5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I understand that the Prime Minister, speaking at a meeting of the Liberal party in the Independent Hall, said, yesterday, that the party’s motto is the Communistic motto “ Each for each and all for each.” I wish to know, therefore, whether the party proposes to adopt the Communistic programme as well as the motto of the Communists ?
– The honorable member, like myself, jokes “ wi’ deeficulty.”
– I claim the indulgence of the Prime Minister to refer to the printing of amending regulations, a matter which I brought under his notice some time ago. I have received a large hatch of these regulations this morning, hut it is impossible for them to be effectively understood unless they are compared with the original regulations that they amend, and these are so numerous that it would occupy more time than we have to spare to hunt them up. I suggest tothe Prime Minister that he should either supply honorable members with copies of the regulations that are amended, together with the amending regulations, or print the regulations as amended, so that we may know exactly what is proposed.
– The question has to do with the ordinary current business of the country, which honorable members have deliberately held up for three weeks. If only they will cease from holding it up, we shall take steps-
– This is unseemly !
– The Prime Minister states that this side of the House has deliberately held up the business of the country for three weeks. Seeing that in the censure debate honorable members have spoken alternately from each side, I ask that the remark be withdrawn. .
– I repeat what I said. A censure motion holds up the business of Parliament. That has always been the rule.
– I ask that the remarks be withdrawn.
– I decline to withdraw them until Mr. Speaker directs their withdrawal.
– I understood the Prime Minister to mean, speaking in a general way, without reference to any individual member, or to any particular body of members, that a motion such as the House has been discussing has the effect of holding up business.
– He deliberately referred to honorable members on this side of the Chamber.
– It is disorderly to interrupt the Speaker. If the Prime Minister’s words were used in the sense that I have mentioned, they were not disorderly; but if they attributed to any honorable member or members the desire to deliberately prevent the transaction of the business of the House, they were not in order.
– My remarks were not directed to any particular member; they were directed to the motion of censure, and such a motion, until disposed of, holds up the business of Parliament and the country.
-How does the motion of censure affect the printing of these regulations ?
– We decline to answer any questions relating to matters of this kind until it has been disposed of.
– As the charge has been made by at least two honorable members opposite that the meetings of the Labour party are held in secret, I ask the Prime Minister whether the meetings of the Conference of Liberal candidates now assembling at the Independent Hall are open to the press and to the public?
-I know nothing about the Conference, beyond what took place when I was there yesterday, when a motion was carried to admit the press.
– To all the proceedings of the Conference ? Surely not !
Debate resumed from 28th August, (vide page 696), on motion by Mr. Ahern) -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to by this House : -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament -
Upon which Mr. Fisher had moved -
That the following words be added to the proposed Address : -
But regret your advisers -
.- It is with some diffidence, and a considerable sense of responsibility, that I make my first appearance in this High Court of Parliament. I hoped to have more time for the process of orientation, that I might accustom myself to the atmosphere of the House, physical, mental, and moral. In this debate, we have become used to hearing from new members a castigation of the methods of the old members and of the House itself. In that castigation I shall take no part. The tendency of the new broom to notify immediately its intention to sweep clean is due to the fact that these new members have not become sufficiently accustomed to the atmosphereof the House. Their complaints are really against Parliament as an institution. We have copied the procedure and methods of the Mother of Parliaments, and when these new members have undergone a further process of incubation we shall, I think, find them falling in readily with those methods, which the experience of centuries has proved to be best adapted to the business of a deliberative assembly. I offer to them a poetical paraphrase of a very old maxim -
Seek not thy aged grand-dam to instruct,
With impious lips, transgressing Nature’s law,
Forth from the snowy shell by secret duct,
The golden juices of the egg to draw.
In this Parliament I take the place of an old and respected member of this House, from the beginning until the recent elections, one who took a great share in the question of Federation, and set himself to the spade work when Federation was “in the air.” Sir John Quick set himself to work, and brought forth, for the consideration of those who were conducting the preliminary matters of Federation, a practicable and workable scheme; and for that one cannot but regret his disappearance from these councils. To that extent, I feel it incumbent upon me to mark, at any rate, my appreciation of his former work in this country.
– I thought that you were going to say that you regretted his departure.
– But I have also to say that my late opponent has suffered the penalty for what his former constituents rightly considered a betrayal of Liberalism in joining the Fusion party. When the Prime Minister, who I am convinced had then no premonition of so soon becoming the head of the Government, and the Attorney-General entered that electorate and spoke of the immense constitutional services of Sir John Quick, one could hardly have expected that, when they had the opportunity of recognising those constitutional and Federal services, they would not appropriately have recognised them .
– W - We were going to put him on the Inter-State Commission.
– I congratulate the electorate of Bendigo - not for returning me personally - and the electorate of Ballarat upon coming into line with what I conceive to be Democracy. The accession of those great cities, Ballarat and Bendigo, to the Labour cause is very significant: The present Government is in power by the votes of the rural constituencies. The consideration of that fact, in itself, should be a warning to them that where the Democracy is enlightened, as it is in great aggregations of people, there you have an unfailing support of the Labour party. Which are the constituences that returned a majority to this House ? The rural districts, and those city constituencies which are inhabited by the representatives of the vested interests and the money power.
The honorable member for Indi has interjected something with regard to Farmer Hayseed.
– A very indiscreet interjection.
– It was a most indiscreet interjection. No one on this side derides the farmer. We believe ourselves to be the true friends of the farmer for the reasons which our programme has exhibited. All along the line of history, the rural parts of a country have been against the Democracy. It is where aggregations of population are reached by political education more readily, and not merely by one or two newspapers, as we have in this country to-day, that the true force of the Democracy is exhibited.
– And also the revolutions of history.
– The revolutions of history have come from the towns, and when that greatest of all revolutions took place, who fought against the people who were trying to liberate their country from the thrall of vested interests, oppression, and slavery ? The rural districts took up arms to support the very men who were trying to crush them and had crushed them for hundreds of years into subjection. The success in Bendigo and Ballarat I attribute largely to a very important matter, and that is the establishment of Labour daily newspapers there at the time of the campaign. That is significant, also, to my honorable friends on the other side. Where the constituencies are dependent on the representations, and, I am sorry to say, the misrepresentations, of the great city dailies, their Liberalism - I must be courteous and call it Liberalism - has been accepted-
– O - Only in name, that is all.
– But where Labour dailies were instituted, as in Ballarat and Bendigo, we had a victory for the first time for Labour. The question has been asked, and I suppose an answer is expected, by the press and by many of my friends, “ What am I doing in this galley?” I propose to give some answer.
– Do not make any excuse.
– I do not intend to make a single excuse. No excuse is necessary. The honorable member has need to make an excuse for the galley in which he finds himself, and that excuse will be difficult for him to make whenever he faces the electors again.
– No fear!
– I want, in dealing with this question, to refer to the method of attack upon persons who take upon themselves, by conviction, the attempt to find a seat in the Labour interest. The old attack, when advocates of the Labour interest took the platform, was, “ What hope have these men, this hob-nail, bowyang crowd to represent satisfactorily the interests of the community?” When men from other ranks - men who are workers themselves but in another sphere - join the party and seek the suffrages of the community, what do we hear? We hear statements such as, “ They are not real Labour men; they can have no interest in Labour; they have never bent their backs to honest toil.” The Age newspaper took up that attitude against me. It was continually inquiring, “ Is Mr. Arthur a Labour man?” and this inquiry it answered to its own satisfaction by giving it a complete negative. Innocently I drew upon myself the turgid eloquence of one of its writers - an eloquence that I should like to have enshrined like a fly in amber in the pages of Hansard. This writer asked -
What does he know of the freemasonry of the shovel, the camaraderie of the butty gang, or the esprit de corps of the casual job?
That is the sort of attack which was made upon me. I wish this House and the public to know that I am where I am absolutely by conviction. I am a supporter of my party because I find that here I can get some whiff of that political heaven which I am sure I could not get on the other side. I am here because I believe my party is out to prevent capitalism and commercialism destroying that human ideal which cannot with impunity be injured or destroyed. That is why I am here, and I hope that my political future in this House, be it short or be it long, will show that by practice, precept, and conviction I am in earnest in the cause which I have adopted. The attack was followed up by the statement that I am a lawyer. That is a very serious reflection to make upon any man, is it not ? Upon the occasion of the last election Bendigo occupied a most unfortunate position. It could not help electing a lawyer. There were three candidates for that constituency, and three lawyers.
– And three “ wowsers.”
– I thank the Prime Minister for that interruption - there were three “ wowsers.” We did not desire to let the other side have a monopoly in that respect in the person of the Prime Minister. Now, the lawyer has always been an object of suspicion to the Democracy.
– There are reasons for it.
– I agree with the remark of my honorable friend. On the other side of the House we have a large representation of that fraternity. It is where we might expect to find a majority of that fraternity. From the very beginning the lawyer has been an object of suspicion to the people, and for a very good reason. I can recall one of Shakspeare’s plays, which depicts a meeting of the peasants to carry out their propaganda, and at which the remark is made, “ The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” The reason is that the law and the profession of the law have grown up around the protection of vested interests, of vested rights, of property in general. Naturally the lawyer is associated with, and is a bulwark of, vested interests. But to-day what have we ? We have a domain of public law, a domain of public right, which is slowly but surely curtailing the unrestricted operation of private rights. In the administration of that class of law the lawyer is necessary. In that administration he comes into contact with people who are upholding the rights of the community against vested interests, and it is because of that that he becomes a Labour man. So much for what is perhaps rather personal, but what I thought was necessary in order to clear the decks for my appearance in this House. The real answer to the question, “ Is the honorable member for Bendigo a Labour man ? “ is that he is a Labour man because he is a Liberal. Honorable members opposite have arrogated to themselves the good old name of Liberal. But do they deserve it?
– N - No.
– The honorable member for Parkes went up into my electorate, and made this poetical remark, one which might be expected from him -
Liberalism is the silver thread running through history.
So it is. The persons who have arrogated to themselves the name of “Liberals” have- pointed to all that Liberalism has accomplished in the past for this country. My point is that they have succeeded by very astutely inducing people who have always believed in Liberalism to vote for them under the impression that they were voting for -Liberals. But what is the real position ? What was the Liberal party before the Labour party came into existence? It) was the reforming party, the attacking party, the Democratic party. That is what Liberalism means - practically the party which is attacking the entrenched forces of vested rights and interests. When we get - as we have to-day - two political parties, one of which, supported as it is by all the forces of interest and prejudice, calls itself Liberal, one is compelled to ask, “What is in a name?” I am sure the Liberal party by their appropriate name - the Conservative party - would smell politically sweeter.
– The Labour party might fittingly be termed the Caucus party. How would that do?
– I hope to repress the irrepressible member for Werriwa by taking no notice of his interjections. The Liberal party practically represents the forces of monopoly - the forces of privilege - but by granting some small concessions to Democracy it is endeavouring to induce the people to believe that its members are true Liberals. The Employers Federation, in 1910, put forward a programme, which I believe is the real programme of the Liberal party to-day. Any programme which is supported by the Employers Federation, by the Constitutional Union, by the Women’s National League - great names, but names which are misused - cannot be the programme of a truly Liberal party. What was that programme? First, the upholding of the Constitution. Now, a great many honorable members opposite, by their utterances at various times, have demonstrated that the Constitution cannot be upheld in the strict form in which it is now framed. They have shown that legislation is necessary with regard to the control of trusts, the regulation of industrial matters, and many other subjects of the kind; yet we do not find in the policy stated, which has been submitted by the Prime Minister, any reference to the proposed change of the
Constitution to carry out that consummation which they themselves, in many instances, already have devoutly wished. Why is it that, if they believe these things, they do not honestly put forward what they regard to be the proper measure of amendment in respect of these constitutional requirements? Does not their failure to do so show that they are not sincere in the presentation of their programme? We all remember how the AttorneyGeneral described a somewhat similar programme. Before he became a member of this Ministry he stigmatized the Liberal programme in no uncompromising manner. The quotation I am about to make may be somewhat hackneyed, but I must give it in order to point the moral to my tale. He said -
He was not averse to fighting in any just cause, but he found nothing in this programme
The programme proposed by the Australian Liberal Union - to arouse martial enthusiasm in the most bellicose breast. The fighting programme appeared to have been arrived at by the simple process of elimination, by the taking out of it of anything that could offend the susceptibilities of any one. All the bones had been carefully removed, and nothing left but a kind of gelatinous compound - political food for infants and invalids, warranted not to cause the slightest inconvenience to the weakest digestion.
And what is this programme now put before us - the programme which for many months was vainly called for; the electors mourning for their programme, and refusing to be comforted because it was not !
– There is nothing in the Ministerial memorandum that was not in the Parramatta speech.
– That is not true. What about the rural workers?
– That is the only exception.
– And the question of preference to unionists.
– That was in the Parramatta speech.
– It was not.
– Neither in the Parramatta speech nor in the Ministerial statement of policy now before us is there anything which does not deserve the castigation to which the Attorney-General submitted the programme of the Australian Liberal Union. There are in the Ministerial statement some small bones that have been added to the gelatinous compound of which the Attorney-General spoke, and which remind one of the methods of the geologist who, when examining some strata of many millions of years ago, finds two or three bones, and taking them as a guide, constructs, by patient thought and research, the entire animal.
– With the help of hisimagination.
– Scientific imagination. Two or three little bones are all that he has to guide him, and from these two or three little bones that have been added to the gelatinous compound of which the Attorney-General spoke, we can gather what the Liberal party would do if they could. The Liberal party feel that they must give, or appear to give, something to the Democracy, but they realize at the same time that they must satisfy the organizations which are keeping them in power. They, therefore, put these little bones into their policy statement. With those bones I shall deal directly. The matters to which I desire to refer more particularly are those relating to the exception of rural workers from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and the declared intention of the Government to abolish preference tounionists as at present in force. Before doing so, however, I wish to make allusion to one or two of the medical excursions in which the Attorney-General hasindulged. The honorable gentleman is well aware that the shoemaker should “ stick to his last,” but during the election campaign, in addition to his reference to the digestive faculties of the people in a political sense, he dipped still further into the medical dictionary. The first of these references is most important, since it shows that the hand of the AttorneyGeneral is in the present programme of his party. It must also give pause to those who might otherwise be induced to accept the Ministerial programme. When we find the AttorneyGeneral speaking, as he did during the campaign, of certain measures which the people of this country have demanded - such measures as those relating to oldage pensions and the maternity bonus - as bringing about a condition of moral anaemia - a condition greatly to be deplored, but preferable to the moral and physical destruction that takes place under the present capitalistic system - : when we find him speaking in such terms we may well have some doubt as to whether the promise of his party not to restrict in any way, but rather to enlarge the old-age pension system, is going to be carried out. Then, again, the honorable gentleman, going further through the medical dictionary, referred to the Labour party as being afflicted with locomotor ataxia. He said that the party was full of twitches; that there was a violent twitching of the whole body, but no motion whatsoever. Is that not a true description of the Liberal party? They have no motion, and can have none. On the other hand, the Labour party, when in power, carried out every promise that it could fulfil within the limitations of the Constitution. We felt in our party, not absolute incapacity, but the fearfully restrictive nature of the Constitution in preventing us from carrying out our promises. The President of the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson, who has already been quoted with appreciation during this debate, and who is one of the idols of the honorable member for Werriwa, said that the American Constitution - and the same might well be said of our own - is like a jacket which, when you try to button it across the belly, bursts at the back. It is because of this shortcoming that we were unable to carry out all the promises that we made. Within the Constitution the Labour party carried out all the promises they made, and yet the Attorney-General says we are suffering from locomotor ataxia, and that, as a party, we are so afflicted with that great and dire disease, delirium tremens, as to be unfit to be trusted with any powers. I propose to refer as briefly as possible to the various items in the Government programme to which we as a party, and I personally, take exception. My first objection is to what the Government consider to be electoral reform. No member of the Labour party can object to electoral reform. I believe, though that is not the reason for my belief, that the Labour party has more to hope for from electoral purity than has the Liberal party. The Labour party desire pure rolls, and insist that no man shall be improperly disfranchised. The object of electoral reform is that no person entitled to vote shall be deprived of his right.
– Whether he is sick or well.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. Every person entitled to vote should be free to exercise that right, and, if it can be brought about without any violation of those canons which have been proved absolutely essential to the purity of politics, I am with the Government in every attempt to make for electoral reform. Some poets depict Vulcan, the god of Labour, as blind - they regard Labour as blind. “ Blind Labour, builder of the world, and haggard with its loads,” says our poet O’Dowd; and the heretofore blindness of Labour is the reason why Labour has not come into power earlier. It has been the object of the opponents of Labour to keep those who are interested in the progress of Labour blind, and to prevent the scales falling from their eyes. How can we believe the repeated assurance of the Prime Minister and his party that Liberalism is going to the front, and that the forces of Labour are decaying?
– I did not say that.
– The Prime Minister spoke to that effect, though I do not remember his exact words. The position of the Liberal party is that of a child of hope rather than that of a child of reason or experience. Universal franchise is the weak spot in the armour of our friends opposite. When the first attempt was made to introduce manhood suffrage in the then Colony of Victoria, one clearheaded person in the early fifties - I think it was Mr. Wilson of the Argus - saw the position with absolute clearness, and he declared that to grant manhood suffrage would be to bring about the domination of the Labour forces, or what afterwards became known as such. With universal suffrage and education what can we expect? It would, perhaps, be incongruous for me to assume the role of whirling prophet, but I ask honorable members opposite to consider the position. They occupy the Government benches, I take it, as representing largely the money power of the country which is in the hands of the few, while the great dispossessed, or 80 or 90 per cent. of the population, stand outside. Those dispossessed have always been attacking the entrenched forces. The attacking party used to be the Liberals, but it is now the Labour party; and how can they be possibly kept back? The present Liberal party may be able to catch a temporary majority, but the democracy of this country, when instructed in the possession of the franchise, must place that party in a place where it really ought to be. The Labour people exercise the strength of the community. They may be blind for a moment - they may be so many Samsons with their eyes put out grinding corn for the Philistines - but Samson is letting his hair grow again - I am not alluding to the honorable member for Darwin, nor to (the Prime Minister. Labour supporters have felt their strength, and they are determined to pursue the policy of educating the people, who really ought to support them; their eyes are being opened, and nothing can possibly stop them. I shall not deal further with the scandalous statements which have already been ventilated in this House in regard to the conduct of the electors. I do not say that these statements were made by honorable members opposite, but certainly those gentleman took no steps to check them. The statements cabled to England were uncontradicted, and they helped to besmirch the fair fame of Australia in the Old Land. I should not be surprised to hear that in England to-day Australia is held up to the ridicule of the whole world as a place where may be found the grossest political corruption, although the facts of the case are entirely to the opposite effect. A friend of mine who happened to be in the United States on a polling day told me that on the hoarding were immense posters inviting the electors to be at the poll at time of opening because there were thousands of men ready to vote in their names. That is the sort of reputation that may be deserved in some places, but not in Australia. It is, however, a reputation that the Liberal party has attempted to fasten on us in so far as they have not sought to check the spread of misrepresentations of the kind; and their conduct, I think, ought to be unreservedly condemned. Election corruption and personation and things of that kind are not the invention of the Labour party. I have had the pleasure and pain of looking through a number of election petitions and proceedings upon them in the State House of Victoria, and I have seen allegations of the kind, some of which were distinctly proved. It is not a modern invention; it is a process which has been known to the Conservatives and Liberals of this community - I do not say that it has been the practice - since we have had elections; and to stigmatize supporters of the Labour party with a special faculty in that direction is an aspersion undeserved, and not to be” borne.
– What members have done it?
– Senator McColl.
– A - And Senator Millen. He said I had stuffed 80,000 names on the roll.
– Order ! The honorable member cannot proceed with his speech on account of the interjections.
– Senator Millen said nothing of the kind.
– When the’ Speaker calls for order a call of that kind must not be immediately followed by an interjection. I will ask honorable members when I call for order to maintain order.
– I thought that-
– The honorable member is doing the same thing.
– The AttorneyGeneral
– Order !
– I wish to make my position on the question of the postal vote absolutely precise. I do not believe that the sick should be deprived of their votes. I believe that some method should be adopted whereby persons who are genuinely sick, and persons unable to get to the poll, should be given facilities to record their votes, but I do not think that the postal vote is the proper method, because it violates the secrecy of the ballot. There can be no question about that. I do not wish to make particular charges as to what hasbeen done, or what has not been done. I know what has been done, and upon that knowledge I say that the postal vote violates the secrecy of the ballot, though it is enough for my argument if it givesfacilities for that violation. It is upon the secrecy of the ballot that all our reforms have been won. When the landlord could see how his tenant voted, or the employer could see how his employevoted, what hope was -there of a vote tobe given in the interest of tenant or of the employe? One could mention other instances of the same kind. The vital defect in the postal vote system is that there is no provision against the violation of the secrecy of the ballot. At the referenda poll of 1911, out of 23,000 postal votes cast in Australia, there were 13,000 cast in Victoria, many of which must. have been used by persons for -whom the postal votes were not intended. They must have been given by persons who were not sick, and who could not attend polling booths. If the Ministry can devise a scheme whereby people who are sick may notify the fact of their illness, or inability to attend a polling booth, and some Government official can take the ballot-box to them, I would heartily approve of such a scheme.
– Can you suggest one ?
– I have suggested that some means should be adopted whereby an official with scrutineers should go to people who are genuinely ill, and let them vote in secret by ballot.
– How could it be done in the back blocks?
– It would be impossible.
– It may be difficult. At any rate, if it is impracticable to give facilities to these people without the violation of the secrecy of the ballot I am against it, because our liberties and our progress depend on that vital factor, the secrecy of the ballot, as the Prime Minister well knows. The Labour party have been totally misrepresented on the question of immigration. We do not, as a party, decry immigration; we decry the methods that have been adopted to the present. If the Commonwealth Government could introduce a system of immigration with safeguards they would not find any great opposition from our side. The difficulty facing the Commonwealth Government is that they cannot control the land. They have to go to the States to secure control in that regard. And will they get it? I believe that earlier in the history of this Parliament the States came to the Prime Minister to seek financial aid in a system of immigration, but the Prime Minister of that day said, “ What good can we do with immigration unless we have control of the land, or unless you show your readiness to settle these people properly on the land?” And that was the last that was heard of the request of the States for assistance. Immigration and control of the land are absolutely interwoven. It is no use bringing in a crowd of artisans where there is not work for them. The hope for immigration lies in the opening up of country districts. The only chance of bringing that about is to have an enlightened land policy, but the Commonwealth Government have no control over the land, and cannot bring about an effective land policy among the States.
– Therefore, you are against immigration in the Federal sphere ?
– In answer to the Prime Minister, I shall read the words of the Age of the 18th September, 1912, as follows -
How can any immigration policy be tolerated in a democracy if it fills the streets with wortless wanderers, and thrusts redundant artisans upon the labour market for whom there is not a prompt demand?
It is significant that one of the items in the programme of the Employers’ Federation is a strong and vigorous policy of immigration. Their motives are interested ones. There are two or three other items that I wish to refer to before I come to that on which I wish to lay most stress. That is the social legislation foreshadowed in the Prime Minister’s manifesto. The first relates to the maternity bonus. I am not going to discuss it. I wish merely to express my view that if the Government attempt to repeal that beneficial Act, the principle of which is supported by many great thinkers in. other countries as well as in this, they will be pursuing a most reactionary course. That is what they would do if they could do it, but it is perfectly clear that they cannot do it, and that the suggested repeal of the Maternity Allowance Act is simply put forward by them as a pre-election statement, because the Women’s National League hates nothing upon earth more than the maternity allowance. The other reference to pensions is one which may readily secure support from this side, and if I understand it aright it will gain my support.
– Then it is evident that the honorable member does not understand it.
– That may be. The Ministerial statement says -
It is proposed to amend the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act in the direction of giving greater liberty to the pensioners-
If that means that old-age pensioners are to be given more liberty, and will not be required to undergo the rigorous crossexamination and humiliating experience to which they have been subjected, then I am with the Government.
– Is that the case now, after three years of sympathetic rule ?
– The Prime Minister knows that I am referring to what used to take place before we had an opportunity to deal with this matter.
– Then there is no need for this ?
– If the Prime Minister wants to go back to the old scheme, and if that is the meaning of this reference to the matter in the Ministerial statement, then he will not have my support. The statement continues - and ensuring that when they enter temporarily a State benevolent institution they shall still receive, subject to regulations- and of course much will depend on the regulations - that portion of their pension not paid for their maintenance. The present system is neither logical nor equitable, and places an unfair burden on the State benevolent institutions.
I will give my support to a proposal which will permit inmates of benevolent institutions to draw pensions.
– But the Government do not mean that.
– I hope they do. Surely they always mean what they say ! If they mean what they have said in this case, I am thoroughly with them. Why should an aged or invalid man or woman who enters a State benevolent institution not receive a pension? Some of it would go to the institution, but the balance would provide a little money for tobacco or other comforts for these people. From my knowledge of the benevolent asylum of Bendigo, I should say that the necessity for some such system is manifest, and the old and invalid people concerned should have the little comforts which they might secure in this way. The reference to the matter in the Ministerial statement means, if I read it aright, the liberalization of the scheme of old-age pensions, which involves of necessity an increase in the cost of pensions. It was indicated in the press yesterday that the cost of old-age pensions is approaching something like £2,500,000 a year. I have no objection to these pensions costing that amount or more, because the aged persons in the community deserve consideration. But how, may I ask, are the Ministry going to square that statement, if it means what I have suggested, with their repeated protestations against the extravagance of the Labour party? How are they going to square it with the statements of their supporters and organizations that we are spending too much money on these charitable doles ? I welcome the appearance of the statement, and if the Government carry out what appears to be the spirit of the words they have used, the proposals will gain support. It has been contended over and over again that the introduction of the system of old-age pensions is a special product of Liberalism. So it is, but is it a product of Liberalism of the brand of which my honorable friends opposite have upon them to-day ? I think not. It is a product of the Liberal principle which is animating the party on this side and of which we are the inheritors from the old and true Liberal party. When the matter of the introduction of an old-age pension system came before this House, what occurred ? A large number of persons on the Conservative side, as it was then, said, “ We agree that old-age pensionsshould be federalized,” but the one cry afterwards from these people was, “ Wehave not any money.” That is the secret of the whole matter. In the position in which the Federation was then, we wereunder an obligation to return to theStates the unexpended balance of the onefourth of the revenue to which the Commonwealth was entitled under the Constitution. The Commonwealth Governments of the time did not expend thewhole of the one-fourth of the revenue, and in the first seven years of Federationthey returned to the States over £6,500,000 more than they need have returned. Yet honorable members on theConservative benches were crying out that they wanted to establish old-age pensions, and could not do so because they had not the money. Old-age pensions, as nowpaid in the Commonwealth, are due to the Labour party, because it was the Labour party who supported and forced on the carrying of the Surplus Revenue Act, which became law against all the constitutional attacks of the lawyers on the other side. The High Court declared that it was constitutional, and it was that measure which was bitterly opposed bythe Treasurer of the present Government amongst others, and on constitutional grounds by my late opponent at Bendigo, which made the immediate realization of a Commonwealth! system of old-age pensions possible. Why was the introduction of old-age pensions, which was said by honorable members opposite to be such a good thing, delayed for so long? Why did they not bring in that legislation before ? Because they would not put on direct taxation, which involved the interests of those who were supporting them. They were content to carry on by means of the Customs revenue - or, rather, their small proportion of it - because it was contributed in the bulk by the mass of the community. The opponents of the immediate introduction of old-age pensions were quite content that the revenue of this country should be contributed by the masses of the people. At length the Surplus Revenue Bill was passed, and an old-age pensions scheme on a small scale came into operation. The payment of invalid pensions was deferred because of want of money. The reduction of the age at which women should be entitled to receive the pension was deferred also, because of insufficient revenue. It was not >until the Labour party came into power, and direct taxation was imposed, that these reforms were effected. The root of the matter is to be found in the disinclination - and it is a natural disinclination - of people who were kept in power by certain interests, to the infliction of any tax, or the making of any demands whatever upon those interests. I propose now to deal as briefly as may be with the industrial policy of this Government. They have intimated to us their intention to take a retrogressive step, the full import of which I do not think that many honorable members opposite thoroughly 0 understand.
– The retrogressive step of a burglar out of a house is a commendable procedure.
– I do not intend to compare the steps of honorable members opposite with the steps of a burglar.
– The honorable member is about to deal with legal preference to unionists.
– What is the chief political problem with which we are faced to-day? There is no doubt about the acuteness of it, or about the urgency of the circumstances which have given rise to it. It all traces back to what I have said. You have the masses of the community in possession of votes. While “they have votes they will exercise them in what they consider to be their own best interests.
– Hear, hear !
– Industrial peace is, and must be, the chief object of the action of this Parliament. Industrial peace involves many things. Economic and political causes act and interact one upon the other, and they sum themselves up, or have their sphere of greatest activity, in relation to this question of industrial peace. Every one is agreed that industrial peace must be put beyond all doubt. By some method it has to be attained. The policy of the Labour party is that it shall be attained by law, and not by direct action. The policy of those who want to reform - as they call it - our arbitration law by cutting out preference to unionists, and by depriving the rural workers of access to the Court, is in reality one of industrial warfare. At all events, if they do not want industrial warfare they undoubtedly want direct action, and believe that by its means industrial peace can be brought about. That is what it amounts to. All are agreed that by some means we must secure industrial peace. Are we to secure it by direct action or by the rule of law? It is true that law will not immediately bring about industrial peace. The conditions of the problem are too complex for that. Our legislation is experimental. To a large extent it is palliative. The objective which the people of this country must have before them in order finally to bring about industrial peace is this : They must have some system whereby the worker is insured a fair and just return for his work, a greater and better share of the produce of his labour. Until that objective is reached we must have men striving to attain it. Until they have attained it we shall not have industrial peace. The method and policy of the Labour party is founded upon that idea. During the late campaign we found that industrial disturbances were attributed to the Labour party. Our opponents counted up some 300 strikes - or what they miscalled strikes - which had occurred during the reign of the late Government. They said that every one of those was due to the encouragement of the Labour party. I wish to put it most clearly to the House that this party stands, and can only stand, by a policy of industrial regulation by law. That is how the party came into being. If honorable members will cast their minds back to the shearers’ strike and the maritime strike of the nineties, and will reflect upon the failure of the leaders of the workers to achieve their ends at that time, they will see that it was then that the Labour party had its origin. The Prime Minister was one of the leaders of the workers then. He saw the situation clearly. He was the secretary of a union, and as such insisted on preference to unionists in a very summary fashion. He, and those who co-operated with him at that time, saw that industrial warfare brought about industrial chaos, and realized that by-and-by we must find a better way. He perceived that that way must be found through the activity of the Legislature. The efforts of the workers at that time were decried. The Age, no earlier than 1901, said that the Labour party could never hope to have a majority in any House of Parliament in Australia. The answer to that is to be found in the present condition of politics in some of the States, and the condition in which this House was during the three years lately passed. We stand upon the principle of regulation of industry by law. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is based upon that principle.
– It has not stopped strikes.
– I know that the honorable member for Werriwa is a directaction man. He believes in liberty. He believes that men can get more by strikes than by law. I do not agree with him. The Attorney-General, speaking at Dandenong during the election campaign, said thathe did not believe that the time had come for the total abolition of strikes. He also is, to some extent, a direct-action man. Those who share his opinions do not want regulation by law. It is incompatible with their nature. They say that they want liberty. “ Oh, Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name !”
– Hear, hear!
– They want liberty, but they will not adopt a programme that will allow them to have it. The honorable member for Werriwa says that he believes in every man having the right to do what he likes, so long as he does not injure his neighbour. I believe in that, too. But everything lies in the condition, “ So long as he does not injure his neighbour.” Why do the employers want liberty? They want it to injure their neighbours; I speak of them as a class, and of the system under which they work. I do not make reference to any particular man. There cannot be economic and political liberty so long as the bulk of the community are the dispossessed, and a small minority holds most of the wealth of the country. Under such circumstances economic conditions forbid individual liberty. Individual liberty is our objective, although our methods may be criticised. We desire liberty for the masses, so that all may compete on an equality. While the few are entrenched in their vested interests, we cannot have that. The consummation of our desires will be brought about, not by allowing the people to fight out the issue like rats in a pit - which seems to be the course favoured by the honorable member for Werriwa - but by the slow process of law, bringing nearer the equalization of conditions.
– I advise the people to trust to themselves, not to law.
– The honorable member believes in direct action, and the Government by attacking preference to unionists, and proposing to remove the rural workers from the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Act, show that they, too, believe in direct action. They must move in this way because their rural constituents are driving them to do so. Preference to unionists is a question with which I wish to deal briefly. The principle is absolutely clear, but the method of obtaining it has been misrepresented. Preference to unionists is the policy of the Arbitration law from first to last. How can the individual be regulated unless he be brought within an organization ? It is the independent units, the non-unionists, who bring about industrial fights. They are floating centres of industrial infection which cannot be quarantined. There can be no control of the individual until he is brought within an organization. I am a member of the lawyers’ union to which reference has been made, and I understand that the honorable member for Wannon is also a member of a union.
– No. Of what trade union affiliated with the Trade and Labour Council is the honorable gentleman a member?
– The honorable member has no right to cross-examine me. I do not know that I am a member of any union affiliated with the Trades Hall; I am not aware that the lawyers’ union is so affiliated.
– I - It is time they came in.
– The honorable member knows that I am in a minority in my union. The employers believe in preference to unionists, and obtain it by direct action. They have the money power, and by controlling the production and distribution of commodities can obtain preference for themselves. In many cases, the working man is also able to obtain preference by direct action. But we believe that preference should be granted to unionists to permit of the regulation of industry by law. Honorable members opposite would deprive the President of the Arbitration Court of the right to grant preference to unionists should he think fit, making it a condition of preference that no union to which it was granted should support actively any political party. At the present time, preference to unionists is gained by direct action to a large extent. Although the President of the Arbitration Court has been able for a considerable time past to grant preference to unionists at his discretion, he has granted it in only one case - that of the Brisbane Tramway employes, to whom it was granted because the manager of the Brisbane Tramway Company had attempted successfully to apply the principle of preference to nonunionists. Non-unionism is responsible for much industrial unrest. Disputes about wages and conditions cause much industrial trouble, but one of the greatest causes of industrial unrest, to which i3 due the largest number of the strikes of recent years, is the existence of nonunionism. Are we going through the farce of maintaining an Arbitration Court, with power to deal with questions of wages and conditions, and not allow it to deal with a vital cause of industrial trouble ? It is said that the rural workers are to be excluded from the operation of the Arbitration Act. I warn honorable members opposite that to propose such a thing would be a fatal step for them to take. The rural workers, as a class, are poorly paid, although there are exceptions among their employers. Farmers have told me time and again that they would give good wages if they could get good men. They put the cart before the horse. How can they expect to get good labour if they do not offer good wages? They decry centralization, and say that the rural districts must be opened up. They will not see that the only way to do it is to put the rural industries, so far as can be done, on an equality - allowing for various conditions - with the industries in the towns. My honorable friends opposite must make the rural industries attractive, or the town industries will drag all the workers away from the country, and there will be left in the country those men who for divers reasons are content to stay and do hard work for little pay. How are my honorable friends going to get over this difficulty if they take out of the Act the rural workers who are organized now ? It means that the farmers will be subjected to direct action, because if the rural workers are excluded from the Act it will, of course, be a case of Hobson’s choice with them. They will have direct action only. They will not be forbidden to strike, and probably we shall have a repetition of what occurred in the early nineties, when the shearers found tl.it their only course was direct action, with the consequent loss and trouble which ensued. The policy is short-sighted. We must allow the rural workers, as well as any other class of workers in the community, free access to the Arbitration Court. It is logical, it is just, and it is the only proper thing to do. But I recognise the position in which my honororable friends on the opposite side are placed. They depend upon the votes of rural constituencies, and the farmer will not see that anything that might cause an immediate increase of cost is anything but harmful to him. The honorable member for Wimmera, if I mistake not, was the only Liberal candidate who dared, or was manly enough, to state definitely on a platform that in this House he would advocate the exclusion of rural workers from the Act. I do not know of another Liberal candidate who so pledged himself.
– It was not in their policy.
– It now appears in their policy, because the Liberal party supporting the Government have made the rural influence felt. Although the Government had no such policy put forward at the elections, it now appears in the Ministerial statement for very apparent reasons. The questions of Wages Boards and the Arbitration Court I want to touch upon as briefly as possible. I have had much experience in the working of both Wages Boards and the Arbitration Court. It is abundantly clear that the work of the Wages Boards in Victoria, although they have been productive of some advantages, work under such restrictions and such cloggings tthat the benefit of their work is very largely minimized. During the campaign we had comparisons made between the peaceful method of settlement by Wages Boards and the awful method of settlement by Arbitration Courts. But what do we find here? We find that wages in this country are j tot finally settled by Wages Boards, but by a Supreme Court Judge in practically the same manner as that in which the Arbitration Court carries out its duties. For months a Wages Board, consisting of five men on each side, with an impartial Chairman, work out what they conceive to be their salvation - generally by a casting vote. If there is any material increase the determination is immediately haled before the Court of Industrial Appeals, which is composed of a Supreme Court Judge, who cheerfully admits that it is a shame to drag him from the calm seclusion of his ordinary work on the Bench, to decide between contending industrial forces. One Judge is not allowed to deal with the cases. As soon as a new case crops up a Judge is nominated for the duty, and the whole of the five Judges are liable to be called upon in turn to deal with the great question of industrial peace in this way. The result has been, in almost every case, an immediate dropping down of wages by the decision of the Appeal Court J udge. If honorable members on the other side believe in a settlement by Wages Boards and not by Courts, why do they have it settlement by the latter method ? Why do they have this monstrous growth, if I may be pardoned for using that term, this excrescence of the Appeal Court, which undoes the very thing that the Wages Boards have done? Case after case lias been dealt with, such as for instance, the starch case, under the reputable employers’ clause of infamous memory. The Wages Board practically could not find reputable employers, because they said that the wages the big firms were’ paying were not wages which they could recommend. When the matter was referred to the State Appeal Court, what was done ? The current rate with reputable employers was 30s. a week.
– Do the appeals to the Industrial Appeal Court constitute a very big percentage of the total number of cases dealt with by Wages Boards?
– They include every case in which the employer thinks that the employe has what is worth calling a rise. That is the position.
– The appeals represent a small percentage of the cases dealt with.
– Will the honorable member allow me to continue? Thirty shillings a week was the reputable wage with the reputable employer, and the Judge of the Appeal Court made it 36s. after a great effort.
– Was Was that for girls ?
– No ; for adult males. In the bread case I also had a part. The Wages Boards made the wages of bakers 60s. a week. The Appeal Court dropped the wages down to what they were before - 54s. a week, The men resorted to direct action, and got 60s. a week as the result of a strike. I could mention more cases. Take, for instance, the clerks’ case. After months of deliberation the Wages Board fixed the wages of lady typists at 42s. a week of 45 hours. To the Appeal Court they went, and the Judge allowed them 28s. a week for 48 hours - a great difference. Yet a great many honorable members opposite say that it is under the Wages Board system that wages in Victoria are regulated. I want to pass on to the Arbitration Court. It has with many difficulties done a great deal of work. It has practically become a department of State for the settlement of industrial disputes, and as such, though working under restrictions, it has done an immense amount of good. But the trouble is, as Mr. Justice Higgins put it in a famous phrase, that you approach the Court through a Serbonian bog of technicalities. As soon as you get there what happens? You are told that there is no dispute, or no dispute extending beyond the State, and you fight for days and weeks together to establish a dispute, As soon as the President has made an award, believing that there is a dispute, up you go to the High Court, and fight for weeks there. Is it wonderful that many industrials in Australia are losing faith in the Arbitration Court? Is it wonderful that in many parts of this Continent direct action, syndicalism, red -syndicalism, is being advocated 1 It is no wonder at all when employers, in their shortsightedness, oppose in most cases every step which is taken in the Arbitration Court, tooth and nail, with all the force of their wealth, their position, and those eminent gentlemen who are able to assist them in their long fight. The Broken Hill case, the boot case, many great cases have gone up to the High Court, and been dealt with. In the engine-drivers’ case, for which preparations began in 1908, a proposed award was announced, but has not yet been given. There have been four special cases; there has been a prohibition - there have been legal proceedings innumerable, and the secretaries of the organizations are put to it to keep their men in hand because this regulation by law, the hope of which is held out by the Act, is snatched away from them. I had intended to deal more fully - and perhaps I could thus have occupied my time more profitably - with this question of arbitration, with the means which have been adopted to bring it about, with the defects in it which have been revealed, and with the remedies which may be suggested to secure the desired end. But I wish to impress upon honorable members opposite, and upon the Government, that they must be very careful how they act in attempting to cut down this beneficent regulation by law. In conclusion, I have merely to say that we, as a party, are pledged to the hilt to resist any reactionary effort on the part of the Ministry. We should not be doing our duty to our constituents if we did not use every legitimate means at our disposal to stop them from pursuing what we believe is a career of danger, and one which would be a detriment to the community. We will fight the other side to the last ditch, even to the last and horrible ditch of dissolution.
– Last Tuesday, in discussing the Supply Bill, I was dealing with the sugar industry when the time limit imposed on our utterances in this House prevented me from completing my argument. I desire, therefore, to take advantage of this opportunity, and of the presence of the Minister of Trade and Customs, to say a few words upon that important matter. The honorable member for Werriwa has expressed several opinions rather uncom plimentary to the sugar industry, and the honorable member for Parkes has also declared that that industry constitutes an unfair and unreasonable tax on the community. I wish to quote from an. official handbook just published by the Queensland Government, in which the importance of this industry to the Commonwealth is stressed. Upon page 7, I find the following : -
Last season there were 3,901 recognised sugargrowers in the State, and it is computed that these gave employment to, at least, 10,000 fieldworkers, the wages paid thereto aggregating fully £500,000. In connexion with the taking of evidence by the Federal Royal Commission on the sugar industry, Mr. W. G. Gibson, of Bingera plantation and mill, presented a statement showing the financial operations of the plantation and mill annually.
Then follow a number of statistics regarding the expenses and employment conditions on that particular plantation. The report proceeds -
According to the Government Statistician, the sum of £406,936 was paid away last year in salaries, wages, &c., by the various Queensland sugar mills and refineries. These factories (48 mills and 2 refineries) employed 4,282 hands last year. The amount invested in the industry is estimated at between£ 7,000,000 and £8,000,000, and is made up as under : - Machinery, premises, and land, £2,462,266; land, farms, premises, &c., £4,500,000 to £5,000,000.
That there is sufficient opportunity for an extension of the industry is shown upon page 64 of the same handbook. There I find-
There are still large areas of land admirably adapted for the cultivation of cane along the coast-line of the State. In many instances, however, these fertile regions of dense scrub are some distance from sugar mills, and in other cases there are no mills at all in the locality. There is, nevertheless, a possibility of mills being erected, either with Government assistance or by private enterprise, as soon as circumstances warrant such a step being taken. The areas of Crown lands are fairly extensive, and the terms and conditions under which they can be taken up are the most reasonable in the Commonwealth of Australia.
When the Dominions Royal Commission visited Cairns, they were also impressed with the opportunities for development of this industry, and Mr. G. R. Mayers, who presided at the banquet at which the Commissioners were welcomed to that town, said -
The sugar-growers in North Queensland had done what no one else on the face of the earth had done. They had proved that it was possible to grow sugar at a profit with while labour. He was glad of this, and could assure the Commissioners that it was no more difficult to grow cane in the North Queensland tropics with white labour than it was to keep steam on ships with white firemen in the stokehold.
There is only one more extract that I wish to make from this publication, and it relates to the industries which are closely allied to the sugar industry. Upon page 169 it is stated -
All the sugar-growing areas of Queensland are admirably adapted for the successful cultivation of quite a number of crops. For instance, maize, potatoes, root crops, and fruits of many kinds do exceptionally well, and give very profitable returns. Then, again, the tropical portions of the State are also suitable for the growing of rubber, coffee, rice, tea, cotton, vanilla, &c, as has been demonstrated for a number of years past. There are also big possibilities in dairying, and many cane-growers to-day are supplementing their receipts from the cultivation of cane by the regular monthly cheques received for the cream sent to the local butter factories.
These quotations will suffice to show that the sugar industry, so far from being deserving of the ridicule of the honorable member for Werriwa and the honorable member for Parkes, is a most important feature in our present economic position, and has distinct possibilities in the matter of future development. Will the Minister of Trade and Customs give me his attention for a few minutes while I refer to the question of the payment of Excise upon the sugar which was in bond at the time the Sugar Excise Repeal Act was proclaimed ? Upon page 474 of the Queensland Hansard of the current year, Mr. Gillies, member for Eacham in the Legislative Assembly, called attention to the danger of the sugar which was then in bond being freed from Excise. He said -
He took it for granted that the whole of the 1913 crop that had been crushed and manufactured so far was still in bond. Not one ounce of that sugar had paid Excise, nor would one ounce of that sugar pay Excise once the proclamation was issued ; and he wished to know whether the Government would insure to the grower the full benefit of that fact. All that sugar had been piled up in the sugar-rooms or in bond, and he presumed the refiners were patiently waiting for the issue of the proclamation.
– What date was that?
– On the 15th July of the present year.
The Secretary for Railways. - The sugar is being shipped all the time.
Mr. GILLIES. He did not believe that one ounce of this year’s manufacture had gone into consumption, and no Excise was paid until the sugar went into consumption, and he wished to know whether the Government, which pretended to have so much sympathy with the grower, would be prepared to go so far as to secure to the grower that benefit? The present Bill did not do it, nor did the two previous Bills that had been passed do it. He was disap pointed that the Premier had not carried out his compact with” the late Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
The debate in the Queensland Parliament upon the 15th and 16th, July last is full of interest to those who have concerned themselves in the matter of the nonpayment of Excise upon the sugar which was in bond when the proclamation was issued repealing the Sugar Excise Act. I repeat the statement which I made on Tuesday last that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the other persons who held stocks of sugar in bond knew perfectly well that they stood to gain considerably if that proclamation were issued before they paid the Excise, or were asked to give an undertaking to pay it. The more one looks into the matter the more one is convinced that these persons knew thoroughly well what was coming. 1 find, further, that some of their friends were advised of the possible issue of the proclamation and what its effect would be. I, like the honorable member for Capricornia, have already called attention to an article which appeared in the Australian Sugar Growers’ Journal, in which it was stated that -
Concerning the attitude of the Liberal party in Federal politics towards the question of the abolition of Excise and bounty, we may mention for the information of all our growers that the leader of the party, the Hon. J. Cook, has sent a message to the Australian Sugar Planters’ Association, through the three Liberal senators, the Hons. T. D. Chataway, R. J. Sayers, and A. J. J. St. Ledger, to the effect that in the event of the Liberal party being returned to power at the approaching general election, proclamations abolishing Excise and bounty unconditionally will at once be issued.
The Prime Minister has, in a fashion, denied that he gave them any authority to make such a statement, but it is rather remarkable that Mr. Chataway, in the same journal, should write-
It may sound strange, but I hope that only a few more contributions will go f-rom my pen to the Sugar Journal. If the Liberals are returned to power, the Excise and bounty will disappear without conditions.
It seems to me that that was tantamount at all events to a standing and very definite invitation to the companies, if not to pile up, at least to retain the sugar they then had in bond, with the direct hope that when the proclamation was issued and the Excise duty therefore not legally collectable, they could contrive to “ make the scoop “ that they have. The revenue, despite the protestations of the present
Opposition, has suffered to the extent of at least £128,000; yet, so far, not the slightest indication has been given to the House as to the steps which the Government propose to take in order to collect the duty so lost. Since the matter is going to come before the House again, the Government having stated that they intend to introduce legislation of some kind to deal with the industry, I propose to leave it for the present, reserving what I have to say until the Bill is submitted. It seems to be generally conceded that the elections of 1913 were perhaps the most keenly-contested and the most important that have taken place in the history of the Federation. Each succeeding election appears to be of increasing importance, and it is well that it is so. The people of Australia are being gradually educated in true national sentiment, and for that reason each succeeding election for the National Parliament is increasing in significance. The educative advantages of each election are a guarantee that these contests will be more and more momentous, and play a still greater part in the future development of Australia. It is unfortunate, if that be so, that . each succeeding election is marred, if not spoiled, by an increase of vituperation, scurrility, misrepresentation, and many equally unfortunate and quite unnecessary features. There was one phase of the Prime Minister’s first official speech during the election campaign with which I heartily concurred. The honorable gentleman said that the two parties were diametrically opposed to each other, and that their policies were entirely different. Undoubtedly that is so. There was a tendency on the part of the Liberal candidates in Queensland, however, to try to make the electors believe that there was not very much difference between the parties, and that, after all, the policy of the one was largely the policy of the other. There can be no doubt that the degree of economic education to which we have attained demands of all political parties the promulgation of reform schemes and progressive ideas in order to secure public support. Whether we like it or not we are moving. The world is in a state of transition. Economically the whole world is seething with a discontent which demands some palliatives. No political party, therefore, can appeal to the electors without putting forward some progressive ideas or suggestions for reform. The Melbourne Age in a very timely article in the early stages of the campaign - when there seemed some hope of its permanent conversion to true Liberal ideas-
– It slid subsequently into its old conservative, narrow parochial groove, but in the early stages of the campaign it wrote -
We are no friends to many of the devices of the Labour Government, but anything is better than the blank and vacuous sterility of the Tory programme - mere anti-Labour, without the gleam of an idea of progressive Government. We were used, five years ago, to the bogy flams of the growing tiger’s cub, to the scare of shooting Niagara, to the rushing of the country over the precipice. They affect no one but silly women and sillier men. We make our mistakes, no doubt, but those mistakes do not touch the basic soundness of industrial Australia. We were never richer, safer, and sounder than we are to-day.
This was published just after the honorable member for Flinders had given expression at Aspendale to the strong opinion he held regarding the gelatinous compound that had been put forward as the policy of the Liberal party. I have here a report of the first speech made by the present Prime Minister as the official Leader of the then Opposition. He said -
Congratulations had poured in upon him from every part of Australia, but in one particular quarter a note of discord had been struck,
Honorable members will recognise the allusion - and criticism of so severe and pernicious a nature had been levelled against him that he could not ignore it. He challenged any man to justify that criticism,’ or even find a reason for it. He had even had some advice from the Premier of Victoria (Mr. Waft). He would frankly say that he could not accept Mr. Watt’s advice, because to do so would split the party into fragments, and he for one had not the slightest intention of doing that. At all costs, the Liberal party would stand together; it must show a solid phalanx fo the forces of the Socialists, which were steadily gathering in strength, and which threatened all that was best in their private relations in life. When the people saw that danger, they should make up their minds that no wedge was to be driven into the party, whatever differences of opinion there might be on some questions. The Liberals were going to do good work without impairing the solidarity of the party. Just now he had only one or two planks in his platform, but others would come later on when Mr. Fisher had disclosed his intentions. One of these planks was to get the present Government out of office in the interests of the country. The other was to maintain the solidarity and unity of the great Liberal party.
A more weak or damaging statement could not have been made by the leader of any party than that the party was so barren of policy, so absolutely sterile of progressive ideas or suggestions, that they had to wait until the leader of the opposite party spoke before they knew what to do or say. But perhaps the then Leader of the Opposition, and the newly-elected Leader of the Liberal party, may have had some excuse for the attitude he took up, because he was certainly amongst some very candid friends and rather hostile supporters. His election as leader was, in itself, not very popular, even in his own party. Whether the newspapers can be trusted or not to give facts, we have it, at any rate, on the authority of the organ supporting the Liberal party, that he was elected only on his own vote as leader, the voting being twenty-one to twenty.
– How does the honorable member know the secrets of the Liberal Caucus ?
– I take the figures from the Age. The Adelaide Register, another Tory paper, said the following regarding the present Prime Minister : -
The selection of the new leader must necessarily strain the loyalty of the Protectionist wing of the Liberal army almost to breaking point. They will find it difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to follow with any show of enthusiasm a Free Trader of such confirmed habits as Mr. Cook.
Opponents of Mr. Deakin were wont to speak lightly of his “ versatility,” but. his achievements in that direction are as nothing compared with the record of Mr. Cook, who, except in regard to Free Trade, has completely boxed the political compass since he entered the New South Wales Parliament a little over twenty years ago.
There is no magnetism about the man. The name Cook will never be a name to conjure with. Nature never intended him for a great leader. He is lacking both in a sense of humour and gift of vision. He could never impress his personality on the Commonwealth, nor could he rally the fortunes of a failing cause.
The present temporary Prime Minister of Australia is, or was, in the unfortunate position of neither having the confidence of his own party nor a policy to place before the people of the country. This was made apparent in the early stages of the electoral campaign, because, at every meeting throughout the country, whenever a Liberal candidate attempted to address the electors, the one cry was “ Give us your policy.” So much in evidence was the cry in Queensland, that one of the Senate Liberal candidates declared that even the kookaburras, that not only human but other animals, had learnt the cry. It was only in the very last days of the campaign that the people for the first time discovered what this precious party proposed to do if they got control. The Labour party, on the other hand, had a clear and well-defined policy, which was no secret, but had been for years before the public. It was. adopted at the Hobart Conference in 1911, and thereafter was the property of the people. We have no excuses to make for our platform, and we have no complaints to make as to the criticism of it by press orpublic. We invited the public to consider theproposals we placed before them, and we are prepared to stand by them. In the last election, there were two circumstances of particular importance so far as the Labour party are concerned. I am prepared to admit that, in 1910, the Labour party gained office by means of the advantage given by the wave of disgust with the Fusion that passed over Australia. It was not the policy of the Labour party that secured their election in 1910. There were people who said that the policy of the Labour party, at any rate, was clear and plain, and it was much better to have a party in power which had a definite aim, and which could be depended on to be consistent towards their ideals, than to have a party of easygoing virtue which could very easily and quickly, as they had previously done in their history, re-arrange their political ideas to suit the political wind at the particular time. In 1913, however, the Labour party had no such advantage. All interests were then subverted to the one particular aim and object of getting the Labour party out of office. Political feuds of past years were forgotten. Every principle that members of the then Opposition had held was cheerfully and willingly abandoned ; and, in the presence of a common danger, they decided to forget all differences. The then disunited Opposition - this collection of all sorts of political ideas, methods, habits, and customs - coalesced, and decided to be strictly, absolutely, and always anti-Labour. There was one tremendous advantage in their favour. In 1913, the Labour party openly allied themselves with a non-popular proposal. In 1911 the electors of Australia, by a majority of over 250,000, decided against the referenda proposals; and it was, to my mind, a courageous act on the part of the Labour party to identify themselves in 1913 with practically the same proposals. If the Labour party had been the seekers after place and power that honorable members opposite suggest, it would have been an easy matter for us, and not at all inconsistent with our professions and ideals, to have for the time being dropped the referenda proposals. Those proposals had been heavily defeated, and had created and roused animosity and opposition from the capital and property classes throughout the Commonwealth. Yet the Labour party loaded themselves with this handicap; we deliberately took our courage in both hands, and said to the electors, “ Now, here are certain proposals that we believe are absolutely necessary in the interests of the best development of the country, and if we are returned to power, we shall proceed to carry on reform along those lines.” It says a great deal, not only for the courage of the members of the Labour party, but for the recognition of that courage by the people of Australia, as well as for the education that had been proceeding between 1911 and 1913, that in the latter year the referenda proposals were defeated by a vote, on the average, of something like 25,000, aud in one case of less than 8,000. When it is remembered that, by not submitting the referenda proposals, we could have protected ourselves from much opposition, and saved ourselves from much of the severe criticism raised against us, it must be admitted that the Labour party gained a tremendous victory in the last election, because of the fact that submitting these proposals brought “against us, financially and otherwise, all the organized forces of capital and property throughout Australia. I think it is clear that this financial support and subsidy would not have been given to our opponents had not these referendum proposals been submitted. I do not complain or suggest that we should not have adopted these proposals; on the contrary, I believe that, as there must always come in the history of any country a time when some political party identifies itself with and stakes its existence upon certain reform, so the Labour party definitely declared itself, and staked its political existence on the reform of the industrial conditions of Australia, and on the demaud that the future legislation of Australia shall be in the interests of the people, and not in the interests of . a small section. In the’ Liberal appeal, issued on the 24th May last, a ‘ week before the elections, the leader of the Liberal party, referring to the referenda, said -
The referenda proposals are explicitly designed to place the Constitution under the control of an autocratic caucus, with the ultimate destruction of self-government in purely local affairs, and that logical and healthy division of powers, which is the only method of conserving our self-government. If carried, they will despoil the nation for a class propaganda.
It is quite true that we intended to effect very, radical and specific alterations; but is it not better that the nation should be despoiled, as it is put here, for a class propaganda, rather than be despoiled in the interests of the trusts, monopolies, and combines now threatening the very existence of the country ? That is the point of the whole thing - that the nation is being despoiled of its vitality, and its life blood, and interest in the development of the nation is being interfered with and arrested on behalf of and by a very distinct class. It is our demand that the interests of the nation shall be conserved, and that the nation shall not be despoiled by those whose interests are solely selfish and material. The leader of the Liberal party also said in this pamphlet that everything was to be at the dictation of an autocratic Caucus. No . more effective words have ever appeared in this connexion than those used by G. H. Wise, the ex-member for Gippsland, as reported in the Gippsland Times of 7th April last, as follows -
” I am sick of the cant and hypocrisy which is spoken on the platform by the Fusion members. Both Fusion and Labour parties have caucus meetings. When Mr. Deakin and the Liberals were in power, they did not hold a meeting in eighteen months, but the Fusion party now hold a caucus meeting weekly, and when such meetings are being held a notice “ Strictly private “ is posted on the door. The Fusion members say they are free. If so, how did Dr. Carty Salmon come to be elected to the Speakership when he only got twenty votes in the caucus meeting? It was because Mr. Wynne was bound by the Fusion caucus not to contest the Speakership in the open House.”
Take the Financial Agreement, as an instance. Mr. Harper said that there were enough votes on his side of the House to throw it but if the members were allowed to vote according to their consciences, and he made an appeal to Mr. Deakin to allow two of their members who had promised to vote for the third reading to vote according to their consciences, but °Mr. Deakin sat dumb, and these two men were compelled to vote against their conscience.
When Mr. Irvine made his famous speech at
Aspendale he began thus, “ In fear and trembling, I am going to refer to my party programme.” Does a free nian go in fear and trembling ?
Let that suffice so far as “ Caucus “ is concerned.
– Ministerial members are now in Caucus in a hall down the street.
– Exactly. There are only five members sitting on the Government side of the House, so presumably the others are away at a Caucus meeting. I do not object to their holding Caucus meetings. There is no political party in any Parliament in the world that does not hold Caucus meetings, committee meetings, or party meetings; party government cannot be carried on without them; but what I object to is honorable members using the word “ Caucus “as a stigma and reproach on the Labour party. If we choose to term a committee meeting a Caucus meeting, we have no objection to their calling their Caucus meeting a committee meeting. The honorable members for Riverina and Corangamite, who have expressed regret at the use of certain opprobrious terms and references, should set an example in this respect, and induce their colleagues to stop their foolish, incessant, unworthy, unreasonable, and untrue reflections on members of the Labour party, because we are carrying on a well-known, widelyrecognised, and useful method of conducting the business of the country. Even honorable members who are most prolific in their criticisms know that government cannot be carried on as effectively, usefully, economically, and speedily if we do not have party meetings to arrange our business, and decide on our course of action. I have already referred to the imputations, innuendoes, and vile statements deliberately made to mislead the people from the beginning to the end, from the Prime Minister to the humblest member of the Liberal party - all through they were a set of vile and deliberate deblabberators.
– The honorable member must not make those charges against other honorable members, and must withdraw them.
– Withdraw what?
– I understood the honorable member to make charges against other honorable members of the House in terms which are not parlia mentary. The epithet “vile” was used by . him. If the honorable member was referring, as I understood him to be doing, to honorable members of the House, he was not in order in referring to them in those terms.
– I admit I did say they were deliberate and vile deblabberators
– What was that last word ?
– I said they were deliberate and vile deblabberators
– The term “vile,” as applied to honorable members of the House, is distinctly unparliamentary, and must be withdrawn.
– Very well.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask whether, in the circumstances, there is very much difference between the statement made by the honorable member for Brisbane and that made by the Prime Minister a few days ago, when he asserted that all the honorable members on this side of the House were guilty of telling lies? On that occasion, because the honorable gentleman referred in the bulk to honorable members on this side, there appeared to be no necessity for him to withdraw the statement he made
– The honorable member for Adelaide is, I am sure, mistaken in his interpretation of a ruling attributed to me. If the Prime Minister made use of the expression indicated, as applied directly to members of this House, I should certainly have called upon him to withdraw it. I understood that the Prime Minister’s references were of a general character to statements made by members of party organizations. I have never knowingly permitted reflections of that kind to be made upon honorable members on either side. When any statement is made which I regard as a reflection upon honorable members, I ask that it shall be withdrawn.
– I referred in the most general way to the fact that, from the Prime Minister down to the humblest member of his party-
– Order ! That is a direct reflection on members of the House. The honorable member must not repeat his statement to which exception has been taken.
– May I be allowed to say that in the election campaign just concluded statements were made by members of the Government, and by Liberal candidates, that were nothing less than “ honeyfugling “ ? In support of my statement, I will read an extract from a pamphlet circulated throughout Australia, and I will leave it to the people and to honorable members to judge whether it does not supply evidence and a complete illustration of what I have charged honorable members on the Government side with. This is headed -
Extract from Liberal Pamphlet. The Liberal Record, printed by Vardon and Sons, printers, Adelaide, March, 1913. Issued By the Liberal Association, Adelaide, to the members of the Executive and Presidents and Secretaries of Branches for information.
This is the extract given -
Socialism from a Woman’s Point of View.
Mrs. Olive C. Malvery in A Year and a Day.
My greatest objection to Socialism is its brutal attitude towards women. It has nothing to offer women except to propose that they should be made breeding cows, and that their young should be fathered by the State instead of by the animals who bred them.
– I have here the original pamphlet issued.
– Perhaps the honorable member will permit me to quote from the original document) I quote now from the original pamphlet -
This, simply put, means that you and I who work, and have given hostages to fortune, and pledges to the State, should be taxed to pay for the indulgence of every loafer.
If you meet Socialists, and listen to their talk, you will be amazed at the low value they place on women. I do not know any people who dishonour women more, or who are more disloyal to their mothers. Why this should be, I do not know or understand. It seems so strange that people who are always talking of humanity, the wrongs of the poor and weak, should be, of all people, the ones who are fighting to destroy women, and enslave them. This is what “ free love” is doing to some of our poor.
– That was issued with the photographs and names of the members on the Liberal ticket.
– Who issued it?
– It was issued by the Liberal Association of Adelaide.
– Has the honorable member read the whole of the extract?
– If the honorable gentleman wishes me to read some more of it, I will gladly read the lot. It will be no disadvantage to the Labour party that this should be made public.
– Let the honorable member read the whole of it.
– The writer continues -
I have worked long among the submerged and unhappy, and I have yet to see the human creature that Socialism has redeemed from poverty and crime ; I have yet to find the women whom “free love “ has comforted. If Mr. Wells’ books prove anything, they prove the sickening disillusionment that “ free love “ has in store for any who follow its will-o’-the-wisp light. I would be less intolerant towards Socialism if it had anything good to offer women and children. It has nothing for them. A nation that loosens its hold on religion and honour is courting destruction. It is because the cause of women and children lies so near my heart I am unable to feel kindly towards these so-called Socialists. Christian Socialism, that champions the weak, and works and suffers for the poor, is quite a different gospel.
The pamphlet carries on the back of it the Liberal ticket for the Senate -
Allen, Peter; Shannon, John Wallace; Vardon, Joseph. and for the House of Representatives -
Angus - Glynn, Hon. P. McMahon; Barker - Livingston, John; Boothby- Gordon, David J.; Grey- McDonald, A. E. ; Wakefield- Foster, Hon. R. W.
The pamphlet further indicates opposition to the referenda proposals. All this is included in the pamphlet. I have quoted what bears upon the point I wish to make. I want to enter here my most emphatic protest against such statements being made concerning the party on this side. If the Prime Minister is prepared to identify himself with the people who issue a thing like this as a political argument, or in support of their cause, I wish him joy of his friends. I notice amongst the names of the Liberal candidates published in the pamphlet those of Mr. Glynn and Mr. Gordon. I mention those two gentlemen particularly, because I believe that they would not for a moment countenance the issue of such a publication as this. It is not a political argument, but downright vilification and abuse.
– It is almost as bad as the LaborCall.
– How would the honorable gentleman like to have his wife called a “ breeding cow “ any more than the wife of an honorable member on this side ?
– I am not prepared to retaliate in the same fashion, but I ask honorable members opposite, and especially the honorable member for Riverina, who, in beautiful sentiments, expressed his regret the other night that honorable members on this side should have said the things they did, to say how any honest and honorable man, who has any love for his wife, his mother, or his children, could refrain from objecting to such a thing as the pamphlet from which I have quoted? It is enough to arouse the righteous indignation of every honest man in the community. I say that any honorable member on the other side who would identify himself in the slightest degree with such statements, or permit them to be printed in support of his candidature, is unworthy of the vote of an honest citizen. I thought that we had got beyond all this kind of thing. Honorable members on this side have often been charged with being in favour of free love, and against the marriage tie, and the sanctity of the home, but one would have thought that the record of the Labour Government for the three years during which they were in power, when they might have done many things if they Had so desired, would have made the continuance of such references as these impossible. With this I shall close my references to this very unsavoury matter. I hope that this is the last we shall hear of such statements or suggestions coming even from members of the political party represented by honorable members on the Government side. Let it end here, if honorable members please. If they have any respect or esteem for their own reputations, they will, at any rate, let this kind of argument and political . warfare cease.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Amongst the diatribes directed against this party during the election campaign the Liberal appeal issued over the name of the Prime Minister a week before polling day contained the following sentences -
The Waiting and tentative methods pursued by the Labour Socialist Government during the past three years have been productive of the most sinister results. Industrial turmoil has been fostered. The community has been set by the ears, until, in many places, absolute industrial anarchy has reigned supreme. Extravagance has been rife ; and the chief aim of the Government’ has been to raise money to spend it lavishly, with special regard to party purposes and propaganda. The burden of government has enormously increased, until to-day every average family is paying in taxation, directly and indirectly, some £io per annum more than three years .ago. The cost of living has towered up beyond the increase in the normal wages of the worker. The result, according to the Commonwealth Statistician, is that the effective wage is substantially decreasing. Money is increasingly dear, and difficult to obtain. Thus, national development is retarded, and all classes suffer in consequence.
Their aims, in a word, are sectional and narrow, and will, as time goes on, prove more and more disastrous to the nation. They declare their object to be the ultimate abolition of the present social fabric.
That is a most remarkable utterance. The Prime Minister, in that appeal, made direct and definite charges of maladministration, extravagance, and so forth, against the late Ministry. In the opening paragraph he called their, policy “ halting and tentative.” I wonder what he would have called it if we had got fairly into our stride, and had commenced to give legislative form to that policy which is bound to find its way on to the statute-book in the long run. The measures that we desire to pass might have been worthy of some such denunciation as the Prime Minister directed against us, but I submit that the suggestion that 1 our policy was halting and tentative is under the circumstances rather a compliment than otherwise. But I venture to give the latter part of the passage which I have quoted the lie direct. Not one of the charges levelled against the late Government has been proved. All sorts of attempts have been made by going through the files in the Government departments to reveal wrong-doing. All sorts of remarkable disclosures have been announced. But, so far, not a single concrete case has been established of anything approaching maladministration or extravagance. On the contrary, every charge that has been made has been hurled back against those who launched it, and they have had to eat. their words over and over again. The day before yesterday, in the Senate, we had the pitiable spectacle of a responsible Minister who leads the Ministerial party in that Chamber making a definite charge with regard to corruption in connexion with the election. Yet when yesterday the true facts were given the whole matter collapsed, and the allegations were proved to be contrary to the truth. If there was one department more than another that seemed to be particularly selected for denunciations of this description it was the Department of Home Affairs. The Treasury came in for a certain amount of criticism, particularly from the honorable member for Echuca. I venture to express myself as considerably disappointed that he has not taken the opportunity during the present debate to substantiate or withdraw the charges which he made.
– The Government will not let him speak.
– Perhaps the party opposite have held a Caucus meeting and have forbidden the honorable member to open his mouth. Certainly that is a wise policy from a party point of view, because every other charge made has completely fallen short of the mark, or has overshot the mark, and those who fathered the aspersions of the late Government have either had to withdraw their words or make excuses or explanation. Nothing is more absolutely untrue than are the charges made in this Liberal appeal to the electors; and if ever there was an attempt in the history of politics, in this country, to mislead and hoodwink the people it was made by the Liberal party during the election. The results are before us. The people of Australia have given their verdict. They heard on this occasion better than ever before both sides of the case; because, as the honorable member for Oxley said yesterday, the fact that this party has now in several of the capitals journals under its own control, conducted for the exposition of its own views, has enabled us to obtain a much more intelligent verdict from the people. My honorable friends opposite may at any rate take this suggestion or word of advice, if I may be permitted to offer one - that for the future political campaigns are not going to be conducted or won on diatribes, misrepresentations, and vile abuse. The intelligent democracy of Australia demands argument and a proper method of putting a case before the public, so. that an intelligent vote may be cast. The result of the elections gave Labour a minority of one in this House. Consequently the honorable member for Wide Bay took what was to my mind the only honorable course open to him. He handed in his resignation.. We have been abused, even for that.
– Does not the honorable member think that it would have been far better to accept the verdict of the people and allow the business of Parliament to go on ?
– The honorable member for Wimmera has anticipated what I was about to say. We did accept the verdict of the people.
– Why this censure motion ?
– As loyal Democrats we believe that the will of the people should prevail. The people said that the so-called Liberal party - I must call them Liberals, though they are not deserving of the name; there are some honest Liberals amongst them, and I include the honorable member for Wimmera as one, but he is associated with a number of men whose Conservative instincts are so ingrained in their constitution that it is impossible to expect them to be shed right off - the people, I say, said that the Liberal party should assume office, and that the Labour party should not continue to wield power. I am confident that the party opposite never expected this verdict to be given. They were not ready for it, but it was the bounden duty of the late Government loyally, though regretfully, to accept the decision of the country and to submit their resignation. That honorable members opposite never anticipated such a result to eventuate was quickly disclosed. They could not refuse to accept the invitation of His Excellency to form a Ministry. But from that day till now they have shown, not only that they did not want to form a Government, but that to accept the responsibilities of office was very far from their desire. The new Government met Parliament on the 9th April, and had to admit that they were not ready to go on with business Here was a party which had been asking the people to return them to power, but immediately they met Parliament they had to acknowledge that they were not ready. A section of the. Speech which the Governor-General addressed to Parliament on the 9th July, said -
Owing to my present advisers having so recently assumed office, they have not yet been able to mature the proposals placed by them before the electors, and it is therefore intended to ask for a short adjournment to enable them, to do so.
– Is not the honorablemember mistaken in saying that Ministers-, did not want office ]
– Not at the time,, and I doubt whether they want it now.
– I am afraid that thehonorable member does not understand Cook, Kelly, and Millen if lie says that they did not want office.
– I am referring to the party as a whole rather than to individuals. There are some individuals who are so thirsty for place and power that they would cling to it by the- skin of their eyelids. So far from being blamed’ for having given their opponents the opportunity to accept the responsibilities of office, I think that the late Government ought to be warmly praised. The statement put into the mouth of the Governor-General, that Ministers were not ready to proceed with business because their proposals were not matured, was an admission of their surprise at the turn events had taken, and of their incapacity. But with the generosity characteristic of the Labour party, we gave them a four-weeks’ adjournment, and six weeks’ Supply, so that they might have an opportunity to discover a policy, which they had been unable to do during the election campaign. Now a programme has been put before us. The Government is in a majority of one. Its regret is that its majority is so small; we regret that it is so large. But in this connexion I protest against the manner in which the Prime Minister has degraded the honorable position which you, Mr. Speaker, occupy.
– The honorable member should not refer to my position.
– Of course, I must accept your ruling, but I should like you to have waited until you heard what I have to say.
– The honorable member will see that I cannot enter into a controversy with him on the subject, and that no attempt should be made to involve me.
– Well, I enter my protest against the manner in which the Prime Minister speaks of his majority. It is unworthy of him to complain apologetically, at meeting after meeting, of his little majority, and to speak as if he almost carried the Speaker’s vote in his pocket. The Speaker’s position should not be discussed, for party purposes, at public meetings. It is unfortunate that it should have been even suggested that your vote, sir, will be cast in a certain way when the division on the censure amendment is taken. I know of no other occasion in British political history in which the anticipated action of the Speaker has been even suggested, let alone openly stated. Some years ago in Queensland, when parties were evenly divided, a Speaker was elected on his own vote, and on that or on some other occasion, was dragged in with physical force to record his vote. You, however, were elected unanimously, and are the choice of the whole House. Yet the Prime Minister tells the public that your vote will decide the question now at issue, and is under his control.
Colonel Ryrie. - The Prime Minister has never said anything of the sort.
– The statement is of daily occurrence. My protest is against the degradation of the high, honorable, and impartial position that the Speaker should be recognised as occupying. Three years ago the Labour party were accused of making the appointment of the Speaker a party question, because, being in a majority, it had the audacity to nominate a member on its own side against a member on the other side. In this Parliament the Speaker was chosen without any other nomination. I trust that the Prime Minister, if he feels compelled to refer again to his insignificant majority, will not make it appear that his position depends on the vote of the Speaker. When Parliament reassembled on the 12th of this month, the honorable gentleman put before us the programme of the Government. That was the first time that the country had an opportunity of knowing what Ministers proposed to do. Now we are coolly told that we should assist the Government in carrying out this programme. Some of us could not do that without forgetting a good deal of what has happened here in the past. The Hansard record for the last three years shows that when the Labour Government were in office we had one censure debate after another, and continual stonewalling, obstruction, and waste of time.
– We have had nothing else for the last three weeks.
– I promise more of it, if the honorable member will wait a little while. I am showing the unreasonableness of the complaint that we are delaying business. Last year, speaking from the Government benches, I congratulated the late Opposition on its success in using the forms of the House for purposes of obstruction. It says a good deal for the generosity and patience of the Labour party that we put through so many Bills without once imposing the gag. The limitation of speeches to which I was, and am still, opposed was made necessary by the obstructive tactics of the late Opposition.
– It was proposed by a member of the Liberal party.
– And every member of the party voted against it.
– In that, as in other matters, they tried to take the wind out of our sails. If you look through the pages of Hansard, you will find the names Cook, Johnson, Kelly, Kelly, Johnson, Cook, Johnson, Kelly, Cook, constantly recurring. No three members took up more of the time of the House. They were always to be depended on to waste time, and delay business, if any party advantage was to be gained thereby. The memorandum of the Prime Minister is a direct challenge to us. I came to this Parliament hoping that there might be an agreement for the putting through of measures of a non-contentious character which are absolutely necessary for the welfare of the community. We all know that in the present state of parties, neither side could carry through much contentious business, but I have great faith in the patriotism and loyalty of honorable members, and there are certain measures which all would agree to pass. For instance, the Bankruptcy Bill, which has already been introduced, is a measure which is urgently needed by the commercial interests of Australia. Why could not the Government take up measures of that kind ? Again there is the question of marriage and divorce. No question affecting the social life of this community more urgently calls for sympathetic treatment than does this question. The State laws on the subject are a reflection upon our moral conduct. I invite the Government to take up the matter, and give an opportunity to both sides to unite, as I believe they are willing to do, in putting through an honest, straight, and true marriage and divorce law for Australia. Then the subject of life and fire insurance, it is suggested by the Government, calls for legislation. I notice that all the measures of a non-contentious character were very carefully relegated to the last paragraph of the Ministerial statement. It is suggested in paragraph 20 that we might deal with the transfer of Norfolk Island, life and fire insurance regulation, bankruptcy, and offences against the Commonwealth. If the Government want the business of the country carried on properly, the introduction of those measures is urgent. Why do they not find a place amongst the early measures which we hope to see carried ? I come now to the question of the Tariff. To my mind there are two questions of specially urgent importance at present to Australia. The first is that of the Tariff, and the second is that of industrial legislation. So far as other matters are concerned, I do not think that the people of this country would regret if the legislative machine had a rest for a little while, if we had clean, honest administration. The complaint that we on this side had three years in which to deal with the Tariff, and did not take advantage of the opportunity, and that, therefore, we are insincere in our professions, and that the third paragraph of our censure motion is an unworthy one, and a reflection upon ourselves is, to my mind, altogether beside the question. . We were decided in our views about the Tariff, as the public knew, but our dealing with the Tariff was always contingent, as it is now, upon certain necessary conditions having been complied with. The first condition is that the industries protected shall be effectively protected, while the second is that the workers in protected industries shall be guaranteed protection as well as the employers. We have twice asked the people to give us power to deal with the Tariff in that way, and have twice been refused. It is not our fault, therefore, that the Tariff has not been dealt with. It is not our fault that industries are hindered and obstructed. It is not our fault if the wages and conditions in certain industries are not what they ought to be. We are ready now, as we always have been, to deal with the Tariff in a scientific, reasonable, and economic way, and it is the people of the country who have prevented us from carrying out our desire. To show the falseness of the professions of honorable members opposite in regard to the Tariff, all that they suggest is that a few anomalies should be remedied. The Prime Minister and the honorable member for Werriwa, who is his understudy, have declared their Free Trade principles from every platform. But the Prime Minister coolly comes down, and shows not how he leads the Government, but how his party leads him, by stating that he has abandoned his Free Trade principles, and is going to maintain what he calls “ the accepted Protective policy “ of the country. Their next statement is even a worse admission of failure in that respect, because they propose to hand over to the Inter-State
Commission power to make inquiries and submit certain recommendations. In the meantime we are told that any anomalies discovered in the existing Tariff will be dealt with. We are certain that anomalies exist, and are prepared to deal with them. We did remedy certain anomalies in the last Parliament. But the Government, apparently, are not sure that there are any anomalies in the Tariff. In fact, they do not suggest that there are, but they say that if any anomalies are discovered they will attend to them; and, in the meantime, they are going to do nothing but wait until the Inter-State Commission travels round Australia and makes certain recommendations, with, as I am reminded, a Free Trader in the chair, and - I do not. use the word offensively - a renegade Free Trader in the position of Prime Minister. I can conceive of no more helpless outlook for Tariff revision and the encouragement of Australian industries than is suggested by the position which the Government have taken up. It seems to me to be a hopeless and unfortunate admission of incompetence to deal with the Tariff. Yet this precious Government coolly blame us for not having interfered with the Tariff. All that I can anticipate in this matter is that the manufacturers, and those who are trying to build up the industries of Australia, will very soon recognise that the present Government are not prepared to accept any responsibility, but intend as far as possible to dodge their responsibility and put it on to somebody else, and so prevent us from doing courageously and honestly what we said we would do if we got the necessary power, and that was to undertake a revision of the Tariff straight away. The Ministerial statement has been deliberately worded to provoke a quarrel. I do not suppose that the members of the Liberal party were consulted by the Prime Minister in regard to the items, but they are responsible for the statement now. It has been fathered upon them by the Prime Minister, and they have to “ carry the baby.” It has been, I repeat, carefully worded to provoke a quarrel. It is a direct challenge to the Opposition. Of course, there are a few items in the statement with which we on this side agree; but nearly every paragraph is a distinct invitation to the Labour party to have a fight. It begins by abusing our party and blaming us for wrong electoral conduct. It announces the intention of the Government to abolish preference to unionists. It talks of excluding rural workers from the Arbitration Court. It talks, too, of abandoning the day-labour system and reverting to the contract system. In regard to those and other questions; every man in the country with any intelligence knows that the Labour party will stand or fall by its principles. No member on the Government side, I feel certain, ever imagined for a moment that we would agree to the proposals I have just referred to. Then they wonder why we fight! What are we here for ? Who sent us here, and why were we sent here? We were sent here expressly to fight these very matters. Our opposition to them is too deeply rooted to warrant any hope on the part of honorable members opposite that we will abandon our principles and join with them in enacting certain legislation. There need be no misunderstanding in the minds of the Government and their supporters.
– Then there is a bone in the policy that honorable members opposite do not like to swallow?
– I admit that there is a bony part in the policy, and I say that the Attorney-General ought to be in his proper place at the head of the Government instead of merely being a member of it. To him, I think, may be attributed the solid, meaty parts to be found in what has been put before us as the Government policy. At any rate, those parts of it which are a direct challenge to the Labour party were inspired by him. I give him credit for that. I like a man who will courageously stand by the things in which he believes. There are other members of the Government to whom I could not pay that compliment. They have at one time indignantly repudiated what they have most enthusiastically accepted at another time. Supporters of the Government need be under no misapprehension as to our intentions. As a party we have not decided upon our joint line of conduct, but I am sure that individual members of it are not going to allow the legislation foreshadowed in the Ministerial policy to go through this Cha’mber if they can obstruct and avoid it. As far as I am concerned, I will strain every privilege that I possess under the Standing Orders to prevent the passing of those measures. I would be ashamed to hold the confidence of the people of my electorate and to permit some of those pro- posals to pass this House without a fight. Honorable members opposite, therefore, may look forward to a very vigorous session if they hope to carry any of those proposals.
– They do not want any of them to go through.
– I believe that that statement is very true. Of course, they will not admit it. But anybody who has witnessed the conduct of the Prime Minister, and of other Ministers, will recognise that they do not care whether their proposals go through or not so long as they can get into recess, and thus have the administration of the various Departments of government in their hands a little longer. Only on Thursday of last week, in conjunction with the honorable member for Oxley, I brought forward a matter relating to the men who are employed upon casual work in Brisbane. And this is the kind of “ stuff “ that I had to listen to from the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs after the matter had been settled -
Unlike my predecessor, I desire to see the men in Brisbane get the same chances as their colleagues throughout Australia-
A most unworthy, libellous, and untrue statement - a gratuitous piece of information.
The present Administration stands for the payment of the best wages, and the granting of the best conditions, that we can give; and, in common fairness, we shall pay similar wages for similar work throughout the Commonwealth. . . . Honorable members have only to lay the matter before the present Administration, who will give absolute justice and fair play all round.
If the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs felt like that, all he had to do when the matter was brought before him privately - as it was before the House met - was to say, “ Well, gentlemen, I will attend to this. It will be all right.” When he forwarded the telegram authorizing the payment of the wages, if he had told us its purport, there would not have been a word said in this House. But no. He could not do that. He had to let us get up in this Chamber in order that he might have the joy of knocking us down with such unworthy, unnecessary information. That was not the worst feature of the matter. The Prime Minister could not resist the temptation to make a speech on the motion for the adjournment of the
House - just as he does almost every night. This is what he said -
I want to suggest to my friends that they should go just a little easy on these matters. They are exposing their own administration to the public of Australia iu a way that is anything but lovely. One after another of these points crops up, and we are being abused, all because we paid some deference to the acts of our predecessors….. I wish to say once and for all it is time this kind of political game ceased. The present Government will treat the men employed on Commonwealth work at least as well as they have ever been Created by the previous Administration. All we shall do is to expect the men to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, and when they have done that the Government will see that they get a fair day’s pay in full and generous measure I hope sincerely this kind of political warfare will cease. 1 am tired of it. We have heard nothing but it since coming into office, when all the facts show that no reflection lies at our doors. On the other hand, they show that for three years honorable members now opposite were dumb, and tolerated these abuses and all this mismanagement, and dared not say a word to uncover it. It is about time they ceased. Honorable members get nothing out of it. Let them take my advice and drop it.
I think that the Prime Minister might recollect that honorable members on this side of the Chamber do not require to be lectured by him. It is not his function to lecture us as to our method of doing things. In regard to electoral matters, I desire to say a few words. . The exMinister of Home Affairs has come in for very severe castigation for his administration of his Department, and every charge made against him has been utterly disproved. In regard to the scrutiny of the votes cast at the Brisbane election the gentleman who represented me, in his report, says -
Attached you will find list of apparent duplications. The most of these are, without doubt, the result of careless marking on behalf of Presiding Officers. In many cases, even where doubt could be shown as to intention of the Presiding Officer, the Acting D.R.O’. has pui them in the list of duplications.
It was not a matter of giving the voter the benefit of the doubt. He was immediately set down’ as a criminal. The report proceeds -
Some nf them are also caused by the numbers in some cases being out of alignment, as different Presiding Officers would tick the number from the number up to the name above, and others from the number down to the name below. Any further information I will gladly give if required.
Then he gave a list of those who are supposed to have been guilty of duplications. There are names in that list - most of them well known Liberal supporters - of men who, I am sure, would never be guilty of double voting. For instance, there is the name of an ex-senator of this Parliament - the Hon. Thomas Glassey - a man who is well-known in Brisbane. I am certain that he would be the last to be guilty of such misconduct. For the sake of getting an extra vote he would not deliberately perjure himself by replying “ No “ when the question was put to him, “ Have you voted before at this election?” Nor do I think that anybody would attempt to impersonate him; he is so well known that no presiding officer would accept an ordinary voter as being identical with him. What I believe caused the most trouble at the last general election was the hopeless incompetency of the presiding officers at most of the polling booths. On polling day I had to complain to the Returning Officer of some of these men, and I noticed that most of the alleged duplications took place at the polling booths presided over by officers of whose incompetency I complained. The Returning Officer himself is a most estimable gentleman. I do not know what his politics are, but I believe that he has always endeavoured to give all parties a fair and honest deal. But there were at one polling booth - New Farm - two gentlemen who may be very respectable, but who were absolutely incapable of performing even the most perfunctory duties. What we need to do to remedy this state of affairs - and I shall endeavour when the amending Electoral Bill is before us to give effect to my proposition - is to declare the election day a Commonwealth holiday and employ Commonwealth public servants to conduct the election. The fact that such officers would know that they were not employed solely to conduct the election, but that their whole position in the service must, depend upon the upright discharge of their duties, would be a strong guarantee that the election would be conducted on proper lines. I have had brought under my notice a letter published in the Casterton Times of the 14th ultimo, which was signed by Hugh McEachern, who was a presiding officer at a polling booth at the last general election. I propose to quote from it in order to show first of all that the Labour Government did not avail themselves of the opportunity to appoint as presiding officers partisans of their own political colour, and secondly, to show how violently partisan some of the presiding officers were. Mr. McEachern in this article gives thirteen reasons why the Labour party were defeated. As my time has almost expired I cannot do more than give the following extracts from them -
Firstly, because they failed as legislators to prove to the electors of our great Commonwealth that the promises made previous to their return were fufilled.
Secondly - Because they failed to give to the people as a whole, in return for the confidence reposed, sound government.
Thirdly - Because a large number of their most loyal and intelligent supporters discovered the facts represented, and in addition realized they were merely industrial agents and class legislators, and therefore not representatives to serve loyally - as a whole - the community whom they were returned to represent.
Fourthly - Because they proved tyrannical to the best interests of their supporters, intolerant to the employer, extortionate to the farmer and capitalist, and extremists in Nationalization, repulsive in effrontery to all and sundry who opposed their policy, pestilent in their persistence to suppress liberty and retard progress, Nihilists to non-unionists, and because they made a regulation extending preference to unionists, and immediately at birth strangled the law in its administration by refusing the right the law intended, in giving alike to non-unionists a share of employment, where warranted by merit and ability.
Fifthly - Because they supported strikes in all their tyrannical atrocities, supplied pickets, assisted in besieging cities, and failed to give the people industrial peace and protection from the tyranny of the mob.
Sixthly - Because they had the audacity to assist themselves to the_ coffers of the Treasury for the purpose of raising salaries without first having had the courtesy to ask the people whether justified in doing so or not.
Seventhly - Because they endeavoured to enforce a doctrine of Socialism, equivalent in its atrociousness to anarchy, upon a free born people, who, threatened by the danger of its far-reaching severity, revolted against the evil at its source, as they feared, if instituted, they would become overwhelmed and thereby crushed beneath the cruel yoke of tyranny and oppression.
Eighthly - Because they instituted an electoral law which proved inefficient in its benefits, and lent assistance to gross corruption at the ballotbox……
Ninthly - Because they abolished postal voting……
Tenthly - Because it was alleged they appointed Judges to the High Court who had a Labour leaning.
Eleventhly - Because they endeavoured to create combines out of myths ; a fact as proved by the Coal Vend case tried before the High Court of Australia, and later in the Privy Council, when in both Courts it was pronounced by high legal authority to be no combine and therefore not detrimental to the welfare of the people.
Twelfthly - Because, still in the face of the facts represented, they endeavoured to hoodwink the people……
– Who is this man? Is he a patron of a Liberal League ?
– He was an assistant returning officer at the last general election. Such a statement coming from such a source proves conclusively that the partisanship of some Returning Officers was painfully in evidence, at all events after the election, and honorable members can form their own conclusion as to the line of conduct such men would adopt on election day.
– I think it proves that the man is a scoundrel.
– It proves, at all events, that he should not again hold such a position. Partisans should not be appointed as presiding officers. The honorable member for North Sydney tried, a day or two ago, to create a great sensation because the ex-Minister of Home Affairs had said that squatters and graziers should not be appointed as presiding officers.
– M - Men in control of employes.
– If it is an insult to squatters and graziers that they should be ineligible for such appointments, what is to be said of the hundreds of Labour men who have had the courage to express their political convictions, and who are also debarred by the very same law from acting in this capacity. If it is an insult in the one case it must be an insult in the other. I am prepared to assist in every possible way to secure purity of elections, but I utterly oppose the suggestion of the Government, that purity of elections is to be obtained by adopting the most corrupt system of voting that has ever obtained in any country. No system of political voting ever tried in Australia lias proved more viciously corrupt than has the postal system. Yet the present Government, which declares that it is standing for pure government - and the Prime Minister said that, as the result of the elections, the people would emerge triumphant, and efficiency would again come to the fore - is going to give us an efficient system of voting by adopting the most corrupt that has ever been tried. I tell the Government straight out that I accept their challenge.
– The honorable member does ?
– I can speak for myself ; the honorable member cannot. The Government have thrown out a challenge which I accept, and I guarantee to fight them at every opportunity rather than allow such a proposal as this to become law.
.- When I first heard that a motion of censure had been tabled, I was curious to learn what lines it would follow; but, as soon as I saw the Ministerial statement of policy, I realized that the Government were proposing, not only ‘to legislate on certain national lines, but to repeal legislation which, in my opinion, is most desirable, and should not be removed from the statute-book. Honorable members on the Government side of the House have spoken loudly of the mandate which they claim to have received from the people; but that mandate, so far as the electors themselves are concerned, is hardly articulate. It certainly was not a direction to change the whole trend of legislation in the National Parliament. It may be taken as a mandate to halt, if honorable members opposite will have it so; but, when they immediately propose reactionary measures, we are fully entitled, in view of their narrow majority and the indecisive voice of the people, to question their right to remain on the Treasury bench. There are certain national schemes to be carried out; and, in some respects, the Government policy does aim at building that broad national highway along which we hope the nation will tread. So far as it attempts to do so, I think that the Government can depend upon considerable support from this side of the House; but the trouble is that they have not confined themselves to such propositions. Some of the new members sitting on the Government side of the House have spoken commendably in this regard, and I may say at once that I shall be with them in anything that will tend to help along the young Commonwealth. I admit that there are many questions besides those that are industrial that need attention, and I am open also to the admission that, with all our high ideals, hopes, and aspirations, we run a great risk of having them shattered, by foreign intrusion for instance. All this compels us to turn our thoughts in many directions. I do not wish to adopt a bitter tone, and I am not going to do so. I do not pretend to sound any of the high notes of party warfare. I am satisfied with a more moderate basis. Attacks have been made on the Democracy which we came here to represent, and undoubtedly do represent. In this country, where today there are only two political parties, one of these parties must comprehend the Conservative element, and the other the Liberal element; that seems to me to be an inescapable deduction. We are not alone as exponents of Democracy, because there are extremer sections ; but, so far as the Liberal party is concerned, all the extreme sections have been welded into one. Therefore, a nian who really wishes to help the masses of the people can find no place in the Liberal ranks of the politics of to-day. Where individual interests conflict with the national well-being, individual interests must give way. I doubt very much whether there is any number of Liberals who would assist in combating those interests which are inimical; and I do not see how they could do so if they are to be logical. I admit that Democracy very often has crude conceptions, and is crudely expressed, but I remind the Opposition that, associated with all the crudity, there is that discontent which has been called divine, and that unrest in the human mind which stands for evolution. I cannot separate one from the other; and those who would help must stand with the multitude. If this means to take up a cross, let us take it up, carry it like men, and help on this big movement. The Labour party is not exclusive, as has been very well shown by the honorable member for BendigoIf it were, I suppose I should be one of those to be excluded, because I am very often told that I should be on the other side. However, as a free man, I elect to be here, and the party is big enough for me, and it is big enough for men who are more aggressive than I am. That, however, is neither here nor there. While the party is as elastic as it is, it will hold men of many types, and it must hold them to be the success it has been, or to be a continued success. I am aware that there are men in this Parliament who have felt the spur of adversity; and we have reminiscences of conditions of affairs which were a disgrace to the country, and which never would have been removed had we not banded together and formed a political party. I admit that the conditions we are combating to-day are not so bad as they might be. This is a better country than any I know of because of the freedom that has been permitted in the political arena, and of the enlightenment of the industrial classes, who have thrown off the thraldom which has kept them down elsewhere. The very foundation of this country began with the outcasts of the older countries, who were practically compelled to leave their native shores because they dared to claim more than vested interests would permit. That practically led to the establishment of the Australian nation”; and if, in this freer atmosphere, we have been able to make the voice of the people more emphatically felt in the Legislature, it is only a natural consequence. Politically we have our limitations, and that fact is recognised by the organizations outside. It is recognised in my own electorate, where there are many organizations which have nothing to do with the political party. At Lithgow, one of my largest centres, I do not suppose there were more than 100 men who took any hand in selecting a representative, although there are thousands of miners and others engaged in the iron trade. That does not look as though the Labour movement were an exclusive movement in which only those who breathe the atmosphere of the Trades Hall take part.
– The men are not connected with the Trades Hall there.
– Quite so. It seems to me that this House, so far as the Labour party is concerned, is the watchtower of Democracy. We are here as much to repel assaults that are made on the legislation that has been achieved - the rights and privileges that have been secured - as to make further advances. At the present juncture our duty is to see that the legislation that has been placed on the statute-book is not repealed. I do not consider that that legislation goes too far. No man is more conscious than myself of the limitations of political action, yet I contend that what has been done is entirely reasonable, and that the action of the Government in trying to undo it is illogical, unwise, and unsafe. The policy of the Government will not lead to that industrial peace they profess to be seeking to secure, as I hope to be able to show as I go along. I have said that I know we have our limitations politically. I do not think that we can re-model society by legislation, but I do think we can give society the opportunity to remodel itself by legislation. This means giving every possible opportunity to the rank and file to make the best of themselves. The Government, when they say to the rank and file, “ You have gone too far, and are trying to do too much for yourselves,” while at the same time those people are denied access to the Law Courts, are not affording equal opportunity, but declining to perform the obvious obligation of any Parliament. Every citizen is as much entitled to appeal to the Law Courts, if he feels aggrieved on the ground that he is not getting a just reward for his labour, as he is to apply to the Courts for the sum agreed upon with his employer. There is very little difference between the cases; if men think they are not getting a fair deal, the Government should be only too pleased to have the Judiciary take a hand in seeing that justice is done. We here are not seeking to constitute ourselves a Wages Board, or an arbitration tribunal, but are satisfied to delegate the functions of such bodies to those who have paid special attention to such matters, and, by their special training, are better qualified. That seems to me to be only a fair and reasonable view to take, and it is dangerous to deny the people just opportunities. There are many opportunities I could touch on that it seems to me it is competent for the Parliament of the country to provide. We are told that regeneration is impossible. I agree that we cannot regenerate human nature. There are deeper - aye, and sadder - causes which cannot be reached by any legislation, causes which have resulted in inherent difficulties, and furnish us to-day with the unemployable as well as the unemployed. It is a reflection on any Government that it has so administered the affairs of the country that any man capable of working, and willing to work, is not able to find employment; or that any one able to go out and assist in developing the country is not furnished with land to enable him to do so. These things reflect on the Administration, and we are in the House to see that the necessary remedies are applied. We wish to see equal opportunity provided for the people. They are not getting it to-day. I am against the proposal of the Government to restore the postal vote, because there was no form of voting so freely abused, not only by gentlemen on the Government side, bub by this party. It was abused by both parties.
– I hope you do not say that about my constituency.
– I think both parties abused it, and for that reason I am prepared to wipe it out. Further than that, I say there were too great facilities for voting at the last election, resulting in congestion and trouble. Eliminate those defects and all will be well. The paragraph in the Prime Minister’s manifesto dealing with the prohibition of preference, and the application of the funds of unions to political purposes, seems to me mere sophistry. How can the Government expect people to resort to political action, or to do anything for themselves, without spending money? We can no more prevent the unions spending money than we can prevent the Liberal party of Australia furnishing themselves with funds out of their own pockets. I have received very little financial assistance in my political campaigns; but that is by the way, for I realize there is necessity for funds if work is to be done. However, to make a distinction between parties is not providing equal opportunity for the Democracy of Australia to secure representation in this House; and, as we know, there should be no taxation without representation. If there is to be equal opportunity, then this stigma must be removed. It is unfair and unjust. Many honorable members now on the Government bench were among those who supported Mr. Watson at the time he promulgated the idea of the Arbitration Court giving preference to unionists. I do not suppose that, at the time, the question of allowing unions to use their funds for political purposes was mentioned; I do not suppose it cropped up, because it was taken as a matter of course, as it should be. Presumably, the present idea is to restrict the unions, when, as a matter of fact, it is an attempt to restrict the component parts of unions - the individuals - who often subscribe, independently of their unions, to the fighting funds of political labour leagues. Some do; some do not; but those who do subscribe do it voluntarily.
– And before to-day they have subscribed to keep men in Parliament.
– That is the case, and it is no infringement of one’s moral sense, lt is merely the exercise of the right of a free man to spend his money as he chooses in securing political representation for himself. As to preference being granted by the Court, I think that it is an admirable solution of the problem. A strong organization has no difficulty in maintaining preference among its ranks. I think that may be accepted. They fought for it, as the honorable member for Werriwa advises them to do to-day, whereas I am never tired of advising them to do the other thing and rely on constitutional means. If no other way presented itself, would not we all resort to force ? Few honorable members would stand much in the shape of oppression or unjust conditions, as many a man is compelled to do because he dare not put up a fight. I am willing to admit that all the virtues are not with the Opposition, but it is harder for a man to display all his virtues when he is suffering unjust conditions than when he is in easy circumstances and happy and contented, with plenty to eat. In my opinion, the right of appeal to the Court is a very fine solution. It simply means that where, in the opinion of the Judge, the industrial peace of the community and the wellbeing of the country are affected by a limited number of malcontents who will not enter an organized movement, he has the right to give preference, and giving that right is a big contribution towards the general peace of the community. As to the protective policy, I do not consider that this party has much room for talk. I honestly do not. I do not think we did all we might have done, when we were on the Government side of the House, to institute a proper system of Protection.
– H - Hear, hear !
– Further than that, I think we were fooling in not appointing the Inter-State Commission when we had the chance. I make no bones about it.
– H - Hear, hear! Three good jobs gone !
– I quite agree with the Government that extra facilities are required iu the matter of docking our large ships, particularly the war-boats. I think, if anything, the action taken has been too precipitate, both on the part of the Labour Government in taking over the docks, which are not big enough, and on the part of the present Government in ceasing operations and creating quite a furore before there was justification for it, evidently with the intention of exposing the Labour Government. I have no time for these petty tactics. It seems to me that no sooner were Ministers in office-
– Not all the Ministers.
– Some of them - I do not mention names; I prefer to generalize - have taken to rummaging round the pigeon-holes like ferrets in rabbit burrows to find out what we have been doing, and where the wickedness is, and how much we have made; but I am pleased to say things did not turn out as they thought they would. In the matter of national insurance, I think the Government will have the support of the Labour party in helping to establish any scheme. The systems in vogue to-day, the maternity bonus and the old-age and invalid pensions, are going to extend so much that they will ultimately be a burden, and I believe that before they get that far they will need to have associated with them this national insurance. It is a matter of common sense. It will be a good thing for the country when every one in it is under some liability to contribute, as he goes through life, to a national fund that will help him in his old age.
– I - It is a good idea.
– It is not enough to have to draw upon the general revenue. There are other lessons to be learned than that of depending entirely on the Government in one’s old age. I should be only too pleased to have to contribute so much per quarter or per month to some national insurance fund.
– But how many can afford it in the rank and file of the workers ?
– I do not propose that the old-age pension scheme should be abrogated, but I say that it is better for the country that every one should contribute to a national insurance scheme if we can; give them the opportunity.
– It has been found a success in Germany, where wages are a third of what they are here.
– But to-day the working people contribute through the Customs.
– In one sense, every one has to pay in through the revenue, but will my friends say that they do not believe in a national insurance scheme ?
– It all depends on what it is.
– Of course, and I am prepared to wait and see what the scheme is. I am not so filled up with party prejudice that I cannot see any good in another party’s scheme.
– I - I do not care who brings it in as long as it is right.
– There is too much looking to the Government to see that things are as they should be. We cannot regenerate the social system by legislation, and if we attempted to do it in any wholesale way the scheme must fall to pieces. I am never tired of telling the people in my electorate the same thing. I have advised the navvies to get to work and cooperate, and take on Government jobs at so much per yard for laying the earth, and so much per length for laying rails, and in that way get a grip of the system they are up against.
– T - That is the only way they can do it.
– It is no use talking of altering the social system, and attacking wealth unless we can get into grips with it and learn to understand what its ramifications are.
– Carrying on the same system ?
– Certainly. We cannot by legislation change a system that has grown up over the centuries. I nurse no such illusions, and I tell those outside that if they are to improve their conditions and get more wealth they can only do it by co-operative effort. We could by legislative enactment secure to them so much of the wealth they produce as to enable them to accumulate funds for this purpose. Some organizations are now taking action in this direction, and have funds enough to enable them to undertake contracts, and to run co-operative concerns. I say again that this is a sure and safe way for men to act. By this means they can clear their own lands, plough their own fields, and reap their own harvests. It is out of the question to expect that the Government will do all this for them and I repeat that I entertain no such illusion.
– If the honorable member can point to any way in which what he proposes can be done, the Government will be found prepared to do all they can to help him.
– One way is to leave the matter of preference to unionists as it stands.
– The honorable member should watch the Attorney-General when he is throwing out these tempting suggestions.
– I am proof against all the honorable gentleman’s temptations. I think that the undertaking to construct the railway through the Northern Territory is one which should be proceeded with. It should have been begun sooner, in my opinion, and the line should take the direct route in accordance with the contract into which we entered with the South Australian Government.
– None of the Queensland Camooweal business.
– If there is to be any linking up with the main Northern Territory line, that can be decided later between the States and the Commonwealth. I believe that the main line will be fed by lines from all the other States in the course of time, but it must be taken by the direct route in accordance with the arrangement. It will then be of greatest use from a strategical point of view, and all the States can be treated alike when it comes to a question of linking them up with the direct line. With regard to the proposal concerning the management and control of the Post and Telegraph Department, I agree that some Commissioners should be appointed to administer that Department. I heartily agree with that proposal, because it is too much to ask any one man to carry on such a Department.
– The one man has six deputies now.
– The Postmaster-General cannot possibly carry the whole load of the management of such a large Department. No Postmaster-General has so far done it successfully, and none ever will. I think that a Commission should be appointed for the purpose. Here, again, no doubt, I shall come into conflict with my honorable friends, who will probably decline to recognise in the Democracy I claim to represent the capacity necessary to take a hand in this matter. I suggest that for appointments to such a Commission as has been mentioned, we should not only appeal to the commercial section of the community, to chambers of commerce, or of manufactures, but we should also go to the trades and labour councils for a nominee. Such a man might render great help in administering the Department. I say that this is the only way by which the Democracy can be elevated. It must be given its chance. There are men associated with trades and labour councils whose experience and advice would be of the greatest use in the management and control of this great Department, because of their special knowledge of industrial affairs. They would not be numerous enough to outweigh their colleagues on the Board, but they would be in a position to make separate suggestions. I would give a Commission of this kind the power only of suggestion, and if the representatives of various sections of the community on the Commission had this power of separate suggestion, I think it would be an excellent idea. I should favour also the representation of the clerical and general divisions in the Department itself on the Commission by a nominee having the power of suggestion. This, in my opinion, is the only way in which the helping hand can be held out to the Democracy of this country. I say that they have earned sufficient respect to be entitled to a more intimate say in the management of these big public concerns. But as to any direct, sure, and safe high road to Socialism, I know of none. If the Government will take these ideas into consideration it is possible that they will find their hands considerably strengthened in dealing with this proposal. No one can deny that the Post and Telegraph Department needs serious reform, or that it should be undertaken early. I should like to say that I am in favour of the introduction of a system of preferential voting. I do not know how much, if any, support that would receive from the Government. Under a system of preferential voting the existing political parties could retain their individuality. There would be nothing whatever to prevent that, but the introduction of such a system would at once do away with any manipulation of party machines to the detriment of the general community. I think that the public should have the choice all the time of saying who shall represent them. I should let as many candidates as pleased present themselves from any party, and let the public sort them out. That is the safest, surest, and most democratic way in which to deal with the matter.
– What is to prevent that now?
– I say that the party machines to-day are manipulated by both parties. It is for that reason I want to throw the door more widely open. I am a Democrat I say that, in this, I enunciate a democratic principle which the party machines to-day are tending to upset. For these reasons, I am prepared to sup port a proposal to provide for preferential voting. There is one other point to which I may refer, and that is the effect of the land taxation imposed by the late Government. On this question, I say that if there is one opportunity that we can provide for the Democracy of Australia to enable it to “ make good,” it is by making the land more available to the people. We all say that this ought to be done, and some contend that it is being done. An honorable member on the opposite side told us recently that 90 per cent. of the land is still in the hands of the State Governments. The honorable member meant to say that it has not yet been absolutely alienated. But for all practical purposes it has been alienated, because it is held under long leases, and cannot be got at.
– All the land is not held under long leases.
– My honorable friend must admit that there are hundreds of people in this country who are prepared to go on the land, and have the money to do so, but who cannot get on to the land. I presume the honorable member is as cognisant of that fact as I am.
– In some of the States it is possible to select on any leased lands.
– There are no general facilities provided in this respect. Our system of immigration should go hand in hand with a comprehensive land settlement scheme. It is of no use to bring people to this country, and have them walk the streets when they get here. We should have an immigration scheme worked upon a business footing. An immigrant upon arrival in this country should be met, and taken in hand by the authorities until he is placed in whatever occupation he chooses to follow. To bring people here, and not take care to place them properly, is simply to contribute to that old vicious competition among human beings which leads to the degradation of humanity, and which our legislation has sought to avoid. We want to prevent our humane policy being nullified by increasing the multitude who will be struggling for bread, with the result of bringing down the price of labour to such an extent that it must also bring down the stamina of the race. This is, at root, a racial question. We cannot afford to sacrifice our people to Moloch in this way. With regard to the attack that has been made on the legislation of the late Government, I hold in my hand a return concerning the area under crop in the several States of the Commonwealth during the seasons 1911-12 and 1912-13. The information is absolutely reliable, as it comes from the Statistician’s office. It is valuable as showing the great increase in the land under crop in the several States of the Commonwealth. The figures are as follow : -
It looks, therefore, as if there had been a beneficent result from the land tax that was imposed at the instance of the late Government.
– What allowance does the honorable member make for the Crown land thrown open in each State?
– Does the honorable member mean how much is due to the effect of the land tax in opening up Crown land?
– I cannot say what proportion of the increase of land under crop is due to the automatic opening of Crown lands, but I will say that it is a significant fact that, after the imposition of the land tax, there was a greater movement in land in Australia than had occurred for many years previously. That may not have been due to that fact, but it is a remarkable coincidence. In fact, it is so remarkable that I am quite prepared to stiffen the tax, so as to make more land available. I think that this is one of those things to which we have been too slow in attending. I strongly object to the proposal of the Government to grant freehold tenure in the Northern Territory. There is a chance in this new country of applying a prin- ciple which can hardly be called Socialistic, since it is recognised to-day as almost an economic truth that land should not be alienated from the people. I am prepared to grant a fifty years’ tenure, or even to give to the pioneers a tenure for the duration of their lives, in recognition of their enterprise in going to the Northern Territory. But I do not for a moment approve of a system which permits of hereditary estates. The alienation of land is one of the most pernicious features of modern civilization. The accumulation of large estates has led to population crowding into cities. It has conduced to a huge accumulation of wealth on the one hand, and to great poverty on the other in all the older countries of the world. Of course, I recognise that it is impossible in older countries to alter the present system at a stroke, and to do such a thing is far from my mind. It is an undoubted fact that many large land-owners did not inherit their estates, which are constantly increasing in value, but purchased them. But we should be glad of the opportunity to prevent the occurrence of such a state of things in a young country such as the Northern Territory is. In dealing with the Territory, we should hesitate to talk about freehold tenures, which mean the accumulation of more publiclycreated values in the hands of private individuals. I quite agree that those values which have accumulated in the hands of individuals in older settled communities cannot be destroyed. I am no dreamer. I recognise that vested interests have grown up, and that a large number of considerable estates, even in this young country, have not been inherited, but bought and paid for at modern values. In those cases we must, of course, treat the owner of the land as the owner of the value. I admit the difficulties in the way of dealing with such cases. I recognise that our great financial institutions have been largely founded upon these very land values, and that many of what may be called small people are vitally interested in those institutions. I should not be prepared to support any proposal that would undermine the social fabric in such a way that it would come down with a crash. To do so is outside the question. But where we have a fresh field for the application of accepted economic principles with regard to land occupation, and we decline to use it, I say that we are remiss in our duty. If there were no other question upon which we could condemn the Government, their proposal in regard to the Northern Territory would, from my point of view, be a sufficient justification. So far as concerns the multiplying of farmers, which it is said will ultimately destroy the Labour party, all I can say is that I am fully prepared to multiply farms as much, as possible; and if the result should be to destroy the Labour party, then the Labour party will not have lived in vain.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mathews) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- This morning I asked the Prime Minister whether the Liberal Conference now sitting is holding its meetings in secret or in public,’ and the reply I received suggested that those meetings are open to the public. The honorable gentleman is an agile politician. There are very few things that he does not know about throwing dust in the eyes of the people, and misleading them. He said that all he knew about the conference was that he was present yesterday when a motion was moved for the admission of the press. He did not add that the press was admitted only in order that his speech might be recorded. He did not tell us, what he undoubtedly knew, that this conference of delegates from all parts of Australia is being held in secret caucus. I have ascertained the fact from an inter-State press representative, who was refused admission, and informed that he might attend about 5 o’clock this afternoon, when he would be given some tit-bits of information. If the new members who lectured the Labour party about conducting its meetings in secret doubt the truth of what I say, they can make inquiries for themselves, and will find that the Liberal Conference is being held in secret like the Labour Conference.
– The Labour Conference is open to the public. Any one can attend.
– 1 have not attended a Labour Conference for some years, but I understood that the meetings at which our programme is drawn up are held in secret.
– No; the public are allowed £o go in.
– Then I have been misinformed. Certainly the public cannot attend the Liberal Conference that is now being held. Another subject upon which I wish to speak is the interview with the Prime Minister published in the Morning Post. I accept the honorable gentleman’s statement, as he was not responsible for that part of the published telegram which scandalized the people of Australia. Why I asked him to lay on the table the letter which he read last night was to ascertain the name of the pressman who interviewed him . I now know the name of that pressman, but in making it public I do not wish to create the impression that I have an antipathy to journalists. I respect their profession, and at one time had a great deal to do with it. But there should be some way of dealing with men like Mr. Myers, of the Sydney Morning Herald, who has cabled to London that -
Charges are made in all the States against the Labour parly “stuffing” the rolls.
The message continues -
In Queensland, 55,000 more persons have been enrolled than there are adults in the State, and 72,000 in South Australia. It is estimated that at Oxley (Queensland), formerly a Liberal stronghold, the number of votes recorded was in excess of the total electorate.
I am sure that is not true -
In hundreds of cases, impersonation and duplicate voting was discovered, and there were numerous other irregularities….. One elector at Ballarat boasted of having voted nineteen times. The Liberals are preparing a comprehensive list of proved cases of this kind. . . . Australians are proud of possessing the widest and freest suffrage in the world, but the manner in which it has been used at this election indicates that it is by no means a pure Democratic instrument.
We cannot deal by law with a gentleman like Mr. Myers, who cabled these slanders throughout the world ; but we can ask the Prime Minister not to consent to be interviewed by one who is prepared to write such things about the country in which he gets his living.
I come now to the statements of another pressman. I am sorry that I do not know his name, because it deserves a little publicity. He has described a portion of the audience that assembles to hear our debates as “ dead-beats “ who sleep on the Yarra bank and come here to enjoy comfortable seats, but object to the attendance of the ordinary public. Perhaps I had better give his own words -
These constant attendants come in, year in, year out, from the cold grey dusk of the Melbourne winter evenings, to sit in the pleasantly warm gallery and drowse through many hours of debate. Sometimes they drowse too noisily, and then the constable in charge of the gallery wakes them up, that their snores shall not interfere with the flow of eloquence in the chamber beneath. Their greatest happiness, their dream of joy unutterable, is an all-night sitting, when they may sleep in the gallery rather than on the Yarra Reserves, or in the Exhibition Gardens. But a rush to the gallery occurs, and these listeners, who, by constant attendance, consider that they should have the right to book their seats, have to struggle with the respectable, well washed crowd of people who take an intelligent interest in Federal politics. Sometimes, horrible to relate, they are amongst the drowsy worshippers who, like Omar’s friends, remain outside, while people with clean collars and shiny boots sit in their seats. The gallery only holds about 100, and, with the exception of the old gallant principle of “ place awc dames,” the race is to the swift, and the seat is to the strong. One indignant frequenter of the Strangers’ Gallery yesterday remonstrated with the official at the door. “ It is disgraceful management,” he shouted, and took his departure angrily in the direction of the Trades Hall.
The other evening the honorable member for Dampier spoke of the Trades Hall as the ‘* Thieves’ Gallery.”
– I used the words of members of the Labour party.
– The Trades Hall is a place where hundreds of delegates meet year in and year out to do a great deal of splendid work on behalf of the community, for which they receive no financial reward. A great deal of self-sacrifice takes place in the Trades Halls in all the States, yet the honorable member terms the Trades Hall the “ Thieves’ Gallery.” That is the kind of abuse to which we are subjected by honorable members opposite, and by some of the pressmen - not by all of them, but by a limited number. I dare say that one could count on the fingers of one’s hand the real opponents of this party. The majority of the pressmen, from their very occupation, seeing as they do so many sides of life, are democratic: they believe in the rule of Democracy. But there are about five pressmen who, like the honorable member for Dampier, subject us to this kind of abuse. This writer, of course, goes on to say that the dead-beats who assemble in the strangers’ gallery to hear the debates are Labour voters, and that the man who complained of not being able to get a place “ took his departure angrily in the direction of the Trades Hall.” How did the pressman know that the man who objected made his way in that direction ? Was it fair to suggest that the men who assemble at the Trades Hall are “ dead-beats who sleep on the Yarra Bank.”
– What paper are you quoting from ?
– From the Melbourne Argus of this morning. What angers me most is that the men who write in this strain about the Labour party, although they now occupy middle-class positions, in all probability have, like the majority of people in Australia, sprung from working-class parents. Yet they attack the men who represent Labour here, and try to ridicule our efforts. They cast aspersions upon the great body of the wageearners who support the Labour party, who are endeavouring to get better conditions for them.
– And upon the general public, too.
– Exactly. I do not think that such conduct is fair. The Prime Minister has it in his power to offer some objection - indeed, to impose what would amount to a prohibition - by saying to men like Mr. Myers, “ You ought to apologize or correct your statement regarding the people of Australia; if you do not make a correction, you shall get no information from me nor from any Minister in my Cabinet.”
– I wish to refer to the remarks made by the honorable member for Capricornia about the secrecy of the Liberal Conference. As a casual visitor, without an invitation, I strolled down to the conference, and found the door wide open. I took a seat and heard the deliberations. I looked round the room and noticed that three or four reporters were taking down the proceedings. Moreover, the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney that our conferences are held with closed doors was touched on by one or two persons, with the result that a special order was made that the reporters should be admitted. I do not know where the honorable member got his information from. I am not speaking now from hearsay, but stating facts which I gathered as an eyewitness. I have only to add that the honorable member for Dampier, who is well able to speak for himself, did not make the statement attributed to him by the honorable member for Capricornia.
.- Without desiring to develop into a general nuisance on the motion to adjourn, I wish to make a short statement in regard to the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia. In speaking on the AddressinReply, I referred to the tyranny of certain Labour organizations, and alluded to the time of the tramway strike in Perth, when certain unionists were taking photographs of those who dared to work, so that, to use their own words, “ they could hang the photographs in the Thieves’ Gallery in the various Trades Halls throughout Australia.” I did not describe the Trades Halls as “ Thieves’ Galleries.”
– You adopted the words, though.
– Those were the remarks made by the unionists, and I think that honorable members can well imagine the use which those persons would make of photographs for the purpose of trying to prevent the subjects of them from obtaining employment in Australia.
– - In a speech he made to the Contractors and Builders Association last night, the honorable member for Henty said that during the time the men were working on the new Treasury building, when it got wet they generally went in for a while, and by-and-by they went home, and afterwards drew their pay, just the same as if they had worked all the time. I wish he would get the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs to look over the sheets, and see whether the men got full pay, before he again makes a statement of that kind. I know that he is living under a multiplicity of hallucinations, and I only want to correct them.
.- I desire to refer to the matter brought under the notice of the House by the honorable member for Capricornia. I think that all honorable members, no matter on which side they may sit, consider that such statements as he quoted regarding the people who come to the strangers’ gallery are absolutely disgraceful. No words could be used here sufficiently strong to condemn such statements. I wish to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to a resolution which, at my instance, was passed here towards the end of last session. It is a resolution to the effect that when a charge has been made in a newspaper against an honorable member, and he has made a personal explanation, and the explanation has been accepted in good faith by the House, if a retraction is not made by the newspaper offending, no representative of that newspaper shall be allowed within the precincts of Parliament until the retraction has been given the same publicity as the charge or slander made against the honorable member. That resolution, I think, will cover the case referred to by the honorable member for Capricornia, and I ask the Prime Minister to put it into effect. When the lower galleries have been crowded I have seen the wives of senators in the strangers’ gallery. The people who frequent the strangers’ gallery are as respectable, perhaps, as any person who takes a seat in this Chamber. I think that the visitors to the strangers’ gallery, if they knew who the writer in the Argus was, would be justified in tarring and feathering him. In my opinion, such treatment would serve him right. The publication ofsuch statements in what is regarded here as a leading newspaper is a disgrace to journalism. I ask the Prime Minister to look up the resolution which was carried here at my instance, and see if itwill not cover the case in question.
– I do not know the remarks which have been objected to. I am sorry to say that I was engaged when they were being quoted. But I gather that some newspapers have been animadverting on the character of persons who come to the House. Is that so ?
– The visitors to the strangers’ gallery have been described as “ dead-beats who sleep on the Yarra Bank.”
– I regret that such statements have been published.
– The pity is that there is not more accommodation for the public.
– I do not know what I am expected to do in a matter of this kind. I advise my honorable friends to take a little less notice of such remarks.
– What about the Morning Post interview? Do you not think that you ought to refuse any more information to Mr. Myers, who cabled those statements about the Labour party ?
– I will consider it.
Mr.Higgs. - That is fair.
– All that I have to say to the honorable member is that, until these remarks were brought to my notice, I did not know that I had been interviewed. The probability is that I met this gentleman while I was on my feet, and made some simple remarks to him, as honorable members do.
– It is quite clear to a pressman that you did not make the remarks, but to 90 per cent. of the community it would appear as though you did.
– I am only anxious to make the impression that there was no deliberate interview with me in the proper sense of the’ term. A few casual remarks were dropped by me, as we drop them many a time in company with men who are after knowledge. It is their duty to pick it up whenever they can. I never object to give them a little if I have it to give, just the same as any other honorable member . does. That is all that has taken place. With regard to the other matter, my honorable friends seem particularly keen in hunting down any improper expressions in the daily press. I think that I shall have to go on a similar hunt in regard to their newspapers.
– You are “ smoodging “ now, I suppose, to the capitalistic press.
– I think that if they took the beam out of the eye of their own press they might see the mote in the eye of the other press.
– No Labour pressman ever said that the people of Australia were corrupt.
– The honorable member knows quite well what they are saying about some of us every, week, who are not quite as sensitive on these matters as my honorable friend appears to be. However, I have no sympathy with expressions emanating from anybody which reflect upon’ the character of people who come here or who do not come here. I believe that the people who visit Parliament are, on the whole, decent and respectable, and if any animadversions have been made indicating the contrary it is to be regretted. But I do not see what I, as Prime Minister, can do.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19130829_reps_5_70/>.