5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received the following communication from Lady Lyne, which I desire to read to the House -
The Honorable the Speaker,
House of Representatives, Melbourne.
Lady Lyne highly appreciates the resolution of sympathy passed by the House of Representatives on 12th August upon the death of Sir William Lyne, and she desires to convey her sincere thanks to Mr. Speaker and members of the House of Representatives, and to assure them that every member of her late husband’s family is full of gratitude to those who passed the resolution. “ Chaceley,” Cooper-street,
Double Bay, 26th August, 1913.
.- As a matter of privilege, I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to a report published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Monday, 18th August, of a speech made by you on the previous Saturday at a Liberal picnic at Lane Cove. It is headed “ Double Dissolution : Speaker Johnson on the Federal Situation.” These are some of the statements attributed to you in the report. Regarding your position in the House, you are made to say -
This places the Speaker in an unenviable and responsible position, but of course everybody recognises that it is inevitable under the circumstances that the Speaker in this case must be largely the arbiter in the legislative arena.
A Voice.- Stick to the party.
– Of course, so long as the party sticks to its principles, and the principles of the party with which we are all associated are equal liberty for all, equality of citizenship for all, equality of opportunity for all, and we are sent there for the purpose of breaking down the restrictive barriers upon the freedom of a. free people that during the last three years have been raised to the detriment of the progress of the community. (Loud applause.)
The partisan character of the utterance is made evident by the cheers with which my reading of it has been received by honorable members opposite. The position in which it places me, and in regard to which I desire some enlightenment from you, if possible, is this: It is my intention to speak on the censure amendment; but if you propose to give a party vote on that amendment, you will, of course, be open to criticism here in regard to the matters which you placed before your electors. Personally, I should like to avoid such criticism. What I wish to know, therefore, is whether you can make a declaration as to the course as Speaker you propose to follow: whether you will adopt the ordinary procedure of your illustrious predecessors, or, because of the exigencies of the situation, the difficulties of which I appreciate-
– On a point of order, I wish to know whether the honorable member may deliver a sort of homily to you, Mr. Speaker, upon your duties as politician and Speaker?
– I am endeavouring to discover what is the question of privilege. The honorable member is about to conclude his remarks, and when he has done so I expect to be fully conversant with the meaning of his question. He must not go too far.
– I wish to know, Mr. Speaker, if you can answer this question : Do you propose to take your place with the members of your party in a party division on which the fate of the Government is at stake? If you do, I shall, of course, feel at liberty to discuss your position as a representative of the’ people, and to criticise the policy which you have placed before your constituents. If you intend to do otherwise, that would not be desirable.
– My acceptance of the Speakership does not involve the forfeiture of my rights as a private member representing the constituency which elected me, or as a member of the Liberal party outside the House, though while in the chair I know no party inside the House. The honorable member for Cook has no right to question me as to what I propose to do on a coming division, or to interfere with my judgment in any way. I have told nobody how I intend to vote. I allowed the honorable member to put his question as a matter of courtesy, not as a matter of right. He has no right to ask such a question, nor to catechize me in anticipation of what I may do, nor to hold out threats, direct or veiled, in the event of my vote not meeting with his approval. My vote will be given in accordance with the dictates of my judgment and my conscience. I trust that the irregular practice which has developed on the part of certain members of trying to entangle the Speaker in argument with honorable members by means of debatable and other questions addressed to the Chair will be discontinued. It adds nothing to the dignity of the House or its proceedings. I hope that there will be no further attempts to try to involve the Speaker in arguments with honorable members.
– As a matter of personal explanation, I desire to say, Mr. Speaker, that, in the remarks I directed to you a few moments ago, I had not the slightest idea of offering any threat, as you suggested.
– I remind the honorable member that he definitely said that if I gave a vote in a certain way, he would pursue a certain course. That intimation was capable of no other intel ligible interpretation than that of a threat - intended to influence my vote should I be called upon to exercise it in the division on the present amendment. Such words I, as Speaker, resented, and the House has a right to resent them, because they are not only a reflection on the Speaker, but an insult to the House.
– Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister a question regarding action taken by Mr. Justice Isaacs when Attorney-General, and the reply given, according to the Hansard report, was this-
I understand that Mr. Justice Isaacs did not accept a brief from the South Australian Government, but he did furnish an opinion for which he received payment. This is the distinction 1 desire to make.
I asked the Prime Minister whether Mr. Justice Isaacs furnished an opinion against the Commonwealth Government, to which the honorable gentleman replied -
I really am unable to answer all these questions in detail. The honorable gentleman must give notice.
I now ask the Prime Minister, in fairness to Mr. Justice Isaacs, whether the latter at any time when Attorney- General furnished an opinion against the Commonwealth Government for which he received payment - “received payment” being the words used by the Prime Minister.
– I believe the facts are on record, and I recommend my honorable friend to search for them.
– In reply to my question, the Prime Minister has said that the facts are on record, and he advises me to search for them. I should like to ask the honorable gentleman whether his opinion is that I am misquoting his statements in regard to Mr. Isaacs? If there are other facts outside his statement of yesterday, is he prepared to give me the number and date of the Hansard in which I may find them ?
– I am prepared to ask my honorable friend to give notice of these questions.
– The honorable gentleman is prepared to be insulting, as he always is!
– I ask, Mr. Speaker, that you require that remark to be withdrawn.
– I shall not withdraw it at the request of the Prime Minister.
– I ask the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to withdraw the statement he has just made in regard to the Prime Minister.
– Do you make a special request, Mr. Speaker?
– In accordance with the rules of the House, I desire the honorable member to withdraw the words.
– I have my doubts as to whether it is in accordance with the rules of the House; but, in deference to your wish, Mr. Speaker, I certainly withdraw the words.
Debate resumed from 22nd August (vide page 419), on motion by Mr. Ahern -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to by this House : -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament -
Upon which Mr. Fisher had moved -
That the following words be added to the proposed Address : -
But regret your advisers -
propose to destroy the beneficial character of our social and industrial laws;
indicate no intention of taking such steps as will reduce the high cost of living; and
fail to realize the urgent necessity of an immediate revision of the Tariff.
.- This afternoon I shall touch only on the two or three important questions that are referred to in the amendment before us. It was the honorable member for Adelaide, I think, who stated that the late Government were responsible for placing on the statute-book statesmanlike measures; but I point out thatthe principal measures passed by the previous Government are those set forth in the speech of the Governor-General as requiring amendment. The honorable member for Hindmarsh told us that in the House of Commons, according to old tradition, measures passed by one Government are not rejected by a succeeding Government. That may be so; but if such a course is neces sary in this Parliament at present, it is because the measures passed by the Labour Government are of sucha character as to require drastic amendment in important respects. I am not now referring necessarily to the principle of the measures. There are, for instance, the Act relating to the note issue and the maternity allowance, which are, I believe based on principles that commend themselves to this House and a majority of the people. Those measures, however, as I say, require amendment, and I am glad to find that it is proposed to deal with them, and give them that impress of statesmanship which they do not now possess.
The three important points in the amendment are those relating to the Tariff, industrial matters, and the high cost of living. The irony of the position is that, although the previous Government were in power for three years and had a substantial majority in both chambers, they failed to deal with those very questions. Neverhas a Government in Australia been in power with such a splendid opportunity to pass measures of prime importance to the people. The Labour party is a homogeneous party, and they had two Houses thinking as one; and all they had to do was to translate their opinions into legislative form without any trouble. The Tariff is of fundamental importance, especially in a great country like Australia, full of natural resources requiring the genius and skill of our. craftsmen to convert the raw material into the finished articles for consumption and use. In their first session the present Government have indicated that they intend to submit a concrete proposal in regard to the Tariff. The previous Government were in office for three sessions, and we had no proposal for adjustment in this connexion. The Tariff requires revision, and it should be dealt with from two stand-points. Revision is necessary in order to give us a more scientific system of Protection, and also to reduce the heavy taxation through the Customs House, at present borne by every individual in the. Commonwealth. On this question there ought tobe no party considerations, for it is a national matter to be dealt with from a national standpoint. As to the Tariff, there are differences of opinion on both sides. A free party like the Liberal party is bound to have differences of opinion in regard to any great political question. The distinction between the Liberal party and the
Labour party is that, when such differences arise, members of the Liberal party may frankly and freely express their opinion. We believe that the great Tariff question must be faced, and we know that the other side failed to face it in spite of the golden opportunity they had. No country possesses such a wonderful variety of climate and soil as that of which Australia can boast. We can produce all the raw material that can be raised in any other country, and all that we require is the necessary skill on the part of our mechanics to convert that raw material into the finished article. Then, again, no nation stands geographically in such a parlous position as does Australia. We are within a few days’ sail of one-half of the world’s population, and no nation requires as much as we do to be self-contained. No other part of the British Dominions is as far away as we are from . the centre of the Empire, so that we, of all nations on the face of the globe, require to be as far as possible a self-contained community. It is the duty of the National Parliament in these circumstances to legislate, in a Tariff sense, on behalf of the primary and secondary industries of Australia. The whole question should be taken into consideration.
– What protection would the honorable member give the primary industries ?
– The question should be considered as a matter of national policy. It is for that reason that I commend ‘the Government for having at the earliest possible moment appointed the Inter-State Commission, whose duty it will be to inquire into every avenue of production in the Commonwealth, and to make definite recommendations to this Legislature. We have already evidence that the Tariff, both from a protectionist and a revenue stand-point, requires revision and amendment. Let me give a few figures that will illustrate my argument. In 1909 our exports amounted to £15 5s. 7d. per head of the population, and our imports to £11 19s. 5d., whereas in 1912 our imports amounted to £16 16s. 7d. per head of the population, and our exports to £17 0s. 7d. per head. These figures show a substantial increase in our imports and a very small rise in our exports. The total figures iu respect of 1912 are: Exports £79,093,342, and imports £78,164,789 - a difference of only £928,000 in favour of our exports. It may be said that there is a possibility of the figures in regard to our imports being misleading, owing to the importations of loan money. I would point out, however, that of the £24,000,000 borrowed during the last four years over £20,000,000 have been obtained locally, so that there has been a very small importation of loan money during this period. If honorable members glance at a table published by Mr. Knibbs in the Tear-Book they will see very clearly how our imports have gained on our exports. The table, which gives the percentages, is a very interesting one. In 1909 the percentage of exports over imports was 127 per cent. ; in 1910 it was 124 per cent.; in 1911, 118 per cent.; and in 1912 only 101 per cent. In other words, our exports in 1912 were only 1 per cent, in excess of our imports. That surely is a matter for serious reflection. These figures go to show that the only way in which we can maintain our credit under such conditions is to export not only the gold we produce but a considerable proportion in excess of our gold production in order to pay our interest bill.
– Or else reduce our imports.
– That is so. There is another very important table, given at page 648 of the Y ear-Book, setting forth a comparison of the average Tarin of the Commonwealth as against those of the modern nations of New Zealand, Canada, and the United States of America. Australia, as I have already indicated, requires more than does any other country an increased population, the development of her resources, and the manufacture of her raw material into the finished article. She cannot afford to stand in a disadvantageous position among the more modern nations, whose geographical situation is certainly more favorable than is her own. Canada, for instance, is under the wing of Great Britain, being but a few days’ sail from the Old Land. Then again the United States of America has a population of 90,000,000; her resources are largely developed, and she is in a position to defend herself against any raid that might be made upon her. As for New Zealand, she stands relatively in the same position as we do. In the table to which I have just referred Knibbs gives the figures under several headings. He furnishes first of all the percentage of free imports, which is set down in the case of Australia at 40 per cent., Canada 35 per cent., and New Zealand and the United States of America 50 per cent. each. Then, deducting the whole of our imports of spirits and narcotics, as well as free goods,Knibbs gives us the percentages of dutiable merchandise. The figures are as follow: - Australia 20 per cent., Canada 23 per cent., New Zealand 22 per cent., and the United States of America 38 per cent. In other words, these are the percentages of imports of dutiable merchandise, which ordinarily come under the heading of Protection, after deducting the figures relating to spirits, narcotics, and the goods on the free list.
– I think that the percentage in the case of New Zealand last year was 34 per cent.
– These figures at all events show that we have a lower average Protectionist Tariff than has either New Zealand, Canada, or the United States of America. Australia is a country with 3,000,000 square miles, and it has 10,000 miles of undefended coast-line. It has the small population of 4,500,000, and it is a place with abundant resources scattered all over its surface. Yet we are importing within £1,000,000 of the total amount of our exports, and the interest we oweto the foreign creditor is something life £14,000,000 per annum. With the exception of New Zealand, we have the highest revenue through our Tariff of any country in the world, the revenue through the Customs last year being £2 14s. per head. Our total taxation has increased since 1909 from £3 7s. 2d. per head to £4 14s.1d. per head, an increase of £1 6s.11d. per head. The Tariff schedule requires amending, not only in the direction of giving us a more scientific system of protection and giving proper consideration to all the interests of the community, but also in order to reduce the heavy taxation now paid through the Customs.
– We have not many revenue duties.
– Victoria had a free list of 60 per cent., as against 40 per cent. for the Commonwealth.
– Is ours not the freest Tariff in the world?
– There is a free list of 50 per cent. in New Zealand, and also in the United States of America, where the Customs revenue in the latter country is 13s. 6d. per head only.
I intend to vote for the proposal of the Government to exclude rural workers from the Arbitration Act provisions.
– You support preference to farmers?
– I am not arguing as to the logic of preference. I am prepared to exclude rural workers from the scope of the Arbitration Act. I am prepared to vote for the exclusion of any section of workers from the operation of that Act, because I believe that the Federal Arbitration Act should be abolished. I am prepared to vote for the exclusion of any section of the community from having the right to appeal directly and in the first instance to the Federal Arbitration Court. I believe that the time has arrived when we should place on the State Parliaments the duty of legislating in industrial matters.
– Does your leader approve of that?
– We are a free people on these benches. The constant cry of the Opposition is, “ Does your leader approve of it?” I suppose it is because they are fairly well disciplined, and cannot understand freedom on any side of the House. I believe that all original jurisdiction, all initiative in industrial legislation, should be possessed by the State Parliaments, and the State Parliaments only, and that the Federal Arbitration Court should be exclusively confined to appeals as between the States from the State Wages Tribunals, and then only where, perhaps, there is some kind of unfair competition operating between the States in the same industries. We have now an overlapping system of industrial legislation. The Federal Court deals with direct appeals from industries that are supposed to be Inter-State, or Federal, in character. I would like to know whether any honorable member could point out one industry of any importance which is not Federal, or Inter-State, in character? This means that if the Federal Arbitration Court is to continue under its present constitution, the jurisdiction in connexion with the whole of our industries will, in the course of time, be transferred from the State Wages Boards and tribunals to the Federal Arbitration
Court. It is a comparatively easy matter to go to the latter Court and assert that it is necessary that certain industries in more than one State should be dealt with in order to avoid a dispute that may arise in connexion with those industries, and this leads to the formation of large organizations, Australian in character, which pass over the State tribunals to go to the Federal Arbitration Court.
– They cannot trust the Appeal Court in Victoria.
– I am endeavouring to discuss a question of principle. If effort had been concentrated and directed on to the State Parliaments to compel them to pass industrial legislation, the probability is that every State would have had industrial legislation of a character satisfactory to the workers “and the people.
– What about the Legislative Councils?
– I know of no case where there has been any determined attempt on the part of the electors of the State of late years to force important legislation through the Legislative Council but it has ultimately found its way on the statute-book. The basis of our industrial legislation should be to vest the initiative or the original jurisdiction in State tribunals, and to have the Federal Court dealing with appeals from the various State tribunals in special cases of competition between the States. What is the present position? Under the Federal Arbitration Court we have a great effort on the part of the various organizations throughout the Commonwealth to become unified. We have a great federation of Labour now in progress in Australia. I understand the Australian Workers Union has so organized and consolidated its forces that it embraces 100,000 of the workers of Australia.
– And dominates the rest.
– We also find the miners organized to the extent of over 25,000 throughout Australia, and their numbers are increasing.
– Would you not allow that?
– But it means there is to be one great, unified organization and one appeal from that organization to a central Court, which must fix the wages and conditions of all industries all over
Australia, regardless of local conditions and regardless of climatic conditions.
– That is the tendency at the present time, and if we are to have these great syndicalized movements in Australia it will mean ultimately having conditions that will paralyze the whole of the trade and production of the Commonwealth. That is what it means.
– That is the policy of syndicalism.
– They do not believe in arbitration.
– They believe in the general strike, in taking everything into their own hands. To deal with social and industrial questions as they are affected by local conditions, we must have tribunals well acquainted with those conditions. This means decentralization, and the employment of Wages Boards and similar institutions.
– The honorable member says that most disputes are Inter-State in character. How could they be dealt with by local tribunals?
– Intervention by a Commonwealth tribunal would be necessary only when there was State competition. There should be disintegration, and the throwing back within the boundaries of the States of the settlement of all local questions. The State Parliaments should be compelled to pass legislation to deal with industrial matters with which they are better able to deal, because of their fuller local knowledge, than we are. That was the view taken at the time of Federation, and it has been indorsed twice by the people when alterations of the Constitution have been submitted to them by referenda. The constant overlapping of State and Commonwealth industrial legislation must eventually cause inextricable confusion.
– Does the honorable member believe in Wages Boards for farmers ?
– I have no objection to them. All industries might be brought under some kind of industrial tribunal if desired.
– Why did Packer’s crowd ask for the exclusion of rural workers?
– The farming representatives in the New South Wales Parliament are fighting to prevent the farmers from being brought under Wages Boards.
– It is not my business now to defend what other persons may be doing, though I might point out that representatives in Parliament reflect the opinions of the majority of their constituents. The industrial position in Australia is disquieting. We have a great unified organization of workers comprising something like 450,000 members, and within the last two years the number of unionists has been increased by something like 150,000.
– The increase will continue.
– We are encouraging the unification of labour by referring all cases to one Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and we do not know what the end will be. We are placing in the central Arbitration Court power to deal with all the industries of a continent having an area of 3,000,000 square miles, and are thus fostering centralization, and creating what will some day be a great evil. A proper Protectionist policy should be associated with discriminating industrial legislation, which would assist the establishment of secondary industries in the country districts. The tendency of unionism, of manufacture, and of our arbitration laws is to concentrate business and population in the big cities, and to prevent the decentrali*zation which is essential to the welfare of the country. This centralization prevents the proper settlement of the waste places of Australia which we hold in trust. Of the population of Victoria, 600,000 live in Melbourne, and only 700,000 iu the country districts, including therein the cities of Ballarat and Bendigo.
– Whose fault is that?
– Our legislation has done too much to foster centralization. How much of the time of this Parliament has’ been occupied with experimental industrial legislation when we might have devoted our attention to the development of the resources of the country! We might, as I have just suggested, have done more to associate our industrial laws with the policy of Protection. Let me, before closing, again draw attention to the possibilities of development resulting from the larger use of the waters of the Murray. The last Government introduced a Bill creating the Inter-State Commission. They took up a measure prepared by their predecessors, but it is to their credit that they had it placed on the statute-book, because it was long overdue.
– We got it passed in spite of the opposition of the Liberal party.
– No ; it was the Bill of the Liberal party. The Inter-State Commission has been appointed by this Government, and is beginning an investigation of the industrial conditions of the country and of the incidence of the Tariff duties. I regret that it cannot be instructed to at once undertake the fullest inquiry into the possibilities of water conservation throughout the Commonwealth. Those who have read of what has been done in the United States know that millions of public money have been spent there on water conservation, and that the returns have more than justified the expenditure. Australia needs population much more than America does, and agricultural settlement is required for the stability of our legislation. The utilization of the waters of the Murray for irrigation and navigation offers one of the most important problems with which we have to deal. South Australian public opinion greatly favours the- improvement of the navigability of the Murray, and it should be possible not only to store up the waters, of that river for irrigration purposes, but also to greatly improve its navigability. The railways, however, will always compete strongly with the rivers for the traffic of the country. In the United States the use of some rivers for transport purposes, which were much better natural highways than is the Murray, has become almost a thing of the past, train transport being so’ much speedier, and so necessary for perishable produce. I am sorry that the Government have not charged the Inter-State Commission, or some body of engineers, with the making of an investigation and a definite recommendation to this Parliament, so that we might join with the Parliaments of the States in appropriating money for the storage of water, and get the State authorities to vest in the Inter-State Commission the right to control the waters of our rivers generally.
– That would give three years’ work to the Commission.
– The sooner the work i3 commenced, the sooner shall we have a report. We have already had important reports by eminent engineers on the possibilities of the Murray for irrigation and navigation. The last report was prepared by Mr. De Burgh, of New South Wales; Mr. Dethridge, of Vic- toria; and Mr. Stewart, of South Australia. They supplied information which is not to be found in any previous report. At the present time there are 216,000 acres under irrigation in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
– That area is only partially used.
-I do not say that the water is being used to the best advantage. In some cases it is being applied to improve the growth of grass. The irrigation works that have been completed, and those that are in progress, will give an irrigable area of 600,000 acres.
– What number of persons live on the irrigated area?
– In Mildura alone 12,000 acres support over 6,000 persons, that is, two acres support one person. The engineers whom I have named recommend the making of further storage reservoirs on the Goulburn, on the Murray, and at Lake Victoria, at a total cost of £2,614,000. The cost of distributing the water would come to £3,600,000, so that the whole undertaking would cost £6,214,000. That would increase the irrigable area by 800,000 acres. If these proposed works are undertaken there will be, when they are finished, and when the works now in hand are completed, an irrigable area of 1,400,000 acres. The Commission also gives some very interesting information in regard to the possibilities of the Murray River. The works I have indicated would take 30 per cent, of the total flow of the river, leaving 70 per cent, to be otherwise utilized. Taking the same average watering per acre that I have already referred to, that would leave available 2,800,000 acres that the Commonwealth Government might exploit in connexion with further storages, or 4,200,000 acres altogether to be irrigated by the whole of the waters.
– Would that leave any waters for navigation?
– It is estimated by the engineers that the flow of water necessary to “supply the irrigation works from the vast storages on the highlands would be sufficient to enable navigation to be carried on all the year round. This, of course, would mean some additional cost in locks, and so forth.
– Does the honorable member think that there is any chance of South Australia agreeing to a proposition of the kind?
– Whether South Australia agrees or not, our first consideration is that of irrigation. If it be found that the whole of the waters can be used for irrigation, and, at the same time, that the river can be made navigable, the proposition is worth earnest and serious consideration.
– I agree with the honorable member as to that, but until we get the States to consent we can do nothing.
– We can only do our duty. If we show that we are in earnest, and that, through the Inter-State Commission, we are prepared to help in the storage works, as the United States Congress help, we shall make out a fair case to induce the States to vest the necessary powers in the Inter-State Commission. At the recent election the people declared their confidence in the present Government, who have been sent here to carry on the business of the country; but the Opposition are not satisfied with the direct mandate then given. Immediately Parliament opens they submit a noconfidence proposal without giving the Government any opportunity to carry out their programme. The attack made is on three important points. One of these is industrial legislation; and while it is true that the previous Government did some work in this connexion, their measures were mostly of a restrictive kind, providing that moneys paid into the Treasury by the people as a whole should be used in rewarding their own supporters by employment in the Government service.
– Is the honorable member against preference to unionists?
– I am now discussing preference to unionists in the Government service. When a definite proposal, on an arbitration measure, is submitted, I shall express an opinion on preference to unionists generally. Preference to unionists in the Government service is one of the most pernicious abuses of Ministerial power that we have had in the history of any country. The Tariff has been studiously neglected, and it comes with ill- grace from the party guilty of that neglect to attempt to oust a Government because that Government have, in three or four weeks, failed to do what the Labour party with a big majority failed to do in three years. This amendment is an ill-considered attack at which the people are looking -very closely, and which they generally disapprove of. I hope that the present Government will endeavour to carry out the principles in which they believe. I trust that, in view of the mandate of the people at the last election, and after this ill-conceived amendment has been defeated, the members of the Opposition will regard the interests of the people as paramount to any party interests, and will settle down to the business of the country, passing measures that are essential to’ our true progress and the development of our great resources
– Not many honorable members on either side of the House will agree with the honorable member for Wimmera when he says that the late Government brought forward but little progressive legislation. I venture to say that the Fisher Government brought forward more progressive legislation than any other Government that has graced the Treasury bench, and that legislation may be regarded as most effective and conducive to the welfare of the country. The Fisher Government passed eighty-three Bills, or, counting the Navigation Bill, which had been before Parliament, I believe, for nine years, we may take the number at eighty-four. That Navigation Bill is, I may say, considered one of the finest measures of the kind in the world. In view of these facts, we may come to the conclusion that the honorable member for Wimmera, when he declared that the Fisher Government had passed but little beneficial legislation, was simply feeling his way. It will be admitted by every one, I think, that the Labour Government had no time to deal with the Tariff, in view of much other important legislation. Although I am a pronounced Protectionist, I do not believe that Protection, whether new or old, is a panacea for all the evils from which the people are suffering. When I was in England I met a friend who, on going over from Free-Trade Ireland to Protectionist America, went into a store there and asked for a dollar’s worth of potatoes. When he got the potatoes he remarked that he could get as many in Ireland for sixpence, and on the shopkeeper asking him why he did not remain in Ireland and buy them, my friend replied that in Ireland he had not the sixpence. The only difference that the Tariff makes is that, where there is Protection, the industries are carried on within our own borders, and we can regulate them and see that they pay reasonable wages. If there is not Protection we have no control over the foreign workers, and it is on that ground that I am in favour of Protection. It has been stated by honorable members opposite, and by the press in the various States, that the Labour party in this House are obstructing the business of the country. Personally, I have no such intention, nor, I believe, has any honorable member on this side. Our object in supporting the amendment is simply to prevent a Government, which is quite out of touch with 90 per cent, of the people, from repealing the splendid legislation passed by the Fisher Government. What sort of men should we be if, simply for the purpose of hanging like barnacles to our seats here, we acquiesced in any such proceedings? We are here to look after the interests of that 90 per cent, of the people who sent us here, or who should, at any rate, have voted for us. In my opinion, 90 per cent, of the people of Australia are workers, and the remaining 10 per cent, live on the produce of labour. The produce of labour constitutes the natural recompense of labour, and the 90 per cent, of workers ought to “ come into their own.” This they can do only when they are represented by a body of men like my colleagues. The honorable member for Flinders stated the other day that the present Government are out to get for every one the fruits of his own labour. In my opinion, however, it is now impossible for a man to get the fruits of his labour. A very small section throughout this great Commonwealth own and control the means of production, and, largely, the means of distribution and exchange, and under such circumstances how can the workers get justice ? Coghlan, in 1903-4, told us that the estimated wealth of Australia was £1,043,840,000, and that this was owned by 28.5 per cent, of the adult population, leaving 71.5 per cent, of the population without any property at all. That means that 71.5 of the population have no property at all, and no means of making wealth - that they are wage slaves forced into their present position by the system we are attacking. I am not now referring personally to any individual member on the Government benches. We are here to attack a system which causes the aggregation of wealth in the hands of a few - in the hands of 10 per cent, of the people in any country - and that system we hope to break down by such efforts as are represented by the amendment before us.Coghlan tells us that in New South Wales, which may be taken as representative of the other States, 987 persons have property over the value of £50,000. Those favorites of fortune own among them £130,521,000 worth of property, or 35.4 per cent. of the whole of the State of New South Wales, though they are only 13 per cent. of the population. Yet we have honorable members opposite telling us that each and every one has equal opportunities.
– What is the date of Mr. Coghlan’s report to which the honorable member refers?
– It relates to the year 1903-4. I have taken the figures from Mr. B. R. Wise’s book The Commonwealth.
– So that the report is ten years old?
- Mr. Coghlan pointed out that probably one-half of the State of New South Wales was owned by 3,000 persons. That would have been the position to-day,but that the Labour party came into power and passed a land values tax, which has made the large land-owners disgorge. To avoid payment of the tax, some of them have sold out, while others have cut up portion of their estate. I have also some interesting figures supplied by Mr. R. M. Johnston, Government Statistician of Tasmania. I do not know whether he has Liberal or Labour leanings, but in a paper which he read before the Science Congress in Melbourne, and a copy of which I was able to obtain only an hour or two ago, so that I have not had an opportunity to study it carefully, he dealt with wealth production in Tasmania. Mr. E. Turner analyzed this paper in an article which he contributed to the Daily Post, and from that article I make the following quotation-
Mr. Johnston’s figures prove that of £8,7 50,000 worth of consumable wealth produced in Tasmania in 1911,60¼ per cent. went to pay the wages and salaries of 91 per cent. of the breadwinners, while the remaining9 per cent. took 39¾ per cent. as their portion. Each of the nine thus gets over 4 per cent. of the consumable wealth; each of the ninety and one gets only two-thirds per cent. The lucky nine, in other words, get nearly seven times as much as each of the ninety-one. If wecall the nine the employing class and the ninety-one the labouring class, these figures, then, show that of every £7 of consumable wealth produced by labour in Tasmania in 191 1 the working class took £1 and the employing class £6.
Having studied Thorold Rogers and other great writers on this question, I think I am safe in saying that about 90 per cent. of the people of every country are workers, and unfortunately they have distributed amongst them but very little wealth. In America, in 1860, the workers received 20 per cent. of the wealth they produced. In 1870, they received 18 per cent. ; in 1880, 17 per cent. ; and in 1890, 20 per cent. ; but in 1900 the average fell away again to 17 per cent. Glancing for a moment at the position in the Old Country, we find that fourteen wealthy men died recently, leaving estates valued at £35,000,000, whilst during the same period 119 persons died of starvation. I have taken these figures from the Illustrated Record of the Tower Hamlets mission - a periodical conducted by that excellent gentleman Mr. Carrington, who gave up £1,000,000 worth of brewery shares because he found that he could not conscientiously carry on his philanthropic work and continue to hold shares in a brewery. He is doing great service in dealing with the effects of the present social system, although unfortunately he is not getting at the cause. We, on the other hand, are seeking to deal with the cause as well as the effect, and I am confident if we had in Australia a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the community we should not have the industrial troubles that from time to time occur. During this debate much has been said about political and industrial unionism. I should like to ask what is a union but a joint stock company. We find that individually the capitalists can no longer do anything, and that they have conceived the idea of forming what are really unions, although they are called by some people companies, and by others associations, syndicates, and so forth. These are nothing save combinations or unions of capital, and by such unions the capitalists are able to accomplish much that otherwise would be impossible to them. Then, again, we have the doctors’ union, which has raised the medical profession to its present high standard, and is doing much good in the country. There is only one union which I would not bring into our ranks. I refer to the lawyers’ union. I may, as the result of association with the honorable member for Batman and the honorable member for Bendigo, be induced to change my opinion, but at present I should strongly object to the lawyers’ union being amalgamated with the industrial unions which we support. I think that the lawyers’ union would mop up all the others, and that it would lead us astray. Copying the example set by the capitalists, Labour men, by uniting their forces, have been able to do much good. We have the amalgamation of capital first in the form of companies, then into combines, and finally into trusts. The labourer, to save himself, to secure for himself some recognition, and to permit of his retaining a little of the wealth he produces - and 1 believe Karl Marx was on the right track when he said that all wealth comes from labour - must unite. The wealth that the rich men on the Government benches possess comes from their having taken so much of the surplus wealth produced by labour. That being so, if by taxation, or other means, we are taking from the wealthy classes something more than they ever paid before, we are merely returning to the workers a little of that to which they are justly entitled. What is preference to unionists but a means of enabling the unions to be properly organized, so that they may effectively deal with organized capital? Is it not well for the community that we should have the workers well organized, sending along their representatives to confer with the representatives of capital, and so arriving at agreements which do away with disastrous strikes that bring trouble, not only to those immediately .concerned, but to thousands who have no association whatever with them ? We, as a body, have every confidence in the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court, but we have no confidence whatever in the Wages Boards as at present constituted. Such Boards consist of an equal number of representatives of employers and employes, with an outside chairman, on whose vote the fixing of an award generally rests. There is going on at present in Victoria a disastrous strike, which is the direct result of the system under which those concerned sought the redress of their grievances. For four months a body of men had been working under an award made by the Wages Board relating to their trade - an award under which they were to receive £3 per week. Everything was running smoothly, but the Federated Steam -ship Owners’ Association objected to this award, and appealed under the Victorian Act to a Justice of the Supreme Court, who may be a great lawyer, and an excellent Judge, and who, I believe, would, as far as he could see, endeavour to give a just verdict. He is* however, so far removed from industrial production and the distribution of the products of labour that he was quite unable during the short time that the case was before him to grasp and deal with this great question as it should have been dealt with, with the result that the appeal was allowed, and the wages of the men were reduced by 8s. per week. I believe numerous employers of labour are willing to observe the original award of the Wages Board, but the shipping companies having refused to do so, a disastrous strike has occurred. Only the other day we had in South Africa a terrible illustration of what may take place in Australia. I had recently a conversation with a gentleman familiar with the facts relating to the recent trouble in Johannesburg. He told me that it arose from the desire of a large body of men to hold a meeting in a public thoroughfare, in order to voice their objections to a law that had been instituted by the Government of the country. When they attempted to do so, they were moved on by the police, a riot started, and we all have read of the result. We do not want that kind of thing in Australia, nor do we desire that there should be any strikes, The object of the Labour party is to prevent strikes, but we do wish to obtain for the workers of Australia, no matter what their occupations may be, a little more of the wealth which they produce. And they are going to obtain it. .The worker is being educated. When the State Parliaments declared for free education throughout the length and breadth of Australia, they sounded the death-knell of capitalism, since the educated worker will no longer submit to the terms to which the toilers were subjected in the past. There was a time when in eastern Europe the working classes allowed by the landowners to go on the soil, were permitted to work three days a week for themselves, while during the remaining three days of the week they had to work for the landlords. The so-called Liberals came along and said, “ This is wrong. Why should these men be robbed of one-half the results of their labour.” Such a position, it was urged, could not be allowed to continue. A. change was demanded, with the result that to-day, not one-half, but two-thirds, of the wealth produced by labour is taken by men “ who toil not, neither do they spin.” That is the proportion which is mopped up in payment of rent and interest. When making some purchases in this city quite recently, I remarked, in order to “draw out” the proprietor of the shop, that the goods were very expensive, and was told in reply, ‘ ‘ I have to make up £30 a week rent before I have a penny for myself.” In other words, that man has to pay £30 a week to some one who may not reside in Australia, and who, perhaps, never contributed a cent to the cost of government in this country until the courageous Labour party came into power, and taxed those who had never been taxed before. And because the Labour party did so, these people have returned to power their emissaries to try to break down the legislation which the Labour Government passed. They are giving us homoeopathic doses in the first session, but if they pass the legislation we are fighting against now, before three years are over they will have a Bill brought down to try to repeal the land tax. I hope we are not going to allow them to do that. With reference to the increase of wages, honorable members opposite say that it has added to the cost of living, but I have yet to learn of any economist of note who has made that statement. Mr. Bavin, who sat on the Royal Commission in New South Wales inquiring into the cost of living, says -
An increase in rate of wages does not necessarily involve an increase in the cost of production, as there can be no doubt that the tendency of higher wages is to stimulate the use of laboursaving machinery, and the adoption of the most economical methods of production.
I will also quote from Mr. Knibbs to bear out what I am saying. We find that, even in the short period of ten years, labour has become more effective in Australia. Mr. Knibbs says -
While it may be dangerous, in view of the fluctuating nature of some of the figures, to compare individual years without due reference to other years, it may be seen that from I90 to ion the relative productive activity increased from I,000 to 1,355, 01 3Si Per cent., while nominal wages increased nearly 18 per cent, (or about one-half the increase in productive activity), effective wages increased 5.8 per cent., and cost of living 13.6 per cent. It should be remembered, however, that in the following year there was a heavy decline in the effective wage index-number.
So we see the worker has become more effective iri his work in this limited time, but still he does not get the produce of his labour - only 18 per cent. - the balance going into the pockets of those gentlemen who own and control the land and the distribution of the products made by the worker.
– Bulk figures do riot bear out that statement.
– They do. Every new machine invented makes’ labour more effective and throws many more out of employment. That is why we get so few workers on the one side and such an aggregation of capitalists on the other side. We have that all over the world. Let me quote America to show the aggregation of wealth in a country where every one is supposed to be free, and where they have the same system of governing as honorable members on the Government “benches have introduced in Australia and desire to perpetuate -
There were many wealthy people aboard the Titanic, and the Telegraph New York correspondent gives a list of some of the millionaires and the extent of their wealth : -
Colonel John Jacob Astor, £30,000,000; Mr. Isidor Straus, £10,000,000; Mr. George D. Widener, ^10,000,000; Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim, ^19,000,0*00; Colonel Washington Roebling, £5,000,000; Mr. J. B. Thayer, £2,000,000.
In all there was £100,000,000 sterling in the hands of twenty people. In addition to that, quoting from memory, Rockefeller is credited with having wealth to the extent of £180,000,000, which gives him a return of £28 a minute, whether he works or not. Yet we have honorable members willing to perpetuate that state of things for all time. They have had Liberal Governments in Great Britain, and they have had Conservative Governments. We had a Liberal Government in Australia at one time, and we had a Conservative Government. They have fuse£ now, and I cannot take the responsibility of saying what it is now.
– You can call it a political gnome.
– We have heard much about the cost of living and the responsibility of the Labour party for that cost of living, but I think any one will agree with me that the paltry increase in the wages of the workers of Australia is not responsible for the increased cost of living. We have borrowed enormously in Australia, and our small population has to pay the foreign capitalist nearly £10,000,000 every year in interest, which £10,000,000 has to be produced, not by the 10 per cent. of the people, but by the 90 per cent. who are the workers, and most of the interest is sent to the Old Country in the shape of goods made and produced by the worker of Australia. The increased production of gold is also largely responsible for the increased cost of living. Professor Fisher, whom I had the honour of meeting in France, held the opinion that this was largely responsible; but I do not think so, though it is one of the factors. Next we have the progress of nations, which has caused a lot of capital to be used in progressive work that will not be immediately reproductive, and until that work becomes reproductive, it will be found that the cost of living in all countries will keep going up continually. But what did our friends tell us on the hustings? I know I caused the member for Wilmot a sleepless night last night. I had no intention of doing so, and I shall not quote any further from his brilliant speeches; but what did the honorable gentlemen opposite tell their constituents? Among the fairy tales they told was this: “ Immediately we get into power the cost of living will go down.”
– I never said that.
– I have asked the workers in my electorate when they are requested to pay more for their goods - because rents are still going up - to say, “ But is not the Liberal Government in power? Did you not tell us that the cost of living would come down immediately the Fisher Government was displaced?” There is no reply. The people were misled, and that is why we are anxious to go to the country, because the people realize they have been fooled. It was said that the Fisher Government robbed Tasmania of £400,000.
– I did not say so.
– I do not credit the honorable member with being so foolish; but his organization said it. There are gentlemen of high standing in Hobart on the committee of that organization, but they did not have the courage to put their names to a pamphlet I have. They got a lady, Mrs. Mary Taylor, who was acting secretary, to sign it.
– Worse than Adam !
– If they do not keep away from the Women’s National League, take it from me they will suffer more than Adam suffered. This was a pamphlet circulated through my electorate during the campaign. A question is supposed to be asked by a Labourite - “ Why did you have to bring Trenwith over?” And the Liberal replies, “For the same reason that the Scotch made Gladstone, an Englishman, one of their members. He is the best man in the Commonwealth to represent Denison. If he had been our member, Fisher could not have robbed us of the £400,000 grant.” That is a tale they went pitching from house to house. As a rule, Labourites do not keep servant girls, and the wives of Labourites must answer the doors themselves. One Liberal lady canvasser knocked at the door of a house, and a woman with an infant in her arms came to the door. When the canvasser found that this woman was a Labourite, she said, “Did you get £5 from the Government when that baby was born?” The woman said “Yes.” Whereupon the canvasser said, “ Then Mr. Fisher has a claim on the infant.” That was an absurd thing to say. There was another lady, whose name I shall not mention. I have such a respect for her family - young men and daughters who are growing up, and I believe some of them vote Labour. This lady had a bird, and she was told that if she voted for Laird Smith the Fisher Government would compel her to dispense with the bird. These were the tales circulated to frighten people into voting against their own interests. We are simply out for the purpose of trying to bring down the cost of living, which affects not only the hard, horny-handed pick and shovel man, the daily worker, so essential to every community, but also men of the professional class, a large number of whom voted Labour in Denison.
– You will find cranks in every constituency.
– Out of the nearly 9,000 who voted in my favour were many professional people who recognised how the present prosperity of Tasmania had come about during the three years’ experience of Labour Government. Never has Tasmania had such prosperity before. Why has it come about? Because the workers received an increase in wages which they have spent among the business people. In addition, much of the land has been brought into use through the land tax. One big company is selling its land. It is having it scrubbed and sewn with cocksfoot at great cost. It is now selling the cleared farms on splendid terms, and the whole of it will eventually be sold. That means that in Tasmania we shall have a great rural industry. I hope that those taking up the land will become so well and economically educated as to realize that cheap labour does not mean wealth to the farmer. Two years ago, I was in a country where there were a number of farmers and absentee landlords. At one time the land supported 8,000,000 people, but now there are only 4,000,000 there, because the people have been driven out of the country by the same system of government honorable members opposite are there to perpetuate. Mr. A. J. Ogilvy, a well-known farmer in Tasmania, and a splendid writer, has stated that, in Ireland, the farm labourer can get 6d. a day. But I found that wages had gone up in Ireland, and the farm labourer could get the splendid wage of ls. a day, and I thought I would find wealthy people there. But the farmers in Ireland are as poor as are to be found in any part of the world; that is because the absentee landlord and the interest lord, and other capitalists, take the surplus produce of the farmer and labourer. Therefore, cheap labour in any district does not mean a successful yeomanry on the land. It means that you get a poor class of men where, in the farming industry, skilled men are required. Complicated machines are continually in use, so that the more skilled a man is the more effective his work will be, and the greater will be the amount of wealth he produces by his labour. Now, briefly referring to the question of day labour, in Tasmania, railway- construction is not very great, but we are making progress, and even the Tory Government that is in power there sees that it is more economical, and gives better results to carry on public works with day labour rather than by contract. With day labour there are no extras to be paid for, nor do you have to half -build your railways again. The extension of the Scotsdale railway through rough country was carried out with day labour more cheaply than it could have been done by contract, and cost le33 per mile than any other similar mileage in Tasmania. The Flowerdale line has also been constructed by day labour, and the Sheffield line, in the Wilmot division, is to be constructed by day labour.
– The honorable roemer for Wilmot will not denounce day labour during the next electoral campaign.
– No. We hope that there will be a thousand navvies in the division then, with perhaps their wives, and he will be very careful what he says in denunciation of day labour. The underground drainage of the city of Hobart was carried out by the council with day labour, at a saving of thousands of pounds, the council’s engineer putting in a tender to be compared with those of private contractors. The Hobart pier, too, is being made with day labour. It will accommodate ships like the Titanic. We are making provision for the time when Hobart will be the distributing centre of Australia. Ships drawing 60 feet of water could come up to the wharfs there, and at the end of the new pier there is a depth of 65 feet of water. The honorable member for Bass has a. little orchard of about 40 acres, and a small ship will be required to carry away the apples that his land produces. We are making provision for the time when the big steamers from abroad will discharge their cargoes at Hobart into smaller vessels trading to Melbourne and other Australian ports, and will fill up with Tasmanian produce. The pier that we are constructing at Hobart is the admiration of all visitors from other parts of Australia. The employment of day labour saves the cost of a contractor. The officer who. is supervising the construction of this pier would still have to be employed if the work were being done by contract, and with some contractors he would have to pay more attention to the work than he does now. I have been employed on railway lines built by contract that have had to be practically reconstructed. I heard of one case in which the contractors paid £5,000 to a gentleman to go out of the enterprise, he making his fortune without doing anything. Public works have been constructed by day labour in Queensland and in New South Wales, as well as in Tasmania. Surely the Commonwealth can rise to the occasion, and, if necessary, create the portfolio of Minister of Public Works, and give it to the honorable member for Franklin. He should be in the Ministry, and I am surprised at his meek reception of the treatment that he ha3 received. The little State of Tasmania is not represented in the present Ministry. What hope has it of getting the extra £400,000. A senator has stated that the agreement is for nine years, at the end of which time the position may be reconsidered, but nine years hence there will not be many Liberals in this Parliament. Objection is being taken to the expenditure of money under that humane piece of legislation which provides for the payment of maternity allowances. It has been found that 90 per cent. of the mothers of Australia take the allowance. Why? Because they belong to the working class.
– If we throw £5-notes about, they are bound to be picked up.
– This is not a throwing about of £5-notes. The honorable member has always had a silver spoon in his mouth, and has never known want or poverty. He has never felt as some of the unfortunates who receive the allowance have felt. They are not responsible for the position which they occupy; it is the employing class that is responsible for pushing them down into the sorrow and degradation in which we find them. The Labour party came to the rescueof these people, and made many happy homes in Australia by passing the legislation that is complained of. I am surprised at such a humane man as the honorable member for Wilmot-
– I have not said anything.
– The honorable member is careful not to say anything. He is feeling his way gently, wondering how far he should go. He is not in the back-blocks of Wilmot now, but in the presence of the watchdogs who sit on this side of the House. That fact makes him very careful. No wonder he cries, “ I have not said anything.” Is he going to vote to repeal this humane piece of legislation ?
– I am glad to have that assurance. One of the Liberal newspapers in Australia said recently that it would be a most foolish thing for any Government to repeal this legislation. It does not mean waste, as the honorable member for Wimmera suggested when he spoke of throwing £5 notes about. The money would have to be sunk into the earth, or dropped into a river, to be wasted. Most of it goes to pay for the necessaries of life. It is distributed among the butchers, bakers, grocers, and very often, unfortunately, is paid to the landlords.
– O - Oh, no!
– What worries honorable members opposite is where we got the money with which to pay this allowance. You can only bring progress to a country by taking money by way of taxation from the wealthy - the people who never paid until the Labour party got into power - because they were always strong enough to be able to return to Parliament representatives who would pass legislation in the interest of the classes instead of in the interest of the masses. The Labour party passed legislation in the interest of the masses. It took from the wealthy on top, and the money filtered down in the way I have described, bringing prosperity everywhere throughout Australia. The Liberals will drive a nail into their political coffins on the day that they repeal the humane Act which provides for the maternity allowance.
– We propose to substitute an insurance scheme.
– I am glad to be reminded of that. What does industrial insurance mean? Neither more nor less than taking a little more from the worker, who is paying all the time.
– Does not the honorable member believe in thrift?
– Most decidedly. I suppose the honorable gentleman tells his children to take long strides when going to school, so that they shall not wear out their boots so fast. How would thrift suit the constituents of the honorable member? Suppose the community ate nothing but porridge for breakfast, porridge for dinner, and porridge for tea, how would the farmers, orchardists, and others get on ? Thrift is a tale that has been told too long. It has influenced the people too long. The honorable member and others speak as if riches were absolute, and as if everybody, by adhering to certain scientific rules, could become rich. Wealth, like electricity, acts only on equalities and negations. The presence of a sovereign in the pocket of the honorable member depends on the absence of a sovereign from my pocket. The art of getting rich is the art of keeping your neighbour poor. No wonder they advise the practice of thrift. It enables them to take a little more every time. I am of the opinion that we spend too much money in a certain direction, but that is being remedied rapidly. Those who get the old-age pension are entitled to it be- cause of the small part of the wealth of the country that they have been allowed to retain. They are the soldiers of the plough and of the spade, and as such are as much entitled to a pension as is the army captain or the public servant. The people at large are always insuring themselves. I know what I am talking about, because I have passed ‘ many years in studying the works of such men as Karl Marx, Wells, Blatchford, and Adam Smith, to get on the solid ground on which we stand. I hope that this compulsory scheme will be opposed by every honorable member on this side, because it penalizes a body of men who are already contributing enough from their earnings. Such a scheme removes responsibility from the person who ought to be responsible, namely, the employer, and who for ages has had the use of the wealth created by the workman. If an employer has 1,000 men working for him, and takes only ls. -of the produced wealth from each, that means £50 a week; and yet the employer objects to contribute towards pensions for worn-out workers.
– The honorable member -does not understand the question.
– I understand more about it than is comfortable for the “honorable member. The scheme is only another way to penalize the worker still further. But the workers of Australia, at any rate, are better educated, politically and economically, than the honorable member seems to give them credit for, and they will decline to submit to any further tax on the lines proposed. We have heard a great deal about the Electoral Act and impersonation, and double voting; and in my own State I had people pointing out to me that under the Act introduced by the Labour party all kinds of fraud have been introduced. We were told that in Ballarat one person had voted nineteen times, and it would be interesting to know what really occurred at the elections. Some of our poorest, though most industrious and thrifty people, were, owing to the economic conditions under which we live, not possessed of clothes which they considered good enough to wear to the polling booth. Some of our splendid canvassers then adopted the plan of providing a cloak for the women; and that cloak was used for several. A cloak of the kind might go into the same booth a dozen times; and the brainy Liberals mistook the same cloak for the same person. I have a very high opinion of the electoral officers of Tasmania, than whom a cleaner or finer body of men could not be found.
– I do not believe there was much double voting in Tasmania.
– I do not think there was much throughout Australia.
– I do not think there was any.
– Neither do I.
– To the great disappointment of the Liberals.
– The trouble is to get the electors to vote once ; and when they all do so, the- Labour party will come into their own. The honorable gentleman for Robertson is a young man who has had experience in that august body, the New South Wales Parliament; but I must say that I listened to him with great regret the other night. It is true that he and his speech were eulogised in the newspapers, and it was suggested that he must be regarded as a great loss to the Labour party. After his speech the other night, however, we on this side ought to be heartily glad that he does not belong to us. We honour those men who left the Old Country for Australia, and by their sacrifices and hard work have made this country what it is to-day. We not only welcome .good men from Great Britain, but from other parts; and I may say that in this Parliament there is a member who would do credit to any deliberative assembly, and who, I am told, was “ made in Germany.” I do not desire to deal harshly with the honorable member for Robertson on his first appearance in this Parliament; but he comes from the “Ma.” State- the Legislature which sets such an example to the world - and I must say that I regret he should have uttered such sentiments in the National Parliament. Those men who have made this their adopted country have done more for the people of Australia than the honorable member will be able to do if he remains in this Parliament for the next fifty years. Of course”, if he were to come over to this side we might be able to do something with him, and make him of some use; but, as it is, we can only regret his attack on those men who have assisted to build up this country. I hope that when he has been here a little longer, he will make no more mistakes of the kind ; and I fancy that the time will come when he himself will regret his utterances of a few days ago.
.- Listening to the honorable member for Denison, one would think that only on the Opposition side was to be found sympathy with the great body of the workers of Australia. Let me assure the honorable member that we on this side fully recognise that honorable members opposite have every sympathy with the masses of the people; but what we fail to recognise in our honorable friends is the intelligence to properly direct that sympathy. Much as the Labour party promised, and much as they believed would result from their efforts, we are struck with the barrenness of their legislation. Because a man calls himself a Labour man, it must not be taken for granted that he always acts in the interests of labour; otherwise there would be no such thing as a Liberal party. On this side there is full sympathy with and recognition of the aims and objects of the great mass of the people; and the only difference between the parties is indicated by the question - How shall we best accomplish what we have in view for their benefit? There must be no going back to the mistakes of the past. We must not try to see whether we cannot, by resuming mischievous and meddlesome legislation of years gone by, bring about some amelioration of the lot of humanity. We cannot do so by that means; and our desire ought to be to open the way to every individual, so that he may have full scope for his talents. The workers of the community have infinitely more to gain tb-day by breaking down class prejudice than have any other section of the community. Fortunately for us all, brains do not belong to the wealthy, and are not inherited even by caste. Brains seem to be just as much the lot of one class of citizens as another. While the object was to tie down every man in the condition in which he was born, no true progress was made, but amongst honorable members opposite there is an absolute failure to recognise that fact, and we have a revival of the caste and class legislation of the past. We have a perpetual decrying of competition itself; they do not recognise that it is only when there is liberty that there can be competition, and that it is only as competition progresses that there cam be any real or true advance. If history teaches us anything, it certainly teachesus this truth : What has put men into theposition in which they are in this House to-day? I fail to hear many of them boasting of their caste or of wealth; and’ yet there are only two methods of regulating the advancement of human kind.. One method is to allow lineage and caste to determine the lot and condition of thepeople, and the other is to have competition which allows a man to emerge from the condition in which he was born, if he has talents, and to march along the road of progress. The more we study thesubject the more we find that -that road can be pointed out to us only by following the light of liberty. If we fail to recognise that fact, we fail to recognise anything at all; and we grope hopelessly in the dark. There is no doubt that the Labour party set out with some good objects in view; but one of their object* was the demolition of capital. What have they done? At the end of their three years of office, the rate of interest of the great dividend companies was never higher; and fortunately for them that is so, and that the wealth of the country has not been destroyed. Had. capital been demolished and wealth destroyed, it would have been impossible to pay any old-age pensions. Honorable members opposite talk with two tongues, not understanding that as we destroy wealth so we destroy the power of extending charity or pensions. What did the Labour party propose to do? They proposed to lessen the rate of interest, and to give every farmer and, worker money at so cheap a rate that it would roll in, and each could start on his own account. For three years the Labour party struggled on that road, with the result that the rate of interest has been raised against every farmer and producer throughout Australia.
– It has been raised all over the world.
– The honorable member is quite right, but the honorable member must recollect that, owing to the very severe lessons taught us by the crisis of 1893, the banking institutions - and thi* must be said to their credit - developed such a system of finance that, provided there was no miserable interference on thepart of Governments, we were bound to have sufficient capital for all our ordinary “needs. As a proof of that, I may say that we not only passed through the great crisis of 1907-8 on the other side of the world absolutely unscathed, but had such a low rate of interest that it was almost without parallel in the civilized world. The Labour party ought to understand “that this credit system of ours has been the work of. years and years of sensible people in the community. It has been brought about by the thrift exhibited by »the people and the care with which they have met all demands. Whenever they -borrowed, the money so obtained was, as far as possible, put to reproductive use; and we are reaping the reward in the markets of the world. The Labour party, not understanding the position, put the reputation of Australia on the market, and were astounded because it brought a great price.
– We did not borrow any money.
– By the banking legislation and the local loans of the various State Governments, the till money of the community was practically taken away. Something even worse than that was done. To the shame and disgrace of the Labour party, which should have declared that a worker should not be paid save in the pure gold for which he had given his labour, there was passed a Banking Act, which proposed a system of paper money. Without indulging in -any wild flights of imagination, I would remind honorable members that a more foolish system was never introduced. In no country where a system of paper money has been tried has it failed to lead to the impoverishment of the great masses of the people. Can the ordinary worker at the end of the week speculate in the value of the paper money he is given ? Has he the capital to buy it ‘up in advance when there is likely to be a depreciation? Of course not. There is no country which has tried a system of paper money in which the poorer classes have not had to pay for it. I admit that *he Australian system, as long as it does not go further than it does at present, is quite within the bounds, not of legitimate banking, but of banking. But will any one deny that the paper money :system has not been attended with dire results in France, England, Germany, “Russia, Austria, Spain, Portugal, and the United States?
– And the Argentine.
– The paper money of the Argentine fell to one-third of its value. Yet the Labour party, instead of providing that our paper money should not be legal tender in the payment of workmen’s wages, made it possible for the workers to be paid only in paper money. Taking the least depreciation that has ever occurred - the drop of 2s. in the £1 in the case of Great Britain - what would be the position of working men in Australia if anything of the kind occurred here? A man entitled to receive £3 per week would, when he went for his wages, receive actually only £2 14s. There would be a depreciation of 10 per cent. What with the £10,000,000 gold reserve, and the £10,000,000 which the State Governments have borrowed, something like £20,000,000 has been taken from men who were employing it, and obtaining from it a return of about 10 per cent, all round. The gross return, no doubt, was a good deal more; but, taking it at 10 per cent., we should have on this amount of £20,000,000 a yield of £2,000,000. The £20,000,000 has now been put into public works, which, however valuable they may be in the future, cannot return at the present quite 3 per cent. There is thus, in a small community like that of Australia, a difference of nearly £1,500,000 in the yield from this enormous sum. By the Commonwealth bank note system, the Labour Government also destroyed the elasticity of commerce, which is so delicate that no one has been able to grasp it. “ What?” says the Labour man, “ Do you mean to say we do not understand it? Such a charge is the very reason why we proceed to legislate upon the question.”
– The present Treasurer claims that he had on the stocks a Bill providing for a Commonwealth note issue.
– I have nothing to do with that. But, if I were suddenly, by law, to prevent the use of any note of credit by members of the Opposition, they would immediately think that they had been subjected to hardship. If all workmen were prevented from the use of their credit, the Labour party would say that harm would arise. But the moment men combine and call themselves a banking company, the Labour party, who recognise the folly of preventing a man from using his credit, fail to recognise the folly of preventing a body of men from using their credit.
– Then will the honorable member urge the Government to abolish the Commonwealth note issue ?
– 1 should like a Committee, composed of men having some . grasp of finance - a condition which would exclude honorable members of the Opposition - to thoroughly sift this matter and give to Parliament their opinions concerning it. I know that the Opposition, in passing this legislation, meant well, but performance is very different from promise. When I think of the extraordinary number of enterprises upon which the Labour party entered, full of promise and zeal, I am reminded of 33sop’s fable of the sympathetic pig. The pig, which had been well fed, was looking over his sty, when he saw his master turning over the soil in his garden with the object of planting vegetables, while his mistress was also doing the same thing with the intention of raising flowers. The sympathetic pig remarked, “ Why don’t they call me in. I would turn over the ground for nothing, and would have very much pleasure in doing so.” During the absence of his master and mistress, he got out of his sty and enjoyed himself immensely in turning over the whole garden. Having rooted up the vegetables and flowers, he returned to the sty to hear the praises of his master and mistress, never doubting for a moment but that they would be pleased with his efforts. Unfortunately for the pig, their remarks, like the voice of the people’ at the last election, which was very different from that which the Labour party expected, were very disconcerting. The pig heard his master say, “ Bring me my gun till I shoot this pig,” and he rejoined, “ This is the gratitude of human beings.” The moral of the fable is that labour, however zealous, must utterly fail unless directed by intelligence.
– I never heard that guns existed in Esop’s time.
– I brought the story up to date. I have never joined in the condemnation of the Labour party for their alleged’ abuse of the Electoral Act. I denied, from the public platform, on the very first day after the election, that there had been any abuse of the Act - and I think I convinced my listeners that I was right. I said, “ The Labour party has not won; therefore, they could nothave taken advantage of the Act. Had they done so, we might not have been returned.” I do not agree with the one or two honorable members of our party who have said that many abuses of theElectoral Act occurred during the recent election. The Labour party, however, in- 1910, told the people that- they were going to put down trusts, to reduce the cost of living, lower rents, and make everything easier for the worker. Do they not know how little these matters are within the control of any Parliament ?’ I blame the Labour party, not because, they failed to carry out their promises, since it Was clear at the outset that they must fail, but because they made them. It was on the strength of such promises that they secured their great victory of a little over three years ago. I hope that the lessons of the last three years will have taught them that it is not within the power of a Parliament to do any of these things. After all, a Parliament is only a big shire council. If the members of a shire council were to say that they were going to double or quadruple the wealth of the people of their shire, the ratepayers would laugh and say, “ They must have held their meeting close to an hotel and have visited it pretty often.” Unfortunately, the minds of many people become confused when they leave the affairs of the shire to deal with those of the nation. They do not see that Parliament is, after all, but a glorified shire council, and that just as it is not within the bounds of shire councillors to double or quadruple the wealth of the people of their district, so it is not within the power of any Parliament to add one iota to the wealth of a country. It cannot increase by one farthing the value of production. All that it can do, possibly, is to change the course of distribution. The very difficulty met with in changing the course of distribution sometimes arises from this : That so far from increasing that distribution, you frequently - by the destruction of that confidence between man and man, which is worth more than all the capital in the world, because only where it exists can capital be created - do more really to prevent that increase of wealth in a community which is so ardently desired by all of us. Is it not absurd to say to honorable members on this side of the House, “ You are courting the votes of the wealthy “ ? The honor- able member for Denison pointed out only a few minutes ago that the wealthy people ot the community represent only 3 or 4 per cent, of the population of the country, so that when honorable members opposite say that we are courting the votes of the wealthy, they suggest that we think that 3 or 4 per cent, of the people can outvote the remaining 96 or 97 per cent. One is disgusted with such foolish arguments. It is evident, however, that most of us are trying to catch the votes of the electors. Fortunately, the good sense of the people comes to their aid, and they recognise that those who promise too much do so only because of their utter ignorance. It is only the man of no experience or knowledge who promises that all things shall be done. The greater a man’s knowledge, the greater his political experience, the less he trusts in the powers of Parliament, and the more anxious he is to abolish laws that may impede the course of progress. My complaint is that too many laws have been passed. We had over eighty-three Acts passed by the last Parliament calling perpetually for interference in one form or another. In the State, for instance, a Compulsory Closing Bill is carried. The man responsible for it does not know that he is building up the big shops and shutting up the small men. The Liberal party think of the small man, because it is impossible for him to obtain representation except in this House. It is well that we do. It is very objectionable to us to have to listen to the slanders of honorable members opposite, who urge that we are not on the side of the poor. Is it not hurtful to any man to be told that he is so destitute of human sympathy that he will not try to help those who are least able to help themselves? We stand with ten times the courage of the Labour party for those least able to help themselves, and we have to face the slander that we are endeavouring to get into Parliament by courting the favours of the wealthy classes.
– Does the honorable member think that any one believes what he is now saying?
– I trust that the electors will not believe the slanders uttered against us by the Opposition. It is evident that they do not, otherwise we should not be here to-day. But it is a pity that such charges should be per petually hurled against us. The truth is that both parties seem inclined to court the vote of the “bummer” and the “ dosser,” who, if it were possible, should be rendered sterile.
– Do you call a shop assistant a “ dosser “ ? .
– No. But I say “that in most cases of late what we have striven to do is not to appeal to that great body of workers who are the backbone of the community, and do their work honestly, but who are, from some condition or other, as yet imperfectly understood, not allowed to reach that standard of comfort we all desire. If we do not take care, we shall find ourselves heaping on that class of the community taxes which are continually amassing, and which, instead of increasing their standard of comfort, absolutely decrease it.
– Are there so many “ dossers “ in each community as to -allow them to hold the balance between parties?
– There seems to be 5 or 6 per cent.
– You got them at the last election.
– I believe that we got . the support of nearly all the commonsense people of the community. Had it not been for the common-sense people disbelieving the promises made by the Labour Government, and re;cognising the futility and stupidity of expecting their fulfilment, how could any of us have been returned? We are described as the representatives of the absentees sucking the life-blood of the community, but how could that be when we are returned by the majority of the people, and seeing that these absentees and so forth are, as honorable members themselves say, such a small section of the community? We seek on this side to gain the introduction of fresh capital, and we strive to prevent the taxation of absentees or anybody else in the community, because it cannot but be recognised them has been no system of taxation as yet devised in which the burden is not ultimately borne by the poorer people of tha community. . It is not that we wish the wealthy to escape ; it is because our desire is for the poorer people of the community to escape. I admit this Parliament has been a Parliament of taxation from the day it started, because there have not been sufficient to grasp the economic fact that a large amount of taxation cannot he collected without the people having to pay it.
– Then where are you going to get revenue ?
– I was merely saying that ultimately, in some form or other, whether the tax is direct or indirect, through the Customs or on the land, it has to be borne by the poorer man, because, if a tax on capital, the reduction in the amount of capital in the country and the higher rate of interest to be paid bring this about. In a young, undeveloped community where there are not sufficient savings capable of investment, the load has to be borne by the great mass of the people. That is why intelligent, thoughtful men who spend their lives in the study of these matters oppose this taxation. Men in all countries of the world, without exception, are desirous of keeping down the burden of taxation. It was for that reason, to their credit be it said, that when I was moving in this House many honorable gentlemen opposite supported me just as zealously as honorable members on this side; in fact, they did more in that direction, and I give them every credit for it; but as a party they have not moved in the matter. I was hoping that when they came together as a party they would recognise that the load had to be borne by the great mass of the people. I thought, at all events, that they would have made an attempt to lessen the burdens of the people, but so far from that being the case, they have absolutely increased these burdens; they have wasted time in talking against trusts and saying things they did not believe. They requested Mr. Powers to make an inquiry, and they so thoroughly believed the truthfulness of his report that they actually appointed him a High Court Judge. Could they have dared believe that he had made false statements? If so, they stand self-condemned for appointing him to one of the highest positions in the land. The fact, however, is clear that Mr. Powers’ statement was the truth as to the case that there were no trusts.
– His report never came to light until after the election.
– I regret that members of that party went about characterizing us as supporters of trusts, and as being in favour of trusts.
– Hear, hear. It was quitecorrect.
– Let me refer to aspeech I made at Bathurst three years agolast February. I made a similar speech, at Blayney, and the member for Calarecan bear me out. I pointed out that theLabour party were saying very much inregard to trusts. I told the people thatthe party would fool them thoroughly by dangling these trusts before^ their eyes until they came before the electors again at the next election, when they would ask for still more power, and yet- have done nothing in the whole of the three years to try to correct the abusesthey claim to exist. The honorable member for Calare can bear out that prophecy I made over three and a half years ago.
– And they kept the* Crown Solicitor’s report to themselves.
– I can vouch for the correctness of the honorable member’s statement. I did hear him make the prophecy.
– Although they had., that report, and recognised its truth, and- the careful and accurate work done byMr. Powers, and although they were so>pleased with his work that they exalted him to the High Court, the report was=never allowed to become public lest it might influence the electors one way or~ the other. Above all things, it is required that nothing of that sort should, ever take place, and I must say that itwas a very serious blunder to keep back that report from the public.
– They suppressed’, the truth.
– The fight between usought to be on two lines - on the side of regulation, or on the side of liberty. We on this side are for the side of liberty. We believe that liberty leads to progress; that it is the only path along which advancement can be truly made. When honorable members say that they put a . higher value on the intelligence of human . beings than we do, we will bear the reproach. We are pleased to think highly of the intelligence of men, and that men . can do better for themselves than committees can do for them - certainly parliamentary committees. We recognise the intelligence of human beings as being so great that we want men, as far as possible, to act for themselves, and we seek to abolish any laws that stand in the way of their going ahead. Honorable members oppo– site have the idea of the Hindoos - Hindoos who must be well regulated in every walk of life. In one moment, honorable members talk about the voice of the people being the voice of God, and in the next moment they say the voice of God can be regulated only by the voice of elected members of a caucus party. It is claimed that in the little matter of the absentee land tax, we have raked in £50,000, and it is said that this is the absolute salvation of the whole community, though it only pays the maternity bonus in a few odd cases. What has been the effect of the tax ? It has kept capital out of the country. Why? Because when a Parliament once starts on the lines of plunder, though the plunder may be infinitesimally small and of no consequence, once it is started upon there may be no «nd of it until all the capital invested is absolutely wiped away. We talk about the capitalist, and yet we borrow nothing from outside to come in and compete with the money of the capitalist. In this way we send up the rate of interest. If I had £3,000,000 or £4,000,000, unless I had a greater love of humanity, I would subsidize honorable members on the other side, because what they have done has been to increase the rate’ of interest on capital. Workers can come in and compete with the labour already here, but no money must come in to compete with the capital already here. That has been the doctrine of honorable members. They may not have meant it, but it was the entirely unexpected result.
– This will be like a second vaccination to them.
– If we can get some of the vaccine of common sense into them, I shall certainly be in favour of compulsory vaccination of that kind. We have heard the way honorable members have decried the shipping ring. We have heard their diatribes hurled from one election to another against the shipping ring, condemning them as bloodsuckers and octopuses drawing wealth from the pockets of the producers of the community. Would we not think that men who said so would try to act accordingly ? But they spoke one way, and voted another way. Take the Navigation Act. The provisions of the coastal trade are to apply to all ships whether British or foreign, and there is power given to the Minister for the time being to exclude all ships that may come into competition with the great Australian shipping companies. How delighted must the big holder of shares in one of our local shipping companies be. He will say, “ These fellows talk one way, yet they will vote for me. The only competitors I have to fear are the Peninsular and Oriental Company., the Orient Company, and the German and French companies.” The Labour party drew up a provision under which, although they pretended to give £50,000 extra in wages, they allowed the local companies to take £500,000 a year out of the pockets of our producers.
– To what sections of the Act does the honorable member refer?
– To section 271, and others that follow. If one or two men on their own side had been here to point out the result, honorable members opposite might have corrected their mistake. The correction did come from the Liberal party, but, unfortunately, Labour members are not able to appreciate the value of criticism from this side. During my brief absence from Parliament, they have made political affairs too much a question pf class prejudice to be able to do that. I am unable to understand why these provisions were passed. The Navigation Act should protect the interests of the whole community, and prevent the operations of trusts and combines. All the prophecies which I have made in this Chamber, whether relating to the effect of the sugar legislation, in which the exAttorney General agreed with me, or to other legislation, have been verified by facts. The blow aimed at British shipping is so great that manifestly those who drew up the enactment did not understand our historical relationship with Great Britain, and our position in regard to defence. The Labour party, in framing a Bill for compulsory military service, were so courageous that they applied it3 provisions only to boys of from fourteen to eighteen years of age; they would not apply it to the men of the community. Personally, I do not hold with large expenditure on land defence; but why, if land forces are necessary, have not pensions been provided for the officers who will be compulsorily retired on Teaching certain age limits? To retire men from active service at comparatively early ages without pensions is to do as great an injury as is often done to members of Parliament when they are rejected by their constituents, and have no means or occupation on which to fall back. Although I think compulsory service unnecessary in our circumstances, any military force that we have should be the best possible. England, Germany, Prance, and other military nations have provided pensions for those who are called upon to retire on reaching certain ages, or who have to retire because of injuries received. I would encourage the voluntary system in every way, doing all I could for the rifle clubs, volunteers, and militia, but our first line of defence is the Navy. It should not have been treated as of secondary importance. In my opinion, there is no need for the stiff, regulative measure passed by honorable members opposite. To make drill compulsory on children from fourteen to eighteen years of age was not a good thing. Other countries in which military service is compulsory and necessary have put off the period of service to as late an age as possible, and we should have done the same thing. I do not offer any objection to cadet training.
– It was the Liberal party that first framed a Bill for the compulsory drilling of boys.
– The Labour party always takes the credit of our defence legistion, except when it does not suit them to do so.
– When there is a review they boast of what they have done for defence.
– Yes, but when they find the system criticised, they adopt a different, attitude.
– It was the Liberal party that provided for the compulsory training of boys from eighteen to twenty years of age; we extended the system to cover the young men of the community.
– In any case, the opinions I am expressing are my own, it being the proud boast of Liberals that they are free to express the opinions they hold, either here or in the country. They are not bound by the Caucus. What I said on the platform I stand by, and vote accordingly. Honorable members opposite, whatever they may say, must vote as the Caucus determines. The Caucus system has done more injury .to the political life of Australia than anything else I know of. My view is that naval defence should come before land defence. I should have allotted the bulk of our defence expenditure to the upkeep of the Navy, but I would not have treated our Navy as a separate unit. The Russo-Japanese War showed the need for concentration. Had the Russians had at Port Arthur the ships that were there, together with the vessels of the Vladivostock Fleet, and two or three of the Baltic Fleet, they would be in possession of the fortress to-day, because the Japanese could not have landed a man. That is the opinion of the best naval and military authorities, so far as my reading goes, and, of course, I defer largely to such opinions, though I know that men interested in a particular thing often have an unconscious bias, and their opinions need correction. We should not fall into the error made by the Russians. At the beginning of a war, our fleet should join with the English Fleet. We can hold this continent only with the help of England. That is so much in accord with fact and sentiment that it is not necessary to enlarge upon it.
– Will the Admiralty draw all its ships Home?
– It has been doing so, recognising the value of concentration. It has learnt a big lesson from the RussoJapanese War. The happenings of that war have taught it that the Mediterranean Fleet should be kept within a two of three days’ cruise in time of trouble. We are absolutely dependent upon GreatBritain for the maintenance of our WhiteAustralia policy; without her protection we could not monopolize the continent as. we are doing.
– You are blacklabourmen over there.
– The point I am making is that we could not maintain a White Australia policy if the power of England-‘ were not behind us. That should bemanifest to every honorable member, but, as the honorable member for Bendigo knows, when confronted with the jurymanwho cannot understand a proposition, itis necessary to state it in, perhaps, a dozen different ways, in the hope that one of them may make it plain to him. I think, however, that the honorablemember for Gwydir interjected for party purposes, and not because he does not appreciate what I say. Australia is thegreatest land monopolist in the world, and it is a strange thing to hear so muchabout monopoly in this Parliament. Of- course, land monopoly is a bad thing for the community; that is the view held by every man on this side. We must plainly recognise that without the protection of England we could not make the laws that we enforce. To draw up a Navigation Act in which British and foreign shipping are put on the same footing, and under which they may be excluded from our coastal trade at the direction of a Minister acting at the dictation of a big local trust, was a scandalous thing to do.
– The English Minister drew attention to the matter at the last Conference, and cautioned the honorable member for Wide Bay about what he was doing.
– The Old Country has agreed to the measure.
– What is an English Minister? I object to the word “ English.”
– Then I have not the slightest objection to use the word “ British.” Although a Celt, I am willing to come under the denomination “ English,” and I believe that the Celts have done so much for the Empire that I would not willingly allow it to be dismembered while I had power to hold an arm. I am reminded that a British Minister drew attention to the attack that was being made on the Empire. Let honorable members consider the rebuke that it was in his power to administer. He could have pointed out that our action was directed at Great Britain, which enables the people of Australia to live in security. Great Britain was put on the same footing as other people ; anil, although she provides the defence of Australia, was treated in what I may call a thoughtless and senseless way. We strove to treat Great Britain as an absolute stranger. Such an idea can only be translated into law by people who do not understand the true position, or by people who are wanting in the sentiment of loyalty. But even if sentiment does not bind them to the side of Britain, their reason ought to do so. However, my position is quite established when I show that, although the Labour party talk of attacking the shipping and other combines, they legislate in such a way as may possibly lead to the greatest shipping trust Australia has ever seen. When is all this going to end ? When are the Labour party going to vote and speak as they think? They speak and mean one thing, and they vote another; and all this seems to me to arise from a mistake or a want of knowledge of the effects of their legislation. The honorable member for Darling, when giving some facts in regard to union funds, forgot to point out that, even in this connexion, they have gone the wrong way to work. There are over 400,000 people whom the Labour party wish to force into one common union; in other words, they wish to declare every worker a unionist. That, however, is clearly not their point, because if it were, all the Labour party had to do when in power was to pass an Act declaring everybody a unionist. The real object is to get a contribution of £2 a year from each man on becoming a member of a union. I am not challenging the motive of trade unions at the present time, but the underlying motive is to compel every worker to subscribe to a union. I may say I am in full sympathy with unions which are for defence and not aggression; but “ blacklegs “ are now spoken of in the same way as the ancient unions used to speak of outlaws. The very term “ outlaw “ was first applied to men who determined on remaining outside trade unions. When the first’ outbreak took place in Germany, and there was a revolt of those who desired to get away from unions, they were told by the then Emperor that the unions were created by their fathers so that every man might get a living, and that if they chose to get a living outside they would be declared outlaws by him.
– Hear, hear !
– Is it not wonderful to find on the Opposition side approval of tyranny ?
– It is not wonderful.
– I accept the correction of the honorable member for Parkes; because it is only what we might have expected from the Labour party, though such an expression of opinion ought not to be made in this House. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, however, does not really mean what he says. He has so many supporters outside trade unions that he must recognise that if there is one place where every man - not only the criminal, but the workman - ought to be able to rely on a fair field and no favour, it is the Parliament of the country. Other honorable members, however, say that while the criminal shall be given a fair field, not so the working man, for his defiance of the union secretary. We must remember that the castes of India and Egypt arose from, laws similar to those the Labour party are endeavouring to pass. What is the difference between lashing a man to work with a leather lash, and with a lash fashioned by law? Personally, I should advise a man to take the chance of the leather lash, because he may get individual mercy, while the Court has none. Please God, however, the Labour party will never be able to carry out such legislation in the Commonwealth. It would be a monstrous thing if men were compelled to accept work, whether they liked it or not, at the dictation of a Court. We cannot build up the manhood of a nation while making them serfs of the law, any more than we could by making’ them the serfs cf the landlords in times past. Men ought to be able to work with the feeling that what they earn they may spend in their own way, without any direction from Parliament. If that spirit of freedom is lost, it is only right that a fresh race should come along, for we shall never be able or fitted to hold the country. I rejoice when I’ see a man refusing to be bound by the dictates of a Court, if he thinks he can do better for himself otherwise.
– The honorable member is quite an anarchist!
– Not at. all. I assert the absolute right of a man to do anything he pleases, provided he does not interfere with or injure his neighbour. The restriction of the rights of individuals by honorable members opposite is becoming so tyrannous that to find a parallel we have to go back to the kings of old. Every man ought to have a perfect right to refuse to work, though not to prevent others working.
– Does the honorable member believe in strikes?
– There is something worse than a striker - a man who is afraid to strike. Honorable members opposite would assert that the southern black slave, who never struck, was better than the white man in the north, who was continually striking and asserting his rights. It is only by freedom that we can hope to see the true progress of the country. I suppose that each of us is made up of nine-tenths of custom, the other tenth being that part of us which lifts and raises a community. It is the spirit of liberty that has made the people what they are to-day; without that spirit they become serfs and drawers of water. To-day a man may rise to the highest place in the land, because of that very spirit of competition which permits him to challenge the place of any citizen, no. matter the citizen’s wealth or lineage. Surely those who represent labour are not going to deny this precious right of the community. If they are, they have not grasped the elementary principles on which true progress is founded. Ten years ago I gave this House many instances in history of the regulation of prices and wages; and I do not intend to repeat myself now. I might refer, however, to the example of Diocletian 1,600 years ago, who did exactly what the Labour party are proposing to do today in the way of price regulation. I gave this instance in a speech I made here in August, 1903, if honorable members care to refer to it.
– It was that speech that killed the honorable member in 1906 !
– But it brought me back in 1913 because the electors recognised the truth of what I said.
– It took them a long time to find out.
– Truth sometimes takes a long time to find out. We are returned here because the electors hope that we shall endeavour to ascertain the truth, and inform them; and the reason the Labour party was rejected at the last election was that they did not know the truth when they saw it; or, if they saw it, they did not recognise it, and never spoke of the great find - and a great find it would be for the bulk of them. Many instances in history can be found of the unsuccessful efforts to fix prices. There was a notable case in 1848-9, in Prance, but that case is so recent that I presume honorable members opposite know all about it. I go much further back, because I wish to show honorable members opposite that, instead of progressing, they have gone back 1,600 years. The surprise to me is that the electors have not yet discovered that honorable members opposite are living and legislating in the dead past, and that the only laws they know are 2,000 years old. In Babylon, nearly 5,000 years ago, there was laid down almost exactly the principle of our
Arbitration Court. But I prefer rather to refer to the ease of Diocletian, the result of whose efforts in this direction are thus described by Lactantius -
And when he had brought on a state of exceeding high prices by his different acts of injustice he tried to fix by law the prices of articles offered for sale. Thereupon, for the veriest trifles, much blood was shed, and out of fear nothing was offered for sale, and the scarcity grew much worse until after the death of many persons our law was repealed from mere necessity:
There are certain economic laws that are not within the control of Parliament; and it has been nay duty to point out that all the blame for the high prices cannot justly be laid on the Labour party. So far as 10 per cent, of the rise is concerned, I have said that the Labour party are not responsible, and on that account I did not claim a single vote. I did say, however, that the people are paying taxes amounting to £15,000,000 through the Customs, for which a majority of the Labour party are wholly responsible, because, without their support, not one of those duties could have been carried into effect. They were prepared to’ support any party that would give high Protection. They said to the people, “ What does it matter if you do pay high prices for your manufactures, since you keep your money and your work in the country?” Now, when I, adopting their argument, say to them, ‘ ‘ It does not matter what rents you pay, or what prices you pay for your goods, since the money is still in the country,” honorable members opposite complain.
– What does the honorable member for Kooyong say as to that ?
– The honorable member for Barrier recognises the truth of what I say, and has on many occasions voted accordingly. The Labour party are singularly lacking in performance. They say that they wish to reduce rents. Are they aware that on more than one occasion the rents of all the houses in the staple towns of England were fixed ? In 1536, I think it was, a law was passed fixing the rents of all houses, and twelve years later it had to be repealed, because its effect had been to make people afraid to invest their money in house property. No one would build a new house, and consequently two or three families had sometimes to be squeezed into one room. The law was repealed, and capital was invested in building to such an extent that in
England to-day houses can be rented for 2s. or 3s. a week, as against the very high rentals prevailing in Australia. When the Opposition tell us that they would fix rents, they apparently do not know that the system has been tried and has failed. I am ashamed to hear a man, claiming to be a legislator, talk of fixing rents. He does not know that, instead of decreasing rentals, such a system as that which he has in view tends only to increase them. The Labour party means well, but its actions have exactly the opposite effect.
– The honorable member had better tell us, before his time expires, something of the Tariff and what he thinks of it.
– The Prime Minister cannot be blamed for the Tariff in existence to-day. Our party is determined that, so far as the extravagance of the Labour party in the past will allow, taxation shall be reduced. Unfortunately, the more the public accounts are examined the greater is found to be the difficulty of reducing the burdens on the people. I fear that we shall not be able to lighten the loads of the citizens of the Commonwealth to the extent that I should have desired. Some duties under the present Tariff are absolutely inexcusable. The Labour party during its three years of office, however, did nothing to correct them. There are cases where the difference in the rates of wages payable here and abroad is 6d. in the £1, whereas the Tariff is 5s. 6d. in the £1. There are other cases where the difference between the wages payable here and abroad is made good by the Tariff fifteen and twenty times over. The Labour party have done nothing to correct these matters. Their anxiety has been not for the workers, but for the manufacturers. Just as some of our forefathers bowed down before the landlords, so some honorable members will bow, in the spirit of serfdom, to the manufacturers. I appeal to them to stand on their own feet and to follow the good old maxim laid down by St. Paul, “ Whoso will not work neither shall he eat.” The apostle Paul was one of the greatest teachers of love and charity the world has ever known.
– And a genuine Socialist.
– The honorable member refers to the fact that in those days some of those who had land and chattels sold them and laid the proceeds at the apostle’s feet. I think that the death of Ananias and Sapphira was the result of some little trouble in that connexion.
– That does not prove that Socialism was wrong in those days. It simply proves that then, as now, there were traitors.
– I shall not pursue the point further. My personal relations with some of the Labour party are such that I should grieve if in the hurlyburly of politics I did anything to disturb them. I would rather almost go into private life than lose the spirit ‘of friendship arising from the intercourse between us in the first and second Parliaments of the Commonwealth. There was then a greater spirit of camaraderie than at present seems likely in this Chamber. In conclusion, I have only to deal with what I think is the greatest confession of incompetence ever made by any party. When the Labour party got away from the wise heads of the Caucus, they suddenly declared for the principle of the initiative and referendum. The initiative is certainly carried out in some American States, because it is recognised that the local Parliaments are so corrupt that they cannot be allowed to legislate on any question. If the Labour party hold that view of the National Parliament, I have no more to say. They have either to fall back on the prong of corruption or the prong of ignorance and incompetence. They must either say that the spirit of corruption is so rampant in this Parliament as to require the introduction of the principle of the initiative, or confess that they themselves do not know what the country wants. By means of the initiative they would say, “Let a man from outside frame a Bill and secure the signature of 50,000 electors in favour of it, and we will pass it. We have not the intelligence to frame such a measure, and could not even hire a man to do it for us.” In adopting the principle of the initiative and referendum, they make a still further confession of incompetence. They say in effect, “ We know nothing about legislation, and, since 50,000 signatures have been secured in favour of the passing of this Bill, we shall rush it through both Houses, and then submit it to a referendum of the people. If the people say ‘ yes,’ we shall say ‘ yes,’ and if they say ‘ no,’ we shall say ‘ no.’ “ A great majority of the people would not be able to look at a Bill submitted to them in this way, so that hopeless confusion would arise. An absolutely analogous case is that of a doctor who, when consulted by a man and told pf his symptoms, says, first of all, “ Give me your fee,” and then adds, “I cannot express an opinion as to what is the matter with you. I will take a vote of the people in the district, and what the majority do not say I will not say.” When I read that the Labour party had declared in favour of the initiative and referendum, I could scarcely believe it. I said at once from a public platform that a greater confession of ignorance and incompetence had never previously been made by any Ministry.
– Does the honorable member know that Senator McColl, a member of the present Ministry, has declared himself in favour of the principle?
– I do not. Even if in his anxiety to stand well with the honorable member’s party, he said so, I guarantee that now that he has had time to look into the matter, he will say that he never thought the Caucus party would be guilty of such a naive confession of incompetence as they made when they announced that they favoured the initiative and referendum. I trust that we shall hear less of the slanderous attacks that have been made of late, and that we shall recognise that we are divided into two great parties, the one on the side of restriction and the other on the side of liberty. I hope that the Labour party will realize that their legislation has been but a raking up of the dead bones of the legislation of other days, and that when they are vaccinated by some of our party with a small modicum of the spirit of liberty they will see the error of their ways, and will help us to pass the legislation which will be introduced by this Government with the object of benefiting, not one class, but the whole of the people of the Commonwealth.
.- I have been listening during the last hour to one of the most remarkable speeches that it has ever been my misfortune to hear. The honorable member for Werriwa said that he had been absent from the House a little time. I can quite understand why. He talked about the right of every man to do as he likes, and he dealt with that question only, but the honorable member belongs to a profession, the lawyers’ union, who restrict the right of the prisoner to say whom he shall have to defend him at the bar. The honorable member knows full well that it is empty talk when he speaks about the right of each man to do as he likes. He talked about the policy of leaving people alone. The argument has been used in other Chambers for many years by those holding the same views as honorable members opposite when they sought to defend the sweater and the employers of child labour. The advocates of the “ letalone “ party used the same argument. They said, “ No interference. That is all the people desire. Let them alone, and they will be satisfied.” Surely the honorable member has studied the history and conditions of the older countries of the world, of the “ let-alone “ countries where there has been no Labour party, and where the Tories have had control for centuries. He must have seen that, in one instance, 5,000,000 women receive the average wage of 7s. a week, and how in Glasgow there are 35,000 people living five in one room. That is the result of the policy of leaving people alone. I am surprised that in democratic Australia any one should be returned to Parliament advocating the honorable member’s views. I regret the Prime Minister is not here, because the other day in the press he called upon me for an apology regarding certain statements I had made. I stated at the meeting in Ballarat that the Prime Minister had slandered the people of Australia, that in a special interview with the correspondent of the Morning Post, published in London, he had made certain statements regarding the conduct of the recent elections. The Prime Minister, in reply, said that he had only given a short interview to the correspondent of the Morning Post, andhe claimed that I should apologize, not only to himself, but to the people of Australia. I shall quote from the London Morning Post, and allow honorable members, and also the people of Australia, to judge who is telling the truth in connexion with this interview. This is what appeared in the Morning Post of Thursday, 12th June -
Mr. Cook observed to night, in a special interview which he very kindly accorded me, that the Labour members are obviously bad losers, but have to recognise that they have been de feated at the polls and accept the consequences of the electors’ decision. The Liberal party was clearly in a difficult position, and the only satisfactory solution would be a further appeal to the country, which would not be long delayed. In the House of Representatives, Mr. Cook said, business could only be conducted by the casting vote of the Speaker, but even if he had a substantial majority the overwhelming hostile majority in the Senate would ultimately bring about a deadlock. Mr. Cook referred to the unsatisfactory condition of the electoral rolls, and said that the new voting system was open to grave abuse.
Charges are made in all the States against the Labour party “ stuffing “ the rolls. In Victoria the number of persons on the rolls is over 100,000 more than the total of adults in the State, including criminals, lunatics, aliens, &c. At Brisbane97 per cent. of the State electors voted, and at Ballarat 95 per cent. In hundreds of cases impersonation and duplicate voting were discovered, and there were numerous other irregularities. The polling arrangements at several places were chaotic. There was no system of checking absent votes with the rolls, or the rolls were different at different polling places in the same division, the result being that each elector could vote twice, or oftener, with trifling risk of detection. One elector at Ballarat boasted of having voted nineteen times. The Liberals are preparing a comprehensive list of proved cases of this kind.
I need not quote the whole of the interview. It commences, as members will see, “ Mr. Cook, in a special interview which he very kindly accorded me.” I have noticed that the Prime Minister has said that all he stated to the reporter was that he referred to the unsatisfactory condition of the electoral rolls, and that the new voting system was open to grave abuse. I think any one who reads the report will believe that the Prime Minister gave the whole of what is recorded in the Morning Post, and not two or three lines of it. Just imagine a special correspondent for this important paper having an interview with the Prime Minister, and the whole of the interview being contained in two or three lines. It is an absurdity. The Prime Minister can deny having said certain portions of it, but if he says he did not make these charges, then he can deal with the correspondent of the Morning Post as being the gentleman responsible for sending this statement broadcast throughout the world. Some one has slandered Australia vilely, and it ill becomes Ministers of the Crown whom this country has treated very well, to send these statements to the other side of the world. I claim that the electors of Australia at this election conducted themselves splendidly. We find the Melbourne Argus a day or two after the elections coming out with an article as follows -
ABUSE OF THE BALLOT.
Startling Discovery. forged ballot-papers feared.
One Man, Nineteen Votes.
One man, whose name and address have now been discovered, is stated to have boasted openly that he had voted at least nineteen times for Mr. McGrath, the Labour candidate for the Ballarat constituency. It is probable that some of these boasts will be followed by bitter regrets, for in more than one instance private detectives have been set to work to ferret out the details of numerous cases which provide grounds for strong suspicion.
Many charges have been made regarding the methods in which this election was conducted, and I admit that for a few days after the election I was afraid that something wrong had been done at Ballarat, particularly when I found our opponents making these wholesale charges of impersonation and duplication. I thought they knew a little too much. I knew they had associated with them, in hostility to this party and to myself, members of the Ballarat Stock Exchange, many of whom I have had to take to task pretty severely for their bogus mining flotations, and for their corrupt methods in the sale of machinery, and for many of their thieving swindles which I have had to expose; and I knew that they would stop at nothing to prevent me personally from winning the fight and prevent Ballarat being carried by a Labourite. When these charges were made, I thought some had been guilty of duplication, and that there might have been some impersonations; but I am glad to say the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs did our party a good turn - I do not think he did it with the best of intentions - when he ordered an investigation. Of course, we understand why the investigation was ordered. They took good care that the investigation should be completed within the forty days in which an appeal could be lodged. I know that my opponent was a frequent visitor at the House, holding secret caucuses with the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs.
– That statement is not true.
– Order !
– It is incorrect.
– I suppose I must accept the denial of the Honorary Minister. At any rate, my opponent was here frequently, and it was boasted that though they would not lodge an appeal they were going to get the Minister to have an investigation. Ministers first of all intended to have this investigation without having scrutineers, but fortunately Parliament met, and we drew attention to this, and honorable members on the Government side saw the equity of our request.
– Would the honorable member like to know why I first suggested having the inquiry without scrutineers? It was to prevent any person seeking to appeal getting the information.
– I venture to say that all the information regarding Fremantle has been obtained.
– That statement is incorrect. The honorable member seems to be observing the traditions of the worst features of politics.
– There were other people at the inquiries besides the Returning Officers, and the papers had to pass through other hands. Scrutineers were also there.
– At your wish.
– Exactly. Therefore the inquiry was not made to prevent appeal ; it was made with the hope of providing grounds for appeal. Fortunately, it was demonstrated in Ballarat that there was no corruption, impersonation or duplication. There are 172 alleged irregularities shown by the Returning Officer, and seventy-five of these are cases of this sort: Take the name Mary Brown, No. 204 on the roll. She is shown as voting as an absent voter, and also as voting in person at a Ballarat booth. The Returning Officer’s remark opposite that case is that Mary Brown of the same name, but No. 203 on the roll, did not vote at all; and that accounts for seventy-five of the cases in Ballarat. According to the report of the Returning Officer furnished to Mr. Oldham, there were nineteen cases which were evidently errors of the poll clerks. This leaves seventy-nine cases, and of these fifty-four are women. Is it likely that women will vote twice ? I do not think any member will assume for a moment that women will vote as absent voters and then vote personally.
– It is a hard job to get them to vote once.
– Deducting the fiftyfour names of women, it leaves twentyfive names of men. Charges were made and repeated in the Ballarat Star, the Ballarat Courier and the Age and the Argus of wholesale duplication and impersonation; but when we analyze the matter we see that there were only twenty-five men about whom there can be the slightest possibility of doubt as to their voting more than once.
– One lady in your electorate voted three times, and boasted about it.
– The investigation which was held did not discover the case of any lady voting three times. There has been no case of any one voting more than twice.
– Does not the honorable member see that there has not been an investigation as to that class of fraud?
– The Honorary Minister is trying to suggest there has been fraud. According to a statement published in the Argus, a press reporter knows the name and address of a man who voted nineteen times for me. That reporter should be asked for the name of the man, and the offender should be prosecuted.
– If the honorable member will give me the date of the newspaper in which the statement appeared, I shall have the matter investigated.
– The statement was signed: Ralph Johnston, 197 Collinsstreet, and was published in the Argus of 9th June. It has been stated in the Ballarat newspapers of late that the Labour party enrolled persons for vacant allotments, under fictitious names; but, as a matter of fact, the provisions of the electoral law relating to the enrolment prevent that from being done. Any person who desires to have his name put on the roll must fill in certain particulars on a card, and send that card to the postmaster. A letter-carrier takes a notice back to the address given on the card, and if that turns out to be a vacant block of land, the fact is reported to the office, and noted in a book, whereupon further investigation by the Electoral Department takes place. Thus it is impossible for any person to be enrolled for a vacant allotment. Notwithstanding this, it is being published in Ballarat to-day that the Labour party has enrolled dozens of persons for vacant blocks in Ballarat.
The charge has also been made that at the last election we had supporters voting for the dead. Indeed, it was actually stated that the dead voted. The investigation that has been made has shorn me of a little of my glory and honour. Had the statement stood good, I should have represented, not only many of the living, but also many of the dead - miners killed when working under bad conditions, factory workers who had died by reason of insanitary surroundings, and others. I can imagine such persons in the Great Beyond, hearing of this great contest, and knowing that we were ‘ fighting for better conditions for their class, making up their minds to come back to earth to cast their votes for the party that stands for the claims of human beings. The investigation has completely disproved the statement that the dead were personated. Not one case has been found in which a dead person has been voted for, and this, despite the fact that the Ballarat press gave the names of deceased clergymen and constables in whose names votes had been cast. I am glad that the inquiry was made, and that these charges have been disproved. But the matter should not be allowed to rest where it stands. There are twenty-five cases in doubt in Ballarat. It is not clear to my mind that there has been duplication, but it is the duty of the Department of Home Affairs, if it thinks that there has been duplication, to prosecute those whom it thinks to be guilty of it.
An Honorable Member. - They may be Liberal supporters, and that may be why they are not prosecuted.
– The majority of the names are those of Liberal supporters. In one subdivision there are ten names of Liberal supporters.
– Does the honorable member suggest that these persons voted twice ?
– I do not believe that there was a case of personation in Australia.
– If two votes have been given in the same name, there must have been personation or duplicate voting.
– I do not know what the condition of affairs in New South Wales was, but polling day in Ballarat was one of the worst days that we have had for years. The Labour party had few or no vehicles at its command, so that our supporters had to walk to the poll..
Many of them waited until the last moment, hoping that the weather would clear, and there was consequently a great rush at the polling booths during the last hour or two of the day. It is a splendid testimony to the efficiency of the poll clerks that only 172 mistakes were made in connexion with a poll of 33,000. There were 140 officials employed in the electorate, so that the mistakes average a little over only 1 per cent. But I wish to draw attention to an action which, I think, should prevent those who were guilty of it from ever acting in an electoral capacity again. Twenty Ballarat electors who voted in Wimmera polling booths, instead of being given absentee ballot-papers for Ballarat, were given ballot-papers for Wimmera, on which the names Carey and Sampson appeared. They voted for Carey, but the votes were not counted, because Carey was not a Ballarat candidate. They could not be counted for me, although it was evident that the voters wished to vote on the Labour ticket. Officials who have so little knowledge of their business as to make a mistake of that kind ought not to be employed. I do not think that il was altogether a mistake, because many officials are biased against the Labour party, and would know that by giving wrong ballot-papers they would prevent voters from exercising the franchise.
– The charge is an unworthy one to make without investigation.
– I should like to have more than that matter investigated. I should like to know why it was that the voting for a certain Liberal senator jumped up by 10,000 votes in one day’s count when the Labour scrutineers were not present, and a Labour candidate dropped in the scale? I trust that as soon as the censure amendment has been disposed of, a Select Committee will be appointed to make a searching inquiry into the conduct of the elections. I do not wish to sit ‘in this Parliament as one who has been chosen by corrupt methods. The Labour party has fought too long for the principle of one adult one vote to wish to see it injured by the casting of duplicate votes for any candidate. We have nothing to hide. We desire that any inquiry that is made should be a complete one. We wish to know how much certain candidates spent.
– What did the honorable member spend?
– I spent £76, but I do not know what my opponent spent. I should like to know what all the motor cars that were used cost? It is useless to fix a maximum of £100 if candidates are allowed to defy the law with impunity. We should know who supplied motor cars. It would be better to abolish the limitation than to have money spent as it was spent at the last election. Much of this expenditure is hidden under the pretence that it was incurred in connexion with the referenda. The honorable member for Parramatta was brought to Ballarat. I suppose his expenses were put down to the referenda. The hire of the hall he used cost £15 15s.
– I am glad that he came to Adelaide, however much it may have cost the party funds.
– And I am delighted that he came to Ballarat. I hope that he will be able to visit the electorate again. He has now some kind of policy to expound. He complains that it is unprecedented foi a party that has resigned office to move a no-confidence . motion, directly the- new Government meets Parliament. Had the Liberals gone to tha country with a declared policy and won,, we should have no right to challenge1 them now, but they had no declared policy when they went to the country. The honorable member for Wannon said! the other day that he was opposed to therural workers going to the Arbitration Court, but, according ‘ to the Casterton Times of 24th May, he said something; different at Condah.
– The Casterton Times is. a Labour journal.
– This is the statement to which I refer -
Question. - If elected, will you take any stepsto prevent the Rural Workers’ Log from being, taken to the Arbitration Court for settlement?
Answer. - No, how could I?
The honorable member, went on to saythat he had full faith in a Judge who-, had sworn to do just-ice. Is that statement true?
– I do not think that the report is true.
– The honorable member ought to know whether he declared against the rural workers going tothe Arbitration Court.
– I did so throughout the electorate.
– Condah is a place where there are many farm labourers. Apparently at one place, where rural workers predominate, the honorable member was in favour of the rural workers going to the Arbitration Court, but at other places he was not. At Ballarat, there was no statement of a declared intention to prevent the rural workers going to the Arbitration Court. Misstatements were circulated regarding the attitude of our party on this question. It was said by the Argus - and I think the Attorney-General ought to see that this newspaper is prosecuted for its misstatements -
On the farm every child will have to be enrolled in the union ranks. The little tot, who, on her return from school, helps her father to pick a few peaches for the market, must be a unionist. The parents will have to pay her £t 8s. per week.
That misstatement was circulated day by day by the Argus, and here is one by Mrs. Morton, of the Women’s National League -
The unfair and illogical condition of preference to unionists would prohibit a farmer from employing his own sons unless they were unionists.
That was said despite the fact that clause 40 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act specially exempts sons and daughters of farmers from the necessity of joining a union. It was said, not by the candidate, but by his friends, that the objection was not to the Arbitration Court, or to going before the Court, but that if I were elected, and the Labour party had a majority, a Bill would be introduced to legalize the rural workers’ log.
– As the Labour party could have done.
– As we could have done, but the party ought to be judged by its past actions. I do not think, however, that we could have passed such legislation unless the referenda had been carried.
– If the referenda had been carried the Labour party would have had the power.
– I regret very much that the Government are going to make an attempt to prevent those men going to the Arbitration Court. The AttorneyGeneral said the other day in this debate that the Liberal party desired to secure to every man the “ full fruits of his labour, toil, and energy.” I suppose he meant every man who is not a farm labourer; the man in the country is to be denied legislation of this character. I am not surprised at such a position being taken up by the Attorney-General. I remember that when he was Premier of Victoria, after the Kyabram reform movement, he passed industrial legislation which it has taken his friends tenyears to undo. He introduced what was known as the reputable employers’ clause, which had the effect of making the highest wage possible in a certain industry 30s., and also, instituted an Appeal Court. When a big strike occurred the other day in Melbourne, and an appeal was sent to the. Court, the Judge said he did not know what Parliament meant by sending the case to him, because he had no knowledge.of it. The honorable gentleman also instituted a seven-tenths majority in relation to the Wages Boards, which meant, that, before the employes could get any increase in wages, or reduction of hours, they had to convert two of the employers, to a favorable view.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.£5p.m
– Prior to the elections, the present Ministry had not. placed a programme before the country,, but now they have laid before us a partialprogramme or policy; and I am endeavouring to show reasons why theworkers of the country should have littleconfidence in the proposed social legislation. About 1902, we had in Victoria what was known as the Kyabram reform movement, which swept the State, and returned the present Attorney-General asPremier, with a large following. Toshow the sort of social legislation we may expect from that honorable gentleman, L may say that he practically prevented the creation of thirty-five new Wages Boards,, introduced, as I have already said, thereputable employers’ clause, and the Appeal Court, and made it necessary, in the case of the Wages Boards that were in existence, for the employes to get two employers to agree with them before any increase in wages or reduction in hourscould be obtained. Prior to that time, a» Wages Board could be created by a resolution of the Legislative Assembly, but the present Attorney-General made the Legislative Council co-equal in this matter, sothat before Wages Boards could be instituted, the consent of both House’s must be. received.
– Would the honorable member mind telling me whether there is any crime in the calendar of which I have not been guilty?
– No political crime.
– As the honorable member for Capricornia says, there is no political crime the honorable gentleman has not committed. In the matter of killing progressive legislation, there is certainly no crime of which the AttorneyGeneral has not been guilty. Then the Attorney-General, as Premier of the State, disfranchised the civil servants by giving them special representation ; and in the ten years that have elapsed from the time of which I am speaking, most of the legislation then passed at the instance of the honorable gentleman has had to- be repealed by his own friends in a Parliament where Labour never had a majority. So inimical to the workers have the AttorneyGeneral’s social measures proved that clause by clause they have had to be repealed. Yet, to-day, this Ministry, which is dominated by the AttorneyGeneral, are asking the workers to entrust them with social legislation, and, while claiming to stand for equality and freedom, they propose to exclude the 100,000 rural workers of the country from the benefits of the Arbitration Court. No one can deny that the rural workers for many years have been badly treated; but now they are becoming organized, have filed their claims, and are going before the Court.
– Have they filed their claims ?
– I understand so; but the Women’s National League, and other bodies, have circulated so many misstatements on this matter that we scarcely know what to believe. The farmers have been told, as I said before, that the Labour party, if returned, did not intend to let the rural workers go to the Court, but were going to bring in a Bill granting their claims. When I referred to this point this afternoon, the Prime Minister replied that the Labour party would have power to do such a thing ; and it is just that sort of innuendo and slander that we protest against. The Liberal party are not game enough to speak straight out, but they lead the people to believe that, because we have the power, we shall exercise it. I should be equally justified in quoting some statements of some honorable members oppo site, and asserting, or suggesting, that, because they had the power to abolish the old-age pensions, they intended to abolish them. Last night, the honorable member for Grampians said that if he had his way he would abolish the present franchise, and allow only ratepayers to vote for the House of Representatives; but I do not think he would find a majority on his own side to agree with him. It would, however, be open for me to say that honorable members opposite intended to abolish pensions, or alter the franchise, because they have the power to do so. The Labour party were in power three years with an overwhelming majority in each House, and might have done most awful things under the circumstances. They could have confiscated the lands of the country, reduced or increased wages, or taken’ the money from the banks; but they did none of these things. It has been said that the legislation of the .Labour Government was only in the interests of a class; but, as a fact, it has proved beneficial to nearly the whole of the people of Australia.
– The Labour party meant well, but the result was different.
– They did well; and it does not say much for the present Government and their supporters that, despite all the wealth and social influence behind them, and despite the agents of political organizations and the press, they live only by the casting vote of the Speaker. I represent a large rural district, and I am a strong advocate of the rural workers being permitted to go to the Arbitration Court. The farmers as a body raise no objection; and they know that the prices of nearly all the things they require are fixed. When a farmer buys agricultural machinery he has to pay the price demanded, and there is no talk of arbitration; and the same may be said of sacks. The only commodity which the farmer has to buy, and the price of which may be submitted to arbitration, is the labour employed. If the claim of the labourer is regarded by the farmer as too high, then the labourer, giving up his right to strike, should be free to go to the Arbitration Court.
– Let him stick to his strikes and he will do infinitely better.
– During the election campaign I said that the Liberals were the advocates of strikes, and now we hear what is said by honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Grampians told us that he believes in industrial unionism; but, in my opinion, that honorable member does not know the meaning of the term. It means that those who join an industrial union take no political action, and do not believe in Arbitration Courts, but seek to enforce their demands by strikes. Yet we have the honorable member for Grampians standing as the champion of industrial unionism as against political unionism.
– Do not forget that 60 per cent. of the increase in wages has been obtained without unionism, and only 20 per cent, with it.
– I do not know that, but I do know that the rural workers are only asking for what is right. The honorable member for Wimmera, I understand, said that he had no objection to the men having Wages Boards, and other honorable members have expressed similar opinions. However that may be, I can say that for the last ten years the State Labour party in Victoria have every session tabled a motion in favour of a Wages Board for those men, and on each occasion the motion has been rejected. Yet the very men who each year voted against the motion have gone before the country and asked why these men should go to the Arbitration Court when they could take advantage of the State law and have a Wages Board. If this legislation is good for the city worker I see in it nothing that is harmful to the country worker. I recognise that the farmer has a big struggle, but do not think that he has many friends on the Government side of the House. There is a Wheat Ring in Victoria, and I should like to explain how that Wheat Ring has fleeced the farmers. Two years ago, when the price of wheat in London was 38s. 6d. a quarter, the farmers received 3s.10d. and 4s. a bushel for their crop. This year the price was 40s. a quarter, and the farmers only received from 3s. 4d. to 3s. 6d. a bushel. They were told, to account for this difference, that the freightage on wheat to the Old Country by steamer had increased by something like 18s. 6d. per ton. It was said that, whereas the freight used to be 25s. a ton, it was now 43s. 6d. per ton; that every 3s. per ton increase in the freight meant an extra1d. per bushel, and that thai being so the wheat buyers had to decrease the price to the farmer by 6d. per bushel. And they did so. After the small farmers here had sold their wheat, there appeared in the press a statement that there was no increase in the freightage. This year the wheat yield of Victoria was 26,000,000 bushels, so that the farmers of this State thus had £650,000 taken out of their pockets.
– That statement was replied to in the State Parliament last night.
Several honorable members interjecting -
– I call the attention of honorable members to the fact that the honorable member is making his. maiden speech in this House, and that it is usual to pay to a new member the courtesy of listening to him in silence.
– In reply to the honorable member for Wimmera, I would! point out that the question dealt with in the State Parliament last night had’ reference to a cablegram from GreatBritain regarding the quotations of wheat there.
– And also to the question of freights and charges.
– Not at all. Let me give another illustration. Mr. Chatham, the honorable member for Grenville in the State Parliament, is an orchardist, and a year ago sold a consignment of apples to a certain firm. A month afterwards he was complimented in Ballarat by a man who had purchased some of his apples, and who said that he had paid 7s. a case for them. As a matter of fact, Mr. Chatham had received only 2s. per case. When he told me of this I said, “ Let us send them some more apples.”
– Does this notrefer simply to the dishonesty of some individual?
– All of these people support the honorable member’s party. mention this incident because the middle men say to the farmers, as myopponent did at the last general elections, “These rural workers will ruin you if their log be agreed to.” My opponent did no mention that his machine could be made as shown before a Royal Commission,for £40. All that he talked about wasthe claims of the rural workers.
– That isanother mis statement.
– I am not surprised to hear these interjections from the othe side. It is well known that honorable members opposite are the advocates of the middlemen, who are fleecing the farmers, and, naturally, they are very eager to defend them. To return to my story regarding Mr. Chatham’s experience, let me say that this year he sent down six cases of apples, and that by arrangement we had a man in readiness to buy them as soon as they landed. He paid 24s. for the six cases, but Mr. Chatham got a return showing that they brought only ls. 9d. per case. The firm never handled the fruit. The transaction was a cash one. Unfortunately, one of those who knew what we had done spoke about it a month later, with the result that Mr. Chatham received from the firm a cheque for another ls. 9d. per case.
– The honorable member is rough on the honorable member for Brisbane.
– I am not. I care not where an honorable member may sit, but I am satisfied that any man who obtains the nomination of the Labourites in Australia would not be guilty of such a practice as this.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know if the honorable member for Wannon, who used my name, has any right to impute that the firm to which I have the honour to belong, would be guilty of such a transaction as that just detailed by the honorable member for Ballarat ?
– If the honorable member for Wannon made an imputation that is offensive to the honorable member for Brisbane, I shall ask him to withdraw it.
– If I did, I shall be pleased to withdraw the imputation. I would point out, however, that whatever imputation was made came from the honorable member for Ballarat.
– I am not satisfied with that withdrawal, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member declared that the statement made by the honorable member for Ballarat was rough on me. That was a direct imputation.
– If the honorable member takes my remark in that light, I shall be pleased to withdraw it, but it was prompted.
– I was pointing out that the reason why the farmer has sometimes a difficulty in paying good wages, and complains sometimes when higher rates are asked, is that he is being exploited on every hand by those who say they are his friends. For three years at a stretch these so-called friends of the farmers make exorbitant charges, but as soon as election day comes round, they manage, in some way, to cajole a number of farmers into voting for their party. There are on the Government side of the House only one or two legitimate farmers. For the most part, honorable members opposite are auctioneers, agents, squatters, lawyers, and those who have always teen opposed to the interests of the genuine farmers of the community. The Ministry have at last said definitely that they are going to exclude the rural workers from the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I would point out that they never told the people, when they went to the country, that that was their intention, and they will have to get a decision from the country before even this House passes such an amendment of the law. I do not care how soon a dissolution comes. It may come to-morrow so far as I am concerned, but the Government, if I can prevent it, will not dot an “ i “ or cross a “ t “ in the legislation of the Fisher Ministry until they go to their masters, the people, and place their programme before them.
– They are pretty quiet now.
– For a month after the general election, they had a lot to say about a dissolution. The present Prime Minister scarcely addressed a public meeting without talking of a dissolution, but he now says to the Labour party, “ Bring along your Senate with you.” He asks for a double dissolution. Why should we penalize the Senate? Has not the country pronounced by twenty-nine to seven in favour of the Labour party, so far as that Chamber is concerned ? Is the Senate unable to transact the business of the country?
– The Labour party did not have an overwhelming majority on the aggregate vote.
– Yes ; they secured a majority vote. The Senate was elected under a Constitution drawn and drafted by the Liberal party, who are now complaining of the Constitution. They believed that if each State were polled as one electorate for the Senate, the poor man, without the influence of the press, would never secure representation in the Senate. That was the object they had in view in framing the Constitution as they did. The Liberal party, however, received their answer from the people at the recent general election. Wherever we can remove mere parochial influences, and the people are able to decide on broad political grounds, our party always secure an overwhelming majority. There ought to be no demand for the dissolution of another place. The Government have brought down certain propositions. They propose now to interfere with the maternity allowance, and to pauperize the women of Australia. In this they contemplate a retrograde step. I wish we could see our way clear to remove the pauperizing conditions under which old-age pensions are granted to-day. Old people ought not to have to answer the questions to which they are now called on to reply before they can secure a pension.It should be the right of every man and woman who can prove that he or she is over a certain age to obtain a pension. I am hopeful that the day is not far distant when that will be the position, but I do not anticipate such a change in the law being proposed by the present Government. It is said that we have misrepresented the attitude of honorable members opposite to the old-age pension system. I candidly admit that when on the public platform I did say that oldage pensions would be endangered if the Liberal party were in power. I repeat that assertion to-night. In support of it, let me quote a statement made by the present Attorney- General in a speech which was delivered at the St. Kilda Town Hall on 15th May, 1912, and was reported in the Argus. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Australian Women’s National League, with Mrs. Grey Smith, president of the St. Kilda branch, in the chair. The honorable member said -
Upon old-age pensions£1,497,000 had been spent in 1910-11. In 1911-12 the expenditure was £1,988,000, or an increase of 33 per cent. He would regard it as a national calamity if the principle of providing for the aged destitute by gratuitous doles from the public Treasury of Australia were to be made a permanent part of our policy.
Were we not justified, in view of this statement by the Attorney-General in the present Ministry, in telling the people that old-age pensions would be in danger if the Liberal party were returned ? The Prime Minister may declare that the Government have no intention of interfering with the old-age pension system, but I propose to judge the Ministry by their actions. When the Duke of York visited Australia, the Government of this State spent £35,000 in entertaining him. That money was rightly expended in entertaining His Grace as the representative of Royalty, but the point I wish to make is that the present Attorney-General, as Premier of Victoria, when it was found necessary to wipe out a deficit, proposed a reduction in the old-age pensions payable in this State. On Thursday, 24th November, 1903, the motion for the: second reading of a Bill for the reduction of old-age pensions was moved by Premier Irvine in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, and was carried by forty-five votes to twenty-six. It will be seen, therefore, that we are only judging honorable members opposite by their actions.
– We are not all Victorians.
– No, but I am speaking of those who are guiding spirits in. the Ministry, at present. The AttorneyGeneral has said that the old-age pension system saps the moral fibre of the community. He means, I suppose, that those who receive it are taking money which they have not earned. Did it sap the moral fibre of the honorable member when he got £1,000 from the Employers’ Federation of Melbourne to take a trip to the Old Country ? These remarks terming the pension a charitable dole are an unwarrantable insult upon the old people. Such a payment is not a charitable dole when it gets into thousands of pounds; it is when it is 10s. a week. I look at it that the old people are merely getting back something taken from them in their youth, something they have created, and other people have appropriated. It is no charity; it is a right. And I venture to say that the people of this country will stand no interference with the old-age pension. What else are Ministers going to do? They are going to make” the mothers of future Australians declare that they are paupers, that their income is so much, and they are to be compelled to answer all the questions that they have to answer in regard to old-age pensions. The intention is to insult these people, but before such things are carried there will be trouble in this House. Honorable members on the Government side boast about their freedom. What hand did any of them have in drafting the policy of the Government? Who consulted honorable members behind Ministers? The Government may have consulted their masters - the editors of the great dailies and the Employers’ Federation - but honorable members supporting the Government were not consulted or asked any questions. They have to swallow whatever the Ministry put before them. It matters not that certain members believe that the rural workers should go to the Arbitration Court, it matters not that they made pledges on the hustings; they leave the Caucus-room pledged to carry out the programme enunciated by their Prime Minister. So much for their freedom! Yet they have .the audacity to hurl at us the imputation that we are not free men. I, at least; had a hand in drafting the policy of my party. As a member of a Labour League, I can propose an)’ motion, and if I get it seconded, and the branch carries it, that motion is sent up to conference. Then if I am elected a delegate, I can go to the conference and take part in the discussion on my motion. If it is adopted by conference, it finds a place on the platform of the party. If I desire to become a candidate under the auspices of the party, I am asked if I believe in the programme. If I .do not, then, as an honorable man, I do not accept nomination; but if I do believe in the programme, then I sign on. 1 see nothing wrong in that principle of getting a man’s signature. It would be well if some members on the Government side had to sign on in regard to some of the statements they made during the recent campaign No one in Victoria said he would interfere with the maternity bonus. I heard one or two candidates speaking, and I thought they were the authors of the maternity bonus; they had nothing but praise for it; yet when the Ministry come down with their proposition, we hear not one word from the Ministerial side in denunciation of the Ministry’s proposal. Apparently, honorable members have to acquiesce in the principle that the maternity bonus shall have restrictions placed on it. If that is the position, the sooner we go to the country the better, to let our masters decide upon it. Many misrepresentations were made, and they have been repeated to-night by the member for Werriwa, regarding dear money. Persons went through my electorate tell- ing the farmers how impossible it was to borrow money because a Labour Government were in power, and because they had brought in the Note Issue Act. They never told the truth, that money is dear throughout the world, and that this condition of affairs is not peculiar to Australia. I notice that Mr. Mackinnon is reported in this morning’s Argus to say that money is cheaper in Australia than in any other part of the world. People in close touch with finance agree that that is the case. . Then why should the Labour party have been blamed in the recent election for making money dear in the community? We were also charged with the increased cost of living. There was not a crime in the calendar we were not charged with being guilty of. I got tired of hearing things for which we were blamed, and I used to tell a story of an incident occurring in my own electorate. There was an old lady who had two or three cows, one of which died. As they were suspicious as to the cause of death they held an inquiry, and it was found to be due to anthrax. A friend of mine, a day or two afterwards, met the old lady and sympathized with her; but when he asked the cause of the death of the cow the old lady said, “ Oh, the cursed Labour party and the land tax.” We have had to bear the burden of many things of which we have not been guilty. It is well known that commodities have increased in price throughout the world - I think it is 14 per cent, in Australia and 20 per cent, in Great Britain - but honorable members never told that to the people of Australia. They did not say that the price of commodities had increased in other parts of the world at a greater ratio, but by these means many votes were won from the Labour party. ‘ I notice in the Prime Minister’s manifesto that the Government purpose working conjointly with the various States and assisting in bringing people to Australia. I know the conditions in Victoria, and I shall never be guilty of voting for the expenditure of money to attract people to this country while we have land hunger here, and when we have twenty or thirty applicants for every block of land made available.
– I wish we had them in our State.
– I am informed that there were 740 applicants for forty blocks in the Riverina electorate. We cannot satisfy the land hunger in Victoria. Yet the- States are bringing people here, and are not placing them on the land. These people are remaining in the cities, and very few are going on the land. They are teeming into the cities, and the unemployed problem is so bad to-day that in the Ballarat constituency there are several hundred men out of work.
– After three years of Labour legislation.
– It is not due to Labour legislation nor to the fiscal question; it is largely due to the immigration policy. The State Governments are bringing in hundreds and thousands. They say they are finding work for them. They try every move to find work for them. The State Government of Victoria have circularized all the policemen, offering half-a-crown for every immigrant for whom employment is found, and I understand that a similar circular has been sent to managers of butter factories. They are making strenuous efforts to find these people work. Many of them are going to work for 8s. and 10s. a week. They call them boys. I met one of them, a boy seventeen years of age, but he will do a man’s work now, or will never be able to do it. These things are happening while thousands of our own people are in Melbourne looking for work. Yet the Ministry propose to join hands with the State Ministry to assist in bringing more people here.
– Your party took credit for the increase in population.
– Behind this is an attempt of the Employers Federation to break down the unions. We have no objection to other people coming to the country if they come of their own free will, and if they conform to certain conditions we lay down. We need a large population here, but we cannot get it in this wa>. Between 1881 and 1891 there was a similar policy pursued in Victoria, and we brought out 130,000 people. There was a boom, and when the boom burst we lost most of those people. We get no permanent population by these means, and we are doing a grave injustice to many of the immigrants. I have met many of them. Last week we had to send one of the best chaps I have met over from Sebastopol to New South Wales to get work. In the country districts yon will see these immigrants carrying swags and looking in vain for work, and while this is going on the papers announce another shipment of immigrants being landed destitute on the shore of Victoria. I trust the Ministry will not take any steps to assist the State Government of Victoria to bring out any more people to> swell the ranks of the unemployed. I have always opposed the policy in the State Parliament because it is wrong in principle. The argument is that unemployment and poverty are due to the fact that we have not a large population here ; but they have a large population in Great Britain, and they have not yet solved the unemployed and poverty problem there. Population does not enter into the question of poverty and unemployment. Other causes produce them. We are sorry for people in the old countries of the world, but we do not wish to deceive them by bringing them to a country where many of them have no friends, and where they are landed on the charitable institutions shortly after they arrive. We had one experience in Australia, where we had to open soup kitchens in Melbourne to feed people deluded into coming to the State. I offer my strongest opposition to any proposition of spending public money in bringing people into this1 country while we have a land hunger in our midst and unemployed looking; vainly for work.
– Read the literature sent Home by your own Government last year.
– I shall read some literature that may be more educational, showing how some people are deceived. I quote from the Penny Magazine, published in England. I do not know whoput in the advertisement, but it has not been put in by the Labour Ministry. It says -
Australia is a glorious country, and theBritisher going to that sunny land need have nofear that upon his arrival at either Melbourne or Sydney a hearty welcome will not be awaiting, him, and work in plenty as soon as he is ready to start. In fact, if he does not start work right away he will find himself being practically pestered by manufacturers anxious to obtain Disservices.
It is not uncommon for employers to meet oversea boats upon arrival, and compete with each other for the new chum, offering wages of 25s. per day to bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers, painters, &c, and 20s. to other tradesmen.
Girls thinking of seeking domestic service in this new land will find themselves equally aswell treated, and will experience no trouble in securing nice easy places at 25s. to 30s. per week and found.
The next quotation is very interesting, in view of Mr. Justice Cussen’s recent decision regarding the rate of pay of typists. It is an advertisement which appeared in Answers of the 28th October last–
Lady secretaries possessing a knowledge of shorthand and typewriting, French, or German, earn as much as £4 and £5 per week, whilst ordinary shorthand typists can make up to £2 10s. Waitresses are paid from 25s. to 35s., and shop assistants £3, according to age and experience.
Here is another -
The present writer has stood many times on Circular Quay at Sydney, and at the Outer Harbor, Adelaide, in South Australia, and seen immigrants offered regular work as soon as they stepped off the ship.
I know some places to which immigrants have been sent where they will have regular work, true enough -
Bricklayers are paid from £1 to 25s. per day, carpenters, plumbers, and gasfitters at the same rate, whilst tailors, bootmakers, engineers, and mechanics find little or no difficulty in securing well-paid posts.
– Does the honorable member know the author of those statements ?
– There is no law in England compelling the writers of articles to sign their names to them. I cannot say who wrote them, but I have quoted them to show how persons in the Old Country are being deceived as to our industrial conditions. We know that bricklayers do not get £1 a day here,’ and that masters are not waiting on the wharfs to beg immigrants to accept work; but we can understand that persons in the Old Country working for very low wages would be quickly attracted to Australia on reading such advertisements, only to find when they got here that they had been grossly deceived. I trust that the Ministry will not cooperate with the Government of any State in trying to attract immigrants in this way.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Victorian Government is responsible for the circulation in the Old Country of the statements that he has read?
– I believe that it is, and that it would do anything to flood the labour market.
– And I believe that this Government would help it.
– I have no doubt about it. What else can Ministers do? The members of the Employers’ Federa tion want to have two. men waiting for every job. They feel that Arbitration Court and Wages Board awards will mean nothing when there is a large body of unemployed to be used to defeat them. I trust that no Commonwealth money will be spent to bring persons from the Old Country by means of deceptive advertisements while we have so many of our own people looking for land, and so many out of employment. The party to which I have the honour to belong has done much good for the country.
– And much harm.
– No harm. No member of this party has tried to get men for 4s. a day, as the honorable member did.
– That is a lie.
– It is absolutely true.
– The honorable member for Henty must withdraw his interjection.
– I withdraw it.
– I remember an investigation we had in the State House in connexion with the honorable member’s colliery. I know that he desecrated the eight-hours-a-day principle by taking blacklegs there to break up a strike.
– That is not correct.
– We got a return that proved that men were getting as low as 2s. Id. a day in connexion with one mine.
– That is not correct.
– If the honorable member for Henty is misrepresented, he has the right to make a personal explanation when the honorable member for Ballarat has finished.
– The Labour party has done much good for the country, but, in my opinion, the party which usurps the title of Liberals is a Conservative party. At one time the Liberals were a militant party. When Sir Graham Berry led them they fought for the masses, and had a definite programme for the bettering of the condition of the toilers who produce the wealth of the world. Those who to-day style themselves Liberals were bitterly opposed to the Liberals of twenty years ago. For the past twenty years Liberalism has been a decaying force in this country. A progressive party has come into existence, and the real Liberals have associated themselves with the Labour party, the so-called Liberals attaching themselves to the Conservatives. The Labour party has done much good for the community,and deserves well of it, if only for the reason that its prominent men have dared to fight the press of the country. We have dared to form opinions, and to stake our political existence on them. Prior to our advent in politics, it was a rare thing in Victoria for a public man to take the platform except when appealing for votes. The Labour party has quickened the political pulse of thousands of men and women in Australia. It has caused them to take a deep interest in politics, and thousands to-day are studying political questions. I care not who the people are, nor what their political opinions, if you can get them to think about social and industrial questions they will not be responsible for anything resembling the French Revolution, but will solve their problems in a constitutional manner. The Labour party deserves well of the people because it has caused men and women to think upon these serious problems, which are not peculiar to Australia, but vex every country in the world. Wherever there is capitalism, thousands of men and women get barely enough to keep body and soul together. The industrial problems which have to be faced can be solved only by the people thinking about them. I am proud to belong to the Labour party, and I am glad that the leader of the party has moved this amendment of no confidence. Whatever the result of the division may be, I trust that the time is not far distant when we shall again appeal to the people on the so-called policy that the socalled Liberals have placed before Australia.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Ballarat has stated that an inquiry made by the Victorian Parliament proved that in the colliery which I control it was found that men were being paid 2s.1d. per day.
– If I said in the honorable member’s colliery it would not be correct.
– If I have correctly repeated the honorable member’s statement - and I have repeated the statement which reached my ears when I interjected “It is a lie,” which was unparliamentary
– I rise to order. The honorable member would be in order in making a personal explanation if anything he had said had been misrepresented, or had been incorrectly viewed by the House ; but I submit that he is not in order in canvassing the statement of another member, and in speaking generally as to the conditions which prevailed in a colliery when it was under his control.
– The honorable member rose, I understand, to make a personal explanation, in order that he might set himself right in regard to a matter upon which he had been misrepresented. He will be perfectly in order in correcting any misstatement made concerning him by a previous speaker, but he may not go beyond that. So far he has not transgressed the rule.
– I am repeating the statement made by the honorable member for Ballarat, and I give it an emphatic denial. Whether the honorable member knows it or not, the inquiry made at the instigation of the Labour party brought out evidence exonerating the company with which I was connected. The statements made by the honorable member concerning me were totally incorrect.
– I claim the indulgence of honorable members while I refer to a few matters which have been dealt with in the debate, and which, at the present time, are agitating the minds of the people of Australia. I have listened with considerable attention to the words of the gentlemen on the Opposition benches, and also to what has been said by those on the side of the Government; and I have been able to draw certain conclusions. Those conclusions may not, perhaps, be very acceptable to my honorable friends opposite, but, perhaps, in this, my maiden effort, they will listen to my views. My words, I trust, will not fall on barren ground, but may give honorable members food for reflection, and, in some small way, lead to a better understanding. I should first like to refer to one or two quotations made by the honorable member for Ballarat. He quoted from a publication concerning Australia as a field for immigration, and pointing out the advantages that would accrue to people who come to this country. This book was distributed with the object of attracting immigrants; and I find on turning to the front page that it was issued under the hand, and by the authority of, the Hon.orable E. L. Batchelor, Minister of External Affairs in the Commonwealth of Australia.
– That is not so.
– If it is not so, I stand corrected, and perhaps, therefore, the words used by the honorable member for Ballarat may not be exactly as they are in this pamphlet. . I shall, however, quote from the book in my hand. It is entitled The Commonwealth of Australia for Farmers, and has a very garish display on the front. It makes a special appeal to farmers, with ah illustration of a team and three horses in the frontispiece. On page 126, where there are two very attractive photographs, the following words appear -
For the hardworking, steady farm worker who aims at becoming a freehold farmer on his own account the most remote farms, where the only expenditure is on the few clothes and little luxuries like tobacco, are the finest places imaginable.
– Freehold; that is good.
A _ man who gets £1 a week, with occasional additions for harvesting, &c, will, before the end of many years, be able to save sufficient to make a very fair start on his own account. The practical experience such men acquire is one of their most important assets.
I shall not weary honorable members with any further quotations.
– We have had it all before.
– And no doubt it leaves a nasty taste in the mouths of my honorable friends opposite; but the Legislature and the people should hear both sides, so that they may weigh the pros and cons, especially in view of the fact that the question of immigration has taken a firm hold in the minds of all right-thinking people. Much is circulated in Hansard and the press, and it is only right that we should know the different inducements which were held out by the Labour side, when in office, to induce immigrants to come to Australia. I shall have very much pleasure in handing this volume to any of my honorable friends opposite who wish to see it, and, at a later stage, I may refer to another extract which I cannot lay my hands on at the present time, which declares that this country is practically all sunshine, and that people can live in tents all the year round; that there are magnificent fiats - though not such flats as I have in my mind’s eye at the present time - but flats of lucerne, which are only waiting for immigrants. All this appears under the hand and signature of the late respected Mr. E. L. Batchelor. If such statements are not misleading to the people of the Old Country, I do not know what is. The honorable member for Ballarat quoted an extract to show how people in other parts of the world were misled into coming to this country, which is not altogether a land of milk and honey.
After having listened to this debate for a considerable length of time, I may be permitted, following the honorable member for North Sydney, to express an opinion on the manner in which the work of this country is carried on in the National Parliament. I confess that, as a new member, I have been rather disappointed at the attitude adopted in this debate, though it is quite likely that when I have had a longer tenure in this House I may alter my opinion. It seems to me that an outstanding principle that should apply in a National Parliament is that we should legislate on broad national grounds, and not on narrow parochial lines for the benefit of a particular section pf the community. We should not indulge in straw-splitting or finnicky discussion, but should be prepared, on bold lines, to pass measures for the benefit of the whole of the people of Australia without regard to any particular party or class. To-day there is a majority on the side of Liberalism. The honorable member for Ballarat has suggested that we should have a dissolution of this House, and that it is not necessary to also have a dissolution of the Senate. It may be news to that honorable member, and to some other honorable members opposite,, when I point out the actual result of the triennial election on the 31st May last, which proved the death-knell to so many on the Labour side, and a very close call for some of those who were returned.
For the Senate there were eighteen vacancies; eleven candidates were returned on the side of Labour, and seven on the side of Liberalism, but it should be remembered that on the Liberal side ‘the number of votes cast for successful Senate candidates was 880,053, and on the Labour side 869,793. When the matter is probed into in a plain, straightforward, businesslike way, “without suppression, and without drawing red herrings across the track, we are faced with the fact that the people not only said they were dissatisfied with the administration of the late Government, but also that they were not satisfied with the personnel of the Senate, though under the Constitution the Labour party were able to return eleven members. It will be seen that the Liberal party is not in the happy position to-day of having in both Houses the support of a majority, still at the recent election it had the majority of votes for both Houses.
The ex-Prime Minister was in charge of the country for three years; and vet we find that his first act when Parliament meets is to table an amendment censuring the present Administration for indicating no intention of taking such step’s as will reduce the high cost of living. It is extraordinary that, during their occupancy of the Treasury benches for three years, the Labour party were unable to take any steps to reduce that cost. Surely they had ample opportunity if they were sincere in their desire to. that end; and yet they table an amendment charging the present Government with failing to do something which they themselves failed “to do. When the whole matter is sifted and analyzed we find that, after all, it is not the interests of the country and people that the Labour party have at heart, but their own interests; and each honorable member opposite is doing his utmost to return to the Treasury bench. Their idea is evidently individualism first, “trade unionism second, and the country last; and they show plainly that they feel the ignominy, as I suppose they, would call it, of having to sit on the minority side, trying, in an iconoclastic sort of way, to break down the images set up by the Liberal party, images that have always been placed before the people by Liberals from all time. As rightthinking men, honorable members opposite must applaud many of the proposals in “the Government programme; but in their anxiety to enjoy the fruits of office, and to handle the millions of the people’s money, they are prepared to descend to all sorts of tactics of a questionable character to obtain their ends for their individual gain.
– And the honorable member complimented his opponent on his fairness!
– The honorable member for Gwydir is here by the skin of his teeth, and we shall probably later have an opportunity to discuss these particular questions.
As to administration, we find, as mentioned by an honorable member on this side, that the late Government had during their three years’ regime the benefit of some £21,000,000 more than their predecessors had, as there were many millions more collected through the Customs and from land tax during their tenure of office than previously. Before the elections we charged the Labour Government with extravagance; and we are able to show that the charge was not unfounded, for their three years of office was extravagant in every sense of the word. I am speaking with the knowledge of only some three weeks in the House, but it appears to me that the obligations to which the late Government have committed the country are such that it is difficult to see how we shall be able to meet them with the income we may expect in the ensuing twelve months. Probably at a later stage our friends opposite will tell us that the shortcomings of the Liberal Government are the reason why more taxation may have to be imposed; but in reality such taxation will be on account of the maladministration of the Labour party. At the very outset, the Liberal Government are faced with a tremendous expenditure authorized by the previous Government, and we shall have to square the accounts in order to maintain the credit of the people of Australia.
I should like now to refer to the administration of the Postmaster.-General’s Department, a matter that is of much concern, more particularly to the residents of country districts. In 1909-10 the ordinary expenditure of the Department was £3,231,198, in addition to £555,557 for new works, making a total of £3,786,755. Without going into the whole of the figures for succeeding years, I would point out that in 1910-11 this expenditure had swollen to £4,343,231, and that in 1911-12 it had increased to £5,775,264, while in 1912-13 it had reached the tremendous amount of £5,870,359. It is difficult, after a scrutiny extending over only one or two months, to say whether that money has been expended on proper lines. But the outstanding question is, if it took £5,870,359 to run this Department in 1912-13, compared with £3,786,755 three years ago, what great benefit has been received by the country districts from this lavish expenditure. I do not say that we are not entitled to have our parcels-post offices and proper telephone system in the different large centres of population. But in a country like Australia, with its thousands of miles of broad acres, and when we are endeavouring to get the people to go into the out-back portions of the continent, it is only reasonable that we should offer them some quid pro quo - some reasonable consideration and concession in the shape of better postal and telephone facilities to assist them in their pioneering work. I agree with the honorable member for Maranoa when he says that the telephone service in country districts is shocking. In the electorate of New England, applications for short telephone lines which would serve people living in the bush - where, sometimes, there is a good deal of sickness - and would enable them, for instance, to promptly secure the services of a doctor, have been held up for eighteen months. The people have been lulled to sleep with the statement of the Department that the lines have been authorized, but cannot be carried out at present. My contention is that these works which really assist in the settlement of the country should be carried out, even if it be necessary to provide for them by borrowing, and borrowing considerably. After all, these are reproductive undertakings. It is absurd that we should have to wait on revenue for our development. We sometimes hear the same argument in regard to the building of a railway. It is often said, “ Wait till you get the people out there, and then we shall construct a railway.” Just as a railway line is the pioneer of settlement, so the telephone and postal services are of great benefit in opening up the back country of Australia. . I hope that the Liberal party, as long as they are in power - and that my honorable friends opposite, if they are ever fortunate enough to get back to office - will consider the interests of the people out-back and allow a little more of this annual expenditure of £5,870,000 to be devoted to improved facilities for the residents of remote districts who have hitherto received so little consideration.
– There is one thing certain, and that is that the honorable member did not go to school with George Washington.
– The honorable member has been so long in Parliament that he was probably a contemporary of George Washington.
I was surprised at« the attitude taken up by the honorable member for Ballarat in regard to immigration. We often hear honorable members opposite speak of the desirableness of a White Australia, but they are living in a fool’s paradise if they do not realize that we cannot have a White Australia unless we couple with that policy the policy of white immigration. The one is the natural corollary of the other. Some of our friends opposite have said that our politics belong to the Middle Ages. I would say that the honorable member for Ballarat seemed to have actually gone back to the Malthusian doctrine, which laid it down that it was a mistake to over-populate the world - to let more children come along; that the proper course was to keep the population as it was, and so make the world better for those who were already here. Is any one so senseless as to argue that such a proposition is a good one for a country like Australia? We have a country that is worth defending. We have a country that is worth fighting for, and handing over to our children and our children’s children. That being so, let us take steps to get population of the right kind to help us to retain it. I am. rather distressed when I look at the figures as to immigration, and find that we have recently taken a retrograde step. At page 9 of Mr. Knibbs’ latest monthly bulletin it is shown that for the first half of the. year 1913 the number of immigrants landed in Australia was 20,864; whereas the average for each half year of 1912 was 23,356. The tide of immigration, it will be seen, has fallen away to the extent of some 2,500 during the last six months. The attitude of honorable members opposite is a selfish one. They believe that if we secure a larger white population by means of immigration, we shall not improve the position of the workers already in Australia. I hope that the Liberal party will take steps to have a combined effort made through the High Commissioner, so that the whole of Australia shall speak as with one voice, and with open arms, to induce the white populations of the world to come to our shores. We have certain inducements held out by the States at present to people in the Old Country to come here. Those inducements, however, are of a somewhat doubtful character. The reports are so dubious that people in the Old Land are a bit chary as to whether or not their presence here will be acceptable. I trust, however, that the figures for the next six months will show a material increase, and that we shall be able to show at the end of the year that we are getting population of the right kind.
This question has an important bearing on that of defence. What is the good of training our boys unless we do something in the shape of immigration to assist the compulsory training movement ? That system was introduced a little time ago in the face of a certain amount of public opposition. The people, however, have now come to look at the matter through the right spectacles, and to accept it as a correct proposition for Australia. Defence should not be made a party question. When the Admiralty proposals are submitted to the House of Commons, they are always treated as nonparty matters. The main principles are settled by the expert advisers, and, although differing opinions are expressed at times, the question is never made a party one. Since we are compelling our boys to train, it is incumbent upon us to see that they are properly clothed when carrying out their duties. Part of the New England electorate consists of settlements on mountain tops, some 3,500 feet above sea-level, where boys within a radius of 5 miles have to attend compulsory parades, held often at night, and must appear in uniform. The only uniform issued to them consists of a khaki woollen shirt, a pair of pants held up by a belt, a pair of putties, and a felt hat. In certain districts there may be some poverty, with the result that boys cannot obtain overcoats. These lads have to travel long distances to attend parade, and may return home soaking wet. I trust that additional clothing in the shape of a coat or a cape will be supplied. This question of defence is very dear to me, as it should be dear to the heart of every rightthinking person. I would point out that the trainees who go into camp for a period of twelve days have issued to them, as clothing, merely the same khaki woollen shirt, a pair of pants, putties, and an overcoat. This uniform has to be worn throughout the twelve days’ training, whether it be hot, cold, or wet, and honorable members can well realize the state of the clothing when the camp comes .to an end. Some provision should be made for an additional change of uniform. This is a matter which should receive attention with the object of making the service more attractive. We are getting something more than the moral support of these boys for the compulsory training movement. Let us show that we are prepared to assist them when they are doing their duty.
One honorable member has said that the position in regard to the absence of pensions in Australia is a deplorable one. I find that the regulations provide that a colonel, at the age of fifty-eight, a lieutenantcolonel and a major, at the age of fifty-five, and a captain, at the age of fifty, are retired, and that no pension provision is made for them. The position is the same with regard to non-commissioned officers and men. We are not likely to get the best material for our defence forces as long as we hold out no greater inducement than that a captain, on reaching the age of fifty, will be sent about his business without pension or superannuation, and with little hope of getting employment in another direction. When the Government proposals in this respect come before the House, I hope that they will not be dealt with on party lines. We are very short of non-commissioned officers, and great difficulty is experienced in obtaining them. The material is not available, ‘ and will not be unless we are prepared to offer some reasonable inducement to these men to give the best years of their life to the service of their country.
The Light Horse is another body of men that we highly prize. The members of these regiments have to find their own horses, bear the cost of shoeing them, and keeping them up to a certain standard.. They attend sixteen day parades per year, including twelve days in camp, and for this they receive the magnificent amount of 4s. a day. They have also to feed their horses for some weeks before going into camp. If their horses are injured or destroyed while in camp, some compensation is given, but it is not very much. This is a very important unit of our defence system, and we should give the men some better inducement than the £1 a year horse allowance, which is the only allowance they receive. We are told at times that our best horses are going to South Africa, Japan, and other places. The Minister of Defence should see whether some inducement cannot be held out to our Light Horsemen in Australia to keep their horses up, say, to a 16-stone standard. They should be given some assistance to keep horses of general utility size, some of which could probably be used by gunners. We must do something to encourage the Light Horse Regiments in Australia, or we shall be losing some of the best material we have. I consider that these regiments should be allowed to wear their distinct uniform, regimental badges and plumes, and the Scotch regiments their national kilts. It would be better to allow them to do so.
We have heard a great amount of talk with regard to the Commonwealth Bank. When I was fighting my campaign, the honorable member for Adelaide; and the big guns of his party came along showering their eloquence on the people of New England, making them so dormant as to prevent the return of their selected one at the head of the poll. We had the whole strength of members opposite telling the people of that glorious thing, the Commonwealth Bank. I shall quote from Hansard, 1911, page 240, where Mr. Parker Moloney said the Commonwealth Bank would provide the farmers with cheap money.
– Without security.
– Yes, without security. This is what I had to fight throughout my campaign, and others had the same experience, I presume. What do we find? So far as the actual banking is concerned, the Commonwealth Bank is dealing exactly on the same lines as other banks - safe banking lines; and as for being a Credit Fonder, or being of assistance to the farmers, it does nothing. As the State owns the lands, it considers that the State Savings Banks and the Closer Settlement Boards of the States should deal with and make advances on State lands, where there are residence conditions. So it simply means that we have in our midst another bank, on the same lines as the Incorporated Banks, except that it is a National Bank guaranteed by the Federal Government. So far as the farmers and cheap money are concerned, it is all balderdash. The Commonwealth Bank has a fixed rate of 6 per cent., and if any person takes securities to the bank for an advance, just as with other banks, if they are gilt-edged or there is a reasonable margin, he will get an advance; if not, he will be turned down. Yet this Bank was held out to the farmers of Australia as a bait to induce them to vote for the Labour party, though, so far as I can see, there is no chance of its being any greater benefit to them than any other bank.
Coupled with the Commonwealth Bank we have the Commonwealth note issue. We find that the amount of notes on issue at the present time is £9,142,487, of which total amount £6,787,400 has been lent to the States. Of the money lent to the States, £2,000,000 has been lent at 4 per cent., £1,850,000 at 3¾ per cent., and £1,000,000 at 3½ per cent. My friends opposite may probably say that they are splendid rates of interest; but when the Commonwealth entered into the work of issuing notes, they pillaged money which properly belongs to the States. The income the different States were previously receiving from the bank note issue was £85,000, quite apart from the revenue of £22,000 Queensland received from her own note issue. So we find that £107,000 has been lost by the different States of Australia by reason of the Commonwealth issuing notes. When the actual revenue lost is added to the 3½ to 4 per cent., on the money loaned back to the States the’ latter will be found to have actually paid 5½ per cent. for this money. It may be considered a far-fetched argument, but it is an argument presenting itself to far-seeing people. The difference between the Commonwealth issue and the ordinary issue, when the private banks had their millions of bank notes in circulation amongst the people, is readily seen. The banks trading in the country were able to lend, not according to their gold reserves, but according to their gold, plus the value of the notes to a certain amount, which made the operations of the bank much more elastic. It meant that the money was lent to the producers and others in the shape of advances, and the money was. not advanced only in gold, but partly in notes in addi tion. The farmer utilized his advance in developing his land, ring-barking, fencing, and stocking up, and the storekeeper in extending his business, and butchers, bakers, and others felt the benefit of the “ turn-over,” and so every one got a little bit of the money, and the whole community prospered upon it. However, immediately the Commonwealth stepped in with their note issue, the banks had to pay a sovereign over the counter for every note on issue. That was quite right; but the effect of having to do it immediately clipped the wings of the banks for the time being; so that many persons going to the banks from that day on have been turned down. It is not that the security is not good enough ; it is that the lending power of the banks is the same as a man’s pocket - once the bank has advanced to all its lending power, the finest security in the world is no good, the bank not having the wherewithal to lend. I find ‘out-back, where every pound in circulation now will -probably be equal to £2 or £3 in a few years, and where every sovereign in circulation is of benefit to the whole community, that the mere fact of the withdrawal from the private banks of the right to the note issue has had the effect of making money tight. This is not my own expression of opinion merely. I may be pardoned for quoting Mr. Denison Miller, of the Commonwealth Bank, as reported in the London Times of the 24th May, 1912-
In addition, the withdrawal of the note circulation from the banks, and the consequent absorption by the Commonwealth Government of a large sum of gold for the Australian Note Issue, -tended to restrict the banks’ resources; they had, further, to make provision for the opening of the Commonwealth Bank, which meant the .transfer to that bank of a very large amount of Government deposits early in January. Further, the Savings Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank, although offering a lower rate of interest (and a lower limit on which interest would be paid) than most of the States and other Savings Banks are doing, has already attracted over £1,000,000 in deposits; and the State and other .Savings Banks, in order to protect the°ir deposits from being withdrawn to the Commonwealth Bank, have increased their rates of -interest and limits on which interest will he paid, inducing people to withdraw some of their credit balances on current account from the trading banks - where they did not get interest on current-account balances - and place them on deposit with the States and other Savings banks.
The .trading banks therefore have had their usual sources of supply not only curtailed, but probably to some extent drawn upon, so it is not t0 be wondered at if the Australian money market is what is termed “ tight.” Few, if any, new advances are being made by the trading banks.
So we find to-day that we have eight or nine million pounds’ worth of notes among the people of Australia in the shape of the Commonwealth Bank issue; but that money has not gone into circulation throughout Australia ; it has been centralized. .It has been mostly lent by the Commonwealth to the Premiers of the different States, and utilized by them to a considerable extent in the cities and in day labour, benefiting a certain section of the community. And the question arises whether it is doing as much good as the previous issue did, when the money was spread broadcast throughout the Commonwealth.
Our friends on the Opposition side are always prepared to quote reports concerning trusts and combines and monopolies in Australia. May I be permitted to refer to the report of the Sugar Commission in regard to that supposed octopus, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The report says that’ the Commissioners would not advise the Commonwealth of Australia to take over the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and to run the sugar industry as a national concern, for the economic reason that the people would not get as good a class of sugar, or at the same price, as the people are getting to-day. That is my reply to the cry of the Sugar Trust, and the same thing applies to other similar matters. We are told that trusts and combines are stifling the life-blood of the people of the United States of America, and that the same thing is applying, and will apply, to Australia, unless we actually clip their wings at once; and that we shall ultimately be swamped by trusts and combines. Compare the condition of things in America and Australia ; they are totally different. In America the trusts and combines have their hands on the -people of the United States, and they are getting a tighter hold from day to day ; but in America the railways are privately owned, and by means of their influence and command of capital the trusts and combines are able to acquire the sole right to have their goods carried over their ‘railways. Here in Australia, however, the railways are publicly owned, and if any trust attempted to get to work in any particular place, through the public having control of the transportation on the railways, .harbors, and rivers we could immediately prevent their operations being carried on to the detriment of the public. Let me refer to a speech delivered by Senator Pearce, as recorded in Hansard, page 2801 -
In the United States there is a condition existing which vitally affects commerce and trade, and which does not exist in Australia. This difference of conditions is emphasized when we remember that almost all the cases which have been tried in the United States have hinged largely on a condition existing there which does not find a parallel in Australia. That is to say, that in the United States the railways are privately owned, and in many cases by the trusts; whilst in Australia they are owned by the people, and trusts have no control over them.
I may say that 75 per cent, of the cases that have come before the United States Courts have been cases in which combines have exercised their powers through the control of the railways, and, generally, of the means of transportation.
That is my reply to the argument used that the conditions applying in America apply in Australia. We shall not have that state of affairs as long as we have public control of the railways.
I shall not weary honorable members on this side in dealing fully with the matter of rural workers; but perhaps honorable members opposite may care to hear something about it. When rural workers are mentioned to them, it is like a red rag to a bull. It is, nevertheless, a matter of the greatest importance. How can we expect an Arbitration Court, or a Judge, or a Deputy Judge, no matter how physically and mentally capable he may be, to adjudicate equitably from one centre of Australia as to the conditions prevailing 2,000 miles away? Seeing that the lands belong to the States, if rural workers’ awards are necessary, and if rural workers should join unions and be legislated for, is it not a fair thing that the matter should be left to the States ?
– How about the shearers ?
– Many are the sheep that I have not shorn; but I know that shearing conditions do not differ throughout Australia as do agricultural, dairying, and farming conditions generally. The conditions under which corn, potato, hay, lucerne, cane, and tropical fruits are grown vary much from north to south, which make it a matter of impossibility to deal with these matters through the Arbitration Court.
During the past two or three weeks, new members have had an opportunity of seeing what party government means. I cannot congratulate honorable members opposite on their tactics. The Liberals wish to restore confidence in Australia, which, at the present time, is very shaky. We desire that Australia shall be advertised as a country to be proud of. We desire to attract population to our shores by publishing the true state of affairs. We desire to attract capital here. Our primary industries are thirsting for development, and all who have read text-books on political economy know that to a young country every pound of capital is of great value. If people are prepared to lend us money, let us take it, and use it in the development of the country. The Northern Territory covers an area four times that of the United Kingdom, and within a few days’ steam of it is the Chinese Empire, with a population one-fourth that of the whole world, and the Indian Empire, with a population one-eighth that of the whole world. These facts are worthy of consideration. To get to Port Darwin now one has to travel a couple of thousand miles. Men who in the southern parts of Australia earn 7s., 8s., and 9s. a day, living under pleasant conditions, with postal and railway conveniences, are not likely to be attracted to the Northern Territory unless special inducements are offered. If we looked at the development of Australia from a broad national stand-point, we would borrow in the markets of the world the money needed to construct, not one line of railway to give access to the Northern Territory from the south, but two, one going through the centre of the continent, and the other connecting with the Queensland railway system at Camooweal, and running south to touch the New South Wales railway system at Bourke or Barringun. If one could travel from the southern parts of Australia to Port Darwin in four or five days, there would be some hope of inducing settlement there, and that would be of material advantage from a military stand-point. Whether a Liberal or a Labour Government^ be in power, this problem must be dealt with, if Australia is to be worth living in, and fighting for.
In conclusion, I shall refer to one or two things that have cropped up in the debate. I think that every member who enters this House should be actuated by the highest principles, and that his conduct in it should be strictly honorable. The position of a representative of the people, charged with legislation of a national character, should be prized in a manner commensurate with its responsibility. It has disappointed me as a new member to detect misrepresentation by honorable members opposite in misquoting utterances of members on this side. A few days ago, the honorable member for Adelaide quoted the Hansard report of some remarks which had been made by the Attorney-General. To my mind, one should be as accurate in quoting as in repeating anything that one has heard said, and should be very careful not to misconstrue, or to convey a wrong impression. To do that is an act of gross injustice. I mention this matter, not to criticise the honorable member for Ade.laide, but because I regard such misquotations as I have referred to as politically despicable. I hope that it will not be repeated.
– The honorable member must not use those words.
– I withdraw them. According to the honorable member for Adelaide, the Attorney-General spoke of -
These irresponsible combinations of wealth which govern the interests of hundreds and thousands of human beings-
The Attorney-General asked the honorable member to whom he was referring, and the honorable member replied, “ You were referring to the trusts in Australia.” Upon searching Hansard, I discovered that following the words which the honorable member for Adelaide quoted, and with which he stopped short, was this sentence -
We have very little of that sort of thing in Australia.
I may be thin-skinned, but my sense of ethics tells me that what is honorable and straightforward conduct outside the House should appeal to all who occupy the position of a representative of the people. I am not prepared to take advice or suggestions which are offered in the manner adopted by the honorable member for Adelaide.
– The honorable member has not read the Hansard report; he has merely taken the Attorney-General’s attempted correction.
– I have gone to the trouble of reading the Hansard report, and I have quoted it literally. If in making a quotation one stops at a certain word, and by doing so creates a wrong impression, he does an injustice. Honorable members can substantiate what I have said by looking at the Hansard report for this session, page 175, and at the Hansard report for last session, page 4853, from which the quotation of the honorable member for Adelaide was taken. If I have done an injustice to the honorable member for Adelaide, and am shown to be wrong, I shall be the first to admit my mistake.
In this debate we have had personal attacks on petty matters, and a splitting of straws on questions of minute detail, which has reminded me of children quarrelling over a game of marbles. When the honorable member for Capricornia and others occupy halfanhour or more on a matter which would be settled by sensible persons outside in a couple of minutes, new members are apt to be disgusted. I am not delivering a homily ; I do not wish to convert the honorable member for East Sydney, who cannot get vaccination out of his head at the present time; but I hope that my remarks will not fall on barren ground, and that the tone of the House will be kept at the proper level, our discussions being conducted without descending to personality. I would like to say something which, perhaps, I had better not say, because if I did I might be called to order, but honorable members may guess what it is. Not being yet au fait with the rules of debate, although I have tried to swallow the Standing Orders, I am not sure of my ground, but when I have managed to grasp the position I shall endeavour to put things more forcibly, and ask that my shortcomings to-night be overlooked. The debates in this Chamber should be fought on broader issues than have been introduced up to the present. I have been living out in the north of New South Wales for the last nineteen or twenty years. My being sent here may be an annoyance to some honorable members opposite. I have been told that I am a bushranger, who has stepped into the shoes of a gentleman who represented, or rather misrepresented, New England for six years. He misrepresented it because the constituency was never a Labour constituency ; I make no reflection on him personally.
Much time has been occupied with a discussion as to whether the Government were justified in dismissing certain men employed at tlie Fitzroy Dock on Cockatoo Island, because certain of the boilers there were reported by ‘experts to be unfit for use, and were endangering human life. The Minister of Home Affairs, acting upon humanitarian motives, and with no wish to injure his fellows, dismissed certain men, and for that he has been abused by honorable members opposite. There has been no big discussion of national affairs by honorable members opposite; they have confined themselves to the discussion of little holeandcorner matters, which, all summed up, is a matter of administration following expert advice. The late Government purchased Cockatoo Island and the Fitzroy Dock for £870,000 from New South Wales. Arising out of this purchase there is the question whether these boilers were in a good or bad condition. Why did the previous Administration, by whom the purchase was made, not find out whether the boilers were in a proper condition? Why were experts not called in and Parliament consulted before the agreement was closed? When I refer to Hansard of the 11th December, 1912, page 6801, I find that the honorable member for Dalley on that day asked the ex-Prime Minister whether the Government intended taking over the dock, and the right honorable gentleman replied that he did not know. On the same occasion the present Prime Minister, who was then in opposition, said that in view of the statement just made by the Prime Minister the House ought to be told whether, before completing the arrangements for taking over the Fitzroy or any other dock, the House would be allowed to express an opinion on the subject, and the exPrime Minister replied that he had no doubt Parliament would have to determine a matter of that importance. Although the ex-Prime Minister on that occasion said that Parliament would probably be consulted, we now know that a purchase, involving over £800,000, was made without Parliament being taken into the confidence of the Government. The moment, however, the contract is handed as a legacy to the Liberal Government, Ave find that the machinery is in such a condition that a quantity of it has to be put out of ‘Commission, and a tirade of abuse is launched at the present Government. Such a responsibility ought not to have been taken by the ex-Prime Minister, but the Legislature should have had an opportunity of saying yea or nay. Now that
I have had an opportunity of speaking in this censure debate, I hope that the time of the country will not be taken up much longer. I am sure that honorable members opposite are open to conviction - perfectly plastic, and prepared to swallow any dicta put before them - and that, at the conclusion of this debate, they will come right over and vote on the side of the Liberals.
– I desire to make :a personal explanation. I regret having to do so, because I do not like personal explanations. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat .has done me the honour to -mention my name, and in such terms that I am confident he will feel regret in the immediate future. He went so far as to say I had misquoted the Attorney-General. When he said so I interjected that he bad neglected to read Hansard for himself, but had allowed the remark of some other honorable member to mislead him; because, otherwise, it is impossible that an honorable member in his first speech would venture so far as to deliberately misrepresent another member. A few days ago, when addressing the House, I quoted from page 75 of the special copy of Hansard the actual words used by the Attorney-General, when approving of the alteration of the Constitution so that Parliament might have the power of dealing with combines and aggregations of capital. The words I quoted were these-
These irresponsible combinations of wealth, which govern the interests of hundreds of thousands of human beings, and which .govern, to a large extent, the very interests that should govern them, must, in a comparatively short time, be brought under the control of the Legislature.
At that moment I was asked by the AttorneyGeneral whether, in using those words, he was referring to Australian aggregations of capital, and -my reply was in the affirmative. In addition, I quoted from the same speech these words -
There are others which, by the powers they have come to wield, and the methods by which they use those powers, are visibly becoming - although not so much yet in this country - a menace to liberty.
The very use of the words, “ although not so much yet in this country,” indicate to me that the honorable gentleman was including trusts or combinations of capital in this country. I point out that the words, “ We have but very little of that sort of thing in Australia,” do not immediately follow the quotation I made, but are over the leaf, and in another paragraph, which is as follows -
– The honorable member is making his friends of the Opposition look sad.
– I do not think so. Those who have watched the course of events of late years, especially in the United States of America - “Especially,” not “particularly” - must have come to the conclusion that those who believe in the vivifying system of regulated competition in business must resist these vast aggregations of uncontrolled and irresponsible capital. We have but very little of that sort of thing in Australia.
Clearly indicating again that the honorable gentleman was referring to aggregations of capital in Australia. In the same speech these words occur-
-The honorable member must not go beyond a personal explanation, and introduce new matter.
– I submit that I am not introducing new matter. These words occur -
If something can be substituted for the present provision so as to effectively carry out the view I have put forward, and to give this Parliament practical control over the operations of these irresponsible aggregations, I shall welcome it.
These were the words of the honorable member, and it seems to me to be approaching the ludicrous to believe that with his constitutional knowledge he should ask that’ the Constitution of Australia should be altered and this Parliament given power to deal with trusts in America. The situation is too painful to necessitate further explanation.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he is agreeable to grant me the adjournment of the debate, seeing that it is my maiden effort, and that it is now nearly ten o’clock.
– I am sorry I cannot oblige the honorable member. We desire to finish to-morrow night if we can.
– I do not feel quite so comfortable in addressing this House as the honorable member who preceded me appeared to be. That honorable member seems to be thoroughly accustomed to platform speaking, and must, I think, have had much experience. That has hardly been my lot, but I hope that, as time goes on, I may probably become as great an adept in the art of speaking as the honorable member. I should have liked to be able to congratulate the honorable member on his maiden effort, but I am scarcely prepared to do so, seeing that he has adopted the same manner towards the Opposition as have all the other new members who preceded him. In referring to the honorable member for Adelaide, the honorable member for New England simply adopted the same method of almost every honorable member on the Liberal side. It would appear from this that the remarks of the honorable member for Adelaide have reached their mark; and the remarks were certainly very pertinent as criticism levelled at a Government that does not possess the confidence of the people of the country, much less the confidence of the members of this House. All the new members opposite have done their best to defame and condemn honorable members on this side. The honorable member for Indi, in moving the AddressinReply apologized early in his speech because he did not possess that flow of language which would have enabled him to criticise the members of the Labour party in the masterly manner he desired.
– Excuse me, I did nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member for Indi made that remark in. reply to an interjection by, I think, the honorable member for Barrier.
– Excuse me, I did not.
– The honorable member, I think, did make the remark; and he is. not alone in his attitude towards honorable members on this side. As to the seconder of the motion for the AddressinReply, his only idea of the legislation there should be is the wiping out of the Labour party, and the prevention of the rural workers reaching the Arbitration Court; and, again, this honorable member is not alone in his views. The honorable member for Wannon, like many others opposite, claims to be a farmers’ representative,, and talks of the benefit the farmers are to the country. We all agree with him as to that, but at the same time no Government supporter has offered any practical suggestion for the benefit or comfort of the farmer. When they have any suggestions to that end to offer we shall be glad to receive them, and afford every assistance. Every new member opposite who has spoken up to the present has the idea he is the only friend the farmer has in Australia, but I shall be able to prove that the farmer is making a great mistake in treating an enemy as- a friend, and a friend as an enemy. I do not wish to dwell for any length of time upon the actions of new members, because if they do not feel more comfortable than I do in making this my first speech in this House, I am sure that they will be glad to be left alone.
– Do not pick us out.
– I feel constrained to do so, because the new members opposite are continually making charges against the Labour party. When a charge is levelled at our party, I regard it as a personal matter. I came here because I was prepared to sign the Labour party’s platform, and to do my utmost to embody it in the statute-book of the Commonwealth. I am therefore ready at all times to stand up for the party. When I hear honorable members trying to defame it, I feel it my duty to defend it, and shall always be pleased to do so. The honorable member for Riverina is another socalled farmers’ champion. I think I shall be able to show that, instead of being a friend of the farmers, he and the class he represents have been the greatest opponents that the farming community of Australia has ever had.
– They accepted me as their candidate.
– The farming community of Australia recognised in the early history of the country that the squatter was his bitterest opponent, and it is only to-day that the squatters have had an opportunity to return to politics. It is because of their liberal subscriptions to the farmers’ unions that they have been able to obtain the selection and indorsement of those organizations. That is why the squatter is returning to the political arena, but I do not think that the people generally will be pleased at his re-appearance in politics. We recognise that the most beneficial legislation that Australia could have is that which provides for closer settlement. The squatter, however, has always been opposed to closer settlement.
– What about giving them 50,000 acres and taking inscribed stock in payment?
– I refer to new members only because of the charges they have made against our party. When I deal later on with the land question, the honorable member will learn why I refer to him. The honorable member for Gippsland is another new member to whom I must allude. When a man reaches this House by making untrue statements - when statements attributed to him in the newspapers are said by him to be incorrect, and he is not prepared to write to those newspapers pointing out their incorrectness, I must perforce come to the conclusion that he has not the courage to do so, and that he has been correctly reported. I have had some experience in newspaper work, and know that every reputable newspaper is always pleased to make a correction, even if it is opposed to the candidate who claims to have been misreported. The honorable member for Gippsland should have written to the newspaper to which reference has been made asking it to correct the statement attributed to him. I come now to the honorable member for Robertson, who I regret to find is not present. His maiden speech in this House was the most disgraceful ever made by a new member. When next he rises, his passage, perhaps, may not be as easy as it was on the last occasion.
– Do hot take offence.
– I am not doing so. I am sorry for the honorable member for Robertson, and doubly sorry for the people whom he represents. His money must have had a great influence with the people of his electorate, otherwise I am afraid he would not be here to-day. I extend him my sympathy, and hope that on the next occasion he will do better. We have been told on several occasions that the Labour party are constantly interjecting and trying to prevent honorable members opposite from proceeding with their addresses. The honorable member for Calare, however, had hardly taken his seat in this House before he started to interject. Even old members have not been free from his interruptions. The ex-Prime Minister, for instance, was subject to frequent and persistent interjection at his hands. I do not know whether the honorable member has had rauch experience of parliamentary work, but I think that a new member should remain silent while others are speaking, and that he should observe the Standing Orders. I wish now to allude to a statement made at a public meeting by the honorable member for Corio, and published in the Argus of Monday last.
– The honorable member for Corio had better stand up and take his licking.
– He need not do so. The honorable member had an opportunity to make in this chamber the statements of which I complain, but had not the courage to do so.
– To what remarks does the honorable member refer?
– To remarks made at a meeting at Melton, where the honorable member said that honorable members sitting on the front Opposition bench were a disgrace to the House, and were squealing because of their loss of salary. I do not remember the whole of the remarks made by the honorable member, but they were certainly disgraceful, and unworthy of a member of this House.
– I deny using the word “ disgraceful.”
– The honorable member’s language was even worse.
– Why does not the honorable member read what I did say ?
– I shall be pleased to produce the report of the honorable member’s speech to-morrow.
– Produce it at once, instead of making a song about it.
– We will soon get the report for the honorable member.
– I speak thus of new members opposite because I am not accustomed to associate with men who indulge in such remarks. It is useless for honorable members to say that they have been misreported. Unless they are prepared to write to the newspapers in question and ask that a correction be published, we must believe that the reports are true. If they are not prepared to speak their minds in this chamber, but prefer rather to go into their electorate for the purpose of condemning and vilifying the Labour party, they must put up with the consequences. I propose now to deal with the late elections and the contemplated amendments of the Electoral Act. The newpsapers of Australia, as well as in many other parts of the world, were filled with charges against the Labour party, supplied by members of the Government and their supporters. The Liberal party’s newspapers were full of charges against the Labour party and its candidates. The majority of the charges in regard to the improper use of the Electoral Act were levelled only against successful Labour candidates. There was no fault to be found, apparently, with an election in which a Liberal candidate had been successful. There everything was in perfect order. There had been no duplication of votes, and nothing of an unclean character. Immediately on taking office the present Government spent £5,000 of the Fisher Government’s surplus in telling the people of Australia that the Labour party had been guilty of almost criminal acts in connexion with the last election. They sought to show that something of an unclean character had taken place during the campaign, when in reality nothing was further from the minds of the Government than that anything of the kind had taken place. Newspapers were encouraged by these people to make these statements. They were supplied with additional information concerning matters which had really never taken place, although the Government were more than satisfied that nothing improper had occurred. The Ministry had an idea that one or two of their defeated candidates might discover something which would enable them to dispute the return of their opponents and lead to the Government majority being increased. But immediately the returning officers began to tell them that nothing unclean had taken place they tried to back down. They had gone so far, however, that they had to proceed with their inquiry, and that inquiry has proved to the satisfaction of the people that . the Labour Administration acted honestly and fairly in every respect in connexion with the recent general election. I would like to refer to what has taken place in connexion with one or ..two of the elections, disturbing our opponents to such an extent that they became almost frantic about it, but when they learned that nothing unclean had taken place they were not even prepared to apologize for the slanderous remarks they had offered concerning the people of Australia. I shall read an extract from the Sydney Morning Herald to show that articles, not only those appearing after an election, but at any time, should be signed by the writers. This is what R. Olive Teece, of 157 Phillip-street, wrote in connexion with the Oxley election; but he did not confine his remarks to Oxley; he referred to Port Melbourne also, and, speaking from memory, I do not know whether he referred to other elections. He said -
In Victoria there were 100,000 more electors enrolled than there are adults in the State, and the stuffing that must have been effected is all the more apparent, when it is remembered that 22,000 of the adult population of that State were disqualified from voting as criminals or lunatics, and that hundreds, on going to the poll, found that their names were not on the rolls. In Queensland the returning officer for the electorate of Oxley estimates that at the end of the count it will’ be found that half as many votes again have been cast as there are electors on the roll ; that each elector had on an average i£ votes.
The returning officer immediately corrected that. He asked the Brisbane Courier to correct it, but they refused to do ‘so at the time, and the Sydney Morning Herald correspondent got hold of the matter -
And from every electorate ‘come well authenticated tales of personation, double voting, and other electoral frauds. Those of us who know the utter unscrupulous in elections of Labour organizations, and their complete lack of anything resembling a political conscience, are well aware that these startling figures are the result of their endeavours to snatch a victory at the polls for their .party at any cost and by any means. And the figures in certain electorates clearly prove this. Take Oxley as an example, liver since the first Federal elections this nas always been a safe Liberal seat. At the 1910 elections the Liberal member scored 10,399 votes to the Labour candidate’s 6,317.
I may mention that at the 1910 election there was no Labour candidate contesting the seat.
– There was an independent candidate, who is now a Liberal aspirant for election. The article was written before the final figures were known. It proceeds -
At this election, according; to the latest figures, the Labour candidate has scored 15,914 to the Liberal’s 13,418. The accession of over 9,000 votes to Labour shows pretty clearly which party has been responsible for the casting of half as many votes again as there are electors.
Though the Government are’ convinced that nothing of an unclean nature took place in connexion with this election, the people of the Oxley electorate are still suffering from the stigma placed upon them. The Government have maligned them in all their best language, and at every function they attend their supporters try to tell the people that something of an unclean nature has taken place, and it is only fair and right and reasonable that something should now be done in the interests of the people. The only way to get out of our difficulties and to settle the position of parties is to go back to the country. I am prepared to do so to-morrow. I feel that if another appeal is made we shall return to the side of the House we previously occupied, and our position will be even better than it was prior to the last election. The Government propose to amend the Electoral Act but they wish to do so in a way that will benefit their party by re-introducing, theold postal vote. Our experience of the postal vote in Queensland has proved that it is one of the greatest detriments to the people of any country. The last time thepostal vote was used was in 1908, and in almost every electorate in Queensland there were complaints of fraud and corruption of the very worst description. Wehave only to refer to the papers on the shelves of the Library and take the case of the Warwick election, where Mr. Barnes was returned a supporter of Mr. Denham, in opposition to Mr. O’sullivan, the present Attorney-General. If one reads theevidence in that case he will be satisfied that corruption of the greatest description will take place under the postal voting: system. It is impossible to prevent it. The absent, voting system is infinitely better. Warwick was not the only electorate where corrupt practices took place in that election. Charters Towers was another district, and there were complaints from almost every electorate. That was the reason why Mr. Kidston found itnecessary to abolish the postal vote, and when he proposed to amend the electoral law of Queensland he had -no opposition, as both members of the Government and members of the Opposition were agreeable to the deletion of the postal vote from the Electoral Act, and to substitute the absent-voting system, which has worked much more satisfactorily. Now, however, that they find thepostal vote was of more benefit to them., they propose to re-introduce it, and abolish the absent vote. The late Federal’ elections have proved to them that the electors of Queensland have changed their opinions regarding the Conservative Government of that State, and they imagine that by the aid of the postal vote they may hang on to office for another - year or two. With the absent votingin force in Queensland, I feel more than confident the Labour party will secure the control of government inQueensland at the next general election. The Denham Government recognise that, and they hope to hang on te office by the- introduction of a new Electoral law. They also propose to disfranchise about 40,000 workmen. Unless they reside in their electorates they will not beable to vote on election day. It does not matter where the Liberals hold power, they are always agreeable to seeing measures of this kind put on the statute-book, and it is on this account that the present Federal Government desire to reintroduce the postal vote. It means the introduction of a system that makes it more expensive for Labour candidates to collect votes or make a canvass, which their opponents can make by the aid of the postal vote. I hope members of the Opposition will strenuously oppose any amendment of the Act to include the restoration of the postal vote. I think that the people of Australia are more than satisfied that the amendment is brought in for a purpose and for a -class, and I hope we shall not live to see the day it is re-introduced into the Federal electoral law. Our opponents are continually telling us they intend to introduce legislation to prevent unions using their funds for political purposes. I do mot think they have much chance of preventing a unionist from using his money as he chooses. In my electorate I never got a solitary penny from a union, though, I suppose, three-fourths of the people who recorded their votes in Oxley for me are unionists. That does not say that political organizations do not exist in the Oxley electorate, and probably they may have expended a little money, but so far as the unions are concerned, they did not expend a shilling in connexion with . the -election. Our opponents say they intend to prevent unions using their funds for political purposes, but they are not going to prevent the People’s Progressive League in Queensland using their funds for political purposes, and where the unions will spend £5 the People’s Progressive League in Queensland will spend, probably, £1,000.. We are told that the combines and trusts and monopolies do not assist our friends on the Government benches in the matter -of finance prior to an election, but there is ample evidence, and it has been published in a Brisbane paper, to show that they subscribe most liberally to the People’s Progressive League funds in Queensland. This is what the Federated Employers of Victoria did for the People’s Progressive League of Queensland in the last State elections. The following letter was sent by the secretary of the Victorian Employers Federation. I quote it to show the amount of money at the disposal of our opponents. The letter is marked confidential, and is as follows - 325 Collins-street, Melbourne, 9th May, 1912.
Referring to the general strike in Brisbane and the meeting in connexion therewith held at our rooms on March 6th, at which it was decided to support the Brisbane employers in their fight against political unionism, I beg to inform you that the fund (to which you were a donator) collected from our members and our affiliated and kindred societies, amounted to a sum of j£3> ‘03. This money was transmitted to the Queensland Employers Federation some time prior to the recent elections and proved very acceptable. They are very satisfied with the results of the elections.
It is difficult for Labour men to oppose combinations like this. The Federation is one of the most powerful in the world. Our opponents have talked a great deal of the funds of the unions, but they have said nothing about the money that was sent to Brisbane to assist the other side to light against us at the State election. We have evidence also that funds were collected for the Liberal party previous to the last Commonwealth election. Honorable members opposite have gained their position on the Treasury bench by the lavish expenditure of money, not by the acceptance by the country of the policy they put forward. They owe their position to the financial institutions of Australia. The power they enjoy has been bought. The Labour party has all along had to fight the influence of the big financial institutions. All’ we can do is to place our case as best we may before the electors. We have had to win our position bit by bit, but evidently the people are more satisfied with our policy than with that of our opponents. Our battle is the harder because we lack financial assistance, and are without the aid of the press. But, as the hour is late, I now ask that I may be permitted to continue my speech to-morrow.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I have to-day received a telegram from Fremantle stating that, on Monday, fourteen men who had baen employed at the Cockburn Sound naval base were dismissed, seven of them having belonged to a boring party, and two being survey hands. As the Government has stated that its desire is to secure as much information as possible about the site which has been chosen for the base, I cannot understand why boring hands and survey hands have been retrenched. I ask the Prime Minister if he knows of these dismissals, and if he can give us any information regarding them.
– Were the men employed on the banks ?
– I do not know exactly where they were working. I understand that the best results have been obtained from their work, and I should like to know the reason of their dismissal.
.- lt is stated in this morning’s Age that Sir Joseph Walton has been informed that it is not proposed to ask those members ot the British Parliamentary party visiting Australia who have not been vaccinated to submit themselves to the operation if they have conscientious scruples against it. I ask if the Government is aware that that promise has been made, and whether it has sanctioned itf
.- I was charged this evening with having made outside the House a statement that I had not the courage to make in this Chamber, and I shall therefore read the report of what I said about honorable members when speaking at Melton on the occasion referred to. This is the report of what I said -
He bad long experience in public life, but the proceedings in the House of Representatives during the past fortnight were the worst he had experienced. Members on the front Opposition benches were the greatest offenders, the rank and file of the Labour party not being so., virulent as the leaders. Perhaps the cause of this was the difference in the salaries of these members when they were in office. They were wrangling over mere details which should have no part in National politics.
That is all I said regarding honorable members opposite, and I said the same thing in effect, if I did not use exactly the same words, in this House. No member of the Opposition, and no one else, can rightly charge me with ever having said behind his back -what I would not say to his face.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta- Prime Minister and Minister of Home dismissal of surveyors employed at the naval base, at Cockburn Sound j but no doubt there was good reason for it, if it has taken place.
– But the honorable gentleman said that the Government desires information regarding this site for a naval base. Why, then, is he dimissing men whose work is necessary for the obtaining of that information?
– Like the honorable member, I have no information on the subject. I will inquire into the matter. I am sure that these men have not been discharged if there is useful work for them to do. If there is no useful work for them to do they cannot be kept there at the public expense.
– The Minister of Defence has made the statement that proper work was not being carried on there.
– I do not quite understand.
– Ask the right honorable member for Swan.
– The Minister of Defence has, I believe, made this statement: That the cart was being put before the horse ; that a place for shipping was being built without our knowing whether our battleships could go there or not.
– The big ship can go there.
– The big ship can get through two sandbanks, I suppose. Perhaps it is expected to get out of the water and cross over the land.
– Be serious in dealing with big questions.
– I have no more to say.
– You have not said anything yet.
– May I tell my honorable friend that I had not the slightest intention of saying anything.
– I can quite believe it.
– Honorable members opposite can take it from me that I will not answer questions when a debate is got up and these insulting expressions are thrown across the Chamber. I will answer any question that is put in a respectful way.
– I rise to order. The Prime Minister has stated that he will not answer questions unless they are put in a respectful way. I beg to point out that there was nothing insulting to the Prime Minister in my remarks.
– The honorable member is quite right, and I wishto exclude him from what I said. I say, under the circumstances, that I cannot answer the honorable member’s question.
– The Prime Minister said that he would inquire into the matter.
– Yes, I will. But I am told by these amateur Naval Commanders, who know all about it, that it is quite easy to get a ship through the banks. I wonder that they did not favour the late Minister with their advice if they know all about the matter. I have also been asked a question about Sir Joseph Walton. I am afraid that I cannot give the information that has been asked for in that regard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 August 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19130827_reps_5_70/>.