5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the fact that the Government has lost control of business in another place, and the Socialistic party having, against the wishes of the Government, appointed a Select Committee to inquire into an administrative act of the Prime Minister, namely, the dismissal of a public servant, will the Prime Minister say whether the Cabinet has considered its position, and, if so, with what result?
– Under ordinary circumstances, I should ask my honorable friend to give notice of the question, and I have risen only to correct his facts. I would not for the world deprive him of all he can make out of them, but they should first be correctly stated. We have not lost control of the other House - we never had it.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement attributed by this morning’s newspapers to General Hertzog, a former member of the Botha Cabinet in South Africa, who is reported to have said that the coming question is the formation of an Imperial Parliament in which South Africa will have one representative for every sixty given to England ? Has the Prime Minister any information from the British authorities about a movement for the establishment of an Imperial Parliament of that kind ? If he has any information on the subject, will he give it to honorable members; and, if it is in the nature of correspondence, will he lay the papers on the table?
– I have no information on the subject.
– I ask leave of the House to reply to a question put to me last night, during the adjournment discussion, by the honorable member for Fremantle. This is the information that has been furnished to me by the Minister of Defence -
In reference to the question asked in your House yesterday as to the dismissal of surveyors employed at Cockburn Sound, I am informed that no information as to these particular dismissals is to hand, and information is now being sought by telegram from Mr. Fanstone, who is at present at Cockburn Sound.
Meanwhile it is assumed that the surveyors in question have completed the work for which they were employed, and it naturally followed that their services were no longer required.
If the information now being sought confirms this, the word “ dismissal “ is hardly accurate.
– I wish to make a personal explanation regarding a charge repeated against me last night by the honorable member for Ballarat. He accused me of having slandered Australia by certain statements made in an interview concerning our electoral system. I have already denied that I made such state ments; but last night, to the accompaniment of the cheers of honorable members., according to the report, the honorable member for Ballarat refused to accept my denial. I am not concerned with the honorable member’s attitude, but I am desirous that the facts shall be known. The following- is a full report of the published interview : -
Mr. Cook observed tonight, in a special interview which he kindly accorded me, that the Labour Ministers are obviously bad losers, but had to recognise that they had been defeated 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.
That is all I said ; and I have a confirmation of that from the writer of the interview, which I wish to read to the House -
I see that my cable to the Morning Post, on June 12th, was made an excuse for an attack on you during the course of the present debate. I find that’ I have made you say nothing more terrible than that the electoral laws of the Commonwealth were open to grave abuse. The rest of the message was, of course, my own.
– The Prime Minister has read a portion of a letter. I claim that, under the Standing Orders, that letter has become the possession of the House, and should be handed to the Clerk.
– Subject to correction, I know of no standing order which compels a member who has read a portion of a personal letter addressed to him to lay it on the table. The Prime Minister, I understand, read only a part of the letter.
– How do you know that, Mr. Speaker?
– Because he said so.
– You say that you spoke subject to correction. My impression is that the rule stated by the honorable member for Capricornia has always been observed. I submit that any document quoted by an honorable member becomes the property of the House, and I ask for a definite ruling on this point?
– For the moment I was not quite sure of the precise terms of the standing order, but I had in mind that there waa a distinction made between a private communication and a public document. That is why I said I spoke subject to correction. Standing order 317 says -
A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister of the Crown, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by Address, may be called for and made a public document.
The only question that arises now is whether the document from which the Prime Minister quoted was a private communication, or a document of such a nature as was contemplated under the standing order. .
– He did not say it was a private document: he said it was a letter.
– I took it to be a private personal letter, because the Prime Minister said he had received a letter from the person to whom he had granted the interview, and who was responsible for the article.
– It is a great thing to have a friend at court, is it not?
– I ask the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to withdraw that statement ; it is a reflection on the Chair.
– I withdraw it.
– It is obvious that the letter read by the Prime Minister is a reply to a request or intimation from the Prime Minister that he might have information in regard to a matter already made public. Does not that make the letter .connecting the honorable member with that matter, to all intents and purposes, a public document?
– Of my own knowledge, I am not in a position to say whether the letter is a private communication or a public document, for I have not read it. The Prime Minister alone is the judge of that. The letter is his property. Every honorable member at some time or other receives private letters containing references to public matters, and if once we admit the principle that any private letter received by an honorable member, from which he has quoted some portion, should become public property, honorable members generally will find themselves placed in a very embarrassing position, which may involve their correspondents in serious trouble. I do not think it is the wish of the House to resort to that practice.
– I do not wish to disagree with the ruling, but if this sort of thing is permitted we shall land ourselves in a difficulty. It will be possible for members to make all sorts of slanderous statements about other members by this means. An honorable member may even go so far as to manufacture a letter, and read it in the House
– Are there men like that in this House ?
– I do not know of any, but I know that the honorable member has made statements he is not too proud of. However, my point is that if this course is permitted we leave ourselves open to abuse of a character which will not reflect on the credit of the House.
– The standing order quoted appears to be merely an embodiment of a practice that has for long prevailed in the House of Commons, and is set out fully on page 338 of May, as follows -
Another rule, or principle of debate, may be here added. A Minister of the Crown is not at liberty to read or quote from a despatch or other State paper not before the House, unless he is prepared to lay it upon the table. This restraint is similar to that rule of evidence,^ in courts of law, which prevents counsel from citing documents which have not been produced in evidence. The principle is so reasonable that it has not been contested ; and when the objection has been made in time, it has been generally acquiesced in. It has also been admitted that a document which has been cited, ought to be laid upon the table of the House, if it can be done without injury to the public interests. Thi same rule, however, cannot be held to apply lo private letters or memoranda. On the 18th May. 1865, the Attorney-General, on being asked by Mr. Ferrand if he would lay upon the table .1 written statement and a letter to which he had referred on a previous day in answering a question relative to the Leeds Bankruptcy Court, replied that he had made a statement to the House upon his own responsibility, and that the documents he had referred to being private, he could not lay them upon the table. Lord R- Cecil contended that the papers, having been cited, should be produced, but the Speaker declared that this rule applied to public documents only.
– I was just about to quote what the Attorney-General has quoted in support of the attitude I have taken up. Honorable members will see that my ruling is supported by wellestablished precedent.
– I deeply regret the turn this matter has taken.
– Does the honorable member rise to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. I would not have quoted from the letter had I thought the slightest exception would be taken to it. I thought it simply confirmed the statement I read from the report itself, and that the House would be glad to have the confirmation.
– Was the honorable member reported in the Morning Post as having said those words?
– No. The report makes it clear that I did not. Nothing could be clearer.
– Then that is all right.
– But, in addition, I bring this confirmation from the interviewer himself, and I thought the House would be glad to receive it; otherwise, I would not have quoted it.
– I should be glad to explain that, in asking for the production of that letter, it was not with the desire to prevent the Prime Minister disclaiming having uttered the words he was charged with, because I have a copy of the Morning Post.
– The honorable member is now making a statement, and not a personal explanation which can only be made with reference to some misrepresentation to which the honorable member may have been subjected. He is proceeding to make a general statement with reference to a matter already dealt with, and which is no longer open for discussion because I have already given my ruling.
– I was misrepresented by an interjection from the Honorary Minister, that an attempt was being made to prevent the Prime Minister-
– Will the honorable member resume his seat. He is doing what I told him he was not permitted to do. He cannot make a statement without the leave of the House. He is not making a personal explanation, but is making a statement of a general character, which, by the rules of the House, cannot be permitted.
– I would like to be allowed to make a personal explanation, because I believe I have been misrepresented.
– On a point of order. The honorable member bases his reason for a personal explanation upon the assumption that I made some statement I did not make.
– You interjected.
– I did not interject to that effect or anything like that effect, and the honorable member has no rip bt; to base his personal explanation upon some statement I did not make.
– The honorable member for Capricornia can make a personal explanation if he thinks he has been misrepresented in regard to anything. If that is what he proposes to do he is in order, but he will not be in order in going beyond that.
– I do not wish to prevent the Prime Minister making his denial, because I have seen the extract, and believe that what lie says is quite correct. The honorable member for Ballarat, who, because, perhaps, he is not a pressman-
– What is the misre-presentation to which the honorable member for Capricornia desires to refer?
– The impression conveyed by honorable members opposite that I have endeavoured to stop the Prime Minister making his statement.
– The Prime Minister had made the statement before the honorable member rose.
– My desire is to get the name of the pressman who has slandered Australia.
– I regret very much that the Prime Minister was not present last night when I dealt with this matter.
– Does the honorable member desire to make a personal explanation ?
– Yes. I do not think that I dealt at all unfairly with the Prime Minister when I read to the House last night a portion of the report. I showed that a special reporter had interviewed the honorable gentleman, and in the interview, as reported, there is nothing to show where the reporter’s own comments begin and where the remarks of the Prime Minister end. All this discussion will appear in Hansard, and I leave it to honorable members and the country to decide whether I did anything unfair to the Prime Minister.
– If there is nothing in the report to distinguish what is the comment of the reporter from the remarks of the Prime Minister, the honorable member has no right to say that any part of it is a statement by the Prime Minister.
– The heading of the reported interview is, “ Mr. Cook to take office,” and we are informed that Mr. Cook has kindly accorded this special interview. How can we believe but that the Prime Minister said what is there set down?
– It is made clear what I did not say.
– Some one has slandered Australia, and the Prime Minister says he is not the guilty person. I should very much like to have the original manuscript here, so that we might know who was the writer.
– Order ! The honorable member may not go into that matter.
– We ought to know who is the special correspondent who has slandered Australia.
– The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation, and is making a speech. The honorable member is a new member so far as this House is concerned, and I point out to him for his information that, in making a personal explanation, he must confine himself to some misrepresentation to which he has been subjected by an honorable member. He must not enter on further debate or traverse any speech beyond what is necessary for the legitimate purpose of correcting a misrepresentation, misquotation, or misunderstanding.
– I was not aware that I was doing any more than that, but misrepresentations have been made, and in regard to these I am offering a personal explanation. I am not satisfied about the letter the Prime Minister quoted.
– The honorable member is not entitled to go into that matter.
– I think it is very unfair, Mr. Speaker, that I should-
– The honorable member has no right to make a statement of that kind. I am simply carrying out the Standing Orders, and directing the honorable member as to what he is permitted to do, and what he is not permitted to do, under our rules. The honorable member must not reflect on the Chair.
– I regret very much that you, Mr. Speaker, should look at the matter in that light, because I have no intention of reflecting on the Chair, but only on a man who read a portion of a letter. I should like to know the name and address of the writer who has slandered Australia, and I ask the Prime Minister to deal with the person who has so offended.
– Perhaps I ought to begin with the honorable member.
– It would take a better man than the Prime Minister to do that.
– In view of the fact that Australia has been wickedly slandered in other parts of the world, and, as the Prime Minister is in possession of the name of the person who wrote the slander, will he take the necessary steps to have that person prosecuted ?
– The honorable member must give notice of that question.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK laid upon the table the following paper: -
Public Service Act. - Temporary Employe’s - Return for year 1912-13.
Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 595), on motion of 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; (2) 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.
.- When I was kindly granted leave last night to continue my remarks on a future occasion, I was referring to the Electoral Act, and to that very important part of the measure which has reference to the funds subscribed by the different political parties for the purposes of the electoral campaigning. Our opponents, we know, have the command of ample funds to fight their political battles; and they are beginning to realize that the Labour party are also financially assisted in this connexion. The latter fact has led them to the conclusion that we ought to be prevented from accumulating funds for such ends, and the Government propose legislation which will have the effect of stopping unions from using their funds for political purposes. I do not think, however, that such legislation will have very much weight so far as the unions are concerned, because, as a body, during their whole history, unions have not at any time used much of their funds for electioneering purposes. The proposal of the Government merely goes to show what their attitude is towards the Labour party. They doubtless recognise that we have gained our present position by our honest dealing with the people, and that a little additional financial aid will strengthen us considerably, while they themselves will be relatively weakened. The Labour party, no doubt, are growing in strength, and that is doubtless why the new legislation is to be brought forward. Whether the Government will seek to attain their object by an amendment of the Electoral Act, or by a separate measure, I cannot, of course, say, but there is no doubt that they intend legislation of the kind. The Labour party have no desire to interfere i n any way with the aid which the Liberal party, or any member thereof, may receive from financial institutions, the Women’s National League, or any other Liberal organization; we have no fear that any money they may receive in this way will give them the power to defeat us. We take no exception to people subscribing as largely as they please to the Liberal funds; and many people and institutions have subscribed very largely, indeed, to assist the Liberal cause. I know of many firms in Queensland whose subscriptions run into three high figures. One drapery firm, for instance, subscribed as much as £500 to the fighting fund of the People’s Progressive League; monopolies, trusts, and combines of Queensland also subscribe largely, I hope before I sit down to satisfy honorable members that such does exist, and, of course, substantially assists our opponents’ party organization. Those people are working in the interests of the Government, and that is why the Government are inclined at all times to act liberally towards them, and introduce legislation in their interests. I propose to read another document which came into my possession just prior to the last Federal election, and is signed by the secretary of the (People’s Progressive League in Queensland. This organization is, I think, part of what is generally known throughout Australia as the Liberal League. Honorable members will gather from this document some idea of the funds which our opponents have at their disposal prior to a general election. It also shows that men holding high positions in Queensland are trustees of a secret fund in connexion with the Liberal party - a fund which, in my opinion, is subscribed entirely by the trusts and combines of Australia. The letter is signed by Mr. O. J. Fenwick, who was secretary of the organization prior to the last general election, at which he was a candidate in the Liberal interest, and I understand that he has again taken up that office, and is at present attending the Liberal conference in Melbourne. The letter reads -
The Queensland Liberal Fund.
Office : No. 10 Kent’s Buildings,
Arthur Feez, Esq., K.C., C. H. Blocksidge, Esq., L. M. Bond, Esq., J. W. Hetherington, Esq., John Reid, Esq., J.K. Stewart, Esq., Chas. Williams, Esq.,
All these men are connected with large firms in Brisbane. Mr. Feez is a leading barrister; Mr. J. W. Hetherington is connected with the coal business; Mr. Blocksidge is one of our leading auctioneers; Mr. John Reid is one of Mr. Denham’s partners, and is practically the proprietor of the business known as Hutton and Company. I do not know in what business Mr. Chas. Williams is engaged, but Mr. Bond is a partner in the firm of Perry Brothers, one of the biggest hardware houses in Australia, while Mr. J. K. Stewart is a member of one of the largest wholesale dry goods firms in Brisbane. These are some of the men who are lending themselves to the Liberal party, and subscribing largely to its funds. This document, which is addressed to the Hon. G. F. Denham, Brisbane, reads -
Brisbane, 27th March, 1913.
Hon. D. F. Denham, M.L.A., Brisbane.
Dear Sir, - Prior to the departure of Mr. John Reid, on holidays, he instructed me to furnish you with particulars of the total amount that has been contributed towards the Federal campaign that is now upon us, exclusive of the sum recently received from you, and I have now to advise you that the amount of subscriptions paid into the Liberal fund and donated to the various branches and sections of the People’s Progressive League throughout the State reaches the sum of ^930 r3S. 2d. since 23rd November, 191 2, to date.
– That is a terribly large amount.
– It is to us, although it may not be to the honorable member, who has plenty of money. The letter continues -
Mr, Reid instructed me to ask that you would be good enough to arrange for subsidy on that amount to be placed at the disposal of the above fund.
Thanking you in anticipation, yours faithfully,
Secretary to the Trustees.
This is only one of the small items in the funds of the Liberal party. Every person who subscribes to the funds . becomes an organizer in the interests of the Liberal party, and the subscribers are certainly very numerous. Notwithstanding all their money, however - and it flowed very freely during the late elections - out of ten seats in Queensland, the Labor party succeeded in winning seven. I feel sure that the time is not far distant when the whole of these seats will be captured by our party. The result of the late general election justifies that belief. We have grown in strength, and one of the chief factors of that growth is the existence in Brisbane of a newspaper which advocates the cause of Labour. I was instrumental last December in starting a Labour newspaper in Queensland, and its existence was one reason why we were so successful. Until we have a daily newspaper in each of the States, however, we cannot hope to secure the success we desire. We know the power of the press; we have had experience of it on many occasions. The attitude of the daily newspapers throughout Australia makes it an easy matter for Labour journals to be established. For the most part, the press of Australia is conducted to suit only a section of the community, the articles published in them from day to day being written in the interests of the Liberal party. There are in Brisbane many business firms that have subscribed very liberally to the funds of that party. In some Commonwealth electorates, at the recent general election, we are given to understand - and our authority is fairly reliable - as much as £10,000 was spent. We have, therefore, to fight a great army of soldiers well equipped with funds, so that the success we have achieved is something of which to be proud. We have also to fight almost all the newspapers in Australia. In Queensland and South Australia we have our own daily press, and our success in those States proves the absolute necessity for the establishment of daily Labour newspapers in all the States. I feel certain that the time is not far distant when we shall have them, so that our views will be placed correctly before the people.
– And we are probably nearer the birth of a Labour daily in Victoria than many imagine. With the establishment of these Labour journals, we shall be able to fight our opponents, no matter what money they may have at their command. The financial difficulties with which we have to contend should nob be lost sight of when the amending Electoral Bill is before us. It should not be possible for thousands of pounds to be spent in connexion with one election. The Act should be so amended as to render it impossible for more than £100 to be spent in connexion with any one candidate. Until we have such an amendment of the law, we can never hope to achieve the success which we and the great body of the people so much desire Our opponents can spend money lavishly, and when they can buy privileges and win power-
– It is a slander on the poor people of Australia to say that they can be bought.
– I say that it is very hard for Labour members to fight the big financial institutions, which are practically Liberal leagues. Their politics are confined absolutely to those of the Liberal party. They advocate Liberal politics from 1st January to 31st December ; they subscribe freely to the funds of the Liberals, and they work in their interests. They do not hesitate to bring to bear any power they can exercise to assist the Liberal cause.
– Does the honorable member mind telling us where the money is kept?
– I have given the names of the trustees; the honorable member can apply to them for the information.
– What trust provided the honorable member with motor cars?
– No trust.
– Then where did the honorable member get them?
– They were lent to me.
– The working men lent their motor cars to the honorable member I
– They were not lent by working men.
– Who lent them ?
– Would the honorable member like a list of my friends ? I may introduce them to him some day, as they might be of assistance to him. Our opponents are not satisfied with the provision of the electoral law that requires the signing of certain newspaper articles published during an electoral campaign. After what occurred in this chamber this afternoon in connexion with the reading of a letter by the Prime Minster, I am of opinion that any statement quoted from any document should at once become the property of the House, and be laid on the table. The other evening the Attorney-General quoted from a circular, but when he was asked by an honorable member on this side to show it, he absolutely refused to do so. If an honorable member quotes from a document, he should be prepared to hand it immediately to his opponent for the purposes of criticism.
– For the purpose of finding out the name of the writer, and hounding him down.
– Unless a member who quotes from a paper is prepared to hand it to his opponents, there must be the suspicion of something that was not honorable in connexion with the matter. The honorable member for Adelaide informs me, in regard to the paper quoted by the Attorney-General, that the latter handed it to him after his speech. Any document quoted in this Chamber should immediately become the property of the House, and be available for perusal by any honorable member. We on this side know - on many occasions it has been to our sorrow - the great influence which newspapers have on the public opinion of Australia. We know, too, that news paper writers are often instructed to write in a manner that is contrary to their opinions. This has been proved by what has happened in connexion with the establishment of the Labour journal at Brisbane. We were told that it would be impossible to get writers for a Labour newspaper, but we had no difficulty in finding men who were willing to advocate Labour politics. We drew our staff from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Evening News, and the Melbourne Age, and our journal has the best circulation of any evening newspaper in Queensland.
– Every newspaper claims to have the largest circulation.
– We are prepared to forfeit £100 to the Brisbane Hospital if our statement be disproved. We are satisfied, by reason of the ease with which we get advertisements and the number of our advertisements, that the newspaper has a large circulation. The number of advertisements is the best index to a newspaper circulation. This journal is going into the homes of the people, and the results of the State election, and the still better results of the Federal election, prove that it carries great weight. Print is one of the greatest powers in the world; it moulds the minds of all thinking people, and assists them to true and correct decisions.
– Not always, but when readers know that their newspaper articles are written by men thoroughly well acquainted with the subjects on which they write, they have confidence in the value of the opinions expressed. When articles are not signed, it is difficult to know who the writers are. Newspaper writers would like to be permitted to sign all their articles, because of the advertisement of their ability which that would give, and capable men would be able to improve their position. When journalists must write as directed by editors or managers, they cannot show their ability to the same extent as when they are writing in accordance with the promptings of their consciences and their feelings. These remarks are my reasons why we should not erase from the electoral law the provisions requiring the signing of newspaper articles. I am sure that the proposal to erase this clause will not receive general support. The Prime Minister - whether in this debate or another, I am not sure - has complained that it was the habit of Labour candidates to tell the people that if the Liberal party were returned to power old-age pensions would be abolished.
– That was stated in Tasmania.
– I did not make the statement, though I said that our opponents were not likely to deal as liberally with old-age pensions as the Labour party.
– The Liberal party established the old-age pensions system.
– Because pressure was brought to bear on them by Labour members.
– Both Mr. Watson and the honorable member for Wide Bay declared that no pressure was brought to bear on the Government that established the system.
– We propose to make the allowance more liberal than it is.
– Why did not the party do that last year ?
– The law was liberalized considerably last year, and we hope to make it more liberal. I was opposed by a candidate whose canvasser - Miss Norris, of Main-street, Kangaroo Point - went about among the old-age pensioners telling them that if the Labour party were returned old-age pensions would be abolished. As her father and mother are in receipt of old-age pensions, her statements received some credence. I mention the fact to show that misrepresentations occurred on the Liberal side. In my opinion, the insurance scheme which the Government propose will not give the same satisfaction or comfort to our old people as they obtain from the pensions, and the prospect of its being adopted is not very great. Honorable members supporting the Government have spoken at length on the land question, and pose as the only friends of the farmers, treating those on this side as enemies of the farmers. We, however, are greater friends of the farmers, and likely to do more for them, than our opponents. The democracy of Australia favours closer settlement. We are told that the farmers of to-day were the rural workers of ten years ago; but I ask where will the rural workers of to-day get land ten years hence if the land laws are not altered? Government supporters have not put forward one practical suggestion for dealing with land settlement. All they say is that they are opposed to the rural workers’ log. The land question is one of Australia’s greatest problems, which is exercising the minds of those who desire to better the conditions of our people. The agricultural statistics of 1912 were in many respects better than those for any previous year. The dairying industry was not altogether as successful as we should have liked, because of drought in many parts, but in many respects the statistics are an improvement on those for former years. I wish to quote a few figures to show our opponents that Labour legislation has not prevented the progress and success of agriculture in Australia. The acreage under cultivation at the end of 1911 was 12,107,017 acres, while at the end of 1912 the acreage was 13,036,570 acres, an increase of land under cultivation of 929,553 acres. This gives some idea of the great progress of our agricultural pursuits which we were told Labour legislation was going to strangle. I would remind my friends that these figures are supplied by Mr. Knibbs.
– Quote the year before, and the year after, and tell us the result.
– I can refer honorable members to the figures as supplied in Mr. Knibbs’ book. The 1912 figures are not included in the publication, and I have them from the author himself.
– Mr. Fisher told a different story at Maryborough.
– The figures I quote are the correct figures. Mr. Fisher is not in the habit of making statements that are not true. I could not get the increase in dairy cattle for 1912, because the figures are not available ; but the increase from 1910 to the end of 1911 was 56,060 head. So this particular line was also a great success during the reign of the Labour Government. The latest figures available in regard to condensed milk show that there was an increase of 10,492,446 lbs. during the year 1911. I have to quote these figures, because our opponents tell us of the great evils Labour legislation wrought on the dairying industry. I have to admit that last year was a bad year as regards the butter industry, but I have the figures for three years. The output of butter for 1910 was 193,211,909 lbs., and for 1911 the output was 211,577,745 lbs. I am sorry to say there was a big reduction last year, accountable for by the very severe drought suffered by Australia. The output was 187,259,569 lbs., or a reduction for the year 1912 of 24,318,176 lbs. That, however, was the only portion of the dairying industry showing a big reduction. There was a decrease of 266,408 head of pigs, but the production of bacon increased during the year by 1,105,100 lbs. The figures I have quoted are highly satisfactory, and the statements of any who say that Labour legislation has injured farming in any particular way cannot be taken as reliable. When we find an industry so prosperous as the dairying industry, I think we can be satisfied that Labour legislation is the proper legislation for Australia. Our opponents tell us that the rural workers’ log will ruin the dairying industry. I put in my early years in the dairying industry, and I know all the hardships attached to the life and the difficulties that will occur in bringing into force the rural workers’ log. Nevertheless, I feel that every member on this side of the House will be anxious to bring that log into existence, as it will be. There are other conditions in connexion with the dairying industry to which we shall give our attention, but if the employers have to pay a little more to the workers, and if conditions are to be changed in some respects, we are prepared to introduce legislation to increase the returns of the farming community, and give the producers a better return for their output. Our opponents have not intimated that they are prepared to introduce legislation to relieve the farmer of much of the burden he is carrying today, but we propose to assist the farmer by bringing about conditions that will abolish the middleman, which in itself will give the former a much greater return for his produce. We also propose to introduce legislation to relieve the farmer from the operations of the freight rings and all the other trusts and monopolies oppressing him to-day. Those are the things he has to fight, and the things that make his lot hard in Australia. We have had ample evidence in Queensland of the manner in which the farmer is treated by the middleman. Honorable members who are acquainted with the tactics of the middleman will agree with the statement that he has been most ruinous to the farmer. He has exploited the farmer in every way, and also the consumer. Until we can reach some finalty as regards the middleman, the farmer is likely to suffer for many years, but I hope that in the near future we shall be in the position to bring in legislation on the lines indicated by the ex-Prime Minister in the policy speech he delivered early this year, when he gave the country to understand that he was prepared to do a great deal in the interests of the farmer. I think that in the Wide Bay electorate the farmers are more than satisfied with his efforts. It is practically a farming constituency, yet the ex-Prime Minister was able to gain a large majority over such a popular man as his opponent, one who had been connected with the land business all his life and thoroughly understood the conditions of the farmers. If the farmers in Wide Bay electorate had thought it was possible to improve on the ex-Prime Minister as their representative, would they have given him the great majority of votes he received? They understood, however, that he was working in their interests and that he would do much to improve their conditions, and his return by such a majority is ample proof that the case for the farmers is quite safe inhis hands. Much has been said in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank. Our opponents have made a great deal of the stringency of the financial position of Australia. We have been told that the Commonwealth Bank has been the cause of the tightness of money. It may have had something to do with it, because once it was established the other banks recognised that banking business would become more legitimate, and that loans would not be granted to people not entitled to them ; also, that speculation, as far as banking was concerned, would cease and be replaced by legitimate banking business.
– In other words, it would be more difficult for poor people to get money.
– It would be much easier. Previously the man who had the most influence had the least trouble in getting money. One reason for the money stringency was an organized scheme against Labour legislation and against the Commonwealth Bank. It did not start in a day. We had warning of it twelve months previously. It arose from the desire of the banking institutions of
Australia to tighten money. But I quite believe the banks were not in a position to be very liberal, if we can take notice of the banking statistics, which I shall quote, if only to show the reckless manner in which the banks have been doing business. The deposits at the end of 1909 amounted to £181,709,036. At the end of 1912 they amounted to £211,225,365. But the coin and bullion in the banks had only increased in the same period by £4,646,980. So we see the banks were practically doing business on paper. When the Commonwealth Bank started, they began to imagine that legitimate banking business would take the place of the reckless trading that had been going on, and which was the cause of the great crisis in 1893. In all probability, had not the Commonwealth Bank been established when it was, we would have had another financial crisis in Australia.
– Hear, hear! Just as in America.
– It was the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank that prevented the reckless trading of our banks. They had entered into a system of gambling with the people’s money, and had become speculators in property. The banks in Australia are the biggest landlords we have. That is why money has become so tight. But immediately after this Government assumed control of the Treasury the States, which had been applying for loans in every part of the world, were able to have their applications granted.
– So that, according to the honorable member, a bank that was started without capital affected £200,000,000 of capital?
– What I am saying is that the Liberal party desire to convey to the people that the confidence of the country has been restored by the election of the Liberal Government. I know that the honorable member for Werriwa is a great advocate for financial institutions, to which he to-day owes his position, and, of course, he has to stick up for their rights and privileges. When the Commonwealth Bank was established there was some doubt as to the stability of many of our private banks; and I think that the latter recognised that many deposits and current accounts might be likely to find their way from them to the State institution. One great reason why there should be a Commonwealth Bank is to insure to the people of Australia that the financial institutions of the country will pay strict attention to business. Many people who had deposits in the private banks in 1893 have not yet been able to get their money, and probably they never will. This is one reason why the banks had to curtail in the manner they did; and yet we are told that it was on account of the Labour legislation.
– Labour legislation saved them.
– It is quite true that Labour legislation prevented a great crisis.
– I thought the honorable member’s idea was to knock down these financial institutions.
– Our policy is constructive, and not destructive, as is shown by the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank, which is necessary to preserve the people’s interests, and secure their savings. Our opponents have had much to say about monopolies, trusts, and combines, and they must be well aware that the Beef Trust is established in Australia. It might be imagined from what they say that they are in ignorance of the fact; but we all know that the trust is here, and that it is going to work great evil to the people. We are told that, because the various railways are owned by the States, the operations of the trust may be defeated; but, as a matter of fact, it will be just as easy for the Beef Trust, as for any other persons, to take a load of cattle from any part of Australia to their works if they pay the proper freight. The American Meat Trust, as represented by Swift and Company, is established in Queensland, with works, almost completed, on the Brisbane River, within five miles of the city. There, at the present time, 500 men are employed erecting one of the biggest establishments of the kind in Australia ; and before another three years are over the people will find that the trust is here, if only by the price they have to pay for their meat. Swift and Company are establishing other works in Northern Queensland, and on the Clarence River, as I have learned from information recently wired to mo. This firm has also purchased three or four of the largest station properties in the State; and if all this is not ample evidence of the presence of the trust, I do not know what is. Those who do not believe that the trust is in Australia have only to go to Queensland to ascertain the extent to which the people there fear its operations; and the vote recorded in that State in favour of the amendment of the Constitution shows what the firm opinion of the people is in this connexion. I was more than pleased to find that the Labour Government, when the Northern Territory was taken over, determined to retain possession of the freehold. There is not the slightest doubt that if the present Government carry out their intention to give the freehold of the land the American Beef Trust will purchase all that is worth purchasing. We know from experience that the Northern Territory country is the best we have for beefproducing purposes, and we ought to take care that a portion of the country is reserved for the purpose of providing the necessary meat for this community. The trust will, no doubt, purchase all the good land and leave the bad for the people. I hope, however, that the Government will seriously consider the suggestion I have made in this connexion, or otherwise we shall find ourselves, in a few years, in the position the United States is in to-day. My time has about expired, and I shall take another opportunity to deal with the other parts of the Government policy.
.- The encouraging approval with which honorable members have been good enough to greet my rising, I gratefully acknowledge. When my mind goes back over the intervening years since the various States became united under one Federation, when I recall the names of those distinguished men whose counsels in this very chamber have guided the youthful steps of the nation along the lines of national progress, my feelings are many and varied; but there predominates a natural sense of diffidence, combined with a feeling of responsibility, at being myself elected a law maker. I have been appointed successor to Mr. George Cann, a gentleman who, by his geniality of manner and modesty of demeanour, succeeded in winning the respect of honorable members on both sides of the House. While a certain amount of feeling may have been engendered in some of the contests during the recent campaign, I had the privilege of opposing a gentleman who played the political game fair and square, and for whom I entertain; a sincere regard for the manly fight he put up. The ground already traversed by older and more experienced honorablemembers, and also by the political “ colts,” is so extensive that very little is left for a new speaker. There are, however, several matters in the Governmentprogramme on which I desire to expressmy views. I entirely disagree with the honorable member for Oxley in his condemnation of the postal vote. I must remind the honorable member, as the honorablemember for Calare has already done, that when the postal vote proposal was first before this House even the ex-Prime Minister himself had a sincere admiration for it as a “ natural corollary of a universal franchise.” After one or two trialshis opinion of the postal vote remained unaltered; but when in operation at the 1910 general election and the greatest, percentage of postal votes went to the Liberal party, it was struck out of the Electoral Act. It passes my comprehension that the Labour party should have placed in its stead an absentee vote, which gives to the unscrupulous voter, with a little time and preparation, unlimited scope for voting from early morn till late at night if he cares to face the little danger of detection. Possibly there was not a great deal of impersonation at the recent election; but the publicity given through the press during the last few months in regard to the operation of the absentee vote must have educated the public up to the opportunities presented. I do not say that the people of Australia are more dishonest electorally than are the people in any other parts of the world, but if we desire to get a proper expression of opinion at the ballot-box, opportunity for fraud should be removed. The postal vote was regarded as one of the greatest concessions won for the Australian Democracy. By its means thousands of sick men and women and old and decrepit people were able to record their votes, but now it has become almost a crime to be old and feeble. Distributed throughout the country districts there are thousands of men and women who have given the best days of their lives to the progress of their particular locality, and now, when they are approaching the allotted span of life, and time has laid its hand heavily on them, they find themselves physically incapable of travelling any long distance to vote. Yet our friends opposite, who boast that they are the champions of Democracy, deny to those people the right to say who shall represent them in the National Parliament. The Government, in my opinion, are quite right in restoring the postal vote. Their action will be indorsed by every man and woman who is desirous of seeing a proper expression of opinion by the people. Turning to other points in the Government programme, I have to say that, personally, I am absolutely opposed to preference to unionists in the Government employ. All men being taxpayers, all should have an equal right to such work. There seems to be great anxiety on the part of the Opposition to bring the rural workers within the scope of the Federal arbitration law; but I remind them that the conditions under which men work on the land are entirely different from those of men industrially employed in the cities. I firmly believe that there are conditions of country work which need improvement, and should be improved; but if I am asked whether it is possible to apply to the country the same rates of pay, hours of labour, and the conditions generally that prevail in the cities, I unhesitatingly say that it is not. The man on the land is dependent upon influences over which he has no control. He is dependent upon the elements, and there are times when it is not possible for him to comply with conditions such as exist in the various trades, where employers have their orders, know what work they have ahead, and consequently know what employment they require. That being so, we cannot apply to the man on the land the conditions that we apply to men engaged in various other industries. I have been a supporter of unionism for years, because I find that in my calling the best men are in the unions. Whilst the unions perform those duties which they originally set out to do, no reasonable men can find fault with them. Unionism has been not only the means of bettering the conditions of the men themselves, but also a protection to the employer, who ‘is paying his men a fair wage, against the unfair competition of those engaged in a system of sweating. But when we find unions becoming mere political bodies, when their funds are being used for political purposes, then a very serious objection arises in regard to such a phase of their operations. The astounding figures produced by the Attorney-General - figures proving that in New South Wales alone, out of the huge sum of £163,000 raised by the unionists, less than 20 per cent, went in actual benefits to the unionists themselves, whereas over 73 per cent, was used for managerial and “ other,” with the accent on the “other,” expenses - show that these funds are being used in a manner not altogether to the interests of the non- militant section of the unionists. I think honorable members will agree that in connexion with every union there are men who do not identify themselves with either Labour or Liberal politics. They believe in voting according to the dictates of their own consciences. That being so, from the figures that have been disclosed, it is evident that their money has been used in a direction over which they have no control. Some honorable members opposite have been good enough to admit, by their interjections, that these funds have assisted them in their campaign.
– It is quite evident, since we can expect no redress from honorable members opposite, that it is time there was formed a Committee from this side of the House to endeavour to secure for the non-militant unionists a better return for the money they are subscribing. But the question arises, Are honorable members of the Labour party adopting the best methods in the interests of the progress of this country - in the interests of the people of Australia - by creating that class feeling which has largely originated the policy of not only the Federal Labour party, but the Labour party of the several States? I consider this is introducing a condition of affairs altogether undesirable. The strong vindictive language that is frequently indulged in by some honorable members on the Opposition benches can do no good, but must be productive of a great deal of harm. Listening to some of the advocates of Labour, one would come to the conclusion that the average employer in Australia was a Simon Legree of the most pronounced type; that he was a man absolutely devoid of all consideration for his fellow men, and that, in order to satisfy his greed for gold, he was prepared to sacrifice all those principles which a man should hold dear. The average employer of labour in Australia is prepared to give his men a fair deal. Generally speaking, he has risen from the. ranks. We have not a moneyed, leisured class in Australia such as exists in other parts of the world, where estates and inheritances have been handed down from one generation to another. We may have a few such families, but they are comparatively very few. Here in Australia opportunities are waiting, and have been waiting, for all. When a man on .the very lowest rung of the ladder - the mechanic, the shearer, or a man following any other occupation - by his energy, thrift, and by the practice of self-sacrifice, comes out of the ruck and becomes an employer himself, surely he should not have pointed at him the finger of scorn as a creature to be abhorred., who must have obtained his present position by, figuratively speaking, walking over the bodies of his fellow-men. It is a laudable ambition for every man to endeavour to secure sufficient of this world’s goods so that in the winter of his life he will not be dependent upon his family or the State for his daily bread. These are the class of men we should encourage; these are the men who are going to assist Australia to realize her destiny; and honorable members opposite are ill-advised in the use of the bitter language that has been so strongly in evidence during this debate. Our Labour friends would lead us to believe that the Liberal Governments of the past have had no sympathy with the workers. They make such statements, despite the nature of the laws that we have on the statute-book to-day. It is generally admitted that, whilst in many instances, perhaps, the conditions of the workers could be better, here in Australia, as the result of Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts, the lot of the worker has .become the envy and admiration of his co-worker in other parts of the world. All these things have been made possible, not under Labour Governments, but under the administration of those whom the Labour party would lead us to believe were blind to the needs of the workers. .If the Liberal Governments of the past had treated the claims of labour as the Labour Government treated the claims of the non-unionists when they were in office, we should not have had on our statute-book to-day the democratic laws to which we can point. The record of the Labour Government during their term of office proves that, had they been in power as many years as Liberal Go- vernments have been, they would not have been as generous to their opponents as have been Liberal Governments in the days that are past. I have no desire that honorable members should think, because I am arguing in this way, that I have nosympathy with the workers. Ear from it. My colleagues from New South Wales will bear me out when I say that I have been a worker for many years. At a very early date I had to shift for myself. I come from a line of workers, and I am proud of it. But I tell the House that I have no time for the man who, in order to gratify mere personal ambition and in order to get into the public life of this country, is trying to delude the worker that the man who employs him must necessarily be his natural enemy. Such men are a menace to the common’ weal. We are all members of the same family; all endeavouring to do the best we can for ourselves, and for those dependent upon us, as well as for the country in which we live. The interests of capital and labour are indissolubly bound up together, and the sooner we recognise this the better for the advancement of this young nation. It is very gratifying to find upon the Government programme a declaration that they intend to give increased encouragement to rifle clubs. We are aware that distributed throughout Australia are bodies of men who have banded themselves together to follow their sport. We are essentially a pleasure- loving people. Many critics have decried this tendency on the part of Australiansto devote so much time to pleasure. Butwith the glorious sunshine of our land,, with all nature calling us out of doors’,. - what else could be expected 1 Rifle shooting, however, possesses one great advantage over all other sport, and that is its usefulness as a means of defence should occasion arise. Discipline, the forming of lines, and training in the variousmilitary evolutions in time of actual warfare are very necessary; but it is the man who can shoot straight that counts every time. Consequently, we should be prepared to give every reasonable encouragement to those who are devoting their spare time to an effort to perfect themselves in the art of rifle shooting. Butwhilst every man should be prepared topay for his own pleasure, I consider that, the circular sent out last year, and again this year, by the Defence Department tothe secretaries of rifle clubs is altogether- unreasonable in its demands. In this circular the Department calls for volunteers from the various rifle clubs to proceed to the different ranges, there to instruct the trainees in the use of the rifle. It also imparts the information that such services must be purely voluntary. I think that honorable members will agree with me that these clubs are composed of those who find the ordinary cost of ‘membership, combined with the expenses incidental to their sport, a quite sufficient strain upon their slender incomes. To ask these men to saddle themselves with the extra expense of journeying to different ranges in order to instruct the trainees, without even offering to pay their out-of-pocket expenses, is to demand more than they are prepared to give. As the military education of the trainees will be incomplete without this very necessary knowledge, I hope that the Minister of Defence will see his way clear to set aside a sum sufficient to reimburse the members of rifle clubs the expense to which they will be put in attending the different ranges. There is another matter relating to the rifle clubs to which I desire to refer. I allude to the closing of the Windsor rifle range. The old town of Windsor, as honorable members must be aware, is rich in historic associations. Settled on the Hawkesbury are the descendants of many of the oldest families, the grand old pioneers who have always evidenced p keen interest in the various military duties and matters appertaining to the defence of their country. This range has been in existence for forty years, but in the midst of their quarterly competition the other day, without any previous intimation, the riflemen had the range closed upon them, because it did not comply in some minute particular with the regulations in regard to the danger zone. Notwithstanding that during all these years picnic parties have been held behind the stone butts there, and no accident has occurred, this range, without any previous warning, was suddenly closed. This is altogether unfair to the members of the local rifle club. Some of our best officers have come from that district, and the officers of the Department should, in my opinion, show more discretion. If no accident has taken place in connexion with a range, the fact that it is a few yards short of the distance laid down by the regulations relating to the danger zone should not be a sufficient reason for closing it. I trust the Minister of Defence will use his influence towards reopening the range. I desire now to draw attention to the absurd disparity that exists between the duties performed by Area Officers in charge of country districts and those performed by officers in charge of city areas. This matter, I understand, was brought before the last Parliament, but since nothing has been done to remove the discontent that exists, I consider I am justified in again introducing the subject to the House. A city Area Officer can do his military work in his spare time, devoting his days to his private occupation. With him military duties are merely a hobby, taken up very often as a profitable pastime. But the country area officer must devote the whole of his time to his military duties. Many of the city Area Officers are public servants, employed in the Works, Lands, and other Departments, and do their military work in their hours of leisure. The country officer must work six days out of the seven in order to keep up with his work. Yet the remuneration of city and country Area Officers is the same - £150 per annum. In my division, there is an Area Officer who has sixty, schools, attended by members of the Junior Cadet Forces. He has to perform all the clerical work connected with the training of these youths, and it takes him a week to visit his various centres. On the other hand, many a city Area Officer has but one school to visit. Again, in the city, a trainee, on attaining the age of eighteen years, is drafted into the Citizen Forces, and the Area Officer ceases io be responsible for him. But the responsibility of the Area Officer in the country does not then cease; the trainee learns the more exacting duties of the citizen soldier from him. The young men now being educated at Duntroon for military service will, after four years’ training, be put under Area Officers, to supplant them as soon as they have mastered their duties. These military fledglings - I use the word without disrespect, because some of them will be only twenty years of age - will commence with a minimum salary of £300 per annum, with all before them. They are to supplant men possessing years of experience, and, in some cases, active service records, who get only £150 per annum, and have no future. I do not say that the work of our young officers will not be worth £300 per annum, but the present Area Officers, who are doing the pioneering work, straightening out the crooked places and making the rough places smoother for their successors, should receive at least as much. If we are to get the best returns for our expenditure on defence, we must get rid of the discontent which exists in many country districts to-day, and pay our officers in accordance with their work. I am gratified that the Government propose to introduce a measure to provide for national insurance. I hold very strong ideas about the benefits of life insurance, especially when men have undertaken the responsibilities of matrimony. A great deal of the misery and suffering of the world is caused by the undertaking of those responsibilities without making provision for wives and families in the event of the life of the breadwinner being cut short. Most men hope to live to a ripe old age, and to wrest from the goddess of fortune sufficient of this world’s goods to provide for their wives and families after they have gone; but the dread destroyer often comes before they have attained their wish, and their dependents are thrown upon a cold and often pitiless world. Any legislation which will alleviate the distress of such unfortunates is on proper lines, and in the right direction. A scheme of national insurance should do much to secure the comfort and wellbeing of those whose sad fate it is to lose their natural protector. I hope that when the matter comes before the House, honorable members on both sides will give it careful attention. Any measure for assisting the widow and the orphan should receive the hearty co-operation of all who have minds to think and hearts to feel. The ‘Northern Territory has been responsible for more political comedy than has been occasioned by any other part of Australia. I am pleased that the Government intend that those who take up land there shall be given the title deeds of their property. The last Administration asked men to engage in pioneering work in the Territory, cutting themselves off from all the the comforts of civilization, and toiling from early morn until late at night merely for leasehold tenure. After they had made the land productive, the pioneers were to be told in effect, (You have done, well, and to. show our appreciation of your successful efforts for the development and protective settlement of Australia, we propose to raise your rents.” Considering what the settlement of the Northern Territory means to Australia from a defence point of view alone, we should act generously to those who will do pioneering work there, and give them the freehold of their land. You will never get people to settle in the Territory in any number unless freehold be offered to them. It is extraordinary how much we hear about the virtues of leasehold from those on the Opposition benches, although the Opposition members, whenever they spend their own money, invariably purchase freeholds. On the public platform they talk of the glorious doctrine of leasehold, but privately they favour freehold. Their position reminds me of a story that I perpetrated on the free and enlightened electors of Nepean, which perhaps is worth repeating in this connexion. It has to do with one named Cassidy. He had been a hard drinker, and, when dying, suffered fearfully from thirst. He appealed to the doctor, the matron, and the nurse for just one nip of Irish whisky, but it was refused to him. The sands of life were running low, and they sent for Dinny Murphy, his boon companion. Murphy was president of a temperance union. He came, and sat at the bedside. “ Cassidy,” he said, “ its sorry I am to see a strapping man like you. brought to this pass by the cursed drinkWhen I think of the fine man you were,, with your brawny arms, able to do a day’swork with any other in the district, and see what a hold that enemy of mankind, the cursed liquor, has of you, my veryheart weeps. Is there anything I can dofor you before the last call comes ? “ No,”” said Cassidy, “ only keep on talking. Your breath is like a whiff of heaven.” Our friends on the Opposition benches talk about the glorious principles of leasehold, but their breath is laden with theperfume of freehold. The honorable member for New England has commentedon the great waste of time in this Chamber, and, as a business man, I indorse his remarks. To me, it seems criminal’ that the time of the country should bewasted as it has been.
– The honorable member must not say that.
– I apologize. Thereis another matter to which I wish to refer;.
On Friday last, the new members of the House were given an object lesson in political tactics by members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie was criticising the AttorneyGeneral for holding a general retainer from the Marconi Company. To an unbiased mind, nothing could have been clearer or more convincing than the manly straightforward explanation of the’ AttorneyGeneral. In my opinion, there is no analogy between his position and that which Mr. Justice Isaacs occupied. But when the honorable member for Kalgoorlie made his charge, his impetuosity of utterance, the seemingly condemnatory extracts which he read from Hansard, with the running commentary which accompanied them, cast a peculiar spell over me. One can understand the effect of his oratory on the impressionable mind of a new member as he crouched at the table like Shylock, explaining the purport of the bond, the chamber ringing with the fierceness of his denunciation. But when the honorable member for Werriwa, with those Sherlock Holmes instincts which have become characteristic of him, whether in pursuit of some detail of bacteriological reseach such as the germ of vaccinia, or the microbe of tuberculosis of the epigastrium - when he rose and revealed to the House that on the previous occasion the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, like the proverbial sheep, had opened not his mouth, but had actually voted in support of Mr. Isaacs’ position, the spell was broken, and shades of Kean, Macready, Irving, and all the histrionic giants of the past flitted before my mental vision, and I realized that, had the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, instead of entering the political arena, taken to the stage as a profession, he would have been the greatest Roman of them all. It seems to me honorable members opposite are prepared to condemn as a vice in the Liberal Government what they are ready to hail as a virtue under their own administration. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie had nothing to condemn in the position occupied by the honorable member for West Sydney when he was Attorney-General, and at the same time President of tSe Waterside Workers’ Association. There was a position utterly untenable to one who realized that his duty to the com.munity must come into conflict’ with his position as president of a union whose members were violating the law. But we have no record of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie or his colleagues rising in their wrath and condemning in scathing tones the then Attorney-General for occupying these dual offices. It shows that where the administration of their own party was concerned, they were prepared to swallow twenty camels, but where the administration of the Liberal party is in question they will strain at the infinitesimal section of a gnat. The exPrime Minister considers that the programme of the present Government is only beating time. But the people of Australia are not so much concerned about the number of Bills passed ; they are more concerned about the quality of the measures; and it is well that we should beat time, and that the country should have a few bars rest, in order to try to put into a workable condition some of the measures rushed through by the last Administration. Despite all the things said on the Opposition benches, we shall have an opportunity when we come back from the country to justify our position by the legislation we place on the statute-book. No doubt, Australia has a great and glorious destiny, but she will never realize it under class legislation. She will realize it only by legislation which conserves the interests of every man, woman, and child in the community, giving preference to none, but opportunities to all. If we legislate along those lines, there will be no fear for the future of Australia, and we shall hand down to our children a heritage of which they may be proud. If we are true to our great progenitors, true to the great traditions of the Englishspeaking people, we shall build up in this glorious land of ours a Greater Britain, a free, white, and united nation, famous for the liberty and justice of its laws and the contentment and prosperity of its people.
.- One would think, after listening to the oration of the honorable member, that the late Government did right in giving preference to unionists, because the honorable member said that, as an employer of labour, he had always employed unionists. He recognised, as an employer, that he got better work from unionists, but if it is right for the private employer to have the best article, is it not equally right for the Government to have that article? We have heard a great deal from members on the Government side of the House about misstatements and abuse from members of the Opposition, but I would carry the minds of honorable members back to the last election, and ask whether they did not read the statements and hear the utterances of their own party from different political platforms in abuse of the Labour party. The Liberals had organizers out in- every district. They had about twelve in my district, and I was represented to be everything under the sun, and to have had every known religion as the misrepresentation happened to suit them in particular localities.
– We have all experienced that.
– Unfortunately, the Labour party experienced it more than honorable members on the other side. The Prime Minister says that he is amazed that the late Ministry threw up the sponge and then came along and moved a motion of want of confidence in the Government before it was warm in office. But the Government have not a working majority. The leader of the Liberal party in New South Wales, and, in fact, in Australia, is Gregory Wade.
– They have admitted it.
– That gentleman did more for the Liberal party than any other mau.
– New South Wales is not Australia.
– New South Wales supplied the majority for honorable members. Had it not been for New South Wales they would not have been in power. When Mr. McGowen took office in New South Wales with a majority of two, and with seven independents who had not declared themselves, Mr. Wade, as Leader of the Opposition in New South Wales, immediately moved a motion of censure, and in less than three years thirteen censure motions have been moved in the New South Wales Parliament, each of which has been defeated by a large majority. I claim that if the Liberals can move censure motions, it is equally right that the party to which I belong should have the same privilege. We are moving this motion simply because the Government are going to try to bring about an alteration of the legislation passed by the
Labour Government, though all that legislation has been placed on the statutebook in the interests of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister says that we are bad losers, but we have not growled about having lost. Many of our fellows have taken their beatings in a really good spirit, and we have not heard the abuse that we heard during the recent campaign and a little after the elections, when we were told that defeated members of the Liberal party went down because there had been duplicate voting. The honorable member for Oxley has pointed out that it was stated in the whole of the States of Australia that_one and a half votes had been recorded in Oxley for every vote on the roll. The lie direct has been given to that canard. That it was absolutely untrue has been shown repeatedly.
– Order I
– I am not saying that any one in the House said it. The statement was made largely in the press.
– And cabled to London.
– There is a gentleman who at some distant date, I suppose, expects to be a candidate for Parliament - Mr. Olive Teece - who made a great deal of this statement, and wrote letters under his name to the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald. While the honorable member for Oxley was speaking this afternoon there was an interjection from the Ministerial bench that the oldage pensions were introduced by the Liberal party, but the Age of the 26th June, 1908, says -
It is certain that neither the Old-age Pensions Act nor the Postal Commission on postal reforms would have been passed last session had it not been for the insistence of the Labour party.
With the exception of a few members who have gone over to them, the occupants of the Ministerial bench to-day were not the party in office at the time the Old-age Pensions Act was passed in this Parliament. It was the Deakin Ministry that was in office at the time.
– And they had to be prodded.
– The party that passed the Old-age Pensions Act in New South Wales was not the Liberal party we know to-day; it was the party led by Sir William Lyne, and the very men who occupy seats on the Ministerial side of this House to-day are the men who were in opposition to that proposition. All along the line, when the Labour party in Australia first advocated old-age pensions, the press said that it was all moonshine, that it was an absurdity, and was not within the realm of practical politics, but to-day we find that it is not only in the realm of practical politics, but has been placed on the statute-book, thanks to the agitation of the Labour party. I support the want of confidence motion because I am opposed to retrogression, and I am opposed to the proposals contained in the Prime Minister’s manifesto. We are told that the Government are going to interfere with the maternity allowance and with old-age pensions, and we know that on the Government side are men who have always been opposed to the latter. The honorable member for Ballarat has pointed out that the Attorney-General, when Premier of Victoria, reduced the old-age pensions and made it harder for the aged people to secure them.
– He would not allow a justice of the peace to hear the applications.
– Quite so. I know something of the Old-age Pensions Acts of the various States, and I regard the system under the Commonwealth as much better than any of them, and, thanks to the Labour Government, it has been still further improved.
– The pensioners are receiving less a fortnight than they did previously.
– Under the Victorian system, pensioners received 7s. a week, and many of them only 2s. 6d. a week, their offspring being compelled to forego some of their wages in order to make the amount up to the statutory figure. Nothing like that is to be found under the system of the Commonwealth, and no pensioner receives less than 10s. a week. I know, of course, that the honorable member for Calare is referring to the increased cost of living; and during the recent campaign we had Liberal candidates and supporters telling the people all over the country that this increase is due to the Labour party. Senator Millen, at Kiama, said that the increased cost is due to the land tax, while others in my electorate and elsewhere declared that it is owing to the Labour party’s industrial legislation - that the increased wages had brought about higher prices. We have gentlemen opposite who declare that they are Protectionists of the first water, and that they are here to obtain the highest Protection that can possibly be imposed. These, I may say, are representatives of the State of Victoria, but there are others amongst the Government supporters who declare for out-and-out Free Trade. Mr. Wade, who did the greatest portion of the Liberal campaign work in New South Wales, in a speech at Manly, said that the increased cost of living was due to the Tariff barriers, and he advised the people that if they would remove those barriers the cost would be decreased. What stand will the Age take in regard to a statement of this kind? The party opposite is composed of Free Traders, Single Taxers. Protectionists, and some who really do not know what they are - fiscal atheists. The reason of the defeat of the Labour party at the last election is to be found in press misrepresentation. The people were told through the press that if the Labour party remained in power all their shops and small businesses would be nationalized, and we find newspapers like the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald resorting to such arguments. The Liberal party in New South Wales, however, were not sincere in supporting their Protectionist friends, and always preferred Free Trade candidates. Mr. Huie, the secretary of the Free Trade and Land Taxation League - to which, by the way, the honorable member for Werriwa belongs - who was running as a candidate, said at Windsor, in April, 1910 -
Mr. Huie said that he was asked some twelve months ago to stand for the Senate, but he did not do so because he thought that it might not be in the interests of Free-trade. Then his friends wanted him to stand for-, the House of Representatives, but he made up his mind not to do so unless both parlies put up Protectionists for some electorate. Such a position has arisen in the Nepean. Mr. W. E. Johnson. M.P., the Liberal Whip, told him that he would be perfectly justified in standing under such circumstances. It was said by some that he would be splitting the vote. That was not a fact. He was the only Free-trader in the field. ‘The votesplitting was on the other side. The Nepean was a Free-trade electorate. He quoted the declaration of Sir Henry Parkes - that Freetraders could not sink their Free-trade principles without sinking their manhood. He asked them to uphold their Free-trade principles and maintain their manhood, and they would win easily.
Here we have this gentleman telling the people that he had the indorsement of the Liberal Whip as a Free Trade candidate. The Government cannot be sincere in their desire to introduce a Protectionist policy. The moment they do so, a large number of their supporters, who represent New South Wales constituencies, will have to vote against them or “ get out.” The Prime Minister has told us that he believes in unionism, but that he will not grant preference to unionists who are members of political unions. I remind the honorable gentleman that it was a trade union movement in New South Wales that first gave him political life. He was secretary of the Coal Miners Union at Lithgow at that time, and he and I, as miners, both took part in the maritime strike. During the course of that contest we were told by leading Liberal politicians, and by the daily press of Australia, that if we were to get redress the only way was to take political action. How are trade unionists to take political action if they are not allowed to spend their funds with that object? Labour candidates are invariably selected from the ranks of labour, and they cannot be expected to finance themselves. How, under the circumstances, can political action be taken without calling upon the members to subscribe ? The Attorney-General the other night referred to some £130,000 collected annually by trade unionists in New South Wales. He quoted from a return he held in his hand, showing that some £28,000 of this had been spent in benefits for members who were connected with the unions, while £70,000 had gone in managerial or office and other expenses. I represent an industrial centre, in which there is a union embracing 2,500 members; and last year this union collected £2,000 by way of subscriptions. I should like to point out that £700 odd, or nearly one-third of the amount collected, was devoted to paying members of the Attorney-General’s profession for appearing for the union before wages tribunals of the State during the twelve months, as against £62 10s. devoted to political organization. The various unions in the State of New South Wales have invariably to go before wages tribunals to get awards; and, to do this, and in order to see that the awards are maintained, the services of legal gentlemen have to be availed of, with the result that more than half the money subscribed goes in professional fees and witnesses’ expenses. The Prime Minister, the other night, told us that the American Federation of Labour represented by Mr. Gompers, had gone to Mr. Roosevelt, when President, and asked for preference to unionists in Government employment. From this it might be inferred that Mr. Gompers was a member of the Labour party, but, as a matter of fact, that gentleman has never at any time been connected with the Labour movement in the United States. At one election we find Mr. Gompers on the platform for the Republican party, and swaying his 2,000,000 members in its favour, and at the next election, we find him supporting a Democratic candidate, whom he urges his followers to support. Eugene Debs ran as a Socialist candidate for Congress and solicited Labour support; but always Mr. Gompers has been found opposed to him and the party he represents. There is no doubt that the quotation was made by the Prime Minister with the sole object of damaging the Labour movement in Australia by showing that in America the Labour unions had tried to get preference to unionists. The honorable gentleman also told us that in England men like Fenwick, MacDonald, and Burt, had been sent into the British Parliament as Liberals. We have to remember, however, that when these gentlemen were sent to the House of Commons there was no Labour party in existence, and that they belonged to the Radical wing of the Liberal party. Members of that Radical wing used to attend the great aggregate annual meetings of miners in Durham, Northumberland, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, and assist them in their organizing work. If the Prime Minister and his supporters are as sincere as they would have us believe in regard to unionism, I should like to know how much they have done since they entered Parliament in organizing the unorganized workers of this or any other State in the Commonwealth. If their hearts burn for the workers, why have they not done something to organize the sweated workers of this country?
– What about Mr. Wade’s Wages Boards ?
– I shall tell the honorable member something about Wade’s Wages Boards. Mr. Wade is claimed as til’s father of the industrial system in
New South Wales. When the last Industrial Bill was brought forward in the State Parliament, there were demands that it should embrace all workers within its scope. We have heard it said by representatives of farming districts that there is scope enough in the State Acts to meet the case of the rural worker. The honorable member for Wannon, and others who are farming representatives, have declared they have no objection to the rural workers going to the State Courts to have their grievances remedied.
– In Victoria the Government would not give them a State Court.
– When Mr. Beeby was Minister for Labour in the McGowen Government, he caused to be inserted in the schedule to the Industrial Disputes Bill a clause bringing rural workers within its scope. The Liberal party in the New South Wales Parliament, however, opposed that provi»ion, and when the Bill went to the Legislative Council - the great citadel of the Liberal party - the clause was struck out. If honorable members opposite are sincere in their professions of goodwill towards unionism, they should exercise their influence with their Liberal friends in the Legislative Councils of the States. If they believe, as they say, that the States ought to make provision for the rural workers to secure a Wages Board, why do they not urge the State Parliaments to establish such tribunals?
– If it is said-
– I take no notice of the small fry. If the Liberal party put up one of their big guns against me, I will reply.
– A pop-gun is good enough for the honorable member.
– The honorable member is not even a pop-gun ; he is only a political squib.
– Order ! The honorable member must not use that expression.
– The argument that has been trotted out during the present debate against the rural workers being allowed to go to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court - the argument that legislation cannot be framed to meet their case without inflicting injustice on the farmers - was used in Great Britain in 1830, when Lord Shaftesbury was endeavouring to secure the passing of factory legislation dealing with the question of child labour.
It was said that if that legislation were passed it would . spell ruin to the factories of Great Britain. It was, however, eventually passed, and, instead of the industries of Great Britain being ruined, they have increased by leaps and bounds. We heard the same cry in the early days of our factory legislation in the State Parliaments. When the Labour party first proposed factory legislation and measures to provide for early closing and the creation of Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts, they were told by our opponents that such legislation would bring ruin upon the country. I admire the honorable member for Werriwa because he is a straight-out opponent, and tells us that he is against all legislation of the kind to which I am referring. He has also told us that he believes in the right of a man to refuse to work. When an honorable member tells us straight out that he is our opponent, we can fight him fairly, knowing that he, too, will fight fairly in return. After stating that he believed in the right of men to refuse to work - to strike if they so desired - the honorable member proceeded to state that only 20 per cent, of the workers were organized; so that when he said that he believed in the right of men to strike, what he meant was that, in the event of the 20 per cent, of organized workers going out on strike, the remaining 80 per cent, of unorganized workers could be utilized to defeat them. But the time will come when we shall have, not 20 per cent., but 80 per cent, or 90 per cent, of the workers organized.
– By way of personal explanation
– The honorable member is not entitled to make a personal explanation at this stage. He may do so at the conclusion of the honorable member’s address.
– I do not think that I have misquoted the honorable member.
– The honorable member has done so.
– The honorable member said that only 20 per cent, of the workers were in the unions.
– I did not mention the percentage.
– The honorable member said that there were over 400,000 workers, and that of that number only a very small percentage were connected with the unions. He mentioned that about 20 per cent, were organized.
– Most of those to whom the honorable member for Werriwa referred, in speaking of the number of workers in Australia, are children.
– Quite so. The day will come, however, and it is not far distant, when we shall have at least 80 per cent, or 90 per cent, of the workers organized. When the workers come to realize their own strength, and to recognise the benefits that must accrue from organization, we shall not have any difficulty in getting whatever we want. Honorable members opposite know that is so, and for that reason they are opposed Ho preference to unionists - and indeed are up against unionism generally. We have heard some of them say that they believe in legitimate trade unionism. When I first joined a union, nearly thirty years ago, the unions did not take any part in politics, but organizers who visited the sheep stations, the mines, and other works were ordered off, and any employe who accepted a position in a union was immediately dismissed.
– Or black-balled.
– Or black-balled. In the Newcastle and Illawarra districts, in the early days, a man who took a prominent part in a union was discharged from the mine at which he was employed. When he went to another mine and, giving his name, asked for employment, he was immediately told, “ There is no work here for you. You were an agitator in the mine where you last worked.” Many men who were treated in this way had to leave the district, and sought work elsewhere, only to meet with the same reception. It is not long since a strike took place in connexion with the Outtrim and Jumbunna Coal Mine, in this State, and a gentleman who as secretary of the local union led that strike - I refer to Mr. Wilson, who is now a member of the State Parliament of Western Australia - was victimized and told that there was no more work for him in the Outtrim and Jumbunna district. That was in 1902 or 1903, and when Mr. Wilson went to Western Australia and obtained work on one of the mines, he was quickly told that he was not wanted there. The manager of the mine at which he secured work actually produced to him his own photopraph, which had been sent over to Western Australia in order that he might be identified by the employers. The miners, however, came to his help, and elected him their check weighman. He was also ma.de the general secretary of their union, and he occupies to-day a seat in the Legislative Assembly of Western’ Australia. Many instances of the kind might readily be given. Let me come now to a more recent happening. Why did the Brisbane tramway men go on strike T There was a Wages Board system in operation in Queensland, and the Brisbane tramway employes, in order that they might take advantage of it, desired to organize themselves into a union. A gentleman named Badger, who was manager of the company-
– A gentleman, did the honorable member say?
– Well, a man named Badger, who was manager of the company, objected to the formation of the union, and every employe who took part in its formation, or accepted office in it, was immediately discharged. This went on for a number of months until independent men connected with other organizations formed the tramway employes into a union. Then Mr. Badger insisted that no tramway man should wear a union badge while on duty. The men cited a case before the Queensland Wages Board, but were denied the right to go before the Court. They then applied for registration under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and their appli cation was opposed, not only “by the Brisbane Tramway Company, but by Mr. Denham, the Premier of Queensland, who had briefed counsel to assist Badger in fighting them. And these are the men who tell us to-day that they believe in trade unionism ! The Brisbane tramway men at this time were not taking any political action. Politics were not within their realm. But they were told by Badger that they should not form themselves into a union. I am a believer in the settlement of industrial disputes by peaceful methods. These men had sought to avail themselves of the State Wages Board system, but could not get before the Court, and when they endeavoured to obtain registration under the Federal Act, they had to fight not only Mr. Badger, but counsel briefed by the Premier of Queensland. I know something of the facts, because, when these men first attempted to organize, I was resident in
Queensland. I am familiar with the difficulty which unionists in that State had in getting before the Wages Boards. I was secretary of a ButchersUnion, which, for over twelve months, endeavoured to cite a case, but was refused the opportunity to do so. The only course left open to the tramway men was to strike. They did so, and all the other unions in Brisbane, in order to assist them, decided to “ down tools,” and go out on strike with them. Nothing serious happened during that strike. The daily newspapers reported that the men were marching up and down the public streets, and that the State was on the verge of a revolution. The march, however, was a peaceful one. It was not that of an army with guns, bayonets, or swords, yet the Queensland Government, through Mr. Denham, applied to the Prime Minister to despatch troops to Brisbane, and members of the Liberal party in this House, including the present Prime Minister, protested against the refusal of the Prime Minister to comply with that request.
– Not only honorable members of the Liberal party, but the newspapers of Australia protested against the stand taken by the present Leader of the Opposition, and urged that the Commonwealth Government was disloyal because it would not supply troops to shoot down harmless men, women, and children.
– He moved a vote of censure on us.
– Yes, for not carrying out the instructions of Mr. Denham. These facts show that if the employers of the country could have their way, they would resort to the old tactics. Were it not for the strength of the Australian Workers Union, honorable members opposite who represent pastoral constituencies, would not pretend to be so friendly to unionism, and to that union in particular. It is because of the strength of the Australian Workers’ Union that they knuckle down to it, and have to pretend that they have the greatest sympathy with trade unionism.
– Is compulsion the honorable member’s method?
– I have never compelled a man to join a union. Any one who has to be compelled to join a union is hardly worth having as a union member. We have heard a great deal from honorable members opposite in favour of Wages Boards; but in 1902, when the railway men of Victoria approached the State Ministry, of which the present Commonwealth Attorney-General was the head, asking for a Wages Board for the rectification of their wrongs, their request was denied; and because as a protest they decided to strike, the Ministry of the day passed a measure disfranchising them by giving them separate representation.
– Those statements are as accurate as most made from the other side.
– Did not the honorable member pass a Coercion Act to force these men back to work? It was the first Act of the kind passed in Australia, and was afterwards withdrawn because the Labour party forced its withdrawal. We have heard a great deal from honorable members opposite about the iniquity of abolishing the postal vote, but I know how the postal vote provisions have been used in Queensland. In 1907 I went to Charters Towers to organize the Associated Workers Union. At that time the Electoral Act of the State provided for postal voting. There was an election in 1907, and in a double constituency for which fewer than 10,000 electors were on the roll, 1,600 postal votes were recorded. On that occasion the Labour candidates were defeated. In February, 1908, there was another election, and although the names on the roll numbered a little over 9,000, 2,730 postal votes were applied for; that is, nearly one- third of the electors enrolled applied for postal votes.
– Did they get them ?
– Yes; but, notwithstanding, we were able to defeat our opponents by over 400 votes.
– They reckoned that they had a majority of 900 in postal votes on the morning of the election.
– In 1907, before the postal votes had been counted, the organizing secretary of the Liberal party marched up and down Charters Towers, offering to bet £5 to £1 - the Labour party was at the time leading by 300 votes - that the Liberal party would win by over 200 votes; and at the final declaration of the poll it was found that the Liberals had a majority only a few short of 200 votes. How would it be possible, under a fair system of voting, for that to be known in advance. At that election twenty justices of the peace, accompanying as many canvassers, were getting from £3 to £4 per week for collecting votes. In the latter part of 1907 the Kidston Government was defeated, and the Philp Government succeeded. On the Governor dissolving Parliament, the Philp Government appointed twenty additional justices of the peace for the Charters Towers electoral district alone.
– Three hundred altogether.
– Every one of these twenty justices of the peace was a Liberal. They were employed to collect postal votes. Most of them were mine managers. They went to the houses of the men working in the mines, and said to the wives, “ We have called to get you to make application for a postal vote.” If a woman said “ I do not wish to vote by post, because I am well enough to go to the poll,” they replied, “You do not know how you will be on election day. The, best thing is to apply for a postal vote now.” If she signed the application, they took it away, and brought back a postal ballot-paper, getting her to fill it up for their candidate. Every ballot-paper so collected was posted from their offices to the Returning Officer, and after the election it was found that 130 out of 2,700 odd postal votes were missing. Where did they go? They were votes for the Labour candidate, and were destroyed. The Democratic party all over the world has been fighting for the secrecy of the ballot, and it can be secured only by requiring electors to vote in the polling booths. I have every sympathy for those who are unable to go to the poll, and if any provision could be made to enable them to vote without destroying the secrecy of the ballot, I would agree to it; but I am not willing to allow any justice of the peace, Labour or Liberal, to collect postal votes under coercion. It is a singular thing that after the elections of 1907 and 1908, over 1,000 men were discharged from the Charters Towers mines because their wives had the courage to refuse to make application for postal votes. The husbands of those who did that were invariably marked men. None of the men at Charters Towers were allowed to join a union, and any one seen speaking to me was a marked man. From the advent of the first Labour party in Queensland, in 1893, when Charters Towers elected a Labour man, until the present day, no man has dared to join a union or call his soul his own in Charters Towers.
– They are all alive, still, I suppose.
– Had the honorable member had’ his way in 1890, many of them would now be dead. I was in a strike at a time when he asked that the men should be shot down like dogs.
– There is a little word of four letters that if the honorable member will come outside I will apply to him.
– The honorable member’s statement is deliberately incorrect.
– If it is incorrect, the. newspapers have misreported the honorable member for Parkes.
– He was never reported to have made that statement.
– The utterance isworthy of the Mr. Willis of earlier notoriety in New South Wales politics.
– If I have wronged the honorable member, I am sorry for it. Time and again he has been reported ashaving made that statement, but if he did not make it, I withdraw what I have said.
– There are many fairy tales current about me to which I do not pay the compliment of a contradiction.
– The year before last the honorable member voted against usbecause we would not shoot down thepeople of Queensland.
– We are told by our friends that they are great supporters of freehold against leasehold, and that the only way to settle the Northern Territory is to make the land tenure freehold ; but I ask these great supporters of freehold why they, as landholders, do not give their tenants the right of freehold ? In my electorate there is a large number of dairyfarmers, who have to pay for the right totill the soil from 15s. to £2 10s. per acre per annum for their land, and the onlytenure they have is a five years’ tenure. At the expiration of that time a freshlease has to be drawn up, and there is a clause in their agreements that all improvements made by them revert to theowners without compensation. In the Kangaroo Valley there is some of the bestland in Australia, and the farmers there have to pay to the landholders. £2 to- £2 10s. per acre per. year. The same thing obtains all over Australia. It is said that there are 24,000 tenant farmers in New South Wales. If honorable gentlemen are sincere in their arguments, and believe in freehold, why do they not give the tenant farmers the right to freehold ? If it is right for the State to grant freehold to its tenants, it is equally right that the Liberals, or landholders of this country, should grant the freehold to the men tilling the soil to-day. We have heard a great deal about election irregularities, and we have been told that duplicate voting took place all over Australia, in every electorate. At the declaration of the poll in my electorate my opponent, to my surprise, referring to the conduct of the election, said -
Irregularities of the grossest description have occurred throughout this constituency. Not far away from here a ballot-box was burst open, and the papers distributed all over the floor, being collected without care, and thrust back again into the box. In another booth a kerosene case was used instead of a ballot-box. Luckily for the people of Australia, the Government under which these things are possible has been put an end to, and we have men now in power who will have the fullest inquiry made into these and other irregularities that have occurred, notably, in Western Australia. Mr. Cook, the Prime Minister, is in charge of Home Affairs, -the Department that deals with matters of this description, and I am sure he will order the most careful inquiries to be made, and try to find out whether the election has been conducted in a pure and honorable manner.
I said to the Returning Officer at the time, “ This is a very grave charge that is levelled against you ; is there any truth in the statement that Mr. Fuller has made?” The Returning Officer, Mr. Prott, and his deputy, Mr. Cupitt, both said there was no truth in such a statement. These gentlemen have both been opposed to the Labour party for many years ; but I have contested a good many elections in various parts of Australia, and I have not found two gentlemen acting as Returning Officers of the ability and capacity of those two officials. They were both as fair as could be found anywhere in Australia.
– I know that Mr. Prott is a very good man.
– Yes, and Cupitt is equally good. The Chief Electoral Offices of New South Wales told me that he is one of the most competent men to be found in the State. I do not know where the incident of the burst ballot-box bad occurred. When Mr. Fuller made the statement he did not mention the locality, but Mr. Prott and Mr. Cupitt told me afterwards that it was supposed to have taken place at Corrimal, a few miles away from Wollongong. My scrutineers made an affidavit to the effect that the box was so full of ballot-papers that they could not get more papers into it, and when the presiding officer tried to jam them in with a stick the scrutineer for my opponent said he would fix it. He took the box and dashed it on the asphalt, and then brought it in; but when the presiding officer took hold of the box it fell to pieces. Smashing it on the asphalt caused the box to burst, and it was no fault of the presiding officer or of my scrutineer.
– Did he take the box outside ?
– I do not know whether the floor of the school was asphalted or not. As to the kerosene box incident, my scrutineer at Carlton informed me that there was a bigger rush at the booth at Carlton than was anticipated, and the ballot-box would not hold all the papers, so that they brought into requisition a kerosene case. This was .sealed by the presiding officer and locked in the presence of both scrutineers, who were agreeable that it should be used.
– All the more credit to the presiding officer.
– Statements have been made exonerating the presiding officer at Carlton from blame. I consider that people ought to be sure of their grounds before making these statements. They ought not to rush in after an election and make charges of. this character, because the charges were made in this case against men who had been lifelong friends of Mr. Fuller. I was sorry for the gentlemen to whom these things were imputed, because they had had the duty of appointing presiding officers from one end of the electorate to the other. I have no fault to find with those gentlemen, though they were opponents of mine. I hope, however, that the Home Affairs Office will take notice of one matter: There were officers who were not incompetent on account of political bias, but because they were deaf. When voters went in to record their votes, some officers could not hear what they said, and the result was that many people who went in to record absent votes were considerably delayed, and a large number of people went away in disgust without recording their votes. We should appoint men who are alert, and not incompetent people of that character. We have heard a great deal during this debate about the financial stability of the country and the tightness of the money market. We are told that the Labour party are responsible for the tightness of the British money market, and that it is impossible for the State Governments to go to the money markets of the world, and under good conditions.
– Not the British money market, but the local money market.
– The Governments of Australia have invariably gone to the British money market for money they desire to borrow. Mr. Watt, Premier of Victoria, who has just returned from the Old Country, speaking about the credit of Australia, says -
In England the recrudescence of the Balkans trouble had seriously affected the London money market. There was nothing from the advices which had come to him almost daily since he left London to lead him to believe that, the London money market was shut against Australia.
We heard during, the election that it was utterly-impossible for any Australian Government to go to the London market and borrow money on the terms that were secured before the Labour party came into power, and we heard a great deal during the recent campaign about the high cost of living in this country being due to the Labour party’s rule in Australia. But all over the world there has been an increase in the cost of living. The increase has been 33 per cent, in America from 1890 to the present time, and in Great Britain, while wages have risen in a few trades by 14 per cent., the cost of living has gone up in the same period by 17 per cent., so that the workers who received an increase of 14 per cent, in their wages are 3 per cent, worse off than before. In Germany and every Continental country we find an increase in the cost of living of from 15 to 17 per cent. There are no Labour parties in these countries; there is no Labour party in America, and in England there are only forty-two Labour members in the House of Commons. In Japan and in China, and in every country of the world, the cost of living is on the increase, and there are no Labour parties responsible for it. It is claimed that the higher wages paid have increased the cost of living. I was living in Tasmania for seven and a half years. If low wages mean cheap living, we ought to have found in Tasmania conditions much better than in other places, but when the honorable member for Bass and Senator Long and I entered the Tasmanian Parliament, in 1903, we started to investigate the conditions under which the men, women, and children of Tasmania had to work, and we found those conditions of the most deplorable character. We found men working in Hobart receiving less than 30s. a week, and boot clickers and others working in the boot factories of Tasmania receiving 27s. 6d. a week. We found that bakers in the bread factories of Hobart were receiving the magnificent wage of 35s. and 36s. a week for a day of ten, twelve, and, in some cases, fourteen hours. Under such conditions it might naturally be assumed from the argument of our Liberal friends that cheap living would have been found, and that beef, boots, bread, and other commodities would have cost less than on the mainland. As a matter of fact, however, at that time the price of the 2 -lb. loaf was 2½d. in Hobart, and it was the same in Sydney and Melbourne, where bakers were being paid £2 10s. a week. The argument of our friends opposite that low wages mean cheap living is altogether fallacious. When Senator Long and myself brought the subject up in the Tasmanian Parliament we were told by the members of the then State Government that we were exaggerating; and in order to prove the truth of our statements Senator Long, on a motion, secured the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into conditions and wages in Hobart and Launceston. That Commission consisted of Mr. O’Reilly, who had been a Police Magistrate; Mr. Payne, a member of the Liberal party, and Treasurer in the Tasmanian Government, together with Senator Long. The inquiry was an exhaustive one; but when Mr. O’Reilly moved in the House that the report should be adopted and printed, the Premier moved, as an amendment, that, while the report be printed, the names therein contained should be deleted. Thus it came about that when the report was published, not a name of any one, whether employer or employed, who had given evidence, appeared, each witness being represented by a number from number one upwards. So glaring and damaging were the statements in the evidence, that the Government were ashamed to allow the report to go forth to the public with the names attached, so that it was not known who were the employers who employed people under such conditions. In the face of all this we are told that the Liberals favour trade unionism. What has the honorable member for Wilmot ever done in the way of organizing the workers of Tasmania, or in alleviating their deplorable conditions? It is only within the last few years that, by the efforts of the Labour party in the State - by their going out on the soap-box, the kerosene-box, or any other “ stump,” to preach the doctrine of Democracy - that the workers have been able to get some redress.
– Who gave the workers the Wages Boards?
– It was the Labour party who educated public opinion on that question, and forced the hand of the representatives in Parliament. When the Propsting Ministry was in power in Tasmania in 1903, Mr. Nichols, the then Attorney-General, who is now a Judge, introduced an Arbitration Bill. There were then four Labour members in the Tasmanian Parliament, and they, together with five supporters of the Ministry, made only nine in support of the Bill; and yet the honorable member for Wilmot suggests that it was the Liberal party who gave to the workers of Tasmania a Wages Board system. At the next State election, however, the Labour party succeeded in increasing their number to seven, and, at a still later election, to fourteen. It was those fourteen men who went throughout the country, and, having made the idea of the Wages Board popular with the people, forced the hand of the Liberal party.
– One of the honorable member’s colleagues said yesterday that he was against Wages Boards.
– We have no particular love for them.
– I say that the arbitration system is preferable to the Wages Board system; at any rate, the workers of New South Wales have gained more by the former than by the latter.
– Impartial inquiries do not bear out the honorable member.
– When we cannot get arbitration of the character we desire, we are prepared to accept Wages Boards for the time being. There has been no Labour legislation in Tasmania; and, in view of the arguments of honorable members opposite, one would expect to find that State the most prosperous in the Commonwealth. The fact is, however, that Tasmania has a population of only some 180,000, and, according to the statistics, something like 33,000 native-born Tasmanians live beyond the State - a, greater percentage than can be shown in the case of any other part of Australia. This state of things is wholly and solely due to the bad legislation of the Tory, or so-called Liberal, rule we have heard so much about. A country will prosper and make progress only when its people have all they desire, and when the people have the power to make their own conditions.
– Tasmania got rid of the honorable member.
– It did not; I left Tasmania.
– The honorable member was defeated for the State Parliament.
– I was not defeated, but resigned, in order to contest a Federal seat; and I obtained a position in North Queensland, to organize the Labour party there. I may tell the honorable member, if it is news to him, that on the occasion of the 1910 elections I had letters from people in Tasmania, asking me to go back and contest the Senate seat, and the same thing took place this year.
– It is a good job for the honorable member that he did not accept the offer.
– It would not be a good job for the honorable member if I contested Wilmot.
– The honorable member may do so whenever he likes.
– I have beaten a more popular man than the honorable member - one of the most popular men who ever occupied a seat in this chamber, and it was only owing to his popularity that my majority was so small. I should now like to say a word or two on the small-pox scare, and to enter my protest against the quarantining of Sydney, and a radius of 15 miles, under present conditions. The whole thing is a farce - an absolute farce. Any person within the quarantine area, who is desirous of coming to Melbourne, has only to take a ticket to an intermediate station, and, after lolling about there for a few days, buy another ticket to insure getting over the border. It is very questionable whether the prevailing disease is small-pox - there is difference of opinion. I admit that I am not an authority; but I think that, if better sanitary arrangements were insisted upon in Sydney, it would be much more creditable to those concerned than the present quarantine. In this morning’s Age we find the following -
Shocking Conditions Revealed
Professor R. F. Irvine, of Sydney University, who was appointed a Royal Commission to inquire into the question of the housing of workmen, has presented his report to Parliament. This discloses a shocking state of affairs.
The report states that many areas in Redfern, Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo, &c, are greatly overhoused. One block in Redfern, comprising three-quarters of an acre, has 37 houses, an average of nearly 50 per acre. In these places the housing conditions are as bad as they can be. “ Our worst residential areas - Redfern, Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo, Waterloo, &c- “ he says, “ have all very similar characteristics. The land is usually divided into very small allotments. Frontages of 12 feet are quite common, and the greater part of the site is built upon. Front doors open on the street, the back yards are of the smallest. Yards 6 feet by 12 feet and less are common. These infinitesimal yards are also encumbered by privies, many of wood, often in a bad state of repair. Not only is there much defective housing, but there is in Sydney at present a great deal of overcrowding. “ One three-story building in Surry Hills was found to contain seven families, and several of these had only one room in which they cooked, ate, and slept. In another cottage, with five small rooms and a kitchen, were living a mother and five children, ages five to sixteen, a married couple without children, a married couple with young children, and two male lodgers, fifteen in all. “ Unable to pay an increase in rent, or to find cheap houses in any other suburb, about 30 families from Surry Hills and Waterloo have squatted ‘ on the hills near Long Bay. Here they have founded ‘ Eucalyptus Town,’ the oddest collection of homes it is possible to imagine. It consists of huts hurriedly put together out of scraps of galvanized iron, kerosene tins, packing cases, sacking, &c. The roof on most of them is nearly flat, and just high enough to permit a man to stand upright. The floors are either rough cobblestone or plain earth. Very few of these gunyahs contain more than two rooms, and these are small. Their one good feature is the ventilation. The builders have not been able to exclude the air.”
The commissioner recommends a General Housing and Town Planning Act on English lines, and an Act to provide for rural villages for city workers. The building code should provide for a minimum size of allotment and the extent to which it might be built upon.
That part of Sydney referred to in the report is where the small-pox broke out, and where most of the disease is to be found to-day. I charge the landlords of New South Wales, who let these hovels to the people, with the responsibility for the outbreak. The men who were agents for these places were organizers for the Liberal party.
– The Confusion party. After the general election of 1910 the landlords started to raise rents in and around Sydney, explaining that the Labour party and the land tax were responsible for their action. A friend of mine who was a captain on a North Shore ferry boat, and had been living in the same house for thirty years, was told a little while ago that his rent was to be raised from 15s. to 22s. 6d. per week. When he asked the reason for this increase, he was told that the Labour party and the land tax were responsible for it. A few months later his landlord again increased his rent by 7s. 6d. per week - making a total increase of 100 per cent., due, as he explained, to the Labour party and the land tax. According to these men, the Labour party have much to answer for. Every crime in the calendar has been imputed to us. We were told during the last election campaign that we were responsible for the increase in rents as well as the increased cost of living generally, whilst one candidate actually said that the McGowen Government were responsible for all the burglaries that were taking place around Sydney. At Kiama, a town in my electorate, a lady organizer armed with a note-book went from house to house mak- . ing inquiries, as she explained, into the increased cost of living, and the reason for the increase. She asked at one house that she visited what the housewife was paying for sugar, butter, and so forth. Then she went on to Bay that since the Labour party had got into power the prices of various commodities had increased wonderfully. “ By the way,” she added, “What are you paying for eggs?” The housewife looked at her and said, “ My good woman, surely you are not going to blame the Labour party because the fowls will not lay. I want to tell you that my husband works in one of the quarries here, and that, whilst it is true that the cost of living has increased, hia wages at the same time have also gone up. Before the Labour party came into power the quarrymen here were receiving 5s. and 6s. per day, but since then - thanks to the State quarries - my husband has been receiving 9s. 8d. per day, or an increase of over £1 a week.” The tales told by this lady organizer in my electorate were told all over New South Wales, and, indeed, throughout Australia. It was because of them that many people were induced to vote for the Liberal party. We have asked the Liberal party, in view of these tales, what they are going to do, now that they are in power, to decrease the cost of living. Mr. Wade says that the Tariff barriers are responsible for the increase in the cost of living.
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member for Wannon tells us that he is an uncompromising Protectionist, but Mr. Wade says that commodities can be cheapened only by removing the Tariff barriers. Will the honorable member vote to remove them? The honorable member for Werriwa is a Free Trader, and he is consistent.
– Do not say that yet.
– I have yet to learn that he is not, and I hope that he will prove his consistency at the right time. I ask the Liberal party what they are going to do to give effect to the promise which they made to the people that they would reduce the cost of living. We have had from the Prime Minister a statement of policy, but it gives no indication that anything is going to be done by the Government towards reducing that cost. In conclusion, I desire to say that I intend to vote for the amendment, which expresses want of confidence in the Ministry, and that I believe that the time is not far distant when the Labour party will again be in power. Although the majority which I secured at the last election was the smallest obtained by any successful candidate - my majority was only 106 - I am just as prepared as is any honorable member to face the music tomorrow - to go back to my constituents and to obtain a mandate from them - and I feel sure that, instead of having a majority of 106, I shall come back with a majority of 1,606.
– By way of personal explanation, I desire to point out that the honorable member for Illawarra was wrong in attributing to me a statement that only 20 per cent, of the workers were members of unions, and that I wished to keep out of such organizations the remaining 80 per cent. What I did say was that, whereas the wages of the men in the unions who could go to the Courts had been increased by only 20 per cent., the increase in the wages of those outside the Courts, who had to depend on private enterprise, amounted to over 50 per cent.
– I propose in my opening remarks to deal briefly with the criticism which has been levelled at members of the Liberal party regarding the occupations which they follow. I well remember that in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth the relations of members on all sides of the House were exceedingly friendly. Although we differed in politics, and in some cases differed very materially, we never heard a member of one party referring’ to the occupations of his opponents. The honorable member for Ballarat more particularly emphasized this phase of the debate last night, referring to honorable members on this side of the House as land-owners, auctioneers, commission agents, and middlemen. He confessed that there might be in our ranks “ one farmer,” and, if it be true that we have but one, I can only say, in reply, that the Labour party have in their ranks one doctor, so that on that score honours are easy. After all, our occupations are a matter of no concern to any one. We are all returned by the electors, and as long as we are honorable men, and do our work honestly and faithfully, both inside aud outside this chamber, we have a perfect right to expect the respect of our fellow members and the people generally. A man has every right to follow whatever occupation he pleases, and as long as he conducts himself decorously he is entitled to the respect of all. When one of our honorable friends opposite visits a certain portion of Melbourne to collect his rents, no one can take exception to his action, as long as he makes his demands in a proper way. I know that rent collectors are often somewhat abrupt, but we have an honorable member opposite who can. go from house to house, ring the door bell, and ask the person who answers it to “ Tell the good woman that the poor landlord is here.”
– The honorable member is now doing what he deprecated in others but a moment or two ago.
– I do not think that the honorable member will find that I intend to be offensive, and I am sure that the honorable member for Darwin does not object to the reference I have made to him. Honorable members opposite complain that they have been relegated to the Opposition benches because of misrepresentation on the part of the organizers of the Liberal party and their candidates. The real reason is that, in 1910, they made to the farmers of Australia certain promises which they failed to fulfil. They told the farmers, for instance, that if they were returned to power there would be cheap land and cheap money. That promise was not kept. I remember that in the early eighties a section of a party of the British Parliament raised the election cry that if they were returned to power every man would have “ 3 acres and a cow.” That, no doubt, was a very tempting bait, and, when the party succeeded, one man, determined to be a little bit ahead of the others in obtaining his 3 acres, made an early call on the Inland Revenue Collector. Addressing him, he said, “ I have 2 acres of land, but John Smith has an acre of beautiful land alongside of me. I want to get it. Give me his acre of land and I shall then have three.” The officer replied, “You are too late, my man. Smith has been hare already, and has put in an application for your 2 acres, in order to increase his holding to 3 acres.” That man at once turned down the party, because he feared that he was going to lose the 2 acres that he held. This story illustrates the position of the farmer in Australia to-day. He has come to believe that the promises made or the allurements held out by the Labour party were unsubstantial. As the result of certain legislation passed by the Labour party, he finds that money, instead of becoming cheaper, is dearer than it was, and that the price of land has not been reduced, as he was promised it would be.
– The honorable member for Wannon said that it had been reduced.
– I do not think he did. The gentleman whom I had the honour to defeat at the last general election was, I know, a very popular member of this House, and I am glad to say that we fought our battle fairly. The contest was as fairly fought as was any in Australia. We never referred to one another personally on the platform; we were content to refer only to the different politics of the parties which we represented. I must say this for Mr. Scullin - and he has paid me the same compliment - that the fight was perfectly fair, and the result of the elections proves only that Corangamite is a Liberal constituency. It should never have been captured by the Labour party, and I hope that it never will be captured again by it. During the campaign misrepresentations were made perhaps by both sides. But- what did the supporters of the Labour party say in my electorate. Mr. Scullin was informed, and informed oh the best authority, he said, that the Liberal party was going to spend £25,000 to win back Corangamite. Corangamite has come back to the Liberal fold, but I did not see any of the £25,000, and I believe that the Liberal party spent less money there than in connexion with any other election. Then we were informed that if the Liberals were returned to power old-age pensions would disappear. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie repeated the statement in this chamber.
– I said, not that old-age pensions would disappear, but that the old-age pension and the invalid-pension system were not safe in the hands of an Administration of which the honorable member for Flinders was a member.
– I accept the correction, and confine myself to saying that the statement was made in the country, especially in localities which the Liberal candidate was not likely to visit. A candidate for a country division has a great deal of travelling to do. I ascended Spion Kop, spoke at Mafeking, and saw the road to Ladysmith. Mafeking was a big mining centre where there are old men who do not care 2d. for either political party. The only question they had to ask was, “ If the Liberals are returned to power, will they do away with old-age pensions?” I said that we would not; that I was a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament, and was an advocate of old-age pensions then, and that I would not go back on my views. Another statement that was freely circulated by our opponents was that the last Liberal Government left office with a large deficiency, and that the Labour Government had a surplus of £2,500,000. It was added that they had carried out the defence scheme, the transcontinental railway, the Federal Capital, and the development of the Northern Territory. That was a good programme to get the electors to believe had been carried out, but what are the facts? The fault I find with the Labour Government is that they created for the Commonwealth an immense liability by attempting to carry out too much at one time. How much is the transcontinental railway going to cost, and to how much is the country committed in connexion with the building of the Federal Capital, the development of the Northern Territory, and the making of railways there? What shall we have to pay for land defence and the Fleet Unit ? The liabilities which have been incurred are heavy enough to keep us down for some years to come.
– Which of those liabilities ought not to have been undertaken ?
– The honorable member, I suppose, would develop the Northern Territory with black labour?
– I shall speak on that subject presently. Replying to the question of the honorable member for Adelaide, I say that the least important of the undertakings I have mentioned is the building of the Federal Capital.
– The Prime Minister has said that we are not spending enough on the Federal Capital.
– Every one has his little fad. I am saying what, in my opinion, is the least important of the undertakings to which we are committed. The most important is the development of the Northern Territory, which is more urgent than the transcontinental railway. The liabilities that have been imposed on the Commonwealth can never be met out of revenue, even in a number of years. We shall never have the money to spare for them, and must borrow. That is plain to all. But the honorable member for Wide Bay, in his Maryborough speech, gave no indication of how the necessary money was to be found. It was not the duty of the then Opposition to say how provision was to be made for these works. I have tried in vain to ascertain how the Labour party propose to find the money. If the undertakings that I have referred to are to be carried out within the lifetime of honorable members, money must be borrowed. To increase the land tax and to impose other taxation will not provide what is necessary. I quite approve of the defence scheme, and give the Labour party credit for what they have done in making military training compulsory. That, to my mind, is the only way in which we can provide for our defence. But the expenditure on defence must be very great, and, in addition, there are all these other undertakings.
– Tax the land.
– All the revenue that the Commonwealth can raise will be swallowed up in a short time in defence expenditure. Last year, approxi- mately, £5,000,000 was spent on defence, and between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 will be required this year, and the expenditure will continue to grow. We are under the obligation of seeing that the youths and young men whom we compel to submit to military training are provided with proper places for drilling in, and proper equipment. It was pointed out the other evening that they are now almost without overcoats, and have to pay for their own boots.
– There is £40,000 on the Estimates for boots.
– That is little comfort to those who are now compelled to pay for their own boots. Our trainees should be properly equipped, and the equipment will be very costly. In my opinion, the area over which training is made compulsory is a little too wide. In the country districts, youths are required to walk a distance of 5 miles on Saturday afternoons to attend drill, which is rather much when they have been walking that distance each week-day to attend school. The Area Officers, I understand, have some discretion in this matter, and need not force children who live just about 5 miles away from the drilling centre to attend. I think that the distance is too far to require boys to travel. But having committed ourselves to this defence scheme, we must pay the piper, though I do not know how we are going to raise the necessary money.
– With the land tax.
– Every candidate who has ever owned land is assailed, on addressing a public meeting, with interjections about land tax. - I have heard so many reasons given for the present
Commonwealth land tax that I do not know really why it was imposed. None of the members opposite nor their supporters are able to give us the reason for its imposition. If it was imposed to burst up the large estates, let those responsible for it own up like men. If that was the reason for its imposition, I am with those who imposed it.
– Then we shall put on a bit more.
-The honorable member is under a mistake as to my personal position so far as the land tax is concerned. The honorable member for Barrier will bear me out when I say that I told him that I learned my lesson twelve years ago. I foresaw what the Labour party would do when it got control in the Commonwealth Parliament, and I told him some time ago that I thought it a good thing to give up land-holding. My position now is pretty secure. If honorable members think they are going to tax me, they will find that they will have to tax a great many others who are in the sa me boat.
– When the honorable member got out of land-holding, a lot of others got in.
– Mostly as closer settlers. Honorable members opposite have a great down on share-farming.
– Not at all.
– Share-farming has done more for Australia than almost anything else. The honorable member for Maribyrnong wishes to chip me on the land tax.
– No; I merely asked a question.
– My policy as regards land in Australia has always been to try to get people settled on the land. I have been carrying that out for about twenty-five years.
– But unfortunately there are so few like you.
– Ever since I came into my property, and was in the position to do so, I have endeavoured to encourage people to settle on my land. I suppose honorable members know that.it was impossible at that period to find men to rent or buy one’s land. In the early days of the dairying industry where could we get the people? Money could not be borrowed from the much-abused auctioneers, because they did not realize what the dairying industry would be, and the dairy-farmer could not get credit in any other way than from the owner of the land. What happened was that a certain number of working men who had saved their money were able to start as tenant farmers, and a great number of those people who had families, and had the strength to do the work, were able to commence as share-farmers; from share-farmers they became tenant farmers, and from tenant farmers they became freehold farmers. I do not think that is such a bad record. Nearly every man on my property at Camperdown, which is the property referred to, ‘ I suppose, was eventually in a position to buy the land. He was not very badly treated. Whatever estates I have had suitable for closer settlement I have endeavoured to use for that purpose. I have a property on the Richmond River, in New South Wales. Some honorable members representing New South Wales electorates might inform the New South Wales Government that if they are prepared to pay for the land they have already acquired I am prepared to go in for a little more closer settlement. They have taken a long time to pay for the land they have already acquired; but as soon as that is paid for there will be another lot available. Some people are born under a lucky star. There was another property I agreed to subdivide and sell. I happened to be out of the country at the time, and I was afraid that those who were representing me would delay the sale a little too long, so I wrote and reminded them that the Federal elections were coming on, and that they had better hurry. They did hurry, and the sale took place exactly a fortnight before the honorable gentlemen opposite were returned to power. So I do not think they can say that a land tax had very much to do with the position I have taken up regarding settling people on the land. On that aspect of the question we were perfectly square.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 7 ‘ .45 p.m.
– Before the adjournment I was a little drawn off my remarks by interjections from honorable members opposite as to what I had to do with closer settlement in Victoria and New South Wales. I had pointed out that members of the Opposition had never definitely settled the point whether the land tax was imposed to compel estates to be cut up or whether it was really for defence purposes. The two arguments have been brought forward, and, practically, honorable members are not agreed as to why the tax was imposed. In my case, and in the case of the land I referred to in the Western District of Victoria and that rich portion of New South Wales in the electorate of the honorable member for Richmond, the Federal land tax does not affect the property owners at all, because they all have land suitable for subdivision, which they can sell. What the Federal land tax does affect is the land in the western portion of New South Wales that is unfit for closer settlement, for which the owners have paid, practically, £1 per acre, but which is not saleable to-day at that price. The tax does not hit the people in the settled districts of Australia, especially in that portion of Victoria that I represent, and which, despite the boasts of the honorable members for Queensland as to their Darling Downs, is the garden of Australia. The tax does hit those who are on poor land fit only for running sheep, and it takes out of the pockets of the owners of this land so much of their spending power which formerly had been applied to improving their properties in the way of ring-barking, and such like, involving the employment of labour. If we take a certain amount of money out of a man’s pocket we stop his spending power straight away. Under the land tax the Federal Government have had that money, but the men have not had the employment, and they will not be able to get that employment until some adjustment takes place by which these people can be rid of this class of legislation. In regard to the imposition of the tax for defence purposes, our friends opposite have told the people that the only thing which is to suffer special taxation for defence purposes - and the only thing in Australia worth defending - is the land. But I maintain there are other things in Australia worth defending, and which the people are prepared to defend, and if this expenditure is to go on increasing, as it must, for defence purposes, we shall have to look to something else besides the land to provide the money. As to the Northern Territory, which honorable members opposite seem so intent on hearing me upon, it has been circulated throughout Australia that I favour black labour for the Northern
Territory - that I approve of black labour altogether for the work in that Territory. I have never said anything of the kind. I have never allowed any one to believe that I do favour black labour. I believe in a White Australia. I have believed in it from the first time I entered Parliament. I voted for the abolition of kanaka labour in Queensland, but I said that the mistake was that a great injustice had been done to the kanakas by allowing them to believe that they were to be permitted to live in Australia. If it is ever found necessary again to bring in any form of black labour we must see that we do not commit the errors of the past. I believe that white labour can do the work required in the Northern Territory. The white man can work where the black man can work. But I put in this safeguard, that if it is found that white men cannot work in the Northern Territory during the developmental stages or on certain work, and it is found necessary to bring in black labour, that labour must be brought in under the strictest conditions possible, and must be sent away as soon as the work is finished.
– Your mind is open on the question.
– It is not, and” I have given a straight answer. The honorable member may take up the attitude that he does not care whether the Northern Territory is developed. I have read a report from the Health authorities at Port Darwin, and, if it is true, something will need to be done for the drainage of that port. We must not make a farce of the development of the Northern Territory. If Port Darwin has to be sewered, and if channelling has to be put down, or if it is impossible for white labour to do it, and black labour has to be brought in, I favour it being brought in under the strictest conditions, so that it will do no harm. Those opposed to me in my electorate, and honorable members opposite, have talked of the purity of the race. Is there no black population in the Northern Territory? There are blacks there now, and altogether apart from the aborigines, the coloured population is about the same as last year. There would be no great danger if such a thing as I suggest took place, yet I do not see that it will ever be necessary, because the Australian coming from the southern portions of the continent will be able to work in the Northern Territory with any man, and do it in a satisfactory way. I cannot blame honorable members opposite, because they get a certain amount of their information from the class of paper they read.
– I read it in the Argus.
– Even the Argus makes a few errors. When I spoke at Colac, twelve months ago, a paper supporting the Opposition said that I favoured a White Australia. But I went further. The paragraph was headed “ From our own correspondent.” It said - “ Mr. Manifold believes in a White Australia, but he advocates black wives for white men when they are working in the Northern Territory.” I did not say anything of the kind. A gentleman in the audience, who was always a little forcible in his interjections, said, r’ Give them black wives!” and I said, “Yes; I really believe that black wives are good enough for some people. ‘ ‘ That is how that particular point came in. The development of the Northern Territory is a most important matter. But how are we to do it? Are we to do it by running the present railway down a few miles each year out of revenue? If we are to develop the Northern Territory, we must go in for loan expenditure on that railway, and we shall then get back a great deal of our money. We should not develop the Territory only by a railway running from north to south. That will not do a great amount of good: We must connect with the Queensland, and, perhaps, the New South Wales system. It will mean a big expenditure, but it will pay us. We have to be watchful. The Northern Territory still has to be developed, and if that development does not take place within a certain period others may step in; and then where will be our White Australia? There are teeming millions to the north of us; and if any of those great Asiatic Powers which are awakening in the East come down with their fleets, our Australian Navy will, I am afraid, disappear in a very short time. The other night the honorable member for Darling produced a balance-sheet connected with the Australian Workers Union, and I understood from him that the subscription the members had to pay is 20s. per year.
– This is the first year the subscription has been 20s. ; previously a majority paid only 5s.
– It is gradually increasing, and I should like to know whether that is the only charge the members have to pay.
– That is all.
– Are there no levies of any kind to pay?
– There have been very few levies during the existence of the union.
– A shearer who travels from Queensland to Tasmania can well afford to pay 20s., but what about the man who may not have been out shearing for three or four years, and desires now to go?
– The union now covers all other occupations a man may follow during the year.
– But what has such a man to pay before he can again go out shearing? I have been told by Labour supporters that they are not able to resume, shearing owing to the large arrears they are called upon to pay; but I shall accept the honorable member’s assurance if he says they are not correct in their statement. The men told me that they would be called upon to pay pounds.
– That is not true; the contributions are yearly, and they have to pay only for the year. We do not tax them with any back money.
– I am pleased to know that; I shall be able to correct those men.
– Such men have to pay a levy.
– That is what they mean, I suppose.
– If there is a £2 levy, they are expected to pay that before they go out shearing. Anyhow, it is the pastoralists who have to pay all those contributions.
– Then I understand that there is more than £1 that such men have to pay who have not been out to shear for some time. That is rather a serious thing.
– They are not liable if they have not been shearing’ during the last two years.
– They may have been shearing during the two years?
– Then they must pay a £2 levy before they can shear again.
– That is pretty hard on a man who desires to go out shearing for, say, only a month.
– That is the only explanation we can suggest of the circumstances the honorable member mentions; we have had no complaints.
– How long ago is it since the honorable member saw those men?
– It was last month that they told me. They have not been shearing for four or five years.
– Then they will not have to pay the levy.
– The levy is to enable the union to take shares in a labour daily newspaper we are going to produce; it is a.n investment on behalf of the members, and not a levy for the union.
– I am just as much interested in the working men of my district and the Commonwealth as any one can be, and it has been very much my business to obtain work for such men as I refer to. Many of them are engaged in shire council work, which, at this time, is slack, and that is why they desire to go out shearing. The honorable member for Grey gave an instance of where the pay for shearing was only 10s. per 100.
– It has been as low as Bs. id. in the Western District.
– I do not know of any early sheds in the Western District of Victoria, or anywhere else, where 10s. “was paid. I admit that there were numbers of sheds where they shear very late, and where the pay came down to 7s. 6d., and where the employers have wanted the work done for 7s. and 6s. 6d. My complaint is that the union did not take action against such employers, but against those who gave the men the best wages and conditions. If the idea had been to raise all the sheds to a fair price, I should have said nothing; but it was at the better sheds that the men were ordered to strike. We who are engaged in the pastoral industry have no objection to paying good rates; but I say that at the 10s. rate in that particular portion of the country the men, on the average, were doing better than at the present time. There are men who work under the wet-sheep arrangement, and who, in October, may, perhaps, put in only a day or half-a-day each week. When the last award came out, the pastoralists in my neighbourhood were glad, because they thought it would result in a better class of men seeking employment.
– That is what I have always said.
– But the result has been that the wet-sheep business has got worse and worse.
– That is because of the contractors getting a grip.
– I have never gone in for contract work, and I dare say that I could shear myself all the sheep sheared on my place now. The machine shearing is the cause of the whole trouble. I should like now to deal with the question of the postal vote, which, honorable members opposite tell us, has been the cause of much corruption, and, according to the honorable member for Maranoa and the honorable member for Kennedy, of many terrible atrocities in Queensland. But all that those honorable members told us is ancient history; what they describe does not go on to-day at Federal elections, nor, I believe, at State elections. Queensland, with its electoral law, was the first to point out where mistakes might occur ; and in our electoral law we desire to do everything possible to secure purity of election. What were the cases of abuse that were brought forward in connexion with the postal vote ? One was actually that of a doctor, who held the hand of a woman while she recorded her vote; and he, I may say,’ was prosecuted. Even allowing that there were twenty or thirty irregularities, is it fair that all sick and aged persons should be disfranchised? There are many people, who, from various causes, are confined to the house, and there are others who live great distances from a polling booth; and the postal vote ought to be retained for the use of people so circumstanced. In the southern portion of my electorate the distances are great, and the roads very bad. I must say that the late Government did their best to open booths all over the place; still, many of the electors had as far as nine miles to go.
– In my constituency people were called upon to travel, and did travel sixty to eighty miles to vote.
– They ought to have an opportunity to record their votes by post; and the honorable member would appreciate the convenience of the system if, by any unfortunate chance, he were ill on the day of election. Complaint has been made that permission was not given to open booths at hospitals, and the reason for the refusal suggested is that, in the opinion of the hospital committees, most of the inmates of the hospitals would vote for Labour. That was not the reason, at any rate in regard to a hospital with which I have the honour to be connected. It was only a small hospital, with, perhaps, twelve inmates, and it was found that there was really no means of providing for a polling booth there. After much consideration, the only available place was found to be the hospital morgue; and it was said that if we permitted a booth to be conducted there, we should have many of the “ dead “ voting. I desire now to refer to the position of the rural workers. As I have said already from a public platform, I do not think that there is anything to stop the rural workers from going to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court, but I believe that it would be a mistake for them to do so. If they go to the Court, and are successful in securing anything like the wages for which they are asking, there will be an immense amount of unemployment in the rural industries of Australia. I notice that claims ranging from 36s. to 60s. per week and found have been made. As a matter of fact the farmers have become frightened. I have not sought to frighten them, and I think honorable members will agree that I had no reason to use any such bogy as the rural workers’ log in order to secure my election. My opponent and I had a straight-out fight, and placed our opinions fairly before the people. The farmers, however, have become frightened at the demands that are being made by the rural workers, and are reducing their cropping areas. Farmers on the western plains of Victoria, where a railway has just been opened, have been reducing their cropping areas, and this reduction in the area under cultivation has had a good deal to do with the low prices now ruling for draught horses. Three or four years ago every farmer in the locality to which I refer was a purchaser of draught horses; to-day nearly every one is a seller. The rural workers can be dealt with much better by the Wages Board system of the States, under which, I think, an arrangement could be made that a working week of forty-eight hours should not form part of the award. The Wages Board ap- pointed to deal with the butter and cheese making industry has fixed the working hours at fifty-four per week.
– Precisely the same argument as the honorable member is now using was used when legislation was proposed to take little children out of the factories and women out of the mines of England, and yet both the factories and the mines are still running.
– Perhaps the honorable member, unlike some of us, has not had anything to do with the land. The Opposition run away with the idea that every farmer is making an enormous income, and is growing richer every year. They are quite wrong. Very little is being made in the dairying industry at the present price of butter, and the outlook of the London market to-day is, perhaps, worse than it has been for many years.
– How is the tenant farmer getting on?
– In many cases he has a very rough row to hoe. In a number of instances the rent is excessive, and will not permit of a tenant making ‘ s living out of dairying. I know of cases, not in my own district particularly, where men are paying very heavy rentals and ure really losing money by dairying. If it were not for the fact that they are able to put twenty or thirty acres under onions they would not be able to keep going. Honorable members talk of the enormous profits obtained from dairying, but if a crop of onions “turns out trumps,” to use a colloquialism, there is a net profit of over £90 to the acre. T recently saw one of the plaints that had been served on farmers by members of the Rural Workers Union, and I remarked to the farmer who put it before me that it was “ pretty rough.” In a few minutes several others gathered round, and when I looked at the award for boundary riders I remarked that I intended to pay my boundary rider more than the wage asked for, because he was a very good man. My farming friends looked surprised when I said that I would give him £4 a week, and, after the lapse of a moment or two, declared that I had made up my mind to give him £6 per week. They seemed to be fairly disgusted, but I went on to explain that my boundary rider would be a jolly good fellow since, if this demand were granted, I should do my own boundary riding.
– I do not think that the honorable member would get round his boundaries as quickly as his boundary rider does,.
– I think that I can still do a fair day’s work.
– The honorable member has a better job than that of boundary riding at £6 per week.
– No doubt it is better, but I do not know that it is more suitable. The Government and their supporters have been twitted with having no policy, and it has been said that what we do propose means a retrograde step. May I in reply ask the Opposition what new proposal is contained in their policy? Was there anything new in the proposals enunciated at Maryborough by their leader, save that which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports quickly blew out of the water? The Labour party’s platform provides for practically nothing new, except the further nationalization of the industries of Australia.
– Is that not big enough for the honorable member?
– Quite big enough. As I have already pointed out, the Labour Government have committed the Commonwealth to a tremendous liability, and we do not know where the money is to come from to provide for these commitments. But our honorable friends opposite propose that passengers between Tasmania and the mainland shall be carried by Commonwealth-owned steamers, and that when that service has been properly established, we shall go a little further and carry the produce of Australia in a Commonwealth line of steamers to the Old World. That is a fairly large proposition. I think it would be better to ascertain where the money is to come from before such a development is proposed. A member of the Labour party in another place, when speaking at Warrnambool during the recent campaign, said that after the establishment of the line of steamers which is to carry the honorable member for Darwin to and from Tasmania at the rate of 30 knots an hour, and when the Labour party had opened up a line of Commonwealth steamers to carry our produce to the Old World, Warrnambool would be the next port to be served by the Commonwealthowned vessels. I do not know what other members of the party are thinking of if their electorates are to be left out in the cold in this way.
– Where is Warrnambool ?
– Come down with me some day. Warrnambool is a very nice place.
– We should all be glad to go if the honorable member would invite us.
– I am certain that the honorable member would be pleased to accompany me, but I do not know that I should like to take the risk. In conclusion, I desire to refer to the procedure adopted by the Departments of the Commonwealth in resuming land for Commonwealth purposes. The system is one that hits all classes of the community, and must hit the small man a little more severely than any one else. Is it fair, when a man is prepared to part with his land at a reasonable rate, that he should suddenly get notice that it is to be compulsorily resumed, and that that notice should be followed almost immediately by the appearance on his land of a gang of workmen, who proceed to do with it exactly as they please? Every owner of land required for Commonwealth purposes, whether that owner be a corporation or a private individual, should be treated fairly, and when portion of a paddock is resumed, it should be fenced off from the rest. The Government send out men with certain orders, and they begin to think that they are little gods. They do not hesitate to tell the occupier of the land that has been resumed that he must get off. Is that reasonable ? Two cases of the kind have occurred in my electorate. In each the owner was prepared to deal with the Department, and to sell at a reasonable price. In one instance, however, notice of resumption was served on the owner, and was followed by the appearance of a gang of men, who proceeded to build mounds for rifle butts on the land, and ordered off the tenant. In all, 10 acres out of a holding of 55 acres were acquired for this purpose, and before the Department had erected a dividing fence, it instructed the owner to clear out. Such proceedings must involve the Commonwealth in considerable expenditure, for the owner must be entitled to compensation. I had some trouble over this matter before the present Government took office. The matter has been going on for over six - mouths, and to-day still remains unsettled. I repeat that this is unfair treatment; that land required for public purposes should be acquired on proper lines, and promptly fenced off, so that the man from whom it has been taken may use the rest of his holding without fear of being ordered off.
.- I desire to express the pleasure I feel in having conferred upon me the honour of representing in the National Parliament the electorate of Fawkner. I fully appreciate the compliment that has been paid me by the electors of that constituency, and recognise the importance pf the work of this Legislature. The National Parliament has a great future, and a work that must continue to increase. I wish at the outset to reply to a few statements made by the honorable member for Corangamite, who declared that the object for which the land tax had been imposed by the Labour Government, namely, the breaking up of large estates, had not been accomplished. He went on to prove, however, to the satisfaction of all who listened to him, that the tax had actually succeeded in the desired direction, since he stated that, believing that the Labour party would be successful hi their appeal to the electors in 1910, and, in that event, would impose a land tax, he had cut up his large estates, and sold them, so that he would not be brought under the operation of the Land Tax Act. He proved conclusively that so far as he, a large land-owner, was concerned, the land tax had been absolutely effective in bringing about the cutting up of big estates. The revenue from the land tax has amounted to £4,500,000. According to the honorable member for Werriwa, about £50,000 has been collected under its absentee provisions. The honorable gentleman went on to say that he believed that those provisions had caused something like £50,000,000 of capital to be withdrawn from Australia. He did not explain how that capital had been taken away, but he stated that he considered the absentee taxation most unjust. I have found, however, by visiting the rural parts of Victoria, that no legislative act of the Labour party has met with more approval by the people than the taxation of absentee land-owners. The intention of these provision’s was this: Some of the best lands in the country were, and are, held by persons residing in other parts of the. world, and these lands are continually improving in value because of the energy and enterprise of our people. It wasthought that we were quite justified inmaking the land-owners who benefited in this way contribute something towardsthe cost of the Australian institutionswhich increased their wealth. The honorable member for Werriwa referred also to the Navigation Act passed by tha Labour party. He said that although at the last election we condemned combines, we had passed an Act to assist the Australian shipping combine by practically’ excluding from the Australian coastal trade all deep-sea vessels. What are thefacts? On both sides of the chamber aremen who believe in protecting native industries. We believe in protecting the.iron trade, the sugar industry, and many other industries, and the provisions to which the honorable member referred protect the shipping industry, which is thus protected for the first time in our history. In future, all vessels entering our coastal trade must observe Australian industrial conditions. We hold that that is only fair. There was no intention to give greater power to the Australian shipping combine. But we know that of late years British and foreign shipping has cut deeply into the Australian coastal trade.. At one time the mail steamers carried, coastal passengers only between Fremantle and Sydney, the latter being their terminal port. But of recent years, they have been going as far as Brisbane and Auckland. These extensions have greatlyaffected the business of the Australian shipping companies, on whose vesselsevery one, from the skipper to the brassboy, is being paid and worked in accordance with conditions laid down by Australian or New Zealand logs. The Australian fireman receives £10 a month,, whereas the Peninsular anc! Oriental Company’s fireman just before theNavigation Bill was passed, received, only £4 a month. The Australian deck hand gets £8 a month, and the British deck hand about £3 5s. a month, with similar differences in alL ratings. It seems only fair that when weplace restrictions on employers, compelling them to pay certain rates of wages and observe certain conditions, we should protect them from the competition of other employers whom we cannot compel to pay these rates and observe - these conditions. That is the reason for-. the provisions in the Navigation Act. The Labour party has set a good example by protecting the shipping industry from the unfair competition of British and foreign companies, whose vessels trade on our coast. I come now to a subject which has been greatly discussed during the debate - political unionism. It is objected by honorable members opposite that the trade unions of to-day differ from what they call the genuine trade unions that existed prior to the 1890 strike, after which political unionism sprang into existence. Honorable members opposite say that they heartily support the old genuine trade unionism, but are bitterly opposed to the political unionism of to-day. They say that it is not right that the members of unions should contribute to political funds. Prior to the 1890 strike, those connected with the industrial movement followed the lines laid down by their parents. Our parents, when they came from the Old Country, brought with them the British trade unionism, and the lines they laid down were followed until the great maritime strike occurred. That strike showed that something was wrong with the industrial movement, and that the weakness was lack of political action. From that time until the present day, trade unionism has been altering greatly. In my view, no union is a true one that does not donate something to the maintenance of the political labour movement of Australia. We are told that it is wrong for the workers to contribute towards the political movement, and it might be believed, from what has been said by our opponents, that their organizations make no provision for the collection of funds for political work. The following letter proves that that is not so-
CONSTITUTIONAL UNION COMMITTEE.
Nos.10 and11, third floor,
Equitable Buildings, Collins-street,
Melbourne, May 5th, 1913.
We appeal to you for a donation to the central fund of the Constitutional Union.
Within the next few weeks the Federal elections will be held. It is only by organized efforts of the Liberal forces that the referenda can again be defeated, and the Federal Legislature freed from Labour Socialistic domination.
It was by the assistance given to them from our central fund that the Liberal leagues were so enabled to perfect their organization as to defeat the referenda in 191 1, and win a substantial victory in the State election.
We appeal, therefore, to all who are opposed to the domination of Labour Socialists, to subscribe to our central fund, and thus enable the Liberal organizations to enter the forthcoming contests as well equipped as their political opponents.
Kindly give this letter prompt attention, and send your contribution to the honorary treasurer (Wm. Riggall, 120 William-street), or to the secretary, Equitable Buildings (third floor), Collinsstreet, Melbourne.
Wm. Riggall, Honorary Treasurer.
John West, Secretary.
– What harm is there in that?
– I say there is no harm in it. I recognise that there are two political movements - the Labour movement and those opposed to Labour - and I recognise that for the Labour movement to be successful money is necessary. No union is true to the Labour movement unless it contributes towards it according to its means. Every working man or woman with 6d. to spare should contribute to the political side of the Labour movement. In reply to the honorable member, I say that there is no harm in the request of the letter I have read, but, at the same time, honorable members would deny us that right. They claim it is not right for members of trade unions to contribute to the Labour movement.
– No, not putting it that way.
– You have a perfect right to do what you like with your money.
– When the original Conciliation and Arbitration Act was passed by the gentlemen sitting on the Government side it denied the right of preference to any union citing a case to the Court if it could be shown to the Court that the members of the union in any way devoted their funds to political purposes. They handicapped members of the unions, though probably the employers in the case before the Court would be found to be members ofa political union. I maintain that an employer who is opposed to our movement, and does not join an organization of which he should be a member, is standing in his own light; andI say exactly the same thing of every wage earner; I say to him, “ Come inside our union, because without organization you are practically helpless and at the mercy of your employer.” Both the Age and the Argus, during the last election campaign, every morning tried to convince the electors that all social and industrial legislation placed on the statutebooks of Australia in the National or State Parliaments had been passed by Liberal Governments. I cannot claim that the social and industrial legislation passed by the Victorian Parliament has been passed by Labour Governments, because, so far, Labour has not had the honour of sitting on the Treasury bench in the Victorian State Parliament; but the Labour movement commenced in Victoria prior to 1890, and I ask honorable members to look back and find from what date the whole of the social and industrial legislation of Victoria starts. There was not one measure of social or industrial legislation passed by the State Parliament of Victoria until the political Labour movement came into existence.
– Nor in any other State.
– I do not think that is right.
– The older men in our movement who bore the brunt of this fight were told that they were extremists; they were told by the business people, “ Immediately you compel us to comply with certain laws, and compel us to close our shops at a certain hour and pay higher wages, and immediately you commence to regulate the hours of our workmen, the whole of our business system will fall down, and ruin will fall on every man.” However, the men connected with the Labour movement in Victoria continued their form of agitation and education, while their comrades were doing the same in other States, until they brought the people of this State to a certain standard of education in this matter; and when those who were always opposed to Labour saw that industrial legislation was becoming popular in Australia, they said, “ We will give it to you.” Without the Labour party, the possibilities are that not one form of industrial or social legislation now in operation in Australia would have been enacted. These measures were advocated by the Labour party, they were made popular by the Labour party, and our opponents recognise that it was a matter of either giving way, and adopting this legislation, or going into political oblivion. They came forward and passed it. Yet we were told by the Age and the Argus that all this legislation was due to the Liberal party. Liberal Governments only passed this legislation when public opinion educated by this Labour movement compelled them to pass it. As it was in Victoria, so it was in other States of Australia.
– They did not have a Factories Act in South Australia until long after 1890.
– Since this debate commenced, we have heard expressions from both sides of the House as to an early appeal to the people. I would not shirk that appeal. It would be in the best interests of the whole community, and one question will overshadow all others, namely, the alteration of the Constitution under which this Parliament is working. We are told that the question of the referenda will be altogether beyond consideration, but I say that it is still as live a question as it was at the last election; because if the Labour candidates are returned in a majority, it means that within three years questions for the alteration of the Constitution will be resubmitted to the electors, whereas if our opponents come back in a majority, probably there will be no appeal to the people for an alteration to the Constitution so long as they remain in power. As one who has for a considerable time taken an interest in the industrial movement, I believe that we shall require nothing else but the one plank of the alteration of the Constitution, in order to appeal successfully to the people. During the debates in the last Parliament with reference to submitting the referenda to the people, honorable members, according to Hansard, told the supporters of the Fisher Government that the proposals of 1911 had been rejected by such a large majority that it should be sufficient to show that the people of Australia did not desire these questions to be re-submitted, but, as a matter of fact, the majority of nearly a quarter of a million votes against in 1911 was reduced on one of the questions to practically an 8,000 majority against in 1913. If we do go to the country again, the principal question upon which members of the Labour party should appeal should be that they may be returned with a majority, so that in three years’ time, questions for alteration of the Constitution may be again submitted to the people of Australia. The member for Corangamite referred to the very small amount spent bv the organizers in conducting the election in his district, but had 1 been a Liberal candidate, and received from the press of Australia the support that was bestowed on our friends opposite, my seat could have been won without my actually addressing a meeting, and what would apply to my case would apply to other electorates. Every morning there was a column article in the Age or the Argus appealing to the electors of Corangamite on behalf of Mr. Manifold. The same thing applied in connexion with the elections for Indi and Wannon, and right through the State. Two or three seats in the metropolitan area were picked out for special attention, and special consideration was devoted to those standing in the Liberal cause. What was the position of the Labour men?
– They had their pamphlets carried all over the country.
– I spent about £6 on a pamphlet, and the difficulty was to get it distributed. In every home, every morning for eight weeks prior to the election, the Age or Argus gave a thousand reasons why the people should vote for the Liberal party, and ten thousand reasons why they should vote against the Labour candidates. And what applied in “Victoria applied to the other States.
– In some States you have a Labour press.
– Yes; we have daily papers in Adelaide and Brisbane, and in both States we were successful, but we had not daily papers in other States, and there we were unsuccessful. Wherever the Labour party have a newspaper in circulation showing the case for Labour, we have met with success. In Victoria are two newspapers, one with a circulation of over 100,000, and the other with a circulation of about 80,000; so that practically 200,000 copies of printed matter were sent into the homes of the people of Victoria for three months prior to the election showing reasons why the electors should vote for the Liberal party, and containing misstatements in regard to the action of the Labour Ministry during their term of office, and also in regard to men who have never previously had a seat in Parliament. As a matter of fact, the Age drew up a platform for me, and said to the electors of Fawkner that those who desired a policy of ‘ ‘ gag the press, bully the manufacturer, and hound the non-unionist off the face of the earth,” should vote for me.
Now, that is not the policy of my party, andI take the opportunity to say that I have never tried to ‘ ‘ gag the press ‘ ‘ or “ bully a manufacturer,” and at no time in my life haveI ever endeavoured to “ hound a non-unionist off the face of the earth.” The tactics adopted towards myself were adopted towards every Labour candidate in the State ; and yet the present Government are proposing to remove certain restrictions which the Labour Government placed on the press. Only the other day the honorable member for Henty uttered an interjection in favour of the Government proposals, and later he asked why the Trades Hall in Melbourne had expelled the Melbourne Age representative from its chamber. Let me tell the honorable member for Henty that the Trades Hall Council expelled the Age representative because of unfair and unscrupulous attacks made on honorable men, who are members of the Council, during the last Federal election. And I may add that the Trades Hall Council only did what the honorable member for Henty, as a member of the State Parliament of Victoria, urged that the Legislative Assembly should do to the representative of the same paper in 1906. He then said that he would call the attention of the Speaker to the fact that there were strangers in the gallery, with the object of having the representatives of that paper removed from the precincts of the House. Then, again, on 6th October, 1904, Mr. Watt, the present Premier of Victoria, made an explanation in regard to an attack made upon him by the Age, and he was followed by the present honorable member for Henty, who said -
All I have to say in connexion with attacks of this kind is that we should adopt the French method, and make the writer of the article put his name to it.
The words of Mr. Watt were -
Surely we give the press sufficient liberty in this country without allowing them to deliberately attempt to blast the reputation of a man, and lower any prestige he may have obtained in the country. I take the opportunity of deliberately branding every one ofthese statements and insinuations as infamous falsehoods.
The position is that certain members of the State Parliament have on different occasions considered that the time had arrived when Parliament should in some way deal with the statements made by the press of Victoria regarding public man, and should legislate for the imposition of restrictions for the purpose of affording protection. That is the opinion held by the Labour party, but the distinction between the Liberal party in the State and the Commonwealth Labour party is that, while the former never had the courage to carry their desires into effect, the Labour party, immediately they got the opportunity, pursued their usual policy of translating their words into deeds. Had honorable members opposite during the recent elections been as unfairly attacked as were members of the Labour party, and had the Labour party come back victorious, those honorable members would have been the first to remind us that there was nothing in our victory to feel proud of. Even if the Liberal party have come back with a majority of one, it is the opinion of the majority of fair-thinking men and women outside, who are not too strictly attached to any party, that in view of the difficulties that were presented, the Labour party have achieved a moral victory. Had the Labour party had one- half the support enjoyed by the Liberal party, or had we had the advantage of Labour daily newspapers in Victoria and in New South Wales, I have not the slightest doubt that the Liberals would to-day have been in a sad minority. The honorable member for Corangamite has referred to the attitude of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports towards Protection. The honorable member for Corangamite has evidently adopted the arguments put before the people by the Age; but I remind honorable members that the Leader of the Opposition, in his policy speech at Maryborough, put the position of his party quite plainly. He said that the Labour party in 1910 were pledged to new Protection, and that, if they were returned, he would take the earliest opportunity of submitting certain questions to the people, with a view to an alteration of the Constitution; that if those questions were answered in the affirmative, and the Constitution was altered, the Labour Government would give effect to the new Protection policy. The Labour party were returned, and, true to the pledge, the questions were submitted, but, unfortunately, were not answered in the affirmative. The defeat meant that the Labour party could not give effect to their promise in regard to new Protection, and the hands of the Government during their term of office were practically tied in this connexion. On the occasion of the last election the Age declared that the Leader of the Opposition, and the members of the Labour party, had betrayed their pledge - that the Leader of the Opposition had pledged his party to give a measure of effective Protection during the Parliament of 1910. As a matter of fact, no such pledge was given ; the pledge was for new Protection, which, as I have shown, depended on an alteration of the Constitution. If new Protection, or effective Protection, was not given to the people by the Labour Government, the fault does not lie with the Labour party, but with the people for rejecting the referenda in 1911. During the election of 1913, the Leader of the Opposition, speaking at Maryborough, laid great stress on the necessity for an alteration of the Constitution, and he again pledged his Government and party to give new Protection in the event of an alteration being made. Further, he said that, should the proposal for an alteration of the Constitution be defeated, his Government would pledge themselves to give effective Protection to the manufacturing industries of Australia. That was a clear and definite promise; but the newspapers here questioned the sincerity of the proposal. I am prepared to believe, and I think the majority of the people are prepared to believe, that the promise then given by our worthy leader from the public platform would undoubtedly have been carried into effect had the opportunity presented itself.
– What about the honorable member for Melbourne Ports?
– As to that, we have been told by honorable members opposite, and by others outside, on the public platform, that members of the Labour party have not the right of freedom of speech, and cannot express an opinion different from that of their fellows. We now see, however, that while the leader of the Labour party gave a pledge to the people of Australia, one of his followers declared that he did not feel bound by it, because it was not provided for in the platform of the party. That goes to show that there is just as much freedom allowed members of the Labour party as is allowed to the members of the Liberal party.
– When the Tariff comes up for consideration we shall see a lot of breaking away on both sides.
– Perhaps so. I believe that when the Tariff conies up for revision - if it should be submitted during the life of this Parliament - we shall have a repetition of what occurred on the last occasion, when even the leaders of the Liberal Government of that day were prepared to admit that if it had not been for the support of the Labour party, it would have been impossible to secure a Protective Tariff. I am sure that if the Tariff be submitted to this Parliament its revision on sound Protective lines will be made possible only by the support of honorable members on this side of the House. I think that I am expressing, not only my own view but that of the great majority of our party and those who support us, when I say ‘ that a Protective policy is essential in this country. The public man who, on the one hand, will advocate the passing of industrial legislation, imposing upon our manufacturers restrictions in regard to hours of labour and rates of pay, while at the same time he is prepared to allow the products of cheap labour in other countries to come in here without restriction, occupies a very inconsistent position. We have passed industrial legislation declaring that regulations shall be framed in regard to wages and conditions of labour, although, unfortunately, the industrial tribunal which has the making of those regulations has not sufficient power at the present time, and we should be courting almost industrial suicide if, whilst imposing restrictions with regard to wages and hours of labour, we were at the same time to allow the sweated products of other countries to come in here to compete with goods manufactured in accordance with our industrial laws. Iu the circumstances, therefore, I hope that this Parliament will revise the Tariff. Some honorable members opposite have sought to impress upon us the idea that the primary industries of Australia are alone worthy of our attention. I would point out, however, that no country in modern history has become great as the result of its primary industries alone. Of recent years it has been the desire of all progressive countries, by every means at their disposal, to encourage and foster their manufacturing industries. It is almost a scandal that, despite our boasted progress, the total tonnage of ships built in Australia last year was only about 3,000 tons. That tonnage was made up of small motor boats and ferry steamers, built almost entirely in New South Wales. Recently the Indarra, a vessel of 10,000 tons, intended for the coastal trade, arrived here, and she will be followed next week by the Katoomba, another vessel of 10,000 tons, which has just been built for Messrs. Mcllwraith, McEacharn and Company. Both these vessels were built abroad. Japan, Russia, and almost every great country that we can name, believe in building their own vessels for their own trade. Yet the state of the ship-building industry in Victoria is such that recently, when a small steamer was required to ply between Port Melbourne and Williamstown, it had to be constructed in New South Wales. There is a great work in this connexion before our party. There is no possibility of private enterprise in Victoria at present entering into the shipbuilding industry, which, it must be recognised, is the most important that could be established and fostered. The shipbuilding industry in Germany and England is slack to-day, with the result that depression practically rules from one end of the country to the other. The shipbuilding trade in Scotland is also slack, and consequently there is also depression there, for the reason that so many thousands have to depend upon the industry. I have little hope of private enterprise undertaking in this country what is really a great national- industry. The work is ohe for the National Parliament. Some of our opponents will say, “ This is another stride towards Socialism.” They may call it what they please, but I contend that as long as this industry will bring employment and prosperity to our people, the National Parliament should undertake the responsibility of creating and fostering it. The Commonwealth Parliament should take up the industry, and give it every possible protection. The same remark will apply to many other industries. I shall not go so far as -to say that whatever depression may obtain in Melbourne to-day is due entirely to the lack of Protection. I believe many of our industries are fully protected, but there are others which could well receive more assistance through the Customs House. A revision of the Tariff, in the circumstances, is necessary, and I trust there will be no delay in entering upon that work. In Victoria to-day, unfortunately, we are faced with an unemployed problem. We have, at a low estimate, from 5,000 to 6,000 unemployed in this State, and these are practically to be found within the metropolitan area. I shall not say that they are all out of work because of ineffective Protection, but I think that much of this want of work is due to the irresponsible system of immigration which the State Government is conducting. There are certain times of the year when a number of people could be brought to Australia and absorbed by the labour market, but there are other times when to bring people here is merely to dump them among the unemployed. That is what is going on at present. Mr. Watt, Premier of Victoria, speaking at a function recently, said he recognised that it was the duty of his Govenment to find employment for every immigrant brought to Victoria, and that it was also the duty of his Government to find employment for our own people. But what is taking place in Victoria to-day? Immigrants arrive here with letters of introduction, many of our own people are being forced out of employment, and just as they are forced out of employment, immigrants take their places. The State Government have taken upon themselves the responsibility of finding work for these people, and they know that while they are doing so they are in many instances actually crushing the native-born out of work. The system of immigration in operation to-day is most unfair.
– It is a very foolish one.
– It is, and I hope that this Government will not assist the State Governments at this juncture, at least, to bring more of these people here under the existing conditions. The present system is unfair to our own people, and unfair to the new arrival. It must be very disheartening to those who come here - having been induced to come by the glowing pictures put before them of aland flowing with milk and honey - only to find that they cannot obtain work. The State Government finds it impossible to-day to secure employment for all the immigrants, and many are amongst our unemployed. Those connected with our movement have been charged with hostility to immigrants. That cannot be said of me. The majority of the immigrants coming here are men and women of spirit. Indeed, men and women must have some spirit to be prepared to cut their home ties and to travel 15,000 or 16,000 miles to another land to make a new home for themselves. There must be something in the man or the woman who will undertake the journey, and the risk attaching to it. Therefore, I personally - and I think I am expressing the feeling of all in our movement - have no hostile feeling towards new arrivals. As a trade union official, almost every day I have been interviewed by these people seeking employment, and in many cases even asking for financial assistance. This is our experience at the Trades Hall day after day.
– There is plenty of employment, is there not?
– There are from 5,000 to 6,000 unemployed persons in the Victorian metropolitan area to-day.
– Surely not after three years of Labour Government!
– In 1890, after fifty or sixty years of Liberal Government, there were from 35,000 to 40,000 unemployed in Australia. My honorable friend may think that an exaggeration, but I lived in both Sydney and Melbourne at the time, and know that there were soup kitchens in every suburb of both cities to give relief. The poverty and unemployment then existing in every State of Australia was not less severe than in any part of the Old World. Moreover, there are more unemployed in Victoria to-day, where the State has a Liberal Government, than there are in New South Wales or Western Australia, where Labour Governments are in power. The Fisher Government was in no way responsible for the unemployment of which I speak. The legislation which it passed will for all time redound to its credit, and to that of every man and woman connected with the Labour movement. The honorable member for Werriwa yesterday spoke against the Commonwealth note issue; but let me read what was said on that subject by Sir Josiah Symon, speaking at Adelaide on the 25th April last. He said, referring to the Labour party -
Then they introduced the Australian notes. I do not presume to be a financier for a moment, but I never saw any objection to the National note issue. If I did, I find my friend, Sir John Forrest, who is a financier, when asked about it in Western Australia the other day - when asked whether the Liberal party intended to do away with the Federal note issue, Sir John Forrest said, “ No, I had intended to introduce the note issue before I left office. The Labour party found all my files on the subject. (Laughter.) But I would not have introduced the Bill in the present shape. I think that it ought to be modified. I am a believer in a National note issue for Australia.”
The honorable member for Werriwa condemned the Fisher Government for having established the Commonwealth note issue.
– I would condemn any Government for doing so.
– Well, you say you enjoy freedom on that side, and there must be others who hold the same opinions as the honorable member. I hope that when the Government brings in a measure to alter the note issue, the honorable member, and those who think with him, will be found assisting us in maintaining it as it stands. I wish now to refer to certain statements made during the electoral campaign regarding the increased constitutional powers for which the Labour party asked the people of Australia. Since this Parliament met, the Attorney-General has tried to kill with ridicule the contention of the La-‘ bour party that trusts and combines exist in Australia. He has also tried to kill with ridicule the appeal of the Labour party for an alteration of the Constitution to enable this Parliament to pass laws dealing with trusts and combines. But this is the opinion that he expressed last year - I read from a report published in the Age on the 16th March, 1912 -
With regard to the referendum questions to be re-submitted next year, he still held the opinion that the Commonwealth would yet have to seek larger powers over trade and commerce. It would be necessary, if the Federal Parliament was to achieve the purposes of a National Parliament, to acquire more control over trade and injurious monopolies where they arose.
The honorable member then considered that it would be necessary to have an alteration of the Constitution to deal with combines and monopolies as they arose. I admit’ that he did not say that we have combines and monopolies in operation here to-day. That was the contention of the Labour party, however, when it went to the country.
– Mr. Justice Powers, when Crown Solicitor, was appointed to ascertain whether there were trusts and combines in existence, and he reported that there were not.
– He said that there are combines operating here, but that it was useless to prosecute them under the existing laws. The Labour party held the existing laws to be ineffective for the suppression of combines and trusts. We believed that an improper combination existed in the Coal Vend and Shipping Combine. Mr. Justice Isaacs held that opinion, too; but, fortunately or unfortunately - I do not know which - the Privy Council, on appeal, decided that the combination was not detrimental to the Australian public.
– I do not know. What would have been the position had the Privy Council upheld Mr. Justice Isaacs? The people of Australia would have found themselves situated similarly to the people of the United States of America. There the huge trusts are prosecuted and penalties inflicted; but, no matter how huge the fines, they are paid, and the trusts get the money back by charging increased prices for the goods whose sale they control. Had the late Attorney-General successfully prosecuted the combines to which I refer, and obtained a conviction, no satisfactory result would have followed. Suppose that a conviction were obtained against the Sugar Combine, what would happen? It would pay a fine of £10,000, or £15,000, and call upon the public to make good the amount by paying the grocers higher prices for sugar.
– The way to deal with combines is to sweep away the Tariff that creates them.
– The only way to deal with them is that which has been advocated by the Labour party. We asked for an alteration of the Constitution, so that, where we were of opinion that a business was not being conducted in a legitimate manner, we might have the power to say to those at the head of it, “ Conduct it fairly, or we as a Parliament shall take it from you and conduct it in the interests of the people.”
– That is nationalization.
– Call it what you like, but if we have to deal with combines the only way to control them will be to act on the lines advocated by the Labour party.
– Will the honorable member read sub-sections 37 and 38 ?
– I shall read something better that may appeal more to the honorable member. The President of theUnited States of America, Woodrow
Wilson, in a message to the people of America, said -
Back of all reform lies the means of getting it - back of the question of what you want is the question - How are you going to get it? We are agreed that certain reforms are needed, but we find that the first necessary reform is one that will render us able to get reform. There has got to be a popular rebellion for the re-conquest and re-assumption of the rights of the people which have been too long surrendered. We have got to revolutionize our political machinery, and thus make possible the access of the people to the execution of their purposes. I tell you the people of this country are determined at last to take over the control of their own politics. We are going to cut down the jungle in which corruption lurks. We are going to break down private understandings, and force them to be public understandings. Trusts, combines, and corners must no longer be permitted to fleece the general body of American citizens.
– Hear, hear! Read on.
– It continues-
The time has arrived to give notice to the men who have waxed fat by the possession of unjust privileges and bounties, that the existing order of things is going to be changed. And the change is not a revolution, let it be understood. It is merely a restoration. I am accused of being a Radical, and if going to the root of things is to be a Radical, a Radical I am. I tell you that the so-called Radicalism of our times is simply the effort of nature to release the generous energies of our people.
– There is still another bit.
– I shall read it-
I tell you the great need of the hour is just that form of Radicalism that will clear a way for the realization of the true aspirations of a sturdy race and a sovereign democracy.
Mir. Conroy.- That is not the end of the passage.
– I have several times had occasion to ask honorable members to extend the courtesy of an uninterrupted hearing to a new member making a maiden speech. As the honorable member has just a little over a quarter of an hour in which to finish, I ask honorable members to enable him to make his speech without unnecessary interruptions.
An Honorable Member. - Get the leader of the honorable member for Werriwa to put him on the chain.
– I have just sat down after calling on the House for order. I shall have to take other steps if honorable members do not obey the Chair. The honorable member for Fawkner is entitled to be heard in silence, and I ask the House to give him that hearing to which he is entitled.
– Since the elections the Vice-President of the United States has toured throughout the States for the purpose of ascertaining the working of the combines and trusts. One of the objects of the tour is to inquire in the different States as to the ineffectiveness of the Constitution under which America is governed. Within the last few months the people of America have recognised that they are in the hands of those who control the combines and trusts. Even in Victoria, any one reading the evidence of the witnesses in connexion with an inquiry now being held must recognise the power these people have once they form into a combination with a view to robbing the public. We are told there are no combines worthy of notice in Australia, but I am positive there are combines in operation in Australia just as there are in older parts of the world. The policy taken up by honorable members on the Ministerial side is against the national interests of the people of Australia. The Attorney-General maintains there are no combines in Australia, and that there is no need for the alteration of the Constitution, but when the combines and trusts come along and develop, and when they have the people of Australia in their clutches and at their mercy, the honorable member for Flinders, and no doubt the Prime Minister, will awake to their responsibilities and advocate an alteration of the Constitution, so that the National Parliament may be in a position to pass laws to deal effectively with these people. We say, as a party, that the Constitution should be altered, so that a law may be passed to keep these trusts from extending their operations. We believe that there are combines in operation in Australia, and we say that we should not allow them to grow into the mighty combinations that are operating in other countries; and that the only correct policy is to alter the Constitution in the direction advocated by our party, and bring laws into existence to deal with these people. Then, when we have the law, if they desire to form their illegal combinations, they can be punished. But the only effective method by which we can deal with them is to give the National Parliament the power to nationalize whatever industry the combination may be operating in.
– You have overlooked the fact that we have absolute power to deal with these matters.
– References have been made to the industrial unrest and upheaval said to have taken place in Australia during the three years the Fisher Government were in power. On every platform during the recent election, and in practically every issue of the Melbourne journals - and I believe the same applied to other States - the electors were told that the management of the industrial movement had taken advantage of the fact that a Labour Government were in power, and had created industrial strife from one end of Australia to the other. We were told that the Labour Government had practically appointed pickets, and had refused to assist the States in maintaining law and order when industrial strife actually existed. In every instance the press placed the whole of the responsibility on the members of the Labour Government and their followers in the National Parliament. Members of inductrial unions have the greatest respect for those who represent them in Parliament, and for their opinions, and honour them for the positions they hold, but those responsible for the management of our industrial movement do not allow members of Parliament to dictate to them what their industrial policy should be. The members of the Fisher Administration were no more responsible for the industrial strife that took place during their term of office than was the Leader of the Opposition at that time; in fact, they were less responsible, because if they had had the power to pass the industrial legislation advocated by us as a party, industrial strikes would be a thing of the past in Australia. What has taken place in Australia is not strange to other parts of the world. The upheaval that has taken place in England during the last two years - and it has occurred in other parts of Europe - has its cause in the fact that the schoolmaster has been abroad. In the hearts of the working men of all parts of the world is a desire to live in something like common decency. That sentiment is abroad, not only in Australia, but in every part of the civilized world, and workers are not prepared to live in hovels, as they were prepared to do some years ago. Just as they have become educated, and just as they have realized how others live, so does the desire come into their hearts to live somewhat similarly, and as long as that desire grows stronger, so will their agitation become stronger. If those people cannot, by constitutional means, obtain the economic justice they are asking for, they will go on strike. I was told even in my electorate that the workmen of this country go on strike and bring misery and hardship on their wives and children without giving any consideration to them; and that was also said in the press of Victoria. The working men of Australia, or of Britain, do not go on strike to bring misery and hardship on their wives and children. The desire of men in going on strike is, in 99 cases out of 100, to get increased wages, which mean a greater degree of comfort and happiness for themselves and their families. We are told that the Labour party is responsible for the industrial strife in our land. to-day. But the Labour party, ou the political side of the movement, is not responsible. From the inception of the movement we have tried to place on the statute-books of the States and the National Parliament industrial legislation that will give to the worker justice without asking him to make the great sacrifice of going on strike. We say that it is unjust and unfair that workers should have to strike - to cease work - to obtain reasonable wages and conditions; that it is unfair that they should be asked to make this sacrifice. Up to the present we have been denied the right of placing on the statute-book of this State industrial legislation of the kind ; and by whom has the right been denied? By members sitting on that side of the House, who have withheld from this Parliament the Constitutional power to give effect to such legislation. It is the supporters of honorable members opposite in our Legislative Council who have placed every difficulty in the way. We brought into existence an effective system of Wages Boards. At the dictation of the Employers’ Federation of Victoria that system was wrecked, and there was constituted an Appeal Court, which is responsible for a strike in Victoria to-day. When a Wages Board gave the men an award of fortyeight hours, the employers appealed, and the working time was increased to fiftyfour hours. A Wages Board awarded men 48s. a week, but, when the employers appealed, the wage was reduced to 36s. The gentlemen who are responsible for this stand for industrial peace, and pose as the apostles and upholders of law and order. If there is industrial strife they, and they alone, are responsible.
– The honorable member for Werriwa asked the honorable member for Fawkner to add to a quotation from President Wilson a most important paragraph, which the notes of the honorable member evidently did not contain. It is a pity that such a paragraph should be missed, and therefore I read it -
We now recognise, after trying all other ways, that the only effectual way to deal with trusts is to remove the Tariff which created them.
That is the part the honorable member would not read.
– Is the honorable member in favour of removing the Tariff ?
– The honorable member will hear my opinion of the Tariff presently. The Opposition have challenged the Government for not reducing the cost of living, and for not giving increased Protection; but the Leader of the Opposition and every one of his supporters have been particularly careful not to mention which duties in the Tariff can be increased without also increasing the cost of living. I have taken the trouble to go through the Tariff, and I wish to point out the utter inconsistency of the position of the Opposition as a party. I have not been able to discover half-a-dozen items which could be increased without also increasing the cost of living, or which could be decreased to reduce the cost of living, without interfering with the policy of Protection. The cost of living is chiefly the cost of what a household consumes and wears. If a working man starts with a breakfast of porridge, there is a duty of1s. 6d. per cental on the grain, and of½d. per lb. on the oatmeal. Is it proposed to increase that Protection? If so, we must ipso facto increase the cost of living. If he happens to have ham and eggs, or bacon and eggs, there is a duty of 3d. per lb. on the ham and bacon, and of 6d. per dozen on the eggs. Can we reduce those duties without interfering with the protective incidence of the Tariff? Tea is free, but on coffee there is a duty of 3d. per lb.; on cocoa 3d., and of1s. 6d. per cental on wheat. In the case of luncheon, there is a duty of 2d. per lb. on meat, and on biscuits½d. per lb.; while dried fruits pay 3d. per lb., and green fruits1d. per lb. When it comes to dinner, there is the duty of 2d. per lb. on meat, of £1 per ton on salt,1s. 6d. per cental on maize, 6s. per cental on prepared rice, 2d. per lb. on jam, £6 per ton on sugar, 3d. per lb. on cheese, 3d. per lb. on butter, 20 per cent. on vegetables,1s. per cwt. on onions, £1 per ton on potatoes, and so forth. I am pointing out these facts, because no honorable member opposite has pointed out one item in the Tariff on which the cost of living can be reduced without interfering with the Protective policy which this House, wisely or unwisely, has accepted. In the case of clothing, a man wakes up in the morning in his 30 per cent. blanket, and puts on his 100 per cent. cap, and his 30 to 35 per cent. boots - every article has a Protective Tariff. It is nothing less than sheer hypocrisy for honorable members opposite to express a desire to reduce the cost of living and in the same breath talk of increasing the Tariff.
– What about the £100,000 received on tinned fish; is that not a revenue duty?
– When that duty was imposed, it was pointed out by an honorable member sitting on this side that it was absolutely necessary, in the interests of the fishermen, to give them Protection against the imports from other countries. Why should fishermen not have Protection, just as men in the cities have ?
– A sum of £80,000 a year is received on rice, which we do not produce.
– When the duty on rice was imposed, it was pointed out that there were thousands of acres in the Northern Territory specially adapted for rice growing, and this duty was imposed as a protective one.
– It is a revenue duty.
– The question of the duties will have to be fought out on another occasion; at present I am pointing out the utter absurdity of this doublebarrelled amendment. Practically every item of daily food and clothing already carries a protective duty. In Monday’s newspaper we read of a pleasant little gathering, at which the honorable member for Maribyrnong was present, and the chairman of the company stated that they were manufacturing a certain class of boot in Australia which could not be produced under 6s. 6d., and on which there was a profit of 4d. The same gentleman also pointed out that similar boots were imported from Austria, where labour is particularly cheap, and retailed at 4s.11d. The idea of our Protectionist friends is that there should be such a duty imposed that the imported boots could not be sold under 6s. 6d., and this, of course, would mean raising their price. I am not going into the question whether this should or should not be done, but wish to point out the absurdity of increasing the price of boots from 4s.11d. to 6s. 6d., and at the same time hoping to decrease the cost of living. That is the position in which honorable members opposite find themselves ; and not one in the course of this debate has dealt with the vexed question of how we are to increase the duties and at the same time decrease the cost of living.
– A number of articles could be placed on the free list.
– Without mentioning narcotics, tobacco, and absolute luxuries, there are not many of the necessaries of life which carry any material duty.
– Women’s dress goods produce £500,000.
– Out of a Tariff revenue of £15,000,000 or £16,000,000? Does the honorable member seriously sugguest that the removal of the duty on cotton goods would materially decrease the cost of living? The honorable member for Fawkner stated that it was impossible or futile to prosecute the Sugar Company, because if the company were fined heavily it would simply increase the price of sugar, and pass the charge on to the consumer. The Sugar Company monopoly - I am one who thinks there is a monopoly - takes full advantage of the Tariff. The Minister of Trade and Customs, who has given this matter consideration, will bear out what I say.
– I have said the same thing in this House since 1902.
– But the honorable member has voted the other way.
– I voted to establish the industry here so that we could deal with it, but the honorable member’s party will not deal with it.
– I think that on every occasion upon which I have ad dressed myself to this question the honorable member for Yarra has admitted that the sugar industry is one of those that take advantage of the Tariff to its utmost extent. It would be impossible for the sugar industry to-morrow to take anything more out of the public than it does, because it is practically taking advantage of the full amount of the duty. There is in to-day’s Argus a very interesting article on this question contributed by Mr. A. W. Palfreyman, who has had many years’ experience, and who points out that already it pays him to import sugar. Honorable members must confess that the position they have taken up in this regard is thoroughly illogical.
– How are we to obtain a protectionist Tariff from the Liberal party if the honorable member is going to continue talking in this way.
– The honorable member speaks loudly now, but during the three years that his party were in power he simply played with this question. His party had a full majority, and could have dealt with the Tariff had it chosen to do so. Indeed, I think that the honorable gentleman joined with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports at the beginning of the last Parliament in saying that he would not vote for any more Protection unless it were accompanied by the new Protection.
– I am under the impression that he made that statement early in the first session of the last Parliament, but that when its life was drawing to a close he, unlike the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, “ put up the umbrella.” Sooner or later the Tariff question will have to be fought out. My position is well known.
– The honorable member is known as a geographical Protectionist.
– The honorable member always contrives to be rude, but rarely succeeds in being absolutely correct. I know of no one who can play the geographical trick better than he does. If the honorable member desires to know my position, let me tell him that I believe there are in the Tariff a few items which ought to be raised as long as Protection remains the national policy, but that there are many others which should be very considerably reduced. When the Tariff question is submitted to this Parliament, no matter what party introduces it, we shall find the position the same as it always has been. We shall find some of the most rabid Protectionists on this side of the Bouse joining hands with the rabid Protectionists of the Opposition; while Revenue Tariffists, Free Traders, and those who advocate low duties on both sides will combine to vote against high duties. The Tariff question, outside Victoria, played a very minor part at the last general election.
– The Age fought the elections on the Tariff question, and landed five supporters of the Liberal party.
– But outside Victoria the Tariff issue played a very minor part. I am sure that it did not affect the voting in one electorate in Tasmania, and I do not think it affected the voting in New South Wales, Queensland, or Western Australia. Coming to the question of the high cost of living, I think that a very important factor was laid bare by Mr. Bavin, who sat as a Royal Commission in New South Wales, to consider the question. He pointed out that one of the reasons for the present high cost of living was that local production was not keeping pace with the increase in population. That is an exceedingly important factor, and it is certainly a very unfortunate fact. I agree with the honorable member for Fawkner and the honorable member for Ballarat, that it is not in the best interests of Australia or in the interests of the people themselves, that large numbers of immigrants should be dumped down in Melbourne and Sydney. It is a mistake from the stand-point of Australia, and is unfair to the immigrants themselves.
– It is good for the landlord.
– I would remind the honorable member that some of the most exaggerated statements that have ever been published in regard to immigration to Australia were issued by the Government of which he was a member. The first pamphlet sent Home by the Fisher Government contained statements that were very considerably exaggerated. The honorable member for Ballarat, when charging the Liberal party with having induced people, as the result of misrepre sentation, to come to Australia, quite overlooked the fact that during the last three years the Immigration Department was under the control of his own party! If any one has been induced to come to Australia as the result of misrepresentation during the last three years, the fault lies therefore with his own party. I do not think that the quotations which he made last night from an anonymous contribution to the Penny Pictorial - a newspaper published in the Old Country - were very much more exaggerated than those which appeared in an interview given by the ex-Prime Minister, when in England, to the very same journal. One of the statements made by the right honorable gentleman was that men in his own calling - miners - could readily obtain 10s. per day in Australia. He must have known, when he made that statement, that they could not.
– I think that they receive 10s. per day in Western Australia.
– The right honorable gentleman spoke, not of Western Australia, but of Australia. Speaking of immigration as it affects this House,I do not believe that it is in the best interests of Australia, that large numbers of unskilled labourers should be dumped down in our big cities to compete very often in a congested labour market. Men so dealt with are not given the opportunity to which they are entitled.
– That is in the platform to which the honorable member has subscribed.
– I have always subscribed to my own statements both as a member of the State Parliament and as a member of this Legislature. I repeated them when the late Minister of External Affairs was sending Home the exaggerated statements as to the condition of the labour market in Australia, to which I have already referred. I have never departed from the view I am now expressing. What Australia needs is not an increase of our city population, but more people to fill her empty spaces. I propose now to give some figures which are certainly extraordinary. In the year 1911-12, for the first time since Federation, there was a decrease in the area under crop per thousand of population. Let me give the figures for all the States. The area under crop in 1910-11 in New South Wales showed an increase of 242,496 acres compared with the figures for the previous year, and in Victoria a decrease of 311,829. Is it not an extraordinary fact that an honorable member, who is in a position to speak with authority, should be able to say that there are in the metropolis of Melbourne to-day 5,000 unemployed, whilst at the same time the area under crop in this State is decreasing? While the honorable member for Oxley was speaking, I said there had been a decrease of the area under cultivation in Queensland.
– The honorable member said in Australia.
– No, I spoke of Queensland. In that State, in 1911-12, there was a reduction of 140,725 acres in the area under crop; in South Australia, there was an increase of 219,000 acres; in Western Australia, an increase of 217,000; and in Tasmania, a decrease of 16,900 acres. Thus in three of the States of the Union there was a decrease of 469,000 acres, compared with the area under cultivation in the preceding year.
– Where did the honorable member obtain his figures?
– I have taken them from Knibbs, and they are the latest available. One of the points made by Mr. Bavin, the New South Wales Commissioner on the High Cost of Living, was that there was not in respect of production in Australia the same increase that there was in the aggregate population. After 125 years of cultivation in Australia - because it is 125 years since Captain Phillips first used the plough in Australia - we find that in New South Wales there is only one acre out of fifty -five under cultivation; in Victoria one out of fifteen; in South Australia one out of eighty-two; in Queensland one out of 815; in Western Australia one out of 582; and in Tasmania one out of sixtytwo; whilst in the Northern Territory there is only one out of every 894 acres. Only 1 per cent. of the acreage of Australia is under crop. Honorable members can see that if the duties on imports are high, whether they be protective or revenue duties, and there is a decrease in the area under cultivation, with the large growth of population in the cities, the cost of living must in crease. It is to play with the question to suggest that by increasing the protective Tariff the cost of living will be decreased. Will the honorable member for Batman say on what goods we could increase duties without interfering with the cost of living? There has been a good deal of talk during the debate about the sugar question, and the statements we have heard conflict so much, that I have been unable yet to master the details; but it seems to me that a considerable sum of money has been given to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, temporarily, I hope. Whoever may be to blame, I trust that the Government will take early steps to protect the revenue. The sugar question will have to be faced by Parliament sooner or later. When in Queensland twelve months ago, I suggested that a committee of five cane-growers should visit Sydney, and there confer witha committee of five persons interested in the confectionery and jam trades, with a view to devising means for removing the present heavy handicap on the fruit-growing industry without, if possible, injuring the sugar industry. None of us wishes to injure the sugar industry, but we should not. protect it at the sacrifice of other industries of equal importance. By a conference such as I suggest, a fair compromise might be arrived at, which would enable the sugar industry to be assisted without the practical strangling of a kindred industry. Coming to another matter which has been constantly mentioned during the debate, there can be no question that, Australia entered upon an entirely novel experiment in creating the Commonwealth Parliament with two Houses having the same franchise. It was inevitable that these Houses would one day come into conflict. But the present position is intolerable, and opposed to the best interests of Australia. We have the Government with a majority in this Chamber, but with an absolute minority in the Senate. If honorable members of the Labour party really desire an appeal to the country, as they say they do, let the members of both this House and the Senate tender their resignations, so that we may have a fair fight. It is the electors who have brought about the present position, and it is they who should remedy the trouble that has been created. But the members of the Labour party wish to play with loaded dice. With them it is a case of “heads I win, tails you lose. “
Were this House alone to go to the country, the position would not be altered, even if the Government came back with a substantial majority. Honorable members opposite dare not play the game fairly. They know that with an appeal from one House only they would have everything to gain and nothing to lose. The Labour party in the Senate and here is one. Labour members in both places are bound by the same platform, and are under the same discipline. If they sincerely desire to get the opinion of the electors, let them arrange for the resignation of the members of both Houses. The game can be played fairly only by having a double dissolution. The Government can do no business until that has come about. If my advice would be acceptable, I would say to the Prime Minister, “ Do not allow the spectacle of the last two days to continue.”
– Why does not the Government resign?
– Let the members of both Houses send in their resignations. Why should we be penalized because the members of another place are taking advantage of their numbers ? In a State Legislature when a dissolution is being pressed for by the Upper House, the members of the Lower House always reply, “ Why should we alone be penalized V Both Houses should appeal to the people in this case. If I were in the place of the Prime Minister, I would not tolerate the present position a day longer than may be necessary to secure a double dissolution.
– How would the honorable member provide for that?
– Honorable members may obstruct, and I know that among them are men who can play that game for all it is worth. They may delay things for a little while, but they will find ultimately that the framers of the Consitution built it on firm ground, and that there is a constitutional way of bringing things to an issue. There must be a dissolution of both Houses, so that the electors may end the trouble that they have created.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Arthur) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
H.M.A.S. Australia and Sydney - No-confidencedebate.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Last night I informed the Prime Minister of a request which I intended to make of him to-night regarding the visit of the flagship of the Australian Squadron to Western Australia on her journey from the Mother Country to these waters. I wish to emphasize what I have already said on this subject. Western Australia is in a peculiar position. The people of Fremantle and Perth recognise that Sydney naturally desires to give the first official welcome to the magnificent vessels. Still they would ask whether the Prime Minister will agree to alter the port of call of the Australia and Sydney from Albany to Fremantle. By doing so he will save to the Commonwealth the expense that will be incurred in these vessels proceeding later on from Adelaide to Fremantle, and returning - a matter of 3,000 miles steaming.I have telegrams from the Mayor of Fremantle and the honorable member for Fremantle in the State Assembly. I believe also the Premier of Western Australia has proffered a request to the Prime Minister on behalf of the State. I urge the Prime Minister to grant this concession to the people of the western State, more particularly to the people of the metropolitan area. Our desire is that the Australia and Sydney should call at Fremantle rather than at Albany, and so give the opportunity to the people of the metropolitan area of seeing these vessels on the journey from the Old Land.
– I wish to prefer a request on behalf of the port of Melbourne. I do not know why this fine battleship is to pass by three very important States to make the first official call at Sydney Harbor, but if the Government are immovable in regard to the very moderate requests made by the honorable member for Fremantle and myself, I would like to know if the Prime Minister is in a position to inform the House as to the intentions of the Government in regard to the official welcome in Sydney, and as to what opportunity will be afforded honorable members of having a look at the demon- stratton in the “ beautiful harbor “ if we cannot view the vessels in the wonderful port of Hobson’s Bay.
– The Government will be glad to afford honorable members all the facilities they desire for the inspection of these boats. They can go to Sydney, and we will undertake to give them comfortable passages, and we wall not ask them any questions as to when they are coming back. I can only say that I hope every facility will be given to honorable members and their friends, and the public generally, to see the ships at every place that is practicable. More than that I cannot say, but I shall make inquiries regarding the suggestion from the West. It seems to me to be a very feasible proposition, and I shall see -if it can be carried out. Also, with regard to the facilities in Melbourne, I shall make inquiries in that direction. Any- Government should be desirous of exhibiting these ships * at every point where the public can see them. The people have to pay for them, and the more we can get them to look at the vessels, and the more we can develop the sea sense of the people of Australia, the better it will be for the future of our Navy. May I say a word with regard to the debate on the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition f It has now been proceeding for three weeks, and it is the opinion of the Government that it should cease. However, we are in the hands of the House to a certain extent, and I can only appeal to honorable members to terminate the debate as early as possible. I am bound to say I am bitterly disappointed to-day at the answer I received from the Opposition with regard to the future progress of the debate. I had hoped we would be able to make some arrangement for its termination this week, possibly to-night, but I have learned that there is no prospect of making any arrangement whatever with our friends, for they are determined to exercise their rights to the fullest possible extent.
– There have been longer debates.
– I think it will be found that no debate ever ran over three weeks, as this is threatening to do.
– I think my statement will be’ found to be correct.
– I have looked up some of the debates. You are wrong.
– Have any debates lasted more than three weeks?
– Yob; and the honorable member played an important part in them.
– I should be glad to see the record. I very much doubt the honorable member’s recollection.
– We are making precedents.
– I know. Honorable members made some last night in another place.
– And we shall make some more.
– You are going to make some more, no doubt. I imagine there will be plenty of precedents created before this issue is decided. I should like this debate to come to an end. All proposals with that object have been definitely and deliberately turned down by my friends opposite today.
– There has been speaker for speaker so far.
– Quite true; there has been an amount of speaking on this side; I do not wish to soy anything to the contrary ; but I feel that the time has come when I may appeal to honorable members on this side who have not spoken to forego their rights to further debate, and reserve what they have to say for some other occasion. I would like to make the same appeal to honorable members on the Opposition side. I have made it in every possible way, but with no result, I regret to say.
– I remember our appeals to you when you stuck us up for fifty-four hours.
– My friend will still continue making these irrelevant interjections. I do not recollect any debate extending over three weeks. In all conscience this debate has proceeded lone enough, and if my friends are determined to waste public time, and if they will not do any business, we shall have to let them make it quite manifest to the public.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19130828_reps_5_70/>.