4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY laid upon the table the following paper : -
Electoral Act- Further Report, with Maps, by the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions.
Ordered to be printed.
Sydney Premises - Savings Bank Advance - Advances to Private Banks
asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1. Has the Governor of the Bank adopted designs for the erection of bank premises at the corner of Pitt and Moore streets, Sydney?
– I am communicating with the Governor of the Bank in relation to the questions asked, and will communicate the replies as soon as received.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is he aware that the published statement of the assets and liabilities of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as at 30th September,1912, shows that the Savings Bank had advanced £10,000 to the bank’s general banking- department?
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (for Mr. Kelly) asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to the published statement of the assets and liabilities of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as at 30th September, 1912, in which it appears that the bank had made advances to four private banks, only one of which is an Australian bank - Will he inquire and inform the House as to the basis of the distribution of such advances?
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Commissioner of Land Tax is making inquiry into the matter involved in the questions, and within a few days I shall be in a position to make a statement.
Mr.FULLER asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Will he state the names of the alleged combines or monopolies whose operations have been investigated under the Commonwealth AntiTrust Act legislation between 1st May, 1910, and 1st November, 1912, and the action, if any, taken in regard to each?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is : -
The statutory powers of investigation - under the Australian Industries Preservation Act can only be used when the Comptroller-General of Customs believes that an offence has been committed against the Act (which is limited in scope to Inter-State and external trade and commerce). Statutory investigations under that Act, within the period mentioned, have been made in relation to the Coal and Shipping Combine. Complaints have been made to the Department in regard to several alleged combines, but the inquiries show that these are not within the scope of the Government of the Commonwealth.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Has this Parliament the power to enact a law even toa limited degree, to establish the Referendum and Initiative in reference to all measures within the scope of the Federal Constitution ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is : -
The question does not admit of a definite answer. ‘ The legislative powers under the Constitution are, with one exception (section 128), vested in the Parliament. Provision for Initiative or Referendum need not necessarily conflict with this.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Debate resumed from the 27 th November (vide page 6056), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– One of the problems involved in the discussion of the proposal now before us is how to deal with the difficulties created by the present high cost of living, and a determined attempt is being made to solve it. The present high cost of living is due, no doubt, to a multiplicity of causes which we are not bound to accurately determine, our work being rather to deal with effects. To do this in kid glove, dilettante fashion, would be to betray the trust reposed in us by those who sent us here. I do not consider the proposals of the Government at all too drastic, in fact, they do not go far enough to suit me. But they cover a great deal of ground, and if effect is given to them, as I hope it will be, this Parliament will have power to remove many of the troubles which now beset those two great sections of the community, the producers and the consumers. A great deal has been spoken in this debate about trusts, and there seems to be a lot of cloudy sentiment in regard to them. We must admit that they have organized industry and abolished waste, and those who advocate the nationalization of industries, that is, the creation of trusts composed of the whole people to control them, should be willing to pay their tribute of admiration to those who have shown the way to do this. Why is it that in this enlightened age we still keep to the old ridiculous methods of distribution? By reason of the improvement in the means of transport, we have obtained the aeroplane, the motor car, the electric tram and train, and great ocean liners which are a marvellous advance on the shipping known to previous generations; yet in the matter of distribution we seem prepared to stand still. But the trusts have stepped in, particularly in America, and shown how, by the organization, control, and regulation of transport and distribution, marvellous economies may be effected. Trusts, however, are good things only for those who hold shares in them. Their methods create tremendous dividends for their shareholders. I wish to constitute the whole people a trust by the nationalization of distribution and transport facilities, so that the benefits of this organization and economy may be shared among all in the community. I am not prepared to say that nationalization of the means of production is necessary at the present time, though that may come.
At present the farmer who is growing food stuffs, and the miner who in the wilderness is digging the raw metal out of the ground, are doing good for themselves and for the community, and though individual effort may be a little wasteful, I am not prepared at this stage to sweep away the small man by the wholesale nationalization of production.
To realize what the private trusts have done, let us take a glance at the operations of the Beef Trust of America, and consider what it will mean if that Trust becomes established in Australia. In five years that Trust doubled the price of many kinds of beef, and was able to bring down the prices of stock lower than they had ever been before. Why could it not do the same thing in Australia if we gave it a chance to establish itself here? There would be nothing to prevent it from organizing to reduce the prices of cattle, sheep, poultry, pigs, and live stock generally, and to increase the price of all flesh products to the consumer. Of course, trusts do not at first hasten to increase prices. In the beginning they pander to the desire for cheapness and the compulsion of those earning only small wages to buy in the cheapest markets. But when they have thus destroyed their competitors, they gradually increase prices. Their mode of operations is a simple one, legitimate in their view, and good for their shareholders, but bad for those whom they have at their mercy.
I was intensely amused by the statements of the honorable member for Flinders. It is admitted that the honorable member is learned in the law, and yet the ideas of nationalization which he put forward display ignorance, or a pretence of ignorance. He says that it is utterly useless to talk of regulating prices without monopolizing the whole of production. I would ask the honorable member to read up the history of the Beef Trust, and see how many ranches ‘the Beef Trust bothered about owning in the United States. I ask him whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Company owns all the fields producing cane in Australia, or whether the Tobacco Trust owns all the fields on which tobacco is grown. If he were in a position to say that they do, it might be claimed that his contention will hold water. But what’ are the facts? The authorities of the Beef Trust have not bothered their heads about the production of cattle. They have mopped up all the transport facilities of the railways and the whole of the distributing organization. They left the producer alone un- til they became the only buyers of his product, and then they had him at their mercy. The Tobacco Trust manufactures tobacco, but they do not trouble themselves about the chap who is growing the leaf. They leave him severely alone. But they become the only buyer of tobacco leaf, and then they have got him “ on toast. “ The Colonial Sugar Refining Company do not bother to take over the whole of the farms upon which sugar cane is grown. They put down their refining mills and become secondary producers and sellers of the product, and by their methods they control producer and consumer. They are able thus to lower the price to the producer, and raise it to the consumer. I am aware that this is; rather dry stuff for honorable members who have heard it over and over again. But when we listen to such statements as those made by the honorable member for’ Flinders, it is time to remind the people once more of the actual position of affairs.
In connexion with these referenda proposals an old quotation occurs to my mind, “ Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.” This saying was never more applicable to any one than it is to-day to those who are acting as opponents of the people’s rights. There is one man to whom I should like to pay a tribute for the assistance he is giving us in connexion with these proposals. I refer to Mr. Knox, of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, who has done more to gain us thousands of votes in this campaign than- has any other person in the country. He has shown the people that there is something of grave importance to hide, otherwise he wouldhave been ready to answer all the questions put to him by the Sugar Commission. If the business of the company is carried on in a wholesome and thoroughly legitimate way, why should there be any necessity to hide anything in connexion with it? People may have been mildly suspicious before, but they are to-day certain that there is something of grave import to hide, and are consequently determined to give this Parliament full power to deal with the like of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
I have to congratulate the members of the Opposition upon having at last settled their differences, and arrived at a basis of union. I have watched them for the last six years, and have noticed the troubles arising from their differences of opinion. But their opposition to these referenda proposals have at last bound them together in a solid body. I congratulate them upon their union, because behind the opposition to these proposals there is something which strikes at the root of Democracy. There is a desire to nullify the effects of one-adult-one-vote. That is the reason why honorable members opposite have raised the State Rights cry. They know that, if they can succeed in preventing the people securing justice through the Federal Parliament, they can always depend upon the Upper Houses of the State Parliaments preventing them obtaining justice in the State political arena. I do not care whether certain members of the Labour party, like Mr. Beeby, are opposed to these proposals. I class such men, with the members of the Opposition, as traitors to the people and to the principle of oneadultonevote. The people are told that they now have one-adult-one-vote, and can arrange matters to suit themselves by electing State Parliaments that will do what they desire. But this is mere pretence, when we know that the Upper Houses of the State Parliaments will continue to block every measure calculated to benefit the people. This is the first rampart put up by the Opposition against these proposals. Their cry is for the maintenance of State rights and the State Upper Houses. I was very pleased to hear the honorable member for Echuca speak so candidly, and refer to the Upper Houses and a. few other things as “ bulwarks.” The second rampart upon which the Opposition depend is represented by the limitations of the existing Federal Constitution. It must be plain to . every Democrat in Australia that in opposing these referenda proposals the Opposition stand solidly behind these two great ramparts. We know that very little can be done in the States just now, but I hope some day to see a measure carried to wipe out every Upper House in Australia. In submitting these proposals to the people, all we ask is that they shall extend their own opportunities to secure justice for themselves in the Federal arena. I give my friends the enemy full credit for their stand, and I hope they will not take it badly when we tell the public throughout the Commonwealth that in obstructing these proposals they are setting themselves absolutely against the people, because if they are carried, it is the people whose rights will be extended. They will continue to be the masters of this Parliament, and will be able to turn down a Labour or any other Government that goes too far, or does not go far enough, in bringing about the readjustment of social conditions which will be possible if the extended powers asked for are given to the people themselves. Those who vote against these proposals will do so because they refuse to trust the people with these extended powers. They will practically say to the people, “ We have prevented you from securing justice through the Upper Houses of the State Parliaments, and we are equally determined, to prevent you getting justice through the Federal Parliament.” That statement requires emphasizing in every way, because the sooner the people realize the real position the sooner they will bring to heel all those who are opposed to giving them the powers we ask for them. As a Democrat I am not afraid to trust the people with full power through the Federal Parliament to do all that they wish to do. I maintain that the people should be trusted with power to the fullest extent, otherwise all our talk about Democracy and one-adult-one-vote becomes farcical.
I wish now to draw attention to the fact that a number of persons who voted against the referenda- proposals on the last occasion said they were quite willing to vote for some of them, but were unable to do so because a tricky Attorney-General had bound them up all together in one question. I am rather pleased to see that one great journal in this city is standing up for some of these proposals, and I hope that those who professed themselves willing to support some of the proposals on the last occasion will be found ready to support them now when they are submitted separately to the people.
It is rather interesting at this juncture to remember that the Imperial Parliament is dealing with a somewhat similar question in the effort to establish Home Rule for Ireland. I would ask those who contend that the National Parliament should not be the predominant partner in the Federation whether they are anxious to see the Imperial Parliament part with its powers to Parliaments established in Ireland, England,, Scotland, and Wales. There is very little doubt that if Home Rule be established in Ireland, other sections of the United Kingdom will ask for a similar measure of self-government. Scotland has already started a movement in that direction, and
I should not be surprised to find England and Wales follow in her wake. They would each be equally justified in claiming Home Rule. Yet how amusing any member of this House would be if he asserted that he would make the Parliaments of every portion of the United Kingdom superior to the Imperial Parliament. We all recognise how absurd such a contention would be. I challenge honorable members who oppose these proposals on the ground that this National Parliament should not be the dominant partner in the Federation to apply the same principle to the Imperial Parliament. The contention ignores one of the commonest geometrical axioms, namely, that the whole is greater than the part. They desire to make each of the parts greater than the whole. Even if these proposals be carried they will not be entirely sufficient to enable us to pass all the legislation we desire.
– In what way?
– In’ so far as they leave in the Constitution limitations of our power. The only limitations that should be left in the Constitution are, in my opinion, those which are absolutely local - limitations as to matters that cannot be separated from local Government.
– Matters of municipal government, such as the lighting of streets ?
– Yes, and a host of other things. I would refer the honorable member to the South African Constitution, which leaves many matters to the provincial councils to deal with. I am not speaking now for my party.. Every one knows that my party goes only as far as is indicated by the proposals now before the House, but I, personally, am a believer in the South African Constitution. I would say, let us do as South Africa and Germany have done. Let us make the Federation absolutely all powerful. It it provided that no law passed By any State of the German Empire shall conflict with the national laws; whilst’ the South African Constitution provides that a law passed by a provincial council shall not be repugnant to the laws of the Union Parliament.
– They have practically a unitary system in South Africa.
– It is a unitary system in which I believe.
– This is the only straightforward statement that we have had from the Government side of the House as to the intention of the honorable member’s party.
– I wish I could make it on behalf of my party, but I cannot. I speak only for myself. I cannot father on my party my own ideas, but I owe a duty to the electors who send me here to be frank and straight, and to tell them exactly the position I take up. Another reason why I should like the proposed amendments of the Constitution to go as far as I have suggested is that as an out-and-out Democrat I believe that the only quick way of getting rid of the Legislative Councils of the States is to submit an amendment of the Federal Constitution which would make the National Parliament the dominant power, and, at the same time to rearrange the Constitutions of the States so as to do away with every Upper House. It is said by the Opposition that if the powers for which we ask were granted to the National Parliament centralization would be the result. Too much administrative power would mean centralization, but such would not result from the exercise of legislative power I trust this Parliament, and believe that it will always have sufficient common sense to leave to the local authorities local affairs that can best be administered locally. My belief is that if full legislative powers were vested in the Federal Parliament, and full administrative local powers in the provincial councils, we should actually get decentralization for the first time in Australia. Those who object that the Federal Government should not have these wider powers because they would lead to centralization, ought to advocate the abolition of the present State Parliaments which meet in Melbourne and Sydney. The curse of centralization has been experienced in New South Wales, where all government is centralized in Sydney. If consistent, those who oppose these proposals should say to the people of New South Wales: “We object to centralization; therefore, we propose that the State shall be cut up and controlled by five or six local Parliaments. In that way we shall be able to bring about decentralization.” That is what I am aiming at when I speak of a unitary form of government. I believe in. Home Rule and local government so long as it does nol; interfere with the functions of the National Government and with the whole of the people in their national operations. If we are to have every State Parliament and local governing body obstructing the National Parliament, how can we pass national legislation? The only remedy is to remove them from our path ; to recognise that, after all, the whole is greater than . the part ; that the National Parliament must be supreme, but that, at the same time, the State Parliaments or local governing bodies, whatever they may happen to be, should have a full measure of home rule in respect of purely local matters.
The attitude of those who object to an extension of our present trade and commerce power is rather amusing. Their contention is that the control of trade and commerce should be left to the States. Those who have given reasonable consideration to the question know that trade and commerce are of not only an Inter- State, but an international character. As an exporting country, we are affected to-day to an enormous extent by the price of wool and wheat in England, Germany, America, and elsewhere. Yet we hear people declaring that they would limit the control of trade and commerce to the States. Why do they not go a little further, and say that one town shall not trade with another - that trade and commerce are purely local, and that each shire or municipality shall have absolute power over trade and commerce within its boundaries?
– The honorable member does not seem to have read the Constitution.
– I certainly have. Before the honorable member had forsaken his swaddling clothes I was fighting for Federation in New South Wales. I took the platform twenty years ago in support of Federation, and even in those days I urged that a reasonably easy method of amending the Constitution should be provided for. I recognised that no constitution could be framed to meet the necessities of the people ten years hence. I was young in those days, but I was as good a democrat as I am now.
I maintain that the National Parliament will have to follow the trade and commerce of Australia into every market. The trade and commerce power is vital. Although we may do certain work on this side in facilitating the handling of our products, when, those products go into the over-sea markets we are unable to help our producers. If the amendment of the Constitution, for which we ask, be agreed to by the people, it will be the duty of the Government of the day, no matter from what party . it mav be drawn, to follow our exports into the markets of the world, to establish depots where they can be exhibited, and especially to control the shipping companies that carry them over-sea. The pressing necessity of a national line of steamers has been forced upon us to such an extent that I hope to see, during the next Parliament, should our party be returned to power, a national line of steamers launched. I hope also to see depots established for the display and the sale of our produce to the best advantage. If commerical depots are a good thing to have in foreign ports, why should we not have them in every city or district in the Commonwealth where they are required? I am solid for the Commonwealth Government controlling the whole of our export and import trade for the good of the producers and consumers.
– That can be done under our existing powers.
– I regret ‘to say that I doubt the correctness of the honorable member’s statement.
– Ask the AttorneyGeneral.
– I am often described as an optimist, and I am afraid that the honorable member for Bendigo, when he makes this statement, may- be placed in the same category. I have not personally investigated the legal aspect of the question. Not having a legal training I bow in these matters to those who have. But with all due deference to the honorable member for Bendigo, I may say that, as the result of views expressed by other lawyers, I do not think we have the power which he declares we do possess in that regard. If the honorable member proves to be right in his contention, I shall be delighted. . If he believes that we have the power to dp these things, then he must regard the proposed extension, of our trade and commerce power as a mere superfluityHe cannot object to its adoption since u will serve only to emphasize the fact that we possess the power which he declares we have.
I admit that in the matter of distribution we have power to help private enterprise. We run. our great postal system for the benefit of merchants and others. We distribute their letters, their telegrams, and their telephone messages.
Indeed we are carrying on, through the agency of the Postal Department, a magnificent distributing system. When there is a shortage of food stuffs in the back blocks it is quite a common thing to see mail coaches laden down, not with letters and newspapers, but with parcels of cheese, bacon, and butter. In times of scarcity, or when prices are high in any district, many local residents place orders for goods in Sydney or some other city, and have them sent up by parcels post. If we have developed a great Department like the Postal Service on behalf of the merchants, surely it seems rational that we should develop trade and commerce a little further - that the Commonwealth should have its steam-boats, that it should control the railways, that it should have full power over imports and exports. That seems to be a logical outcome, and the sooner it is achieved the better.
– That is why the honorable member and his party want these extended powers?
– These powers do not give us enough; they only go part of the way. I have been asking for further powers. The policy contained in the Bills under consideration do not give us control over the railways. I think we ought to control them. If we are to control trade and commerce we must control transport. I should be ashamed to go on to the platform and tell the people of Australia that I advocate the Commonwealth owning a line of steam-ships if I did not also advocate the Commonwealth control of railways. I therefore regret that such a proposal is not contained in these measures.
– The honorable member is a Communist right out.
– Will the honorable member for Parkes tell me what a Communist is? I can give him my own idea. A Communist is a man who believes that every one should be so magnanimous that he will not loaf on his fellow-man ; he would give to every man according to his needs. That is a condition which we shall not reach in our time. Probably it will not be reached in the next thousand years. Humanity may evolve to that point some day. I am a co-operationist up to the hilt, and would give to every man according to his deeds. The reason why I advocate Commonwealth control over trade and commerce is that I desire to give every producer and every con sumer a fair chance, and because this policy will strike an effective blow at every parasite and middleman in the country. I do not say that we can do without the middleman altogether. But we can do without the unnecessary middlemen. The honorable member for Parkes has, I think, studied economics, and he was only endeavouring to side-track me when he tried to extend to me the cognomen of a Communist.
I hope to see an early termination of this debate, because I want honorable members to go soon to our masters - the people. But I do ask them, in fighting this battle before the people, to try to drop petty, personal elements. The questions with which we are dealing are enormous. They affect the whole future of the producing interests of Australia.They affect the whole future of the consumers. They are the first deliberate attempt to take up the question of the cost of living. Those honorable members who stand against these proposals are practically asking that the cost of living shall go higher, and that we shall not have (power to rescue this country from the hands of the trusts. They are asking that this Parliament shall be obstructed and maimed in attempting to carry out the work of the people, and in promoting the destinies of this country. I feel sure that on the present occasion the proposals will be carried by the people by an enormous majority. !Tn regard to Federation itself, I remind honorable members that- on the first occasion when the Constitution was submitted to the people of New South Wales they did not agree to it. They did not quite grip the matter. In fact/ I doubt whether they grip it altogether to-day. But the question of the acceptance of the Constitution was put to them a second time, and they carried it by a sufficient majority. I believe that it will be the same in regard to these, measures. Furthermore, I feel that as the referenda will take place in conjunction with the general elections, and every candidate who fights in our interest will have an opportunity of explaining the policy and rallying the people to the poll, we have a very substantial hope that the whole of the proposals will be. carried by an absolute majority of the people of the States of Australia.
– I should like to preface the remarks which I intend to make, for the edification of the public, by saying that during the latter part of the speech of the honorable member for New England there have been in the Chamber one Minister and three members of the Labour party. I mention that in order to show the profound interest which the members of the party take in the arguments that have been advanced in regard to these far-reaching proposals. The first thought that occurs to me, and it is one that lias occurred to me again and again in dwelling upon this sheaf of proposals made by the Government, is the poor compliment which is paid to the intelligence of the people of Australia. I go further, and say that it seems to me, taking into consideration all the circumstances surrounding these drastic proposals, that this is about as good an exhibition of an insult to the political instincts and common-sense of the people of Australia as could well be conceived. We have here a set of proposals which are almost identical with those put before the people some two years ago. It is to be noted that they would not have been put before the people a second time except that, as far as we can judge from the press reports, the Labour party have been ordered - literally ordered - by a conference which sat at Hobart a little time ago to submit the questions again to the people of Australia. I feel perfectly satisfied in my own mind that if it had not been for that very peremptory order from an irresponsible body in Hobart, which undoubtedly exercises a considerable influence upon the party now in power, these questions would never have been repeated. It seems to be a matter of sheer indifference to the party who are endeavouring to foist this policy upon the people that the repetition of the questions at an ordinary referendum involves an actual money cost of nearly- £50,000. This is quite in keeping with the reckless way in which men who have not been accustomed to the handling of large sums of money are prepared to throw it about when it does not belong to them. The mere money expenditure upon these proposals, which is to fall upon the people, is not the only inconvenience in that respect. The repetition of these questions is going to involve an immense amount of work and worry to a busy people, taking them off their ordinary avocations, giving them five or six times as much subject for thought as they would have had at an ordinary election - and that, too, when a general election is taking place - and, as the honorable member for Boothby has pointed out. forcing upon the man in the street an immense amount of reflection, and, I may add, embarrassment, in regard to a complex series of questions, which he would not otherwise have had. I have always felt that it did not seem to be recognised by the party in power that the onus of proof, even on the first reference to the people, lay entirely with those who allege that the Constitution is insufficient for the good government of Australia. If the onus of proof lay with them on the first occasion, undoubtedly the onus lies much more certainly on them now, when they are practically telling the people, “ You did not know what you were doing when you answered these questions previously, and, in order that you may have another opportunity of considering the questions intelligently, we will put them before you a second time.” It is contended by honorable member’s on the Ministerial side that there is a great difference between submitting the questions in the first instance in globo and submitting them now in a series of separate issues. The case appears to me to be very much like that of the stupid mother who, having administered an overdose of medicine to a child, which the child has thrown up, conceives the brilliant idea of dividing a second dose into five or six smaller .portions, in the hope that the child will at least keep down one or two. My own opinion is that the public will vomit the whole of these proposals, and I” think that when they have a chance they will also vomit the party which has introduced them.
– Or, as the Scripture says, the public will “ spew them, out of their mouth.”
– The honorable member’s language is more delicate than mine, and I am prepared to adopt it. We ha.ve heard so much in this House on the subject of “majority rule,” of “the people’s will,” and of “the fundamental principle of Democracy,” that one is reminded of the cry of “ wolf “ in AEsop’s fable. I should like to test the sincerity of those professions by the actual figures relating to these questions. We have to remember that, at the last general elections, the party which has now enjoyed two years of legislative power, and has practically unrestricted administration of the affairs of Australia, acquired that right by reason of an aggregrate majority of 14,000 votes. Some people say that the majority was 40,000. I will take a mean number of 20,000. We may say then that this Government and this party have enjoyed this enormous power by virtue of an aggregate majority of the people of 20,000. Of course, the anomaly which gives a party having a 20,000 majority in the country a majority of eleven members in this House, is the result of the rapid changes in the distribution of population, and shows the necessity for a more frequent re-adjustments of electorates in a young country where the population moves so rapidly. But here is a party returned to (power with a majority of, roughly, 20,000 people, which arrogates to itself the right, not merely to transform our Constitution, but to centralize their legislation entirely in the interest of their own people, and to deny to men a livelihood unless they belong to their organizations. They do this within a few months of the time when the people of this country, when the policy of the party was submitted to them, by a majority of 250.000 threw it out. This party show their respect for majority rule by continuing to trade upon a majority of 20,000 people, and by ignoring a negative majority of 250,000 people, who threw out their policy in a spirit of something like indignation. It simply shows that these professions of a desire to respect the will of the majority are as hollow and hypocritical as they can be. While honorable members opposite observe the 20,000 majority, they are careful to ignore the 250,000 majority. We have not yet been told how they account for the fact that the proposals submitted at the last referenda were negatived by a majority of 250,000. They have not the courage to say that the people were too stupid to understand them, or that they themselves were too stupid to make those proposals plain to the people. They are here by virtue of a majority of 20,000 votes. They have submitted their policy to the electors, and have continued to administer that policy for over two years. They desired the people to give them power to extend their policy all over Australia. They said to the electors : “ We offer you the opportunity of stultifying all your Legislative Councils, and of allowing us, with a majority in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, to extend our humanitarian policy all over the Commonwealth. ‘ ‘ To that proposal the people said “ No,” by a majority of 250,000 I would like to know how the Labour party account for that de- feat, and whether they have the courage to say in fact, as they do by inference, that the electors were too stupid to understand their proposals, and that they are now re-submitting them only because they have been ordered to do so by an irresponsible body of men in Hobart, whose orders they must obey.
– The Acting Prime Minister stated two days after the last referenda that the proposals would be resubmitted at the next general election.
– The PostmasterGeneral has been so little in the House recently that he cannot be familiar with the discussion which has taken place upon this Bill. I wish now to say a word or two in regard to the history of Federation, because it is very important that we should take into consideration the circumstances which led up to our present mode of government. History is not a strong point with the Labour party. The past is very unimportant to them. It is the living present with which they concern themselves. I recollect a well-known statement by one of their leaders, in which he said in a dramatic way, which was as stupid as it was dramatic : “ We do not come here to observe, but to make, precedents.” In that sentence he exhibited his utter disregard of the accumulated knowledge of centuries. We have to recollect that when Federation was first mooted in Australia there were six separate communities, which were “ in the germ,” so to speak”. As they grew, these separate communities naturally became very proud of their political individuality. One characteristic of them has always been a jealousy ‘of interference, not merely on the part of neighbours, but even on the part of the Mother Country. They have always taken up the attitude: “We are autonomous Colonies, with Parliaments of our own, and we are quite able to manage our own affairs.” If one chooses to look through the whole of the list of suggestions which have been made at various periods for establishing a Federal Government in this country, it will be found that throughout there is a complete absence of any hint that they should part with any of their autonomous powers except for the purpose of voluntarily co-operating with each other to give effect to functions which are universally acknowledged to be of a national characterIf we go back to 1847, we shall find that the Privy Council then suggested that the time had arrived when some step should be made towards establishing a National Government. That body recognised that in the different Colonies postal matters sufficiently overlapped to warrant them being dealt with from a national stand-point. It realized that the time had arrived when there might be a Court of Appeal established for all Australia, and .it foresaw a danger’ of conflict arising as the result of the operation of different Tariffs. Accordingly, it suggested that these three functions should be dealt with by a central authority. But its suggestions were repudiated without hesitation by the oldest State of the Commonwealth. In 1853 Earl Grey again proposed that some common action should be taken by the different Colonies in regard to Tariff and postal matters, and also in regard to the establishment of a Court of Appeal. But not one suggestion was ever made that the States should give up any of their autonomous powers. Earl Grey’s proposal having been rejected, we come to 1883, when the suggestions of the Federal Council resulted in the calling together of a Convention. On that occasion Sir Samuel Griffith went so far as to suggest that the time had arrived when, instead of maintaining six different systems of defence, the self-governing Colonies of Australia should place those six different systems under a central administration, that the Pacific should in future be regarded as a domain of Federal interest, that the influx of’ criminals into all the Colonies should be dealt with, and that quarantine was a matter - seeing that those Colonies are contiguous - which should be dealt with nationally. A number of these suggestions were agreed to at that” preliminary stage. But not one word was ever breathed about calling upon the Colonies to part with any of their legislative individuality. I come now to the Conferences of 1890 and 1891, which were composed of the ablest men whom Australia could select. When I compare the puny intellects of the members of the party who are endeavouring to completely transform our Constitution with the intellectual giants of those days, I am amazed at their temerity in putting forward their press-gang opinions on the subject. They do not express their own opinions, but those of a sort of press gang which are dominated by an irresponsible body outside. When I contrast the brain power of the giants of former days who attempted to devise a scheme for the national govern ment of Australia with that of men upon the other side of the chamber, who express callow and immature opinions, I am amazed that the public have patience to entertain for a moment a proposal to turn topsyturvy a Constitution which was framed by the greatest intellects that Australia has produced.
– The honorable member is as insulting as he is conceited this morning.
– I can quite understand that some truths which I utter are a little offensive. I cannot help that.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw his offensive expression. He has stated distinctly that his remarks were offensive.
– I have not said so.
– The honorable member distinctly stated that he could understand his remarks being offensive. He must therefore withdraw, them.
– If you, sir,, think that they were offensive I will withdraw them. But I have not said they were offensive.
– The honorable member is now offering insult to the Chair, which he must not do. He must withdraw his offensive statement.
– You, sir, have no right to say that. I have never been insulting to the Chair.
– While the honorable member was speaking an interjection was made which, of course, was disorderly. Thereupon the honorable member distinctly stated that he could understand that his remarks were offensive. If he intended to make offensive remarks, he was out of order, and he must withdraw them.
– In order to get rid of the difficulty, I apologize, and shall resume my speech. In looking through all these different stages of the progress of the Federal movement, one cannot fail to be struck by two things. In the first place, in all its developments extending from 1847 to 1912 - a period of over sixty years - there was never a suggestion made by a brainy man that the States should surrender one particle of their local autonomous powers. The only men who have suggested that are members of this House who have brought forward these proposals as the result of an utterly irresponsible conference in Hobart. The States have always been independent, and I am perfectly satisfied that they will continue to be independent. This Bill marks an attempt to centralize power in one authority, which I say at once is absolutely contrary to the whole trend of political affairs in Australia, and in every other part of the world. The honorable member for Ballarat, the honorable member for Bendigo, and the honorable member for Darling Downs have pointed out with great emphasis that the trend of progress is from centralization to decentralization, and that the separation of Australia into six States was in itself evidence of the desire by the people at great distances to have the power of selfgovernment. Why did Queensland separate from New South Wales if it was not because the people of the northern State found they could not get sympathetic and understanding government? The people at Port Phillip felt that proper government was impossible at so great a distance from Sydney, and also broke away. This shows that in Australia, if not throughout the world, there has been a decentralization in great States with a retention of power to a central Government over national affairs. Let us look for a moment at the opinions of the Labour party with regard to Great Britain. In 1905 there was submitted to this House a most unnecessary motion to interfere with the affairs of the Mother Country. An agitation was then going on at Home, and had been going on for years, in favour of removing the centralizing power of the House of Commons over Ireland; and the whole of the Labour party here, with one or two exceptions, took the trouble to go outside their own legislative functions, and advocate and indorse the granting of Home Rule to that country. Mr. Justice Higgins, who was then a member of the House, submitted the motion ; and I should like to read a passage from his speech, as showing his justification for the proposal to give a separate Parliament to Ireland, which, as we know, is only some six or seven hours’ journey from London. Mr. Higgins said1 -
We know here the advantages of selfgovernment. Of course, we have differences amongst ourselves, and we have made mistakes; but they are our own mistakes. We have had friction, and it is inevitable; but, after all, it is of great advantage that all our bitterness should be poured out amongst ourselves, and not be directed against the centre of the Empire. . . . Now, may I refer to some facts to show how incompetent English statesmen are to deal with the business of Ireland. I have thought that one might as well put under the same yoke an ostrich and an ox as unite Ireland and England. The two countries are on different scales altogether. The one has attained a degree of civilization, commerce, trade, and advancement that the other is far from.
That was not a great compliment to Ireland, I admit, but these are the words of Mr. Higgins -
They are utterly unlike. To make them one country is a farce. We cannot do it. The fact that different measures have to be passed for the two countries shows that it was impossible.
I should like to know how Mr. Higgins, or any of those who have followed him - and I shall quote one or two passages from their speeches - would justify the centralizing of the Government of Western Australia in Melbourne, which is six or seven days’ sailing distant, or the centralizing of the Government of Queensland, or northern Queensland here, in view of the fact that their distance from the Seat of Government is represented by seven to ten days’ travelling. Although, practically, the whole Labour party voted for that motion, very few of. them thought it judicious to speak on it; but the present member for Calare said -
It has been impressed very strongly upon me that the difficulty which is now pressing on the people of Scotland and Ireland, and even of England and Wales, owing to the backwardness of domestic legislation, might be overcome by establishing in each of those countries Parliaments charged with the duty of looking after domestic matters, and by leaving the Imperial Parliament to deal with ‘purely Imperial questions, which, in themselves, would be sufficient to occupy its attention.
Then there was a speech by no less a person than the present Minister of Home Affairs, who, in his usual picturesque manner, said -
When the American war was over Home Rule was refused to some of the southern States, which were governed from Washington, but the people, organized their Kuklux clans, their Nightboys, their Moonshiners, their Sevenhill Butchers, their Kentucky Fliers, and their Vigilance Committees, and nearly every night some of the leading men from the north were shot in the south. When President Hayes was elected, in 1876, he gave Home Rule to the southern States, some of which are now the most loyal in the American Union.
When I turn to the division list on the motion, I find amongst? those who voted in its favour the honorable member for Herbert, the late Mr Batchelor, the honorablemember for Riverina, the present Prime Minister, the present Postmaster-General,. Mr Higgins, the present Attorney-General* the honorable member for Coolgardie, the present Minister of Home Affairs, the honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable member for Grey, the honorable member for Darling, the present Minister of External Affairs, the present Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Gwydir, and the present Speaker. Although the members of the Labour party were very anxious to recognise the necessity for Home Rule in a country only seven hours distant from the central Government, they now propose to take away Home Rule from the States of Australia, and centralize the Government in Melbourne or Yass-Canberra, although some of the States affected are 2,000 and 3,000 miles away. This is one of the most palpable pieces of stultification in words and in principle that we have ever seen in this House; and it only shows that the orders which the Labour party receive from irresponsible foodies outside are such as to cause them to go completely back on the principles they expressed on a previous occasion. The Bills before us are absolutely retrograde. Their whole tendency, as has been pointed out bv speaker after speaker on this side, is towards centralization. It is desirable that there should be decentralization; and any attempt on our part to take back those powers which have evolved by natural means in accordance with the wants of the people, is going right against the trend of history, merely for the purpose of giving the Labour party an opportunity to do that which, apparently, they cannot otherwise do. We have had repudiation after repudiation on the Labour side of the House of the charge of desiring Unification. It is quite forgotten that the present Government gave the honorable member for Herbert an opportunity to place on the business paper a Bill which was honestly and deliberately designed to ‘produce Unification in Australia. The honorable member who preceded me very courageously said that, for his part, he would go the whole way ; he would practically reduce the States to the very insignificant proportions and positions which are occupied by the local governments of Africa, and would make them
A sort of municipal councils to carry out details in their immediate localities. In my opinion, the explanation of all this is that the Labour party have unmistakably entered for years on a crusade for the establishment of Socialism. The Legislative Councils of the States have stood in the way of some of their most cherished proposals, or would stand in their way if those proposals were brought forward. The class aims of the Labour party have been made so apparent in this House that the public clearly see them, and they do not need any emphasis. The Labour party come here, therefore, as a party of iconoclasts, to destroy our Constitution merely to serve party ends; and they attach so little importance to the Constitution that one of their most glib speakers, the honorable member for Corangamite, actually told us here that, so far from looking on the Constitution as sacrosanct, he regarded it with no more respect than he did the regulations of a trades union or the rules of a football or cricket club. If that is how our Constitution is looked at, we can understand the flippancy with which, in debating society style, it is proposed to twist and turn it just to suit the requirements of the hour. I look on our Constitution as our charter - as the charter of the rights of the States. Any one who looks at the Constitution and observes what, at first sight, might appear to be the anomaly that the States, irrespective of size, have equal representation in the Senate, must recognize at once that one of the fundamental principles of our Constitution is that the rights of the States shall be protected, however small the States may be, against the overwhelming power of the large States. When we find men openly saying that they look ‘on the Constitution as being no more sacred than the rules of a cricket club or a trades union, we can see very clearly how flippantly they would take away the corner stone of the Constitution in order to suit their party’s ends for the moment. Let us see how our centralized Government’ has answered. The Post and Telegraph’ Department at the present time is under the control of a Labour member who has had twelve months at least in which to place it in something like order. I venture to say that, notwithstanding that the Labour party has had an opportunity to give the people of Australia an object lesson of what Labour can do when it has the control of a Department, the ramifications of which extend all over Australia - notwithstanding that at the head ‘ of the Department there is one of the chosen: ones of the party - there never was a time in the history of Federation when, either in regard to the business, or in regard to the feelings of the postal- servants, there was such a. seething condition of discontent. Everywhere the employes of the Department are up in arms against their employers ; and, as to the management of the Department, chaos worse confounded hardly describes it. Ask the public about their telephones or their telegrams. Only yesterday it required a longer time for a telegram to reach here from a distance than it did for the honorable member who sent it, to arrive by motor car. That is only one of many instances.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the details of the Post and Telegraph Department.
– I am merely giving an illustration of the way in which the Post and Telegraph Department is managed under Federation; but I shall go no further, leaving honorable members to draw their own inferences. -. We can see what would take place if the whole of our great Departments were under Labour management with a centralized Government. For instance, the clerks of merchants and others in Sydney were the other day actually invited by the Department of Trade and Customs to make suggestions as to how the business of that Department should be managed.
– Is that not a good idea?
– I am amazed at the way in which bogies have been put up during this debate. No doubt the AttorneyGeneral knows that in this much-talked of publication that is to go forth for the edification of the people, his speech will stand out first ; but I do not hesitate to say that that speech is the biggest tissue of subtle and misleading statements, with regard to the condition of affairs in this country, that was ever made in this House. Take the subject of trusts. The only effort that has been made to discover a trust in this country, and to prosecute it, has proved that no trust exists, the highest Court of the land deciding that a combination of employers, which we were told was a trust, is a legitimate combination, under which the employes are paid a fair price for their work. Further, the Attorney-General, who used that combination as a bogy, is the man who advocated its establishment, in order to give the employes in the shipping and coal industries better wages. We have been told that under new Protection, manufacturers will be able to charge more, but will have to pay higher wages. The com bination which was called a trust by the Attorney-General, but whose formation was recommended by him, pays high wages, and the High Court decided that its operations were perfectly legitimate, and not in restraint of trade. Has any attempt been made to prosecute the Tobacco Trust ? It is significant that not a word has been breathed against it by Labour members. The only trust that has been prosecuted is not a trust according to the High Court. Therefore, honorable members opposite have had to fall back upon America. The Attorney-General spent twenty minutes in speaking of the enormous trusts there, a confession that he could not find suitable instances in Australia. America is a country with a population of 100,000,000 and a high protective Tariff, and to illustrate the abuses which he said existed here, but which he could not point to, he had to speak about the abuses that exist there. I shall be very much surprised if the public thinks that his speech casts any light on the existence of trusts in this country. The sugar industry has been investigated by a Royal Commission, but I venture to say that no prosecution, based on its findings, will follow, because it will be seen by reading the evidence that nothing of an objectionable character has been discovered in the operations of this great organization, except this, that they are beyond the understanding of the Labour mind. I have noticed that when a commercial organization becomes so great that the Labour mind cannot understand how it grew, corruption and subtle wickedness are attributed to it to account for its growth. Has it been shown that the operations of the Sugar Company are in any way detrimental to the interests of the people of Australia ? The attempt has been made to prove that it is selling its goods outside Australia at prices inconsistent with those charged inside, but the manager of this great corporation, one of the ablest commercial men in Australia, has gibbeted the Attorney-General in a short letter to the newspapers of about 3 inches in length, to which the Attorney-General has found himself compelled to reply in a letter of a column and a quarter. No doubt, when Mr. Knox has written a second letter, the Attorney-General and his friends will wish in their hearts that they had left the subject alone.
– The honorable member is the special pleader for the Sugar Company here, apparently.
– I say, as I have said before, that beyond being big, well managed, and well administered, there is nothing objectionable about the Sugar Company from the public point of view. The trend of commerce is towards growth, from small affairs to large ones. Any one who reads Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth and Rockefeller’s Random Recollections will see that those two greatest commercial men in America point out that the ratio of economy in production increases as the quantity produced increases, in a manner almost incomprehensible to the small mind. It is because the Labour mind does not understand that economy is the bottom principle of commerce, that it suspects every large business corporation of corruption. The Labour man is jealous of any person in the community who can do what he cannot do. Looking at these Bills more in detail, I wish to say that no one who reads the category of examples published by the honorable member for Bendigo will hesitate to say that the proposed amendment of the trade and commerce power will enable the Commonwealth Parliament to interfere with every branch of transport and commerce, with shop-keeping, hawking, and the ferries of the States. On the subject of arbitration, I should like to point out that it is stated in the last number of The Times available to me that at a recent congress of trade unions, at which something like 2,000,000 persons were represented, a proposal for compulsory arbitration was negatived by a large majority. That proposal was negatived in 1906 by a majority of 397,000, in 1907 by a majority of 1,003,000, in 1908 by a majority of 454,000, and in 1909 by a majority of r, 000, 000. The president of the congress said that trade, unionists did not desire strikes, but would not give up the right to choose the weapons they must adopt to win for their members better economic and industrial conditions. The trade unionists of Great Britain have been honest enough to refuse to adopt compulsory arbitration, because they wish to retain the right to strike, but their fellows in Australia have agreed to arbitration, have availed themselves of it, and accepted its awards whenever the decisions suited them, but have still retained the right to strike, and the leaders of the Labour party have contributed to strike funds, thus deliberately encouraging breaches of the law, although professing to desire the peaceful settle ment of industrial disputes by arbitration. One cannot but admire the outspoken honesty of English trade unionists who reject arbitration because they recognise that they cannot at the same time have a peaceful method of settlement of industrial disputes, and the right to strike. They say, “ We retain the right to strike, and therefore reject the proposal to arbitrate because if we accepted it we should have to accept the decisions of the Arbitration Courts.” The trade unionists here, on the other hand, encouraged by the Labour party and the present Government, hold one method in each hand, and say, “ We shall accept your arbitration proposals, and avail ourselves of the friendly method for the settlement of industrial disputes so long as they are settled in our favour. But if they are not settled in our favour, we claim the right to strike.” And members of the present Government go so far as to walk in processions with strikers, to contribute £10 to strike funds, and the Prime Minister goes to Brisbane as the first Minister of the Crown to tell men there that they are quite right in embarking practically on a civil war in order to further the interests of strikers in that great State. The President of the Trades Union Congress in- England, Mr. William Thorne, M.P., and the Congress of 502 delegates, speaking for 2,000,000 of people, have sounded a note of honesty, and displayed an honorable attitude towards the industries of the country, which our Labour party in Australia would do well to emulate. But the motto of the Labour party here is, “ Heads I win, tails you lose.” If one remedy suits them they will avail themselves of it, and if it does not they will adopt the other. The whole object of this movement, whether embodied in one or six proposals, is to bring about nationalization. One would think that if the Labour party were really anxious for nationalization upon honest lines, and not by a system of confiscation, they would have proposed that certain elements should exist in connexion with an industry to justify its nationalization, and that some court, as an impartial tribunal, should be referred to to say whether any particular industry came within the category of those deemed to be such as ought to be nationalized. But what do they propose? They propose that the matter shall be left to the decision of a Parliament in which they have a majority that never listens to the minority unless it suits them to do so, and there is a desire to amend their measures so that they may pass the criticism of the umpire in the shape of the High Court. We have here an attempt to make this Parliament, with all its party bias, the Court to determine what is a fair subject for nationalization. Can it be expected that there will be any fairness, any balance of opinion, or any judicial treatment of questions brought before it which we might hope to secure from an impartial Court outside? Will it not be bias, prejudice, and party clamour which will prevail? If honorable members opposite can secure the power for which they seek, there is very little doubt that they will run riot in this country in the nationalization of industries, provided they can pay for them. It is to be noted that they propose, when they consider it advisable to’ take his business from any captain of industry, not to pay him for the years of labour by which he has built up the good will of his business and established a reputation throughout the length and breadth of his State or of the Commonwealth for the particular commodity in which he deals, but merely for his plant and his premises. In every civilized country it is admitted that if it is desired to resume -a man’s property, it should be done by arbitration, and he should be paid for all buildings, machinery, and economic valuables taken from him, and also compensated for the goodwill of the business which he may have taken years to build up. The Government’s scheme proposes to ignore one of the first of moral principles, and to take a man’s business from him merely upon paying him for his plant and buildings. These questions, when put before the people previously, were rejected by 250,000 votes. The Labour party are not sufficiently courageous to say that the people were too stupid to understand them, but it is an insult to the common sense and political instincts of the people to submit these proposals to them again in the way proposed. I say that they are destructive of the very foundation of our Federation, which was intended to leave each of the States in its original autonomous form, with all its legislative powers to be exercised within its own domain, and to intrust to the Federal Parliament only those great national questions which are common to the people of the whole of Australia. Honorable members opposite again and again talk as if this were the dominant Parliament. I deny that claim for this Parliament. The people of Australia, through their
States . and their representatives, merely undertook to divide the legislative powersof Australia into two parts - those which* are national, and those which are local. They have retained the local powers for themselves in their State Parliaments, and! have delegated to us the national powers. They have never, by word, deed, or suggestion, consented that this Parliamentshould take from the States the inherent power, which they have always had, tomanage their own local affairs. These proposals, therefore, represent an unjustifiableattempt to steal from the States the powerswith which they began, their national life, and which, under our beneficent form of” Federation, they possess to-day. They represent an attempt at Unification, becausethe Labour party see clearly that they could not get their Socialistic measures through the State Parliaments whilst the Legislative Councils of the States are constituted as they are. We have before us anattempt to foist upon the people of Australia the injurious and destructive doctrines of Communism and Socialism. It is* an attempt to perpetuate the class tyranny that is exemplified in the application of the principle of preference to unionists. It is an attempt by indirect means to abolish moral standards and to enable certainclasses to confiscate the goods of their fellow citizens.
– If I were in order,. I should like very much to move the adjournment of the debate, because it would* seem that no one on the other side is interested in the matter.
– If the honorable member proposes to do so, he must do so without comment, and if he has already spoken, he cannot move the adjournment of the debate.
– The honorable member has already spoken.
– There is not se quorum present. [Quorum formed.”]
– I desire, at the outset of my remarks, to express my appreciation of the clear and able manner in which these very important questions were presented to the House by the Attorney-General. I recognise, also, the able exposition of the matter by the Prime Minister, and the stirring fighting address delivered by the honorable member for Adelaide. On the other side, the views held by honorable members whooppose these proposals have been presented in an able and eloquent manner by the Leader of the Opposition and several other honorable members opposite. The debate as a whole has been generally creditable to the House, and I think will be informative to the electors, with whom will rest the final determination of whether or not these increased powers shall be granted to the National Parliament. It is only fitting that this House should thus discharge the duty that it owes to the people to inform them of the actual position. I trust that when the fight is transferred from this Parliament to the platforms of the country the same spirit will tie displayed, and that there will be a fair presentment of the scope of these amendments to the electors. I express that hope because of my experience at the last referendum. I am one of the Labour party who took a fairly active part in that campaign from its inception to its conclusion, and I had a good opportunity of seeing how the case for the other side was presented by various organizations and individuals. Their statement of the proposed amendments of the Constitution was of such a character as to confuse the real issue. Appeals were made to the electors which did not touch the merits of the proposals. There were appeals to party prejudice, and a tendency generally to cloud the whole issue. As this is a matter of vital interest to the people - since it is the people rather than politicians who will suffer if these proposals be rejected - I hope that the facts will be presented clearly and fairly, that ‘there will be no misstatements, and that the public will be placed in the best possible position to determine for themselves what their decision ought to be. As this is a people’s question, the Parliament can only refer it to the people ±0 deal with according to their own good judgment.
The proposals now made by the Government are different in some respects from those submitted in 1911, although the actual amendments of the Constitution then proposed are again to be submitted. They deal with alterations of section 51 of the Constitution, which enumerates the transferred powers of the Commonwealth, but instead of being bunched together they are now to be put before the people as -five distinct questions, so that the electors will be able to discriminate if they so desire between them. The amendments relate to trade and commerce, corporations, labour em ployment and unemployment, conciliation and arbitration, and trusts, combines, and monopolies. All these, instead of being massed together as on the last occasion, will be separated, and the electors will be able to deal with each as they think fit. The sixth of these proposals is designed to enable the Parliament to nationalize monopolies, and to conduct them as State concerns. A modification of the first proposition is made, and it is in the direction of safeguarding the rights of the States. It is proposed that we shall have power to make laws with respect to trade and commerce, subject, however, to the proviso -
But not including trade and commerce upon railways, the property of a State, except so far as it is trade and commerce with other countries or among the S’tates.
Then again, in the proposed amendment of the ‘ Constitution enabling us to deal with corporations we have the proviso -
But not including municipal or governmental corporations, or any corporations formed solely for religious, charitable, scientific, or artistic purposes, and not for the acquisition of gain by the corporation or its members.
That important addition is made to the original proposal in order to protect the particular interests mentioned. As a supporter of the suggested amendments of the Constitution put before the people last year, I took it for granted that this Parliament, no matter what party occupied the Ministerial benches, would consist of sane sensible men. I recognised that, in exercising any of these powers in the future, this Parliament would be responsible to the same people as are the State Parliaments, and I believed that it could be relied upon therefore to have regard to the fair and legitimate interests of the States. I did not think it was necessary to insert these provisos. The Government, however, have specifically provided these safeguards probably as the outcome of the criticism that was levelled at the proposals submitted at the last referenda, and the influence which that criticism had upon the public mind. On the last occasion it was also proposed to bring State railway employes within the scope of the arbitration power of the Commonwealth. That proposal has now been separated from the proposal in regard to an enlargement of our industrial powers, and Federal intervention is limited to the determination of wages and hours of ‘ employment on railways of the
States subject to the conditions set out in the first of these amendments. So that whilst these proposals embrace the whole scheme sent down to the electors at the last referenda, they are modified in important instances. State interests, State rights, or more properly State functions, carried on by State Governments or municipalities or by trusts under the direction of a State, do not come within the scope of these powers. Furthermore, the proposals are so differentiated from each other that the electors will be in a position of dealing with each separately and on its merits. One of the great objections at the last referenda to the presentment then made was that the proposals were grouped together. Quite a number of opponents intimated that they were favorable to certain of the proposals submitted, but because they were linked up to other proposals to which they were opposed they felt compelled to ask the electors to vote against the whole. That position does not obtain with regard to this reference. It is very significant that whilst on the previous occasion several honorable members opposite gave substantial reasons for an inclination to vote for certain amendments to be made in the Constitution, but intimated that because of the massing of the proposals they felt justified in opposing the whole, the same honorable members are found opposing this reference, although the’ questions are to be submitted separately. Those honorable members are in the position of Mr. Facing Bothways. They do not propose to ask the electors to support any section of the questions to be submitted, and have intimated that they are strongly opposed to the whole of them. For instance, the honorable member for Flinders, according to the report of his speech in the public press to-day, intimated that his present attitude of opposition is based on the fact that he will not trust the Labour party who now occupy the Treasurybenches with the powers proposed to be given - powers which he himself on a previous occasion said were necessary in the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth. Because, in his opinion, the people have been so ill-advised as to allow this party to attain to power, he would deny the people the opportunity of redressing grievances and of bettering our system of government by the extension of powers that he himself admitted to be necessary. That is a most extraordinary position. I hope that whatever changes may take place the party to which I belong will never deny to the people an opportunity of obtaining good government because a party to which they are opposed happen to command the confidence of the electors for the time being. Surely the attitude of the honorable member for Flinders, and those who think with him, is one of the most illogical that a politician could take up.
– Surely the honorable member does not expect logic from the other side?
– According to the honorable member for Parkes that is the side to which we are to look for logic and consistency. But I recommend that honorable member to look nearer home if he wants to find a total lack of logic and; shining examples of inconsistency.
In considering the question of the extent sion of the powers of the Commonwealth* we have first to realize the fact that the Federal Constitution was not drafted according to the British model of government. In other Federations within the Empire - in Canada and South Africa - the Constitution makers proceeded along sound and well-established lines of British precedents. But our Constitution framers, when they were engaged in their very important and onerous task, decided? that in certain respects a departure should1 be made, and that, instead of following British practice and precedent, the American system should be engrafted on to our Constitution. As a result, certain limitations were imposed upon the powers of the Commonwealth, and provision was made for the creation of a High Court, to act asthe interpreter and guardian of the Constitution. These are very marked and distinct departures from the British form of government. If honorable members desire to obtain in a concise form a statement of theearly history and development of the American Constitution, perhaps one of the best works on the subject is entitled TheState. It was written by Dr. Woodrow Wilson, President Elect of the great American Republic. In that work heshows that at the time the American States federated they were very diversified in their interests and very insular. It must lie remembered that the people composing those States came from different portions of the Old Country, and carried with them the traditions whichhad previously distinguished them. Alf their differences had to be reconciled in order to bring about the American Union, and the time to develop and mature that Union was extremely limited, because of compelling forces from without. In drafting the Constitution of the United States, the idea always kept in view was to preserve to the people of the States what they had gone there to vindicate, namely, a certain degree of independence, and the right to mould their own Government in their own way. But in the earlier stages of the Federation the central Government of America received very little sympathy from the States. Dr. Woodrow Wilson clearly points out that at that .time the relationship between most of the States and the Federal Government was not a happy one. The central Government was frequently belittled by the States, and its desires set at naught. Often a kind of civil war existed between the two authorities. Only with the passing of the years has the Federal form of government attained to the high position which it occupies to-day. We have also to remember that as the empty spaces of America became filled, questions which were of minor importance at the outset of the Federation became questions of national importance. The same thing will happen in Australia. As its vast empty spaces become bridged, and as population increases, matters which originally were only of State importance will become matters with which only the central Government is competent to deal. A certain amount of elasticity in our Constitution is therefore necessary to permit of these matters being removed from the State to the Federal arena for their more effective treatment from the general and national stand-point.
I recollect that during the first session of the first Commonwealth Parliament a motion was submitted affirming the desirableness of extended powers being granted to it in respect of wages and other conditions of employment. The Parliament met in May, 1901. A short adjournment followed to enable the Government to formulate their policy, and then it re-assembled for the transaction of business. Honorable members who care’ to look up the records will find that as early as 28th June of that year Mr. Higgins, who is now an honoured Justice of the High Court, proposed that the powers and functions of this Parliament should be extended in the direction of clothing it with authority to make laws for Australia with respect to wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. It will be seen, therefore, that whilst that matter had failed to command consideration at the hands of the delegates to the Federal Convention, the members of the first Commonwealth Parliament recognised that it required to be dealt with from a national stand-point rather than from a State standpoint. In supporting that proposal, Sir William McMillan said -
I confess myself that by reflection, and by listening to arguments, to be more convinced, than previously of the necessity of including certain^ powers in the Commonwealth, which we have decided to leave to the States. I hold, generally, that everything that affects the rights and liberties - especially the industrial life of the community - ought to be in the hands of a National Parliament.
These are the words of a. gentleman who cannot -be said to be sympathetic with the Labour movement or Labour ideals ; but he was a leading light of the then Opposition, and. if he were in Parliament now, he would doubtless be a prominent men> ber of the present Opposition. From these words it is evident that, in his opinion, the Convention made a mistake in not providing for increased powers in the Federal Parliament. Sir Edmund Barton was the Leader of the Federal Convention, and the first Prime Minister, and, speaking on the same subject in this House, he said -
That there ought to be such a power exercised I am now convinced, and for this reason : That the grant of Inter-State Free Trade, which follows the adoption of a uniform Tariff, is likely, in many respects, to be crippled, unless the Commonwealth has power to deal uniformly with the conditions of employment throughout Australia.
These are quotations from speeches by gentlemen who took a prominent part in the framing of the Constitution, and the proposals now before us afford the opportunity to once more submit to the people amendments that will enable the necessary transfer of power to be made. I venture to say that the circumstances and conditions which caused those gentlemen to recognise the need for an extension of power have, in the time that has elapsed, not been minimized, but intensified, and there is now greater need than ever for the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with the problems presented. Already it has been found necessary to make certain changes in the Constitution, though these are not of a very drastic or far-reaching nature. It will be remembered that an amendment was made affecting the tenure of the Senate. and another authorizing the taking over of the State debts incurred subsequent to Federation, while a third - which, however, was not approved - dealt with the Braddon section. Honorable members opposite profess to regard the results of the last referenda as reflecting the opinion of the people on the administration and the general policy of this Government; but it is to be noted that they do not take the same view with regard to proposals for amendment which they themselves made, and which were rejected.
The United States affords us some experience in this connexion, and we find some interesting remarks by Dr. Woodrow Wilson, the President elect, in his work The State. Dr. Wilson shows the growth of the American Federation, and the increased powers that have been extended to the Parliament in regard to matters than have grown so important as to be regarded as national. He emphasizes the trouble that has arisen through the diversity of State laws on questions of the kind, and he has a very strong paragraph referring to the effect on the moral tone and condition of the ^people in consequence of the different marriage laws in the various States. The Australian Constitution gives us power to deal with the marriage laws, and, while we have no such abuses as are to be observed in America, it would be wise if the law in this regard were made uniform throughout Australia. However, all that is by the way. Dr. Woodrow Wilson goes on to deal with corporations, in which we are particularly interested, and ‘ he says -
So, too, in the matter of corporations, diversity of State law works great confusion and partial disaster to the interests of commerce and industry, not only because some States are less careful in their creation and control of corporations than others, and so work harm to their own citizens, but also because loosely or unwisely incorporated companies created by the laws of one State may do business and escape proper responsibility in another State.
This discloses one of the great reasons why anti-trust legislation in the United States has not had the effect we might expect.
Sitting suspended from i to 2.30 p.m.
– The quotaion which I have made from the writings of the President-elect of the United States of America shows clearly how the existence of trusts and combines operates to the detriment of the people of that country, and how the National Parliament is prevented from interfering for the protection of the citizens. Dealing with monopolies, the writer says -
Experience has proved that the self-interest of those who have controlled such undertakings (monopolies) for private gain is not coincident with the public interests; even enlightened self-interest may often discover means of illicit pecuniary advantage in unjust discriminations between individuals in the use of such instrumentalities.
Notwithstanding his somewhat conservative view, he admits the existence of commercial tyranny due to the operations of large trusts and combinations, for which there should be better methods of dealing than now obtain. Speaking of proposed reforms, he says -
It is in view of such a state of affairs, such a. multiformity and complexity of law touching matters which ought, for the good of the country, to be uniformly and simply regulated through the Union, that various extensions of the sphere of the Federal Government have been proposed by sanguine reformers, who would have all interests which need for their advancement uniform rules of law, given over to the care of Congress by constitutional amendment.
He mentions, with a certain degree of approval, a presentment of the case by Sir T. H. Farrer-
There are two great alternatives, first ownership and management by private enterprise and capital under regulation by the State; second, ownership and management by government, central or local.
He favours such an extension of the Federal power as would enable the Union to regulate and control the operations of trusts and combines, so as to reasonably protect the interests of the people. The amendments proposed by the Government embrace both of the alternatives just mentioned. They enable the Commonwealth to regulate and control the operations of trusts and combines in the name and on behalf of the people of Australia, and to prevent them from entrenching unduly on the rights and liberties of the community. They also enable the Commonwealth to take over monopolistic enterprises, and to run them for the benefit of the whole community. The clothing of the Commonwealth authority with the powers that are asked for, especially the power, to nationalize monopolies, will safeguard the interests of employes and of the community generally. But the Government of the day will not be able to nationalize any monopoly at its own will. Nationalization can only follow certain defined legislative procedure, If a monopoly is taken over, that must be done on just terms ; there must not be anything in the nature of confiscation.
Secondly, a mere majority vote by the two Houses of the Legislature is not sufficient to sanction nationalization ; the majority must be an absolute majority of the members of both Houses, such as is required for an amendment of the Constitution. That means that no monopoly can be nationalized unless so many members vote for the nationalization as to guarantee the approval of the country, members having to render an account of their votes to their constituents.
Our monopolies, fortunately, are only in the infant stage, though we are beginning to realize what the operations of one or two of them mean. The sugar industry, for instance, is a large and important one, which, and especially the refining of sugar, is in the hands of one company. According to the Attorney-General, it has taken advantage of its monopoly in a very marked degree. He has shown that, whereas the price of sugar supplied wholesale in Australia in1911 was£21 17s. 6d., in New Zealand it was only £14 10s. 4d., or £7 7s. 2d. less. He also showed that in Queensland, where the company’s mills have to compete against other mills, the wages ‘paid amount to something like 30s. a week, but in New South Wales, where there is no competition and the industry is regarded as a white man’s industry, the wages amount to about 23s. a week. Thus the company increases prices to the consumer, and reduces wages.
If further reasons for increasing the powers of the Commonwealth authorities are needed, they are afforded by the decisions of the Arbitration and High Courts. New Protection was a step in advance by the Protectionists of Australia. I do not know how many such steps they have made, but they began with Protection, and afterwards substituted scientific Protection. Now we have new Protection, which, in addition to benefiting Australian manufacturers by the protection of Customs duties, is to provide fair wages to all employes in protected industries, thus eliminating sweating, and to regulate selling prices of protected articles, so that the consumers may enjoy the benefits of Protection. The Courts have held, however, that although this Parliament has power to benefit manufacturers byimposing Protective duties, it has no right to determine the conditions under which they shall do their work, and the attempt at such regulation was declared to be ultra vires. The regulation of prices is also a dead letter. Thus by a number of decisions the whole scheme of our conciliation and arbitration policy has been whittled down to the finest point. Our legislation has proved inefficient and ineffective. Two other points may be mentioned. The State was unable to successfully intervene in the Broken Hill strike, but the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court did so with a certain measure of success, and that serious industrial trouble was thus brought to an earlier termination than would otherwise have been the case. The decision given by Mr. Justice Higgins, in that instance, was the subject of an appeal to the High Court, and as the result of that appeal his award was limited. The High Court laid down the extraordinary position that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court could take into consideration only matters forming the subject of the original dispute, and that any matter that came in as the result of the extension of the dispute to other industries or conditions could not be dealt with by it. The effect of that decision was that that part of Mr. Justice Higgins’ award which applied to the smelters of Port Pirie, and gave them, for the first time, the privilege of Sunday rest - a privilege which every Christian community recognises as a reasonable one - was ruled out. The award provided that the miners there should secure an extension of privileges in connexion with the observance of Sunday as a day of rest ; but the High Court disallowed that part ofit on the ground that the matter with which it dealt was not part of the original dispute at Broken Hill, where those particular conditions did not obtain. Then again, I would remind honorable members of the decision of the High Court in regard to the application of a common rule. The Court has held that while certain employers and employés in an industry may agree upon a scale of wages and conditions of employment, and may register that agreement with the Court as a common rule, such an agreement could be regarded as a common rule extending only to the parties to it, and that any section of employers or employes in the industry in question who chose to stand aloof could not be compelled to observe it. The result of that decision is that the honest employer who desires to conduct his business on reasonable lines, and to pay fair wages, and observe reasonable conditions of labour, is compelled, against his wish, to submit to the terms and conditions laid down by those of his competitors’ who are prepared to take advantage of every opportunity to sweat their employes in order to put them in a better position to withstand competition. I believe that the great majority of the electors would prefer to see the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court armed with powers that would enable it to remove these injustices from the industrial sphere. These decisions on the part of the High Court are being added to daily. They relate not only to the operation of the Anti-Trust Act, but to purely industrial matters, and the eminent and learned President of the Court, Mr. Justice Higgins, dealing with their effect on the tribunal Over which he presides, has used the following strong and precise language : -
At present the approach to the Court is through a veritable Serbonian bog of technicalities, and the bog is extending. After full consideration, I must state it as my opinion that these decisions, as to the limits of the Court’s powers, with all the corollaries which they involve, will make it impossible to frame awards which will work - will entail, indeed, a gradual paralysis of the functions of the Court. Yet this Court, if it be trusted - and unless it can be trusted it ought not to exist - shows magnificent promise of usefulness to the public.
I venture to say that the position taken up by His Honour is amply justified, and that unless the extension of power for which we now ask is granted to the National Parliament, the whole scheme of conciliation and arbitration must gradually break down because of the technicalities and limitations that have been attached to its operations by these many and varied decisions of the High Court. These decisions, in practically every’ big case, have been majority judgments - the decisions of three as against two Judges. Indeed, it is on record that in one case the Bench was equally divided, and that the judgment of the Court was given on the casting vote of the Chief Justice.
I have here a quotation which I should like to commend to the Opposition, and particularly to those who find themselves to-day in the very awkward position of facing both ways. The Honorable F. D. Acland, UnderSecretary for Foreign Affairs, speaking recently at Taunton, England, in regard to American questions is reported to have said -
Short of a revolution, it was almost impossible to disestablish trusts. The only thing to do was to keep clear of them from the beginning.
I commend that statement to the Opposition, and. more particularly to those who urge that, whilst it is desirable to extend our present power to deal with trusts, the fact that there is in office a party to whom they are opposed justifies them in opposing the proposals, and in denying to the people through the National Parliament the right tip control trusts and monopolies, and to prevent the exercise in Australia of the dire influences which they have brought to bear in other parts of the world. The matter is deserving of the earnest and serious consideration of honorable members on all sides of the House. I hope that it may yet be possible for these questions to be referred to the people free from party , bias and party interests. It was hoped on the last occasion that once our proposals had been stripped of personal politics the people would be allowed to deal with them on their own merits. That expectation, however, was not realized. It has always to be recognised that trusts and combines have vested interests at stake, and that to safeguard the wealth which they possess, and that which they hope to acquire by the exercise of their monopoly they are prepared to spend money freely to prevent any legislation that would interfere with their privileges and interests. That is one of the strong forces with which we have to reckon. The Opposition try to cover up their position by alleging that’ the Labour party spent large sums of money at the last referenda, and in connexion with other campaigns. I would welcome the fullest inquiry into the matter. In the interests of the purity of our elec. tions such an investigation ought to be made. Such practices can be better dealt with in their infancy than when they attain a riper age, and I have no doubt an examination of the kind would show that the expenditure, of money in opposition to our proposals was much greater than that in support of them.
– Order. The honor.able’s member’s time has expired.
.- I cordially indorse the closing statement of the honorable member for Calare, who has just resumed his seat, that on a matter of such importance as the amendment of our Constitution we should be able to go to the country free from party pledges, and actuated only by a desire to dp-that which we believe to be in the interests of the
Commonwealth. We should look at these matters from a purely national stand-point, and with the determination to bring about that which we believe to be really best for the country in which we live. If it were possible for honorable members on all sides of the House for the time being to shed their party clothes and to review the history of Australia as we know it, I feel confident that these proposals would not meet with the unanimous approval that they have received at the hands of the Labour party. I propose to show at the outset of my speech that honorable members opposite have made it utterly impossible to do that which the honorable member for Calare suggests should be done. They have taken up a definite party stand, and have made it impossible to deal with these questions from other than a party stand-point. I think that I shall be able to show out of the mouths of Labour leaders in Australia that when these proposals were submitted to the country on the occasion of the last referenda they were not party questions, that is to say, they were outside the Labour platform. But on this occasion the’ will be party questions. Before he concluded his speech upon the motion for the second reading of this Bill, the Attorney-General, with his tongue in his cheek, expressed the hope that we would not view it from a party stand-point. I repeat that at the last referendum there was considerable schism in the ranks of the Labour party over what were substantially the same proposals as those which are now before us. For the first time in the history of that party there was a lack of that solidarity about which its members have always boasted. It has ever been their fetish that they are a united party. Indeed solidarity is the one thing which they worship. I think I shall be able to show presently how they apply this doctrine of solidarity, and what it means. The first quotation which I wish to make is one from a speech by Mr. McGowen, who, in addressing a meeting of the Political Labour League in Sydney, which dealt with this question, and endeavouring to close the mouths of a considerable number of the opponents of these proposals, said -
What is demanded is too sweeping. The powers asked for by the Federal Labour party are outside the Labour platform, and for that reason any individual has a perfect” right to adopt the negative attitude.
Mr. Holman said ;
All the powers asked for in the referenda exceed the Labour platform, and I claim the right, without any violation of the spirit of solidarity, to hold the views I do.
It is very plain from these two utterances that the reason Mr. McGowen and Mr. Holman took up the attitude they did onthe last occasion, was that the powers which the Government sought were outside the Labour platform. One would suppose that in this country, where we boast of our liberty, and where we enjoy the freest franchise, it would be open to any person at all times to express his individual convictions. But what happened in connexion with the last referenda? We all know that a political Labour Conference was held in Sydney, and that although the Government and their adherents could not secure the support of Mr. Holman, Mr. Beeby, Mr. Nielsen, and others, they were able effectually to close their mouths. What can be thought of a political movement which is so afraid of its members expressing their own opinions that it actually closes their mouths? Honorable members opposite at that time could not say, “ These proposals are in the platform of the Labour party, and according to the pledges which you have given you may not open your lips. ‘ ‘ Nevertheless, they used . all ‘ the moral suasion they could exercise to prevent opponents of these proposals from uttering a single word against them. A cause which has such a rotten foundation that it is obliged to gag its own followers is unworthy of support. Honorable members upon this side of the House are at all times at liberty to express their opinions in any way they may please, and they have exercised that right again and again. They will always exercise it so long as I am associated with the Liberal party. But the Labour party, on the other hand, closes the mouths of its own supporters. The proposals of the Government were afterwards taken to the Labour Conference which was held in Hobart, where they were embodied in the Federal Labour party’s platform. I wish to show on the authority of one of their own supporters what that means. I hold in my hand a letter which was written to the Sydney newspapers during the last referenda campaign at the time that Mr. Holman was inclined to kick over the traces. Its author is a very well- known man. The letter is headed, “Mr. Holman and the Referenda,” and reads -
Sir, - You needn’t worry about Mr. Holman and the referendum. He can blow off steam about what he is going to do, and butter no parsnips in the operation. He and Mr. McGowen and Mr. Griffiths and Mr. Flowers, with one or two other Labourites, expressed very emphatic opinions about the financial agreement referendum, but when it came to toeing the mark they had to fall into line with their bosses, the Labour organizations, or be thrust aside. The Conference is supreme, and woe betide the Labourite M.P., be he Prime Minister or rankandfiler, who dares to act contrary to its directions. We are top dog in the political arena, and no man in the Labour movement has any right to exercise any individual opinion on matters of public policy; it is destructive of that solidarity which is the backbone of the Labour movement in politics and in the unions. The days of individual judgment and action in the Labour world are past. Collective opinion and collective action alone count. The Conference will either bring Mr. Holman to heel or pass him out if he is stubborn. The choice lies with himself. - Yours, &c,
January 27. T. P. Driscoll.
– There is nothing wrong with that.
– Is that the position which the honorable member takes up? ls he prepared to sacrifice his right to express his own opinion upon any matter which is within the scope of the Labour party’s platform?
– I did not say that.
– I did not think that the honorable member would say it, but he acts it all the time. He knows perfectly well that what is stated in that letter is absolutely true. If he were to oppose these proposals he would go out.
– I believe in them.
– The honorable member believes in them because he has no option in the matter. After all, we cannot dissociate these proposals one from the other. They are all part of a great scheme which really has for its objective the Unification of our system of government. One or two honorable members opposite have had the courage to acknowledge that that is their objective. They admit that they desire to clothe this Parliament with supreme power-
– We want only the same powers as are possessed by the States - not supreme power.
– That is one of the foolish remarks which I have frequently heard since this question was first mooted. The honorable member says that his party wants this Parliament to be clothed only with the same powers as are possessed by the State Parliaments. But he must be a very much cleverer man than I credit him with being if he can vest the same powers in two legislative bodies, both governing the same people, and allow both bodies to exercise those powers simultaneously in regard to the same matters and covering the same ground. Anybody who understands the Federal system of government knows that iii the first instance it rests upon a division of sovereign powers. Inasmuch as there is one quantum of sovereignty residing in the people, is it possible to give a grant of that sovereignty to two Parliaments, both of them exercising it to the full?
– In such circumstances, how could the State Parliaments exerciseany legislative power at all? The thing is impossible. If once this Parliament were to exercise its powers the powers of the States would automatically disappear. It must be perfectly clear that to whateverextent the Federal Parliament exercises its powers by passing legislation, it automatically vetoes all State legislation coveringthe same ground. However, I shall not follow that line of argument, because there are other matters to which I desire to refer. The Attorney-General admits that the powers asked for are “ tremendous “ and far-reaching, covering, I suppose, pretty well two-thirds of those which the States may exercise to-day. We have beard a good deal from honorable members opposite about the Legislative Councils preventing the people from giving true expression to their will through the State Parliaments, and the reason why a number of honorable members favour trie proposed extension of power in the Federal Parliament is that they regard the latter as resting on a more democratic basis. Here I should like to read what the AttorneyGeneral has said about the democratic basis of the Commonwealth Parliament. Speaking of equal representation in ‘the Senate, the honorable member said -
In the first place, it is an utter abandonment of the bedrock of Democracy which places the Government in the hands of the majority of people. No matter how ingeniously this may be cloaked by plausible and enticing arguments, nothing can hide the fact that what these gentlemen really propose is government by a minority. Not a minority of intelligence or worth, not even of social position, but merely a minority which is located in certain portions of the continent.
A system which gives to the Tasmanian voters nine times as much effective voting power as to his fellow-colonist in New South Wales will be extremely popular with that favoured individual. And, away in the distant and arid wastes of Western Australia, where in some electorates thirty-nine votes return a man to Parliament, the idea or having an equal voice with great colonies like New South Wales is doubtless regarded with intense enthusiasm.
Yet we find the Attorney-General prepared to vest in this Parliament wide legislative powers which were never intended to be exercised when equality of representation in the Senate was agreed to. The people of the Commonwealth accepted equal representation, because it was never contemplated that under the Constitution any powers would be vested in the Parliament other than those which, in their very nature, were national, and in regard to which the interests of the whole of the people were uniform and identical. When it is proposed to vest in the Parliament powers which are of a very different character, and which, in my opinion, are very much better exercised by the States, honorable members opposite, if they are logical in their democratic principles, which they claim to hold par excellence, must face the position and give a very different kind of representation in the Senate. Mr. Holman, the Attorney-General of the Labour Government in New South Wales, put up a very strenuous fight against honorable members opposite until he was silenced by the bosses of the political Labour organization. Mr. Holman’s view was that if these wide powers in regard to trade and commerce, industrial matters, and so forth, are to be vested in the Federal Parliament, the basis of representation in the Senate ought to be changed, because that is the means, and the only means, of securing that the Parliament shall be elected on a democratic basis. Mr. Holman outlined his suggestions as to what the Labour Conference should take into consideration, in the following words -
That the Inter-State Labour Conference, to be held in Tasmania this year, take into consideration the whole matter of the remoulding of the State representation to the Inter-State Conference on a population basis.
That the New South Wales delegates to the Inter-State Conference be instructed to bring the foregoing resolution before theInter-State Conference directly it meets, and unless it be agreed to, and representation on a population basis granted, that the New South Wales delegates be instructed to refuse to take their seats on the Conference.
That the Inter-State Conference immediately take into consideration the remoulding of the whole of the Federal Constitution with the view of the abolition of the Senate and the High Court.
He said that was the only way the Federal Constitution could be made democratic.
It will be seen that the Federal AttorneyGeneral and the Attorney-General of the Labour Government in New South Wales are agreed that the Senate at present is not elected on a democratic basis, and Mr., Holman has made suggestions to remedy this. I should like to point out that in the account that was given of the Labour Conference, it appears that, immediately after Mr. Holman had outlined his ideas, Senator Gardiner said -
He hoped Mr. Holman would not tell the press the fact that the Labour party intended to amend the Constitution in the direction he had urged. It might defeat the referendum proposals if it leaked out. Let them first get in the thin end of the wedge by the carrying of the referendum proposals.
We see, therefore, that Senator Gardiner clearly realized that the proposal to alter the Constitution was the thin end of the wedge, and the beginning of a very much wider movement, going beyond what honorable members opposite are now proposing - something which paved the way to the unification of the whole system of government.
I should like to ask why it was, when it became necessary for the purposes of defence and of national development to draw the States together, and break down the artificial barriers which had been raised between them, that the people adopted a Federal and not a unitary Constitution. The answer to that question is found in the history of Australia itself. Why was it that, in the first instance, these artificial barriers were raised ? The reason was the desire for local selfgovernment. At one time, New South Wales practically had under its control the whole of this continent. It is true that then there was no settlement over the greater portion; but when settlement did take place north and south of Sydney, the people began to realize that if they were te develop and progress, it was essential they should have a government able to take local needs and conditions into consideration. It will be seen, I think, that I was quite right in saying that the reason for the adoption of a Federal Constitution, as against the unitary system, is to be found in the history of the country. My great objection to the proposals now before us is that, taken in their collective effect, they destroy the Federal system of government.
Honorable members opposite have often asked what there is in an ideal. There may not, perhaps, be much; but in the ideal of a Federal system there is much more than we are commonly accustomed to associate with the word. In my opinion a Federal system of government is the best and the most democratic that the mind of man ever devised, because, whilst it associates us as a nation for all the national purposes in which our interests are uniform and identical, it gives full play to local self-government, and allows for the peculiar local conditions which, as those who know this great continent are aware, can be dealt with only by those who are specially acquainted with them. What would be the effect of these proposals if they were adopted ? Take first of all that dealing with the trade and commerce power. Trade and commerce is a term so wide that it is difficult to say what it includes, but it certainly covers a large part of the legislative field. According to decisions given in the Supreme Court of the United States of America -
Commerce includes all commercial traffic and intercourse.
It means intercourse for the purpose of trade of all descriptions.
It comprehends everything that is grown, produced, or manufactured.
It extends to the persons who conduct it as well as the means and instrumentalities used.
It includes vessels, railways, and other conveyances used in the transport of merchantable goods, as well as the goods themselves.
It embraces navigation and shipping.
It embraces railways, highways, and navigable waters along and over which commerce flows.
It includes the freights and fares charged for transport.
It includes passengers.
I could read further to show how, even by the narrow interpretation of judicial decisions, the words “ trade and commerce “ cover nearly all human activity. The honorable member for Bendigo has furnished a long list of the State laws dealing with trade and commerce which the granting of this power to the Constitution would affect. I do not wish to enter upon a long argument on the subject of Federation, but I must show as clearly and concisely as I can that the granting of these powers to the Commonwealth will break clown the Federal system. The Attorney-General says that, although these powers are wanted to the full, they will not be used, and other honorable members have repeated the statement. If they are not going to be used, they are not wanted. The Federal system of government, inasmuch as it rests upon the division of sovereignty, requires the strict definition ot the legislative spheres of the Federation and of the States, each being supreme within its own sphere. It is a fundamental principle of Federation that the central and the. subsidiary and local Parliaments shall be absolutely supreme within the ambit of their powers. If to the Federal Parliament is given the whole trade and commerce power to the extent the Federal Parliament acts upon the powers granted to it under the Constitution, the legislation of this Parliament on trade and commerce matters will automatically veto that of the State Parliaments, inasmuch as a law of the Federation overrides a State law. But, as Mr. Mitchell has pointed out, unless the spheres of legislation were -defined, this would lead to such confusion that the people, for their own protection, would say, “ Give us Unification. Anything is better1 than the present state of things.” At the. present time every State and every Federal law can be tested by the Constitution. If the legislation of a State encroaches on the Federal sphere, the High Court will declareit to be ultra vires to the extent of its encroachment, and the same with Federal legislation. The High Court stands as a sort of arbitrator between the States and’ the Commonwealth, saying where, and when, and how far one or the other has exceeded the sovereign power given to it inthe Constitution by the people.
– The High CourtJudges are really boundary riders.
– That is practically the: position. But if these proposals are sanctioned by the people, instead of one instrument of government by which to test thevalidity of a Federal or State law, theremay be six sets of State Statutes and one set of Commonwealth Statutes, and lawyers^ will never know how far one legislative body is encroaching on the sphere of another. Consequently, . the public will not know how it stands. Laws will be constantly upset, and great confusion will becreated, with the result that Unification willbe gladly welcomed. In effect, these proposals substitute tor Federation the unitary system of government, though the attempt: is made to combine the two. Let me provethat by means of a speech made by the AttorneyGeneral in this Chamber. He hastold us that the essence of Federation consists in each party being independent in its own sphere, and that the essence of,
Unification is the supremacy of the Federal Government. Speaking of South Africa, he said -
There any law on any subject - no matter whether reserved to the States or not - passed by the central Government is constitutional, and any law passed by a State Legislature can be vetoed by the central Government. That is Unification.
The adoption of the amendments proposed by the Government will bring aboutUnification here, because it will enable this Parliament to veto the State legislation regarding trade and commerce, industry, corporations, trusts and combines, and nationalization. It is this attempt to blend two utterly dissimilar antagonistic systems of government - the Unitary and the Federal - to whichI strongly object. To show that the Attorney-General considers these powers as sweeping as I said they are, let me make one or two short references to a speech he delivered in this Chamber on a former occasion. He then said -
In the amendments now submitted, it will be noticed that there is no attempt to define things - all the words that may be held to be words of limitation have been removed. We ask for “ plenary power over trade and commerce.” ‘ It means power over trade and commerce whereever found, limited only by our territorial jurisdiction. We ask for power to deal with industrial matters - “ all industrial matters.”
The Labour party will take “nothing less than entire control ‘of industry, and of trade and commerce. . . . “ “We take power to control, to regulate, and to nationalize.”
The honorable gentleman admits that the powers for which he is asking are without limit, and he allows it to be inferred, although he does not say so, that by the granting of them to the Federal Parliament the system of Unification will be practically grafted on to the Federal system. In the manifesto which he issued just before the last referenda - I think it was the famous document that was lost in the post for some time - he said -
State laws will not be affected in any way.
I do not know how he makes that statement agree with the rest of his utterances. Surely if these powers are given to the Commonwealth they will be used; and, if used, the State law will cease to operate, the Federal law taking its place. Mr. Holman has said in regard to this matter -
The argument - if he could dignify it with the name of argument - that because Parliament imposed the Tariff it should have charge of all industrial legislation, would not stand investigation. The step that was suggested meant, in the long run, the end of the State Labour parties. First, industrial legislation would go, then in three years there would be a request for the railways, then, in another three years, lands, education, and the control of mining.
– There is no proposal now before us to take over the whole power to deal with industrial matters; consequently that quotation does not apply.
– The honorable member is very much mistaken. He knows the fact perfectly well that the proposed amendment covers the whole industrial power. Nothing is left. The honorable member surely cannot have read the Constitution Alteration (Industrial Matters) Bill. It provides that section 51 of the Constitution is amended by omitting from paragraph xxxv. certain words and inserting in their stead the words-
Labour, employment, and unemployment, in cluding -
If that provision does not cover the whole industrial sphere, I should like to know what would. Once this Parliament exercises the power which that grant will confer upon it, the whole of the State industrial laws must disappear. That is the position which the Labour party have to face. If they say that this Parliament is not going to exercise the power for which they ask then they do not need to ask for it.
I desire now to deal with another matter which has come up again and again during this debate. I know of nothing of which honorable members opposite have reminded me so much when discussing the question of monopolies as the action of a nurse-maid in endeavouring to frighten a child with a bogy man. In every speech we have had from the opposite side, trusts, combines, and monopolies have been trotted out for ali they were worth. We have had the American trusts dished up in every shape and form. I wonder what honorable members of the Labour party would say if we were to dish up the doings of the Labour party in America for the delectation of the people in Australia as affording a fair illustration of the position of the Labour party in this country. Would they think the comparison a fair one? Do they associate themselves with the dynamite outrages in America? We might just as reasonably assert that the Labour party in Australia is exactly the same as the Labour party in
America as assert that the position of trusts and combines in Australia is the same as it is in that country. I am sorry that the limited time at my disposal will not permit me to go into the question of trusts, for 1 could show that it is utterly impossible for trusts and combines ever to assume the magnitude or to get in this country the grip that they have in America. There are reasons for this which must be known to honorable members opposite, although they are resorting to various illustrations in order to terrorize the people of Australia into swallowing their nostrums for an alteration of the Constitution. I should like once more to quote Mr. Holman, who is a Labour man, and, 1 believe, a good Labour -man, on the question of trusts, combines, and monopolies. We have the extraordinary spectacle of the Attorney-General, and every honorable member behind him in this House, asserting that Australia to-day is practically in the grip of the trusts - that there is practically nothing that we eat, drink, or wear upon which the trusts do not lay their hands - whilst Mr. Holman, the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, when trying not to frighten the electors of Australia with the bogies of the trusts, but to paint a. true picture of what this great country really is, tells quite a different tale. When addressing the Scottish Commissioners, who came here to spy out the land so that they might go back to Scotland and tell their people what the country was like, Mr. Holman said - and I indorse every word of his statement -
As far as our knowledge and reading goes, there is no country in the world where the poor man is better off than in Australia to-day. . . . Neither in Canada nor anywhere else cato a man struggling for a livelihood enjoy the same free, open life; the same easy access to all -classes of society ; the same intellectual and educational advantages; the same consideration from the law, that he enjoys in this democratic country.
We had our millionaires, he went on to say, but they were offensive; we had monopolies, but they disturbed not appreciably the even tenor of our way.
We have the Attorney-General of the ‘Commonwealth painting vivid pictures of the enormities of the trusts in Australia, while the Attorney-General of New South Wales - a good Labour man, as honorable members opposite tell us - asserts that the monopolies in Australia disturb not the even tenor of our way. Which of these two Labour Attorneys-General are we to believe? The Attorney-General of the Commonwealth has selected very poor examples of the operations of trusts and combines in Australia. Time will not permit me to deal with the matter to-day, but I may have an opportunity when we are dealing with the Bill relating to trusts and combines to show that the honorable gentleman was guilty, perhaps quite unintentionally, of one or two gross misrepresentations.
I have only to say, in conclusion, that I believe in a Federal system of government, and that these proposals, if adopted, would practically destroy that system. I believe in our Federal form of government, because it is the most democratic the mind of man has yet devised. While it unites us, as a nation, for all national purposes, in regard to which all our interests are uniform and identical, it gives the fullest possible play for local self-government in respect to local conditions. It gives to us the greatest amount of self -government of which it is possible to conceive. In short, it makes for liberty. As some one has very justly remarked, it is in, small States that we find the truest expression of liberty. I admit that the Federal system has its faults and its weaknesses; but I believe that they are altogether outweighed by its great advantages. It is but a few short years since we introduced the Federal system in Australia. Its foundations were well and truly laid by those who have gone before us, and it is on those foundations that we are .called upon to build. For the last eleven, years we have been building upon them, and we are beginning to see rising up around us the walls of the Federal structure in all their fair proportions. If, however, the Government’s proposals be carried, those foundations will be so undermined that the greater part of those walls will come crumbling to the ground, and all that will be left will be but a few tottering fragments, which must be, sooner or later, swallowed up in the general ruin of Unification. I say to the Unificationist - to the man or woman who believes that in a centralized unitary Government lies the true path towards Australian progress - ‘“Vote for these amendments of the Constitution.” But to the Federalists - to those who believe that under a Federal system of government we shall see Australia fully developed ; that we shall see its progress, prosperity, and happiness maintained in the fullest way; and that it is only under a Federal system that Australia can advance along the path of progress to its great, glorious, and undoubted destiny, I say, “Vote against these amendments.”-
Such men will see in these proposals that which will put back the hands of the clock that marks our progress; that which will substitute stagnation for growth, and feebleness for vigour.
Let us endeavour to look at this subject from a broad national standpoint. Let us endeavour to realize the vast extent of this glorious country that has been given to us to develop. Let us endeavour to look forward to the future and people this island continent with the teeming millions of our race for which it must eventually provide a home. Let us endeavour to under: stand the nature of the gigantic task that still awaits the efforts of our infant nation ; and if we do we shall not hamper its progress and hinder its development by practically giving this Parliament a grant of power which would enable it to legislate in regard to every detail of the daily life of the whole of the people of Australia.
The High Commissioner of Australia, Sir George Reid, who is an old friend of mine, was regarded as the champion “Yes-No” politician in modern politics ; but I have come to the conclusion that there are now in the political life of Australia a greater number of “ Yes-No” men than was ever known in any period of Australian history. Honorable members of the Opposition have certainly tried to imitate him in this respect, and bid fair to become known as the champion “Yes-No” politicians. I am pleased to have an opportunity to take part in this debate, and believe that the proposals that have been submitted to us should be thoroughly threshed out. The result of discussion must show that the amendments of the Constitution proposed by the Government are in the best interests of the people. As one of the first to fight for Federation, I must admit that it was felt at the time that the Constitution Bill was not all that we desired, but that, in the circumstances, we had to accept what was the best that could then be obtained. I honestly believe that if the vote on the Constitution Bill had been delayed much longer it would not have been passed, because the feeling was growing that it was not such a democratic instrument as the people had been led to believe it was. When the Constitution Bill was before the people two main issues were discussed. It was pointed out, first of all, that the Federation was to be an indissoluble Union, but that the people would be at liberty from time to time to amend the Constitution as they thought fit. It was that belief which induced the people of this country to accept our Constitution. Before considering the proposals which have been submitted by the Government, I would like to ask, “ Who are the opponents of those proposals?” They are the men who advocated the acceptance of our Constitution in the form in which it was originally presented to the people. Consequently there is no sincerity in the opposition to this Bill. There is scarcely an honorable member opposite who has not admitted the necessity which exists for an alteration of the Constitution. It must not be forgotten that on the occasion of the last referenda the proposals of the Government were fought most strenuously by the press. It was almost impossible to excite any enthusiasm amongst the electors upon a dry constitutional subject, and for that, reason I feel sure that no Government will ever take a referendum again except on the occasion of a general election. That is the only time when the people will listen to an. exposition of the principles that are involved in the proposals which are submitted for their determination. The number of votes recorded in East Sydney on the referenda proposals was actually less than, the number of votes that were registered in my favour at the general election.. In these circumstances it is idle to suggestthat there is no necessity to again appeal to the people to grant extended powers to this Parliament. Some honorable members have referred to the early history of the Federal movement, and have urged that we ought not to attempt to curtail the powers of the “State Parliaments. But I would remind them that it was clearly understood that with the advent of Federation the importance of the State Legislatures would be diminished, and that the number of members in them would be substantially reduced. Personally, I fail to see any reason for the existence of so many Houses of Parliament in Australia. Weknow that to-day the trend of events is in the direction of giving greater powers tomunicipalities. The Greater Sydney. Greater Melbourne, Greater Brisbane, and Greater Newcastle schemes are evidence of this. There is scarcely a city in Australia, whose powers are not being enlarged in respect of its management of public utilities, such as the gas supply, the water supply, and electric lighting. The effect of this must be to deprive the State Parliaments, of further powers. When Federation was. consummated, it was understood that this Parliament would exercise full authority in respect of. the thirty-nine articles enumerated in section 51 of the Constitution. I feel that those who are so apprehensive of the diminution of the powers of the State Parliaments are labouring under a delusion. During the course of this debate Mr. Holman’s name has been freely mentioned. Honorable members will recollect that, on the occasion of the last referenda, the vote upon the Government proposals was taken on the 26th April, 191 1. In January of the present year a Conference of Premiers was held in Melbourne, at which proposals were submitted in favour of the States voluntarily surrendering certain powers to the Federation. I do not know where the State Premiers derived their authority to entertain any such proposals, seeing that the electors only a few months previously had practically rejected them. But the State Premiers proposed to vest in the Commonwealth power to legislate in respect of a uniform company law, the standardization of food products, the maintenance of infirm and destitute persons, footwear regulations, a contribution to the Imperial Conference, noxious insects, daylight savings, and an Australian exhibition. I claim that the Commonwealth is the proper -authority to deal with those questions. It would have been absolutely impossible to secure agreement on the part of the twelve branches of the State Legislatures upon any one of those subjects. The Premiers attempted to arrogate to themselves a power, which they did not possess. To my mind, their action clearly indicated that they realized they had made a mistake in opposing the referenda proposals of the Commonwealth Government. I am sorry that the Opposition have not seriously considered Australia’s position in regard to company law. There is not one State company law in Australia that does not differ from all the other State company laws; and if there is anything of which we ought to be ashamed’, it is the present state of affairs in this connexion. New South Wales, for instance, has the most loosely-drawn company law that could, I think, be found anywhere. From the first section to the last there is nothing but loop-holes for those who desire to do dishonest trading ; and this fact must be admitted by any commercial man of standing. But, even if all the State company laws were perfection itself, there ought to be one uniform law for the whole pf Aus- tralia in order to give security to investors and creditors. As to industrial matters, I cannot understand why it is that a common rule can be applied to the boot industry and not to any other. It would appear, from recent events, that some of the State Premiers are forgetting what they did on the 26th April, and shortly, if they go on as they are doing, they will be as complete masters of “ Yes-No “ inconsistency as honorable members opposite have shown themselves to be. Indeed!, there has been so much political inconsistency displayed of. late, that I am beginning to fear that the great ideals of the past have been altogether lost sight of. We now find Mr. Watt, the Premier of Victoria, saying -
It seems to me th.it we cannot feel satisfied that the Commonwealth has sufficient power to deal with Inter-State monopolies.
At the present time, and I am not speaking as an alarmist, but as an ordinary student of events, I can see the roots of monopoly gradually working their way into our soil in Australia. I do not want to mention any names - misconception may arise from that - but all engaged in business know how far the ramifications of the mercantile and business World of Australia are extending in this direction. Therefore, the Federal Parliament should be intrusted with ample power to deal with Interstate monopolies. Strangely enough, the States themselves have been singularly negligent with regard to legislation of this kind. We have nothing on our statute-book to deal with Victorian monopolies.
It must be remembered that these are the words, not of a Labour man, but of the Premier of Victoria, who opposed the referenda on the last occasion. Mr. Watt, having said that, what did Mr. Holman say? The latter gentleman interjected -
Nor have we in New South Wales.
Mr. Watt continued ;
But it might not be effective because the domicile of such a monopoly could be easily changed, and unless there are uniform laws in all the States they could easily get through the mesh of your net. Therefore, I say the Federal Parliament should be given power to deal with Inter-State monopolies.
It will be seen that Mr. Watt has some idea of the business ability of those connected with monopolies. Mr. Holman, who has been so much quoted, said, at that Conference -
That Parliament must have power to say that it can make an Excise or Customs duty conditional upon the payment of approved wages, and the maintenance of approved prices.
The Federal Attorney-General has been challenged about his statement as to fixing prices; but here we have the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, who is a
State Righter, if he is anything, expressing similar views -
It has been held by the High Court, as is well known, that at present the Federal Parliament has no power to make the imposition of the tax conditional on either of those things.
The Commonwealth Government, which we are told the people ought to fear as possessing greater power than any other Government, can impose no industrial conditions in connexion with Customs and Excise duties, and has no power to deal with trusts and combines whose sole object it is to exploit the people -
I say that we should, by a State Act, refer to the Federal Parliament power to do so. That would permit the Federal Parliament to legislate in any direction which it chose on the question of the New Protection.
Lord help the people if they depend on the State Upper Houses for legislation against trusts and combines ! If we were to dress ourselves as clowns and tell the people at a circus that the Legislative Councils were going to pass anti-trust legislation, it would prove the biggest joke ever cracked. The quotations I am giving are from speeches made on the 12th January last, and not musty records of 300 years ago. Here is another quotation from Mr. Holman -
I think it may fairly be said that the Federal Parliament does represent the people of Australia -
That is, indeed, a compliment - and, where the majority in Parliament expresses the wish of the people, the decision should be the law of £he land -
I am with him every time ! and if the language of the Constitution prevents its becoming law, I think it is the wish of the people that the language of the Constitution should be altered so as to permit of its becoming law.
The idea could not be better expressed by any one who knows what the Parliament of Australia should be. There is no subject of these proposals which has caused more controversy, or more appeals to the High Court, than that of industrial matters, and there is none which so much affects the people as a whole. When advocating Federation, I, like others, tried to impress on the people that its adoption would mean Free Trade among the States, and this, I take it, was one of the strong levers which moved them to vote in the affirmative. The idea was to make the industrial conditions in the various States uniform. The honorable member for Parkes this morning used language for which there was no occasion, and was rebuked by the Speaker. He should have found plenty of matter with out resorting to abuse, and the ridiculing of those who in early life had not the educational advantages that he enjoyed. Certainly my own opportunities at that period of my existence were limited, and what 1 have learned has been acquired in later life; but I consider that my experience of men and affairs puts me in an even better position to deaf with a question of this kind than is the honorable member. The members of the Labour party declare that there is justification for enlarging the industrial powers of the Commonwealth, and the views of Mr. Justice Higgins on this subject are entitled to respect. When a member of the first Parliament, he said -
With Free Trade between the States it would not work well to let one State have one set of laws regulating the wages, hours, and conditions of labour in that State, and to allow another State to have another set of laws dealing with those subjects within its boundaries.
Judge Heydon, of New South Wales, has discovered the- inconvenience which results from the present state of the law. He wished to make a certain award in the boot industry, but found that he could not do so without placing the boot manufacturers of the State at a disadvantage, because those of Victoria were paying lower rates than those which he desired to fix. Those who wish for industrial peace cannot do better than try to bring about uniformity! of wages in the various industries of the Commonwealth. What is now proposedseems to me eminently reasonable, and in accordance with the intention of the framers of the Constitution. We are told by some that the Constitution is sacred, and should not be altered; that nothing must be done until evil has happened. But it is the duty of politicians to look ahead. The statesman makes preparation for coming events. Whatever Government might be in power, it should be prepared to introduce legislation to safeguard the people from harm. The honorable member for Calare referred to earlier propo’sals for the amendment of the Constitution than those which have been put forward. I find that Sir William McMillan has stated that -
Everything that protects the life and liberties, especially the industrial life, .of the community ought to be in the hands of the Federal Parliament.
Sir William McMillan is not a member of the Labour party, and may not hold that view now, because consistency is becoming an almost unknown quantity in Australian politics. But certainly, when he gave expression to it, he had no other object to serve than the interests of the people, and was speaking, not as a partisan, but as a public man who was looking ahead. The Leader of the Opposition may have changed his opinions since 1907, and if he thinks that consistency is no merit in a politician, that is his own concern ; but he said then -
To restrict the powers of the Commonwealth to the mere imposition of duties, while the conditions under which the manufacture of protected articles is carried on differ so widely in the different States, would be to permit inequality, discrimination, and discord.
The proposed amendments do not confer power on the Government, they confer it on the Commonwealth Parliament; and surely the people can trust this Parliament with powers which, even if the proposed amendments are sanctioned, will not be so great as those of the States, nor anything like those of the House of Commons, or of the central authorities of Germany and other Federations. The parliamentary history of Australia gives our people no reason to fear their Parliaments. Honorable members may fight among themselves, but there is no Parliament that has not been a credit to those who elected it, and certainly none, whatever may be the differences of opinion regarding the legislation on our statutebooks, that, has inflicted hardship on the people. The members of the Opposition admit that if they were in power they would ask the people to vote for these proposals, out because in 1910 the Labour party gained office they say that the powers that are asked for should not be given to the Commonwealth Parliament. The AttorneyGeneral has pointedly asked, “ Who is to rule this country - a few commercial magnates or the people’s elected representatives ?” When the electors understand these proposals, they will vote for them by a great majority, because they will see that they, tend to the advancement of the public interest. Even the honorable member for Parramatta declared, in regard to a certain decision of the High Court,- that it had changed the situation. In Australia there is no power under the canopy of Heaven which can overrule a decision of the High Court. . This is the only Parliament which cannot say, when its legislation is challenged, that the ‘will of the people must be supreme. Yet we have here an educated Democracy unequalled anywhere in the world. I presume that more persons understand politics in Australia than in any other country, with the exception, perhaps, of Germany, the Germans taking a great interest in the government of their land. I am pleased to know that the young Australians are waking up. I believe that the representatives of Democracy in Australia will secure a larger vote every time they go to the poll, and that this will be due to the attitude of young Australians who love their country, and who refuse to be hoodwinked or to believe that, because we were not born with silver spoons in our mouths, we cannot legislate in their interests. The increased powers for which we ask are essential to enable us to carry out the aims and objects of the Federation. Unless we obtain a wider industrial power, all hope of InterState Free Trade must vanish. During the campaign on the Constitution Bill, I stood on platform after platform with “ Australia’s Noblest Son,” who spoke of “ One people one destiny,” and declared that the man in the north and the man in the south were to be as one in the Union. Yet, when we seek the power to pass a’ law that will apply to the workers and others in north and south alike, we are told by the Opposition that we have no right to do so. Honorable members of the Opposition say, “ Vote against these amendments of the Constitution; not because we object to them, but because we are not in power.” During this debate, quotations have been made from Hansard and from press reports showing that the very proposals now made by us have, at one time or another, met with the approbation of many members of the Opposition. Those honorable members, however, refuse to advise the people to vote for them, solely on the ground that they are not in power. I can only say, God save us from such idiotic political humbugs and frauds !” This is the time when we ought to speak plainly. It should be our desire to work in the best interests of this great country ; and this demand on the part of the Government for increased power to deal with industrial matters ought to appeal to the heart of every honorable member. If we cannot raise a contented yeomanry - if we cannot secure contentment amongst our industrials - then we shall make no progress. The abundant wealth which the earth supplies will be as naught to us if the industrial section of this community is not afforded conditions of employment of which we may all feel proud. We ought to set aside our differences of opinion, and seek to do that which will raise the standard of living in Australia. The day has gone by, I hope, for millionaires to be seen on the one side and poverty on the other. We do not want any oldworld imitations of that kind here. We ought to strike out for ourselves, and I honestly believe that the amendments of the Constitution which we seek are calculated to promote the true happiness and well-being of the people. During the Federal campaign, no one who supported the Constitution Bill dared to say that the powers with which it was proposed to clothe the Federal Parliament were mere piebald ones. Neither Mr. - now Sir Edmund - Barton, the late Mr. R. E. O’Connor, nor Mr. Bruce Smith, dared to tell the people that there was no real power behind the provisions of the Bill. We ask for these increased powers, not for any party, but for the Parliament of Australia. The Opposition need not worry in regard to the future j there is no likelihood of their sitting on this side of the House for some time to come. They might as well resign themselves to their fate and recognise that they will have a far better chance of returning to power by supporting the amendments that we propose than they will have by opposing them. After all, the proposed amendments to the Constitution are for the peace, order, and good government of the country. Surely no one will accuse the Government of a desire to obtain them for any other purpose. I feel confident that the people will vote very solidly for these amendments. As I have said before, at the last referendum it was very difficult to enable the people to understand the constitutional questions involved, and I admire those who declined to vote for our proposals until they were satisfied that they were necessary. When they learn the real effect of these proposals they will certainly vote for them. It is remarkable that, although the Labour party has a large majority in this Parliament, we have not a daily newspaper in Australia to put before the people the real scope and object of these proposed amendments of the Constitution. The tactics adopted by some of our public journals on the last occasion were by no means creditable to them. I admire our daily newspapers; some of them are a credit to those who produce them, but the attitude which they took up at the last referendum was unworthy of them. I hope that when these proposals are submitted to the people they will forget a little of their party spleen, and at least endeavour to give the people a fair opportunity to understand their true effect. Reference has been made during this de bate to the position of trusts in America, and in that connexion I propose to make a short quotation from a speech by Dr. Woodrow Wilson, in regard to the Constitution of the United States of America. Our Constitution is very much like that of America. Those who framed it acted just as many of us have done when we have formed a new lodge, or union, and have been required to draw ug rules. In such cases it is usual to obtain copies of the rules of similar organizations, and to adapt them to the requirements of the society, or union, that one is forming. That is exactly what was done by the’ framers of our Constitution. The Trades and Labour Council of Sydney could have framed our Constitution just as well, and in much less time. I have often sat in this House and felt, as I have listened to the eulogiums passed on the framers of our Constitution, that I should like to show these fellows how easily the work could have been carried out. It could have been done in half the time occupied by the Federal Convention. They simply copied the Constitution of the United States of America, which is 125 years old. Is it reasonable to expect that a Constitution so framed is applicable to our present-day circumstances? If, when I was a boy, my father had called together the scientists of England and had said to them, “ I want you to produce for me an electric motor which will be of commercial value to the community,” two-thirds of them would have said, “Utterly impossible,” whilst the remaining third might, perhaps, have produced some useless toy. Circumstances have since changed. And so with the American Constitution. It was framed at a time when practically the only means of communication between the several States of the union was a ‘wheelbarrow, and a blackfellow, or else a bullock dray. The only means of navigating the coast was provided by small schooners, little bigger than those which we saw manned by a couple of Malays when we visited the Northern Territory recently. That was the position in America when the Constitution of the United States of America was framed, and yet the Opposition expect the people of Australia, with their trade and commerce amounting to millions of pounds, to stand by such a Constitution. What we need is a Constitution to suit the situation of today. The position of the people is altogether different from the position of those who lived in the United States of America 125 years ago. Means of locomotion, amongst other things, have vastly improved. Very few men to-day think of rolling up their “’ blueys “ and walking from one end of the country to the other; they prefer to avail themselves of a motor-car, a tram, or a railway train. Conditions have changed, and our Constitution must He amended to meet our modern requirements. Dr. Woodrow Wilson, President-Elect of the United States, when twenty-nine years of age, spoke thus of the American Constitution, which is practically the same as our own -
As at present constituted the Federal Government lacks strength, because its powers are divided ; lacks promptness, because its authorities are multiplied ; lacks wieldiness, because its processes are roundabout ; lacks efficiency, because its responsibility is indistinct, and its action without competent direction.
Does not that describe the position of the Federal Parliament under our own Constitution ?
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I regret that the contribution of the honorable member for East Sydney should have been interrupted by the limitation which has been imposed upon our speeches. In view of the airy way in which he brushed aside the labours of the most eminent statesmen whom Australia has produced, as well as the teachings of history, it is a great pity that we did not know of the honorable member’s existence twelve years ago, because Australia might then have had a Constitution under which she could have progressed. One of his statements was that the people of the Commonwealth have entered into an indissoluble union. It is. that fact which honorable members upon this side of the House have constantly in their minds. It is because we feel that the proposals of the Government, if adopted, will seriously affect the autonomy of the States, and bring about a dissolution of the existing Federal Union by substituting a Unification for it, that we oppose them. It has been said over and over again during the course of this debate that under our Constitution we do not enjoy the same powers as are enjoyed by the people of the United States of America and of Canada. The honorable member for West Sydney emphasized that, and the honorable member for Maribyrnong declared that if all the powers which the Government seek were vested in this Parliament we should not then approach with in cooee of the powers which are possessed by the Canadian Parliament. The honorable member for Indi, with his long experience of political life, was able airily to wave aside as antediluvian the opinions expressed by Mr. Bryce on this subject. I do not intend to quote from the writings of Mr. Bryce, but I propose to quote from a book which was written by Dicey, in 1907, in which a chapter is devoted to Australian Federation. On page 529 of that work he says -
The Commonwealth is in the strictest sense a Federal Government. It owes its birth to the desire for national unity which pervades the whole of Australia, combined with the determination on the part of the several Colonies to retain as States of the Commonwealth as large a measure of independence as may be found compatible with the recognition of Australian nationality. The creation of a true Federal Government has been achieved mainly by following, without however copying in any servile spirit, the fundamental principles of American Federalism.
The honorable member for East Sydney declared that the framers of our Constitution slavishly followed the American Constitution. It is perfectly true that to a large extent our Constitution was modelled on that of the United States of America. But, at the same time, it was framed in such a way as to meet our requirements, and to give us an opportunity to develop under it. So far from it being a slavish copy of the American Constitution, I would point out that the system of responsible government, which is derived from the mother of Parliaments, has been engrafted upon it. Mr. Dicey, in speaking of the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament, says -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth is endowed with very wide legislative authority ; thus it can legislate on many topics which lie beyond the competence of the Congress of the United States, and on some topics which liebeyond the competence of the Parliament of the Canadian Dominion.
In deciding as to what powers are conferred by the Constitutions of the various Federations of the world, I prefer to accept the opinion of men like Mr. Bryce and Mr. Dicey rather than that of the honorable member for Indi. These men have made the Constitutions of the various Federations their life’s study, and consequently they are competent to tell us whether or not our Constitution confers upon this Parliament as great powers as the Constitutions of the United States of America and of Canada confer upon their respective Parliaments, and, without any reservation, they affirm that in many respects it endows us with greater powers.
– Bryce says the opposite.
– When he was speaking yesterday, the Honorary Minister said that if the powers which the Government seek are granted to the Commonwealth Parliament, they will increase the local government of our people. I say that the idea which those who took an active part in the movement to bring about the Federation of the Australian States had in their minds was that, while it was necessary to establish a Central Parliament to deal with national matters, nothing should be done to interfere with the self-governing powers of the States. We must all recognise that in the development of those States a great deal yet remains to be done, and a Central Parliament cannot possess the same knowledge of local requirements that would be possessed by a State Parliament. What do the representatives of Queensland or New South Wales know of the local needs of the residents in the remote portions of Western Australia ? In order to avoid interfering with the autonomy of the various States, the Constitution in its present form was deliberately adopted. Prentice says -
Local self government, it is said, is “ Part of the very nature of the race to which we belong. Upon its maintenance depend the liberty and the rights of man in every Government.” “ Those who dread the licence of the mob,” De Tocqueville said, “ and those who fear absolute power, ought alike to desire the gradual development of provincial liberties.” “ centralized Administration is fit only to enervate the nations in which it exists,” and he added, “ I am also convinced that Democratic nations are most likely to fall beneath the yoke of a Centralized Administration.”
The purpose of the framers of the American Constitution was to rest government upon those essential principles of liberty which are the foundations of Democracy and its assurance of permanence.
This was the “ great experiment upon the theory of human rights “ referred to by President J. O. Adams in his first annual message - and this it was thought had been accomplished by the division of powers between the State and Federal Governments.
The service performed by the framers of the American Federal Constitution was that they devised a system whereby a national sovereignty might be endowed with energy, and the forms and substance of popular liberty still be preserved.
This they did, Mr. Curtis said, “ without abolishing the State Governments, and without impairing a single personal right which existed before they began their work.”
Of late years, several important decisions have been given by the Supreme Court pf the United States of America, many of which have been quoted by honorable members during the discussion upon this Bill.
But there are one or two which I would like to add to the list. In the case of South Carolina v. the United States of America, the Supreme Court laid it down -
It is undoubtedly true that that which is implied is as much a part of the Constitution as that which is expressed, and that “ among those matters which are implied, though not expressed, is that the nation may not, in the exercise of its powers, prevent a State from discharging the ordinary functions of Government.”
If anything has been clearly proved during this discussion by the Leader of. the Opposition, the honorable member for Bendigo, and others, it is that the adoption of the Government proposals would seriously interfere with the functions exercised by the State Governments. In the case of Texas v. White it was held -
Not only, therefore, can there be no loss of separate and independent autonomy to the States through their union under the Constitution, but it may not unreasonably be said that the preservation of the States, and the maintenance of their Governments, are as much within the design and care of the Constitution as the preservation of the union, and the maintenance of the national Government.
I submit that if the people of Australia had dreamed for one moment that the autonomy of the States was to be interfered with by the Federation they would never have approved of the Constitution under which we live to-day. It was because it was definitely understood that the States were to continue to exercise their autonomous powers that the electors of this country accepted that Constitution. However, it has been pointed out, not once or twice, but on many occasions, in this and the previous debate, that if the amendments are adopted, the States will lose their autonomous rights and powers of selfgovernment, and the Federal Government will become so congested with business of a local character, that it will not be able to give attention to great national questions affecting the continent as a whole. This is a danger that has arisen in the Old Country, where we find that the business of the House of Commons has become so unwieldy that, in order to relieve the pressure, Home Rule is proposed for Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, so that local affairs mav be attended to and controlled by those most nearly affected. It is idle to suggest that without these powers the usefulness of the Federal Parliament has come to an end; and it is necessary here as elsewhere that the National Parliament should be kept free from, the necessity of attending to local matters, and be left free to concentrate its force on national affairs. As a last quotation, I shall read a paragraph from page 228 of Prentice’s work, and such an authority is, I think, worthy the attention of honorable members -
Government interference with individual activities^ - accepted because necessary, welcomed by none - demands the completest measure of Home Rule. To turn over to a single legislative body the vast intricacies of social life throughout the country that it may prepare a system applicable to all conditions - to child labour in the south, for example, and in the tenements of New York - is not to hasten the adoption of better methods, but to place important govermental powers in the hands of those who can exercise them with the greatest difficulty and with the least knowledge of local conditions. It is in effect so far as concerns many vital interests, to abandon the effort for good municipal and State government, and once for all, to intrust local fortune and prosperity to external authority. It is of great importance in all these matters, and particularly at the present time in commercial affairs, that State jurisdiction be not superseded, but that the Federal Constitution be construed, as it has been, so as to prevent restrictions upon intercourse among the States, at the same time that each State is left free, so far as possible, to follow its own courses in the coming development.
What is there suggested will happen here if the proposed amendments are adopted. We hope that there is a big coming development for Australia; and if it is to be such a development as we hope, it will be absolutely necessary to leave the States free to control their own various activities. It has been contended by honorable members on this side that if the proposed amendments are made in the Constitution we shall have gone a long way towards Unification. Honorable members opposite object very strongly to the use of that term ; and, no doubt, realizing that the people will not tolerate Unification, they wish to blind them as far as possible to the real effect of the changes contemplated. That the effect will be Unification from one end of the continent to the other is an opinion expressed not merely by honorable members here, but, time after time, by Leaders of the Labour party in New South Wales, and other parts of Australia. If honorable members wish to find any further proof as to the truth of the contention, I commend them., and the country generally, to read the list prepared by the honorable member for Bendigo, and also that by Mr. Holman, of the various industrial activities that will be controlled by legislation in the National Parliament, if the Constitution be amended as suggested. Mr. Beeby, one of the leading State Ministers in New South Wales, not once or twice but often, has expressed the opinion that Unification must follow, and Mr. Griffith, the State Minister of Works, has declared on many occasions that he is an out-and-out Unificationist. In this House the honorable member for Herbert, some little tune ago, introduced a Unification Bill, and he has had very good reason for accusing the Government of stealing his clothes. Further, only the other day the honorable member for Hindmarsh said here -
In my opinion, it would be the best thing which could happen to the people of Australia if the whole of our Constitution were thrown into the melting pot, with a view to vesting supreme power in one Parliament with instructions that it was to delegate powers of Home Rule to the States.
If that does not mean Unification, I do not know what Unification is ; and that is certainly one of the strongest statements that could be made in its favour. I am giving these quotations in order that, with others already before us, we may have a complete record of the feelings and opinions that have been expressed in this connexion by honorable members opposite. The Attorney-General, when introducing these measures, said -
The industrial peace of the country depends entirely on the payment to the labourer of a fair and reasonable wage for his work, and on his being able to carry on his work, whatever it may be, under decent conditions; in short, on his being treated as a civilized man in a civilized community -
We all agree that there should be good wages and conditions, and that the working man should be treated as a civilized being in a civilized community -
The welfare of the consumer depends on being able to purchase commodities at a fair price. All industrial strife arises through one of these essentials being unprovided for.
It appears to me that in all this the great primary producers of the country have been altogether left out of consideration - that the pastoralists, dairy farmers, agriculturists, and so forth, are utterly unprovided for. This, however, is only consistent with the attitude of honorable members opposite, who regard that section of our community as almost a negligible quantity. If we are to draw conclusions from what has been said by the honorable member for South Sydney, the honorable member for Capricornia, and others, as to the dairying industry, in regard to which an application will shortly be made, I under- stand, to the Arbitration Court by the Rural Workers Union, there will soon be no producers in Australia to pay reasonable wages or find commodities for the consumer. It is clear that if the conditions that are being foreshadowed are imposed on this industry, those now engaged in it will have to seriously think of giving it up. The feeling of honorable members opposite in this regard was shown when the honorable member for South Sydney, with great emphasis, quoted figures to show that Australian butter is sold more cheaply in London than it is in Australia. That honorable member pointed out that the Australian people subsidize mail steamers to the extent of 100, 000 per annum in order to secure ccol storage space, and he contended that advantage is taken of that subsidy by the producers to compel the people here to pay much .more for their butter than is paid in the Old Country. We ought, however, to remember the pitiable position of our dairy farmers a few years ago, “when, even in the favoured district, in which I was born, and which I have now the honour to represent, they had to take joint action in order to find a way out of their difficulties and secure a living for themselves and their families. At that time butter, in the summer season, would go down as low as 3d. per pound - in fact, so valueless did it become that, on occasions, it was thrown into Sydney Harbor - while in the middle, of winter prices rose as high as 2s. 6d. and 3s. Honorable members opposite are in favour of unionism, with a view to fair and reasonable wages ; and, therefore, they ought to be in favour of the dairy farmers co-operating, not only to benefit themselves, but to place on the Australian market absolutely the best article at a reasonable price. This co-operation lias been used, not to unduly raise the price to the consumer, but to keep it more or less at a uniform rate; and I defy any one to say that the movement, which is one that honorable members opposite ought to encourage and not attempt to destroy, has ever been used in any way whatever with a view to extracting undue profits from the pockets of the general public. We have it from the Attorney-General that if the proposed amendments of the Constitution are carried this co-operative organization of the dairy farmers will be declared a monopoly. All these matters will, of course, be arranged in secret by the Caucus, first of all ; and when all has been there settled they will be submitted to this House. This in dustry, which is now adding to the wealth of the country, had to be established in the face of what appeared insurmountable difficulties, especially in the export trade, and yet, at the bidding of the Caucus, those engaged in it are to be deemed to constitute a monopoly. The AttorneyGeneral has, as I’ have said, told us, amongst other things, that certain lines of dairy produce have been before the Department, and have been held to constitute monopolies.
– Which Department?
– The Department of Trade and Customs, and also, I suppose, the Attorney-General’s Department. This great co-operative movement, of which we should be proud, because it has done so much for thiem and for Australia, and has given our local consumers a. good article at a reasonable price, is to be brought before the Labour Caucus and adjudged -a monopoly, and prices are to be regulated for the dairy farmers.
– This is the kind of rubbish with which you fool the farmers.
– I hope that my speech is on a higher level than that which the honorable member addressed to the Chamber yesterday. There was never more clap-trap talked to gull electors than came from him then. The honorable member for South Sydney stated the other day that it is a scandal that we cannot protect the consumer in regard to articles of everyday consumption, and he advocated that the product of the industry to which I have just referred should be regulated. No doubt it will be regulated when the industry has been declared a monopoly by those who sit on the Government benches. From what was said by the Minister of Customs in reply to a deputation which’ waited upon him some time ago in reference to the placing of an export duty on wheat, which he promised to bring before the Cabinet for consideration, it will not be long before an export duty on dairy produce is imposed. Honorable members opposite have shown their inclination to clip the profits of the wheat-growers by placing an export duty of 10 per cent, or 15 per cent, on wheat, and from the way in which the Minister of Trade and Customs received the deputation that waited on him in reference to the matter he would be only too delighted to clip the profits of the dairy farmers by the imposition of a similar duty on butter.
– No word was spoken by the Minister in reference to the placing of an export duty on butter. The statement is a shocking inaccuracy.
– According to the newspaper account, a deputation from the Trades Hall, Melbourne - gentlemen who are not very sympathetic with the farmers - waited on the Minister, among those present being Mr. Barker, now a senator, the honorable member for Melbourne, and Mr. Rogers, M.L.A. They were there “ to advocate the establishment of an export duty on wheat.”
– That lie has been nailed a hundred times.
-“ To force the wheatfarmer to sell cheaply in the local markets.” The report says that the Minister was charmed with the idea, and promised to lay it immediately before the Cabinet.
– I have given evidence in Court as to the inaccuracy and untruthfulness of that statement, as the records show. There was a case against the Argus.
– No doubt the Minister was charmed with the suggestion, because it was spoken about afterwards, and I believe that but for the Government leaving office within about a fortnight something definite would have been done. The speech of the honorable member for Angas deserves very close attention. He took the Attorney-General to task for the manner in which he had used judicial decisions and cases to justify the proposed amendments. I think it is due to this House that when a gentleman in the position of the AttorneyGeneral makes reference to the judgments of the High Court, or other tribunals, he should confine his statements to facts, and make them in such a way that they cannot be questioned. But as the honorable member for Angas pointed out, the statements of the Attorney-General were incorrect, not once 01 twice only, but oftener. The Attorney-General told us that in the Huddart Parker case the High Court decided that the Commonwealth had not power to make laws dealing with trusts and monopolies, and he said later that it had been held in that case that the Commonwealth could not ask questions of any corporation. The honorable member for Angas shows that both statements are incorrect. The honorable member also said - page 5638 -
We come to the other cases. Take, for instance, the Jumbunna case. One of the matters which the Attorney-General raised was that the
High Court had decided that, though the Arbitration Act declared that there was no appeal from the decision of the President, in spite of the Act an appeal was given by the High Court. The High Court did nothing of the sort. I was in that case.
Further, he said -
Then a reference was made by him to the Federal Sawmillers* case, and the Whybrow case, in which it was pointed out that the High Court had decided that you must respect the decisions of the Wages Boards of the States in coming to an award under the Federal Arbitration Act. What the High Court said was that you may improve on the conditions prescribed by the determination of a Wages Board, that if a Board gives, for instance, 8s. a day, you may make the rate os. - not much of a grievance to come from the ‘other side of the House. What the High”” Court did say was that you cannot abrogate that decision, because our power being simply the decision of matters between litigants did not include either a power to make a common rule or a power to frame a subordinate State law such as is done by the determination or rule prescribed by the Wages Boards of the States.
He proceeded to refer to other cases, including Johnson v. Pacific Railway Company, in regard to which the AttorneyGeneral had said that the Federal power did not extend to trucks -
AH that I know of that case is that the decision was in favour of the Federal power - a decision that the use of coupling appliances could be prescribed by Congress in relation to Inter-State commerce. How on earth that involves a limitation of Federal power to deal with trucks passes my comprehension.
– The statements of the Attorney-General were all shockingly inaccurate.
– Who says so?
– The honorable member for Angas and others have proved it. Even the Minister of External Affairs, who, perhaps knows little about these matters, must admit that the AttorneyGeneral was shockingly inaccurate in what he said about the Vend case.
– At most, it is only a difference of opinion between two lawyers.
– No; it is a difference as to facts.
– The Attorney-General tried to get the Chamber to believe that the Commonwealth Parliament is powerless to pass legislation which would control a trust operating in restraint of trade, but the honorable members for Angas and Bendigo, and others, showed by quoting the judgment of the High Court, that the statement was not correct, and that the prosecution failed on its merits. To use the words of the honorable member for Angas -
The point is that the prosecution in the Vend case took place before we amended the Act in 1910. When it was under the old Act of 1906-9 the onus lay upon the Crown of proving detriment to the public, and the prosecution, in the opinion of the High Court, failed, because no detriment to the public was proved by the Crown, and further, the defence, possibly under an instinctive apprehension that the Crown might fail to prove detriment whether it existed or did not exist, did not give evidence. The position under a new prosecution against a combination will be altogether different.
The honorable member for Angas distinctly showed that the prosecution in the Vend case failed, not from want of power in the Commonwealth Parliament, or from any defect in our legislation, but because the charges against the Vend were not substantiated. It is not a case of one lawyer’s opinion against another’s. We have one lawver putting the position to suit himself and his party, but misrepresenting the real facts. I wish to quote this statement from the judgment delivered by the Chief Justice-
We are therefore bound to decide the case upon the evidence, and upon that evidence we are of opinion that the Crown has failed to prove any intent on the part of the appellants to cause detriment to the public. This disposes of the case as regards penalties.
I think I have said sufficient to show that the Attorney-General has misstated the position in regard to important cases on which he relies, in asking the House to carry these Bills for the amendment of the Constitution. So far as the Coal Vend case is concerned; he has been clearly bowled out. We have heard a great deal regarding the necessity of dealing with trusts, combines, and monopolies. We are told that we should have power to prevent the octopuslike trusts from spreading their tentacles over the people of Australia. The Minister quoted from Russell a statement showing the power of trusts and combines in America. I am sure no one desires that they shall obtain here anything like the. hold which they have in that country. I am afraid, however, that there is a good deal of make-believe on the part of honorable members opposite. Why have they not taken action in regard to the Tobacco Combine? When the honorable member fcr Richmond submitted recently in this House a motion for a Select Committee to investigate the operations of that Combine, why did the Minister of Trade and Customs show no anxiety whatever to deal with it? The Tobacco Combine has been spoken of, by members of the Labour party all over Australia, as being inimical to the interests of the people. That being so, why did the Minister of Trade and Customs do his best to avoid the investigation for which, the honorable member for Richmond asked ? This morningI questioned the AttorneyGeneral as to the extent of the investigations made by the Government into the operations of alleged trusts in Australia, and was informed, in reply, that from May, 1910, until rst instant, only two inquiries had . been made. These related to the Shipping Combine and the Coal Vend, and the inquiry into their operations was actually commenced by the AttorneyGeneral in the last Administration. Where, then, is there any great anxiety on the part of the Labour party to deal with alleged trusts in Australia? Have they shown any anxiety to deal with the great combine amongst the insurance companies doing business in Australia? Honorable members know, as well as I do, that all over Australia to-day a standard rate of premiums has to be paid. The only competition that exists is in connexion with, the companies’ agencies, and the cost of those agencies is added to the premiums that we have to pay. The Insurance Combine is dragging money out of the pockets of the people. I am not here to uphold any trust or monopoly ; but I do say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has, at least, done something to develop a great industry. It has offered people inducements to settle in the north - in the tropical portions of Australia, which represent the most vulnerable part of our continent, and which we are most anxious to people. In that respect it is doing good service to the country. These insurance societies, however, are simply parasites on the people of Australia. They do not develop any industry, but they fix premiums and pay dividends, and set aside reserves compared with which the dividends paid by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in proportion, sink into insignificance. I have here the report and balance-sheet of one insurance company, from which I intend to quote, as illustrating the state of affairs that prevails in Australia. One of the directors of the company bears the name of Knox, hated by honorable members opposite, but he is not identical with the managing director of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The company has an authorized capital of£500,000, and a paid-up capital of only £84,000. Last year, upon that capital of .£84,000, it made a profit of over £24,000.
– To what company is the honorable member referring ?
– The United Insurance Company Limited. If honorable members work out the figures I have quoted, they will find that the company, on its paid-up capital, last year made a profit of no less than 28 per cent. lt paid a dividend at the rate of 10 per cent, for the year and a bonus of 2% per cent. When the AttorneyGeneral referred this House the other day to the fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company had paid a dividend of 10 per cent., members of his party held up their hands in pious horror. But they allow insurance companies to go on in this way, and do not insist upon the AttorneyGeneral taking any action against them. In the annual report of the United Insurance Company, submitted to a meeting of shareholders in October last, the statement is made -
For the purpose of increasing the accommodation at head office, the company during the year purchased the adjoining property in Georgestreet, and alterations are now being carried out to suit the company’s requirements.
The further statement is made -
The directors will, after the allotment, as before stated, is completed -
It is proposed to allot a number of new shares - bring the paid-up capital to ,£120,000 by making a call of 10s. a share, and at the same time declare an equivalent bonus to be applied to the payment of the call.
– They first give it to the shareholders as a bonus, and then take it back as capital?
– Yes. In addition to the profit of 28- per cent, on the year’s operations, this company has investments to the extent of £275,716, and, I believe, has paid for the magnificent property in Hunter-street, Sydney, which it has recently acquired out of its reserves or accumulated profits. If it is necessary to deal with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which pays a dividend of 10 per cent., and which does do some good in assisting to develop tropical Australia, surely it is time some action was taken against a company like this, which makes a profit of 28 per cent. Why should honorable members, who hold’ up their hands in holy horror when, the dividends of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are mentioned, be content when no thing is done in connexion with such a> company as this as a party to an arrangement to enforce uniform prices? I do not. hesitate to tell the House that one reason* is that they know that some of their Own party are interested in the companies that are paying these immense dividends.
– Name some of them.
– I do not desire to mention names.
– The honorable member has made the charge ; let him be a man, and name those of our party who, he says, areinterested in these companies.
– Since the honorable member has challenged me to mention a name, let me say that I find in the list of shareholders of the United Insurance Company, to which I have been referring, the name of the Federal Attorney-General, Mr. Hughes.
– Give us the names of the others. I suppose the Attorney-General bought his shares in the open market.
– The honorable member dragged the name from me. Honorable members will understand now what I had iri mind when I said that therewas a good deal of humbug and makebelieve on the part of honorable members opposite in regard to trusts and combines. They appointed to the Sugar Commission men who put questions altogether outside the scope of their inquiry, and solely with, the object of making political capital. Thehonorable member for Maranoa dragged’ from me the name of the Attorney-General.
– I do not object. That isall right.
– Very well.
– The honorable memberwished to make out that a lot of us werein these companies. What about his ownleader who is in the Australian Mutual. Provident Society? What about the honorable member for Bendigo, and others of his party, who are connected with various companies ?
– - The Australian Mutual. Provident is a mutual society.
– At all events, I do nothesitate to say that if it is necessary todeal with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in the way suggested by theLabour party it is still more necessary to deal with insurance companies that are making profits to the extent of 28 percent, on their paid-up capital out of thepeople. There is only one other matter to which I desire to refer, as my time has nearly expired, and that is the attitude taken up by the present Ministerial party towards then Labour confreres in New South Wales. The treatment of the State Labour party is, I feel sure, one with which the people will not agree. The Premier, the AttorneyGeneral, Mr. Beeby, and other members of the New South Wales Labour Ministry were absolutely opposed to the proposals for the amendment of the Constitution made by the Labour party last year. A special conference was convened in Sydney to deal with their attitude. Amongst the delegates to that conference were the honorable member for South Sydney and Senator Rae, and in moving a resolution which was designed to bring the members of the State Labour party “ to heel,” Senator Rae said that it would “ put the acid “ on them. They had to come “ to heel.”
– Is the honorable member referring to the honorable member for Wimmera ?
– I think that the honorable member for Wimmera showed yesterday that he is well able to look after himself. The Attorney-General of New South Wales is one of the ablest men in the Labour movement in Australia, but, as the result of this State Labour Conference, he, instead of going on the public platforms of New South Wales and giving voice to the opinions that he held in regard to these proposals, had to remain quiet. He and Mr. McGowen, the Premier of New South Wales, were muzzled by the Conference. They were told that they were not to go on the public platforms to give expression to the opinions which they clearly held with regard to the proposed amendments of the Federal Constitution. The Premier of New South Wales was shipped off to the Old Country, and I had the pleasure of travelling with him to the Coronation. Poor old Jim McGowen is admired in many respects by those who know him, but in this case he was treated as if he were a mere cypher. He and the Attorney-General of New South Wales, who, having regard to their positions, should have been giving a lead to the people of that State, had their mouths closed, and were unable to give expression to their own opinions. Mr. McGowen said that, old as he was, and notwithstanding the fact that he had spent thirty-six years in the Labour movement, if the Federal Labour party’s
Unification proposals were agreed to, and New South Wales were thus deprived of Home Rule, then he would lead a crusade in that State to secure the restoration of local government. Wi:l he do it now? Will he be allowed? He felt that, if the proposals submitted last year were accepted by the people, they would result in Unification, and would mean the deprivation of New South Wales and the other States of the Union of that Home Rule which they had long enjoyed, and under which they have flourished. He and others of his party were deliberately threatened, and forbidden to go on the public platform to express their opinions regarding those proposals. The very men who would thus prevent the leaders of the State Labour party from giving expression to their own views now have the audacity to come into this Chamber and say that we ought to deal with this as a non-party matter. At the approaching referenda, honorable members’ opposite will do what they did on the occasion of the last referenda - give short-shrift to any members of their party who have the courage to disagree with the Government proposals, and thus the people of Australia will be deprived of hearing their real views on this matter.
.- Before I allude to a tocsin which will resound throughout the length and breadth of Australia, I may be permitted to reply to some of the remarks of the honorable member for Illawarra. He stated that, in New South Wales, some years ago, butter was so cheap that a quantity, of it was actually thrown into the Sydney Harbor. I say that individuals who were so lost to all sense of their duty to the needy of the community - to the inmates of hospitals and other institutions - as to throw butter into Sydney Harbor, were unworthy of the name of men. The honorable member did not tell us that the butter trade in Victoria was established as the result of the action, of two merchants in Flinders-lane.
– Oh !
– The wrong that hari been done to the farmers was remedied at the instance of those two men, who brought it under the notice of the Victorian Government. A Commission was appointed to inquire into the matter, and it is a fact that the books and documents which contained the evidence which would have incriminated the members of the Butter Ring were burned by a Government official.
The honorable member for Richmond has only to approach the Minister for Agriculture - the Hon. George Graham - who is respected by every farmer throughout Victoria, to ascertain the truth of my statement. He will tell him of the infamy of the Butter Ring, and of the destruction of the evidence which would have incriminated its members. I thoroughly indorse many of the remarks of the honorable member for Illawarra in reference to insurance companies. But surely, if he believes his own statement, it will be his duty to support a Commonwealth Insurance Bill when that measure is brought forward. If he does not, his words will be merely those of a man who can do a flip-flap at any moment. In regard to his observations upon an export duty on wheat, I have merely to say that he was wrong in his data, and also in his deductions. If he will look at the official record, he will find that his statements were without warrant. I have never advocated an export duty upon wheat nor has Senator Barker, ‘ and 1’ am not afraid to own up to anything that I have ever done. Nor was it our party which imposed the export duty upon gold which held sway in Victoria for so long. In 1891^ after I had studied Switzerland and its Constitution, I lectured in many places throughout this State upon the initiative and the referendum. Honorable members can, therefore, understand the great joy which I felt when I read the leading article which appeared in the Age on 23rd November, and which will sound like a tocsin throughout the length and breadth of this country. I hope that it will not cease sounding until the initiative and the referendum have been incorporated in our Constitution. Let us have a Bill providing for the initiative and the referendum. Some honorable members may urge that such a step would be in the direction of’ Unification. In. my opinion, that is rubbish. The leading article in the Age reads -
Plank number 14 of the general platform- of the Federal Labour party pledges the party to graft the initiative referendum as soon as may be on the Constitution of the Commonwealth.
In 1 89 1 I advocated that as the one pi a 11k of our party. If a party adopted that one plank as its platform, it could embrace many shades of political opinion. What greater educative influence could there be than newspapers arrayed upon one side or the other, with the public platforms available to parliamentary representatives to advocate either the adoption or rejection of any proposal, and with the electors - our creators - as arbiters? I say that, in comparison with the initiative and the referendum, the proposals of the Government represent but the base, and not the superstructure, of the great edifice that I would like to see erected. If I were asked whether I would prefer Unification to continuing the fossilized institutions known as Legislative Councils in Australia - those second chambers which mangle every Liberal and Labour measure - I would say “ Yes “ every time. But, recognising the great empty spaces which exist in our continent, I do not wish to see the State Parliaments reduced in number. I would like to see the Legislative Councils abolished and the initiative and the referendum adopted, so that the people might exercise control over the State Assemblies. In Switzerland, which is known as the schoolhouse of political economy, what is the nature of the representation? In the canton of Obwalden, there is one representative for every 188 of the population. In Appenzell, there is one representative for every 250 of the population. In Berne, there is one representative for every 2,500 of the population. But in Australia, which is a continent of magnificent distances, if we include the 553 members of Parliament outside of this Parliament, there is one representative to every 8,000 of the population. In the Commonwealth Parliament there is one representative to every 60,000 of the population. In Switzerland there is one Federal representative to every 20.000. Yet Switzerland - which has the initiative, referendum, and recall - has not gone in for Unification. There, no less than twentyfour separate Legislatures are controlled by the Swiss citizens. The people of that country have a power which is possessed by no other country in the world. They can alter their constitution at any time they may choose to do so. I should like to see the initiative and referendum made the subject-matter of a seventh Bill, to be submitted to the people at the approaching referenda. The question which should be put to them is, “ Do you desire the Commonwealth Constitution Act to be so amended as to enable the electors to legislate by means of the initiative and referendum? “ Depend upon it the people cry for the legislation that they want. That is my answer to those who glory in the ironbound character of a portion of the Amen- can Constitution. I shall presently read what the American people are endeavouring to do without having recourse - as they did on one occasion - to a civil war. Some believe in the aristocracy of intellect. Some hold it is the classic families who give to the world the genius that controls it. But history puts the mark of derision upon that claim. As a rule, citizens of brains are not born under a gilded roof, I wish it were permitted by the rules of the House to print, without reading, any matter pertinent to a speech, so as to avoid wearisome reiteration ; but, as it is, I can only say that out of forty-two referenda in Switzerland, in a limited number of years, not one vote can be said to have been given’ unjustly. The majority of the propositions, certainly, were rejected, but time after time, particularly in reference to banking, it took three references before an affirmative vote was given. The article from which I have already quoted contains the following -
History tells us that never on one solitary occasion have they failed to discriminate justly and reasonably between the questions they liked and the questions they despised. They have invariably affirmed the principles which seemed good to them, and rejected the proposals which they disliked or did not completely understand. The people of Australia may be trusted to act with equal firmness and wisdom.
With the referendum and the initiative, the body politic is revitalized, and lethargy on the part of the Government is no longer possible. I do not think that when the records of this Parliament come to be written, it will be found to have been an idle one, in view of the measures passed and the splendid work done, if only in connexion with the endeavour to banish the words “pauper” and “pauperism” from this land. Speaking under correction, I think that no fewer than thirty-two questions have been submitted by referenda at one time in Oregon; and, therefore, I can see no difficulty whatever in submitting eight or nine questions to the people of Australia. Even at this late hour, I hope that the people may be asked to declare for or against the initiative; and this, with the election of members to the two Houses, would make only nine questions in all. I should be sorry for any one who thinks that the average Australian voter, who, in my opinion, ranks second to the Swiss in his knowledge of political affairs, is not capable of coping with sucha number of propositions. I should not care to cast such a slur or stigma on my fellow countrymen, whom I honour too much. There is an old saying of the Greeks, who, physically and mentally, were the best nation that ever appeared on earth, that a people should be judged by their games; and I fancy that the physical development and prowess of the Australians compare favorably with those of any community in the world. The Initiative Referendum and Recall, a book issued by the American Academy of Political and Social Science, informs us -
Briefly summarized, the functions of the initiative and referendum are -
To restore the sovereignty of the people.
To educate and develop the people.
To secure legislation for the general welfare.
To prevent legislation against the general welfare.
To eliminate the legislative blackmailer.
To make our legislative bodies truly representative.
These are very weighty reasons. Thank goodness, the legislative blackmailer is not so well known in our midst as, unfortunately, he is in the United States of America. I remember being approached by a gentleman representing the Standard Oil Trust, which has its tentacles over the wide world, and which obtains its way even in this House. This gentleman, who, I understand, is paid a salary of some £15,000 a year, was introduced to me by a mutual friend; and when he commenced to talk to me about the great organization, I told him that, though I was willing to eat with him, smoke with him, or drink with him, I declined to discuss standard oil. A second and third time during the interview he touched on the forbidden topic; and then I told him that, in my opinion, the whole machinery of the trust ought to be in Hades. To this his only reply was the rather witty one that it would make “ a pretty big blaze.” I can only say that if the Standard Oil Trust desired the death of a member of this Chamber, all the military and police in the country would not be able to save him. I told this gentleman that, though the Standard Oil Trust might be rich enough and powerful enough to buy Parliaments elsewhere, it would not be able to buy the Australian people, with the freest franchise in the world. If we only had the initiative and the referendum we could stand with bold front in defiance of any trust. The following is worth quoting from the publication I have just mentioned -
The initiative and referendum also develops legislators by causing them in their deliberations to keep always in mind the interests and view-point of the people whose servants they are. This they will do through a realization that, having power to enact or defeat laws, the people will watch legislative proceedings and hold every legislator accountable for his acts. Under the referendum corruption of members of the legislature is practically eliminated because of the knowledge on the part of the persons desiring special legislation that even though enacted by the legislature, defeat of such laws is within the power of the people.
I do not know whether the rebellion against the present Constitution in America is on account of there being so many legal gentlemen in Parliament; but this book gives a long list of the States in which the recall has been, or is to be, introduced. It was a great jurist of the United States of America who said that for the betrayal of a country or a great cause we had not to go far to seek, because it could be found ready- made wherever there was a lawyer ; and, though I do not like lawyers as a body, I must say I have some very good personal friends amongst them. It would seem in this House as if all the lawyers had been relegated to the cool shades of Opposition ; and I am sure that if I were to throw a peach blossom or a golden rose at the front Opposition bench, I could not help hitting one. In thirteen years, from 1898 to 1912, fourteen States in America have adopted the referendum and initiative, though some had to have it adopted twice by their Legislatures before it could be submitted to the people. The following is the list-
Progress of the Initiative and Referendum in America. 1897. - South Dakota legislature voted to submit an initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. 1898. - The electors of South Dakota adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 23,876 to 16,483. 1899. - Oregon legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
Utah legislature voted to submit initia tive and referendum amendment to constitution. 1900. - The electors of Utah adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 19,219 to 7,786. 1901. - Oregon legislature a second time, as required by constitution, voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
Nevada legislature voted to submit referendum amendment to constitution. 1902. - The electors of Oregon adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 62,024to 5,668. 1903. - Nevada legislature a second time, as required by constitution, voted to submit referendum amendment to constitution.
Missouri legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. 1904. - The electors of Nevada adopted referendum to constitution by vote of 4,393 to 702.
The electors of Missouri defeated initiative and referendum amendment. 1905. - Montana legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. 1906. - The electors of Oregon adopted supplemental initiative and referendum amendment to constitution by vote of 46,678 to 6,735
The electors of Montana adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 36,374 to 6,616. 1907. - The electors of Oklahoma adopted a state constitution, including provisions for the initiative and referendum, by vote of 180,333 to 73,059.
North Dakota legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. The following legislature failed to submit amendment as required by constitution.
Maine legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
Missouri legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution. 1908. - The electors of Missouri adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 177,615 to 147,290.
The electors of Michigan adopted a constitution containing provision for referendum on laws and initiative on constitutional amendments by vote of 244,705 to 130,783. 1909. - Arkansas legislature voted to submit initiative referendum amendment to constitution.
Nevada legislature voted to submit initiative amendment to constitution. 1910. - The electors of Arkansas adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 91,367 to 39,111.
Colorado legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
The electors of Colorado adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vote of 89,141 to 28,698. 1911. - California legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
The electors of California adopted initiative and referendum amendment by vofe of 168,744 to 52,093.
Nevada legislature a second time, as required by constitution, voted to submit initiative amendment to constitution.
Washington legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
Nebraska legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
Idaho legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
Wyoming legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
Wisconsin legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
North Dakota legislature voted to submit initiative and referendum amendment to constitution.
The electors of Arizona adopted a constitution containing provision for the initiative and referendum by vote of 12,187to 3,822.
The electors of New Mexico adopted a constitution containing provision for the referendum by vote of 31,742 to 13,399. 1912. - The electors of Washington will vote on adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.
The electors of Nebraska will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.
The electors of Idaho will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.
The electors of Wyoming will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.
The electors of Wisconsin will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.
The electors of Nevada will vote on the adoption of initiative and referendum amendment at the November election.
The electors of Indiana will vote on the adoption of a constitution, containing provision for the initiative and referendum, at the November election.
The constitutional convention of Ohio has submitted a series of amendments to its constitution, including one providing for the initiative and referendum. These will be voted on at a special election, September third. 1913. - North Dakota legislature will consider, the second time, amendment to the constitution providing for initiative and referendum.
That is a record which every thinking statesman and the reading public should hear,and it represents a revolt against the steel-riveted Constitution of the United States of America.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Switzerland has not only the initiative and the referendum, but also the recall, which may be a bigger factor in politics in the future than anything else. It gives to the electors the right to compel their representatives to resign if they think they are not doing their duty. If not the first, I am among the first, of the Australian politicians who have given that right to their electors. In 1889 I gave my committee the right to de mand my resignation from the Legislative Assembly if, in its opinion, I was not trying to carry out my promises, and since then,in every electoral campaign, with, perhaps, the exception of the last, when I am not sure that I mentioned the matter, though, had I been asked, I would have done the same then, I made the distinct promise that if one more than half of the number of those who had recorded their votes for me demanded my resignation, I would tender it, right or wrong. Therefore, over twenty years ago, when the recall was unheard of, I gave it to those who elected me. According to an authority which I have here, in Switzerland the most important laws on the statute-book are due to the congress of Parliament, and not to the initiation. It is responsible for all laws pertaining to centralization, civil status laws, marriages, divorce, bankruptcy, Customs Tariffs, railway purchases, employés liability, factory laws, uniting cantonal, civil, and criminal laws into Federal code, military organization, and pure food laws. Our opponents tell us that we shall not succeed in getting the people to sanction our proposed amendments of the Constitution, and, no doubt, they are right in thinking it will be difficult to change 250,000 negative votes into as many affirmative votes. But let us see what has been the experience in Switzerland. In every instance the citizens of that country have refused to sanction advanced movements. I have here a list of the results of forty-four referenda, which took place between 1875 and 1898. A proposal for the alteration of the Constitution, and having to do with bank-notes, was negatived by 193,000 to 120,000, and, again, in 1880 by 260,000 to 121,000. But the third time that the proposal was referred to the Switzers, in1891, it was carried by a majority of 78,000. It must be remembered that Switzerland has a population of only 3,000,000, whereas we have a population of more than 4,500,000, and our women-folk have votes, so that the adverse party in Switzerland in 1880 was relatively much stronger than the adverse party here last year, when there was a majority of 250,000 against our proposals. Let me mention a few of the Swiss referenda. As honorable members may know, Switzerland is the home of the bureau system. The universal stamp, which carries a letter all over the world, came from that country, and so did the parcel post, which has been such a boon to every community in the world. By an agreement between the nations, and with money provided by them, an international bureau is established at Berne. The wise statesmen of Switzerland thought that if they stood astride two continents, and established a Department in Washington, it would be well. The highest salary paid in that office was only ,£400, but the Swiss rose en masse, demanded a referendum, and swept it out of existence. If this Government would put forward the proposal referred to in a splendid article in the Age newspaper recently, which caused my admiration, and the views in which have my support, giving the people who elected us the right to say what we shall legislate on, the people could not oppose it. On one day in three years the voters are paramount. By their sovereign power they, create this Parliament, electing honorable members to make their laws. After that, for three years, if we were so inclined, we could defy them. But if the people had the right to control every act of legislation, they would still keep their power over us, and I believe, the arrangement would be good for Parliament and the community. I think that the Government of Switzerland was right on the occasion to which I have just referred, but the Swiss citizens had not been consulted, and would not permit the thing to be done. There was an initiative demand for the right to have adequately paid work provided. That was lost by 250,000 votes. In 1894 a demand, in reference to a surplus of the Customs, was refused by no fewer than 200,000 votes. A proposal for the representation of Switzerland in foreign countries was defeated by over 57,000 votes. A proposal relating to the law of discipline in the Federal Army was defeated by 260,000. Here let me enter my protest against the tendency which seems to be growing in our military service to establish the control of those whom the Minister of Home Affairs has called “ gilt-spurred roosters.” I fear that our Army is being rapidly transformed from a citizen service to a glittering copy of the armies of older lands. That would be a great pity. To America we owe a splendid library of information based on the results of direct taxation. Indeed, if you put all the books published in the other parts of the world into one alcove, and those published under the Stars and Stripes into another, the latter would be found twice or four times as numerous as the for- mer collection. The people of America are revolting against having members of the legal profession in Parliament. In their Congress, five-sixths of the members belong to the legal profession, and God help any community that is ruled by lawyers. This. month, in nine of the States, voting is totake place to enable the people, not only to elect their Parliaments, but to exert their control over their Judicature, so that justice may be properly administered. In one State and another they are fighting the Federal Constitution, as in the municipal councils of England they are fighting the effete and barbarous system of legislation under which the. Homeland is at present ruled. No Parliament which representsonly money can be called democratic or advanced, and no man in that dear England that we love is considered worthy of having a vote because of the rich, red blood that runs in his veins. He must hold property or he must rent it. To-day the statement of Benjamin Webster still holds true, the franchise in Great Britain is a property franchise. Property may consist of money or of other things. Suppose a man were given the right to vote for possessing a donkey valued at ^25 ; as long: as the donkey lived he would be entitled to. exercise the franchise, but if, before an election, the donkey died, he would lose his vote. In that case, who would hold the vote, the man or the donkey? That illustration shows the barbarous character of the franchise under which the House of Commons is elected. With the exception! of the lords spiritual, and a few brilliant, men who have been made peers, 97 percent, of the members of the House of Lord* are there because they were born of certain women by certain fathers, and even though they may be semi-idiots they have the right to go there. I have known a member of the House of Lords who was a drivelling idiot to be taken out of his bed, put into a cab, and driven to the Houseof Lords to vote with one of the partiesthere. The Annals of the AmericanAcademy of Political Science say - -
Not only has the movement for direct legislation captured a number of States and prepared’ the way for sweeping victories in others at the coming fall election, but it has also made con-, verts of distinguished public men, notably William Jennings Bryan, Governor WoodrowWilson, and Theodore Roosevelt, to say nothingof a goodly array of governors, the United’ States senators and members of the nationalHouse of Representatives. In these latex dayseven a so-called Conservative or reactionary statesman with political ambitions seeks to avoid expressing an adverse opinion on this popular tenet of the progressive faith.
Among others who have supported the principle of the referendum are William Ewart Gladstone and the late Marquis of Salisbury. In the Parliament before last, the third plank of the British Conservative party’s platform was that of the referendum.
– In relation only to the fiscal issue.
– No. I speak of the time when Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister ; but 1 am not suggesting that their proposal extended also to the adoption of the initiative. In moments like these, when challenges are hurled from one side of the House to the other, one is apt to look up one’s old newspaper files, and I have here a leading article which appeared in the Age of 28th February, 1910, from which I desire to quote. It will be remembered that it was proposed that the Financial Agreement made with the States by the Fusion Government should be inserted in the Constitution, to remain there for all time.
– Oh, no!
– The honorable member may have a different opinion, but he must let me put mine before the House. Mr. Murray, then Premier of Victoria, speaking at the Australian Natives’ Association at Kew, said of the Financial Agreement-
If the agreement does not prove satisfactory the people who put it in can take it out. This hostile attitude towards placing the agreement in the Constitution shows that the people are afraid to trust themselves.
That was a fine piece of sophistry. The Age, in a leading article dealing with the question, showed how difficult it would be to remove that agreement from the Constitution once it had been inserted.It explained the difficulty in this way -
The three larger States would have 1,850,000 votes, and they might cast 70 per cent. of them, or 1,295,000, in favour of Commonwealth liberation. But the three smaller States possessing 370,000 votes, and casting a similar percentage of 259,000 against reform, could block it. We should thus behold this position : -
We thus see it to be true that while a bare majority of the States and electors may, under a Fusion spur, enact this iniquity, 259,000 electors in the smaller States could hold in check the expressed desires of 1,295,000 in the larger States. .
The Age went on to say -
We must admit that all things are possible, in circumstances which have so induced men who were sound Protectionists to connive at the return of such Free Traders as Winter-Cooke and Messrs. Foxton, Archer, Sinclair, and Bowden, not to speak of men like Messrs. Palmer, Wilson, and Tilley Brown.
Strangly enough, of the eight members of Parliament mentioned in that article, only two were returned at the following general election,and one of the two, the honorable member for Echuca, was re-elected by a minority vote. This was a splendidlywritten article peering into the future, and I hope that the still more brilliant article published in last Saturday’s issue of the Age will result in the referendum and the initiative being the law of the land in Australia, so that the people will hold sway. The Age article continued -
Mr. Wynne, Mr. Crouch, Mr. Irvine, and Mr. Harper all declaimed against the compact. Mr. Storrer was also hostile to it. But they all voted for it.
The honorable member for Flinders said here, a day or so ago, that he intended to vote against these amendments. It is another case of history repeating itself. He has enunciated, in this very Chamber, that which this great newspaper, the Age, said he would. In the last Parliament, he represented a majority of the electors in his constituency ; to-day he represents only a minority. If there had been only one instead of two candidates opposed to him, I do not think that he would have been reelected. When he enters this Chamber and talks in his own arrogant fashion, my memory flashes back to the time when he, as Premier of Victoria, having behind him the largest majority that a State Premier has ever had - a majority of thirty-five in a House of ninety-five - introduced one of the vilest measures ever passed in the British Empire. I refer to his Coercion Bill. The Coercion Bill introduced into the House of Commons on the evening of the day when the poor dead clay of Cavendish and Burke was buried, was not as severe as that brought in by the honorable member. Under the British Coercion Act to which I refer, the most drastic that has been passed during the last fifty years, an accused person could obtain bail ; but under that introduced by the honorable member for Flinders, bail was not allowed. Then, again, where three months’ imprisonment was the penalty fixed under the British Act, twelve months’ imprisonment was provided for under the Irvine Bill ; and where a fine of ^25 was provided for in the British Act, a fine of ,£100 was provided for in that introduced by the honorable member for Flinders. It also provided that it should be an offence punishable by imprisonment to help the women and children of the strikers. I told the honorable member in the House .that, even if that were the law, I should not hesitate to break it. I speak as one who was deceived in the honorable member, for he threatened at one time to reform the most fossilized Upper House in Australia - the Legislative Council of Victoria. I remember that, on one occasion, when I told him that the Legislative Council had thrown out a. Democratic measure, he replied, “ Doctor, those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”
– The honorable member is now going beyond the question before the Chair.
– I intended to connect this reference to the honorable member with the question before the Chair, by pointing out that there is nothing to fear in regard to the proposed referenda.
– Does the honorable member say that he was once a follower of the honorable member for Flinders?
– I was, as long as he was straight, but as soon as he became crooked I left him.
– Order !
– I hold that we should have the referendum and the initiative. In Switzerland, every man is a citizen in the truest sense of the word. A pauper is unknown there, and there is no such thing as a pauper burial. Under the Swiss Constitution, a human being fashioned in God’s likeness cannot be dishonored by being buried as a pauper. We are told that it is impossible to walk for half-an-hour in any large street in an American city without meeting human beings who have been ruined by the trusts. I admit that it is difficult to find, any one who has been directly injured by the trusts in Australia, but I should like to reply to the question put by the honorable member for Flinders, in his Equity Court style, “ How could the Ministry fix prices?” My reply is that the woman who, on a small wage, is trying to keep a roof over her head, and who feels the pinch when the price of sugar or bread goes up, would be able to tell him how to do so. Bread has been sold here at a price in excess of that which was demanded when the price of flour was considerably higher. We are told that we could not control prices; but, with the referendum and the initiative, we could control any. combine and destroy any trust. There is only one nation) that has beaten the American Tobacco Combine. The Honorary Minister quoted from Charles Edward Russell’s great book, and I propose to quote from it the following passage appearing at page 253 : -
When the American Tobacco Company had beaten the American retail tobacco dealer into a proper pulp of humility and subservience it crossed to England, reorganized, itself under a convenient alias, absorbed all the leading British manufacturers, and spread its genial influence through the British Isles, ruining tradesmen and crushing competition. Thence it extended its domain to outlying British possessions, and at last descended with its familiar tactics upon Australia.
Two great Australian firms, one in Sydney, the other in Melbourne, united to resist the invader, and for purposes of stronger defence they formed a stock company. There was much valiantly planned action that never came to the battlefield, for the contest was over before it was fairly begun. One day the Australians awoke to find that the Tobacco Trust had quietly secured a majority of the new company’s stock. After that the Australian tobacco market was at the Trust’s mercy.
The Combine here, to its credit be it said, has not shown the same firm grip. It has as its head in Victoria a keen business man whose brain potentialties few can surpass. I pay this meed of praise to Mr. Cameron, the managing director, who is a broadminded man, and recognises, I think, that if we had the power, the Tobacco Monopoly would be one of the first in the Commonwealth to be nationalized. I once told him that the better the Combine treated their employes, and the more uptodate were their works, the better we should treat them if we took over their industry. Let me explain very briefly how Japan fought and defeated the Tobacco Combine which taught the Japanese how to smoke cigarettes. The Combine laughed to scorn the offer of the Japanese Government. It had expended over ^2,000,000 in its works and manufactories. Another offer was made by the Japanese Government, which was also refused. Then the Government of that country entered into competition with the Trust. They fought it through the Customs House. They raised the duty on tobacco to 250 per cent., so that cigars which cost them £10 per 1,000 cost the Combine ^35 per 1,000. Even the Combine could not stand that. The following year it made an offer to the Japanese Government, but that Government refused to entertain it. They said, “ We will fight on.” They have fought on, and have defeated the Combine. They purchased its works at a nominal cost, and Japan is now fighting the Combine right down to Bombay, on the west side of India, and is beating it. While I do not like to see white men defeated at any time by coloured races, I glory in the fact that this Trust was beaten by the Japanese Government. Upon anything in the form of tobacco entering Japan the Trust has now to pay duty up to 355 per cent. I would like, by means of the initiative and referendum, to secure a. Tariff for Australia which would be truly protective in its incidence - a Tariff which would protect our industries effectively. Many of these would be more successful than they are if they enjoyed an adequate Protection. Our present Tariff is a revenue-producing one. I hope to live to see the day when we shall have a really protective Tariff in operation. That result can be achieved by means of the initiative and the referendum, because if the vote of the people declared that we should have such a Tariff, no honorable member of this House would be able to say otherwise.
.- The effect of the proposals of the Government can only be fully comprehended when they are grouped together and analyzed. When we see how the additional powers which Ministers seek are intended to be exercised, we get an idea of the far-reaching effect of those proposals, and of the tremendous inroad which they would make on the Federal system of government. One important fact to remember is that every extension of power which is sought under these proposals implies a further extension in respect of the thirty-nine subjects upon which we are already authorized to legislate under our Constitution. The addition of a new power operates as a removal of a restriction on the existing power, and a corresponding extension of the power. I wish, first, to deal with the proposal relating to the question of trade and commerce, and, in this connexion, I intend to refer to a memorandum which has been mentioned more than once by honorable members. My only regret is that when thev mentioned it they did not fairly set forth its purport and effect. I wish to say that anybody who seeks to put the responsibility attaching to that memorandum upon the honorable member for Ballarat is not dealing fairly with him. I accept the fullest responsibility for that document. Let us look at its contents. When the people of South Africa were considering the form of the Constitution which they would adopt, a communication was forwarded to the Commonwealth asking for information on the subject. So far as I can remember, not having possession of the file, they desired to ascertain - the experience of Australia with regard to the methods adopted in the distribution of functions between the central Government and the previously existing local Governments.
Mr. Garran undertook the duty of prepar ing that memorandum. He set out his views at great length in that document, only portions of which have been quoted in this House. He first dealt with the distribution of the legislative powers between the Commonwealth and the States. He said -
In the distribution of legislative powers between the Commonwealth and the States two main points stand out -
the grant to the Federal Parliament of legislative power as to specified subjects only, leaving the general residue of legislative power to the States ; and
the fact that Federal legislative power was, for the most part, not expressed to be exclusive, so that the laws and legislative powers of the States, on subjects as to which the Federal Parliament had power to legislate, remained unimpaired till superseded by Federal legislation.
There he set out the main features of our Constitution. He next dealt with the Constitution of Canada. He said -
On both these points a departure was made from the example of Canada ; and the American model was closely followed ; and on both points there can be little doubt that experience has justified the course taken.
Why did not honorable members opposite refer to that part of the memorandum? Why did they omit this vital portion of it ? Mr. Garran proceeded -
Federal legislative power over a specific subjectmatter is complete in itself and paramount, and carries with it all incidental powers necessary for its exercise. Federal legislative power with respect to the residue after specific State powers have been deducted is apt to find itself hampered in unexpected directions by the intrusion of a specific State power.
In Canada (speaking generally) the legislative power of the Provinces is specific, that of the Dominion residuary ; and both powers are exclusive. But this general statement requires considerable modification. To be precise, what the Canadian Constitution does is this: -
It specifies (in section 92) the matters in which the Provincial Legislatures have exclusive legislative powers.
It gives the Dominion Parliament legis lative power as to all matters not coming within the classes of subjects assigned exclusively to the Provincial Legislatures.
It proceeds, “ for greater certainty, but not so as to restrict the generality “ of the residuary gift to declare that “ notwithstanding anything in this Act, the exclusive legislative power of the Parliament of Canada extends to certain enumerated classes of subjects.’ “
It follows that the Dominion Parliament has specific as well as residuary powers, and also that the specific powers of the Provinces, being subject to the paramount specific powers of the Dominion, become, in a sense, residuary powers.
The netresult is - at least to an outside observer - extremely complicated ; and has not been made less so by a labyrinth of judicial decision.
Yet honorable members opposite ask us to follow the Canadian model.
The specific powers of the Commonwealth Parliament are much more numerous and cover a far wider field than the United States Congress, e.g., Congress has no power with respect to trade-marks (except as relates to Inter-State and foreign trade), banking and company law (except incidentally to the exercise of some specific power), marriage and divorce, Inter- State extradition, insurance.
We have been told that our Constitution is a restricted one. Yet Mr. Garran points out that it is much wider than is the United States Constitution. In that he agrees with Mr. Bryce and other great authorities, but, unfortunately, differs from such authorities is the honorable member for East Sydney. Mr. Garran says -
So far the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament have, on the whole, proved to be adequate.
So that he does not recommend giving, to it increased original powers as is now proposed on so large a scale. He further sa ys -
Attention may, however, be directed to a few points in which Australian (and, so far as it is applicable, American) experience has shown difficulties and weakness.
Then he says -
These are his concluding words -
It would be more satisfactory, if possible, to take power over “ trade and commerce “ generally.
This memorandum was prepared by Mr.. Garran during my absence in Queensland, and I indorsed on it that I fully agreed with the views expressed in the memorandum. The South African people asked us, in effect, how the Australian Federation was working, and whether we were satisfied with our system ; and Mr. Garran then made his report, in which he said that on both points there could be little doubt that experience justified the action taken. The first point, was the granting to the Federal Parliament of general power, and the second the reservation to the States of all the residuary powers. The opinion that I indorsed was that we stood by the Federal Constitution as it was adopted by the people, and that the experience of its working had justified the action we had taken.
– But that it would bemore satisfactory - go on.
– As regards increased power, it was distinctly stated by Mr. Garran in the memorandum that the powers already given to the Federation had, on the whole, proved to be adequate; and that is what I say to-day. Mr. Garran then pointed out that in South Africa they had to consider the question whether it was possible to do what we had not done, and remove some of the restrictions. But that is not an indorsement by anybody here, recommending the people to amend the Australian Constitution in any respect. The specific recommendations of alterations suggested for Australia I shall refer to later on. Honorable members have to consider what were the conditions in Australia when that memorandum was written. I have repeatedy stated, thoughhonorable members opposite have not done me the courtesy of saying so, that I do not consider that we have adequate power under the present Constitution. When the memorandum was written, we were dealing with the question of trusts and combines; and, owing to the restrictions under the trade and commerce section, we were of opinion that we could not deat satisfactorily with trusts and combines within a State. 1 have always said that it was necessary to amend the power dealing with trade and commerce so as to enable the Parliament fully and completely to deal with trusts and combines as far as it is necessary to prevent them acting to the detriment of the public. That was, possibly, what was in Mr. Garran’s mind when the memorandum was written; and it was partly because of the difficulty I have indicated that the paragraph referred to was inserted. But the writer had not the intention of that being taken as a recommendation to the Australian people to invade the self-governing powers of the States to the extent that is now proposed. The Liberal Government were prepared, not only to express their convictions in this respect, but to act on them. We were the Government that introduced the present anti-trust legislation, and we initiated the only prosecution that has taken place under it, except a recent and subsidiary prosecution. If honorable members look at the return presented to the Senate in 1908 they will see a? long list of trusts and combines which we had the courage to investigate and examine. ‘ Unlike honorable members opposite, we did not remain in office tor two years and a half without officially investigating every possible case ; and the records show what we attempted in this connexion. Honorable members opposite speak in terms of the strongest condemnation of trusts and combines, which, the AttorneyGeneral tells us, are responsible for the industrial unrest. That, however, is a statement which the honorable gentleman would find very difficult to prove. What trusts or combines in Australia are responsible for the industrial unrest to-day? Is any trust or combine responsible for the unrest in the agricultural industry, in connexion with which a Federal union is being formed ? And what trust or combine is responsible for the unrest in boilermaking, saw-milling, and other industries which have been before the Arbitration Court? Then, again, what is the attitude of the Labour party generally towards trusts and combines? On the 28th February last year, Mr. Edden, a Labour member in New South Wales, said that if the Coal Vend were dissolved it would be most disastrous to the Newcastle district - that any successful attempt to smash the Vend would, under the circumstances, be a terrible thing. Then Senator Henderson, who, I think, ought to command the respect of honorable members opposite, has said that the Coal Vend has materially increased, not only the selling price, which he believes it was entitled to do, but also the wages paid to the men; and that the Coal Combine had done very great service up to the present. Further, Senator Lynch, in speaking of the Shipping Combine, said that, in season and out of season, it had been pointed out that it was owing to suicidal competition that the owners were unable to pay a decent living wage; and that he had urged them to combine, but that they had been tardy in taking the advice. Here we have members of the Labour party advocating the formation of trusts and combines, with the object of raising prices, so that Labour may get a “ cut “ in the shape of wages. We may now understand why it is that for two years and a half the Government have not seen fit toinvestigate the operations of trusts or combines. The Liberal Government, on the other hand, passed an Act under which the only serious prosecution yet initiated took place. It cannot be said that the present power is absolutely futile; and we are told in the judgment given in the case of Champion v. Ames, in the Supreme Court of the United States -
The cases cited show that the power to regulate commerce among the several States is vested in Congress as absolutely as it would be. in a single Government, having in its Constitution the same restrictions in the exercise of power as are found in the Constitution of the United States; that such power is plenary, complete in itself, and may be exerted by Congress to the utmost extent, subject only to such limitations as the Constitution imposes upon the exercise of the powers granted by it; and that in determining the character of the regulations to be adopted Congress has a large discretion which is not to be controlled by the Courts, simply’ because, in their opinion, such regulations may not be’ the best or most effective that could be employed.
We have complete power to deal with InterState trade as we possess the whole InterState trade and commerce power without any restriction. According to the Supreme Court of the United States, “ such power is plenary, complete in itself, and may be exerted by Congress to the utmost extent, subject only to such limitations as the Constitution imposes.”
– Yet the trusts go on merrily.
– What has Labour done to prevent that? There has been a Labour Government in power in New South Wales for nearly three years, and what has it done? There is a Labour Government in Western Australia; has it introduced an anti-trust law? Did the Labour Government in South Australia introduce such legislation? Honorable members opposite talk about trusts and combines which create discontent and unrest, but they have not the courage to frame measures for their control. They declare that they can do nothing. Frank B. Kellogg, the special counsel for the United States of America in the Standard Oil case, has pointed out in an article which he has written, . that the largest trust that the world has ever seen has been prosecuted successfully, and its combination of thirtyseven constituent elements dissolved. This is from a letter written by one of its competitors, a business man -
Comparing present conditions in the oil business with the conditions of 1904 and 1905, when the activity of the Government first began in the matter of investigating and publication, there is no doubt but what the independent interests have been aided and bettered by what the Government has done. The rigor of monopolistic control and abuses certainly has been broken .by the proceedings of the Government through all its departments, but especially through the dissolution suit.
I think I can safely say that the piratical methods heretofore employed by the then monopoly have almost entirely disappeared, such as the acquiring of information concerning competitive shipments now forbidden by federal statute and by the statutes of many States, the employment of bogus companies, the cutting of prices below cost for the purpose of driving out competition, securing the countermanding of orders acquired by competitors, misrepresentation of goods, and, in fact, nearly the whole category of unfair methods set out in the Government’s suit have disappeared from the arena of competition.
Although members of the Labour party here say that we have not power to pass the necessary legislation, the United States Congress, under a constitutional power which is the same as our own, has passed legislation which has proved to a certain extent successful.
– Do I understand that the Oil Trust has been dissolved?
– I have shown that the combination has been dissolved.
– Is it not a fact that it evaded payment of all the fines inflicted?
– The point with which I am concerned now is that this Parliament, like the United States Congress, can, under the Inter-State trade and commerce power, legislate for the control and regulation of Inter-State trusts, and if the law already in existence is defective, can remedy its defects. The prosecution of the Standard Oil Trust put an end to most of the nefarious practices of the trust.
– The honorable member has only read the statement of one man.
– I have read the statement of a business man who was a competitor of the trust. Honorable members will say as much as they can about trusts and combines when on the public platforms, but they will forget to tell the people that they have done nothing against these organizations, and are not willing to be too severe when wages are increased, even though the increases are paid for by the consumers. According to them, .trusts are the highest development of modern civilization, and, like complicated machinery, are essential to commercial development. We on this side believe that a monopoly which is injuring the community is wrong, no matter whom it may benefit incidentally, and whenever we find big combines and monopolies operating to the detriment of the public, we shall have the courage, when returned to power, to prosecute them., to put an end to their nefarious practices.
– You would not go so far as to nationalize them, if need be?
– I am not in favour of the extreme nationalistic proposals of thehonorable member. Apparently, he thinks, that the only way to deal with trusts and combines is to nationalize the industry withwhich they are connected.
– I did not say that.
– Is not the Minister in favour of nationalization? There has been some talk on the subject of labour and employment. Ever since I have been in public life, I have stated the belief that every human being is entitled to live according to a decent standard, and that it is an offence to the national conscience when living falls below that standard. Literals and Labour members are agreed about that. In Australia, we desire that, every person shall earn fair wages and liveunder reasonable conditions. But whereashonorable members opposite are of opinion that the regulating power should reside: solely in the central authority, we think: differently. I have never held that theentire control of labour and industry should* be left wholly to the Commonwealth,, as is proposed by these Bills. In- 1907, this Parliament desired that every person employed in a protected industry should receive a minimum rate of pay, and the Government of the day made a proposal to this House. As the Labour party did not think that proposal went farenough, that Government left office. Now, because our proposal did not go as far as the Labour party says that it wishes to go, it accuses us of inconsistency, since wecannot agree to the proposals they are now making.- Let me quote a passage from a memorandum written at the time, with, which honorable members opposite did not agree -
Obviously, freedom of trade within the Commonwealth opened the markets of Australia to the competition of all Australian manufacturers. But, nevertheless, the rates of wages in several States for similar work vary, partly because of the different rates fixed by the different State industrial tribunals, and partly in the absence of rates fixed by any such authority.
At that time, although we were giving protection to enable the protected industries to pay reasonable rates of wages, it was difficult to fix a standard. The difficulty arose from two causes. In the first place, the awards given by industrial authorities conflicted, and.it was felt to be unfair that manufacturers in one State should be forced to pay more than their competitors in another State. I was, and am, prepared to assist a Federal remedy to put an end to that state of things.
– Then the honorable member is going our way.
– I have always held my present views on this subject.
– No one abuses this party more than does the honorable member.
– I have never abused any honorable members. I have always tried to observe the high standard of rectitude which the honorable member has set up for himself. If 1 have fallen short of it, I must apologize and express my regret that his standard is so high that it is very difficult to reach. To return to the question with which I was dealing, the position in 1007 was that in some States there was no industrial tribunal in existence, and for that I said the States were to be condemned. I have here a return obtained to-day from the Government Statistician, showing the Wages Boards and industrial tribunals in the States in 1907 and in 1912. In 1907 there was in New South Wales a Court of Industrial Arbitration constituted under the Act of 1905. In Victoria, which was the first State in Australia to lay down, under a Liberal leadership, the doctrine that a minimum standard should be. fixed - forty-nine Wages Boards were in existence. In Queensland there was neither an Industrial Court nor a Wages Board. In South Australia there were nineteen Wages Boards; in Western Australia there was an Arbitration Court, and three Boards of Conciliation, and in Tasmania there was neither an Arbitration Court nor a Wages Board. In view of the fact that we were giving Protection to Australian manufacturers, we could not but feel dis satisfied with the conditions then existing. For that reason we were prepared to adopt a system under which the formation of Wages Boards in the States would be encouraged, and to constitute an Inter-State Commission to bring about some regulation of industry, so that a minimum standard might be adopted. When the Excise Act was held to be invalid the Federal power was not satisfactory, in view of the conditions then existing. But what is the position to-day ? The Government now propose that the Federal Parliament shall take over from the States the complete industrial power. Having shown the position in1907, I propose to compare it with the position today. In New South Wales in 1907 there was an Industrial Arbitration Court ; to-day there is there a Court of Industrial Arbitration and a Clerical Workers Act in force; whilst there are no less than 136 Wages. Boards in existence. In Victoria there are in Wages Boards.
– There are to-day 120.
– These figures were supplied to me to-day by the Government Statistician. In Queensland there are seventy-four Wages Boards constituted under the Wages Board Act of 1908, and an improved Industrial Peace Act is being introduced.
– Improved? Will the honorable member allow me to differ from him ?
– Certainly ; we are always prepared to allow the honorable member to do so. In South Australia there arefiftysix Wages Boards. In Western Australia there is an Arbitration Court which made up to 1909 248 awards - as will be seen from the Board of Trade memorandum, page11 - and nineteen of thesewere extant in 19 10;while in Tasmania there are twenty Wages Boards constituted under the Acts passed in 1910 and 191 1. In other words, in 1907, whenour proposals were put before the people, there were in Australia only sixty-eight Wages Boards; whereas to-day we have 397. Wages Boards are being constituted in connexion with nearly every industry in all the States, with the exception of Western Australia, where, as I havemen tioned, there is in existence an Arbitration Court. How can it be said, then, that the States have not struggled valiantly to bring about better industrial conditions? Since all these Wages Boards have been constituted, so that in nearly every industry a man can obtain relief, why do the Labour party propose to seek this grant of power, which will practically destroy the States’ power to pass industrial legislation, or transfer it completely to the Central Government?
– Not necessarily.
– Potentially, it would. The Government are asking for a certain power, and the proper way in which to measure a power is to see what can be done under it. The Attorney-General says, “ If you want to take a power, make no mistake about it, but take it.” He seems to be acting up to that maxim in this case. The proposed amendment of the Constitution would give the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws with respect to -
Labour, employment, and unemployment, including -
the terms and. conditions of labour and employment in any trade, industry, or calling ;
the rights and obligations of employers and employes;
the maintenance of industrial peace; and
the settlement of industrial disputes.
Every industry in Australia would, under this power, potentially pass over to the control of the Federation. It is not limited solely to the prevention and settlement of disputes ; but is very much more extensive. We would have power to fix every term and condition under which employment should be given. We would be able to do so without making any inquiries. We could, for instance, under this proposed power, take the Rural Workers Union log, make it a schedule to a Bill, and enact that it shall operate in respect to all rural industries throughout Australia.
– But would we do so?
– We can only judge by what honorable members opposite proposed to do a little while ago. They proposed to embody in an Act of Parliament a provision that in every award made by the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, preference to unionists should be provided for. Honorable members recognised that we had not the constitutional power to do anything of the kind, and ultimately the Bill was withdrawn.
– We could so legislate under the power we are now seeking.
– That is so. In the case to which I have referred, honorable members opposite did not propose to allow the President of the Court . any discretion in this regard. They did not favour a judi cial preference to unionists, such as was previously provided for. They desired to make the preference absolute.
– We have tried to do for honest workmen what the- honorable member and his party have done for honest lawyers.
– Does the honorable member say that preference to unionists in the legal profession is absolute?
– I merely say tnat we have tried to do for honest workmen what the honorable member and his party have done for honest lawyers.
– We can only judge tne honorable member and his party by the Bill which they brought in to give absolute preference to unionists in every award of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– That was the policy of the Government.
– It was ; and if this grant of power were conceded by the people tomorrow, one of the first acts placed on the statute-book of the Commonwealth by the present Government would be a measure providing for absolute preference to unionists.
– Let all the workers become unionists, and they will be quite safe.
– The honorable member desires every man to be a unionist, and, what is more, a unionist of his own political type.
– Not at all.
– He desires that unions shall have power to make a levy on fheit members to raise funds for political purposes.
– I do not.
– I am glad to learn that there is one member of the Labour party who does not believe it right to compel members of a union to contribute to a fund for political purposes.
– And he is the most rabid unionist in the party.
– Then there is hope of redemption for all. Why did honorable members opposite remove from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act the section prohibiting preference where unions had rules for making levies on their members for political purposes?
– We left the right to the unions.
– This, then, is the position. The memorandum drawn up by the honorable member for Angas, when At torney-General, shows the alterations of the industrial power we were prepared to make in the Constitution. I have shown that our actions have throughout been consistent.
– Consistent only in their inconsistency.
– No; I have always taken up the same attitude.
– Hear, hear ! Consistent in doing nothing.
– The honorable member knows that is not so. I can show by the records what I have done. Unlike him, I voted against the proposal to bring agricultural workers under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, believing that the control of the agricultural industry could be better carried out locally by those who knew more about local conditions than we could possibly know. That has always been my contention. Lt would be absolutely unjust to make an award of the Federal Court apply to rural workers in all parts of Australia.
– Why is a Wages Board, refused to the rural workers in Victoria ?
– That is a matter for the State Parliament to consider. I have been pointing out to the honorable member that the principle upon which I have acted is that industries should be locally controlled. I have further contended that, in protected industries which come into competition with one another as between State and State, or where there are industrial awards which conflict, or where there are no industrial tribunals, it would be proper to endow the Inter-State Commission with power to correct these anomalies. I have pointed out that in every State of the Commonwealth, power is being exercised to constitute these industrial tribunals. I have in my possession statistics which prove that an enormous increase in wages has taken place as the result of awards made by these State industrial tribunals. In Victoria alone no less than 88,694 persons were enjoying the benefits conferred by these State tribunals in i9ri. To-day, as. the result of their decisions, a living wage is a reality. I do not say that complete justice has yet been done to the workers. There are some awards which are not accomplishing all that they ought to accomplish, but power exists to improve them. My hope is that in these State tribunals enonomic justice will be done, and that the Federal power will be directed to securing uniformity. So far as Australia is concerned, I believe that the desire to enact humani- tarian legislation is common to all classes. But what do the proposals before us amount to? They are not confined to an amendment of the Constitution to enable us to deal with injurious combines; they are not a request for power merely to prevent and settle disputes. But they constitute an insidious attack upon our whole Federal system. The people of this continent are to be asked to destroy the Constitution under which we have lived so happily during the past twelve years, and under which we have progressed in a manner which has evoked the admiration of the world. Speaking in Sydney the other day, Mr. Holman stated that his Government had gone as far as it was possible to go in the direction of enacting industrial legislation dealing with the matter of wages. He said he believed that the good to be achieved from industrial legislation had largely been achieved. He believed that we had come pretty well to the end of the benefits that we could gain for the worker through mere protective and regulative legislation. He was speaking of a State which has complete power to legislate upon any subject that it chooses.
– He is going out.
– He will be no loss.
– I am quoting the utterances of a man who enjoys the confidence of his party.
– No, he does not.
– Then why is he not thrown out?
– Because Willis is sticking to him.
– Mr. Holman points out that the next step is to see that the worker gets decent commodities for his wage and a decent home. Is not the regulation of rents and prices in contemplation ? Does not that sound very much like an echo of the statement made by the AttorneyGeneral the other day? The desire of honorable members opposite is not to amend the Constitution on Federal lines, but to alter its whole structure, so- that State powers will be undermined, so that this Parliament will possess the power of nationalization, and so that the Labour party may put into practical operation the dream of Socialists - the nationalization of every instrument of production, distribution, and -exchange.
– Two statements were made by the honor - able member for Darling Downs which demand an immediate reply, and I can offer no more effective reply to them than is afforded by his own official memorandum. Although the document has been quoted several times, it seems necessary, in view of the speech which he has just delivered, to quote it once more. In a burst of generosity he stated that he accepted full responsibility for the memorandum which was forwarded to the authorities in South Africa in reply to their request for certain information relating to our Constitution. Then he most ungenerously added that Mr. Garran prepared the document while he was absent in Queensland. The request made by the South African Government was for-
In reply, the memorandum prepared at the instance of the Attorney-General of the day, reads -
The specific power should be defined in words as general as possible, avoiding, as far as possible, all conditions, exceptions, and limitations, e.g., “Trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.” The limitation to Inter-State and external commerce bisects the subject of trade and commerce, and makes a hard and fast division of jurisdiction of which it is difficult to determine the boundaries, and which does not correspond , with any natural distinction in the conduct of business. It would bc more satisfactory, if possible, to take power over “ trade and commerce “ generally.
– If feasible.
– That was not a question for the honorable member for Darling Downs to determine, but for the Government of South Africa, which sought the information. The memorandum distinctly states that if the South African authorities considered it possible it would lie better to take power over trade and commerce generally. That statement is as specific and pointed as it could possibly be. So far from the honorable member being able to shelter himself behind Mr. Garran, the fact remains that he attached to. the memorandum this footnote -
I have carefully perused the memorandum prepared by Mr. Garran during my absence in Queensland, and I fully agree with the views expressed.
That footnote is signed “ Littleton E. Groom, Attorney-General.” This document passed through the Department of Ex ternal Affairs in the usual way, and the honorable member for Ballarat was at that time the Minister who presided over that Department, while he was also at the same time Prime Minister. If I occupied the position of the honorable member, I should be ashamed to acknowledge that such an important document from a sister Dominion was received by that Department, and a reply forwarded to it, without the Prime Minister holding himself responsible for the statements it contained. One cannot conceive that a document of that description would be passed through the Department in the loose manner suggested by the honorable member for Darling Downs. That is a sufficient reply to his statement in regard to his present attitude towards this Bill. Then he spoke of our industrial powers. I heartily commend him for his statement that Labour members and Liberals alike are earnest in their desire that throughout Australia reasonable wages, hours, and conditions of employment shall obtain. The trouble we have to contend with is the rather belated conversion of honorable members opposite to this principle which we have advocated for years. The honorable member for Darling Downs differs from us as to the means by which those conditions may be brought about. He stated that he had never yet agreed to the doctrine that the settlement of hours, wages, and conditions of employment throughout Australia should be vested in a central authority. I will quote once more from the memorandum forwarded to South Africa, in which he indorsed the views that were expressed by Mr. Garran -
Conciliation and Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. The limitation to disputes which cross a State boundary line again bisects the subject and leads to difficulties of interpretation. And the wording is open to criticism in another respect ; it does not deal with the whole subject-matter of the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, but is limited to a particular “ means “ of dealing with them - namely, conciliation and arbitration. A subject-matter ought, where practicable, to be so expressed as to allow every means which are appropriate to the end arrived at ; and this power would have been more serviceable had it stood as a power to legislate with respect to “the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes,” without qualification.
This memorandum is indorsed and approved by the honorable member for Darling Downs as Attorney-General. The honorable member has not only changed his mind in regard to that matter, but he is opposed to hig leader, who, in the name of the
Liberal party, in December, 1910, issued a manifesto, in which he said -
Among the amendments for which public opinion is now ripe are those bringing trusts, combines, and corporations under the law_ and harmonizing competitive industrial conditions throughout the Commonwealth.
It will be seen that, all parties in this House have, at one time or another, identified themselves repeatedly with an expressed desire that the industrial conditions throughout Australia should be uniform, and the competitive conditions between the States obviated. The honorable member for Darling Downs points to the large increase of Wages Boards; but, as a matter of fact, these Boards are perhaps the real centre of all the trouble just now in regard to industrial conditions. There are more difficulties connected with Wages Boards than with any other method of settling disputes. In New South Wales, for instance, the awards of the Wages Boards are uniform throughout the State; whereas, in Victoria, they are confined to certain specified districts, principally the cities and towns, and the larger centres of population. The consequence of this is that the whole’ back country of Victoria is in no way controlled by the Boards, and, therefore, Victorian manufacturers, traders, and those engaged in industrial commerce on the border, are able to send their goods into the neighbouring State and undersell their competitors there. This is only one illustration of many that might be furnished. Wages Boards are partial and local, and perforce limited in their operations; and they do not, and never can, afford a permanent and satisfactory settlement of industrial disputes. The honorable member for Darling Downs suggests the appointment of an Inter-State Commission to deal with these matters ; his idea evidently is that a dispute shall first arise in a State, and when it becomes too complex for a State to deal with, it must filter its way to the InterState Commission. Our proposal, on the other hand, is to go, straight to the central authority, which is not an Inter-State Commission, but a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration ; instead of a roundabout and a circumlocutory method, we propose a direct and easy road to a central tribunal, capable of most effectively dealing with such matters. I agree with the Opposition as to the importance of the proposals before us; indeed, no one who looks into their possible application in this country, or the history of their application elsewhere, can fail to be convinced of their importance. I disagree, however, with the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition at Ballarat in March of last year, when he told the people that the referendum vote was one which, once given, could not be undone - was one from which there was no going back. The honorable member, in saying that such a vote was unalterable, was misleading the people. As a matter of fact, the honorable member himself, and every member of the House, has rather prided himself on the fact that if any portion of the Constitution should be found unsuitable or unworkable, it may at any time, by a proper method, be changed. One thing that must commend itself to us all is the educational value pf the last referenda vote. Apart altogether from the possible effects on the next poll, those of us who take the broad national view of matters must be pleased that the people had an opportunity to consider national questions in their broadest and widest sense I quite agree that the people did not understand the value, import, or far-reaching effect of the questions submitted - that they were not prepared to go into the particulars in detail - but the fact remains that those referenda did more to create, or increase, the Australian sentiment of nationality than anything that has taken place in our history. Whether or not the present proposals be carried next year is a secondary consideration in comparison with the tremendous benefit it will be to the people of Australia to be called upon to take an intelligent interest in large national questions. I am sorry to say, however, that even in this National Parliament we are discussing, not so much what will be for the good of the nation as what will be good for each individual part, altogether forgetting or overlooking the fact that the benefit of the whole secures the benefit of the individual parts. It is a peculiar anomaly that the National Parliament should be so’ divided on the question of the increase of its own powers to enable it to carry out more successfully the duties assigned to it. Whatever may be said as to the value of the proposals themselves, there are certain directions in which members of the Opposition will find themselves in a difficulty in the referenda campaign. Some of the objections they urged last time will not do duty on the present occasion, and they will have to rig up fresh bogies and invent new arguments. For instance, the honorable member for
Flinders will have to recast one argument that he submitted to his constituents on the last occasion. He then issued a pamphlet in which he said -
And who are the men who ask these powers? Are they statesmen, or parliamentary leaders, or even members of Parliament ? No ; they are professional industrial agitators, controlling Parliament from outside, meeting in secret and issuing their insolent mandates to their parliamentary puppets for execution.
Whatever excuse there may have been tor such ridiculous statements as those in 191 1 they will not do next year, unless the honorable member is going to recommend the people to return the Labour party to power. He will have to go to the electors and say, “ Give us this power, because it is not going to the Caucus this time,” or he will have to say, “ Do not give us this power, because the Caucus is going to get it.” Which is it to be ? I have had the greatest respect for the honorable member for Flinders ever since I entered this House ; and I have regarded him as one who has too long been kept out of his proper place as Leader of the Opposition. During the last few days, however, he has made statements which make me wonder what attitude he is going to take up at the next election. These powers are not to be given to any Caucus or party, but are to be given to this Parliament. And this Parliament, whether controlled by a Labour Government or a Liberal Government, if it is not fit to be trusted with the reins of office, is not fit to be trusted with the powers proposed. On the other hand, if the Government that the people send here is fit to carry on the affairs of the nation, it may also be safely trusted with the powers asked for. Another objection urged at the last referenda will not do duty now. On the 15th March last the honorable member for Ballarat speaking at Brisbane - went on to criticise the action of the Government in bunching the four proposals into one Bill. Each of these four separate proposals, trusts and combines, trade and commerce, labour and employment, and corporations, were to be included in one Bill. Only one, “Yes,” and only one “ No “ was to be allowed. They could not discriminate, they must pledge themselves to vote “ Yes “ or “ No,” and for no reason that any man could discover. It had been said that each of the subjects were nearly related. They were just as nearly related to the thirty other subjects in the Constitution. . . . Why, he asked, were the people of Australia capable of saying yes or no to one question, and Incapable of saying yes or no to four distinct questions? Were they incapable of justifying the trust reposed in them? It was not the treatment they expected from their repre- sentatives. Were they to be driven like dumb cattle to the poll at the crack of the whip? Should they be compelled to reject all the proposals or swallow them all.
That objection will not do duty now. However useful it was, and it effected a certain purpose last time, there are, on the present occasion, six separate proposals, and the people will be given an opportunity to take or leave which they choose. In spite of that, however, honorable members opposite are objecting to the present proposals just as if the whole six were to be submitted to one vote. I was greatly amused by the eulogies which the honorable member for Darling Downs passed on the framers of the Constitution. I do not know what dictionary he had been hugging, but he almost burst the English language in seeking adjectives to describe the integrity, the ability, the honour, the astuteness, and so forth, of those gentlemen. Whatever tendency there may be in me to hero-worship, I do not think that those men, however clever and capable in- some directions, did the best for Australia in drawing up the Constitution which is now saddled on the people. I am not at all satisfied that their ability was displayed in any particular degree in a Constitution based on a worn-out instrument, to the exclusion of modern, up-to-date methods of government. When one hears honorable members opposite singing “ Rule Britannia,” waving the Union Jack, accusing those on this side of disloyalty, and trying to make us believe that they belong to the only one loyal and patriotic party in this House, one wonders that the framers of the Constitution, who belonged to that party, did not adopt something on the lines of the British Constitution, which is the standard of political liberty for the world. No grander or freer Constitution exists to-day. I can understand the German Constitution being passed by, because of the military tone predominating there.
– I thought that the Scotch wanted Home Rule?
– When the Scotch make as earnest and determined a request for Home Rule as the Irish have done, they will get it, but much more quickly and effectively. Home Rule has become an absolute necessity in the Mother Country, because the British Parliament is a legislative machine that is absolutely clogged. It is clogged purely and solely because the Provinces, if I may call them so, have no legislative power of any kind. To autho- rize the construction of 5 or 6 miles of railway in Scotland, a private Bill has to be got through the British Parliament. In Great Britain, what is needed is the granting of specific powers by the central Government to Provincial Governments ; but here it is the Provincial Governments that possess the powers, and they have granted part of them to the central Government. The public has been misled in regard to the proposals now before us. They have been told that it is proposed to reduce the powers of the States ; but the powers asked for are concurrent, not exclusive, and according to the honorable member for Ballarat, the granting of them would leave the States just as they stand. The whole argument during the last referendum campaign centred round this point. The States said, “ We have the power now to deal with trusts and combines and industrial questions; why should we give to the Federal Parliament concurrent power?” The Home Rule cry was raised to get the votes of the people of a race which, whatever its faults, has been too long deprived of its right to a measure of self-government. But those who during the last referendum campaign proclaimed from the house-tops their adherence to Home Rule, have always been ready to deny Home Rule to the Irish. Since the last referendum campaign, a Home Rule Bill has been introduced ‘ into the British House of Commons, and that body is now deciding in the most deliberate and precise manner exactly what powers the Irish Parliament shall have.
– Have they got Home Rule yet ?
– There is no doubt that they will get it. Here the central Government needs powers already possessed by the States, so that when the States cannot effectively use those powers, they may call the Commonwealth to their aid. To show how utterly unsuited the American Constitution is to Australian conditions, let me read an account of the state of affairs in America at the time of its adoption. This is what Miller says on the subject -
The end of this war of the Revolution, which had established our entire independence of the Crown of Great Britain, and which had caused us to be recognised theoretically as a member of the family of nations, found us with an empty treasury, an impaired credit, a country drained of its wealth and impoverished by the exhaustive struggle. It found us with a large national debt to our own citizens and our friends abroad, who had loaned us their money in our desperate strait ; and, worst of all, it found us with an army of unpaid patriotic soldiers who had endured every hardship that our want of means could add to the necessary incidents of a civil war, many of whom had to return penniless to families whose condition was pitiable.
There is no analogy between those conditions and the conditions prevailing in Australia twelve years ago. And one wonders if the framers of our Constitution had read American history, and knew the circumstances under which the Constitution of that country was framed. Here is another statement of the position-
After more than four months of angry debate the Union was in the end confirmed, but only by a narrow majority, and amid indignant protests. Upon its first announcement it had more enemies than friends throughout the Continent. For every State claimed a separate sovereignty, and was reluctant to part with any shred of its authority. Only after a long and difficult assault were they persuaded that there would be a greater benefit in the surrender.
The States, from memory of British oppression, were deeply concerned with a pedantic idea of liberty, and never abandoned an unreasonable suspicion of a strong central Government. Their jealous refusal to delegate power or to part with any of their individual rights, ever to a Congress elected bv their own citizens, was the cause of more disasters to their arms and more embarrassment to their leaders than all the assaults of the enemy.
The artificial nature of the States, with their unreasonable sentiments, eternal jealousies, and disastrous pretensions to separate sovereignty was no doubt easier to understand, and harder to excuse … by one - enabled to consider the problems and forces of the times - without the heat of local prejudice and in their true proportions.
The ambitions of persons holding office in the several States fostered ideas hostile to the confederacy, in order to preserve their own consequence.
The States were thirteen independent sovereigns, whose jealousies left open the doors of the house to foreign intrigue.
The American Constitution was adopted by twelve of the thirteen States. The Convention of Philadelphia, was summoned for 14th May, 1787, but it was not until the 25th that a quorum of seven States assembled, and of sixty-five delegates appointed, ten never attended. The final draft was signed by only thirty-nine out of only forty-two then in’ attendance. Two years later, Rhode Island came in, when the Union was complete. During the last referendum campaign an American gentleman named Charles Edward Russell, passing through Brisbane, wrote a letter putting this view of the case -
A form of government without a strong central Government was quite feasible in the time when our Constitution was adopted, for communication was then very slow and difficult, and the States were separate, small communities living within themselves. In these days of rapid and universal communication, widespread and vast trade, large business combinations enveloping the entire nation, common interests and wide prospects, such a form of government is obsolete and unworkable.
The thirteen original States of the Union lacked internal commerce, and their ideas were centred on the regulation of foreign commerce and the protection of the interior States from the depredations of the coastal States, who were imposing taxes and levying duties. The aim was to protect the States from outside forces, and the condition of America then furnished no guide for the framers of our Constitution. When the draft Constitution was submitted to our people, various promises were made to induce them to adopt it. In the Convention there was a very weak element of the progressive Democracy that is now prominent in Australian politics. The political condition of Australia has greatly changed within the last twelve years. Who would have imagined twelve years ago - certainly the framers of the Constitution did not - that the Labour party would to-day occupy the Treasury bench in this Parliament? Three promises. were made to the people. They were told that if they accepted the Constitution there would be an immediate reduction of State activities, that owing to the transfer of powers to the central Government the States would have less to do, and thattherefore, the number of their members of Parliament “ would be reduced, with a consequent saving of expense. That promise has never been carried out. The State activities have increased, their expenditure has increased, and their Legislatures, with one exception, are as large now as they were prior to Federation. Another statement made as an inducement to the people to accept the Constitution Bill was that, whilst it was not all that might be desired, it could be altered at any time at the will of the people. The ease with which it could be altered was specially emphasized, and the people were reminded that an amendment could be carried by a vote of the majority of the people in a majority of the States. We have been asked why it is that the people of America have not amended their Constitution if the trade and commerce power for which it provides has worked as badly as we say it has. The right honorable member for Swan has constantly urged that since that Constitution is good enough for the people oi America our Constitution, which was modelled on the same lines, should be good enough for us. He altogether overlooks the fact that the Constitution of the United States of America has not been found to be good enough for the people. He overlooks the fact that there has been growing up in America for many years a strong political movement to alter the method of government. The late Presidential election affords an illustration in point. The Americans are getting away from the old Democratic and Republican parties. It is significant that in the United States of America to-day there is not only a new Progressive party which has urged that the Constitution must be amended in order that the people may deal with trusts, combines, and monopolies, but that the Socialist candidate for the Presidency has increased his vote by oyer 50 per cent.
– What portion of the whole vote did he secure?
– The Socialist vote is still growing there.
– Honorable members opposite must not despise small things, for small things have a habit of growing. The point that I wish to make is that we cannot blame the people of America for their failure to alter their Constitution when we learn how difficult it is to amend it. Here is the method of securing an amendment of their Constitution -
The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, ot, on the application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three-fourths thereof, as. the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress.
The American people, it will be seen, have no voice in the alteration of their Constitution. The power to amend it is, first of all, vested in Congress, and then the Legislatures of the several States. The three-fourths vote necessary is a handicap on government by the people, and is, in fact, a negation of Abraham Lincoln’s boast of government of the people by the people for the people. A writer in the Twentieth Century, dealing with the alteration of the American Constitution, makes the following statement -
Other countries are able to adjust themselves to changing conditions, but when we try to adopt new and more equitable forms of taxation, to. make the Government more directly responsible to the people, to reform legal methods^ or to regulate commerce and business in the interests of justice, we find the road barred by the dead hand which framed an instrument according to the theories of the 18th century.
In justice to the men who framed our Constitution, we must bear in mind, not only their lack of any precedents and of experience in popular government, but also the fact that they had to reconcile the conflicting demands of the various States, each zealous for its own individual rights.
We are under no obligation to regard the Constitution as an inspired or sacred document, but only as a compromise which should be amended from time to time to meet conditions, or to correct such defects as experience has made conspicuous.
Amendments wanted in regard to : -
Regulation of Inter-State Commerce.
Regulation of Corporations.
A more simple and effective method of amending the Constitution from time to time as occasion might require. Possibly a provision for a Constitutional Convention to be held, say, every ten years, would be desirable.
I am prepared to suggest that a Convention to adapt our Constitution to the vastly altered circumstances of this country - to re-adjust it so as to meet the rapid progress that trade and commerce and business generally is making in the world to-day - would not be a bad thing for Australia. I come now to the position in regard to trusts and combines. The honorable member for Darling Downs stated that the Government of which he was a member had the courage to inquire into the operations of trusts and combines, and they are certainly welcome to whatever credit they claim for their action in that regard. It is worth noting, however, that, although that Government framed, as he has said, the Act under which ali the prosecutions that have been instituted against trusts and combines have so far been conducted, that Act has proved utterly ineffective. Although prosecutions have been instituted, are we not faced with the fact that every attempt to regulate trusts and combines in this country has proved utterly insufficient to stop their onward progress. Our attempts have been . just as unsuccessful as have been the attempts to regulate trusts and combines in the United States of America. When a reference is made to trusts and combines one immediately thinks of America ; and a reference to corruption in politics causes one also to think of that great country. Is it not remarkable how the two things seem to be associated? Revelations are constantly being made in regard to the huge sums of money donated by trusts and combines to one political party in the United States of America, and we have a parallel in Australia. Although honorable members of the Opposition deny that their party has received direct monetary contributions from trusts or combines, the fact remains that every influence, every power and assistance that combines, trusts, and big business men can exercise is exercised in the interests of the Opposition and against the Labour party. That, to me, and, I think, to a large proportion of the people, is a sufficient indication that the trusts and combines know who are their friends and who are their enemies. The honorable member for Darling Downs has said that the State Governments have done nothing to deal with trusts and combines. During the referendum of 191 1 the Premier of Queensland, members of his Ministry, and those who supported them in that campaign, were never tired of declaring that the States had sufficient power to control trusts and combines, and would use it. No one has denied that they have power. It is freely admitted that each individual State has unlimited power to deal with trusts and combines operating within its own borders, but no single State has yet made the slightest effort to protect its own people from them.
– Although there are Labour Governments in some of the States.
– That is so. And why have they not done so?
– Nor has the Federal Labour Government done anything. They are all alike.
– They are wise enough to recognise that no law which they could pass under their present powers would enable them to effectively deal with trusts and combines.
– The honorable member for Flinders has said that the States have no power in this regard.
– I do not think there is the slightest doubt as to their power. The trouble is that it is not effective. Here is the position in America, and I ask honorable members if they cannot find an absolute analogy in the position in Australia. I quote Mr. Russell again -
There were no trusts in 1787, when the Constitution was adopted ; there are hundreds of trusts now. It is behind the bulwarks of our States rights that the trusts take refuge. A company incorporated in one State is in a great measure free from the control or authority of another State. It can prey there upon the people without restriction; the local laws have no effect upon it. Thousands of these companies have been incorporated in one State, New Jersey, because there the laws governing corporations are extremely loose and inviting. Very few of these companies do business in New Jersey. They are formed to do business in other States where, because of their New Jersey incorporation, they cannot be touched. The Beef Trust, for instance, is a combination of companies all incorporated in New Jersey, and doing business in Illinois, which consequently has little control over them.
I need not continue. The fact is well known to every reader of American history that New Jersey is practically the headquarters of all the combines operating in the United States to-day. Although they have their head-quarters there, they carry out their business in the other States. The other States cannot protect themselves against these trusts and combines, because immediately action is taken to do so, the trust claims that the action must be brought in the State in which it is incorporated, and it is known that to bring an action against any of these combines in New Jersey is perfectly useless. One wonders, in the circumstances, that the United States’ people have been able to do anything in the matter. But how much have they been able to do? Honorable members are familiar with the provisions of the Sherman anti-trust law, and I quote this statement to show the effect its operation has had upon these trusts, in the case particularly of the Standard Oil Trust-
In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that the Standard Oil Company infringes the Sherman anti-trust law and must be dissolved, the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, the parent company, has decided to dissolve its thirty-five subsidiary companies. The method followed is to distribute the ‘Stock of the subsidiary companies among the parent company’s . shareholders.
We have been told that the trust is broken up, but let: honorable members listen to this -
Financiers declare that although the law is being observed, the trust is no less a trust than before.
– Is the honorable member still quoting from Russell?
– No; the quotation I have read is from the Argus of the 3rd August,1 911. Here is another on the same question from the Age of the same date -
The Standard Oil Trust, which in May last failed in its appeal to the Supreme Court, the latter ordering the dissolution of the trust within six months, is endeavouring to evade the injunction against it. The New Jersey Standard Oil
Company, in accordance with the Supreme Court decision, has decided to dissolve its thirty-five subsidiary companies.
The quotation then goes on to repeat the cable message I have quoted from the Argus. Honorable members are thoroughly well aware of our short and feeble history in connexion with these matters in Australia. They know its crippled record, and that attempt after attempt, each more ineffective than its predecessor, to interfere, regulate, or limit the power of trusts and combines has proved utterly useless. Here is some evidence that was given the other day in New Zealand before a Commission inquiring into the high cost of living -
Mr. Bowyer, who had previously made a statement regarding the operations of the Merchants and Retailers’ Association, put in a letter from manufacturers’ agents in Christchurch to witness as follows : - “ August, 1909, - Have your order, for which we thank you, but we regret, owing to pressure brought to bear on us by merchants and larger grocers of the city, we must refuse it. They are too strong for us to oppose.”
Witness put in correspondence with another firm to the same effect.
In regard to the Tobacco Trust, I quote this telegram from Washington, of 22nd November last -
Remarkable allegations were made yesterday before the Congressional Committee on InterState Commerce, by Mr. Felix Levy, attorney representing the independent tobacco companies. Mr. Levy declared that the reorganization proposals of the Tobacco Trust were a sham and a subterfuge, which would leave the Trust’s monopoly unimpaired.
Here is an American view with respect to trusts and combines, and their operation in that country, which is dated 31st October, 19 1 2 -
American experience bears this out, judging from the following from the American Sheepbreeder of Chicago : - “ The Chicago packers have never cared a rip for the public or the Government. For years they have practically done as. they pleased, and, like all other great monopolies, would continue to do so in spite of investigations and legal spasms at Washington, but, like all of the rest of the monopolies, are now frightened to death at the uprising of the people against further extortion and abuse. The people refuse longer to tolerate the highhanded methods of robbery so boldly employed by these giants of trade, who laugh at the masses and show brazen contempt for the weakkneed Government law officers. The slow and clumsy Courts, with their antiquated machinery, have been very useful to these national robbers. They have grown so bold of late that even the party bosses are commencing to fear and tremble at the results. The fact is, the trusts are running to cover. The party bosses are suggesting amicable and just solutions or dissolutions - and well, the whole thing has to be threshed out and a new political industrial and social order must be established.
Honorable members are aware that I could go on quoting continuously to show the injurious effects of trusts and combines. I wish to make one or two remarks with respect to trade and commerce before 1 resume my seat. The honorable member for Ballarat, in speaking on the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill, told us that the people would resent the “ annexation” of these powers by the Federal Government. The honorable member for Bendigo said that the people of Australia would resent the “ arrogating “ of these powers by the Federal Government. But both these honorable gentlemen know better than I, or probably any other honorable member of the House could tell them, that the Federal Government are absolutely impotent to take any powers from the State Governments or the people. They know that these powers must be given, and that to talk of “annexation” and “arrogating” in this connexion is not only a misuse of words, but a misrepresentation of the facts of the case. 1 have already referred to what was said by the honorable member for Swan. He said, “The American Constitution has been good enough for the American people ; is it not good enough for us?” I say, “No.” The Constitution of no other country in the world is good enough for Australia. Australia stands to-day the envy and admiration of the people of the world, because of our courageous efforts to grapple with the national problems confronting us. No other nation in the world has displayed such courage and activity in dealing with national problems on an immense scale as has this young country, with its fringe of population settled along an immense sea-board. Yet the honorable member for Swen seriously suggests that a Constitution which was good enough for the eighteenth century, and for a wrangling, divided, and jealous people one hundred years ago is good enough for Australia to-day. I believe that all patriotic Australians will let the honorable member for Swan distinctly understand that what may have been good enough for the American people a hundred years ago, or even what may be good enough for them to-day is not good enough for the Australian people. The honorable member for Kooyong, in 1908, said, in regard to the policy of new Protection -
The time was now for manufacturers to show that they were desirous of treating their employes fairly and justly. He believed, in regard to harvesters, he would be in favour of almost prohibitive protection. The selling price should be regulated. He agreed that a referendum of the people should be taken on the New Protection. There was also the chance that the States would surrender all power relating to. this form of protection to the Commonwealth.
That statement was made in a speech delivered by the honorable member in the Melbourne Temperance Hall on 30th June, 1908. It is strange to find that honorable members who have thus expressed the desire of the people of the Commonwealth to have these powers will during the coming campaign do all they possibly can to persuade the people to vote “ No “ upon questions in which they have professed to believe all the time. The honorable member for Flinders, as is well known, stated in the debate last year -
Commerce is really an organic whole, and an organic whole of ever increasing complexity. It is just as impossible in commerce to draw a line of demarcation based on local geographical conditions as it would be to commit to the care of one physician a man’s body, and to the care of another physician his limbs. Each is really part of one organic whole, and the result of attempts has been endless litigation and uncertainty.
I shall also have much pleasure in quoting the honorable member for Flinders with reference to the power which would be left to the States after granting this power to the Commonwealth. He said -
Consider how extensive is the domain of the State Parliaments compared with the extensively limited Federal power that we shall possess even if this proposal be agreed to. Even if this power be granted to us the States will still have full power and control over a number of matters that are not enumerated in the Constitution. They possess control over the education of thepeople of Australia and over the administration of the lands anil mines of Australia. They have within their control the whole regulation of the great means of transport afforded by their railway systems. The regulation of their Public Works, the control of all municipalities and the control of works that are carried out by municipalities.
By the way, honorable members will not forget that during the last referenda campaign great emphasis was laid upon an expression of opinion by that wonderful, immaculate, infallible lawyer, Mr. Mitchell, K.C., of Melbourne, who was quoted as a great authority all over Australia.
– He is an authority.
– The honorable member for Flinders is as good an authority, and he is against Mr. Mitchell on this question -
In addition to these and other powers which might be mentioned, they have an unlimited residuary power, by means of the criminal law and other systems of regulation and administration, to deal with the whole morals and conduct of the people of this community.
I do not intend to introduce any further matter. I am not half-way through the material which I had prepared and intended to use. Honorable members opposite may flatter themselves by remembering that the referendum proposals of our party were rejected at the last opportunity. The honorable member for Richmond said the other night that it was not a party question at the last referendum campaign, altogether forgetting, or ignoring, the fact that every member on the Opposition side made it a party question in the most specific manner. Now we say before the country, and say openly, that these proposals are, in our opinion, for the good of the government of the country, according to our ideas. We ask the people to vote for them, because they believe in the government of this country being carried on in accordance with our ideas. On the last occasion the people said “No. 1 ‘ We are going to the people this time as a party with our colours flying, as far as these referenda proposals are concerned. If the people of Australia are not disposed to grant these powers to the Federal Parliament it will be their business, not only to turn the proposals down, but to turn us down, and I have not the slightest fear of that. I quite agree with the honorable member for Adelaide that it would be a good thing - absolutely good - to return to the Federal Parliament the Labour party. It would be a better thing to carry our referendum proposals. But the best thing of all would be for the people to return the Labour party, and to endow the Federal Parliament with these powers in order that we may have full power to govern this country in the best interests of the whole of the people.
– By way of personal explanation I desire to say that the honorable member for Brisbane has read certain portions of a printed document which he said emanated from me. Now I admit that there was a certain amount of home-spun truth about the things which he read, though I thought at the time he read them that the language was not like that which I am accustomed to use. I think that the honorable member might have taken the trouble before he attributed language to another honorable member of this House to ascertain whether he had ever given his authority for the issue of the document from which he quoted. I wish to say now that I have never before seen the document, and have never read it. I never knew that I had been associated with it until the honorable member mentioned it.
– Is the honorable member’s name upon it?
– May I be allowed to say that I accept freely and frankly the disclaimer of the honorable member for Flinders with regard to his personal connexion with the document from which I quoted. I recollect having associated him with it. It is a pamphlet or leaflet addressed to the electors of Flinders, and, therefore, I thought that it might fairly be associated with the honorable member.
– It is not connected with my name in any way.
– The honorable member having disclaimed any connexion with the leaflet, I frankly accept what he has said.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Richard
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn, I should like to say that an understanding has been arrived at with the Leader of the Opposition to take a division on the Bill which we have been debating at 9 o’clock on Tuesday evening. We shall also take a vote, if possible, on any other of the Referenda Bills that may have reached the division stage at that time.- If the debate on the Bill that has been under consideration closes before 9 o’clock on Tuesday, an adjournment will be made to enable the Attorney-General to make his reply speech. In the meantime, we shall proceed with the other Referenda Bills. I think that there will be no difficulty in completing the debate at the time agreed upon. It is proposed to ask honorable members to meet on Monday at 3 o’clock. I shall move in that direction to-morrow. It is intended that we shall sit at half-past 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning to enable business to be proceeded with. I trust that honorable members will not think that we are asking too much from them. We hope to have a large attendance.
– I personally have not the slightest objection to the House meeting on Monday. I think the proposal a fair one to be made at this time of the session. But it is usual for the Prime Minister, when asking for unusual sitting days, 10 tell the House exactly what the Government wish the House to do. There is nothing to be gained unless there is a definite objective to work towards. I strongly urge the Prime Minister to tell the House at the earliest possible moment - say, to-morrow, when he is asking for further time - exactly for what purposes he wants that time.
– In answer to the honorable member for Parramatta, I desire to say that we intend to proceed with the Referenda Bills, because they are allimportant, and we desire to send them to the Senate as soon as possible. Then we shall proceed with other general business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.43p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 November 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121128_reps_4_68/>.