4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– As a question of privilege, I desire to bring under notice a matter of importance to members individually as well as to the House, as it affects the right of honorable members to all information procurable regarding public questions. A number of those who read the Age newspaper are desirous of forming anopinion as to howsincere that newspaper is in regard to its Protectionist professions.
– The honorable mem ber is now going beyond the question of privilege.
– On Friday, last, I submitted to the Clerk notice of a series of questions, which I wish to put to the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– It is usual, whena question of privilege is raised, to conclude with a specific motion. I do not know whether the honorable member intends to do that, or whether he is merely asking me a question.
– Acting on the conversation between us, I shall ask you a question, sir. I ask why the following questions, a copy of which I handed to the Clerk on Friday last, do hot appear on to-day’s notice-paper : -
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, with reference to the professed desire of the Age newspaper to re-open the Tariff, will he have inquiries made with a view to informing the Home whether . it be a fact that : -
It would be of great use to have that information. It would be of use during the elections. I ask, therefore, why the questions do not appear?
– I would point out, in the first place, that it is not customary to use the procedure of the House for electioneering purposes. The questions were submitted to me, and I came to the con- clusion that, were I to permit the honorable member to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs questions relating to the action of a private firm and having no relation to legislation now being dealt with, I could not prevent any other honorable member, from asking similar questions regarding the affairs of private individuals from one end of Bourke-street to the other. I am well fortified with authorities to support the view that such questions should not be permitted to go on the business-paper.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received the report of the Sugar Commission? If he has not received it, when does he expect to do so? Will the House have an opportunity to consider the report before Christmas?
– I have not yet received the report; but, if the press is correct, I shall get it very soon. I hope, not only that the House will see it, but that action will be taken on it before the session closes.
Mr.RYRIE. - This morning I received from a constituent a letter stating that the doctor who had attended his wife during her confinement had charged10s. 6d. for filling in a form certifying to the birth of the child. I wish to know from thePrime Minister, whether births cam be certified to in any way which will prevent doctors from charging this fee?
– Quite a number of complaints of this nature have been received, the fee charged in some instances, though not in many, being one guinea. In each we have communicated with the persons concerned, and asked to be furnished with an explanation. I shall not give some of the explanations received. If the charge made is only part of the ordinary fee for the case, it is all. right, but, in my opinion, to charge10s. 6d. for filling in a form is unprofessional.
– A circular has been sent by the Customs Department to exporters of dairy and other produce informing them that in future when action is being taken under Part XV. of the Customs Act for breaches of the Commerce Act, . the necessary papers must be signed by the manufacturers concerned, and not, as hitherto, by their agents, unless the exporter is the owner of the goods and not merely the agent for them at. the time of exportation. I wish to know from the Minister whether a regulation to that effect has been issued, and ifso, whether it is intended to carry it intoeffect ?
– I think that theruleis a good one. It will make those who commit breaches of the Commerce Act directlyresponsible, instead of throwing the responsibility on the agent, and instead of one agent being fined, perhaps, fifteen times for breaches of the Act, the manufacturers who are really at fault will be punished.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will lay on, the table of the House, the papers in connexion with the appointment of Mr. George Guild Hill to the position of accountant in the Customs House, Sydney?
– I shall be glad to make the papers available for the perusal of the honorable member.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message intimating that the Senate had agreed to certain of the amendments made by the House of Representatives in the
Bill, and had agreed to others with amend- ments or consequential amendments.
Mr. THOMAS laid upon the table the following paper : -
Northern Territory Ordinance No. 9 of1912. - Early Closing.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 6212), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I know of nothing, that has transpired since the last referendum, when practically the whole of these proposals were submitted to the people and turned down by a majority of something like 250,000 votes, which has rendered it necessary to re-submit them. My own impression is that if the present Government had not been urged on by a power stronger than itself to re-submit these proposals at a referendum at the next general election, they would not have proposed any such step,, and. thus have courted a similar rebuff at the hands of the electors. Public opinion, however, is very fickle, and it is quite possible that, for some unexplained reason, and not because of any new development, it may veer round, and the people may be induced to accept proposals which they, for very good reasons, previously rejected. I should like to emphasize the point that, if that eventually should take place, one of the most urgent reforms necessary will be the reconstruction of the Senate. If these increased powers are to be embodied in the Constitution - if we are to have a unitary form of government in place of our present Federal system - it is inconceivable that the Senate can remain upon its existing undemocratic basis. The honorable member for Parramatta, when speaking last week, quoted some figures which show what an undemocratic Chamber the Senate really is. We know that it was created on its present basis for the specific purpose of guarding the rights of the States, and seeing that the House of Representatives did not unduly encroach upon those rights. It was intended to be primarily a State Rights Chamber, each State having equal represen tation, irrespective of the question of population. That was the essential reason. Experience has shown, however, that, so far from that Chamber being the custodian of the rights of the States, it is more ready than is this Chamber to surrender those rights. The States have more to fear from that undemocratic Senate than they have from this. House.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member is not entitled to reflect upon the Senate as he is doing, unless he is prepared to bring forward some proposal for its abolition.
– I did not hear the honorable member reflect upon the Senate, but, if he did, he was not in order, and must not do so again.
– I have not donemore than others who have preceded me have done ; I have simply referred to the basis upon which the Senate is constituted, and to the necessity that will exist for altering that basis if we take these powers. I propose to show that the House of Representatives also is not on as democratic a basis as it might be. There is in this House a great discrepancy in the representation of various portions of Australia. For instance, the total population of the Commonwealth in 191 1 was set down at 4,590,366 ; so that in a House of seventy-five members each member should, upon that basis, represent 59,871. This would give the following representation : - New South Wales, twenty-eight members, instead of twenty-seven, as at present ; Victoria, twenty-two ; Queensland, ten ; South Australia, seven; Western Australia, five; and Tasmania, three. At the present time one representative of New South Wales in this House represents 61,231 ; one representative of Victoria represents 60,423; Queensland, 68,261 ; South Australia, 58,745 ; Western Australia, 57,361 ; and, in the case of Tasmania, only 38.063. Thus a representative of New South Wales in this House represents 61,231 electors, whereas a representative of Tasmania represents only 38,063. We have, therefore, an undemocratic discrepancy in the representation of the people in this House, as well as in the Senate. The present Prime Minister, dealing with the peculiar distribution of Federal voting power in the States in September, 1909, said -
The Constitution is defective. A majority of the people cannot carry a referendum. . . . It is undemocratic, if three small States - say,. “Western Australia, Tasmania, and South Australia - should decide against any referendum proposal, that the proposal should not he carried. From a democratic point of view the
Constitution is not sound on that point ; and that >is one reason why this provision should not be put in the Constitution.
The present Attorney-General has also said -
Our Constitution is one which hampers Democracy at every turn - is opposed to the basic principle of Democracy. It sets at nought rule >by majority.
Then, again, speaking at trie last Labour Conference, Mr. J. C. Watson said -
What he wanted to point out was this : From : the democratic stand-point - apart from the question of the position of this Labour party or that Labour party - they must object to putting anything in the Constitution that they could keep out of it.
Here, however, we have proposals to put .so much into this admittedly -undemocratic Constitution that the difficulty will be to find, not what is in it, but what is really kept out of it. When I hear our honorable friends opposite talking about the huge monopolies, trusts, and combines that are ^growing up in Australia, I am disposed to .remind them that in their own Labour manifesto, issued at the last general election, they did not seem to recognise that they had assumed the gigantic proportions which they have since endeavoured to make us and the country believe to be the case. “Under the heading of “ Nationalization of -.monopolies, “ I find it stated -
It may be admitted that trusts and combines have not yet attained the same giant proportions in Australia as elsewhere, but, notwithstanding our youth, the capitalistic system is developing here upon the same general lines. Already we have in Australia the Sugar Monopoly, the Tobacco Combine, the Coastal Shipping Ring, the Coal Vend, and various «minor business combinations of a character detrimental to the public. In 1907 the Federal Parliament passed an Act to restrain trusts and “combines. Although supporting that measure -we expressed our conviction that it would fail to effect its object. “Then this document goes on to say -
The experience of America shows that nothing short of nationalization ‘of these monopolies will prevent their exploitation of the public.
I wish to point out in regard to what is generally referred to as the Anti-Trust Act which was passed by the Federal Parliament, that an attempt was persistently and successfully made by the members of the present Labour party to try to make the measure ineffective. Therefore any defects which have since developed in the working of the measure may be largely traceable to the anxiety of members of the Labour party themselves to prevent it reaching out to deal with trusts, combines, and monopolies in an effective manner. Many of those specifically mentioned in the manifesto were the subject of appeals by members of the Labour party for exemption from the operation of the Bill then before Parliament. I propose to quote some of their arguments and appeals on behalf of combines which they wished to exempt. The ex-Leader of the Labour party, Mr. Watson, referring to a statement of the honorable member for Newcastle as to the Coal Vend, said, as reported in Hansard for 1906, page 939-
I am quite with the honorable member that we should take care that nothing is done to prevent such legitimate combination amongst coal mine-owners as may be found necessary to enable them to get a fair profit on their capital invested, and to insure fair wages to their employes.
Mr. Watson also speaking on behalf of Mr. S. E. O’Brien’s candidature for North Sydney in opposition to the present member for that constituency said on the 4th March of the present year -
He did not object to the Coal Vend in so far as it meant the combining of the colliery proprietors to fix a fair price for coal, and do away with the cut-throat competition that ground down prices and wages.
So that notwithstanding the denunciation which we have heard from the AttorneyGeneral and other honorable members opposite we have the ex-Leader of the Labour party supporting a candidate of that party in New South Wales approving of the Coal Vend. The honorable member for Newcastle, speaking in this House in 1906, as reported in Hansard, page 936, said -
At Newcastle miners have practically gone out on strike to get a general agreement with their proprietors, and incidentally to bring the proprietors into a combination.
Again the honorable member said -
I wish it to be clearly understood that the position at Newcastle ought not to be disturbed. Because I believe that to disturb an arrangement of that description would be to do something which would bring an injury, not merely upon the combination of proprietors, but upon aU the employes at their collieries.
Here we have the honorable member forthe district in which the Coal Vend flourishes making an appeal to exempt it from the operation of the anti-trust measure with which we were at the time dealing. In the same year, Senator Henderson, speaking on the Coal Vend, as reported in Hansard, page 627, said -
It has materially increased, not only its selling price, which I candidly believe it was entitled to do, but also the wages paid to the men engaged in producing the coal. The Coal Combine has done a very great service up to the present moment.
Here we have a prominent member of the Labour party declaring that this Combine has been of great service to the workers. What are we to understand when the members of the party opposite keep running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, with one voice denouncing these trusts and combines, and with another voice testifying as to the benefits they have conferred upon the workers? Continuing, Senator Henderson said -
For years I have advocated just such a combination of the coal trade as exists in that State (New South Wales) to-day. . . . The Coal Combine of New South Wales has done, up to the present moment, a laudable work. It has already very materially increased the output of New South Wales. It has materially increased its selling prices, which I candidly believe* it was entitled to do, but also the wages paid to the men who are producing the coal.
Here we have a member of the party opposite rejoicing that the Coal Vend had increased the price of coal to the poor unfortunate workers who had to pay through the nose for it when buying it for the warming of their hearths in the depths of winter time. Senator Guthrie - a Labour senator - in the same debate, said -
I can largely agree with what has just fallen from Senator Henderson.
He illustrated his remarks by alluding to the history of cut-throat competition in the shipping business, and expressed his approval of the subsequent Shipping Combine. Senator Lynch - another Labour senator - in the same debate, said -
In season and out of season, it was pointed out that in the maritime carrying trade it was owing to suicidal competition that the steamship companies were unable to pay a decent living wage. We urged them to combine, and they were very tardy in taking our advice.
So that we have prominent representatives of the Labour party saying that the shipowners who combined did a good thing in forming the Shipping Ring, and they did it on the advice and with the support of Labour members, and even then they combined with apparent reluctance. Yet we have the same honorable members denouncing the trusts and combines which they have been instrumental in creating. They do not tell these things to the public outside. They would try to make the public believe that it is only wicked peopleon this side of the Chamber who have aword to say for trusts and combines. Asa matter of fact, there is not a singlemember of our party who has ever raised7 his voice in defence of any monopoly, trust, or combine. In spite of this, honorable’ members opposite have not the slightest hesitation in covering up their own support by- wrongfully accusing their opponents of being supporters of monopolies. Senator
McGregor speaking on the same day,, said -
Senator Findley ought to keep his mind easy,, and should not object to combines. When,, however, a combine becomes a monopoly, thenis the time for the honorable senator to act, - and I am sure he will always find me ready tocooperate with him.
Senator Findley. What is the object of a. combine if it is not for the purpose of getting, a monopoly?
Senator MCGREGOR. I ask the honorable senator whether there would be any chance of nationalizing the coal industry if it were in the.hands of small coal miners or master miners?
Here we have disclosed the underlying reason why honorable members opposite desire such combines - why they do not wish* to see private enterprise developing in a small way with open competition, and thebenefit of reasonable prices to the consumer. Under the latter circumstances industries cannot be nationalized; and theidea is to encourage combines, and then form them into the greatest combine of all - a Government combine - and shut outprivate enterprise altogether. We now seethe inner meaning of all the actions and expressions of the Labour party - they all) radiate from different points to one centre,, which means Unification and nationalization. Then Mr. Edden, when interviewed, by representatives of the Sydney Dailytelegraph in regard to the Coal Vend, om the 28th .February last, said : -
He thought that if the Vend were dissolved* it would be a most disastrous thing for the Newcastle district.
The Labour Government are asking for powers to deal with, amongst other things,, the Coal Vend, and yet we have State and! Federal Labour members all protesting, against any interference with it. Mr.. Ed den went on to say : -
Any successful attempt made to smash up theVend would, under the circumstances, therefore in his opinion, be a terrible thing for the district.
These are not my words ; and I undertaketo say that if any honorable member on thisside had expressed sentiments of the kind they would have been denounced from the house-tops from one end of Australia to the other; no trouble would have been too great to show what wicked people we were in supporting and sheltering the huge monopolies for which Labour members have acknowledged they were primarily responsible. Yet we have Labour representatives, not only using emphatic language in defence of combines, but urging that legislation to suppress them will have disastrous effects on the Newcastle district. The Attorney- General himself, on the 3rd March last, is thus reported : -
Prices of half the things we ate, drank, and wear to-day were regulated by an arrangement between combines, trusts, and rings in the country. He did not condemn that.
Honorable members will mark those words : -
He had no criticism for it. It was an inevitable stage in industrial and social development. Kings, combines, and trusts were as much a consequence of modern progression as man was really a development of the baby….. Rings, trusts, and combines were not all evil, and in some respects had been instruments of good.
Who would imagine that this is the same Attorney-General we listened to the other day on the second reading of this Bill? In an article under the heading of “ The Case for Labour,” which the AttorneyGeneral wrote for the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the following appears: -
It is not only illogical and unfair to complain about the trusts, it is also very foolish. For the trust is really a labour-saving device, and the latest and most effective. The anti-Socialist who wants to destroy trusts is like the old Luddites who wished to destroy machinery. The earlier trade unionist fell into the vulgar error of regarding machinery as a device of the evil one, which ought to be destroyed. They have now learned better; they no longer seek to destroy machinery, but to control it. But the anti-Socialist is still a troglodyte in this matter. He wants to club the trust.
We are told that we on this side wish to “ club “ the trusts, and at the same time are twitted with being the supporters of trusts. The Attorney-General goes on to say : -
The trust or combine is not merely a laboursaving device, and the best and latest at that, but it marks a notable epoch in the history of production and civilization. . . . The central ideas of the combine are co-operation and systemization. … It substitutes order for chaos, and combination for the competition. It takes ‘Cognisance of factor utterly ignored by the old barbaric ways of cut-throat competition.
These words were not spoken on the spur of the moment, but written by the AttorneyGeneral after thoughtful consideration for publication in one of the leading newspapers in the country. No wonder that some of the Labour newspapers read these articles with amazement. No wonder that so outspoken and enthusiastic a Labour paper as the Barrier Miner came down heavily on the Attorney-General, and, in reference to the article I have quoted, said : -
If trusts, as he says, are such useful and altogether admirable institutions, being the steppingstones, if not the very gates, to the paradise of that co-operative Commonwealth we all dream of - if these things are so, then why. on earth is Mr. Hughes trying to smash the Coal Trust or Coal Vend at this particular moment?
Well might the Barrier Miner ask that very pertinent question -
If trusts are such useful machines in preparing the way for the control of industry by the people, if they are “ a phase of industrial evolution, a triumph of co-operation over senseless competition, and so a step towards control of industrial enterprises directly by the people “ - see Mr. Hughes’ letter - if trusts are so good as all this, why on earth is Mr. Hughes trying to smash the Coal Vend that has kept up the wages of both miners and seamen whilst “triumphing over competition”?
– The Barrier Miner is not a Labour paper, but a capitalistic organ.’
– I do not think that the Barrier Miner can be said to be a paper that favours the. side of the capitalist. It is a Socialistic paper.
– It does; it belongs to the Employers Federation.
– I do not think it can be said that the Barrier Miner is subsidized by any capitalistic organization, unless it may be some Labour body which is a capitalistic organization.
– The Barrier Miner is, if. possible, as bad as the Sydney Morning Herald.
– Apart from what the Barrier Miner is, we may all ask ourselves the same very pertinent question. If trusts, combines, and monopolies are such good things as the AttorneyGeneral states them to be in his articles - if they perform all the useful functions to society that he claims - we may well ask why on earth the honorable gentleman now denounces them as injurious to the best interests of the community, and asks for wholesale powers of suppression? They must be either one thing or the other. They cannot be beneficent and yet malevolent institutions. Then I may be pardoned for asking, “Who created the
Coal Vend?” It did not spring into existence as the result of some secret capitalistic combination. It had its origin in a suggestion of the miners of Newcastle. From a report published in the Newcastle Morning Herald of 26th March, 1966, I extract the following -
Mr; F. Livingstone Learmonth’, representing the A. A. Co., and, in the absence of Mr. Keightly, the Newcastle Coal Mining Co. ; Mr. John Brown, representing1 Messrs. J. and A. Brown; Mr. A. Thomas, representing the East Greta Coal Mining Co. Ltd. ; and Mr. Morrow, representing the Caledonian Co., were present at a meeting called at the instance of the Colliery Employes Federation to discuss the question of an increase in the hewing rate of coal. These companies are the owners of thirteen collieries, including some of the largest in the Newcastle and Maitland districts. The Collieries Employes Federation was represented by Mr. Peter Bowling, president; Mr. James Curley, general secretary; Mr. A. Lewis, district treasurer; and the other members of the committee of management, Messrs. J. Patterson, W. Brennan, W. Rees, J. Mcwilliams, S. Rees, A. Burns, and W. Wardell. Mr. Bowling was elected chairman of the Conference.
This was the Conference at which the Coal Vend was formed, and Mr. Peter Bowling was its president.
– So that the employes were responsible for the creation of the Vend?
– Certainly. The report goes on to say that Mr. Bowling - in opening the Conference, explained that the reason for calling the Conference was because the Miners’ Federation had decided to ask for an advance of 8d. per . ton. in the hewing rate. He explained that this demand was regarded as reasonable, in view of certain conditions and contingencies which would have a direct tendency to enhance prices at the port of Newcastle.
That is. to say it would have a tendency to increase prices to the users of coal during, the winter, and these users consisted largely of the class whom Mr. Bowling and his associates were supposed to represent. Mr. Curley, general secretary of the Miners’ Association, after referring to the objects of the Conference, said -
The committee was there at the request of the miners working at the various collieries in the district. The men desired that the proprietors should be approached upon the subjects of an advance in the price of coal trade prices and an increase in the hewing rate …. This (the foreign, Inter-State, and Home trade) has a large market which the proprietors could to some extent control, in the way of preventing undue competition. By proper combination the same preventive measures might also be applied, to some extent to the. operations of foreign trade. Mr. Curley, after indorsing the remarks pf the chairman as. to the market outlook, and regretting that there was not a larger attendance of proprietors-
As in the case of the Shipping Ring,, the proprietors did not appear to be soeager to form this Vend as were the miners,, and they showed, their lack of interest in the proposal by their failure to attend thegathering. The report proceeds -
Mr. Curley, after indorsing the remarks of thechairman as to the market outlook and regretting that there was not a larger attendance of proprietors, said that unless conferences were held there was a probability that results of a disastrous character might ensue at any time. Theproprietors themselves knew this.
So that Mr. Curley, Mr. Peter Bowling, and other officers of the Miners’ Association actually urged the formation of thisVend, on the understanding that the miners themselves were to have a “ cut.” in. So long as they obtained their “ cut,” it did not matter how much the public were fleeced. Apparently, according to some of our Labour Democrats, a combine, a monopoly, or a trust was a good thing so long as the employes in the industry could have s> substantial financial finger in the pie. It is not the principle that some of them object to ; it is only their own exclusion from? participation in the proceeds of monopoly that, in their mind, constitutes a wrong. The public side is a minor consideration. In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 6th December, 1910, there appeared the following references to the same Peter Bowling, who had brought the Vend into existence -
Mr. Peter Bowling’s opinion of the Vend isnot a flattering one. ‘In fact, he has at different times declared that it was the principal thing the miners were fighting against.
After it had been formed the miners became dissatisfied with it, because some of the terms of the compact were not adhered to, and because the colliery proprietorsfound a way to get a thick slice of the cake for themselves. As a result I find the following -
In Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, a number of” extracts made by Mr. Bowling’ were printed, showing clearly what were his views on the subject. Some of his phrases describing the vend were: - “The combination that is trying tosmash up the workers of this community and” get its claws on our industries “ ; “ Save the public from its octopus grip “ ; “ The vend hascrushed out employment “ ; “ The conspirators of the vend “ ; and others of like character.
He apparently forgot that this combination not only had the indorsement of theleading members of the Labour Party, but was a creature largely of his own creation’. I have quoted the foregoing extracts to- show that whilst the Government ask for large legislative powers for the purpose of suppressing trusts, combines, and monopolies, Ministers and the Labour party have themselves, quite recently, been strong advocates of trusts, combines, and monopolies. In fact they have been the only advocates of them to be found on the floor of this House. May I also point out that the most gigantic combine which exists in Australia to-day is a labour combine - I refer to the Australian Workers Union. I do not know any combine which is more powerful, which exercises a wider influence or which has direct parliamentary representation in the Senate, the House of Representatives and in the State Parliaments. It has been stated in this chamber that that organization has the nomination of no fewer than twenty-three representatives in this Parliament. If that is not a combine, I do not know what is. Yet I have never “heard a single word uttered in condemnation of it. The opinion which I held for many years is that the only effective cure for monopolies, trusts, and combines, is to be found in freedom of production and exchange.
– Pure Free Trade.
– Ye’s. “Where production is free, no “corner “can foe made. Where exchange is free, there can be no “corner” created. But the Labour party has been the cause of all these monopolies, because a great many of its members have supported Tariff proposals “the effect of which has been to restrict competition more and more by forcing the import duties higher and higher, and thus creating monopolies which otherwise could not exist in Australia. They show by their legislative action in this chamber that they are not only the supporters and champions of monopolies, trusts, and combines, but actually the creators of them. From the quotations I have made it is clear that they wish to create these monopolies in order that they may have an excuse for appealing to the public to nationalize them, and so create the greatest of all monopolies, a monopoly in the hands of the supreme governing authority of the country. In spite of the declarations of honorable members opposite to the contrary, and although it may not be stated in print or proclaimed from the house-tops, the real objective of these proposals is Unification and Socialism. This may be proved in a number of ways. Only the other night the Senate campaign was opened in New South Wales at a meeting in which there were present : Mr. David Watkins, Mr. Edden. Mr. Gardiner, Mr. Estell, M.L.A. ; Dr. Doyle, M.L.C. The President of the Senate Committee (Mr. J. C. Plunkett). The candidate in the course of his speech said that -
By an extension of the constitutional powers they would be able to encourage every individual who was prepared to build up an industry without detriment to the people and with advantage to the men engaged in that particular industry. They were also seeking for the nationalization of trusts and combines.
Senator Pearce, the Minister of Defence, was present on that occasion. To show further that the trend of thought in Labour circles is towards Unification, I need only show that resolutions were carried when the leaders of the Labour party in New South Wales were taken to task by various organizations for their opposition to the Federal LaBour party. The Hunter District Labour Political Council carried this resolution, which will be found quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald of 25th October, 1909 -
That this Council protests against the utterances of Messrs. McGowen, Holman, and Dacey and others of the State Labour party with regard to the question of Unification, and that the delegates to the Congress be intrusted to uphold the idea of Unification.
About the same time the North Melbourne Political Labour Council, as will be seen on reference to the Daily Telegraph of 10th October, 1909, declared -
That, in the opinion of this branch, the time has arrived when a demand should be made by all Democrats that State Parliaments and the present method of appointing State Governors be abolished, as our present method of government is too cumbersome, and is, consequently, subversive of the best interests of Democracy ; and, further, the question of Unification in a modified form should be made a leading question at the next State Labour Conference.
– Let the honorable member read what happened to that resolution at the Conference.
– I am speaking of the trend in a particular direction. I find that a delegate of the Women’s Conference, a Miss Mathews, said, at about the same time, that Unification was the foremost question of the day, and she advocated it very strongly. Referring to the same matter, Mr. J. R. Dacey, the late State Labour member for Botany, in New South Wales, said -
There is a movement on foot now to go in for what is called Unification - that is, that the six States shall be shut up, and the whole of the work of legislating concentrated in the Federal)
Parliament. So far as my voice will go, I will protest against that to the end of the chapter.
– And that is the statement of a Labour man.
– That is the statement of a State Labour member who was against the Federal ^Labour party’s policy. Then I find from the Daily Telegraph of 20th March, 1911, that Mr. Griffith, one of the New South Wales Labour Ministers, considered that -
One Parliament would be enough for Australia, and his idea of Unification was to gradually, one by one, lift the functions from the State Parliament and place them on the Federal Parliament.
Even in this House it will be remembered that we had a petition presented by the honorable member for Herbert not so long ago. There were attached to that petition 58,000 names, which were, I believe, collected chiefly in shearers’ sheds, miners’ camps, and such places.
– Surely those people, as residents of Australia, are entitled to consideration ?
– Certainly they are. But I am at present showing that amongst Labour organizations the trend of thought is in favour of Unification, and’ that is denied by honorable members opposite. I quote the following clauses from that petition -
That the continued existence of State Governments with their existing powers prevents the development of any true Federal spirit in Australia, and tends to perpetuate the State jealousy and provincialism which it is the purpose of Federation to destroy.
That the continued existence of the State Governments, as at present constituted, hampers the efficiency of the Commonwealth Government, and prevents it from exercising its powers to the fullest measure for the benefit of Australia.
It will be seen that the trend of thought amongst the people by whom this petition was signed was distinctly in the direction of Unification. On the 20th October, 1909, Senator E. J. Russell presented a petition signed by 2,250 electors praying that a referendum might be taken in regard to the abolition of State Governments and Parliaments. That is clearly evidence of the same tendency. I quote the following from a leading article which appeared in the Argus of 31st January, 191 1, with respect to views expressed by Mr. Prendergast, the Leader of the State Labour party in Victoria -
Mr. Prendergast, on the other hand, has no reservations. He boldly proclaims that the purpose of the Labour party is to destroy all State rights and boundaries. His cynical frankness is certainly preferable to the smooth phrases of Mr. Fisher, which are intended to turn public opinion on the wrong track. The leader of the State Opposition, while professing to answer the Premier, really justified all Mr. Murray’s forebodings regarding the results of affirmative referenda votes.
Mr. Minahan, a Labour member in New South Wales, defined the position of Labour members. He was the president of the recent Labour Conference in Sydney, where he stated the position very candidly in the following words : -
The Conference was the Parliament of the Labour movement, because the policy they decided there must ultimately become the law under which the whole of the people would live if they were to retain their majorities in Parliament. Their powers and responsibilities were greater than those of the pledged representatives, for the Conference could make and unmake policies, while their elected pledged representatives of the people had to confine their duties to putting the policy of the Conference before the people, elaborating it, and voting for it in the Parliament of the country.
– Has that ever been repudiated ?
– I have not seen a repudiation of the statement by the chairman of the recent Labour Conference in Sydney that they - the Labour Conference - are the real Parliament of the country, and that df they declare for Unification and the abolition of all legislative bodies, except the one centralized body meeting in the Federal arena, the members of the Labour party elected must support these proposals. That they must support proposals whether they believe in them or not is certainly not stated j but that is the natural inference, for Mr. Minahan says that Labour members of Parliament have no other duties than those of putting the policy of the Conference before the people, elaborating it, and voting for it in the Parliament of the country. No representatives of the people were ever put in so degraded a position in any party before, and if that is the position of the Labour party in occupation of the Treasury bench to-day, it is just as well that the public should know that the country is governed, not by Parliament, but by a self-elected body known as the Political Labour Conference, which meets annually in various places. As long as they are able to send a majority to the Parliament, it is that body which legislates, and not Parliament. This shows the necessity for not returning a majority of members of that party to Parliament, or’ not- intrusting them with powers such as they propose to ask the people to intrust them with when they will have no control over the legislation they pass, but must carry out the mandates of the Labour Conference, and do as directed by them, irrespective of any opinions which they may hold. Then the late Mr. Dacey, M.L.A., speaking of the demands of the Labour party in October, 1909, said -
What is the cause of this anxiety to obtain control of the State debts? There is something behind it - the States’ assets, such as the railways. That is one of the means by which unification is to be brought about. The assets must follow the debts. That is the whole thing in a nutshell. . .
If the amendments of the Constitution now proposed are carried, the Commonwealth will be able to determine the conditions of employment and the wages of railway employees, and. to interfere in the fixing of fares and freight rates. It is only a short step further to make nominal, as well as practical, full and complete possession of the lines. Another amendment of the section at present under consideration would sweep away every right the States have to retain, the ownershig of their railway property.
Behind all these proposals we see this idea of Unification, and, through Unification, the means of making this a general Socialistic community controlled from one common centre. Centralization is the aim and purpose of the whole business. Unification is desired to better enable the Labour party to utilize public funds for the purpose of carrying out their Socialistic proposals. What are these Socialistic proposals already referred to? In recent sessions of the Federal Parliament, the business-paper has fairly bristled with Socialistic notices of motion in the names of different Labour members. These are some of them -
Nationalization of the tobacco industry.
Nationalization of the shipping industry.
Nationalization of the sugar industry.
Nationalization of the iron industry.
To work in co-operation with them, the Labour party in New South Wales has these objectives -
Nationalization of land.
Nationalization of any industry which becomes a private monopoly.
Production by State mines of all iron used by the State.
Nationalization of coal mines.
State iron works.
State woollen mills and clothing factories.
State mills for sugar, grain, and other products.
Establishment of a State export department.
The platform of the Victorian Labour party embraces the -
Establishment of State mines, farms, factories and shops.
The Labour Women’s Convention recently declared that the time has come to move in the direction of the -
Collective ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
The South Australian Workers Federation adopted on 20th July, 1909, the following “ whole hog “ socialistic planks -
Abolition of capitalism.
Nationalization of land.
Nationalization of all industries.
I believe that they are now going in for Unification as a plank in their platform. I want to point out that the members of the State Labour parties - at any rate, the leaders of the Labour party in New South Wales - see in these referendum proposals of the Federal Government a desire to subjugate the State Parliaments, to take from them all their powers, and to reduce them to the position of practically only enlarged local governing bodies. Speaking in regard to the matter at the Labour Conference on 27th January, Mr. McGowen, the Premier, said -
I am not a unificationist, and old as I am, even after having given thirty-six years to the Labour movement, if unification was carried, I would organize a State Home Rule party.
Mr. McGowen said also ;
I object to this Federal referenda, because I do not believe that the industrial powers can be administered properly by the Federal Government. The granting of the powers asked for will mean that all industrial laws now operative in the States will pass to Federal administration. What is demanded is too sweeping.
We only need to quote the opinions of State Labour members to explain the attitude of this side -
These amendments are fraught with grave possibilities, and, if carried, will result in endless confusion and conflict between States and Federal powers.
Mr. Estell, the Government Whip in New South Wales, said -
I am not going out to advocate the referenda, even if the Labour leagues carry fifty motions to do so.
Here is one man who, apparently, has liberty of conscience ifhe will only stick to his declaration. Then Mr. Nielsen, a late Minister in New South Wales, said -
I do not believe in depriving the State of its functions one by one, and thus aggrandizing the Commonwealth Parliament. Whilst the State Parliaments retain full control of the matters within the State, and outside matters are under the Federal Constitution, I shall strenuously oppose any encroachments upon State rights by the. Federal authorities.
I emphasize the argument that the powers asked for (by the referenda) are too great, and that the States can better control industrial laws. Wages Boards are preferable to Federal Arbitration.
Mr. Holman, the associate Leader of the Labour party in New South Wales, and Attorney-General of the State, answered the Federal Attorney-General at the Conference, and his speech is reported in the Worker of 31st August, 1911. The Federal Attorney-General said -
I maintain now, and will continue to maintain, that we must have al] the power that we sought in the Constitutional amendments. It is impossible to abate one word of those amendments and still be able to carry into effect the platform agreed upon by the Inter-State Conference.
To those remarks Mr. Holman, the State Attorney-General, replied as follows -
Mr. Hughes had said that he could not bring the Labour platform into effect with any smaller measure. He (Mr. Holman) told him to his teeth, as a lawyer, that that was absolutely wrong. He could have effected all the Brisbane Conference demanded, with a much smaller measure.
The argument - if I dignify it with the name of argument - that because the Federal Parliament imposes the Tariff, it should have charge of all industrial legislation, will not stand investigation. This step, as suggested, will mean the end of State Labour parties. . . . No man can consider the conditions under which the battle of social reform has to be fought out without realizing that State’ Parliaments are infinitely more valuable and effective weapons than the Federal Parliament. … I am one of those possibly misguided individuals who regard the right of every people in every locality to self-govern themselves as one of the fundamental principles of progress and liberty. I don’t believe in it being taken up to-day and (put down to-morrow, as the exigencies of party fortunes or welfare may dictate. It is the rock upon which I build my church, and against which the gates of hell shall not prevail.
Mr.. Holman further declared that if certain things took place, he would leave the Labour movement. Then Mr. Beeby, Secretary for Lands in New South Wales, speaking at Blayney on the 31st March, 191 1, said -
An attempt was being made practically to - graft a unified system of government on the Federal Constitution. He contended the submission of the questions now before the country was a mistake and against the best interests of the Commonwealth.
Speaking again at Oberon, on the 9th’ November last, he further emphasized his position, notwithstanding the attacks made on him at the Labour Conference, in the following words -
I intend to assert my right to take the same stand I took when the referendum proposals were previously before the country. I have used all the power and influence I have had to obtain from the Labour Conference right of freedom of action for every individual on this great issue. I have claimed that the issue is above party consideration, and that every man should not be compelled to subscribe to what he cannot honestly believe. That right has been refused me, and ‘whatever the consequences may be, even though it may lead to my retirement altogether, I intend to persist in my opposition to certain of the referendum proposals.
At the Labour Conference, those members of the Labour party who had been bold enough to express their convictions regarding the referenda were carpeted, and measures amounting to intimidation and coercion were taken to induce them to change their speeches, or, in the alternative, to retire from the movement. Mr. Lamond, the editor of the Worker, said at the Conference -
Any one of them who did not support the referenda was a traitor to the Labour movement. If Mr. Holman wanted greater liberty and freedom he could find it inside the other parties. There was not room for traitors in the Labour party.
It is a good thing to have it on record that, in the opinion of the editor of the Worker, greater liberty and freedom can be found inside the Liberal party than is permitted inside the Labour party. He moved -
That the clause in the Constitution disqualifying from membership in a league or union anybody in the movement who opposed a Labour candidate’s election should be extended to apply to anybody in the movement who opposed a referendum proposal submitted to the people bv the Labour party.
Senator -Rae moved -
That, in the opinion of this Conference, the decision arrived at by the New South Wales Political Labour League last Friday to support the referendum proposals requires members of the State Labour Parliamentary party to fall into line and withdraw their opposition or else resign from the Labour movement.
Let me quote once more from Mr. Beeby. According to the Argus, of the 15th November, he resents the criticisms levelled against him by the Worker, and is reported to have said at Oberon -
The Labour organ has adopted a policy of in every possible way belittling the State Government and its functions, in order to glorify the Federal Parliament. It is worth noting that it is at present controlled by a peculiar triumvirate - a disgruntled ex-Prime Minister, an ex-Liberal canvasser and candidate, and an ex-Socialist editor from Brisbane. It mav he mentioned in connexion with this combination that the most respected of the three, the exPrime Minister, is supposed to have abandoned his position in Federal politics because of the outside dictation and unreasonable criticism which is resented by myself, and, I believe, some of my colleagues.
In conclusion, let me quote a couple of paragraphs from Prentice’s Federal Power over Carriers and Corp orations -
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 governmental 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.
Those words I cordially indorse. While admitting that it may be necessary from time to time to make alterations in the Constitution to meet pressing and immediate needs, these alterations should not go beyond what is at the time required. As the nation develops, this Parliament may require the extension of its powers in certain directions, and we may have to ask the people to give us the extra powers that we need to meet unforeseen contingencies that may arise but to ask now for general powers which the Attorney-General says it is not intended to use, covering every contingency, is to ask toomuch, and it would not be to the best interests of the country to have such powers granted to us, with Socialism and Unification looming so largely as the objectives.
[4.15.- - I feel that no honorable member’s vote will be changed by any of the speeches that have been or will be delivered in this debate, and it is therefore not my intention to speak at length. I do not propose to deal with trusts or combines, to review the history of legislation, or to cite the writings of authorities on constitutional matters. Further, I have nothing to say about the action of some honorable members of the late Government in advising South Africa to take a certain course in regard to Federation, though the admission that a document was signed and sent away without being read by the Minister responsible for it confirms the opinion of the Minister of Home Affairs that some of our predecessors in Ministerial office have been what he calls rubber stamp Ministers, ready to put their signature to anything submitted to them by officials. I wish to deal with this subject in the light afforded by the experiences of the Department over which I preside. The Commerce Act, although passed in 1905, was not put into operation very much until two or three years ago. There was no Director of Commerce, and the provisions of the Act were applied to only one or two cases. Now, the Department of Trade and Customs is paying more attention to matters connected with both importation and exportation. At the present time the manufacturers of concentrated cream carrying on business in Australia have to use no fewer than seven labels for their produce, one for each State, and one for export. This is because a different standard is insisted upon by each State, New South Wales and Victoria requiring the product to have 40 per cent. of butter fat, while Queensland is content with 30 per cent., and the other States are satisfied with from 25 to 35 per cent. The authorities of the States realize the absurdity of this position, and at the last Premiers’ Conference a man was appointed to go round Australia with a view to harmonizing the conflicting standards. But to secure harmony it will be necessary for six Parliaments, consisting of twelve Houses of Legislature, to pass legislation, whereas if this Parliament had the necessary powers it could by one Act do all that was needed. All we are asking is that this Parliament, elected by the whole of the people of Australia, shall have powers equal to, say, those possessed by the Legislative Council of Tasmania.
– It would facilitate business operations.
– Yes. Let me give another illustration of the difficulties created by the present distribution of powers. A Queensland meat-canner must provide a different label for each. State to which he sends his meat. If he had a consignment labelled for use in Queensland, and a rush required him to suddenly send it to New South Wales, the Queensland labels would have to be taken off, and other labels substituted to meet the requirements of the New South Wales law. For Victoria a third label would be needed, and so on. I do not think any one would justify the system which makes this necessary, yet we are told that the power to make laws to deal with thesematters should be left to six Parliaments, when it could be fairly and intelligently exercised by one, the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia. Both Australian. and oversea manufacturers complain of the difficulties caused by the diverse legislation of the States. They point out that they have not only the regulations of the Commerce Act to comply with, but must also study the legislation of each of the States. Honorable members opposite say that all these matters are best left to the States ; but in my opinion they should be dealt with by the Commonwealth, and to enable us to deal with them we must have, not a modified power, but complete control. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro did a great deal of good by discouraging the use of bags and sacks of a certain size by preventing their importation into Australia; and by securing an amendment of the law I have been able to further the end that he had in view by prohibiting the importation of sacks over a certain size. But we cannot prevent their manufacture and use inside Australia; and therefore our workers, particularly in the country, suffer considerable hardship at times by having to move bags that are too heavy to handle. I understand that the Government of South Australia has prohibited the transport by railway of bags exceeding a certain weight, but that is not sufficient. To give full effect to the beneficent intention of the honorable member, the Commonwealth Government should have power to deal generally with the use of bags and sacks. If it is a good thing that the men working on the wharfs should not be required to handle bags whose contents exceed a certain weight, it is a good thing that our country and town workers should be prevented from having to handle such bags; but not one of the States, although the matter has been brought under the notice of the State authorities from time to time, has done anything in regard to it. Again, the Commonwealth has tried to prevent the importation of cure-all medicines, but much of our good work is nullified by the inaction of the State authorities, and I shall presently give instances to show how and why our action has failed. The honorable member for Riverina referred in the House recently to the importation of a preparation that was known to be harmful, and upon which were placed misleading labels, stating that it was perfectly harmless, even in the case of children. Under the Commerce Act I called upon the agents and the importers to amend the statements on the label, with the result that they interviewed me, and, as is often the case in such circumstances, threatened the Department with legal proceedings. I told them to “go right ahead “ ; but when they learned that we had the Crown Law Department backing up our action, they said, in effect, “ Very well, we shall have these labels printed in Australia, and shall label this article after it is imported, so that you will not be able to interfere with us.” The position under the Constitution, as at present, is that this preparation and others can be imported either in bulk or in bottle, and, with misleading labels printed in Australia, then placed upon the market. Once the article has left the control of the Customs they may place upon it what label they -please. The Department of Trade and Customs is powerless “to take action. The honorable member for Lang, who has just resumed his seat, took a very active part in the agitation for prohibiting the importation of opium. Its importation was prohibited, but in case after case taken against Chinese found in possession of opium we were unsuccessful, because the High Court held that the opium found upon the defendant might have been imported before the prohibition order came into operation. Until quite recently we were unable to sustain a conviction. The High Court, however, now holds that, inasmuch as six years have elapsed since the prohibition order was made, it is reasonable to assume that opium now found upon any person in the Commonwealth must have been imported since that order was made, and, consequently, a conviction can be upheld. Then, again, we prohibited the introduction of certain articles, with the result that they have since been made in the States, and the States themselves have taken no step to put a stop to their manufacture. The honorable member for Robertson recently put to me a question concerning an alleged cancer cure which was found, on analysis, to be useless, and probably harmful. Not only would it not cure a sufferer, but it would actually have an injurious effect upon the person who took it. I believe, as a matter of fact, that, in one case, it was shown that a person had been injuriously affected by using it. We prohibited its introduction, with the result that it is now being made in Victoria. This is not the only State in which cure-all or quack medicines are now being manufactured as the result of action taken by us to stop their importation. Recently, in reply to the honorable member for Herbert, I read out the names of certain patent medicines which we refused to allow to come in while bearing extravagant claims. One of these is known as “ William Radam’s Microbe Killer.” The label to which we objected set out that -
It is a positive and certain cure for all diseases, and is guaranteed to be perfectly harmless. It will effect a cure in every instance if given a fair trial. . . . The Microbe Killer is perfectly harmless, and can be taken in any quantity without danger.
– Even without danger to the microbes, I suppose.
– We objected to that misleading statement and I dare say that the honorable member would approve of the action we took.
– This patent medicine is now being made in Melbourne, and we have no power to interfere. In a circular issued by the manufacturers, we have the statement, “ The William Radam Microbe Killer Company, Melbourne, Australia.” The words, “ Melbourne, Australia,” have been substituted for the words, “ Chicago, U.S.A.” The States have not taken any action to deal with these matters. We have asked them over and over again to take action, but they have not done so. This “Radam’s Microbe Killer,” upon analysis, was found to contain sulphurous or sulphuric acid, and the claims made in respect to it were so extravagant that the oversea manufacturers were advised by us that they could not be permitted. As this patent medicine is now being made in Victoria, we have no power to deal with the advertisements relating to it. Will any one say that it is better that questions of this character should be dealt with by six Parliaments rather than by one ? All that we ask for, however, is that we shall have equal power with the States to deal with these matters. Let us have the chance to take action on behalf of the people, and if the States fail to do so, we shall. I do not propose, as some honorable members have done, to soar into the realms of higher politics, or to quote precedents or decisions of various kinds to support certain arguments. I am dealing, and propose only to deal, with the practical everyday aspects of these questions as disclosed to me every day in the week in my capacity as Minister of Trade and Customs. In a publication entitled, Nostrums and
Quackery, containing articles reprinted from the American Medical Association Journal, I find the statement concerning this “Microbe killer,” that -
The hoary fake, when analyzed, was said to consist of hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, and red wine.
In this case as in others where theDepartment of Trade and Customs has objected to the misleading character of the labels or advertisements, the preparations themselves are either being made here, or the advertisements and literature are being printed in the Commonwealth. We have thus no power to put a stop to these extravagant claims. We objected to certain advertisements relating to Mother Seigel’s Syrup being imported, and as the result of our action, Mother Seigel’s Almanac and Home Companion for1913 has been printed in Australia.
– H - Has the Department analyzed Mother Seigel’s Syrup?
Mr.TUDOR.- An analysis of that patent medicine appears in Secret Remedies or in More Secret Remedies, which the House has decided shall be printed as Parliamentary Papers. Honorable members unanimously approved of the adoption of that course, believing that the extravagant claims made in respect of many of these patent medicines, and, in some cases, the medicines themselves, were harmful to the public. In Mother Seigel’s Almanac, we have the statement -
Mother Seigel’s Syrup has cured - cured permanently - in many instances, even after many other medicines have been tried in vain.
I appeal to the medical men, who largely support the Opposition, to say whether they approve of the do-nothing policy of the States in regard to quack medicines, and the way in which they are advertised.
– Many medical men support the Labour party.
– Quite so. Honorable members opposite say that we were beaten on the occasion of the last referendum, and that we shall be beaten again. I do not share that view. One honorable member opposite last week quoted one of Abraham Lincoln’s sayings. I should like to remind the House of another statement made by Lincoln, “ You can fool all the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” I am confident that that will prove to be true in respect of the opposition to our proposals, and that on this occasion they will be carried. After the last referendum the States said that they would take action to prevent the continuation of some of those abuses which were brought under their notice, but, with one solitary exception, they have not done so. Reference was made in the House quite recently to a hair tonic made by the Wioletta Company. The Department of Trade and Customs objected to a misleading label in regard to that preparation, and I ask honorable members what they think of the following advertisement which appeared in the Australasian - a newspaper with a very large circulation - concerning that preparation -
I’m the absolute cure for baldness. ‘ . . Wioletta Ltd., 109 Pitt-street, Sydney.
It will thus be seen that this preparation, in connexion with which the extravagant claim is made that it is an “ absolute cure for baldness,” is now being made in Sydney. We refused to allow it to come in bearing such extravagant labels, and will any one say that we were not justified in doing so? Manufacturers of quack medicines find it necessary to make extravagant claims in respect of them in order to get a sale for them. They have to assert that they will cure everything, otherwise there is no demand for them ; and when we do take action against the importation of various quack medicines bearing misleading statements, the manufacturers have the labels printed in Australia, or, in some cases, manufacture the preparation itself here, with the result that the Commonwealth is helpless. I took exception to an advertisement or label in regard to preparations known as Grasshopper Ointment and Pills. In the Bulletin there was an advertisement stating that they had “never failed.”
– Why does the Bulletin get so many of those advertisements nowadays?
– I have quoted an advertisement appearing in the Australasian - the most Conservative paper in Australia, and I propose to make quotations from other newspapers. I have here advertisements taken from the Australasian, the Bulletin, the Perth Sunday Times, the Sydney Mail, the Town and Country Journal, the Sydney Evening News, the Adelaide Advertiser, the Daily Bulletin, and others. The only newspaper which has absolutely refused to insert those misleading advertisements is the Australian Traveller, published by the Commercial Travellers’ Association. Commercial tra- vellers know more about sales than do most men, and they object to such advertisements appearing in their newspaper. Here is an extract from an advertisement in regard to Grasshopper Ointment and Pills, published in the Bulletin -
You may have attended various hospitals and been told your case is hopeless, or advised to submit to amputation, but do not, for I cau cure you.
Some people say that in taking the action we have against quack medicines and misleading advertisements we are playing into the hands of the medical profession, but that profession - although I do not approve of the action taken by some medical men recently in connexion with the maternity allowance - certainly ranks as high as any. Medical men are prepared to devote their very best skill, free of charge, to the relief of the poorest of the poor in our public hospitals.
– Medicine is a noble profession, deserving of every encouragement.
– Quite so. And yet we have in this advertisement the statement that Grasshopper Ointment will cure, even where a doctor has advised amputation. The advertisement continues -
Send to the Drug Stores for a box of Grasshopper Ointment and Pills, which has never failed to cure the worst cases of bad legs, ulcerated joints, poisoned hands, injured knees, bites, carbuncles, &c.
We objected to that coming in with such a statement upon the label. Then the proprietors of the article turned round, and printed the misleading advertisements in Australia, advertising it in the newspapers in which, I presume, they can obtain the largest circulation. As I said the other day, the worst offenders among the newspapers in publishing these advertisements are the Sydney Bulletin and the Australasian. We have obtained more advertisements of the kind from those newspapers than from any others. We objected to the statements circulated with Dr. William’s pink pills. The pills are now made locally, and are largely advertised throughout Australia. The States have failed to interfere. I have here what is described as a teething necklace. It is stated to have been invented about the year 17 15, and according to an advertisement, it is recommended by a Dr. Chamberlain. The necklace consists of about a dozen bone beads, and is sold with a powder for 9s. We
A small quantity of resinous matter and a larger quantity of mineral matter, consisting chiefly of magnesium compounds and a small quantity of calcium and iron compounds.
We prohibited the necklace and the powder, if accompanied by medicinal claims.
– Those necklaces ought to be supplied to the Opposition.
– I do not know that members of the Opposition want them. I believe that honorable members opposite in their hearts are quite as desirous as we are of prohibiting the sale of such goods. But they know perfectly well that when we prohibit them at the Customs, they are manufactured in the States, and they take no action to prevent them being made in the States, and will urge the people to leave that power with the States.
– What is the cost of manufacturing the necklace which costs 9s. ?
– I do not know what it costs. I should judge not more than 2d. or 3d. Extravagant statements concerning Holloway’s pills have appeared in advertisements in the Sydney Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser. It will be seen that I am mentioning many newspapers in connexion with this matter to show that I am not prejudiced against any particular one. The Sydney Mail advertisement of Holloway’s pills used the phrase, “There are charms that never fail.”
– Is it not in accordance with the honorable member’s fiscal faith that these goods should be manufactured in Australia ?
– It is in accordance with my fiscal faith that goods should, as far as possible, be manufactured in Australia. But my complaint is that while we have power to prohibit the importation of medicines which are harmful to the people, we have no power to interfere when they are manufactured in the States. I do not say that all the.sti things are bad, but I do say that the public have a right to be protected against advertisements which claim for patent medicines qualities which it is impossible that they should possess. Clement’s Tonic, which is made locally, and largely advertised, is described in the Sydney Mail in these terms -
It is a safeguard against disease. You cannot have Clements Tonic and ill health too. It is a certain remedy.
– What is it supposed to cure?
– It is said that temperance people take some of these patent medicines because they contain alcohol.
– The honorable member for Brisbane some time ago asked that the alcoholic contents of certain medicated wines should be printed. That action was taken by one of the most ardent temperance reformers in this House. I presume that he thought that people who desired to adhere to temperance principles ought to know the contents of the stuff they were taking. Doan’s Backache Pills axe advertised in the Perth Sunday Times, where they are described as curing “ all kidney ills and urinary troubles; they will cure you, and keep you cured.” I am sure that honorable members opposite would like to prohibit the importation of that sort of stuff. Yet they are in favour of allowing it to be made and advertised in Australia. Mr. Speaker has ruled that we should not make electioneering speeches in this debate. I am not making this speech for electioneering purposes, but in order that my statement may go into Hansard, and show what is being done in regard to this matter. It will also show that honorable members opposite are doing their best to prevent action being taken by this Parliament to deal with these medicines when they are made in Australia. Our trouble is that when we deal with the matter at the Customs, the proprietors of the articles at once commence to make and advertise them locally. It has been stated by one gentleman connected with the business that no less a sum than £160,000 per annum is spent in Australia in advertising quack remedies. It was said in England before the Commission which dealt with the matter that interested parties intended to send representatives to Australia with the object of having our Commerce Act amended, so as to enable this stuff to get in under easier conditions. If I understand the mind of this Parliament aright - and I am now referring to honorable members on both sides - there i» no intention of amending the Act to allow patent medicines to be imported more easily.
– We will make it tighter, if we get a show.
– If there is any alteration, it will be in the direction indicated by the interjection of the honorable member. It has been alleged «ihat the practical unanimity of the press in objecting to the legislation Ave propose, is largely due to the fact that the advertising of these quack remedies is so lucrative to newspaper pro.prietors. We have taken action to deal strictly with infants’ foods and teething powders. We compel statements to be »published with regard to their contents. The proprietors have to set out on the outside wrapper the quantity of narcotics and other drugs contained in them. But in the States there are no laws to support the -action of the Commonwealth in this regard, and these articles can be made in the States. Electric belts and other frauds of -that kind are not permitted to be imported with the extravagant claims for them printed on the packages. But they can be manufactured in Australia, and advertised “in the columns of the newspapers. Honorable members can see in last Saturday’s issues of Melbourne and Sydney newspapers advertisements showing the goods -of the kind that are being manufactured here.
– Would it not be possible to deal with them under the Post and Telegraph Act?
– That might be possible. but the method is a cumbrous one. It will «be remembered that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro a few years ago made ,use of the machinery of the Customs Act ito deal with the size of cornsacks. He /issued a proclamation prohibiting the importation of cornsacks above a certain size, knowing that if the sacks were reduced in :size, the quantity of corn carried in them would be reduced in weight, so that they might be more easily handled? But that Avas a roundabout method of doing what was wanted. Why should not the Minister of Trade and Customs in this case be empowered to deal with patent medicines straightforwardly, instead of resort having -to be had to the Post and Telegraph Act ? If we have power to deal with these goods when they come into the country, why should we be prevented from following them when they are made in the country? The honorable member for North Sydney -.has asked a question regarding the akoholic contents of some patent medicines. It is a well-known fact that many people become addicted to the excessive use of alcohol owing to the fact that, from reading ^advertisements, they think that certain drinks are beneficial to their health. I $»ave before me a few of the advertisements regarding the claims made for alcoholic beverages. White Horse whisky is described as “a heart tonic,” and “digestive,” and “non-gouty.” Burke’s whisky is described in an advertisement in the *Australasian as “mellow, light, and digestive.” An advertisement in the Brisbane Telegraph speaks of its “lightness and digestibility.” Wolfe’s Schnapps is said to be “ a standard tonic,” and “ a stimulant that is medicinal in its action, andi is a direct health promoter; it has curative effect in kidney, bowel, and urinary affections.” Winecaris is said to “give a wealth of health to every one.” Schade’s Schnapps is claimed to be “medicine and beverage.” I have also some particulars concerning the alcohol contained in some patent medicines. As honorable members know, there are other things which we have tried to deal with through the Customs. We have tried to prevent certain articles being imported which are conceived to be harmful to the community. But when we have prevented their importation, they have been manufactured in Australia. Many honorable members have said to me that, to their knowledge, certain things, the importation of which has been prevented, are being made by young girls in this country to-day. The States, however, have not taken any effective action. I do not care to deal with this subject on the present occasion, as it may not be advisable to place the facts on record in Hansard.
– I think it is advisable. “ This is the most damnable thing that exists in society to-day.
– The Minister ‘of Trade and Customs is referring to the manufacture of preventives?
– Apparently, it is a State right to permit their manufacture.
– Under the Customs Act we have prohibited the entry into Australia of what are commonly known as preventives, but we know that they are being manufactured here to-day.
– And by young girls, I think the Minister said.
– Yes; and on this point I shall not express my own opinion, but the opinion of the Chemist and. Druggist, which is the official journal of the trade. This is a most degrading business, and yet, although honorable members opposite contend that all such matters should be left to the States, not one State has taken any action.
– What are the Labour Government doing in New South Wales?
– In New South Wales, I understand, there is a Legislative Council that will do very little. I must say, in justice to South Australia, that we got a readier response, in this connexion, from the late Government of that State than from any other. I do not know that there are any rubber-works in South Australia, or 1 have no doubt we should have got material help. Another preparation! known as “ Steriligen,” is prohibited from entering Australia. In regard to this, a State Crown Law Office has reported -
The sale or possession of this preparation is not a contravention of any State law here.
To this the Government Medical Officer has added -
If these pernicious habits continue to be taught, the peopling of our State will be impossible.
The Chemist and Druggist quite recently stated -
The whole of this pernicious trade has been thrown into the hands of local manufacturers. The work of making these articles, being of a light nature, is done by girls of 14 and upwards.
– Shame 1
– It is a shame; and I ask any honorable members opposite if they think that the Government are not doing the right thing in prohibiting the importation of these articles? We know that honorable members opposite claim foi the- States the right to manufacture what they choose, and that it is for the State Governments themselves to take action. In my opinion, however, we ought not to shelter ourselves behind the inaction of the States. The men and women and the young people concerned are as much our brothers and sisters in this regard as in any other, and there is no doubt that we require the full commerce power to pass the needed legislation. We are asking for no more power than could be exercised by the States at the present time, and, in the name of Heaven, we ought to have at least as much power as the Legislative Council of Tasmania, for instance, to deal with such matters. I have here a few samples of boots which are manufactured and sold in Australia. The boot I hold in my hand was purchased to-day in Melbourne, for what price I do not know.
– For about 2s. nd., I should say.
– It was more than 2s. nd. The Premiers, at their Conference, agreed that some action should be taken in regard* to the manufacture and sale of shoddy footwear; but a deputation of those interested waited on Mr. Denham, the Premier of Queensland, who promised to defer action, at any rate, over this Parliament,on the ground that the other States might, not make a move. As a matter of fact, the only Parliament to take action in thisconnexion was the Verran Government, of South Australia, where more boots aremanufactured than there are in Queensland. In the case of this boot, the soleis about five-eighths of an inch thick, and. more than half of this is cardboard,, covered with about J-inch of leather,, through which one could actually pour water. This leather, I believe, is technically known in the trade as “ offal.”
– Where wasthat boot manufactured?
– I may tell the honorablemember that I am getting some even worsesamples from Sydney to-morrow - -samples of boots which will be at the Australian Natives exhibition. It cannot be said that the prohibition of the local manufacture of this kind of boot would give theimporter a chance, because an importer would have to describe it as composed, of leather and cardboard, or of leather and! compo, a description that is not demanded!, of the local manufacturer. I have even a worse sample here in an ordinary hobnailed Blucher boot bought in one of the suburbsof Melbourne. There are no eyelets in theboot ; and it cannot have been worn many times, there being no sign of wear with, laces. The sole is about three-fourths of an inch thick, five-eighths of which is card. board. Yet we hear honorable members opposite demanding that the States shall havethe right to manufacture as they please.
– Under a-, protective Tariff !
– Precisely the same thing; happens under Free Trade. This is not a matter of Protection or Free Trade, though, it is a matter of protection to the public. Here is a child’s boot with a cardboard: heel, which has been worn in South Melbourne. It was bought, I believe, in a metropolitan shop, and after the youngsterhad been out in the rain, and the little bit of leather had worn off, the nails werethen driven through into the child’s foot,, as any honorable member may see by the bloodstains inside. Honorable members will say that they are not responsible for this– sort of thing, but they will become responsible if they do not give the Commonwealth the powers now asked for. The honorable member for Moreton interjected something about the price of these boots ; but I tell that gentleman that no matter what price is paid, people have a right to know what they are buying, and all such boots should be accurately described. I have at the office a pair of children’s boots imported from England, and they have precisely similar cardboard heels. These imported boots are stamped with a stencil “leather and cardboard,” or” leather and compo,” but, of course, the lettering wears off as soon as ever the boot is worn, and, in any case, people do not know what “compo” is. The States have had six years in which to deal with these matters, and no action has been taken. Victoria has been approached on the matter time after time, and the question has been raised in the State House, but nothing has been done.
– Have these matters been brought under the notice of the State Governments?
– Yes, every one of them. I have communicated with every State Government half-a-dozen times, and, as I have said the matter was discussed at the last Premiers Conference, where a resolution was passed that action should be taken at once.
– How long is it since that Conference?
– Nearly twelve months; and I have no doubt we shall find the Premiers discussing the matter at the next Conference. It is said by those interested in the trade in Victoria that if the manufacture of such boots is prohibited here, the New South Wales manufacturers will get ahead of them; and it was that view which was taken by Mr. Denham. Under such circumstances, it is only right that one Parliament should deal with the matter in one Act. The Customs Department have taken action in regard to other objectionable forms of manufacture. For instance, we have prohibited the importation of wax matches containing white phosphorus, and a similar step has, I believe, been taken by every civilized country in the world. It is true that no State of Australia has passed any law on the subject, although the Act passed by the House of Commons was sent to the Victorian Government. Then, again, paint containing white lead for indoor work has been prohibited as injurious.
– Are these “ white phos phorus matches the matches with white heads ?
– No; white phosphorus may be made any colour, and I ought to say that I do not think that it is used in Australia. As to the 200-lb. sack, with which the name of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is associated, it is in use in Australia to-day, the importation or exportation of any over that size being prohibited. South Australia has, I think, prohibited the use of bags of over 200 lbs. on the railways ; but it will be observed that there is nothing to prevent larger sacks being made here and carted to upcountry mills, and owing to the prohibition of their use for export purposes, they are over and over again employed. It would seem that it is a State right to permit the maiming and crippling of men in the country by the use of heavy sacks. I have dealt with all these matters because they have come under my notice more, perhaps, than under the notice of any other honorable member. In view of the inaction by the States, we are perfectly justified in asking for the Commonwealth Parliament at least as much power, in this connexion, as that now enjoyed by the States.
– I must congratulate the Minister of Trade and Customs upon the very clever way in which he managed to drive a coach and four through the ruling which you, sir, gave earlier in the afternoon, when you intimated that it was not usual to allow this Chamber to be used for electioneering purposes. I would point out that the matter of taking action in regard to the various articles to which he has called attention, and more particularly in regard to patent medicines, is one entirely within his own control, and has been so for the past two years. When the honorable member for Eden-Monaro filled the position of Minister of Trade and Customs, I recollect that he took some sort of dislike to saccharine, and that, as a result, he induced Parliament to impose upon it an import duty of 30s. per lb. and 20s. per lb. Excise duty, which practically prohibited its use in Australia except for medicinal purposes. If the Minister desires to prohibit the use of the articles which he has mentioned there is nothing to prevent him inviting Parliament to act in a similar way. It is absolutely absurd for him to say that he has no power over them. During the course of his speech the other day, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports alluded to me as a Free Trader. That circumstance has no effect upon me. My constituents know my fiscal policy, and it was partly on that account that I was returned to this House. I am quite in accord with the honorable member that our present Tariff is a hotch-potch, and one which does not effectively protect all our industries ; but he was unfortunate in the industry which he selected in order to prove its ineffectiveness. He chose the boot trade. Now, from a return published by the Commonwealth Statistician a day or two ago, I learn that the position of the boot trade in Australia during the past twelve months may be thus summarized - Imports, £295,892 ; local production, £3,713,948. The wages paid are stated, and the proportion which they bear to the local cost of production is 29.5 per cent. The duty upon boots imported from Great Britain is 30 per cent., and 35 per cent. is levied upon the products of the outside world. In other words, the duty on boots is greater than the total labour cost of production. I hold that when we protect an industry to the full extent of the labour cost of production we are granting it a fair measure of protection. Beyond that point, I, as a Protectionist, do not intend to go, but right up to that point I am willing to go.
– Then the honorable member says that the boot trade enjoys a sufficient protection?
– The duty upon boots is 30 per cent., and the total labour cost of production is 29.5 per cent., so that it enjoys a protection of . 5 per cent. more than is absorbed by the cost of labour. Further, the figures show that£3,713,948 worth of boots were manufactured locally last year, as against £295,892 worth which were imported. So that it is absolutely absurd to say that the industry is languishing. It is such statements which bring a protective policy into disrepute. I come now to the matter of tanneries. We have been told recently that the leather industry is languishing for want of adequate Protection. Yet last year I find that while only £399,629 worth of leather was imported, no less than £2,648,250 worth was manufacured locally. The wages cost of producing leather is 12.5 per cent., and the duty upon it is 25 per cent. In other words the duty is about double the labour cost of production. With regard to machinery and a few other items the same story cannot be told. Some of our industries are languishing for lack of sufficient Protection, and I am quite willing to assist in adequately protecting them. The honorable member for Brisbane, during the course of his speech upon this Bill, spoke very disrespectfully of the framers of our Constitution. He went so far as to say that they were not elected, and that they were hardly representative of the people of Australia. But I think that even he will admit that the late Hon. C. C. Kingston was a Radical. He was a member of the Convention, and he it was who used these words -
No doubt every power which is proposed to be given to the Federal Parliament will be closely scrutinized before being parted with.. I am sanguine that the American plan of preserving the residue of power to the local Legislature will be followed as proposed in the Commonwealth Bill rather than the Canadian plan; of giving everything not specifically reserved, to the Federal Parliament. While recognising the interests of Federation for national purposes we should cherish with equal importance the principle of home rule in all local’ affairs. The Provinces must maintain, so far as possible, consistently with true Federation, the glorious principle of managing our own affairs.
These were the words of the late C. C. Kingston, who was admittedly a man of advanced ideas, and they were the strongest words used by any delegate to the Convention against granting to the Commonwealth’ Parliament powers which belonged to the States.
– We all agree with him.
– Honorable members opposite are endeavouring to alter the existing position. The honorable member for Brisbane went on to say that -
Every State has absolute power to regulate combines.
He pointed out that -
In America trusts were formed in New Jersey: and operated over other States.
Under the Constitution the Commonwealth has power to control combines of an Interstate character, and the State Parliaments have power to deal with combines within their own borders. Before a Bill of this kind is passed, one has a right to ask whether such a change is wanted. I say that the Government received a very emphatic answer to that question in April, 1911, when their referenda proposals were submitted to the electors. When the Aus- tralian States federated, we did not reduce the powers of the people. We merely divided them between two legislative bodies. A limitation was imposed, under which the States have power to legislate within their own sphere, whilst a definite sphere of action was assigned to this Parliament. The people are still supreme, and each legislative body, Federal and State, is supreme within its own ambit. The States may deal with any monopoly which exists within their own boundaries, and the Commonwealth may deal with any monopoly of an Inter-State character. Many reasons have been cited by the Labour party showing why the proposed changes in our Constitution should be made. Amongst other things, they have urged the industrial unrest which has existed in Australia during the past few years. But one serious cause of that unrest has been the creation of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. As the honorable member for Flinders pointed out, that tribunal, which was intended to be a peaceful centre, has become the storm centre of Australia; and, in order to get before it, unions in different States have federated, so as to make their disputes partake of an InterState character. This Parliament made an honest attempt to provide means for the settlement of industrial disputes when it passed our Conciliation and Arbitration Act. But that measure has had the very opposite effect.
– Can the honorable member give us an instance of disputes having been manufactured?
– I could give a dozen instances. But I will refer the honorable member to the statement of the Prime Minister, who declared that the Government bad no power to deal with the Brisbane strike, although, as the honorable member for Darling Downs interjected, the case of the employes in that dispute was then before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– Which is not correct.
– It is hardly worth my while quoting instances if the honorable member will not believe the records of the Court. The Prime Minister said that the Tramway employes had got into the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, but, in order to get there, it had been necessary to make their dispute partake of an Inter-State character.
– Is it not a foolish thing to have a law like that in existence?
– That is what I have already said. It might not be a serious evil to repeal the Act and leave the State Parliaments to deal with industrial matters. We have tried our hand, and have absolutely failed.
– The honorable member connot have looked into the matter, or he would not say that.
– I have looked into the matter. I was dealing with the question whether the people had asked for these alterations of the Constitution. I find that on the 25th September last a conference of the Independent Workers was held in Melbourne, at which the following resolution was passed -
That this Council, representing the Victorian organized independent workers, expresses its deep concern at the reported statement that there is a movement on foot by certain State Governments to voluntarily surrender certain industrial powers to the Commonwealth Parliament. Inasmuch as past and present experience gives undeniable evidence that Federal control of industrial affairs does not tend towards concord and amity, while granting that Federal control is essential to deal with large national aspects, we consider that home rule in industry governed by progressive State legislation can give much better satisfaction to all sections for many years to come. We therefore respectfully appeal to the Victorian State Government to display extreme caution before voluntarily giving up any of its present industrial powers.
That is a resolution passed on behalf of an organization numbering many thousands of independent workers.
Mr.W. J. Johnson. - That is “ Packer’s Union.”
– It is an organization of Victorian workers who have united to resist the tyranny of that great combine, the Trades Hall. It is evident that these people do not regard legislation by the Federal Parliament as a panacea for all their industrial ills.
– Yet there are over 100,000 people working harmoniously under awards of the Federal Arbitration Court.
– How can the honorable member say that they are working harmoniously? On the occasion of the Brisbane strike the waterside workers in that city left produce to rot on the wharfs. They would not touch it. They went on strike, and the law was not set in motion to compel them to carry out the award of the Court. Will the honorable member for Darling say that that is an evidence of harmonious working? Mr. W. J. Court, secretary to the Brisbane Tramway Employes Independent Association, writes -
We have been very busy in connexion with the Commission from the Arbitration Court for taking the evidence of tramway employes. At last it is over, but what the result will be it is hard to tell. The public are treating it as a great joke, and want to know who is to pay the Tramway Union’s fees.
– That statement is in very bad taste, seeing that the matter is still sub judice.
– The writer of the letter quoted says that it is all over.
– It is not all over ; the result is not known yet.
– The writer goes on to say -
We are going along famously here. Our membership is 650, and our Association is now registered under the Queensland Trade Unions Act.
The Queensland Tramway Union, which federated-
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to deal with that matter.
– I do not know, sir, whether you have followed me in what I have been saying. We are dealing with a Bill proposing to ask the people to grant further industrial powers to the Commonwealth Parliament, and1 I was pointing out that persons who have had an opportunity to take advantage of the exercise of industrial powers by this Parliament have refused to do so. They have formed independent unions in order that they may come under the awards of State tribunals rather than of the Federal tribunal. I have no wish to act contrary to your ruling. .
– The honorable member was not discussing the merits of the case before the Arbitration Court.
– That is so. I was referring to the views on the matter expressed by a section of the workers who have to obey the laws of this country, have an interest in them, and have a voice in the making of them. The AttorneyGeneral has told us that unlimited power to make laws no longer exists. Surely the honorable gentleman does not expect the people of Australia to believe that? He can hardly hope that they will believe that between the Federal and State Parliaments we have not unlimited power to make laws. I have already pointed out that the legislative powers of the people have been divided between the Commonwealth and State Parliaments, but they have not been lessened at any time. The AttorneyGeneral went on to say that before Federation” the State Parliaments had ample . power todeal with trusts and combines. That power within their own domain has not been, taken from them. The effect of Federation has been to give the people widerpowers than they ever had before, and they can now deal, not only with matters affecting the separate States, but also with InterState matters. The Federal Parliament has exceeded its *powers on one or two occasions, and as a result has had to face adverse decisions of the HighCourt. That is not the fault of the Constitution, but the fault of this Parliament in passing laws that were ultra vires of theConstitution. The Attorney-General waxed, very warm in his references to (the Coal Vend. He informed us that it had been? suggested in Germany that the coal industry should be nationalized. It was suggested’ that the industry should be nationalized ireAustralia when I was quite a boy. The nationalization bogy was trotted out then as it has been trotted out occasionally ever since. In Victoria the coal industry has been nationalized, and I leave it to the Victorian people to say whether they are any betteroff with a nationalized coal industry thanare the people of the other States in whichthe industry is carried on by private enterprise. The people have a perfect right tocontrol and regulate industries, and, if they please, to nationalize them; but the question is whether it would be wise to nationalize them, and that is an entirely different matter. I am under the impression that some time ago the Attorney-General spokein highly complimentary terms of the Coal Vend. It would appear that some folk regard plunder as unobjectionable so long; as they can get a share of it. The honorable member for Lang has extensively dealt with this aspect of the matter this afternoon, and, therefore, I need not go into it further. On the subject of the high cost of living, the honorable members for SouthSydney and Denison have put it down to= the defeat of the last referenda proposals.. If either of those honorable members had given the matter any serious consideration, they would have gone nearer the truth, and would have arrived at very different, conclusions. Wages have increased all round in Australia during the last twoyears._ Labour is the foundation of all our supplies, ^ and if the wages of labour are affected in any way, there is a consequent effect upon the price of our supplies. I do not speak on this matter in a fault.finding way, because I agree that the labourer is worthy of his hire ; but it is only fair that honorable members should bear in mind that if wages go up the cost -of living is bound to rise at the same time. If honorable members look in some other -direction for a sole cause of the increased cost of living, they must expect to be dis-‘ appointed if they do not find it.
– As an agricultural expert, perhaps, the honorable mem;ber will say whether there has been a rise in the wages of potato diggers during the last two years. Potatoes are now ^12 per ton, and some little time ago they were only £2 per ton. How much more do potato diggers get to-day for their work?
– If the honorable (member knew anything about potatoes, he would know that there has been none to dig for the last couple of years in Australia.
– Then an increase in the wages of potato diggers is not the cause of the increased price of potatoes?
– If there are no potatoes grown, it is only natural to suppose that the price will go up. I have here some Victorian figures, showing the increase in wages during the last two years in certain industries. They are taken from an official document, published, I believe, by the Victorian Statistician. I find that the wages of workers in the aerated waters industry were increased in 1910 by 4s. 4d., and in 191 1 by 3s. 10d; per week, or an increase of 8s. 2d. per week for the two years. In the boot and shoe industry the increases were 9s. 5d. per week in 1910, and 2s 9d. in 1911, or a total of 12s. 2d. per week in the two years. In the baking industry, the increases were 13s. rid. in 1910, and 7s. 3d. last year, or a total of 21s. 2d. The wages of butchers were increased by 8s. nd. per week in 1910, and by 5s. 2d. per week in 191 1, a total of 14s. id. The wages of carpenters were increased by 8s. 7d. per week in 1910, and by 4s. 8d. in 191 1, or a total of 13s. 3d. per week in the two years; grocers, 10s. 2d. in 1910, and 3s. sd. in 191 1, making a total of 13s. 7d.
– They must have “been at that amount before the Labour party got back. The men are not getting too much now.
– These awards did not have anything to do wilh the Labour party ; they were given by the Wages Boards of Victoria.
– Then the Labour party are not responsible.
– The Wages Boards of Victoria were not the creation of the Labour party.
– Then the Labour party were not responsible.
– The Labour party have never been in power in Victoria.
– The Liberals opposed the creation of Wages Boards as long as they could.
– That is very inaccurate.
– It is absolutely accurate.
– Who is making this speech anyhow?
– The members of the Legislative Council opposed the proposal.
– The rise in wages is responsible for part of the increase in the cost of living, and a portion of the high cost can be accounted for in other ways, which I think should be removed.
– You have not a remedy.
– I have. I wish to refer to the system of distribution. Where competition comes in most keenly the people have to pay for that competition, and the cost of some items which I shall mention will show that. For instance, take milk. 1 do not think that any one will admit that there is a milk ring. But what do we find in Sydney? The householder is paying 2s. a gallon, or 6d. a quart, while in Victoria the price is, I think, is. 8d. a gallon. A farmer receives, perhaps, 8d. or lod. a gallon; the producer gets about one-half of what the milk costs the consumer. Is it reasonable to suppose that there is nothing wrong with the distribution when it costs more to sell the milk to the people than is received by the farmer who has to pay rent, hire labour to milk the cows, and deliver the product to the cities for distribution.
– Have you just found that out?
– I found it out thirty years ago, and have spent the interval in trying to reduce that gap between the producer and the consumer, while my honorable friends have been dreaming about working miracles bv legislation. I have bearded the lion in his den ; and I have succeeded in doing something for the people. I could not work for every one, but for the people whose cause I took up I worked and got satisfaction by reducing the great margin of profit. Again, take beef. We hear a lot about a meat ring. I will admit that there have been meat rings in Australia for a considerable time - that is combinations and honorable understandings, as the case might be. Yet the highest average price paid to the grower of beef to-day is 18s. per cwt. ; our very best Queensland bullocks are not worth more than that price as they stand on the runs. The man who comes in between the public and the grower of meat puts up the price. Then take firewood. The hewer of firewood is, I suppose paid about 8s per cord, but the householder pays 25s. There are no rings in these things. Every tenth house in Fitzroy is, I believe, a dairy and at almost every corner there is a fuel dep6t. This shows that there is the keenest competition, with no combines at all. Yet, in those matters, where the keenest competition prevails, the consumer is paying double and treble the price which the producer receives. I wish to deal further with the quotations made by the honorable member for South Sydney and the honorable member for Denison about the increased prices. The former did not say from whom he got the information, but the latter told us that he was quoting from the Worker. I do not look upon the Worker as a very reliable authority.
– You think it is better than the Argus, though.
– It is not very much better than the Age, if any. I have not a very high opinion of the Age, I candidly admit. We are dealing with combines, and, perhaps, the Age may be regarded as one of them, because it seems to have a powerful grip over honorable members in Victoria. The honorable member for South Sydney gave the advances in the values of the following commodities during the last year : - Oatmeal, £125,000; sugar. .£785,000; rice, £[48,000; jam, £55,150; coffee, £[19,950; condensed milk, ,£65,100; raisins and sultanas, £[51,200; sago and tapioca, £[7,500. The Worker asserts that that is the cost to the people of New South Wales for having turned down the referenda proposals submitted in 191 1, and Mr. Mcllrath, of McIlrath’s Limited, Sydney, is credited with having suppliedthat information to the Worker.
– Not to the Worker, to the public. That was sup plied in an answer to a statement made by’ Mr. Griffith, Minister for -Public Works.
- Mr. Griffith, I understand, said that prices had not gone up.. Unfortunately, I could not find his letter, otherwise I should have brought it under the notice of the House, too. He complained that the grocers were charging- prices which they had no right to charge, as values had not gone up. I suppose that* if the argument was the other way, he would have been quoted instead of Mr.. Mcllrath. However, this is the information which Mr. Mcllrath gave to thepublic -
In reply to Mr. Griffith’s question in thismorning’s paper, we would ask you to be good’ enough to publish the following comparisons of” prices. We think that even the Minister himself will admit that the difference between supplying the Government contracts and in retailing; across the counter to the public is not morethan sufficient to meet the increased expensethereby incurred. These figures should satisfy Mr. Griffith that a considerable advance hastaken place since last year, and that we are not, as stated by him, charging the public enormousprofits, compared with what the Government is paying : -
So that the article read by the honorablemember for Denison as emanating from the Worker was simply an article manufactured by that newspaper, and one for which* Mcllrath Limited were not responsible.
– Do you hold than these increases have not been made?
– I hold that Mr. McIlrath’s list does not show that the increases have been made, particularly to the extent which has been quoted by the honorable member for Denison. The Labour party have always told us that if they had the power they would reduce the cost of living. Now, what have the Labour parties that have had the power done for the people in that regard? On this point, Mr. Adam McCay has expressed himself in the Sydney Sun in these words - “What have you done for Labour?” The answer rises fast
From every toiling work-shop, and the answer comes at last;
Comes with a hollow echo from the parliamentary den, “ We raised our screws four pounds a week, and sacked three hundred men.”
Mr. Lightfoot, giving evidence last week before the Arbitration Court, made a comparison regarding the cost of living in the capitals of the six States. He said that in Sydney £1,114 would have to be spent, in Perth and Fremantle, or in Adelaide, £1,107; in Melbourne, ,£1,000; in Hobart, £976; and in Brisbane, .£937, to obtain the same commodities. Thus the cost of living in Sydney, the capital of a State which has a Labour Government, is n per cent, above the average. Then come Perth and Fremantle, in Western Australia, which is also under a Labour Government, and Adelaide, which has only recently rid itself of Labour administration. In Hobart, the capital of a State which will not have Labour at any price, the cost of living is much below the mean. I ask why, if Labour Governments can do miracles, they have not reduced the cost of living in the States in which they are in power? The honorable member for South Sydney made some misleading remarks about the cost of butter locally, quoting figures supplied by the Minister of Trade and Customs, which were proved incorrect by other figures supplied by the honorable member for Richmond, showing that some of the Victorian factories made more out of their London shipments than they received locally. The honorable member for South Sydney was very careful to take a period of the year when practically no butter is exported from Australia, our exportations of butter practically ceasing during April, June, July, and August. In the years before the exportation of butter to London had been commenced, the consumer often had to pay 2s. 6d. a lb. for it in those months. The honorable member complained that, although the Commonwealth is paying £100,000 a year to subsidize vessels for the carrying of butter, local consumers have to pay more for it than do consumers abroad. Those statements may be accepted in Woolloomooloo, but thinking people will regard them as ridiculous. The butter industry has nothing to thank any Government for. By combination the dairy farmers broke up a monopoly, and asoperated in building factories and distributing their produce. Were there no butter to be exported, the Commonwealth would be paying much more dearly for the carrying of its mails to the Old Country. The honorable members for Maribyrnong and Adelaide have tried to make capital out of an interjection which I made when the honorable member for South Sydney was speaking. Shortly after the New South Wales Dairy Act came into force, requiring every dairyman to have his name printed on his cart in 3-inch letters, a dairyman who had his name chalked on was stopped by a policeman, who said to him, “ Your name is obliterated.” “ You’re a liar,” he replied, “my name is O’Brien.” The Standing Orders would not allow me to use such language in regard to what has been said about my waving a flag in glee because the Beef Trust is to be established in Brisbane. I have no fault to find with either the Hansard report of the incident, or the press report. The honorable member- for South Sydney knows my opinion regarding the wool top monopoly, and when speaking, was looking at me as if he wished me to finish his sentence. He said, “ There is a beef trust starting in Brisbane; they are spending £350,000 on meat works there,” and thinking that he wished me to finish his sentence, I said, “ Yes. and we are pleased to see them there.” I was putting words into his mouth. I forgive him for taking me incorrectly, though I do not think that he misunderstood me, because he replied, “ I see no reason for rejoicing.” I know exactly what was in my mind. I do not wish to try to get out of anything I may say. If it is true, I stick to it.
– And if it is not true you obliterate it.
– If any statement of mine is untrue, it is not because of any fault on my part, and I am always willing to withdraw such statements. I have opinions of my own, and do not take fright because Swift and Company are building meat works in Brisbane. The growers get only 18s. per cwt. for their meat. Swift and Company have been described by the Attorney-General, and the honorable member for South Sydney, as an American trust. We have nothing to do with their
American business, but from inquiries I have made I understand that they have sixty wholesale distributing houses in London and in the provinces, and want to get our meat for that market. I am credibly informed, too, that they are prepared to pay the growers 50 per cent, on the present prices.
– They did that in America when it suited them.
– And they are doing it in America now. A gentleman just back from America, told me that 30s. a cwt. was paid for meat at auction, the retail price of beef being 8 cents, or about 4d. per lb., whereas here the growers receive only 1 8s. a cwt., and the retail price is 5d., 6d., and even is. per lb. F. W. Hughes and Company, a firm which is really the Australian Meat Export Company, is the Meat Trust that we have to fear, but how is it treated by my honorable friends opposite, who have so much to say about Swift and Company? : This firm is subsidized by the Government to the amount of £15,000 per annum. The honorable member for South Sydney has fought very hard in its interests. They are exporters, and have not supplied the local market with meat. What have this Government done for the company known as Bovril Australia? Before they would consent to erect cool stores at Port Darwin they wished to. know what Bovril Australia were going to do, and as soon as that company guaranteed to send 10,000 head of cattle per month to the works, they agreed to build the factory. Bovril Australia is one of the worst “kind of monopolies that we could have. It has gone down to the very foundation and secured the means of production - the land.
– It does not own what it occupies in the Northern Territory.
– No, but it has a lease extending over forty odd years. Whilst we own the land - the source of production - and the railway* we can control Swift and Co. ; but I should certainly like the Government and their supporters to be consistent. They accuse one of being an advocate of combines, yet they have erected works for a combine, and have complained because another company has
Gome along and built cool stores for itself.
– I should like the honorable member to give us his authority for the statement that the Meat Combine is paying at the rate of 30s. per cwt. for beef] in America.
– Does not the honorable member believe that they are?
– I do not. I do not think that any one in Melbourne would believe that they are.
– I should like to make further reference to the question of combines, but the limited time at my disposal will not permit of my doing so. During this debate it has been asserted that the Federal land tax has done something to cheapen the cost of living and to break up large estates. I venture to say that it has really had a lot to do with the increase in the cost of living, and it cer*tainly has not reduced the number of estate-holders in the Commonwealth. I have here a letter from Mr. McKay, the Federal Land Tax Commissioner, in which he writes -
In compliance with your telephone request, I beg to supply the following information : That the number of taxpayers in 1910-11 was 14,833, and in 1911-12, 14,922.
This authoritative information, therefore, shows that the number of taxpayers under the Federal Land Tax Act has increased, although the amount actually paid has not. As my time has’ almost expired, I shall not be able to deal with one or two other points to which I had intended to refer.
.- In the earlier part of his address, the honorable member for Moreton made a reference to the industrial powers enjoyed by the Federation, and, incidentally, to one of those word pictures painted by the honorable member for Flinders, in which he is said to have represented the Conciliation and Arbitration Court as a storm centre rather than a messenger of peace. Most of us are aware that the honorable member for Flinders is by no means sympathetic with the principle of arbitration - that he has more than once expressed the view that that which we on this side of the House, and others interested in industrial questions, believe likely to accrue from arbitration will not result from it. But bearing . in mind that he is a somewhat unsympathetic critic of our arbitration work, I would refer the honorable member for Moreton to some observations made by the honorable and learned member when the proposals now before the House were being debated on a previous occasion. The honorable member for Flinders then made a very strong appeal for increased power for the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. He said -
Whatever legislation we may pass we cannot, unless we give the central Parliament the final and superemiment control, deal effectually with all the cases which may arise. Therefore, I say again -
The honorable member, apparently, had made this statement more than once at that time - that we should amend paragraph- xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution to give this Parliament a wider and more general power than it has to deal with conditions of employment. I do not see what we have to be afraid of. We, on this side, should not be afraid to give this Parliament a wider power, because the governing political party is strongly opposed to us in these matters.
I do not know that the honorable member has given expression to any different opinion on, this subject; but I shall have occasion to show that he has been somewhat contradictory, as has already been pointed out, in respect of other matters. In any event, the quotation made by the honorable member for Moreton to show that we should not have the extended industrial power for which we ask was rather inapt. I am not going at present to discuss the industrial question, beyond expressing the view that I have always held - and which, I am pleased to know, is supported by honorable members on both sides of the House, whose opinions carry more weight in the country - that it is impossible to deal with industrial troubles piecemeal, so long as we are bound by arbitrary geographical limitations, when a dispute is commenced, and so long as the President of the Arbitration Court cannot call up his powers of conciliation before the dispute has reached so critical a stage as to inflame the minds of people in more States than one. Before passing from the honorable member for Moreton ‘s remarks, I should like to reply to the allegation made by him, and also by the honorable member for Lang, that honorable members on this side often find in trusts and combinations something to admire, while at other times they cannot visit them with too strong reprobation. 1 think the view of the AttorneyGeneral was sufficiently clearly put by himself when, he said, in moving the second reading of one of these Bills, that he did not object - and I do not think that any one of us objects - to combination. So far from denouncing or objecting to the principle, we recognise that it lies at the very base of this party’s existence.
– We do not object to combinations as long as they do not rob the public.
– As long as no injustice is done to the public. We know that the Labour party is built upon organization and combination, and that its views in regard to combinations and organizations have been accepted in this House, and have been placed upon the statute-book in the form of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
My contribution to this debate, brief ?.s it will be, comes at a time more suited for summing up the position, if I were qualified to do so, than for adding anything original to the vast and useful volume of evidence for and against these proposals which has already been brought forward. Still, one feels that it is a duty one owes to oneself and one’s constituents to have one’s views recorded on a matter of such momentous consequence to the Commonwealth, whose citizens we all are. I do not join with those - indeed, I hope they are comparatively few - who would belittle the work of the framers and founders of the Commonwealth Constitution. So far from belittling their work, I remember the. keen interest which I took, as a very young man, in the debates at the time, and the feeling of gratitude, which has by no means entirely passed away,- to those who, in that time of stress and strain, fought the national battle. It was for them to fashion the giant instrument with which succeeding generations of Australia have to control this country of ours for good or evil, and it is for us now, as best we may, to try to guide the people as to how far, if at all, that instrument is to be amended, or, as some would prefer to say, remodelled and remoulded. It is for us to say when, and to what extent, we shall avail ourselves of the power which, whatever other faults there may be in the Constitution, the framers of that Constitution have giver, us to amend it. The difficulties which face us in this debate are certainly of the same kind as those which faced the framers of the Constitution; but it must be confessed that in extent they are infinitely less. They are, in my view, divisible into three classes of varying degrees of worthiness. First, there was the natural timidity of Federalists to vest in the central power, the. Commonwealth Parliament, many of those powers which had hitherto been enjoyed by the separate States. That timidity stil! exists amongst many honest Federalists.
Secondly - and this was less worthy - there was the grudging and jealous disposition of those in authority in the States to conserve and retain power and prestige as long as they themselves remained in a position to exercise that power. To these difficulties may be added, thirdly, that attribute of our fallen nature, the claims of party. I suppose that we are all more or less influenced by party considerations. Some of us more than others enjoy the new virtue formulated by the honorable member for Flinders, “mere verbal consistency” - for which graceful expression we are much indebted to him. I am sure he will not mind my saying that he will find that we are going to be greatly indebted to him during the campaign for the referenda upon which we are about to enter, for many wellconsidered, and, may I add, well-supported expressions of opinion in regard to these Federal matters, on which we are only too sorry to learn that, for some reason too recondite for me to fathom, we are not to be supported on this occasion by his vote. I do not think that other honorable members should enjoy the sole privilege of quoting the honorable member for Flinders and of having some of his literary gems embodied in their speeches. I also should be able to send some of them to my constituents. I want it to be recognised how the honorable member approached these questions in the past, and how he is approaching them now. It is not merely a personal matter. It is a matter which appears to me to show, in the clearest possible way, the attitude of honorable members opposite towards this party and their attitude towards the proposals which are now being submitted by us.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– As I have already said, I see no reason why my speech should be divested of those pearls of wisdom with which the honorable member for Flinders has at different times enlivened and ornamented our debates. The quotations which I shall make are directed to show that we are perfectly entitled to say that the Opposition have proved conclusively out of the mouths of some of their leading spokesmen that this is essentially a party question with them, and that at a time when they were altogether divested of party feeling they expressed views on these great national questions entirely in harmony with those which we hold, and entirely antagonistic to those which they themselves are now expressing. The honorable member for Flinders, in the former debate, said -
As we are asked, in a time of peace and rest, to consider deliberately a fundamental constitutional change, it is our duty to put out of our minds who sits on the Government benches and who is in Opposition. If we fail to do so we shall fail in our performance of the most sacred trust given to us by the people.
Again, the honorable member said -
We on this side should not be afraid to give this Parliament a wider power, because the governing political party is directly opposed to us on these matters.
The honorable member said, later -
In any case, I am not afraid to trust to the sound common sense and spirit of fair play which the majority here has inherited from its British ancestors. I believe that all will come right in the end. We ought not, like the inhabitants of Lilliput, to try to tie down with a thousand strings of technical and constitutional restriction this Gulliver, who is bound to break away sooner or later.
When we compare those broad and statesmanlike views with those on the very same subject so recently expressed by the honorable member, and when we recollect his contemptuous reference to “ mere verbal consistency,” we cannot help wondering whether this direct change of front upon fundamental questions of policy, and, indeed, political morality, is, as he puts it, a failure in the recognition of our most sacred duty, or whether it is merely an example of verbal inconsistency. In his recent speech, the honorable member concluded with the words -
I hope that it will be safe at some future time to extend the trade and commerce powers
Df this Parliament, but I say emphatically that it is not safe to do so at the present time.
He said a little while before, speaking of his own party, “ I trust members on this side of the House, but I do not trust you “ - referring then to honorable members on this side. It is regrettable, to put it mildly, that an honorable member to whom we have been accustomed - I say advisedly - to look with some respect for light and leading on constitutional questions, should be guilty of such a startling reversal of policy as the honorable member Kas shown. The honorable member, in another debate, claimed to have the courage of his opinions. In view of the quotations which I have made, I should say that he has shown that he has not only the courage of his opinions, but that he has the courage of opinions which are diametrically opposed to each other. The only thing that yet remains to be seen is whether he has that supreme virtue of courage which is able to resist the pressure, say, of the members of the Women’s National League and kindred organizations. The honorable member seems to me to be the Gulliver of politics. I do not know whether he will break his chains, but at present he appears to be tied down by a thousand silken cords of party.
– Silken cords, or apronstrings ?
– Some of them, no doubt, are silken. However, we frankly admit that this matter is with us a party question. It must be so now, undoubtedly. It has become so by the deliberate choice, in the first place, of the chosen representatives of our party in conference assembled, after full and free discussion and deep consideration, in this House, and in the country. We have acted in this matter as our party has acted in respect of other reforms. As soon as we became convinced of the necessity for them, we have appealed again and again - and, if necessary, yet again - to the people, until they have become acceptable and have been accepted. The popularity of a proposal is not the measure of its likelihood of acceptance by the members of this party. If they conceive it to be right, they continue to urge it upon the people; and it remains for the people, if they so choose, to visit their judgment in a very summary way upon our party. In this connexion, I may say that it is difficult to conceive of a more unfair or futile argument than that advanced by the honorable member for Parramatta. He stated that trying, as he put it, to thrust these proposals down the throats of an unwilling public was a denial of popular government. Whatever else our action and attitude may be, it is the antithesis of a denial of popular government. The people are always just, but they are not necessarily always discriminating; and it would have been possible for this party and this Government to tickle their ears with plausible legislative proposals. We preferred to take the people entirely into our confidence in this matter, and to tell them that, though we are in power as a Government, we are not in power as a National Parliament to carry out what we conceive to be necessary reforms in the best interests of this country. But we do not forget that the voice and the vote which are to pronounce judgment on these referenda proposals are the voice and the vote which will decide whether this Government are to come back as a Government or not. As the honorable member for Capricornia pointed out in an interjection, the same voice and vote which grants these powers, if they be granted, may conceivably grant them to another party, or it may withhold them for the present, and return the Labour party to power. At any rate, it cannot be said, as was , said on the occasion of the previous referenda, that the Labour party will have two years in which to wage destruction amongst the people after the proposals have been accepted. The people on this occasion have had time to consider the matter, and will have further time to consider as to whom the powers are to be exercised by. The Government will have the satisfaction of knowing, at all events, that if the proposals are accepted they will have been accepted deliberately after the fullest and freest consideration, and that the Parliament will be quite entitled to exercise the powers.
– And if the proposals are rejected ?
– If the proposals are rejected, we shall submit similar, if not precisely the same, proposals again, and keep them before the people until they are accepted, or until the Labour party is rejected, whichever may be first preferred, lt is well to bear in mind that, rightly or wrongly, the Constitution is not, by any means, easily susceptible of amendment. State rights are so far preserved that it is necessary to have, not only a majority of the people in a majority of the States, but a majority of the whole people. I mention this because it is a very effective, and, as some people would say, a too effective, means of preserving the State rights. The Labour party, however, recognise that there are constitutional impediments which have to be overcome. We are not asking that these impediments shall be removed, but proposing to overcome them; that is * to say, we are not asking to make the Constitution more easy of amendment, but seeking to so impress the necessity for amendment on the people, that the Constitution may be amended in spite of the impediments. It is said of us that we are tending to Unification.
– Hear, hear !
– Of course, the honorable member says “ Hear, hear !” for is he not the lone, but spirited, disciple of . Unification ?
– No, no.
– There are several others.
– Perhaps there are several others, but, not having counted heads in Caucus, or elsewhere, I really do not know how many honorable members on this side at present favour Unification. All I know is that Unification has not been accepted by the party, and is not part of the party’s policy. Personally, I am not favorable to Unification, but believe in maintaining the Federal pact. I am, however, wholly and heartily favorable to amending the Constitution and extending the national powers in those directions in which the experience and wisdom of men entitled to judge have shown that amendment is necessary. I do not share the more recently expressed opinion of some honorable members opposite that we should seek to amend the Constitution piecemeal as bitter necessity shows amendment to be necessary. It seems to me preferable to accept, with all docility, the betterconsidered views of leaders on both sides of the House that, an amendment of the Constitution being a solemn and difficult proceeding, when it is about to be consummated, should be directed to curing not only those mischiefs, to use a legal term, that already press on us, but should be sufficiently wide in its terms to anticipate those of a like character which are obviously imminent. Do the proposals before us bring us any nearer to Unification? Almost every speaker opposed to the proposals has answered in the affirmative - indeed, that is their favourite battle-cry. The honorable member for Richmond, if I may address myself, as a junior member on this side, to one of the younger members on the opposite side, argued lucidly enough in an endeavour to prove this contention. I think I understood his view that if we give the Federal Parliament complete power as to trade and commerce, coupled with the other grants, of power, we shall, by that means, put the Parliament in a position to undermine the autonomy of the States, and the honorable member urged that this is particularly so, in view of the very wide definition of trade and commerce. I venture to agree with him ; but the difficulty is that his argument proves too much. The Federal Parliament has already sufficient power, and more than sufficient power, to undermine State autonomy. The Parliament has, for instance, complete power over taxation, and by one measure of this House it could probably cripple the borrowing powers of the States ; and by the same measure, or a separate one if need be, it could exhaust for itsown purposes every subject of local taxation. It could pass laws as to marriage and divorce) and the custody of infants, which, adopting an expression attributed to the Prime Minister, would, in very truth, make the people “ fall down with fright.” It could pass measures dealing with emigration and immigration in a manner calculated to fill this continent, perhaps, with a mongrel race, or, on the other hand, denude it of population, and leave it a bare and barren fragment of the British Empire. The fact is that if we only assume national insanity, we find there is abundant power in the Commonwealth Parliament to rob the States of every particle of practical autonomy that they possess.. Of course, the argument cuts both ways. The States might, it is true, indulge in reprisals so long as they lasted. They have the whole of the explored and unexplored powers contained in the residuary commission, which is given to them, and which include control over life and limb. By this means they have direct and immediate power over every member of this Parliament, and every citizen of the Commonwealth, and by way of asserting their authority they could - to push the argument to absurdity, as we aTe entitled to do - hang each one of them as high as Hainan. It is only necessary to reduce the argument of the honorable member for Richmond and other honorable members to an absurdity to show it is false in its premises. The test of Unification, at all events as I have always understood it, is whether complete sovereign power remains to the States, which are the units of the Federation. I mean complete sovereignpowers, so far as they can be complete, inview of the extreme position I put a while ago,, to legislate on any subject with thevery small limited number of exceptions, closely allied with the Federal machinery. The States are, one might say, the residuary legatees of power, while we here are the specific legatees. In the Federal Parliament there is no power of review or power of veto - no power to declare that this or that field of legislation is already occupied by one Parliament or the other. The whole scope is open, and, as Dr. Woodrow Wilson, the new and honoured
President of the great Republic, says in this book on The State -
Although it is true, taking our system as a whole, the governments of the States are subordinate, in our political order, to the Government of the Union, they are not subordinate in the sense of being subject to be commanded by it, but only in being less than national in their jurisdiction.
That is Dr. Woodrow Wilson’s view. It is true, of course, that, where two laws on the same subject-matter are found to be absolutely repugnant, the Federal law must, to the extent of the repugnancy, and to that extent only, - prevail. As against that, as I have already said, the States have the vast and indefinite area of residuary powers, while the Commonwealth is strictly limited to certain specified powers. How wide those undefined powers are is expressed by Dr. Woodrow Wilson, referring to the United States, in this pregnant sentence -
Space would fail in which to enumerate the particular items of this vast range of powers.
I agree with the Attorney-General that the divided legislative authority over any subjectmatter is the cause of endless litigation, ambiguity, and confusion. That, however, in my view, does not apply to concurrent legislative authority ; the planking of a bridge many overlay with safety, tutt must not fall short in the middle. To assume that the Federal Parliament will unnecessarily interfere with matters of purely local concern seems to me an argument based entirely on party prejudice. I cannot imagine any other basis on which -it can be assumed that the. National Parliament, with all its responsibilities and all the pressing matters of a national character requiring legislation, will go out of its way to undertake legislation that can be better attended to by the States. This is consistent, too, with the view that was put the other night by the honorable member for Darling Downs, when he expressed the very fine sentiment -
Let us develop the higher side of our national life, let us take our part in Empire affairs and concern ourselves with national and external affairs. If we do that -we shall have enough problems to occupy us without wasting our time and destroying our efficiency by dealing with local problems which can be better settled by local authorities.
Why should not the honorable member “credit others with the same high statesmanship which he himself exhibits? He says that it behoves this Parliament to engage in developing the higher side of national life, concerning itself with national and external affairs, instead of interfering with local matters, which can be better dealt with by the States? Why cannot he attribute to us the same statesmanlike view which he appears to arrogate to himself and his immediate friends, and assume in our favour that we will not interfere with purely local matters, just as he assures us that he would not think of interfering? During the course of this debate, the Opposition has supplied us with a wealth of useful material, and I propose to make some use of it. For instance, the honorable member for Flinders, referring to the supposed danger of giving this Parliament greater powers, said -
This is an argument which assumes that this Parliament is a dangerous thing to be tied down.
It is an argument akin to one referred to by Mr. T. P. O’Connor in the course of the discussion on the Home Rule Bill in the Imperial Parliament when he said that it would appear that nothing could be given to an Irish Parliament in confidence. The Irish Parliament would be composed apparently of homicidal and suicidal lunatics. That is an extreme statement of the position with which we are faced. According to the judgment of honorable members opposite, it would appear that the government of this country is to be in the hands of persons only slightly better than “homicidal and suicidal lunatics.” The honorable member for Bendigo, whom I am sorry is not in his place, is very fond of using the analogy of a partnership between the Federal Parliament and the States. I think that that analogy is an absolutely false one. There are no two sets of people in this Commonwealth. There is only one set. They are employing two instruments - the Federal Parliament to deal with matters of national concern and the State Parliaments to deal with matters of purely local concern. They are manipulating both with full and perfect freedom. They control them, they mould them, and they use them. When the honorable member introduces the false analogy of two sets of conflicting interests, he sets up an unfair standard by which to judge this question, and uses an inflammatory argument. One would suppose that we were divided into two sets of people so that we had to give to the Parliament of each a just and well-balanced measure of power. But instead of that we are one people, and, as the honorable member for Ballarat remarked on a certain great occasion, “ with one destiny.”
– That phrase belongs’ to Sir Edmund Barton.
– The honorable member for Ballarat does not disclaim its authorship. The object of the proposed referenda is to give this one people complete power to prevent individual units or corporations coming together to defeat the National Parliament, or to side-step it in any way by raising the arbitrary, illogical, and fictitious cry of State rights. In submitting these proposed alterations of the Constitution to the electors, we are relying first, on our experience. It is not a long experience, it is true, but it has been a rich one in many ways. We are able also to draw upon the experience of the country on whose Constitution our own was based, and we are able to point to those countries which have wisely avoided imposing on themselves the limitations which we’ imposed upon ourselves when we entered the Federation. Our own experience has been summed up in a number of cases which were cited by the Attorney-General in moving the second -reading of the first of these Referenda Bills. I am quite aware that the analytical mind of the honorable member for Angas has been devoted to an endeavour to show that those cases do not quite prove nil that the Attorney-General claimed for them. I do not propose to analyze them.. I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so. It is sufficient for me to say that legislation to which both parties in this House have sought to give effect has been rendered nugatory by the constitutional limitations which we desire to remove. So far as the Bill immediately under consideration is concerned, the reference of the AttorneyGeneral to the case Kalibia v. Wilson was very pertinent to show the sharp delimitation of our powers in regard to commerce. It shows not only how sharply our powers are delimited, but how that delimitation may operate to render void, as it did, a measure which was not dealing with commerce at all, but of which commerce was merely an incident. Turning from the difficulties we have already experienced, let us endeavour to anticipate the obviously imminent dangers to our national life. In discussing this question, why should I endeavour to express in my own language what has been so admirably expressed by the honorable member for Flinders? The Government propose to break down the arbi trary limitation of our powers with regard to trade and commerce. The honorable member, who is one of the most brilliant members of the Opposition, is assisting his. colleagues in fighting the Government proposals. In dealing with the words in the Constitution of the United States, which, we have practically adopted in ours, he says -
That such a form of expression which was. then sufficient to deal with and define the whole limits of the Federal power in regard to commerce should have been found sufficient in 1901 has always^ seemed to me veryremarkable ; and is still more remarkable when we remember that that limitation of trade and commerce between the States and” with foreign countries has been the sourceof perpetual litigation during more than a century. It has been the battle-ground of a host of cases. The leader of the Opposition referred: to the fact that in taking over the form of expression, we had also taken over the wholeof the cases which had arisen in the attempts, to define the limitation. That, to a large extent, is true ; but it was not merely taking as part of our Constitution the immense burdenof accumulated cases and law knowledge which is not yet complete, or even approaching completion, and which is changing with every new
Vehicle of commerce and new means of communication, continually requiring new definition ; it was also taking the burden over under the form of words held to be sufficient in 1780. to deal with a comparatively simple state of: affairs.
If it had not been, as some honorable members know, for the judicial audacity, if I mav1 use such an expression, of that very great Judge, Chief Justice Marshall, who has been, called the second maker of the Constitution, the provision, even at the beginning of last century, would have been found utterly unworkable. He it was, and those who followed on. the same lines of policy, who, from time to time, gradually extended, not the interpretation, because it was practically a judicial extension of those words, arising from the absolute necessity to govern the new conditions that arose in the development of that .great country.. I might multiply instances arising from the difficulty, and almost impossibility, of makingdistinctions within distinctions, and definitionbehind definitions, in the attempt to limit the commerce power qf the United States underthis provision. These , would sometimes make even a lawyer’s head reel with confusion in the endeavour to follow the intricacies to whichthe Courts are reduced in trying to divide whatis really and substantially an indivisible whole- - to divide the commerce of the community intoparts, and to say that one part shall be underlie Government of one Parliament and another part under another Parliament. Commerce is really an organic whole, and an organic whole of continually 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 careof 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 lbc attempts has been, as_I say, perfectly endless litigation and uncertainty.
Then he proceeds to give, one or two striking illustrations of how that has worked out in practice. We do not want to follow the example of the United States in the matter of being obliged to say that ours is a Judge-made Constitution. We prefer to have it a Constitution made by the free, unfettered votes of the people. We need not discuss why the American people have not amended their Constitution more freely. As a matter of fact, they had amended it fifteen times up till 1900. Yet we know there are many reasons why amendments of substance have not been made in it. as readily as has been desired. One of the chief reasons is that there are interests in the Senate which are, from selfish motives, antagonistic to reform. That, in itself, is very significant. The honorable member for Angas and the honorable member for Bendigo have urged that the Canadian Parliament does not possess an absolute power as to trade and commerce, and that the express powers which have been given to the States negative the existence of the unlimited power which is said to have been vested in the Dominion Parliament. My answer is that that is merely another reason why this Parliament should hot interfere with purely local matters, and that it does not disprove the important fact that if the proposals of the Government are carried, this Parliament will have absolute power to deal with matters of national concern, although incidentally they may touch matters of local concern. That is a very important point, seeing that we desire only to deal with affairs of national concern. Closely associated with the trade and commerce power is the power relating to trusts, combines, and monopolies. I may remark that honorable members opposite have been hard pressed to find reasons why they should not secure for themselves powers to deal effectively with these combinations. The honorable member for Bendigo was at great pains to collate a number of cases which were dealt with in the United States of America in order to show by analogy that this Parliament has already sufficient power to deal with trusts and combines. He was good enough to contribute an article to the Age newspaper, in which he set out a large number of decisions given in the United States Courts to show that they have dealt trenchantly with these disastrous combines in America. What does this prove? It is evidence that trustsand combines are rampant and pestilent in the United States, and a largenumber of convictions have been obtained* against them, but it makes no reference tothe number of cases against trusts and combines that have been launched in theUnited States Courts and have failed* by reason of the State limitations. It does not disclose the fact that two-thirds of the States have passed local: laws in a vain endeavour to deal with these- . combinations, and have failed substantially, for the reason that they cannot exercise jurisdiction outside their own?boundaries. On the other hand, theSupreme Court of the United States cannot exercise jurisdiction in matters that areproved to be purely Intra- State, howeverpowerful they may be. It is an easy matter to cite cases that have been successfully prosecuted in the United States Courts, butwe may assume that the law officials of theUnited States are astute enough to be sureof their ground before launching a case, and generally speaking they would see to if that there was jurisdiction before commencing a’ prosecution. It is significant that, notwithstanding these successful cases, thedifferent States of the Union are constantlypassing laws in a vain endeavour to deal0 with these combines. We desire to be ableto deal with them, not only when their influence has been felt in more States than.one, but as soon as they have so far developed as to threaten the interests of thecommunity, even though their operationsshould for the time being be confined to onlyone State. I wish to quote here Mr. Eddy in his monumental work on Combinations., At page 935, volume II., I find that he: says -
While (he jurisdiction of Congress over commerce among the States is complete, it has nojurisdiction whatsoever over commerce which is. wholly within a State, and therefore Congress, has no jurisdiction over combinations which mayaffect, control or restrain trade within the limits of a State ; nor is any jurisdiction acquired^ over that part of a combination or agreementwhich relates to commerce wholly within a State by reason of the fact that the combination also covers and regulates Inter-State commerce. Itr follows, therefore, that in proceedings under the Anti-Trust Act the Court have no jurisdiction to issue any order or injunction interfering, with the operations of combinations where the - trade is confined within State lines.
Then, at page 942 of the same work,, hegives a significant illustration in connexionwith the Addyston pipe case. This is a* case which was quoted by the honorable: member for Bendigo as proving his view of the sufficiency of our powers to deal with these matters. It is true that there was a conviction obtained in the United -States Supreme Court to put down -this obviously detrimental combine. It was an interesting association of different (firms established in different States, who entered into an agreement that a particular kind of steel pipe should not be sold below a. certain rate. They put up one of their own people to tender, and in order to lend an air of versimilitude to their proceedings, other members of the combine then bid a slightly higher price themselves, and by this means this huge organization completely regulated the price of this particular kind of piping in the United States. The honorable member for Bendigo showed that -the Addyston Trust was successfully prosecuted in the Supreme Court, but the honorable gentleman omitted to mention the very important fact that, before being prosecuted in the Supreme Court on appeal, the Trust was prosecuted before a single Judge, who decided that, although it was, in effect, a potentially harmful combination, designed to impede and imperil trade in a particular commodity, still it was only an Incidental interference with Inter-State commerce. It was only on appeal to the Supreme Court that the prosecution were able to show that there was sufficient evidence to bring the case within the Interstate power, and so secure a conviction -against the Trust. Referring to this case, Mr. Eddy says -
In the Addyston case the Supreme Court held that where the combination ‘was illegal under the Act, the injunction issued could only apply to the Inter-State commerce of the combination, leaving the illegal combination to operate within the limits of any particular State, subject only to the laws of that State.
The laws of the United States of America’ on this subject are as various almost as are the types of man on the face of the earth. Many of them have been proved quite ineffective, and the combinations register in the States in which they believe the law against them is weakest, and when they are -successfully prosecuted as an Inter-State concern they resolve themselves into their component parts, and continue their nefarious work in the separate States. Owing to the flight of time, I must leave unsaid much that I proposed to say. I particularly desire to refer to the observations made by the honorable member for Darling Downs when Attorney-General, and when this opinion was asked, in connexion with the framing of the South African Constitu-tion, on the subject of the commerce power and extended industrial powers. The honor-, able member, having read a minute prepared by Mr. Garran, Secretary to the Crown Law Department, urging the South African Government, in response to a request for advice on the subject, not to limit themselves in the way we have limited ourselves in regard to trade and commerce, appended this foot-note to the minute -
I have carefully perused the memorandum prepared by Mr. Garran during my absence in Queensland, and I fully agree with the views therein expressed.
That was a memorandum issued from the office of the Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs (the honorable member for Ballarat), and ratified by the AttorneyGeneral (the honorable member for Darling Downs), so that it represents a view which has the indorsement of practically all the leaders of the party on the opposite side. This is most important, because the views expressed were embodied in the memorandum under a sense of grave responsibility - or should have been so - and when the consideration of the question was entirely free from party influences. We can couple this with the observations of the honorable member for Flinders, and numerous quotations to the same effect that might be made from the speeches of other honorable members on the other side, and, in the circumstances, I say that if the people of the Commonwealth, will be guided by expert advice, as well as by common sense, they should have no difficulty in accepting these proposals, and voting “ Yes “ at the referendum.
.- The honorable member for Batman, with quite unnecessary modesty, assured us at the outset of his speech that he had no intention to add anything very original to the debate now proceeding. The honorable member is always interesting to listen to, and when he indulges in intellectual and legal exercises I follow him with a good deal of attention. But occasionally the honorable member diverges into arguments and statements that seem to suggest that he has recollected that he is a member of the Labour party, and should say something in accord with their ideas and sentiments. I am afraid that on these occasions he does not reach the high intellectual level of the other portions of his address. When he assures us that under our present Constitution the Federal Parliament could neutralize every particle of autonomous power possessed by the States he makes an assertion which, on further consideration, he will, I think, be inclined to modify. We cannot assume for a moment that the great master minds who were called together to frame the Federal Constitution did their work so badly as such a sentence would lead us to infer. They were seized with the great Federal principle which honorable members opposite have, to such a large extent, forgotten or wilfully Overlooked, that there were certain powers which could be better exercised by a Federal authority for the whole of Australia, and certain other functions which might with advantage be left in the hands of the State Parliaments. That was the simple Federal principle on which they proceeded. They have undoubtedly done their work well according to some of the best experts and authorities throughout the world. I take it that there is a certain limitation of power under our Constitution which would prevent even the most insane Federal Governments going to the lengths suggested by the honorable member for Batman.
I notice that honorable members opposite have been very strong in their criticisms of inconsistencies alleged to have been discovered on this side of the House. That was all very interesting in its way, but I remind them that a far greater obligation than that is now imposed upon them. These inconsistencies may exist for all that I care, and I can well understand a number on this side of the House having looked on with feelings of more or less surprise at some of the doings of the Labour Government during their term of office. I can easily imagine such honorable gentlemen, who may have regarded the Labour party with more or less favour only a few short years ago, hesitating, in view of the experiences before them, of committing to them any more powers than they possess at present. We all know the story of George Washington and his axe, and even although his father’s admiration of his truth and good intentions may have been very pronounced, I am quite confident that the parent did not present his son with a heavier and sharper axe in lieu of the one which he deprived him of. He made up his mind that the young man had done enough mischief in the garden with the old axe, and that’ probably it was better that he should have none at all. I do not go so far as to say that we should deprive the Labour Government, even if we could, of the little axe which they usenow. But I think that those people who might have had an idea of presenting them with a sharper axe two and a half years ago will conclude that the one they areusing at present is quite sharp enough.
The onus of proof in connexion with these proposals lies with the Government and the party behind them, and it is not satisfactory that they should give so much attention to the observationsand the alleged inconsistencies of their opponents, while neglecting to a very largeextent to strengthen their own position, and to justify themselves before the country - The Attorney-General, who succeeds ir» suppressing his modesty much more effectually than does the honorable member for Batman, gave us to understand in his opening address that the meat with which he proposes to feed the Federation on this occasion is something better and stronger than that which was previously offered.. But after listening carefully to many of the speeches, and wading still more laboriously through the pages of Hansard, I have been forced to the conclusion that; there is nothing particularly new in theproposals and the arguments put forward by the Government at present as compared with those with which they endeavoured to* woo the electors on a previous occasion.. To use a homely figure of speech, whichwill be familiar, I have no doubt, to the. Prime Minister, it appears to me that what the Government are dishing up to the Parliament and the country is nothing -more or~ less than “cauld kail het again.” The dish is not by any means regarded as anappetizing one. The Attorney-General has tried to make us believe that it contains, certain new ingredients, but beyond some of his most pungent pepper, I fail to seeanything particularly new in the messwhich is put before us. It is quite truethat it is dished up now much more attractively than it was on the previous occasion. The first time it was placed before the electors in the primitive old-fashioned way - the pot dumped in the middle of the floor. Now, however, we are having it dished up in various more or less ornamental tureens, in the hopethat in the smaller quantities the electors may show less aversion to it than they did before. But I am very doubtful as to whether the electors will be beguiled by the renewed attempts to make them partake of this dish. I have seen nothing that would incline me to take the view that- they wilt do other than what they did before, and that is reject the dish with contempt and contumely. In fact, looking at “the course of events since the Government wearne into office, I am inclined to think that the electors may be found more decided in their rejection of these proposals than they were previously. And, speaking for my own State, I am strongly inclined to take the view that, even there, we shall have a very definite rejection of the proposals which last time, for various reasons, the electors felt inclined to adopt. If that be so, then I feel sure that it will be the turn of this Government, and not of the electors, to “ fall down with fright,” and I “believe that it is about time that the electors were giving the Government a lesson “in this respect, and enabling them to realize that their minds are not so fickle, and their opinions not so uncertain, as to justify all the expense and all the turmoil which is being brought upon the country at so short an interval after the previous attempt to carry these proposals.
I always enjoy an address by the hon.orable member for Denison. When he throws out his chest, and raises his voice, there is no doubt that he is .in dead earnest, even although the House may not take him quite at- his own estimate of himself. But when, in the -course of the speech with which he favoured us, I heard him refer to these proposals as something which the people desire, I felt an amount of wonder as to where he had got that particular notion. I have heard something very like it from »other members on the opposite side. They ;talk about the necessity for these proposals, ;.and the desire of the people for them, but I have yet to learn, in what way the people have expressed any desire of the kind.
– Your State did, anyhow.
– I admit that by a small majority these proposals were carried in my State ; but if the honorable member will have the patience to wait for a few months it is very probable that he will see the numbers reversed. Suppose that we admit, for the sake of argument, that Western Australia did indicate a desire of that kind, as a good sound Democrat, my honorable friend must recognise that the great majority of the people of Australia were of the opposite view, and if that be so, I fail to see any force at all in the contention that the people desire this change. A few militant trade unionists and Labourites undoubtedly do desire the adoption of these proposals, but I have seen nothing since the last referenda to show that any considerable proportion of the people of Australia is in the least degree interested in the change which the Government wish to bring about. On the contrary, there is an increasing suspicion that it would be dangerous to give any of these enlarged powers into the hands of the Government, and as they were refused on the last occasion, there is every reason to conclude that they will be more emphatically refused this time.
– You are a Jeremiah.
– I do not wish to play the part of a Jeremiah ; but it is sometimes necessary to warn men like my honorable friends opposite of the fact that they are committing, unwittingly, political suicide, and certainly it is my duty to do my best to show the people of Australia the dangerous position into which the Labour party wish to lead them. The honorable member for Herbert is absolutely honest and straightforward in his attitude as to Unification ; but the position is somewhat different as regards many of his colleagues, whatever they may say to the contrary. It is possible they do not fully comprehend their position, but there is no doubt whatever that these proposals, in the aggregate, mean a very long stride indeed towards Unification. They may not go all; the way, but if the suggestions of the AttorneyGeneral as regards the regulation of prices are to be taken seriously, there is no doubt that if any attempt is made to carry these proposals into practice to the extent indicated, we shall have, not only Unification, in the ordinary sense, but a Socialist State, which will be found to be all that the honorable member for New England desired a few sessions ago under the sweeping proposition which he put before the House. I would give many members of the party credit for the inner conviction that these proposals of theirs are not altogether for the good of the country, as a whole. During thisdebate, I have listened to speeches from the opposite side that did not carry any great weight, as it appeared to me, by reason of a lack of conviction about them, I feel sure that there are members opposite who have their doubts as to the wisdom of the course which the party, as a whole, are pursuing. But, unfortunately for those honorable gentlemen, as long as they remain members of the party they must allow themselves to be driven forward. If unwilling to be driven forward, they will be driven up. There are influences behind the leaders that make them in many respects leaders only in name. The pace is being continually quickened by those behind them, and there is no doubt that if they do not keep in front they will be remorselessly and ruthlessly pushed aside. I do not think that the country is of the same mind to be driven as are some honorable members on the opposite side. The bulk of the electors are satisfied that the Federal contract, as originally drawn, was well and wisely made, and if our Governments are only honest and earnest in their attempts to carry out their duties under the Constitution, there will be no lack of effective law-making and effective administration as regards all those evils which are now said to be threatening the Commonwealth. It has been shown time and again by some of our best constitutional authorities that we have practically all the power required to do the things which the Labour Government say they cannot do. The Government had reason to refrain from putting their hand to the plough so definitely and so earnestly as they might have been expected to do. Now that the elections are coming on, and many promises remain unfulfilled, naturally Ministers feel that they must have excuses, and be able to bring forward reasons why they should have another term of office. One of these reasons will, no doubt, be that they require further opportunity to give effect to their promises. But I do not think that the country is inclined to risk any more experimenting, and I believe that, after the next election, it will be left to a Liberal Government to show the extent to which the Constitution is operative in directions in which this Labour Government say that it fails. I do not know what Ministers would do on the present occasion had they not the trust bogy with which to frighten the electors. We are told quite seriously that, because the trusts sometimes fix prices, the Government should step in and do it instead of them. That is a very curious argument. Would it be said that because burglars sometimes raid houses burglary should be made a State industry? My opinion is that the majority of the electors hold the common-sense view that it will be sufficient not to take over the trusts, but to prevent them exploiting the public. I feel sure that, under our Federal law, when the occasion arises, trusts will be dealt with effectively by any honest Government that may be in power, and I shall require much more evidence than is yet available to cause me to change that opinion.
The honorable member for Batman,, in attempting to reply to the honorable member for Bendigo, misrepresented his line of argument, though,. I think, unintentionally. I have .listened to, and read very carefully, the: speech of the honorable member for Bendigo to which he referred, and others on> the same subject, and I know of nothing in them justifying his criticism that the honorable member for Bendigo looks upon, the Federal and State Governments as ia conflict. On the contrary, the honorable member for Bendigo takes the true Federal view that they operate harmoniously, possessing co-ordinate and not antagonisticpowers, and mutual interests. It is not to> be assumed that either the Federation or the States would do the mad things that: the honorable member for Batman hinted at. If the members of a Government wereto lose their heads entirely, they might doa great deal of evil ; but under our Con- ‘stitution there will always be a delimitation of frontier, and, under ordinary circumstances, friendly co-operation, by the powers operating on each side of the frontier line. In spite of a certain amount of friction between this Government and others of a different political; complexion, there is nothing to justify apprehension of any very grave conflict between Federal and State authorities. For one reason, the High Court is charged with, the duty of acting practically as umpire; between the two authorities, and, in addition, there is the safeguard of common*, sense, which, in the long run, generally governs British politics. If any Government, Federal or State, oversteps thebounds of common-sense and justice, they will be brought to book at the earliest moment by the electors who placed them-, in power.
We have been told time and again that it is necessary to enlarge the powers of the Commonwealth, because the Upper Houses of the State Legislatures are Conservatives. I do not admit the force of: that argument.
– The honorable member used to admit it.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. I have always taken a strong and definite stand on this point, holding the view that, even if one or more State Legislatures have Conservative and reactionary Upper Houses, that is not a reason for throwing the Constitution into the melting-pot, to emerge in a form quite un-Federal, and, therefore, quite unsuited to the necessities of Australia. While I admit that, from my point of view, some of the Legislative Councils are objectionable, the majority are not open, to the charges made against them by honorable members opposite. The Legislative Council of Victoria might be pointed to as justifying the proposed changes; but, as I read the public opinion of this State, the electors are not inclined to make any great effort to reform their Upper House. If they were desirous of reforming it, it would not remain long unimproved.
– They have not the franchise which would enable them to reform it.
– In these days, if there were a strong, definite movement for reform in the Victorian Upper House, nothing could withstand it. But the electors of the States seem to be by no means as hostile to their Upper Houses as honorable members would have us believe. Looking at some of these Upper Houses, I fail to see any strong reason for ihe vials of wrath that are being poured upon them. In the State from which I come, for instance, the Upper House Is constituted on what is practically a household suffrage. Surely it is not an altogether un-democratic basis, that practically the head of every family should have a vote for that Chamber. We must assume that there are many householders who are by no means Conservative, and, as a matter of fact, the Upper House in Western Australia is having steadily added to it at each election a considerable number of pronounced Democrats, and even Labour men. That is as it should be, and’ I believe in other parts of the Commonwealth the position is no worse. If these Upper Houses, after all, show certain signs of improvement in the right direction, we have very little justification for making such a sweeping change as is now proposed simply ^because one, or perhaps more, of those Chambers is of an altogether reactionary and Conservative character. Let the people > most concerned - the people of those States where the complaint is made - bestir themselves to obtain reform of the institutions complained of. That is the legitimate line of advance, rather than that which is now being proposed of recasting the Federal Constitution, merely because there is a difficulty in obtaining legislation arid administration in certain directions in some of the States. I did not intend to detain the House very long when I rose, and will now conclude. I feel quite certain that the debate as a whole will have tended to the further enlightenment of the people of Australia on this subject,and I am equally confident that the result of that enlightenment will be to confirm the opinion of the electors in regard to the position which they took up at the last referenda.
– I regard this as an occasion when those who hold the honorable position of representing the people in this House should not record a silent vote. That being so, while we are told that there is nothing new under the sun, I venture to contribute a few remarks to this debate, although it is quite possible that when I shall have concluded it will be said that I have not broken any new ground. I must, at the outset, dissent from the remark made by the honorable member for Perth that the . Government are submitting these questions to the people by way of referenda merely to cover up unfulfilled promises made by them and their supporters when seeking election nearly three years ago. That, I venture to say, is a charge that cannot justly be laid at the doors of the present Administration. As a matter of fact, this Parliament’s record of achievement, under the leadership of the Fisher Government’, is of a unique character. Comparing the platform on which we went to the people with the measures which we have passed, I find that almost every promise then made by us to the electors has, as far as the Constitution will permit, been fulfilled. Therefore, the suggestion that by this referenda we are seeking only to cloak up some unfulfilled promises made to the people is by np means correct. I also dissent from the suggestion that the fact that trusts and combines are robbing the people is not a sufficient justification for seeking the power to nationalize them. The honorable member said, by way ofillustration, that if burglars were carrying on their nefarious practices to a large extent, surely that would not be a reason for making burglary a State enterprise. If, however, burglarious enterprises are increasing in number, it is certainly the duty of the authorities to strengthen the police force and, if necessary, to enlarge our gaols. In the same way, if trusts and combines are robbing the producers, the workers, or the consumers generally, that surely is first class evidence that legislation to prevent that sort of thing is demanded. The Government, in my opinion, are to be congratulated on the fact that they are again submitting these questions to the people. Many reasons are put forward for their rejection on the last occasion. Some urge that they were not understood by the electors, whilst others contend that if adopted they would have been detrimental to the best interests of the country. Whilst varied reasons are given for their rejection, the outstanding and unmistakeable fact is that on the last occasion there was not associated with the carrying of the referenda the fate of a Ministry. The carrying or rejection of those proposals could not affect the position of the Government or their supporters. On this occasion, however, the Government, knowing full well that these propositions for the amendment of the Constitution have been for some reason or other rejected by a large majority, venture to put them forward again, closely associated with the individual success of their supporters and themselves in the political campaign. As a Government supporter, I shall tell the people in my electorate that it is their duty, first of all, to vote for our referenda proposals, and then to support the candidate who advocates them. Ever since Federation became an accomplished fact, and perhaps for a little time before, the referendum, as an instrument of government, has been growing more and more in the favour of the people. There could be no better way of educating public opinion, and of ascertaining what is really the public will. These several questions which are to be submitted to the people will, if adopted, enlarge the powers of this Parliament in such a way as will enable the Government of the day - whether it be a Labour or a Liberal Administration - to pass legislation which is at the present time essential and necessary for the well-being of the people. I am bound to confess that we have a grand Constitution. It was the work of some of the greatest minds that Australia has ever produced. It was recommended to the. people by those great men who drew it up, and who advocated it as an instrument of” government worthy of acceptance. One of the chief reasons which they put forward in< favour of it was that the Constitution was capable of amendment. The people of Australia were recommended to accept it, and were assured that it could be altered from time to time as necessity arose. It was pointed out that many alterations had been made in the Constitution of the United’ States during the history of that country. But I must say that some of those gentlemen who advocated the adoption of the Australian Constitution, to some extent misled the electors, when they failed to mention that the amendments made in the American Constitution were mostly of a purely formal character, and did not involvequestions of vital importance. Much that has been said during the present debate has been very wide of the mark. The honorable member for Parkes dealt pretty liberally with the question of majority rule. He said that our previous referenda proposals were rejected by an overwhelming: majority, but that nevertheless the aggregate majority of votes placed the present Government upon the Treasury benches. Butwhilst the honorable member was dealing; with majority rule, he might have informed the House that he himself does not represent a majority of the electors in his constituency. I have taken the trouble to look intothe figures, and find that the honorable member sits here representing a minority tothe extent of 2,533 votes. Associated with him in that respect is the honorable member for Richmond, who sits here representing a minority to the extent of 4,645.
– In both casesthrough the splitting of the- Liberal vote.
– I am not prepared to say what was the reason. Just asthe honorable member for Parkes appeared to consider that it was only his business to state part of the facts, so there is no need for me to do more than state part of the f actson the other side. The honorable member for Illawarra introduced a side issue whentalking of export duties on wheat and butter. He accused honorable members on this sideof having advocated such duties. Whilst the matter is fresh in our minds I wish toquote from the Mudgee Guardian of 2nd May, 1912, which reports the proceedings connected with the opening of a new flour mill. A speech was made by Mr. A. C. Gaskin, who is well known in the flour-milling world. He is reported to have said -
Every ton of flour manufactured in Mudgee cost 10s. in wages alone. Other industries were being fostered by protective tariffs; why was it that the oldest form of industry - one of the soundest, and one which benefited the people more than any other - was not fostered by bonuses. Every ton of flour exported from New South Wales was being exported- at a loss. The reason of this was because shippers bought wheat, sent it to England or the Continent, where wages and machinery cost 50 per cent, less, and there turned it into flour. Australia -only milled about one-sixth of her wheat, she should mill the whole of it. Wheat should be -prevented from being exported by means of an export duty.
I have quoted that passage to show that there are men who are practically engaged in the flour-milling industry who believe that an export duty on wheat should be imposed for the purpose of stimulating their business.
– Is that man a Liberal ?
– Yes. He is an active member of a Liberal League in “the district.
– We can put that against the misrepresentation of the honorable memher for Illawarra.
– That is why I -read the passage. It is useless to deny that there are trusts and combines operating in Australia, as- in most other countries of the world. It is absolutely futile for honorable members opposite to attempt to deny that. I wish to quote a passage from a re>cent issue of one of the daily newspapers to show that it is recognised by the Western Australian Government that there is a machinery combine or trust in operation. On the 4th March a telegram was received by one of the Sydney newspapers from Perth, to the following, effect -
It has been announced by the Premier, Mr. Scaddan, that the Government intends to undertake the manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery, and he suggested the advertising in Australia for an engineering supervisor at a salary which would induce the best men in Australia to apply for the position.
I take it that in every State of the Commonwealth concern is being expressed by the people as to the operations of the Machinery Trust, otherwise the Government at present in office in Western Australia would not have felt the necessity of making an arrangement to protect the people. Evidence of a fruit ring is given in the following extract from the Singleton Budget -
A New South Wales orchardist visiting the Huon district, in Tasmania, is emphatic in condemning the shipping ring in Sydney, which he declares, acts most detrimentally in the interests of Tasmanian growers. Tasmanian apples, which bring the exporter 5s. per case, are retailed in Sydney at the rate of 25s. per case. It is alleged against the Sydney agents that one of the least questionable practices is to fix beforehand the market price of fruit, thus giving the produce a value which is not in accord with the natural price, as fixed by the law of supply and demand, but made either high or low, to suit the ring.
That was written by a New South Wales orchardist who visited the Huon district in Tasmania. Mr. Goodsir, who represents Messrs. W. Weddel and Company, merchants, of London, recently gave evidence before the Empire Trade Commission, in the following words : -
Since the Beef Trust commanded a capital of £15,000,000 sterling there was nothing to prevent its success in Australia, if it desired to buy up meat interests there.
In one of the Melbourne newspapers I recently read that the Chief Secretary of Victoria had announced that his Government had decided to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the working of the Brick Combine in the State. Once a trust gets control of a single industry, it seeks to amalgamate with other trusts, and the result we find in what are, so to speak, trustified trusts. I read the following in a Sydney newspaper the other day : - :
Sir Marcus Samuel, head of British capitalists, representing the Shale Transportation Co., has bought out the Union Oil Co., of California, for £10,000,000.
The following quotation from the Financial World shows the effect of trusts and combines on small business people: -
For many weeks with monotonous regularity the commercial agencies whose business it is to look after such matters have reported that the majority of firms that had failed and gone into the Bankruptcy Court had a capital of $5,000, or less. This week the same melancholy record is made, and actually 91 per cent, of the 239 business houses which failed throughout the country during the week, had a capital of $5,000, or less. What does this mean? It means that the small manufacturers and the retailers are being crowded to the wall by the big businesses.
There can be no doubt that the big business houses that we find in every town and city in Australia tend to crowd the smalt retailers out; and when once a business, of any kind whatever, is concentrated in a few hands, the prices go up to the detriment of the public. During the twelve years of Federation many attempts have been made by our political leaders, and those associated with them, to place on the statute-book legislation beneficial to the people; but the results have not always been satisfactory.*
We found ourselves unable to apply the new Protection under the High Court ruling, and the law we passed in that connexion is now a dead letter. We remember that the honorable member for Ballarat, as Prime Minister, presented to this House a memorandum in which he declared that it was necessary that further constitutional powers should be given in order to carry out the new Protection proposals. Further evidence that greater powers are necessary in this Parliament is afforded in the memoranda presented by the exAttorneyGenerals, the honorable member for Angas and the honorable member for Darling Downs. We all remember the fate that overtook the Seamen’s Compensation Bill. The benefits that that legislation was “intended to confer were successfully fought for in the Courts, so far as the verdict went, but it was a very different matter when it came to the application of the law. The case for the extension of the powers under the Commonwealth Constitution is strengthened by the remarks of Mr. H. Y. Braddon, the manager for Dalgety and Company, Sydney, in an address which he delivered on the 25th April last, on the subject of “ Company Law : Some sidelights on modern commerce.” In the course of his remarks that gentleman said -
The company laws of the Australian States had been copied from time to time from the English Acts, and throughout the Commonwealth there was a regular jumble of company conditions. They should have one company law, and one bankruptcy law in Australia.
Yesterday I saw in the Bulletin of the 28th instant, a sub-leader based on a paragraph that had appeared recently in the Sydney Morning Herald. The sub-leader contained the following -
If Ministers wished to remedy an obvious defect in the Constitution, they could have done so by giving the Federal Parliament power to make an uniform company law-
– The honorable member must not read extracts from a newspaper article commenting on business before the House.
– The article has reference to the business of the New South Wales Parliament.
– If it bears on the matter before this1 House it is out of order.
- lt simply states that nine people out of ten are under the impression that this Parliament already has the power referred to. For twelve years I have acted as chairman of the premier branch of the . Austra lian Workers Union. I regard the honorable member for Darling as a sort of industrial godfather - a man with whom it has been an honour and a pleasure to be associated. Prior to the days of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court nothing but turmoil and unrest were experienced in the pastoral industry. But since that tribunal has been established, and the men engaged in the industry have been permitted to appeal to it, industrial peace has reigned. Their wages and conditions of employment have been materially improved, and the women and children dependent on them have had reason to thank God that we have a Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. The employers, too, would be very loth indeed to revert to the old state of affairs. This afternoon the honorable member for Moreton attributed to the honorable member for Flinders a remark to the effect that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, instead of being a place where industrial disputes are settled, has become an industrial storm centre. In opposition to that I propose to quote from a speech delivered by the honorable member for Flinders at St. Kilda on 15th May last. On that occasion he said -
With regard to the power of industrial control greater difficulties arise. I have no hesitation in saying that ultimately the control of industrial relations must rest with the Parliament which controls the fiscal policy of Australia and the general Inter-State trade relations.
That quotation is from the Age of 17 th May last, lt sets out a view which is quite different from that attributed to the honorable member for Flinders this afternoon by the honorable member for Moreton. I further wish to justify the existence of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and to refute the suggestion that it is an industrial storm centre, by quoting the following reply by Mr. Justice Higgins to a critic who had asserted that that Court had not brought about industrial peace -
It is true that the Court has not brought industrial peace. It was not expected to do so. But it has brought peace within the area it covers. It can only deal with disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, and may be fairly said to have produced peace within that area.
– I rise to a point of. order. I have not the slightest objection to the words of Mr. Justice Higgins being quoted, but I desire to know whether the honorable member is in order in quoting statements which are in their very essence controversial, and, if so, whether we shall be permitted to refute them ? It is well known that we may not attack any Judge except on specific motion. If the honorable member is allowed to quote the opinions of a Judge in reply to an honorable member, unquestionably the matter must be ruled to be of a controversial character.
– I will rule upon that matter when the occasion arises. So far the honorable member for Robertson is quite in order.
- Mr. Justice Higgins continues -
There has never been a strike against any award made by my predecessor or myself.
– That is not correct. There have been three or four strikes to my knowledge.
- Mr. Justice Higgins proceeds -
There have never been refusals on the part of employers or employes to carry out the terms of an award.
– That is not correct.
– Order !
There have been no cases brought to my notice in which any award has been disobeyed by any master or man. As to the Court embittering the relations of employers and employés, there has been indubitable proof to the contrary. Many groups of employés have been held back from striking by their leaders because the leaders have been able to induce them to wait for a remedy from this Court. Unfortunately, some people look only to the strikes which have taken place which this Court could not deal with, and cannot realize the strikes which would have taken place but for the existence of this Court. They will not see, because they do not feel that there have been several disastrous strikes averted by conferences held under the Act of the President with the parties. In 1906, one agreement was registered in the Court, in 1907 one, in 1908 four, in 1909 three, in 1910 twenty-four, and in1911 ninety-three. Most of these agreements I am informed by the registrar have been the result of proceedings for arbitration in this Court.
I have no desire to further occupy the time of honorable members. I merely wish to add thatI am wholehearted in my support of these proposals. I would point out that in supporting them the honorable member for Flinders said -
Sooner or later we must be prepared to vest in the national Parliamentthe powers that are necessary to achieve great national objects. . . . They were afraid to vest that power unlimitedly ; let us protect ourselves as they did in Canada and say that the States shall have exclusive rights to deal with certain things.
When the people of Australia agreed to federate, they did so in the belief that
Acts passed by a Federal Parliament would operate all over Australia more easily if administered by one Government than would similar legislation passed by the State Parliaments and administered by six separate Governments. Upon the consummation of Federation we became a nation, and the people of Australia, in my judgment, will not now reject the opportunity which will be afforded them to give effect to the desires they expressed when the Constitution Bill was submitted to them for acceptance. They accepted it believing that they would thus become a nation capable of making laws for the good government of the Commonwealth more effectively from that date onward than they had been able to do at any preceding time. I have no hesitation in saying that, be the result of the reference of these questions to the people what it may, they will find a much larger measure of support than they did on a previous occasion. The objection urged on the last occasion to the complexity of the questions is now removed by the fact that instead of two questions embracing several subjects there will, on this occasion, be six questions dealing practically with the same subject-matter. Honorable members opposite, on the last occasion, objected that the questions submitted to the people were too complex and involved, and they complain that the questions now proposed to be submitted to the people are too numerous and plain. It is, indeed, most difficult to satisfy the opponents of these proposals, many of whom oppose them only for party reasons. We have heard some of the most brilliant men on the other side assert that they still adhere to all they said in the past regarding the desirability of legislation of this kind. Their opinion is the same now as it was two years ago, or at any time since; but they are not prepared, for party reasons, to give their support to these proposals, which I, and those associated with me, consider necessary and essential to be given effect to for the good government of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McWilliams) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 10.30 a.m. to-morrow.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It is generally understood that a vote will be taken on the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill at 9 p.m. tomorrow. I have learned that it will suit the convenience of a majority of honorable members if the vote be taken at 10 p.m. It is, of course, desired that all honorable members shall be present in the Chamber at that time. It is hoped that the discussion upon one or two other Bills will be finisher] before that time, and if so, it will be possible also to take a vote upon them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121202_reps_4_68/>.