would be infinitely easier for Australia, with its great prosperity and its smaller modicum of poverty, to do the same thing in a way that would have been quite as far-reaching, and very little more expensive to the State, than the present proposed appropriation, while making more ample provision than is proposed under the present Bill. The honorable member for Angas spoke very effectively last night on the dangers facing any community which is more and more educated to lean upon the State instead of cultivating individual selfreliance. It is quite easy to train a people to forget their individual duties and responsibilities and fly to the State for everything they require. They get to depend upon the State as some kind of omnipotent authority that can give them anything they like to ask for, without any exertion on their part to contribute towards its cost. In saying this, I do not forget that the State, as the central government, is in a position, by reason of its authority, to initiate and enforce far-reaching schemes that would be impossible for any section of the community to attempt, and that it is the duty of the State to intervene, in order that its weaker citizens may be properly protected. All those* functions of the State, however, can be exercised effectively under a system that will not sap the individual self-reliance of its citizens, which is the danger of the scheme we now have before us.
– Outline a scheme that will not do it.
– 1 believe the scheme introduced by Mr. Lloyd-George offers every opportunity for people to preserve their self-reliance, while utilizing the strength of the State to enforce it. His scheme will embrace, in the first year, something like 14,000,000 workers between the ages of sixteen and seventy, who will be enrolled under one of two headings - compulsory insurance and voluntary insurance. He has made it not only a condition that those who are not already members of a benefit society shall compulsorily insure, but he has made certain other provisions that will assist those who are not able to take advantage of either of those means. He makes provision for medical attendance during life, for periodical payments during sickness, for periodical payments during disablement, for treatment in sanatoria when suffering from consumption, and for maternity benefit. The maternity benefit will not be given after the event only, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out yesterday. A certain sum is payable per week for a certain time before and after.
– It amounts to only £3 10s. in the aggregate.
– It is £1 10s. per week, and is not restricted to any particular period; but, on the ratio of the wages paid in Australia, there is no reason why we should not initiate a scheme making provision to the extent of £2 10s. a week, and covering several weeks. That would be a much better provision than a single payment by the State. Part I. of Mr. LloydGeorge’s scheme will be financed by payments to a common fund of 4d. per week from the workmen, 3d. per week from the employers, and 2d. per week from the State. That first part includes medical benefits, periodical payments during sickness, periodical payments during disablement, treatment of consumptives in sanatoria, and maternity benefit. Similar payments, but rather less, operate under Part II. of the scheme, which is to provide for unemployment. That is something which has not so far been mentioned by the Commonwealth Government, although one of the sorriest positions we have to face in this community is the possibility of large bodies of men, willing and anxious to work, being thrown periodically on the labour market. No Government that does its duty should allow that state of things to exist for any length of time, especially when they have full authority to make provision against it.
– There should never be unemployment in a new country like Australia.
– The honorable member will admit that our social system is not yet so perfect as to prevent it. The second part, then, of Mr. Lloyd-George’s scheme provides for payment during the period of unemployment, and forms a separate fund for contributions similar to those under Part I. The administration of the scheme is intrusted largely to private societies. It has been introduced and carried through by a man who is described as having Socialistic tendencies; yet his scheme has as its very foundation that foresight, that desire to make provision for a rainy day, and that encouragement of thrift and self-denial, which are absolutely essential to the formation of a strong, independent, and selfreliant race. He also makes the payments compulsory.
– What wages are the men getting who are compelled to pay ?
– We are discussing the possibility of making provision under existing conditions. ‘We are not, first of all, establishing an ideal set of conditions, and then building a policy out of it, but are building up a policy from circumstances as they exist. While passing a measure of this kind, beneficent and far-reaching as it should be, there is no reason why Parliament should not turn its attention to the industrial phase of the question. That is a separate consideration. The administration of the scheme in Great Britain is intrusted largely to approved societies, and the vas majority of insured persons will be enrolled by those organizations, but a certain percentage of workers will be unable to find a society to take them. These will be, generally speaking, bad lives. They will be dealt with as being outside a society, but they will pay- their contributions into the post-office, and their benefits will be administered by an insurance committee. I cannot go into all the details, but merely point out that friendly societies and local organizations are utilized in every possible way, though necessarily controlled by a responsible body of commissioners appointed by the National Parliament. It was pointed out last night by the honorable -member for Angas, and later referred to by the honorable member for Fawkner, that we had an example of the evil effects of direct payments out of the Treasury when Rome had reached, perhaps, its highest state of civilization.
– We were told that Rome succumbed or came to decay owing to luxurious living.
– It did, and simply because the self-reliance of its individual citizens »had been sapped. About the second century before Christ, Rome was in a very parlous state owing to the devastating effects of the Hannibalic wars, which had lain waste the fields and ruined the farmers. It was at that time that the brothers, Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, made their great efforts to bring the land back into a state of cultivation. The cry then, as now in many parts of the world, was, “ Back to the land”; and the result was that land was compulsorily acquired from leaseholders, who had failed, to make proper use of it, and was handed over to others on condition of certain improvements being effected. A thoroughly broad and generous land policy was undertaken, approximating largely to some of the modern systems of to-day, including advances to settlers. In order to encourage the proper building up of certain manufacturing industries within Rome itself, and to develop some kind of commercial life, it was decided to initiate a system of a corn dole, so that the people might not starve. And that corn dole stands out in history as one of the potential causes of the demoralization of the Roman people.
– Who is the honorable member’s authority ?
– I have quite a number of authorities, in addition to Gibbon, which the honorable member may see if he so desires.
– How long did Rome flourish after that?
– An empire does not die in a day; it may start to decay hundreds of years before it becomes extinct.
– How does the honorable member propose to connect this with the question before the Chair?
– I am merely endeavouring to show the effects of ladling out money from the Treasury without, in some way or other, calling upon the people to exercise a little self-sacrifice. We find that, not only the people in Rome itself, but those outside, learned to lean entirely on the central government, and many abandoned the land in order to partake of the largesse in the city. My own opinion is that a scheme based on the principles of that of Mr. Lloyd-George might be applied to the people of Australia without increasing, to any material extent, the demand on the Treasury. It is estimated that in Australia there are about 1,500,000 breadwinners. The friendly societies in the country have a total membership of about 400,000, while income tax is paid by about 100,000 or 150,000, and the number of mothers, who, it is estimated, would come within the provisions of this Bill, are about 100,000. If we deduct from the 1,500,000 breadwinners, the payers of income tax, the members of friendly societies, and add to the balance the mothers, we have a total of 950,000. Under a Lloyd-George scheme there would be required, possibly, a total of about .£2,500,000, the State subsidy on which would not mean more, perhaps, than £750,000. It will be seen that with an increased expenditure of £250,000, it would be possible to obtain a scheme covering, not only the 100,000 mothers, but ad those who required assistance in sickness, temporary unemployment, and so forth. Of course, the payments in Australia would have to be an increase on those in England; and in this -connexion I have taken the trouble to look up some figures in regard to what the people here spend on sport. Mr. Price Collier, an American writer, who has recently visited England, says that the people of Great Britain expend more per head on sport than those of any other country with the exception of Australia. It is estimated that the amount spent annually in Great Britain on sport is £45,000,000 a year, or about £1 per head; while the estimate for Australia is about two and a half times that amount per head, or about £11,000,000 a year. Such a scheme as I have suggested would not extract from the breadwinners of Australia onethird of the money they now spend in sport and amusement. I do not say that we should) give up all our sport; but if my idea were carried out it would not make a great demand on the selfsacrifice of the people of so prosperous and progressive a country as Australia. My complaint is that the Government have introduced a partial and inefficient measure, which affords the people no opportunity to make provision for themselves, and fails to provide the assistance required in quite a number of directions.
.- I propose to deal with this Bill, for the most part, from its constitutional aspect. I express the opinion, which I have before expressed, that this measure is not within our power under the Constitution. I give the utmost credit to the Government and honorable members opposite, in so far as they desire to pass a beneficent measure; but if we have not the necessary power, we shall have to forego the advantages, and leave this business to those who have the constitutional right. Human nature is much the same thing everywhere in Australia, and every one is ready to support humanitarian legislation which he believes will advance, uplift, and better society, and give relief and help to those who need it. I am not singular in approving of what I believe to be the object of the Bill, namely, the giving of assistance to women at a time of trial ; but I am altogether opposed to making monetary grants to those who do not require them. I see no reason for taxing the country in order to provide money to pay to persons who do not require assistance. I see no reason for making monetary grants to persons who are well off.
– The allowance will be paid only to those who ask for it.
– It should not be paid to those who are not in need of assistance. Shakspeare makes King John say -
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds Makes ill deeds done, and we should not give opportunity to any person to take from the public Treasury money to which he is not entitled by his need for assistance. But, apart from the merits of the proposal, I hold the view that it is not within our constitutional powers to pass legislation of this kind, and, judging by their speeches, the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General are of that opinion, too. The Attorney-General said that we can spend the money that we obtain from the people as we like, but I take exception to that contention, and do not think that it would be upheld by the High Court. The Commonwealth Parliament can exercise only those powers which have been delegated to it by the States, and are set out in the Constitution; the State Legislatures have all other powers. The object of a measure may be benevolent, but if it is not within our powers to pass it, we have no right to attempt to do so. This measure, being humanitarian in its object, appeals, of course, to a great many persons, and the bringing of it forward on the eve of the general election may not be a bad electioneering move. The Labour party will, no doubt, use it for all it is worth, holding up to opprobrium, as destitute of humanity and regardless of the poor, those who oppose it. Sympathy with the poor is, of course, always a good electioneering cry. Honorable members opposite must know that it is not within our constitutional powers to pass the Bill, or that, at least, our right to do so is very doubtful,” but for the sake of a good electioneering cry, they mean to risk it. The Prime Minister, speaking at Hobart in January or February, upon a proposal akin to this, is reported to have said -
The Commonwealth Government had no power at all to deal with medical men, and hospitals, and chemists.
In regard to a proposal that pensions should be provided for widows and orphans, he asked under what power of the Constitution they could be granted. Senator Needham, who was present at the Conference, replied that “ he hoped the CommonwealthsParliament would get the power,” but the Prime Minister replied -
No one would be readier than he to exercise a power of this kind, but he was afraid it was not within the Constitution. An amendment of the Constitution would have to be brought forward to meet this end, and it should not be limited to widows and orphans. He did not know that any good purpose could be served by putting this on the platform, if there was no constitutional power to carry it into effect. He believed in the principle, but he must vote against it.
If there is no power in the Constitution to provide for the granting of pensions to widows and orphans, there is certainly no power to provide for the granting of a maternity allowance. Have we power to pass legislation to provide for the payment of funeral expenses, or for the granting of an allowance to start him in life to every youth on reaching the age of twenty-one years, or for the making of a gift to every man and woman on their marrying? The State Parliaments, being sovereign bodies, may do what they like with their revenue, so long as they do not infringe the powers which they have delegated to the Commonwealth Parliament; but we, possessing only these delegated powers, cannot make such dispositions of revenue. That was admitted by the Prime Minister at Hobart. He knows very well that, if this measure were brought before the proper tribunal, it would be held that we have not power to make a maternity, allowance. The honorable member for Angas gave it as his opinion, based on cases which he cited, that this Parliament may have power to appropriate money for what is termed an “ ungranted “ purpose, but not to follow it by administrative regulations, that is, we might make a grant of £5, or £$0, or £100, but could not attach conditions and penalties for the .non-observance of them. Some other gentlemen learned in the law with whom I have conversed doubt that there is this power of appropriation, which is my own view. Tucker, in his United States Constitution, says that it has been asserted that there might be power to appropriate, but not to administer, and adds that -
It is inconceivable how a Government can appropriate money to aid the exercise of an ungranted power by any other authority than itself without a breach of trust.
The Bill before us provides for the exercise of an ungranted power, the Constitution giving us no power to make provision for a maternity allowance. Tucker goes on to say -
To use the public money as a means to the exercise of an ungranted power, by controlling its use, would be in reality to exercise a power which has been denied to it by the Constitution.
That is the very proposal which is being made in this case. We are asked to pass a law exercising an “ungranted” power, a power that has been denied to us. It is also proposed that, after we have made the appropriation, we shall control and manage it. That is absolutely forbidden, even in the case of the Federation of the United States; but our position in this regard is very different from that of the United States of America. Professor Harrison Moore, in his excellent work on The Commonwealth of Australia, says, at page 524-
There is, moreover, what appears a vital distinction between the United States and the Commonwealth Constitutions in that in the United States the proceeds of taxation are the unqualified property of the Federal Government, subject to no claim by any one else. The result is that no one, neither State nor citizen, has that definite legal interest in the subject-matter which upon settled principles is essential to any party seeking to impugn the validity of a leg’islative Act.
The proceeds of taxation are not subject to any claim by a State authority ; but, under «ur Constitution, we ate not unqualified possessors of the proceeds of taxation. Professor Harrison Moore points out that-
In the Commonwealth the proceeds of taxation are not the unqualified property of the Commonwealth Government - they are subject to the provision of the Constitution whereby “ surplus revenue” belongs to the several States.
This right of the States at once suggests a limitation upon the objects of appropriation, and gives the States a locus standi for challenging appropriations which may appear ultra vires.
It will thus be seen that our position is very different from that of the United States of America. The proceeds of our taxation are not our unqualified property. The States have an interest in them. Section 94 of the Constitution declares that -
The Parliament may provide, on such basis as it deems fair, for the monthly payment to the several States of all surplus revenues of the Commonwealth.
All the surplus revenue of the Commonwealth under the Constitution belongs to the States. If the Commonwealth does not spend the whole of its revenue, the balance, whatever it may be, must be distributed amongst the States.
– We can make’ better use of it.
– We have resorted to a subterfuge to which I need not refer. We place money to the credit of a Trust Fund to provide for various undertakings, and by the decision of the High Court we have in this way, to some extent, got the better of the Constitution. We are able by this means to put money away for future use. But, supposing that a sum . of £400,000 is voted and applied to the purposes of the maternity allowance, I see no reason why an action by the States to recover that amount as surplus revenue belonging to them would not lie, on the ground that the money had been improperly voted for an “ ungranted “ purpose outside our constitutional powers.
– Section 94 is not obligatory.
– It is, except as to the question of the basis of payment. Those of us who have had anything to do with the Treasury accounts well know that it stands in our road. It was proposed by the last Government that it should be repealed; but as the Financial Agreement was not accepted, it was not, and it gives the States to-day an absolute right to all surplus revenue of the Commonwealth.
– But what would become of the surplus if the Parliament did not provide a basis?
– It would then, I should say, be distributed per capita. The position of the States under this section of the Constitution does away with the doubts expressed by some as to any one being in a position to complain. It is not easy to say that no complaint can be made, in view of the fact that, as Professor Harrison Moore says, the proceeds of our taxation are not the unqualified property of the Commonwealth. They are subject to the provision of the Constitution under which all surplus revenue belongs to the several States.
– When did he make that statement ?
– It appears in the second edition of his work, page 524. The opinion to which I have referred appears to be in accord with the view expressed by Tucker in regard to the United States Constitution. The States have a right to complain, under section 94, if any money is devoted by this Parliament to purposes for which the Constitution does not provide. I hope that I do not misquote the Attorney-General when I say that he stated last night that we have the power to spend, in any way we like, all the money we raise. If that is his view, then the sooner he looks more closely into the matter the better. There can be no doubt, I think, that as long as section 94 of the Constitution remains, we have not that power. I have no doubt as to the unconstitutionality of this Bill, and assuming that we all desire to act legally, and not to usurp powers that do not belong to us, the Bill, if it becomes law, should certainly be referred to the High Court, under Act No. 34 of 19 10, brought in by the present Government. That Act provides that -
Whenever the Government refers to the High Court for hearing and determination any question of law as to the validity of any Act or enactment of the Parliament, the High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter.
The decision of the High Court is to be final. I ask the Government whether they are prepared to do this? If they have any doubts, as I think they must have, as to its constitutionality, they should determine the question by bringing into operation the Act to which I hare just referred, and submit it for the final judgment of the High Court.
– The Justices of the High Court themselves hold different views regarding current laws.
– But their decision in this case will be final. Honorable members opposite appear also to forget that we are legislating in a direction in which the States themselves have full power to go. They have full power to provide for the payment of a maternity allowance, and to do everything for the betterment of the people. 1 do not think any one will say that the people of the States, through their Governments and Parliaments, are indifferent to the wants of the citizens. I do not think it can be said with any truth that they are unmindful of the interests of the poorest of their people.
– They are inactive, not indifferent.
– The same people send us to this Parliament.
– But we are active.
– Have the constituents of the Labour party been urging them along, or are they taking this action of their own volition? It is a reflection and a slur upon the people of the States, and their Governments and Parliaments, that we should attempt to invade their powers and usurp their duties by force, and to assume and declare, that we consider ourselves wiser and more capable of looking after their interests than are those who are on the spot. The States have a large parliamentary representation within their own territory, whereas their representation in this House is limited in numbers. What, for instance, would be said if I, and the remaining four representatives of Western Australia, were to assume that we knew what were the local wants of Western Australia better than did the eighty members elected by the various constituencies, and sitting in the local Legislature at Perth?
– Or the members of the Upper House, sitting in Perth.
– The honorable member seems to have the Upper House “ on the brain.” We will leave the Upper House out of consideration altogether, if it will please the honorable member.
– We cannot do so.
– At all events, when honorable members opposite are able to show that a measure of this kind has been introduced in a State Parliament and thrown aside, it will be time enough for them to talk as they do. The honorable member is always trying to traduce one branch of the Legislature of his State - a State which has been a good friend to him and of which he ought to be proud. He should leave it to other people to try to disparage the Parliament of South Australia. These attempts to belittle the people of the States, who return us to Parliament, is not creditable to any one.
– They returned the honorable member for Hindmarsh to vote against the Legislative Council.
– The right honorable member knows that a State Legislative Council is a fraud; and that is why he loves it.
– The honorable member is impertinent. Why should I love a fraud?
– Because the right honorable member has vested interests.
– Have I ever done anything in connexion with a fraud? The honorable member ought to withdraw the remark if he has any regard for his own character. One feels almost ashamed to be associated with honorable members when they talk about one being fond of being associated with “ a fraud.” I hardly think that those who come into this House as representatives of any State, and who are few in numbers, are as likely to know, in regard to local needs, what is required by their people as- are the members of the Parliament of that State. I am sure that this measure would never have seen daylight if it had not been for a plethora of wealth that seems to have come into the coffers of the Commonwealth. As an ordinary rule, Governments are at their wits’ end to find the means of providing for all the pressing matters that are forced upon them from ali directions, and1 are in a state of “ hard-upness “ from the day they take office until the day they leave it. For the most part that has been the experience of all those that have had anything to do with Governments. Here we have had a plethora of wealth showered upon us through the expiration of the Braddon section, and the imposition of unnecessary taxation. It has not been necessary for the people to press this measure upon us. The Government have come forward with it of their own motion, looking about for something that will do for next election, probably finding their influence waning, and wanting some new political cry.
– Is the honorable gentleman going to vote against the Bill?
– I shall certainly vote that it is unconstitutional if I have an opportunity to do, so, because I firmly believe that it is. From remarks we sometimes hear, one would think that the members of the State Parliaments, during all the years before there was any Federation, have never been mindful of the best interests -of those whom they represent. Look around this ‘ country, and see what has been done. Witness the free educational system in force all over Australia, and costing about £3,000,000 a year. No Labour party used pressure to bring that about; it was the good sense and wisdom of the people of Australia that created it. I introduced the free educational system in Western Australia when we had very little money, and when there was no Labour party.
– Look at the result - a Labour Government.
– I do not see one result that I should like to see - a little good feeling and a little gratefulness. I hear of lot of bombastic statements and fault-finding rather than any expressions of thankfulness for such beneficent legislation, on the part of those who preceded us. The sum of £3,000,000 was given willingly and freely for the purposes of free education.
– By whom was that money given?
– By the taxpayers of Australia; but it was made available through the State Governments introducing the necessary measures into the various State Parliaments.
– Did it come out of the pockets of the Governments, or out of the people’s pockets?
– The honorable member has not been present, or he would know that I have been arguing that the members of the State Parliaments are capable of exercising all the powers given to them under their Constitutions, and of doing their duty to the people they represent. By this measure we are casting a slur upon them, saying, “ You are not doing your duty in regard to this matter ; although it belongs to you, we will invade your Constitutions and usurp your powers, and do it for you.” Has there been any disregard by the people of the States, or by their representatives, of the requirements of the infirm, the aged, and the sick? I do not think there has been. Over £2, 000,000 is distributed throughout Australia, by the States, to those who want it, leaving out altogether the ^2,500,000 that we provide by taxation for old-age and invalid pensions. Although we see all these benefits - with the exception of old-age pensions - provided by the State Legislatures, which have been trying to do their duty to those they represent, and to carry out the wishes of the people, it is reserved for us, who come here representing large electorates and consequently not having the same knowledge of localities in detail, to say to the States, “ We know much more about the matters that concern you than you do ; we know we have no right to do it, but we shall invade your powers and do for you that which we do not think you are doing properly for yourselves, although you have the sole right to do it.” Honorable members opposite seem to think that all they have to do is to gather in large sums of money from the taxpayers of the country, and then give it away here and there. I doubt whether it is a wise policy to distribute money unnecessarily in this practically unproductive way. Will it make two blades of grass grow where only one grew before ? It seems to me that honorable members opposite are absolutely incompetent, or incapable, of dealing with the development and production of this great country. They are good at taking out of the taxpayers’ pockets money that should remain there to assist in developing the country, and good at spending it in a way that is unproductive. There is a limit even to so-called humanitarian legislation. We cannot go on raising revenue and distributing it again, as we propose to do in this Bill, among those who are well off and have no need of it, and ought not to have the opportunity of receiving it. You might as well get all the money possible into the coffers of the State, and distribute it daily or weekly per capita among the whole of the people of the Commonwealth.
– There is no obligation on people to take this allowance.
– That is a most extraordinary argument. Why offer it to them ? It is ridiculous to offer it to a man with £1,000 a year, and say that he need not draw it unless he likes. I would not let him have it at all. He has no right to it, nor does he want it. Those who are in need alone have a right to consideration or help in a matter of this sort.
– If we made it payable only to them it would be called class legislation.
– You would say it was “ spoils to the victors.”
– It is a very good cry to say to those who are in want, “ We give this to you, but remember we give it to you as a right.” The ordinary person would say, “ Right or not, let me have it; I want it.” Honorable members know very well that all this idea about hurting the feelings of people by helping them when they are in need is absurd. I ask honorable members opposite, “ How many people come to you when they are in need, and ask you to lend them money?” Probably a good many poor people come to honorable members during a year for loans or gifts. Are they too proud to take it, when honorable members say to them, “I am glad to be in a position to help you?” Do they not say to them, “ I “thank you; I will pay you back again,” which sometimes they forget to do? All this talk about “right” and “charity” is nothing more nor less than claptrap. The charitable institutions of this country are doing, and have done, an immense amount of good. When a poor man goes to a hospital, and is cared for during sickness, and leaves when convalescent, does he, when returning to his work, have a feeling within him that he must go and put an end to himself because he has been beholden to a great charitable institution? No. He says, “ It was a good friend to me, and when I have an opportunity I shall be a good friend to it.” That is the sort of feeling that a true man has when he receives aid in a time of need and difficulty. That is the sort of feeling in the mind of every honest person who receives benefits. He is not ashamed of having received them, but he makes up his mind, if opportunity offers, to do some good to the person or institution that befriended him in his hour of need. I say that this measure is not within our powers.
– Are you going to vote for it or against it?
– I shall vote in this matter when the time comes to vote. My objection to the Bill is that it is not within our powers, and consequently that it is unconstitutional, and that we are invading the rights and usurping the powers of the States. We are taking upon ourselves duties which do not belong to us, and are affronting and casting a reproach on the States, that they are not using the powers given to them by their Constitutions in the way they should. This Bill, however beneficent it may be, however capable it is of helping those who need aid, is not for us. It belongs to our colegislators in the States, who have always had’ these powers, and who have never parted with them or delegated them to us.
– One of the most noticeable and regrettable features of the debate on this measure, as on many others introduced by the present Government, is the absolute intolerance displayed by honorable members opposite towards any opinions which do not happen to fall in line with the Government proposals. The honorable member for Wimmera, this afternoon, put before the House an immense amount of most useful information, showing the character of the measure introduced by that great statesman Bismarck, and of the Act introduced by Mr. Lloyd-George, who is regarded, at all events in some quarters, as the exponent of the views of the Labour party in Great Britain, in order to” bring about in a different way a similar result to that which is said to be aimed at here. Yet, those most valuable facts, which must have involved the honorable member in a great deal of research, were received on the other side with flippancy, laughter, and indifference, as if this measure were heavenborn, and nobody but a fool could take exception to it. That is a very bad characteristic of the party opposite; and if we are ever to become a’ deliberative body, meeting together with the idea of doing our utmost to bring out the real truth of a proposal, that result will never be reached in this way. It has already had the effect upon me of discouraging me from attempting to throw light upon the serious problems which come before us in this House. This afternoon it has, I think, been more noticeable than before. The contribution of the honorable member for Wimmera, as I have said, has been treated as if it were waste paper, and his breath merely thrown away on a useless proposal. I have taken, I think, as active a part as any member of the House in philanthropic work of a voluntary character in my own State. No one who knows anything of the work I have done will doubt that I am just as earnest as honorable members opposite in my desire to better the conditions of not only the working classes, hut every class which is in need, trouble, or want in that State. But one does not carry one’s heart on one’s sleeve, and confer indiscriminate benefits upon other people without considering the circumstances. I could not help being struck with the attitude of the other side of the House towards the emphasis of the honorable member for Wimmera of the fact that in both Bismarck’s; scheme and the scheme of Mr. Lloyd George there was an encouragement of the principle of thrift, by compelling those who were going to be benefited, to make some small contribution. In the case of the German scheme, in which many millions of people axe now included, and in the case of Lloyd George’s scheme, the participants have to contribute. The Labour party here propose nothing that would involve any contribution. They know very well that this great distinction between the principle of an insurance measure and the principle of an eleemosynary measure - one requiring a contribution, and the other assuming the character of a largesse - is one they are forced to observe under their programme. Why has the Labour party not brought down a comprehensive scheme of “insurance” against the misfortunes to which humanity are heirs? Why have they not brought down a scheme similar to that in England, giving some guarantee that everybody who participates in the State aid shall make some modest contribution towards the cost? We can see for ourselves that there is no desire and no in- ‘tention on the part of the Labour party to do anything that will require their own class to make a contribution. It is all very well to say that the working classes are going to pay for this; but when we take £1,500,000, or three times as much as is necessary to carry this Bill into effect,’ out of the pockets of the land-owners of this country, while the working classes do not contribute one farthing of that taxation, how can it be said that those latter are helping to pay the cost ? If the Labour party proposed to bring down a scheme such as I have suggested, they know very well that in their leagues and conferences they would meet with an amount of opposition which’ would prevent them from taking the step.
I desire to approach this question impartially, notwithstanding the attitude of the other side. We have had two honorable members opposite, this afternoon, parading their ‘Christian spirit in regard to the Bill ; and no doubt, when the election comes next year, that spirit will be paraded before the electors; But where is the Christian spirit in a Bill which makes a gift to the white people alone, and ignores the 70,000 black people from whom we have taken this territory ? What Christian spirit was there in the act of the party in deporting hundreds of kanaka children, who had been born, educated, clothed, and Christianized in this country, to barbarous islands, where they were likely to return to the benighted conditions of their parents? I am sick of this constant parade of Christianity, and of the denunciations of those who wish to approach these great problems in a thoughtful and cautious manner. The great difference between the two schemes is, as I have said, that in the one we have insurance, and in the other we have largesse. The honorable member for Wimmera very properly pointed out that, although it took many years, and even centuries, the growing system of largesse in different forms in the Roman Empire, had the effect of demoralizing the people by teaching them to rely bn the State for benefits to which they did not directly, or, in many cases, indirectly, contribute. We ire told that this Bill has its humanitarian - aspect. I entirely doubt the sincerity of the measure; and I do not hesitate to say so. I have no hesitation in saying that this is a deliberate political placard put up at the end of this Parliament in order to help the Labour party at the next election. Why, after twelve years, has this thought first occurred to the Labour party? The House will, I think, be edified when they hear a quotation from a speech by the Prime Minister at Hobart, which I believe some other honorable member proposes to read. This quotation will show that there has been a complete change of front on the part of that honorable gentleman in regard to the propriety of this measure. As I say, I doubt its sincerity, because we are told, in the first place, that it has humanitarian purpose. Why is this distinction drawn between black and white if humanitarianism is the purpose? I refer honorable members opposite to a great writer whom they frequently quote glibly, but whom they apparently never read ; I allude to Karl Marx, who said, “All men are equal, irrespective of colour, creed, or religion.” Do honorable members follow Karl Marx, when he runs counter to their own feelings and thoughts? They treat Karl Marx as they treated the honorable member for Wimmera this afternoon, almost trying to stifle him when he gave information that would throw light on the measure.
Although the Prime Minister told us that this money will afford relief and be some compensation for the pain, trouble, and inconvenience of child-birth, we find it provided that if an unfortunate woman has a still-born child she shall not receive one farthing..
– The honorable member has not read the Bill.
– Where is the humanitarianism or compensation when a woman is told, after raising her hopes, that, in addition to the tragedy of the loss of her child, she shall be deprived of this assistance ?
– The honorable member has not read the Bill.
– I have read the Bill with care. The Bill also provides that if a child does not live twelve hours there shall be no payment to the mother. Where is the humanitarian consideration for the mother in such a case?
Several honorable members interjecting,
– It is impossible for the honorable member for Parkes to proceed in the face of these continuous interjections. I appeal to honorable members not to interject.
– It is a fair sample of the treatment which anybody gets who has the courage to confront the Labour party, and tell them what he thinks of their legislation. We are told that this Bill is going to have an economic effect in helping us to people Australia, ls it not a fact that this Government have systematically objected to contribute money in any form, or to use their influence, to assist immigration to this country? Is it not a fact that, when the High Commissioner proposed to spend ^100,000 a year in advertising Australia they cut down the expenditure to one-fifth?
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Only a moment ago I made an appeal to honorable members, and now there are two honorable members conversing across the chamber. 1 must ask honorable members to maintain order.
-My desire is to expose the hollow hypocrisy of the Labour party in telling the people, through the press, that their objects are Christian, humanitarian,’ and economic, when, for years, although they have been in office, they have neglected every possible opportunity to assist immigration. When the trades halls, and other trades bodies-
– Does* the honorable member connect this with’ the subject before the Chair?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker ; I desire to show the inconsistency of the Government, and their supporters - how they have refused to assist immigration, and have created a false impression in England in regard to the need for population in this country. It has been pointed out by the honorable member for Swan, the honorable member for Wimmera, and the honorable member for Boothby, that, in all the States at the present time, there are numerous institutions carrying on the identical work proposed to be done by this Bill. What would be more easy than for the Federal Government, if it were really sincere, to undertake to increase the allowance to the States from the Customs and Excise revenue, on condition that the extra money were spent in this very work ? What instrumentalities has the Commonwealth for carrying out such a measure? The Government shirk that point, and say that they will get over the difficulty of inquiring into circumstances by giving a full sum of money, irrespective of circumstances. Surely it would have been much easier to delegate to the Commissioner under the Bill the duty of seeing that the money given to the States in the way I have suggested was properly spent by the State agencies existing for this very purpose. How can the Commonwealth itself do this work as effectually as the States are doing it? Have we had any evidence put before us to show that the States have failed in their duty in this respect? We know that a large part of the work is done voluntarily. The New South Wales Government - and I take this as merely an instance of what may be done in other States - are now embarking on a scheme for the identical purpose contemplated by the Bill. This legislation is on a par with the wasteful expenditure of money in attempting the duplication of savings banks throughout Australia. We have an attempt now to duplicate institutions which have been in existence in different States for years and years, merely, as I say, without hesitation, and as I shall tell the people, to make a placard in order to appeal to the emotional side of the electors and win votes at the next election.
– The honorable member admits that the measure is popular?
– The honorable member seems to think that the admission that the measure is popular holds out some hope to him for success at the election. I do not care whether or not a measure is popular; I have not been in the habit of doing things because they are popular. If I think that a measure is wrong, or will have demoralizing effects on the people, I always do my best to oppose it.- The agencies which exist in the different States are well established, and ample for the. purpose. They are conducted largely by voluntary effort, which we know is always better and more wholesome than compulsory effort. The Government, if it were really in earnest, without any desire to put up a placard for the next election, would utilize those agencies, and so gratify their so-called Christian and philanthropic sentiments. I wish to say a final word regarding the constitutional aspect of the matter. I agree with the view expressed by the right honorable member for Swan. The States have surrendered certain definite powers to the Commonwealth, and these are welldefined under thirty-nine heads in section 51 of the Constitution. The Government know well that if they sought to introduce a system of insurance, with contributions from persons participating, they could do so under the Constitution; but there is nothing to justify this system of largesse. When I asked the Prime Minister, some days ago, what constitutional justification there was for the introduction of the Bill, he said that he had not asked for the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral on the subject, but that as the Bill had been drawn in. the AttorneyGeneral’s office, he was satisfied as to its constitutionality. The public should know that all Bills are drafted in the AttorneyGeneral’s office; and his answer, therefore, amounts to this : that the fact that the Government draftsman drew up the Bill is sufficient to make it constitutional. The argument of the Attorney-General seems to be that you have only to show that a proposal involves appropriation to justify it constitutionally. Like the honorable member for Swan, I ask where will this view lead us ? If it is enough to show that an appropriation is involved, there is nothing to prevent the Government from making a gift to every widow and orphan, and to others, by reducing the State share of the Customs revenue, thus depriving the States of money to which they are entitled. If section 51 of the Constitution covers all the powers that this Parliament can exercise, the argument that appropriation is a justification for a measure like this would be unworthy of the most ignorant layman. Why has the measure been brought forward at this moment ? Has the Prime Minister been able to show that any similar legislation has been proposed in any other country? As the honorable member for Wimmera pointed out, in Germany and in Great Britain it is not the granting of largesse that is provided for, but the institution of insurance schemes, with contributions from those entitled to receive help in the future. I have been asked whether I am prepared to support the Bill. I have noticed a desire on the part of honorable members opposite to heckle speakers on this side, with a view to getting into Hansard answers that may be conveniently used against them at election time. In its present form, the Bill is undesirable, but I shall join heartily in any attempt to so modify its character as to make it acceptable. Honorable members can afford to laugh, because, having a solid majority of ten, the Government can carry anything they choose to bring down. 1 shall vote against the measure in its present form, because it is an insidious one, and is introduced for a bad political motive, the intention being to temp’t the people to give this Government a political advantage which they could and ought not to obtain on their merits.
.- The honorable member for Parkes has given us his usual lecturette, in his usual bombastic style. As usual, he has accused Ministerial supporters of being prompted by anything but honorable intentions. He seems to think that we should take our light and leading from the Opposition. It is not wonderful that he is concerned about the future, and terms the Bill a political placard, because, although a few years ago he used to be returned by the largest majority, at the last- election he really got in on a minority vote, and he fears that next election his case will be even worse. He fears the verdict of the people. It is amusing to hear him address himself to a question like this. He speaks as if no other man could discuss the problems with which we are concerned ; yet he made it evident that he has not read the Bill.
He declared that unless a child lived for twelve hours after birth, the mother would not receive the allowance, not knowing that the payment must be made to every mother providing that the doctor certifies that the child was viable.
– Is a still-born child viable?
– A child likely to , have lived under ordinary conditions is viable. The honorable member for Swan raised the question of State rights. Whenever honorable members opposite are in difficulties, they raise that question. He attempted to make a distinction between the people of the Commonwealth and the people of the States in this matter, but that is impossible. Although “the honorable member for Parkes said that the measure was unconstitutional, he failed to support that statement with argument. He told us that to say that the making of an appropriation rendered the measure constitutional would be a disgrace to the most ignorant layman, but he did not show how the measure is unconstitutional. I agree with the honorable member for Swan that if we were seeking to establish a scheme for relieving mothers in childbirth we could not do so. The time has not arrived for that. Such matters must be left to the States and the municipalities. A great deal has been said about the systems in vogue in Germany and in other countries, but it must be remembered that Australia is much younger than those countries. Their history goes back for hundreds of years, whereas ours does not extend much over a century. They have dense populations, and our country is very sparsely populated. Their organization is complete, while ours is only in its first stages. We cannot follow the example of Germany and ‘ other countries until we have an organization enabling us to- apply laws similar to theirs. In my judgment, we cannot at present follow their example in this matter. Is that a reason why we should do nothing? No. To stand by and do nothing would be unworthy of any Government. With all respect to the aims of the measure, I say that it provides a very crude way of doing things. This may be described as a roughandready way of arriving at some method of affording relief. I should be far better pleased if we could carry out our object: in a more methodical and thorough manner.. But we cannot do so. The Prime Minister knows that the States cannot be brought into line in this connexion. It is true that the Government of New South Wales have promised a method of relief which, on its face, would appear to be capable of reaching the kernel of the trouble, but as yet the project is only in the air. It has not yet reached the stage of practical politics. .In the other States there is no proposal of this kind afoot, and even if’ such a proposal were submitted to a State Parliament, what guarantee should we have that the Legislative Council would indorse it? Having such obstacles as these to contend with, we have to consider whether the time has not arrived when we should endeavour to give some relief, and even if we feel that this, after all, is only a crude way of meeting a great national necessity, we must find consolation in the fact that it is a basis upon which we can develop by-and-by a better system. We must make a beginning somewhere. I do not admit that our old-age pension system is the best that could possibly be devised and applied to the trouble it is designed to meet.
– How dare the honorable member say that ?
– I dare say what I believe to be right.
– The honorable member will “ catch it.”
– I have nothing to fear. I am not in the position of the honorable member for Flinders who, when he comes into this House, has to “ swallow “ what he has said in another place. Our old-age and invalid pension law, useful as it has proved to be so far as it has been applied, could be more effectively and systematicallyapplied under other conditions. Those conditions, however, do not exist, and we have no power to compel the States to create them. We have not the control of the State Parliaments. If we had power to say to them, “We desire that certain legislation framed on certain social lines shall be passed,” we should have an easy row to hoe in meeting these democratic requirements. But we have no such power. The argument of the Opposition is, “ If you are not prepared to avail yourselves of conditions as they exist, you should do nothing until the conditions which you consider desirable are ripe for action on your part.”
Sitting suspended from 6.2Q to 2-45 p.m.
– Shortly before we adjourned for dinner the honorable member for Flinders asked what was a viable child, and, in answer to him, I explained that even a stillborn child might be viable. A viable child is one which, if delivered under favorable circumstances, could live independently of its mother. The difference between authorizing the payment of a maternity allowance in respect of the birth of .a viable child as distinguished from an immature child is a very important factor in legislation of this character. It must be remembered that, in connexion with legislation of this kind, we have to guard against imposition. If we were not to set forth in clear and concise terms who should be entitled to this allowance, the door would be opened wide to innumerable violations of the law. Abortionists would then be able to ply their trade with much profit. Where they could prove delivery had taken place, they would be able, in the absence of such a provision, to claim the payment of £5 to the woman concerned, even although the delivery were that of an immature child. The provision that the allowance should be payable when the child is born alive, or is a viable child, will practically put out of court any application for the grant on the part of those who are engaged in illegal practices. The honorable member for Flinders asked me whether a stillborn child could be described as a viable child. I said that it could. He seemed to feel that he was justified in laughing at my reply ; but it would appear that the honorable gentleman, who sets himself up as a great constitutional authority in this House, is, like all other humans, liable to err.. Notwithstanding all his learning and knowledge, he did not understand the meaning of the word “viable.” I believe he is wiser now. In all probability he is able to understand that partof the Bill which the honorable member for. Parkes had not even read when he set out to criticise this measure. The honorable member for Parkes indeed made himself look ridiculous when he referred to honorable members on this ‘side of the House as dealing in an ignorant way with a very important question. He remarked that honorable members on this side of the House had referred to the Christian principles embodied in this measure. “Where,” he asked, “is the Christianity of a measure that provides for an allowance in the case of a child born of a white woman and refuses it in the case of the child born of a black woman?” The honorable member said that we were going to refuse this allowance to the thousands of black people, from whose ancestors this country had been taken in days gone by. In making that statement he displayed woeful and inexcusable ignorance of the facts underlying this legislation. His assertion indicates his anxiety to do that with which he charges us - it indicates his anxiety to use his position as a member of this House to propel into the press statements which will mislead the public. He ought to know that the aborigines of Australia are wards of the States. They are cared for by the State Governments, and it is not necessary, by means of legislation of this character, to duplicate the attention which the States are paying to their wants. The honorable member, who at all times poses as an authority in this House, was evidently speaking without his brief. Apparently he had not given the subject any consideration ; he had taken an inspiration from the honorable member for Wimmera, and his statements serve only to show that a lawyer ought to be well seized of the facts1 ‘set forth in his brief before he enters upon the discussion of a question of this character. It may be asked, “ Who are going to benefit by this maternity allowance? Who are the mothers who are going to be relieved by this humane piece of legislation?” My reply is that the wives of the artisans and labourers of this great country are to be benefited - the women who have at times to meet poverty, and to face it under circumstances which would make some of our critics flinch. It has been pointed out that the butchers, the bakers, and other tradespeople with whom the working classes deal recognise that this Bill will have an important bearing upon their business. When the wife of a worker is about to give birth to a child, she has almost invariably to cease her usual weekly payments to the tradesmen with whom she deals. The ordinary income of the household is not sufficient to enable her to provide the money necessary to pay the doctor and the nurse, and at the same time to make her usual weekly trade payments. The retail trader with whom the workers in this country deal will know that, in such circumstances, they will not be called upon to grant deferred payments to the extent that they have previously done. I speak as one who knows, and I say so without any shame. I, like most men, have had my “ups and downs.” Adversity at times has befallen me, from causes over which I have had no control-. The banking crisis of 1893 left me and my better half ill-provided to meet an emergency such as: that which this proposal has in view. We had hard work to find the wherewithal to provide that which was necessary for our offspring, and should have felt that we were graciously treated if we could have received an allowance of £5 to tide us over the difficulty. My case is only one of thousands that exist in Australia to-day. I am not belittling the fathers and mothers of our community when I make this statement. I realize that, in the majority of cases, the mothers and fathers of Australia are prepared to make great sacrifices in order to bring that which they love into the world’ under the best possible conditions. Notwithstanding the prosperity of Australia, the fact is undeniable that there is a great sacrifice of child life at the period of birth. There is also a great sacrifice of the lives of the mothers. Their lives are even more important than those of _ the childrenwhom they are bringing into the world. In many cases a man is left a widower, when? a little attention by a medical man, or careful nursing, would have resulted’ in his wife being spared to care for his seven or eight little ones. Not merely the protection of the mother, but the interests of the whole family, are involved at such a time. If by a little timely aid we can safeguard their welfare, we are doing a service, not only to them, but to the community, which requires population to maintain the ownership and control of a grand country such as Australia is. I think some safeguards will be necessary in the Bill against the misappropriation of the money ; but it is possible to insert them in Committee. The money should, as far as practicable, be used for the purpose for which we are providing it - that is, the relief of the mother. Our opponents are now attempting to diminish the popularity of the measure and discredit the party on this side of the House by inferring that there is no protection against the misapplication of the money by men who are lost to all sense of humanity. I admit that the present proposal, by which people can get the £5 by the production of the certificate of registration of the birth of the child, is fraught with some degree of danger, and the Government might possibly see their way to issue an order,, or orders, that might be presented with the registration certificate - that is, an order to be filled in by the doctor who has attended the woman in her labour, and an order to be filled in by the nurse. Those orders could be given precedence in payment by the official paying the allowance, provided always that the charges of the doctor and the nurse are reasonable. Safeguards in that direction should certainly be provided, because medical men are in the habit of making their charges rather excessive in proportion to the ability of the mass of the public to pay. When they go up to three guineas and four guineas for all cases pf confinement, they are imposing upon the workers of this country a tax which is not in proportion to the money received by the workers for the services they render in their own vocations. Therefore, if the Government were to stipulate a fee that should be receivable by the doctor and nurse on the presentation .of the certificate of registration of the child from the officer paying the grant, the fund would be to that extent protected, and we should know that the woman would be entitled to claim the services of doctor and of nurse sin her hour of need.
– That would involve an amendment of the Bill.
– I think so, and it would be a wise amendment. I am not sure whether it could not be provided for -by regulation. It might possibly be arranged in that way, because all regulations have to .be indorsed by the House.
– Cannot you leave it to the recipient of the money to say who the doctor shall be, and what she shall pay?
– If we are aiming at one thing more than another, it is to secure proper assistance to the mother and the child at the birth. I am certain that we can frame some provision to make it reasonably sure that what we are aiming at will be achieved, by the woman getting the necessary medical assistance where it is available, and, where it is not, the best nursing assistance that can be procured. If -that amendment were made, a good deal of the clap-trap of the opponents of the measure .would be silenced. They are now making the most of every point they can get hold of to discredit the Bill, and are circulating the rumour that there is no guarantee -that the money will not be -diverted from the purpose for which the Government give it, and drunk or gambled away by the husband. The amendment I have indicated will, at any rate, dispel that fear on the part of the critics of the Bill. The honorable member for Wim- mera claimed that the system of giving largesse brought down ancient Rome. Mr.- Sampson. - It helped to.
– It was not that which brought about the fall of the Roman Empire. It was land and money monopoly. It was also the profligate condition of the governing class that degraded and debauched Rome so that she was unable to retain the high and exalted position which she had hitherto occupied. The honorable member for Parkes, who said that the aborigines were going to be left out of the Bill, ought to have known that they ate wards of the States. .
– So are women generally.
– Not to the same extent. Homes are provided for the aborigines; there are protection societies to look after their interests, and medical attendance is provided for them in their camps. The honorable member cannot get out of his’ misapprehension by saying that women are provided for also.
– So they are in every State.
– Women are provided for in a measure, but in a very unsatisfactory fashion. It is a degradation for a man to have to make supplication on his knees for his wife to be allowed to go into one of these private homes.
– They are overcrowded in all the States.
– I know they are, and, what is worse, owing to the lack of thorough inspection, the sanitation and ventilation arrangements, and the comparatively small air space allowed to each patient, are sources of danger in most private hospitals. The lying-in hospitals controlled by private people are often houses that have been left untenanted through lack of modern accommodation. Many of them were mansions of the rich in days gone by, abandoned now by their owners in favour of modern homes. Places which are not considered fit for private habitation by those who own them are now let for private hospitals, or, worse still, for private schools. Before the honorable member for Parkes comes here to lecture men on this side of the House, to educate them, and tell them that they are deliberately using this measure as a political placard, let him ask himself what he did in days gone by. What happened when he disagreed with payment of members, and placated the public with the statement that he would never, take the money, telling them that he was the man of all men who would resist the temptation, because members should give their services to the country free?
– Order ! The matter with which the honorable member is dealing has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.
– If the honorable member who charges us with using this measure as a political placard will only look at his own record of twelve or fifteen years ago, he will find that there is no man on this side of the House that has ever placated the public by professions which he was not sincere in making, more than the honorable member himself has done. He rejected payment of members, and then took the money.
– Order 1
– I can only say that he rushed down to the Treasury, and grabbed the money. The Leader of the Opposition told us yesterday that this Bill involved rather a delicate subject, and that the Prime Minister, by his remarks when introducing it, had touched the hearts of the weaker section of the community. He informed us that he also was sympathetic, and believed that women in their hour of trouble should have some relief, but he subsequently entered into a criticism of the principle of the measure, and told us in unmistakable language that it was a misapplication of the public funds. He said that we had no mandate from the country for it, and that the whole thing was wrong. The only thing that was right was, I think, that he had not the courage to oppose it. The honorable member for Swan told us to-day that the Bill is unconstitutional, and that the subject is one for the States, and should not be interfered with by the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Parkes followed in the same strain. He condemned the Bill in unmeasured terms, and yet where are the trinity when we ask them if they are going to oppose it? These leading lights of the Opposition among the Women’s National Leagues, these sincere men who are against the measure in reality, and would oppose it out and out if they dared, have not the courage to say what they would like to say. They show that they are afraid of their masters, when they dare not cast an honest vote to back up the arguments they have used on the floor of the House. The Opposition have not the courage to do what they profess to do.
The honorable member for Fawkner, who can shed crocodile tears for the working, men and women whenever occasion requires, tells us that he opposes the Bill because it is going to take all the money out of the land-owners’ pockets which is. required to pay for it, and the poor people are not contributing towards it. His objection is that they are getting the necessary money from the land monopolists. The honorable member calls this class legislation, but, if it is, it is class legislation that the public will appreciate to the full. It practically re-adjusts the burden of taxation to the shoulders of those who are the best able, and have the best right, to bear it. After all, the landlord levies tribute on every member of the community, from the working to the professional class; and we find that the opposition to this Bill is really based on sympathy for the landlord. I know that the measure is only the commencement of a large mass of humane, domestic and social legislation, which will be passed in this young country in days to come.
– And in which the Opposition will participate in due time.
– There is no doubt that the Opposition claim credit for all this good legislation; there is nothing that the Labour party has done which is not claimed by honorable members opposite as their work. A maternity allowance, important as it is, is not the most important social reform that has yet to be grappled with. The preservation of the health of the child has to be secured when it is no longer under the care of the mother; and. strong efforts must be made to control a vile disease that spreads throughout the community and is handed down from generation to generation, with immense loss of useful lives and degradation to the race. Such a work involves reform greater than any that has yet been carried out by the Legislature of any country that I know of. In Germany some move has been made in this direction, with provision for inspection and examination with a view to reducing the evil.; but if we could get the history of numbers of children in our blind asylums, and other institutions, it would be seen that there lies before us something more than the mere putting up of political placards, or the placating of the people. The Labour party, when it believes an evil to exist, does not wait for an election, or a mandate from the people; when it has the power, and feels it necessary to exercise it, it at once acts, in the knowledge that the public always appreciate humane legislation. To suggest that we ought to have gone to the people for a mandate on a question of this kind is to imply that we do not understand the electors who sent us here to represent them, and that we are unfitted to think out reforms best calculated to help the manhood and womanhood of this country. I am going to vote, naturally, for this maternity grant.
– Why “naturally”?
– Because every Labour man is governed by natural and humane considerations.
– The Opposition do not say whether or not they are going to vote for the measure.
– They are acting neither naturally nor unnaturally - they are practically gulling the public. However, the people know what we are trying to do, though I defy them to say what the honorable member for Parkes, and others, have been trying to do to-day. The honorable member for Parkes unmistakably showed that he had not his brief ; and had it not been that the honorable member for Wimmera supplied him with an inspiration about Rome I do not know what he would have done. Personally, I fear no public misunderstanding of the motives and objects of the Government in introducing this legislation. I have no sympathy with churchmen who libel our sisters. I do not believe that a man, because he wears broadcloth, is the only one who understands s>ocial questions, or the only one who has a heart to feel for those he too often neglects, in his curacy or parish, while he carefully looks after those who are able to provide his stipend. Talk about Christianity ! I know no more unchristian utterances than those which have already been quoted, and which I shall not repeat, uttered by the heads of some of the Christian bodies in this country. The man who will throw a stone at the woman who has been deluded by the wiles of some man, and thereby made the mother of an illegitimate child, is guilty of an inhuman and brutal act. It would be much better if churchmen were to impress upon fathers and mothers their duty to place a little more confidence in their children, and impart some knowledge of the changes which occur in their lives, raising the danger post, as it were, to show innocent young men and women the dangers and responsibilities that lie before them, and the disabilities that must result from a neglect of that consideration due from one individual to another. A girl who has been deceived and deserted is more entitled to sympathy and assistance than is the girl with a husband to fight her battles. She who has been deceived and ruined by some unworthy member of the other sex is, to me, the most noble object of pity that has come within my experience of the world. I have known fathers and mothers, who, in every other respect most kindly to their children, have never recognised their own responsibility for their downfall. I have known such people spurn their daughters and cast them from their door, never realizing that with them, in their neglect of their duty as parents, lay the stigma; and this is not uncommon amongst people not altogether dissociated from church life. It is not always from the outcasts of society that our fallen sisters are recruited. In sections of religious life we find a fair contribution made to the number of illegitimates, owing partly to the fact that the various functions attended afford opportunities for the exercise of human faculties in a manner not considered natural or orderly. I say to churchmen, “Look after your own flock; treat them as human beings; and do not spurn any of them because, owing to their ignorance and lack of guidance, they have been unable to preserve themselves from danger.-“ We get our women of the street, to a large extent, from those who have fallen through the deceit of men, and have been spurned and driven to degradation in the slums by those who ought to have had every sympathy with them ; and I glory in this legislation which will do something for those heroines. I have known women who, rather than face the Court and bring their deceiver to justice, have hidden their shame, and, week after week and year after year, have sacrificed themselves wholly to the welfare of their illegitimate, but loved, offspring. These women, I say, are amongst the heroines of the country, and should be given more than the. assistance that is proposed. I am glad to be able, even in a crude way, to render some justice to a section of the community which has hitherto been almost wholly neglected. This is not a matter for Christian charity or the philanthropy of rich people, who very often are responsible for the downfall of the poor. It is not to be left to the rich to heal a cancer that they largely create - to heal it by doling out a few guineas a year, in order to hide guilt and shame. The spirit of justice should underlie all legislation in any intelligent and civilized Parliament; and it is to the honour of the honorable member for Melbourne that, in season and out of season, he has advocated the principle of a maternity grant. With pleasure I pay my tribute to him as a man who is dogged and determined enough to keep an unpopular idea before the public until it becomes popular. He must be gratified, I am sure, to feel that he has lived to see the realization of a reform which he has long advocated, and which will, in time, I believe, prove to be the foundation stone upon which we shall build a fairer, more moral, humane, and Christian edifice for the benefit of this our country.
.- There are some prime necessities in the development of a great and empty country like Australia, and amongst these none is of more importance than population. Of all those who come here, none arrive under more favorable auspices than the native born. I sympathize extremely with all attempts to prevent the loss of child life. The responsibility of saving the lives of our children is left with the State agencies, but if we have the constitutional power to assist them, we shall do right in exercising it. The provisions of this Bill, however, are not likely to conduce to that end. Popularly the measure is known as the Baby Bonus Bill, but the Prime Minister was careful to tell us that it is a Maternity Allowance Bill, not a Baby Bonus Bill, and it contains a provision which raises a doubt whether it is really a Maternity Allowance Bill, seeing that the bonus is to be paid only to women bearing live children. The mother whose sufferings produce a stillborn child will not be paid the bonus. This is a serious blot on the measure. Of course, everything turns on the meaning of the word “ viable.” The honorable member for Parkes has given what 1 apprehend to be the true meaning of the word. He says that a viable child is a child capable of living. If that meaning be accepted, the bonus must be denied to the mothers of stillborn children.” Mr. Roberts. - No.
– I am satisfied that a Court of law would determine that a stillborn child is not a viable child. The Bill establishes some extraordinary precedents. It is the first measure that I know of providing for the payment of sums of money without requiring acknowledgments or re ceipts. Clause 8 says that it shall not be” necessary for the claimant of the bounty, or any other person, to send to the Commissioner a receipt for its payment. Under that provision no person could be compelled to give a receipt. That is an extremely dangerous position to establish, and one contrary to the interests of our womenfolk. After childbirth, mothers are in an extremely delicate “state of health. They are unable to open the door when the postman knocks, and, of course, unable to travel many miles to the post, which sometimes has to be done in country districts. They must, therefore, trust to others to accept delivery of the bonus for them, and, unfortunately, there are in the Commonwealth thousands of brutish men,. who are cruel to their womankind, and false to every tradition of right. They ought to be the protectors of their women, but, on the contrary, rob them in every conceivable way. The Government must, therefore, see the danger of this provision. If the object be to benefit mothers, we should provide that the bonus shall bepaid into no other hands but theirs. Theirnatural affection will cause the child to> receive the consideration that it needs. But* under the Bill, unworthy men may handlethe money, and the women who should get it may never receive it. Should money go» astray or be misappropriated, the person who is guilty of the misappropriation may be punished, but the mother who is defrauded cannot make good a claim for thepayment of the bonus to her. Surely honorable members must see that these provisions play into the hands of those men whoare unworthy to be fathers.
– I hope that the honorable member’s electors will take notice of. his statement.
– I am more concerned,/ about the women than about the men, because the latter are able to look after themselves, and because this is a Bill which is said to have been introduced in the interests of our women. I am attacking a clause which is not in their interests. It has been said, too, that the Bill is designed to protect child life. That being so, I question the wisdom of paying the bonus in a lumpsum. I question whether it would not bebetter to pay the money in instalments, and’ part of it before birth takes place. I think, that the Bill might well be amended toprovide for the payment of instalments of, say, 5s. a week for six weeks priorto the anticipated birth, and continuously afterwards until £5 has- been absorbed. This may be of advantage in cases where persons are not accustomed to handle considerable sums of money. Ministers receiving £2,000 a year laugh at the idea of £5 being regarded as a large sum, but it is a very large sum to a woman who, at the best, finds it difficult to save 6d. a week; besides, it is unfortunately true that, in many cases, persons give way to strong drink, and would spend the bonus unwisely, making it an excuse for a jollification lasting a night. Our object should be to provide for the giving of this money in the manner that will produce the best results. If £400,000 a year is to be appropriated to relieve mothers and to safeguard child life, we should see that receipts are given for the payments made, and that those whom we intend to benefit really a re benefited, and that the money is paid to them in the manner that will do the most good. Sub-clause 3 of clause 5 provides that, in the absence of a qualified medical practitioner, the determination whether a child was viable is to be made by any other person present. That is a dangerous power to place in the hands of unqualified persons and might be of advantage to those whose interest it is to bring about certain results which are contrary to the objects and purposes of the measure. The whole question is fraught with considerable difficulty and danger. It is an easy matter to submit to Parliament a Bill of this kind. With the majority they have at their .backs, it is an easy matter for the Government to carry such a measure, and no doubt it will be passed, notwithstanding the opposition or protests that may be offered from this side of the House. The Bill establishes yet another precedent to which I desire to refer - the precedent of rewarding, to some extent, acts that are unlawful. I do not know of any other Act that purports to reward unlawful acts.
– What acts are these?
– A child may be born out of wedlock. That means an unlawful act, and the Bill proposes to give a reward to those who have been guilty of this unlawful act.
– Who have been unfortunate.
– I regard their position as unfortunate.
– Do not speak of this as a “ reward.”
– The Bill provides for a reward which is to be paid to those guilty of an unlawful act. Much as we may sympathize with the unfortunate woman who has been deceived - and, to the disgrace of our sex, women have been deceived - the fact remains that this provides for a reward for an unlawful act. The deception to which women have been subjected is one of the most regrettable reflections on humanity, but by throwing a cloak over these women - by giving to these persons the same recognition as is given to persons who do a righteous thing under lawful conditions - we are establishing a very dangerous precedent. The fact is that this Bill is, as the honorable member for Parkes said, a political placard. The incidence of the Bill shows that it is not designed to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. It matters not to the Government who gets the allowance, so long as it is paid to some one who, in return, will reward them. It is, unfortunately, true that the legislation of the present day is in the direction of taking from people, from the cradle to the grave, their sense of personal responsibility. Most men and women glory in their parentage, and are proud to know that they are responsible for, and able to look after, their children. They glory in their sense of responsibility. Here, however, is a Bill which proposes to give to every woman who is delivered of a child a dole of £5. We have in the community a considerable number of women to whom the allowance will be a blessing. Admitting, for the sake of argument, that the Bill is constitutional - and the point is one that I am not prepared to discuss - I say that it would be judicious for us to legislate in the direction of providing something more than £5 each for those who are in really necessitous conditions. I do not think that ,£5 is anything like sufficient for the purpose. It does not go far enough. If the children born in our land are the best type of- citizens we can get, they are Worth more than ,£5 each to the State; and if their lives are to be sacrificed for want of £5, they will be sacrificed even if their mothers receive £5 each. A £5- note will not save them. Instead of proposing to give £5 to every prospective mother in the Commonwealth, it would be far better to increase the amount, and to provide that it shall be paid to those whose conditions are such that they really require assistance. It would be better to give to worthy citizens of the Commonwealth doing a noble service - prepared to fulfil their part nobly and well - not only an allowance of ,£5 in respect of every child born,’ but continuous assistance, until the child lias arrived at an age at which it can properly look after itself.
– We shall do that some clay.
– May be; and perhaps it will be a good day when it is done. But never let us take from those who are able to support their own children that sense of responsibility which should lead them to look after them. One of the evils of this Bill is that it takes away from mothers and- fathers a true sense of their responsibility. It represents a low ideal to dangle, so to speak, before the eyes of the people, and is a proposal that is not going to be conducive to the respect of this Parliament, or to the welfare of those who have fathered it
Mr. HOWE (Dalley) [8.46J.- It seems to me that the honorable member for Echuca, who has just resumed his seat, has no conception of the spirit that is animating our party in proposing to grant a bonus to women in connexion with childbirth.
– Not a bonus, but an allowance.
– Call it what you will; the proposal is one to make an allowance ° £5* to tide mothers over a period of stress and trial in connexion with one of the most important functions of their lives. It seems to me, also, that the honorable member for Parkes does not understand the position in which we place women, nor does he realize the view that we take of their responsibilities and of their status as citizens. He has told us to-night that women are simply wards of the State. I emphatically deny that. They are not wards of the State - they are citizens of Australia.
– I did not use the expression.
– I took it down when the honorable member uttered it.
– I never used it.
– The honorable member undoubtedly placed woman on a lower level than man. He seemed to refer to her as something subject to man - as something that had to be nursed and to be looked after. . He seemed to have the old conception that she was almost a tiny piece of property which you could dangle on your knee if you so desired, but something which had no rights and no status of citizenship.
– The honorable member seems to have summed up the honorable member for Parkes..
– Yes; I have heard him too often not to be able to do so. The attitude to which I have referred is precisely that which the Labour party does not take up. We regard womankind as part and parcel of the community, entitled to certain rights, having duties to perform relative to the community, and having obligations ‘falling upon her shoulders. Every day of our existence we are attempting to extend to woman the same privileges and rights that are enjoyed by men. We are seeking to place woman on the same pedestal that we occupy to-day.
– I advocated woman’s franchise when the honorable member was in knickerbockers.
– The honorable member was not very far ahead of’ me at that time. I am not the child that he imagines I am.
– I was judging the honorable member by his actions.
– Some men are still in knickerbockers .
– I thank the honorable member for his reminder. The honorable member for Parkes left himself in .political knickerbockers when he wrote his work on Liberalism. He is fifty or sixty years behind the times. He complains that he cannot be heard without interruption on the part of honorable members on this side of the House. In view of the fact that he is half a century behind the times, is it any wonder that he is interrupted? It is almost impossible to listen to the honorable member with any sense of decency or reason. He spoke of the intolerance of the Labour party, but the intolerance is rather on his own side. He is always ready to lecture. He seems always to desire that honorable members, especially those on this side of the House, shall remain quiet while he indulges in lectures or lecturettes in which he sets forth that superior knowledge which he has gained during his legal and political experience. He seems to think that his utterances are the last word to be said in connexion with any subject.
– Hear, hear ! Perfect in mind and perfect in body.
– And perfect also in soul., I have no doubt that when to-morrow comes, we shall find him with wings. There is one other point to which I desire to refer in connexion with the honorable member, whom I find expressing an opinion in opposition to that held by his Leader.
He emphasized with much intensity tonight the fact that we as a party were fighting for our own class. During the debate on the censure motion, I happened to say that we were a class within a nation, and the Leader of the Opposition replied that such a thing could not possibly be. He asserted that there was no class here. We were, he said, a body of people with common ends, common purposes, and common interests. I had occasion to reprove the honorable member, and to show that we were a class within the nation, and I am very glad to have the recognition, on the part cf the honorable member for Parkes, that we are a class, and a working class. We intend to be a working class with working class ideals and principles; we intend to redeem the working class and to make it. if possible, an Australian nation. That is all I have to say to the honorable member. Coming to the maternity allowance itself, I may say that I never read H. G. Wells without feeling that he gives me new ideas and helps me to higher mental attainments, and to a higher conception of life. In a book entitled, The Great State, which he has just written, Mr. Wells makes the statement -
We have indeed to work out an entire new system of relations between men and women, that will be free from servitude, aggression, provocation, or parasitism. The public endowment of motherhood as such may perhaps be the first broad suggestion of the granting of this new status.
I can view this matter from that standpoint - as a conception of the higher state of to-morrow, of the higher development of society, of a new and larger status in which there shall be a larger aggregation of common human purpose; in which motherhood’ and the nationalization of health will be a great national objective; in which the child shall be born not alone as related to its father and. mother, but as an asset of the State, related to the State, a child of the State, a member of the community. What are you doing to-day? You are telling the world that every child that comes into this country is a possible asset. It is born to the. race, born of past time, born of all that has been, that has made our nation what it is to-day. It is a possible asset that ‘ will have its effect, fulfil its purpose in the world, and transmit to future generations the result of its work, and the same force that gave it life. Are we to take it, then, that this most important and valuable asset to the community is to be left merely in the hands of the father and mother, who may know little of what is necessary for its development and its training, so that it may not become a derelict or burden to the community, but an effective fighting force? Most unfortunately, I find, because I thought it would be otherwise, that so capable a gentleman as the honorable member for Angas seems to think that this measure is not desirable. He is afraid that we are going too far in taking care of the childlife of the nation, and assisting the parents by a grant of this sort. In attempting to socialize or nationalize the health of the community, he appears to believe that we are going to do something that ‘is fraught with evil for the community. The honorable member said the question of granting bonuses was not a matter to be played with, for Parliament could not interfere with the operations of nature without paying the penalty somehow or other. I wish to differentiate between the honorable member for Angas arid the honorable member for Parkes, but I am afraid in this respect they have made perhaps the same mistake. The honorable member for Angas has the laws of political economy at his finger tips, but he seems to know just as much of the laws of nature as the honorable member for Parkes knows of the laws of political economy. When he warned us last night against interfering with the laws of nature, I had to ask him by interjection if he distinguished between the laws of nature, and art, or the operations of our social life, and the efforts of the human brain. One man wrote in the sixteenth century these words -
Yet nature is made better by no mean, But nature makes that mean : So, over that art,
Which, you say, adds to nature, is an art That nature makes. . . .
Which does mend nature - change it rather ; but
The ‘ art itself is nature.
I find myself in conflict with the honorable member for Angas when he attempts to distinguish between nature and human effort. Surely the laws of nature are best expressed and embodied in the brain effort of the community. We have come up through the ages, breeding out, as it were, the ape and the tiger, and relying more and more on intellectuality to direct us into such paths as we think essential to the progress of humanity. There is no contradiction between the art we have and nature. The question is whether our art, or artifice, as it may be called, is perhaps the highest expression of nature. It is not always successful, not always beneficial, possibly full of mistakes, but it is still the only method we can adopt to attain that fullest development which we are seeking. That applies to the introduction of such a Bill as this is. I confess that I listened with much interest and pleasure to the honorable member for Angas, as I always do. I pay the highest deference to him for the care, study, and ability that he always puts into his utterances, and it is a delight to me to sit arid listen to him. On this occasion, however, the honorable member went further, and practically asserted that the introduction of a Bill such as this was going to sap the public spirit of the community. In’ proof of that assertion, he took us back to the days of ancient Rome. He spoke of the giving of wheat or bread to the populace of Rome as the cause of the disaster that befell the Roman Empire, inferring that if we give this bonus we are going to fall also. If he did not mean that, his illustration meant nothing. But! was the honorable member not a little too anxious to prove his case? Did he not fail to recognise what the actual facts were in connexion with that great event in history ? The honorable member for Bendigo took up precisely the same attitude, and the honorable member for Illawarra, by interjection, also suggested that we are sapping the vitals of the community. They inferred that the moment we attempt to assist those who are in need, the result will be disastrous to the public spirit, the temper, arid the morale of the whole community. Is the statement of the honorable member for Angas true, that the granting of doles to the people of Rome resulted in the disaster that fell upon the Empire? Surely not. Any man with the most commonplace knowledge of the history of Rome knows that the Roman Empire fell by virtue of the outside forces of the Germanic people seeking an outlet for their teeming millions. Rome had extended her dominion throughout the length and breadth of Europe. Corruption had come into her midst, and she had even taken the barbarian within her gates, and given him place and power. There was internecine warfare at the same time; the army was unpaid, large estates were growing, and riot arid debauchery were rampant on every side. It was not the mere giving of a little corn to the people in the streets of Rome, but the great European upheaval, with the consequent change of situation and circumstances, that brought about the fall of the Roman Empire. The same thing may take place to-morrow in connexion with the British Empire, although I hope it will never come. That an honorable member with the ability and knowledge of the honorable member for Angas should stand up in his place, and magnify one tiny aspect of the history of those times into the cause of the breakdown of a great Empire, only shows how far the members on the Opposition side of the House are driven for arguments to justify the opposition they are putting up against this Bill. If the honorable member’s contention is correct, if the granting of a bonus for maternity purposes is a parallel to the condition of the Roman Empire in its latter days, if the honorable member for Bendigo holds, as he did last night, that the parallel is correct, and if the honorable member for Illawarra arid the Leader of the Opposition, take up the same attitude, then I say there is only one thing for them to do, and that is to oppose this Bill, and vote it out. It is of no use for. the honorable member for Bendigo to tell us that he will vote for the second reading of the Bill, and seek to make it better in Committee. If it is bad in principle, if it means disaster to the Australian people, if it means that our public spirit is going to be sapped, if the taking of this £5 will bring degradation upon our race, it is the duty of every honorable member on the Opposition side of the House to say, as a patriot and a man of public spirit, “ You do what you please ; damn this country if you please, but we shall stand for its defence and vote against this Bill right along our benches.” If they do not do that, they simply mark themselves as political trimmers. The Bill is either right or wrong in principle. There may be room for amendment, and I agree with the honorable member for Gwydir that there is. I shall be pleased to associate myself with any member of the House in making amendments that will, if possible, insure the money being put into the hands of the woman who bears the child, and the spending of it by her. If she fails in her duty to her child, we cannot help it. We may regret it, but we shall have done the best we can. If she fails us, then we simply stand helpless to mend matters. We cannot follow every living soul into the home, and direct every detail of daily life.
All we can do is to lay down general principles and general rules, and trust to the good spirit and patriotism of the community to recognise that we mean well, and depend on their assistance to bring our efforts to fruition. I confess that it has been impossible for me to understand precisely what the Leader of the Opposition really does mean, and where he stands. I feel perfectly sure that he has been largely influenced by the Council of Churches. He is a gentleman apt to concede to the public opinion of to-day, and then change again to the public opinion of to-morrow. He is the ever-persuaded Alfred. You never know for two days together where lie stands. He is a sort of political weathercock, changing with every wind of doctrine that blows, so long as he thinks that that doctrine will blow him into office. I am afraid that the Leader of the Oppoposition has been very much led astray. He told us yesterday of the organizations that are in our midst to-day, and of the excellent work that they are doing. I admit the excellent work; but the question is how, in the administration of this Bill, we can associate with them.
– What is Lloyd-George doing ?
– Lloyd-George’s system is an insurance system.
– And so ought this to be!
– That is where I differ from the honorable member. ‘ I am speaking of the Bill, and not of any supposititious case which may be in the mind of the honorable member. The Leader of the Opposition, so far as I remember, did not suggest any thing in the nature of an insurance scheme, but spoke of the possible association of the Commonwealth with private charities, with a view to seeing that the money granted did not go astray, and that better results might be obtained by cooperation.
– That would be of no use - there would be no political value in it then !
– There would not; but I think the Leader of the Opposition had an idea that, if his suggestion were carried out, there would be some political value. That was the idea of the deputation of the Council of the Churches. At that deputation
Professor Adam said -
They felt further that the proposal would lead to an undesirable increase in illegitimacy. What the consequences of such a measure might be no one could foretell with certainty because as far as he was aware, such a law was unprecedented. The Minister for External Affairs had assured them it would not lead to illegitimacy. There was no proof of that. Time alone could show what the result would be. A law which would give an honorable bonus to mothers who merited the State’s approval of their services would doubtless act as a stimulus to marriage. In the other case, however, its value in that connexion would be taken away and the danger would be that it might even encourage and increase illegitimacy. He would quote the words, expressed by a meeting of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Adelaide, viz. : -
In its application to mothers of illegitimate children, it can do little good and may do harm, by encouraging an evil which is already too prevalent. It is almost a premium on vice. It would be as well to provide the money for institutions who provide succour for those who really need it.
The whole idea is that the churches shall have the control of the distribution of this money ; but they are not going to get it, so far as I am concerned. I should vote against this Bill to-morrow if I thought the Government had any idea of giving way to the idea of the deputation in that respect. All the talk of these clergymen about illegitimacy and “ premiums on vice “ shows the narrowness of their creed. They are not Christians, b*ut simply Churchians - people Hying in a narrow groove, with a narrow-minded conception of what life is, with no great human sympathy teeming from their hearts. They have ‘their little bethels and their little creeds, and they lay down their little platforms; and, when it is proposed to help a mother, without .asking whether the child is legitimate or illegitimate, they talk about a “ premium on vice.” In the name of God, what, in this regard, do we care about illegitimacy ! Every child of a woman is worthy the consideration of every true man and woman, not only in this country, but throughout the length and breadth of the civilized world, and, I hope, even in savagedom. I believe that, in some respects, there is room for alteration in the Bill. A larger assurance ought to be given to- the woman that she shall have the money paid into her own hands, and have the spending of it for her child’s sake. The honorable member for Parramatta yesterday said that, while the woman is suffering, she gets nothing ; but I venture to suggest that that is not quite correct. It is true that the woman does not receive the money, at once ; but this Bill will have been passed, and every one in the community will know-
– I said that, under this Bill, a woman will be lucky if she gets the money a couple of months afterwards.
– Even so; during her period of sickness”” and trial, she and every one will know that she is worth £5 worth of credit, and thus the assistance of the doctor, chemist, the shopkeeper, and others, will be at her disposal. I have not the slightest doubt that the fact that the money will be forthcoming will greatly assist the woman, and prove of advantage in the development of the life of the child for the benefit of Australia.
– One thing which, above all others, has struck me in this debate, so far as it has related itself to the other side of the House, is the affectation of superiority in connexion with all matters of this kind. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat like many others, has spoken of the Council of Churches as though the gentlemen composing that body were a lot of nincompoops. Putting aside for the time being their opinions on this question, I venture to say that for scholarship, erudition, and right-down ability, there is as much on the Council of Churches as in the whole of the Labour party here put together.
– What is the use of all that, if they have not charity ?
– Is it not time we began to discuss this question in a calm and temperate way? Every speech on that side has been a diatribe from beginning to end ; there is an effort to make this purely a party question.
– It is the slurs from the honorable member’s side that have originated the feeling.
– By whom?
– By the honorable member for Flinders, than whom nobody could be more callous.
– The honorable member for Flinders has not spoken in this debate.
– He has spoken outside.
– Why all the taunts that have been flung across the chamber? Why are we told, “You are not game to vote against the Bill “ ? Why are we asked, “ Why do not you vote against it ?” What does all this challenging mean ? Do Government supporters wish honorable members on this side to vote against the Bill?-‘ If honorable members opposite are anxious to get this proposal through, they ought to try to persuade honorable members on this side to treat the measure in a reasonable way, and come over to the views of the Government.
– Is that not impossible?
– Does the honorable member suggest that it is impossible ? The honorable member and his party are doing their very best to provoke honorable members on this side to statements regarding the Bill which they can use on the platform outside. That has been the whole tenor of the debate as conducted by honorable members opposite up to the present; in other words, this is a party question, so far as the Government are concerned. Nothing would give honorable members greater chagrin than for the Opposition to vote for the Bill. That, of all things in the world, is what honorable members opposite do not desire, and what they fear ; and so, with one exception, every speech has been a provocative one.
The Attorney-General began his speech with a scathing indictment of something that was said weeks ago, but nothing said on this Bill did the honorable gentleman attempt to controvert in any shape or form.
– The honorable member attacks the Bill; I support it.
– Is there any room for difference of opinion ? There does not appear to me to be; but it is the old cry, “ Shout our shibboleth, or- we will shout you down.” If ever, there was a proposal submitted to this Chamber on which there ought to be tolerant debate this is one.
– Before the honorable member saw the Bill he called it political bribery !
– Did I?
– All the honorable members opposite did so - weeks ago !
– And the honorable member seems delighted that they did so? What gives the honorable member more joy than anything else is any reference over here derogatory to the Bill. The purpose of the whole proposal is apparent; any one who watches this debate can go away with no other conclusion than that this is a piece of political “ barley,” to be used for purely political purposes.
– Now, that is a taunt.
– It is a statement,, not a taunt ; and it is a statement the truth* of which every speech from honorable members opposite has made only too apparent.
– If that is true, the honorable member ought to oppose the Bill straight out.
– I hope the honorable member will allow us to shape our own course.
– By trimming I
– Of course, it goes without saying that everybody that does not agree with the honorable member is a trimmer. He is only emphasizing the fact that honorable members opposite are doing their best to make political capital out of the Bill, if possible, at the expense of honorable members on this side; hence the whooping, and the baiting, and the glee at any adverse criticism.
Why has this proposal been so late in putting in an appearance? Two years and a half this Government have been in power, and in that time over 1,000 mothers have died, 238,000 children have been born, and the Government have had £2 ,000,000 of surplus. The Government have had so much money that they did not know what to do with it, and they have been putting it into Trust Funds. It is only now, with the shadow of the approaching elections upon them, that they find that a measure of this kind is needed. Whoever may be callous-hearted, honorable members opposite must bear this responsibility, that, although for two and a half years they have had surpluses to boast of and play with, they have done nothing in this matter. When the Liberals were in office they were without surplus resources, but the Labour party has had the money, and yet only at the eleventh hour brings forward this proposal. The Bill itself is proof positive, if that were needed, that it is only a political placard.
– Does the honorable member think that the women of Australia will sell themselves to the Labour party for a £5 note?
– You are trying to buy them for that.
– That is the price you are putting on them.
– It is not possible to carry on the debate with these conversations across the chamber.
– So far from entertaining that opinion of the women of Australia, I say that they will be able to see through this proposal, and to arrive at the intentions and motives of those who make it. They will estimate this proposal at its true value. Therefore, the honorable member’s remark is idle. It is only on the eve of a general election that humanitarian sentiment throbs in the breasts of honorable members opposite, and they join in this chorus of praise of motherhood. The Attorney-General, who alone has made any pretence of defending the Bill, commenced with a tirade against an honorable member on this side, which had nothing to do with the question before the House, and went on to lay down the principles on which the measure is founded. It is worth while to study his remarks, if only because they give the recent opinions of the Labour party’s professor of political economy. The honorable gentleman was most anxious to show how much he knows of that science, and how little any one over here knows of it. He insisted that we should pay attention to economic principles, and base our opposition on them. The principle on which, according to him, the Bill is founded may be stated in a sentence. The honorable member said, “ This principle of kindly humanitarianism is one to which the whole world has set its hand.” That is a mere bald statement which he did not attempt to support with argument, and, so far as he was concerned, settled the matter. If that is all that he can find to say in defence of the measure, it is a poor lookout for it. It is true that a wave of humanitarianism is sweeping over the world to-day, but that makes it the more needful that a proposition of this kind should be discussed with the utmost care and calm. When sentiment is uppermost, there is least likelihood of cool judgment, and it is necessary that we should coolly and calmly examine the provisions which seek to crystallize this sentiment in a measure on the statute-book.
– The honorable member says that the Bill is merely a political dodge.
– I have not used that word, but something like it, and have stated the evidence which supports it; the public will be the judge between us.
So far as I can ascertain, the experts who to-day are engaged in uplifting the fallen, and in bringing some ray of comfort, hope, and inspiration to the submerged, those who are giving their lives to the task of helping humanity, are opposed to the measure. I can find scarcely any who have anything good to say of it.
– Because they are of the old world, not of the new world.
– I am referring to those engaged in charitable work here. It is a singular thing that they seem all to be opposed to ^discriminate charity of the kind provided for. I do not say that they are opposed to the underlying principles of the Bill, but they are opposed to its scheme. Those who do not mouth humanitarian sentiments for the purpose of making political capital, but give their lives to the work of philanthropy, have a right to be heard on this subject.
– Give us some names.
– If I did, honorable members would only sneer at them. The Attorney-General spoke of the economic effects of the Bill. May I suggest that the political effects of the Bill concern the AttorneyGeneral more than its economic effects ?
– Why judge him by your own standard?
– It is impossible to proceed, Mr. Speaker, with the chorus from the other side of the Chamber.
– The honorable member having asked for silence, I shall mention by name any other honorable member who interjects while he is speaking. On several occasions he has had to plead for silence, and I shall see that it is maintained.
– I did not object to reasonable interjections. Pertinent interjections help the discussion.
– The honorable member has no right to court interjections. He has asked for silence, and he will get it
– I am not courting interjections, and I have not asked for silence. I asked that interruptions should cease. Interruption is very different from interjection.
The Attorney-General gave us a dissertation on the value of immigration to the Commonwealth, and spoke of its progress since this Government took office. Seeing that it has not done a hand’s turn to assist immigration, but that Ministers have spoken against it on every conceivable occasion outside, and played up to the sentiments of the Trades Halls, who all oppose it, to take credit for the increase in the number of immigrants is a piece of political effrontery that I have not seen equalled. The honorable gentleman said that the birth rate has also increased under this Government, and he laid it down as an axiom that where prosperity is greatest, there marriages are most frequent, and most children are born. Speaking generally, the contrary is the case. The fact is that most children are born in the poorer countries of the world. The population is increasing most rapidly in countries like Russia and Japan, where the economic conditions are lowest, and most slowly in France, where millions of persons are settled on the land, and the country is so rich that it is competing to become the banker of Europe. The low birth rate of France is a shocking example to all other countries. Therefore, the statement of the honorable member is opposed to fact, and shows how little he has thought about this matter. Immediately after making the statement he gave it a contradiction. He went on to deal with the subject of race suicide, and drew a very sad picture about it which is all too true. But what was the statement that he made immediately after that uttered by him, that prosperity tended to an increase in marriage and in the production of children? He said, “As civilization increases, so race suicide increases.” In that we have an answer to the statement that he made but a few moments before. The honorable member said that if we relieved the economic strain on society, and developed our prosperity, the result would be a greater number of marriages, and an increase in the birth rate. I do not desire to follow the honorable member further, but the outstanding fact is that the poorer people to-day are bringing the most children into the world.
– Was not that always so?
– Yes; and therefore there is no necessary connexion between the well-to-do condition of the people and the increase in the birth rate. The sad fact is that as the economic condition of the people is eased, so does the production of children ease. That is a notorious fact with which we have to deal in this twentieth century.
Another outstanding fact in connexion with this controversy is that in no country in the world is so much being done in the way of unconditional’ aid by the various governmental bodies - State and municipal - as in Australia. In no country in the world are the springs of charity I was going to say - but I do not like the word “ charity “ - in no country in the world is so much aid rendered to those of slender means as in Australia. I find that in connexion with the States to-day, nearly £1,500,000 is annually being expended on public charities of one kind or the other. “ Public charities “ is the expression used by the statisticians, and if we add to them the expenditure of private charities and agencies, we arrive at a total of something like £2,500,000 per annum. If, again, we add to that amount £2,250,000, which at the very least is paid in respect of old-age and invalid pensions, we get up into the region of £5,000,000, as the amount expended annually for the relief of those in the community who need aid. In no country is there, proportionately, so much money distributed upon an unconditional basis as in Australia. This means that on the average every family in Australia to-day is paying over £5 per annum for the relief of distress, and for the maintenance of those in the community who need help.
– How much is the community getting out of it ?
– I believe that the community as a whole benefits from any moneys expended in that way. I believe that it is a good thing for a community to see that its poor, its indigent, its weak, and its helpless people are not allowed to suffer unduly. There is no cavil on that score on either side. My own opinion is that any contributions of the kind, so long as they be well and prudently placed, elevate the tone and morale of the community.
– There is, despite that help, a great volume of misery and suffering in Australia.
– I do not deny that, but I wish to quote another fact. In Australia the rate of infantile mortality is less than that of any other country. It is 68 per 1,000, whereas in Germany it is 178, in Japan 157, and in France 135 per 1,000.
– In Westgorton, outside Manchester, the infantile mortality rate is 800 per 1,000.
– But the average for Great Britain is 124 per 1,000. Our death rate is also the lowest in the world. The United Kingdom comes next, then Germany, France, and Japan, in the order named. These figures, when one comes to study them, make one feel proud of one’s race. With the exception of Australia, Great Britain, notwithstanding all its overcrowded conditions, has the lowest infantile mortality rate, and the lowest death rate in the world. We must keep these facts in mind when we address ourselves to a problem of this kind. We must not approach the consideration of a Bill of this character with any idea that Australia furnishes a shocking example in this respect’. Quite the contrary is the case.
What is the underlying principle of this Bill ? We are told distinctly by the Prime Minister that it provides not for a baby bonus, but for a maternity allowance, although how he distinguishes between the two I do not pretend to understand. It is a proposal to care for and help and guard the mothers of Australia. It is a very important proposal to come before any Chamber, because it drives us back to the fundamentals. The first question that arises is whether this guardianship of the women of the land by the State is a premiss to be assumed, or a fundamental question to be seriously discussed. It marks a grave and great departure from the existing order of things. I believe profoundly that the State ought to help and guard the weak of the community who have no one else to protect and care and look after them. But, ordinarily, this guardianship has been hitherto left to the husband of the woman - to the menfolk of the community. It is a pertinent question, and I hope that it will not be considered that I am making an outrageous suggestion, if I say that we ought seriously to consider how far we axe going to relieve the husband of the guardianship and protection and support of his wife.
– To the extent of £5.
– That is so at present, but we are told that this is only a beginning. Should we not have some definite objective in view ? Above all else we want to find out how far we are going to interfere in the guardianship of the home and the family by the husband, who hitherto has had that responsibility thrown upon him by every civilized country. In other words, what is the ultimate State objective to be aimed at in connexion withproposals of this kind ?
It has been stated here quite glibly by member after member that every child that comes into the community is an asset to the State. That is not quite the whole truth. Unfortunately, there are plenty who from their birth are a burden to the State.
– It is not their fault.
– But the honorable member would not describe them as an asset.
– Yes; human souls.
–Yes, some of them are in that sense, but not in an economic sense. When we come to deal with this matter on the economic ground, we have to rule out all those who come into this world unfit.
– We have to do the same with regard to many immigrants.
– Exactly. Even all the immigrants who come to Australia are not assets; some of them are burdens upon the country, and we have to care for them in the best possible way. It seems to me that the logic of this proposal throws us back upon the eugenical consideration as to how far we ought to minister to the production of those who are unfit in the community. For instance, we’ have a man and woman marrying, both of them unfit and seriously defective, and who, by any encouragement of this sort, will minister to the production of civic unfitness and to national inefficiency. Surely, all these questions ought to be considered when we are dealing with proposals of this kind. Every woman, man, and child, unfortunately, is not a national asset. In very many cases they are simply burdens upon the community, and from an economic point of view, the community would be well rid of many of those that we have to-day. But they are here. Under our laws they have come into existence, and we have to look after them. We are bound to look after them - to make the best of them - and all we can do in the way of salvage of this inefficient and unfit material is a work challenging the highest Christian sentiments of the community, and the gravest consideration of the Parliament.
– But the unfit are but a small proportion of those born.
– They are; but not quite to the extent the honorable member imagines. The latest figures from the Old Country, for instance, show 300,000 imbeciles and incapables.
– In a population of over 40,000,000.
– Yes, and divide those figures by ten and you get 30,000 here.
– But the conditions are different here.
– I hope and believe they are. I am only pointing to these figures for what they are worth. All these are very grave and serious questions that we have to look straight in the face when we come to deal with the whole social problem as it is here.
May I be forgiven also if I suggest that others have considered this question from the point of view of the effect of such legislation upon the fibre, the morale, and the tone of the community - upon that something in the- community which spells national inefficiency, economically, and in every other sense. Here I propose to quote an authority to which my honorable friends opposite will pay a good deal of attention. I refer to a volume by Mr. Jethro Brown, who has just been appointed by the Government to act as Chairman of the Sugar Commission. He has written a very interesting work on The Underlying Principles of Modern “Legislation. This is what he says of proposals of this kind, showing the need for careful consideration of all these matters, apart from political sentiment or party feeling of any kind. After speaking of the native qualities of perseverance, moderation, individuality, and other outstanding characteristics of the English race, he goes on to say -
The suggestion that the conception of governmental maternalism has a merely academic value overlooks two important facts. In the first place, the humanitarian movement of our time, admirable though it is, has its attendent dangers. In the second place, instances may be found, even in the past, of misguided philanthropy on the part of the legislator. The working of the old Poor Law as it existed in the earlier part of the nineteenth century is a classical example. In view of recent tendencies as displayed in the “ Reports of the Poor Law Commission of 1909, a reference to the “Report of the Poor Law Commission of 1834” might seem belated. I do not think it would be so regarded by competent judges. While the recommendations of the earlier commission, even if they had been carried into effect, would have proved inadequate to solve the many and changing problems of poor law administration, the evidence accumulated by that Commission has an induring value. It shows how a misguided philanthropy may tend to degrade the national character. The system of indiscriminate outdoor relief, the admission of an absolute right in the pauper to maintenance by the State, and the State endowment of motherhood -
That is the very thing with which we are now dealing - such conditions had sapped the habits of industry and imperilled the family life of whole classes of the community.
That is a strong statement to be made by a careful investigator who is sympathetic towards all reasonable humanitarian legislation. He asks us to consider calmly the way we are going in connexion with legislation of this kind. But it seems impossible for any man to discuss such questions here. The moment he does so, he is asked, “ Are you going to vote against the Bill ? “ He is told, “ You are not game to vote against the Bill.” “ Why do not you vote against the Bill ?” These taunts are flung at him. That is all the argument we get if we attempt to reason about this proposal. Professor Jethro Brown adds -
The policy of the State gave a direct and official sanction to the refrain - “ Then drive away sorrow and banish all care,
For the State it is bound to maintain us.” Multitudes grew careless and apathetic as workers, shamelessly dependent as citizens and callous as parents.
But there is another authority nearer home than Professor Jethro Brown, who has told us how cautious we ought to be in connexion with legislation of this kind. That authority is none other than the right honorable the Prime Minister himself. At the., recent Hobart Conference, speaking of the various proposals that came up for consideration in favour of a contributory, compulsory scheme of State insurance - and at that Conference three States out of the group brought forward for consideration proposals for compulsory insurance - the Prime Minister said that the schemes had much to commend them. The scheme of Germany, he added, was good in itself, but not suitable for our purposes. The Prime Minister was not against a national insurance scheme; he thought that Lloyd-George’s work would in future years be acknowledged to be the best thing done for the workers during the century. He expressed his firm well-founded belief in the efficacy of a well-reasoned scheme of national insurance. At present, he said, there was a feeling against it, but when the benefits were experienced it would be appreciated. Later on in the same argument he said, regarding old-age pensions, that there were no difficulties, but that with regard to invalid pensions there was a great danger aheadSociety would have to organize itself and see that where pensions were paid to invalids they did not do a serious injustice to society and endanger its very existence.
Here the Prime Minister recognised that there were dangers inherent in an invalidity scheme of pensions, which, unless they were watched, might endanger the very existence of society. No man over here has used language stronger than that -
That was undoubtedly a question that men and women and representative men must face in the interests of the people generally.
Later on, the Prime Minister said -
He trusted that the Commonwealth would be able to work in co-operation with the States in all matters connected with hospitals and similar institutions so as to be able to lessen the difficulties and trials of the unfortunates of society.
I do not indorse these statements, but quote them as interesting utterances on the general question from high authorities.
Has the Prime Minister made any proposals or overtures to the States in connexion with the working of this scheme ? If he has, what replies has he received? Is he going to put this Bill through as he did the Bank Bill, and then approach the States? That is not the way to work. No machinery is provided in the Bill by which to operate this allowance. The provisions of the Constitution do not permit the Government to bring such machinery into existence. I think all sides are pretty well agreed* upon that matter. Therefore, the Government can only make a proposal for an allowance without the machinery at their disposal to follow the thing through to see that it attains the very object for which the proposal is made. Has the Prime Minister asked the States to help him in the matter? He said at the Hobart Conference that he desired to work in cooperation with them in every way, so as to make any of these proposals of the utmost benefit to all concerned. He pointed out that there was the greatest need for watchfulness in all matters relating to invalidity, because if they were not watched the very existence of society might be endangered. No man on this side has used words of sterner caution than the Prime Minister himself has done. Honorable members, therefore, should be prepared to listen to argument on this question, even if it be opposed totheir own view, and they should make the most of any suggestion for carrying through their policy.
The more I see of these proposals in other parts of the world the more I recognise the necessity for getting close to your objective. That is the outstanding feature of all such schemesthat are doing any good in the world to-day. The local authority provides the machinery through which they all act. In this connexion, John Burns has done a great deal in the very direction in which this Government are now seeking to move. He has quoted figures which, in themselves, demonstrate the triumph of his administration. No man has devoted himself with greater assiduity, ability, and sympathy to this very problem, and he hasachieved some wonderful results. For instance, he has pointed out that -
At the Foundling Hospital in London a century ago 14,934 children were received in fouryears, of whom 10,389, or just over 70 per cent,, died. At -present the death rate at the same institution was less than that among the children of rich families in Mayfair, and less than half the rate for the whole of the country. The improved conditions had been brought about, first, by the doctor; secondly, by the nurse and the midwife; and then by benevolent people, who had been slowly achieving their object. Not only were they reducing the general average of mortality, but they were knocking off the high peaks of exceptional mortality in certain areas. They no longer had the death rate of 250 or 500 per 1,000 in special areas which they had ten or twenty years ago. In no country had greater progress been made than in Great Britain and Ireland during the last four years. The decline was not due to any one special reason, but to many causes, experiments and ideas converging on the question of how to protect the mother, preserve the infant, guard the child, and reinvigorate the race. Other causes which contributed to the present satisfactory position were the increasing number of appointments of health visitors by local authorities, better feeding, the establishment of schools for mothers, and the improved character and quantity of the literature issued by the various associations and by the local authorities.
In every case, the local authority is the unit of all their remedial schemes and agencies. Here all that the Government propose to do is to centralize the matter and merely make a grant. They do not even know yet how it is to reach the mother. They cannot guarantee that it will reach her. There is no machinery of any kind in the Bill to “ that effect. There is a simple announcement that a commissioner is to be appointed, to be under the control of the Minister; and, there, so far as we know, the machinery ends. I ask honorable members if they think there is any proposal in the Bill for affording speedy relief to cases which are most urgently in need? As I read this Bill clause by clause, I had to keep asking myself, “ When is this benefit to get to the mother and to get to the child?” For instance, in clause 7, we are told that, in respect of any birth, unless a claim for payment of the allowance has been made to the proper officer within three months of the date of the birth, the money cannot be obtained at all. Here the woman has to make the claim. Nobody can do it for her, except with her written authority. A woman who has had a bad case of confinement may be for weeks unable to write or do anything. The very time that she is most urgently in need is the time when it seems to be most difficult for her to get any relief of this kind. It is said by the Prime Minister that she will have this credit to draw upon. Maybe she will. It all depends upon where she is living, and what are her circumstances.
– How will she know whether the child will be alive?
– I am speaking of a time subsequent to the birth of the child.. She may not be able to get credit then. She may have a lot of creditors around her already, and there is no guarantee that she will be able to get past them. I say that there is no machinery in this Bill to provide for difficult cases, and for conveying the benefit directly to the mother. All this means that this kind of thing can be infinitely better done by local authorities who are on the spot, and who have facile means of giving the relief and making it of most effect. Here we are hundreds of miles away, thousands of miles away in some cases, affecting to deal with this matter, with no constitutional machinery to do so. The bald proposal of the Bill has ineffectiveness stamped over its very face.
If we are going to do anything effective at all in a proposal of this kind, it ought to be, at this time of day, in the direction of a large, wise, contributory scheme of insurance. It is time that the Labour party obviated the need for these eleemosynary doles. We ought to be beyond it in these days, surely. I say this with no bitterness ; but it does seem1 to me that my honorable friends opposite have not very much to be proud of in connexion with a Bill of this kind. After two and a half years of administration, with unlimited power, rolling seasons, and absolute political strength, they are still telling the country that there is an immense amount of suffering in the community which all their ability and sympathy have not yet been able to assuage. If there is one thing more than another that the Labour party came in to do, it was to go down to the root cause of these troubles, to get to the bedrock in regard to the economic settling of this question, in order to remove causes; and here they are dealing with symptoms, and making no attempt to deal with causes at all.
– What are you here for?
– I should not like to say what the honorable member’s opinion is of our being here. Of course, he thinks we are a poor benighted crowd. He has already said so. He has charged us to-night with all sorts of narrowness of view, and incompetence. But what is the record of the party of all the talents and all the sympathy, and’ all the power into the bargain? Is this Bill all they have to offer us after three years of un- disputed rule, with no opposition to hurt them? The result of their three years’ administration, crystallized, is that they still say that there is an almost untold amount of suffering in the community. I think the expression used by the honorable member for Calare was that there was still a great amount of suffering and deprivation. The slums are still there, and rents are still high; so that these poor people cannot get habitable dwellings. Food is dearer than ever, so that these mothers can get less of it. All that the party have done to remove causes is very little indeed.
– Has this party power over rents?
– My honorable friends were emphatic that their policy would reduce rents; but, under present conditions, it is more difficult for these women to live and rear healthy children - than it was before, even in the States where the Ministry have Labour majorities to buttress and help them in connexion with their policy.
Any proposal of this kind should, 1 think, begin in the local agencies. All we should aim at is to buttress those agencies which are doing such excellent work in the community by rescuing all this human material which is so valuable and helping it to a higher plane, socially, intellectually, and morally. What we should aim at is a scheme of our own. We should not endeavour to break in upon other agencies by a scheme which is devoid of machinery, which aims at duplication, which has no prospect of proving effective, and which cannot secure a tithe of the good which the Government hope to achieve. It would be far better for us to restrict ourselves to some scheme which, would make the people independent of doles of this character, so that each unit of the community could, as the result of a life devoted to the building up of a provision of this kind, claim his or her own, without being dependent upon the gift of any Government or any individual. Each unit would then come into possession of his or her own at no great cost to himself or herself, but with the help of the State and with all the sympathy and co-operation that the Commonwealth and State Parliaments could bring to the consideration of the matter. In one word, I prefer infinitely a scheme of insurance based broadly upon the lines which have already been sketched by Mr. Lloyd-George - a scheme which has received the unqualified approval of the Australian Prime Minister himself, and which he has declared to be the greatest legislative work of the century. There, where he has blazed the track, we may follow, and we ought to follow, making such improvements as may be necessary.
– How has Mr. LloydGeorge been treated by the honorable mem ber’s friends in England?
– I venture to say that the men in England who are giving Mr. Lloyd-George trouble are the Socialists, who affirm that his scheme ought to be undertaken by the Government, and that they ought not to pay for it. That is the point over which the controversy is raging.
– What do the landlords say?
– I do not say that the landlord’s may not be assisting in the agitation, but I do say that the opposition to the scheme of Mr. Lloyd-George is coming from the working population of the Old Land.
– What about the medical men?
– That is a mere incident. The whole trouble is that a large number of the people of England do not want to pay. It is because they are saturated with the Socialistic idea that they ought to get the benefits of the scheme without paying for them that they are opposing it. That is the whole trouble in the Old Country, and it is the clear differentiating line between the scheme of Mr. Lloyd-George for social reform and the Socialism which is becoming so rampant in that overcrowded land.
– I think the honorable member’s statement would be a revelation to Mr. Lloyd-George himself.
– I am certain that I am stating the position clearly and accurately. My reading is that all this trouble is coming from the working people of Great Britain, who do not wish to pay the premiums that he has imposed.
– Read his Limehouse speech.
– That was delivered before the Bill was put through Parliament.
– It was the preliminary to it.
– I am speaking of the opposition which is now assailing the Act, and which is reducing the majorities of the Government at every byelection.
– It is an unrighteous fight.
– Then my honorable friend believes in Mr. LloydGeorge’s scheme. Are the Government and the Labour party in favour of it? I have already said that we ought to have a scheme on those lines. Such a scheme would do a very great deal to lessen the trouble which is threatening us even here, where we have Socialistic parties in power with majorities behind them which enable them to do anything they wish within the ambit of the Constitution.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I will conclude in one sentence.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired, and he must not proceed.
– That is rather hard upon me. A similar course has not been adopted in the case of any other honorable member.
– There are times when honorable members are forced, practically against their will, to take part in a debate. It seems to me well that debates upon certain occasions should be left to particular members upon both sides of the House, whilst’ other honorable members listen to their utterances, form their opinions, and vote accordingly. But there are times when we are practically compelled to take some notice, not necessarily of the opinions expressed in this chamber, but of the statements which honorable members make in the course of their addresses upon particular subjects. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition commenced his speech this evening with what amounted to a tirade of abuse of honorable members upon this side of the House. He alleged that we were intolerant of criticism, that we subjected honorable members opposite to numerous interjections, that we objected to any statement whatever coming from them, and that we were merely putting forward this proposal because we were on the eve of a. general election. In those few words he alleged something which he knew to be insulting, as well as undeserved.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know whether the Honorary Minister is in order in saying that I made statements which I knew to be insulting ?
– I would point out that the statement attributed to the honorable member was made by him frequently. He said deliberately that honorable members opposite had brought forward this proposal for a particular reason. If the Honorary Minister regards his statement as insulting, he has a right to say so.
– I had no intention of insulting the honorable member in any shape or form.
– If the honorable member for Parramatta says he had no intention of insulting the Honorary Minister,
I think the Honorary Minister will accept his assurance.
– I regret that the honorable member for Parramatta should have used words which were taken by all on this side to be insulting. However, the honorable member now asserts that he had no intention or desire to be insulting, and I accept his statement. It was alleged, with a degree of heat unpardonable, that this measure is brought forward on the eve of a general election, the inference being, of course, that the Government and their supporters have no real belief in the principle that we have submitted for consideration and acceptance, but that we are playing a game of politics. It means that we are submitting a proposal with an utter disregard of its consequences, merely with a view to catch the ear of the public and votes for Labour members. The honorable member is entitled to draw such an inference if he believes it, and I am entitled to regard the language as offensive, because I believe it to be so. I regret very much that an honorable member of the Opposition, who holds a responsible position, should seek to cast the aspersion that a measure of this high character and far-reaching nature is submitted as a mere political placard with the idea of catching votes. If ever a party in the history of politics in Australia has proved itself to be utterly regardless of vote catching - utterly regardless of statements in the influential press, and of statements made by wealthy people who have the ear of the public, and who never fail to exercise the power and influence over votes that they posses’s - it is the Labour party. From our political birth we have been the subject of abuse and misrepresentation of a character experienced by no other party, possibly, in the history of the Empire. But, no matter what the nature of the misrepresentation - no matter what statements were made to the effect that our policy would result in catastrophe, ruin, and chaos, we have continued to advocate and support principles and measures that we believe to be national and useful. And now, thank Heaven, many of those principles and measures to-day find a place on the statute-books of the different States and the statute-book of the Commonwealth. To the honour and credit of the. Labour party, these measures have proved of such benefit that honorable members opposite, despite their allegations, misrepresentations, and votes, now declare themselves to have been the real authors. Of course, we are not at all surprised at the attitude of the Opposition in regard to the measure now under discussion. It is typical of their- conduct in the past ; when honorable members opposite find that they are not in opposition to the principle of a measure on the Labour party’s platform, they point out all manner of small errors, and suggest how the end could be attained in some other way. For instance, no honorable member can be found opposite now who will say that he was opposed to the principle of old-age pensions, and it is doubtful if, even in 1907-8, they were opposed to the principle ; but many honorable members, as on the present occasion, found fault with the measure, saying that it went too far in one direction and not far enough in another, or that the “ time was not ripe.” At the same time, however, while they expressed themselves as in accord with the principle of old-age pensions, they cast their votes against the Surplus Revenue Bill, without which the pensions could not be paid.
– The money was taken away from the States.
– Honorable members opposite now say, in their extremity, that we robbed the States of the right to pay old-age pensions.
– Nothing of the sort -the States were robbed of money which belonged to them. ~”
– Am I to infer that the honorable member would hand back the subject of old-age pensions to the States to deal with? If not, what is the value of the interjection ? I now desire to briefly call attention to further remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. When honorable members on this side asked honorable members oppo site how they intended to vote, exception was taken to the question in language of a character I deplore. It is said that we are attempting to goad members of the Opposition into committing themselves. Are honorable members opposite afraid to commit themselves, or say how they will vote on this Bill? Are they not here to express opinions and say how they will vote? Member after member has risen opposite, and after, some of them, occupying the full allotted time of sixty-five minutes, have refrained absolutely from saying whether they believe in this Bill or whether they oppose it. Under such circumstances, are we not justified in asking those honorable members how they are going to vote? The honorable member for Parramatta occupied every moment of his allotted time ; but does any one in the House know how he is going to vote?
– I was not allowed to finish.
– If this were the first session of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, we might think he was innocent. The honorable member, however, spoke with one eye on the clock, and he just as carefully refrained from telling us how he is going to vote.
– That is absolutely incorrect. Had the honorable member not better stick to the truth ?
– When we submit a measure of this nature, and honorable members opposite criticise it, as is their duty, are we not justified in asking them what they intend to do in regard to it ? Of what value is it to be told that Mr. Jethro Brown, a most estimable professor of law, has said, in a general way, that we ought to be cautious in legislation of this description ? Of what use is it to us to know that John Burns has done something in London in the direction of housing the poor? Of what use is it to know that even the Prime Minister, at. the Labour Conference in Hobart, urged his colleagues to exercise caution in considering large measures? I know that he did, because I had the privilege of being a member of the Conference. I desire to congratulate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition upon occupying some of the time in which otherwise he might have expressed his own opinions, in quoting with such approval the remarks of the Prime Minister. But what, after all, has that to do with this debate? I would infinitely prefer to know what the honorable gentleman himself thinks ot this Bill - how he is going to vote?
– I thought that I had told you.
– I would prefer infinitely to know what the Opposition think of the measure - whether they intend to give us support or are merely going to criticise, and then let the thing go by default. It was alleged a moment or two ago that we were merely asking these honorable members to say how they are going to vote, because we wanted to use on the platform any statements they made. Have we not a right to use their statements on the platform?
– Not the ones which you want them to make, but their own statements.
– I am not asking any honorable gentleman on the other aide to say what I want him to say. I am simply asking him to express his own opinions, and he is at liberty to do that. Unfortunately, when we on this side were on the other side we were not permitted to express our opinions, because systematically we were gagged. There is a vast difference now when we have the power to gag. We as regularly ask honorable gentlemen on the other side to say where they are. We do not say to them, “ You shah not speak,” but we deprecate them speaking, if I may use the term, and yet saying nothing.
– Did you not refuse to hear the Minister of Defence?
– No ; ray right honorable friend’s memory is not keen in that direction. On one occasion he became so angry with himself that he gagged himself in the middle of his speech. It was a case of gagitis. So accustomed had he become to silencing honorable members on the other side that in the middle of his own speech he moved that the closure be applied, and we on that side were thankful for once that the gag was applied. Even if honorable members opposite will not state here what their opinions are we might go a little farther, and ask them to make here the statements that they make when speaking to meetings outside - particularly those meetings that are only to be entered by ticket, and where they are not reported - and not to keep their opinions for select audiences, for the reason that, knowing that there is no politician present to contradict the statements they make, they can make them, as did the honorable member for Parkes this afternoon of a character which is most reprehensible, and which should call” down upon him everlasting condemnation. He deliberately made a statement here this afternoon, to the effect that certain provisions were not in this Bill, proving conclusively one of two things : Either the honorable member indulging, as he does at meetings when there is no Labour man present to contradict, had not read the Bill, and what is more reprehensible than that an honorable member should rise in his place, criticise, and condemn this side for a measure which he had not even read-
– Oh, yes, he had.
– If my right honorable friend asserts that the honorable member had read the Bill, I say that he was deliberately indulging in malignant misrepresentation.
– I do not think so. What did he say?
Mr.- ROBERTS.- Nothing could be more keen than the remarks of the honorable gentleman, and he refrained, even after we attempted to correct him, from apologizing for the statement he made to the effect that certain provisions were not in the Bill, when, as a matter of fact, they were.
– That is rather farfetched. What was it he said?
– Order 1 The honorable member must cease making these interjections.
– One question of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was,
Why have you not done this before?” The Labour party, he said, has been “in office for two and a half years, and he uttered the phrase as though two and a half years were a lifetime, forgetting that it is practically impossible for any party in that time to undo the wrongs that had been done in so many decades of the past. I might put the question in this way, and say to them, “If in ten years of office you did nothing, speaking generally of the nowcalled Liberal side, why should you expect’ us to reform the world in two years and a half?” I might just as well ask the honorable gentleman why he is not five years older than he is as for him to ask why we did not submit this measure before. Is it likely that the whole of the policy of a party can be submitted in one session or two sessions?
– This is the third, you know.
– Or even in three sessions.
– This is the third and last.
– That has yet to be submitted to the electors, and I misjudge my fellow-countrymen if there will be any change, so far as the Federal Government are concerned. There is a great dread in the hearts of honorable gentlemen on the other side when, one and all, speaking on this motion, have said, “ This is a political placard; you are appealing to the people; do not appeal to the people.; they may vote for you.” Heaven knows the honorable member for Parramatta would do anything rather than that the people should vote for Labour members, because that keeps him in ai position where he can speak on every subject for an hour and five minutes, and yet say nothing. We have not done it before, because we had useful legislation to submit for the consideration of the House.
– More useful than this ?
– And we have put some of it into operation. We have still more useful legislation to submit, and we shall carry it as far as the time of this session will permit, and when we return, as I hope we will, with increased numbers, there will be yet more useful and national legislation to submit, for I feel that the people will accept it when put before them. We were alleged to have a surplus of £2,000,000 to play with. Will the honorable member for Parramatta seriously say that the money of the Federation has been played with by the present Government? It is all very well to make the statement in the course of his speech, particularly when he objects to interjections and appeals to Mr. Speaker for protection. Let us have it now. Does the honorable gentleman seriously assert that the money of the Federation has been played with by the present Government? Yes, we had a surplus of nearly £2,000,000 the year before last, and it was brought into last year’s accounts. During last year there was a surplus of a little over £2,000,000 - a marked contrast with a deficit. We have done well with the money, so well that it meets with the approval of a majority of the electors up to the present time. It was placed in Trust Funds for two particular purposes - for the defence of this country and for old-age pensions.
– Order I I ask the honorable member not to elaborate that.
– I do not propose to elaborate that particular feature of the question, but the assertion was made, and it seems to me that as capital was sought to ‘be made out of it I am justified in offering, at any rate, a few words in reply. The surplus was placed in Trust Funds for these particular purposes. I ask the honorable gentleman who, criticising us, has sought to make capital ‘out of the surplus of £2,000,000 and its payment into Trust Funds, whether he would have diverted it from either of those purposes, even for the great purpose to which we propose to devote about £500,000 during the current year ? Again, we are met with that silence which is ominous, and which tells convincingly that the honorable gentleman now knows that he had no right to make those assertions, or to attempt to create an impression abroad that the finances are being played with by the present Government, and that surplus moneys were placed in Trust Funds in such a manner that they might have been used for this purpose.
– The honorable gentleman should know that he is entirely misrepresenting what I said.
– I do not mind what the honorable gentleman interjects now. I know that he said that we had a surplus of ,£2,000,000 to sport with. He asked why we had not done this before when we had a surplus of £2,000,000 to sport with. When I refer to his statement, he answers me with the mere assertion that I am guilty of misrepresentation. When the honorable gentleman is caught, we are accustomed to have him turn round with what practically amounts to abuse; and so I personally do not take much notice of what he now says. Let me come to another assertion made in connexion with this Bill. We are told that no experts, according to the honorable gentleman, support the measure. Who are these experts? The honorable gentleman said that he would not name them because they- would only be subjected to the laughter and ridicule of honorable members on this side. The name of any expert and his opinions will receive from us the respect that is due to them. I venture to say that the opinions and writings of experts upon any subject are as eagerly studied by honorable members on this side as by honorable members on the other side. When the name of any expert upon any subject is quoted, there is invariably an immediate desire on the part of honorable members on this side who have npt read his full work to read it and judge accordingly. But no experts who are against this measure are named. Is the Rev. Professor Adam an expert upon the subject of maternity and maternity grants? I venture to say that at present, in his calmer moments, he is thinking that his statements before the Prime Minister were not such as should have emanated from a gentleman in his walk of life. With that, I think I can leave him. Is Mrs. Nicholls, of South Australia, the President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, an expert? She is a most estimable lady. I have no complaint whatever to make of her, or of her work in various directions; but it does not follow that, -because a lady has risen to the high dignity of President of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, she is an expert upon this subject. The fact that, in her presidential address, she denounced this proposal in terms which I venture to believe reflect, at any rate upon her judgment, does not qualify her as an expert. It does not follow that because she condemns it we should abandon, it. We shall go on with the principle and the measure, despite the criticism of these alleged experts. We shall go on with this and other measures of the kind, despite the abuse and misrepresentations indulged in by honorable members on the other side, or their friends outside Parliament.
– Speak up a little.
– It makes little difference to the honorable member whether I speak in a loud tone or in low tones ; he understands neither. The honorable member for Parramatta also asked, “ How far are we to go? What is the ultimate?” I think I waved my arm in about the same circle as the honorable gentleman waved his in asking these questions. Is it because we have not stated that we intend to go a mile we should” not therefore go halfamile? Are we to. stop doing one” piece of good because we have not publicly announced our intention to do good in other directions? Are we to stop doing one thing because we have not yet arrived at a decision as to what we shall do after that is done, or how far our social legislation should go? The honorable member for Parramatta knows well that the general trend of political thought on this side is progressive, and that if we can evolve legislation of the character likely to benefit the country we shall do so. We shall do more. While the people continue to give us their confidence, we shall try to put it into practical operation. Why, therefore, should the honorable member ask, in connexion with this measure, how far we intend to go?
– I did not say that.
– What were the honorable* gentleman’s words? “ How far are we to go? What is the ultimate?”
– I did not use that expression. That is part of what I. said, but it is a mutilation of what I said.
– I accept the honorable gentleman’s denial. That is not what he said, or, at any rate, he said that, and something more. The more I did not take down, arid what it was I do not know at the present moment. ‘ If the honorable gentleman will assist me by an interjection, I shall endeavour to reply to him. However, we shall not be deterred from proceeding with this particular measure. The honorable gentleman may fear that we are going further still in the same direction, but we intend to proceed with this measure, which, I believe, will be of benefit to the country generally. There was one other objection which I gathered from the statement made by the honorable gentleman. According to him, in some cases, it will be a long time before the mother receives the money. He found cause of complaint because, if the application for the allowance is not made within three months of the time the child is bom, the money will not be available.
– What shocking statements the honorable gentleman makes ! I did not say anything of the kind. It seems to be impossible for the honorable gentleman to quote anybody correctly.
– There is a provision in the Bill to the effect that, if the application for an allowance is not made within three months of the birth of the child, the applicant will not be eligible to receive it. (‘Mr. Joseph Cook. - There was no complaint on that score at all.
– The honorable gentleman drew attention to that particular provision, and said, in effect, that, in certain circumstances, illness, and the necessity for the mother remaining in bed, are inseparable from such events; and that, in some cases, the mother would not be in a position to make an application for the allowance. The honorable gentleman then said, “ Why should she lose the money because her illness is of longer duration than ordinary?” A time limit has to be put upon these proposals, and the Government believed that in this matter three months would suffice.
– I think so, too.
– Then we are in agreement now. The honorable member for Richmond informs me that I must be looking at the Deputy Leader of the Opposition upside down; but I ought not to be blamed for looking at him in the way in which he generally presents himself to the House. As we are now in agreement, I shall not deal with the reference to Mr. Lloyd-George’s scheme. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer believes that his scheme is a good one for the country which he has the honour and privilege of legislating for. Apparently, it has met with the approval of a majority in the Parliament df which he is an honored member.; but it does not follow that Australia must adopt his scheme, or a similar one. We can originate schemes of our own without slavishly copying those of Germany or of. Great Britain. The Labour party, at its Conferences, evolves its platform from the experience of practical men in all walks of life. We have something more than mere gelatinous compounds to submit to the people.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Bill forms part of the platform of the Labour party ?
– While the measure has met with some little opposition of a peculiar character, it has not met with the direct opposition of any honorable gentleman in this Chamber. When it was first put before the public, it was denounced by certain sections, and by one or two of the newspapers; but, to the credit of the press be it said, not by all the newspapers. It ( was denounced by two or three reverend gentlemen, and by the members of two or three political organizations and benevolent associations; but now, as with every other proposal of this party, as it is becoming understood by the public, the great dread of honorable members opposite is that the electors will be grateful for the legislation submitted for their benefit. If I can gather the general feeling of honorable members opposite, without any specific statements on the subject by them, it is their belief that some such assistance as we propose is needed ; that Parliament might well pass a measure giving relief of this character, but that the distribution of the grant should be put into the hands of local bodies or benevolent societies. I hope that I am not doing the Opposition an injustice by this statement of what I think to be its views. If I gather aright, the trend of thought among honorable members opposite is that the money should pass through the hands of those connected with charitable institutions, so that it might be better administered and do more good. I wish to say emphatically that, so far as my vote and influence go, the money shall not pass through the hands of those connected with benevolent institutions. The odour of charity is sweet in its proper place, but it should not attach to this proposal. This must be a national system, just as is the old-age pensions system. Benevolent asylums are more costly in their administration of funds than a Commonwealth Department will be, and I object to any woman having to go to a benevolent asylum to say, “ Please, Mrs. Richer-than-I-am, will you give me some assistance in my hour of trial?”
– The honorable member is going to give money to the rich women in the community.
– Let those whose position is such that they do not need the money refrain from making application for it; there are others to whom the allowance will be like manna from Heaven, and they should not be subjected to the indignity of having to go cap in hand to a benevolent institution, and to curtsey before some person who, before the allowance is meted out, will make the inquiries that are commonly made as to all that has happened - good, bad, and indifferent. The fund will be administered, as is the old-age pensions fund, by a Government Department, with the minimum of cost and the maximum of i benefit to the country. I am pleased to be associated with this Parliament under the circumstances, and I am pleased to be associated with the party with whom this scheme has originated.
– Hear, hear I
– I know that the honorable member is not able to take these matters seriously. I hope that, under the circumstances, he does not ask for a rejoinder from me for his attempts to ridicule or belittle the statements made. ‘ I am proud to be associated with the party with whom the measure originated. For the first time in the history of our Commonwealth a Parliament of men, to their honour, have recognised the miraculous act of motherhood in a manner which, I believe, the women of the country will highly appreciate. We have done this regardless of how the votes of the women may be cast in the future. That does not trouble the Labour party in submitting its proposals to the community. I am confident that this legislation will meet with approval, and that, generally, the world will say in regard to it, as of other legislation that has originated with the Commonwealth Labour party, “ Well done, continue on your good course.”
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kelly) adjourned.
– In moving the adjournment, I wish to intimate to honorable members that we shall have to sit later to-morrow night, as we wish to get on with the business in hand. I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The Honorary Minister a few moments ago made a personal reflection upon me because of an interjection I made. He was referring from his place at the table, or, rather, from that of the Prime Minister, to the pride he felt in being associated with the Labour movement, and in speaking before his colleagues of the Labour party. I interjected, “Hear, hear!” The interjection was intended to convey, and was accepted by the Minister as conveying, my belief that he really was proud of the position he occupied in the party, to which he has attained by virtue of certain methods inside the organization and inside this
House in the brief time that he has been here. My approving interjection was an ironical indication that I had quite summed up the reasons for his pride, and assumed that every other honorable member had done the same. It had no more reference to the Maternity Allowance Bill than had 99 per cent, of the statements made by the Minister in his speech. With that I- can safely leave the honorable gentleman for the time being. He has done pretty well by the methods he adopted here this evening.
– The honorable member may not now traverse a speech made in. a previous debate.
– I am not traversing any arguments used in the discussion of the Maternity Allowance Bill. I purposely keep this sort of thing apart from the consideration of the measure, and therefore I have chosen the motion for the adjournment as the occasion for correcting the most unjust and disingenuous attempt of the Honorary Minister to injure me.
– His remark was very fair.
– Was the honorable member here?
– Did he hear what the Honorary Minister said? Mr. “Tudor. - Yet..
– Did he hear the Honorary Minister say that he was proud to be associated with the Labour party, and did he notice the flourish with which it was said?
– I also heard the sneering “ Hear, hear !” of the honorable member for Wentworth.
– Exactly. The cheer wasironical, because of the Honorary Minister’s pride in his party, and the prominence to which he has attained in it, but had no more to do with the Maternity Allowance Bill than had the insults hurled by him at members on this side of the Chamber. It was disingenuous and unworthy for one in his position to try to side-track debate in that manner. He was clever enough to insult honorable members of the Opposition, but I hope that he will not further transgress.
.- I desire to say that I accept the honorable member’s explanation of his assumption, and also his apology.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 September 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120925_reps_4_66/>.