5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether . this is a correct report of a passage in a speech which hedelivered at Kyneton on Friday last -
For three weeks the Ministry has been delayed by floods of talk, and unless something unexpected happened, the other side bade fair, like Tennyson’s brook, to go on for ever, for the Opposition had handed out the ukase to the Ministry, stating that the vote on the no confidence motion would be taken when the debate was finished; but when that would be it was impossible to say. There was a fearful and shameful waste of time in connexion with the business of the country.
Those remarks were published in Saturday’s Argus, and I ask the honorable gentleman whether it is not a fact that Ministerial supporters have spoken in the censure debate man for man with Opposition members?
– It is not usual to answer questions under circumstances such as these; and I wish to point out to the honorable member that the debate referred to would have been finished long ago had it not been for the constant attacks of the Opposition. He seems to think that anything may be said by Opposition members, and that no reply is to be made to their statements.
– I object to the wrong impression given to the country. The Ministerialists have occupied as much time as the Oppositionists.
– It may be advisable, at this juncture, to again remind honorable members of the nature of the questions which, according to our rules, may be asked of Ministers. Standing order 92 provides that, after notices of motion have been given, questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs; and it is stated, at page 248 of May’s Parliamentary Procedure, that questions addressed to Ministers should relate to the public affairs with which they are officially connected, to proceedings pending in Parliament, - or to any matter of administration for which a Minister is responsible.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question relating to procedure. Shortly after we met, Borne discussion took place as to the propriety of the Attorney-General holding a certain general retainer, and that .honorable gentleman asked the House, and myself in particular, to take action to test the feeling of honorable members generally on the subject. I ask the Prime Minister whether it would be convenient to take that action in as brief a way as possible immediately after the no-confidence debate is finished. The Attorney-General invited us to deal with the matter as a separate issue, so that a rule of procedure might be definitely laid down by the House.
– Let me remind the Leader of the Opposition that he has already turned down all overtures for the arrangement of business in connexion with proceedings now current. All I have, to say with regard to this further matter is that it will be considered when any movement is made in regard to it, and much will depend on the manner in which - the no-confidence debate is got out of the way. If that discussion is to continue for another week or so, the Government will have to consider seriously whether it will take notice of any other motions of the kind. My honorable friends will not get it into their heads, I hope, that they can keep on moving motions of censure eternally.
– Surely the Prime Minister will not use his brutal majority !
– I do not propose to do that; but, apparently, it is thought that I should sit still and be humiliated. If the Leader of the Opposition will give us an indication as to when the no-confidence debate is likely to close, I shall be able to give a definite reply to his question.
– I wish to correct the statement of the Prime Minister that I have turned down all overtures for’ the arrangement of business; that is not correct. I have stood to every arrangement that has been made regarding the oversea visitors and other matters, as the Whips know.
– I referred to the termination of the no-confidence debate.
– I have no objection to meeting the Prime Minister. The course of action to which I referred is suggested by the Attorney-General, and it seems to me that the proper time to go on with it would be after the no-confidence motion had been dealt with.
– It becomes necessary, in view of what the honorable member for Wide Bay has said, to state exactly what has been done in regard to the no-confidence debate. I have made overtures twice to the right honorable member regarding the termination of the debate.
– The Prime Minister may make a statement only by leave of the House
– Leave of the House was not obtained by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I understood the Leader of the Opposition to make a personal explanation. The Prime Minister may follow the same course, but he will not be in order in going beyond that, except by leave of the House.
– By way of personal explanation, let me say that I have twice approached the Leader of the Opposition regarding the termination of the no-confidence debate. I understood that he would give me a definite statement on Thursday last as to the date and time for the taking of the division on his amendment; but the only information I have received from the Whip is that- the division will be taken when the discussion is finished. I take that to be a definite turning down of the proposed arrangement sought on my park
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he was correctly reported at Kyneton on Friday night, in a statement alleged to have been made by him in the following terms: -
Mr. Fenton had said in the House the other day that the Ministry would not get one line of legislation through the House. That statement should be remembered by the people and when the adherents of Labour came before them, they should want to know by what right these men who had lost the electoral fight by 80,000 votes were holding up the business of the country while they played the points of their game.
I wish to know whether the Prime Minister did give utterance to those words, and, if so, whether he will kindly indicate to me on what page of Hansard they can be found ?
– I did not say that the remarks were in Hansard. I said that the honorable member for Maribyrnong had been reported as saying -
Even if the Opposition obtained a majority in the Lower House, they could bet their bottom dollar that there would not be a figure one passing through Parliament.
That is the statement which I made.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The Prime Minister has evidently taken a report of a speech delivered by me at Coburg immediately after the general election. The statement that I made was to this effect - and I have repeated it in this House - that should the present Government attempt to repeal legislation which we considered vital in the interests of the people of this country, we should oppose them, and would not allow a line to pass. Such are still my sentiments, and not those which the Prime Minister quoted in his Kyneton speech on Friday.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question in connexion with a rumour that has been freely circulated in Ballarat, and which is generally believed. It has relation to inquiries that have been made relating to alleged irregularities at the last election. To explain my meaning I may quote the following paragraph from yesterday’s Age -
Police Inquiries at Ballarat.
It is stated that Detective Burvett, of Melbourne, and other police officers, have just concluded inquiries regarding alleged wilful breaches of the electoral law during the recent Federal campaign in Ballarat, and that no evidence whatever was obtained to justify the complaints respecting corruption, duplicate voting, and impersonation.
I wish to ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs whether it is true that detectives have been engaged by his Department to make these inquiries; and, if so, what has been the result of their investigations?
– I can answer no questions during the continuance of the noconfidence debate.
– I should like to ask a further question. Is it a fact that the Liberal party in Ballarat has supplied a list of names, and that detectives furnished with a list from one party only have been making these inquiries?
– Order! The Minister has already intimated that he cannot at this time answer questions.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, in view of the great loss that is occurring to the people of Sydney and its vicinity in regard to the proclamation issued by him’ in connexion with the small-pox scare, whether he can inform this House when he is going to remove that barrier to the progress of the city?
– In the first place, I am not aware that any great loss is happening to Sydney-
– There are thousands of men out of work.
– Do not answer the question until they sit quiet.
– If honorable members will allow me to finish my statement-
– A lot of dingoes over there! Behave like men!
– Order! A question has been asked, and the Minister has risen to reply to it. He is entitled to be heard in silence.
– On a point of order, I wish to say that I, for one, object to being called a dingo, and I ask the Prime Minister, as far as I am concerned, to withdraw that word and to apologize for using it.
– I have not called the honorable member a dingo.
– I will appeal to every honorable member as to whether the Prime Minister did not use that word.
– I am not aware of what the honorable member for Maranoa desires, but I remind him that it is customary, when an honorable member has made a disclaimer, to accept it.
-But it is not true.
– If honorable members will allow me to get a word in, I will answer the honorable member for Gwydir’s question.
– I did say that there was a noise like a lot of dingoes. I withdraw the remark.
– Out of courtesy to the honorable member for Gwydir, I desire to answer his question, especially as it relates to a matter affecting the public health. I was about to say, when interrupted, that I was not aware that the city of Sydney was suffering as the result of the issue of the proclamation referred to. Serious loss is being sustained in Sydney owing to the fact that there has been an unfortunate outbreak of a disease which we are all anxious to see stamped out, and the spread of which we are anxious to prevent. Federal action has been directed to one object only, and that is to prevent the spread of the disease into other parts of Australia. In addition to that, we have repeatedly offered that our officers shall act in cooperation with the New South Wales officers in regard to any matter in which we can assist them to prevent the spread of the disease in the city of Sydney itself. At the present time, I regret that we cannot take the action which the honorable member for Gwydir has suggested.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Lands Acquisition Act. - Lease of Land in Federal Territory. Approval granted - F. A. Campbell, Queanbeyan, Woden Station.
Manufactures Encouragement Act. - Return of Bounty paid during financial year ended 30th June, 1913.
Shale Oils Bounties Act. - Return of particulars of Bounty paid during financial year ended 30th June, 1913.
Debate resumed from 29th August, (vide page 732), on motion by Mr. Ahern) -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to by this House : -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament -
Upon which Mr. Fisher had moved -
That the following words be added to the proposed Address : -
But regret your advisers -
propose to destroy the beneficial character of our social and industrial laws;
indicate no intention of taking such steps as will reduce the high cost of living ; and
fail to realize the urgent necessity of an immediate revision of the Tariff.
– I understand that the highest standard to which those who practise the Thespian art can attain is to represent character without dialogue. The skilful actor can express himself by means of action only, by suggesting a sort of tacit inference that certain things are going forward. If that is so, the Government are the best actors I have ever seen or heard of.
– That is a bare-faced statement.
– The Liberal party went to the country without a programme they did not even talk about a programme, although they say they have one. They returned to the House with a majority, but after all the fighting, and notwithstanding all the preparation, they could not produce a programme which we could discuss. The House was adjourned for a month, and then they brought down a bit of paper. I do not wish to advertise too much that very much advertised gentleman, the honorable member for Flinders, but there is no doubt that this printed statement is “a necklace of negatives,” because that is all that it contains.
– He did not say that; it was said by Mr. Deakin.
– I have made a mistake, and I apologize to the honorable and learned member for blaming him for making that statement. I have endeavoured to see what new things the Government are going to undertake, butI cannot discern very much of statesmanship or ability in this document. It contains one or two small proposals with which I agree, but really it reminds me of a mountain in labour bringing forth a. mouse.
– Why did you bring forward this no-confidence amendment?
– For the reason that the Government had brought down no programme. I am of opinion that this want of confidence amendment was merited. I feel that honorable members on the Government side know that it was merited, and that is why they are taking their gruel so quietly. The Liberal party came back to the House with a ma jority of only one, although they had the help of almost every newspaper in Australia. At the elections the newspapers advocated different principles and preached different yarns, but supported those who now sit on the Government side. One newspaper would take a candidate and claim him as a Protectionist, and it would prove to its satisfaction, to his satisfaction, and, apparently, to the satisfaction of those who sent him here, that he was a Protectionist. On the following day another newspaper would take that candidate as a Free Trader, and it would prove to its satisfaction that he was a Free Trader, and evidently it satisfied the constituents that he was a Free Trader, so that he came here both as a Protectionist and as a Free Trader. I do not know that I should waste my time in pitying honorable members on the other side, but they certainly occupy a most peculiar position in this Parliament. To prove that what I say is correct, let me point out that the day after the election the Argus came out with an article headed, “Splendid Liberal Gains,” “High Tariff Rebuff,” and it enumerated some of the gentlemen who were Free Traders, including Mr. Sampson, Mr. Manifold, Mr. Rodgers, and Mr. Kendell. On the other hand, the Age came out the same day with an article headed, “ Protectionist Triumph,” “ A Liberal Majority,” and it quoted the same men - and this is the most peculiar part of the business - as Protectionists. Some marvellous things happen in this world. How honorable members on the other side managed to convince the electors that they were, as the Argus and the Age said, both Free Traders and Protectionists, is beyond my comprehension, and I suppose that I had better leave it at that. Here is what the Age said on the matter -
We can see now from the tremendous majorities gained by Messrs. Tudor, Mathews, Anstey, Brennan, and Maloney, in metropolitan constituencies -
The Age, during the campaign, said that I was a Free Trader - and also by the voting at Bendigo, that in urban centres the workers generally reposed implicit confidence in the Government’s fiscal promises.
That was to introduce Protection. The Argus wrote in these terms -
The evidence is equally conclusive that in industrial centres the Tariff agitation had no body in it. It passed like the empty wind over the heads ofLabour candidates in Melbourne, against whom it was particularly directed, and they have been returned by added majorities of electors who, whatever may be thought of their political views generally, at least had a clear apprehension of the real questions separating political parties.
The Age and the Argus set out to make the people of Victoria believe that each Liberal who was elected was their follower - both a Free Trader and a Protectionist - and would hold up the standard of each.. If it is possible to conceive a position of that sort, it exists on the other side of the House. Again, I say that my honorable friends opposite are the most marvellous actors I have ever met. They tell us now what they intend to do. When we ask if they propose to wipe out the maternity allowance, they say “No.” Clearly, their intention in altering the Act is to pauperize the recipients of the maternity allowance. They ought to feel ashamed of themselves in taking that stand. To prove that such is their intention I shall read a portion of a little dodger which was issued by the People’s Party in Victoria to the people of this State. It is from the Equitable Buildings in Collins-street, Melbourne - the home of the Women’s National League. The dodger is, I believe, the product of that league; indeed, my honorable friends would not be here but for the exertions of that body. Here is a sample of the stuff which was spread broadcast in this State -
FROM A FARMER TO FARMERS.
A Few Facts to be Faced.
That in point of fact he has everything to lose and nothing to gain from the present Federal Government, unless, indeed, it is a charitable dole of £5 for each child he brings into the world, should he care to attach to his offspring the stigma of being one of “ Fisher’s paupers.”
That is conclusive proof that honorable members on the other side wish to pauperize the recipients of the maternity allowance. Their desire is to institute exactly the same system as obtains with the ladies’ benevolent societies in different places - Lord save the name ! At present any woman can claim the maternity allowance, but in the future there will be a ladies’ committee, who will decide whether a woman shall receive the maternity allowance or not. The procedure will be like that which distinguishes the benevolent societies. An applicant is asked, “ Are you sure that you cannot afford the maternity expenses?” and she says, “No, I cannot.” “Why?” she is asked. “Because my husband has been out of work,” is her reply. “ Oh, and how long has he been out of work ?” inquires her interrogator, to which she replies, “ Well, he has been in and out, perhaps, for the last twelve months.” “What?” exclaims her questioner, “ he has been in and out of work for perhaps twelve months, and yet you have a child?” The inference there is strong. That inference is that the luxury of motherhood should not be undertaken whilst the husband is out of work. If such a system is to be introduced by the Government in giving effect to the Maternity Allowance Act, we shall have questions asked of a very peculiar character, and those who accept a grant under that Act will be pauperized. That is the desire of honorable members opposite. During this debate we have heard a good deal about electoral corruption. I took part in elections long before the Labour party came into existence, and I know that allegations of corruption have always been more or less frequent. Whether or not the evil actually existed is quite a matter of opinion. But it has been conclusively proved that at the recent elections there was little or no dual voting. There may have been instances of the duplication of names on the rolls, but that is not corruption. If it be urged that the ease with which one may get his or her name upon the roll has led to that duplication, my reply is, “It is better that it should be easy for an elector to enrol than that it should be difficult for him to do so. The electoral officers can keep a diligent watch to prevent duplication.” I do not know whether the Government intend to introduce the system which is in vogue in Victoria. In this State a man may be living in a particular street of an electoral subdivision, and may move from that street to another street in the same subdivision. Under the electoral law of Victoria the peculiar feature is that whilst the electoral officers have power to remove that man’s name from the roll because he Las vacated his former residence, they cannot, of their own volition, restore it, although they may know perfectly well where he lives. To a large extent the working section of the community have thus been deprived of their votes. If the Government intend to alter our Electoral Act so as to permit of that sort of thing, honorable members upon this side of the Chamber will fight to prevent them doing so. Much, I repeat, has been said about electoral corruption, but I am not quite sure that many of the victories gained by honorable members opposite were not gained by means of corruption I do not suggest that any honorable member took part in that corruption, but I do know that in isolated parts of the country, where there are only 400 or 500 names on the roll, and where only two men of the same political colour had to look after the polling booth, those men voted for electors who did not exercise the franchise.
– At the recent elections ?
– No , I am speaking of a period long before the Labour party came into power. Only about two years ago there was a fight for a seat in the Legislative Council of Victoria, for which there was no Labour candidate. On that occasion the supporters of one candidate bragged that they had recorded 600 votes more than they ought to have recorded, whilst their opponents replied, “Yes; they beat us by 200. We only polled. 400 votes more than we ought to have polled.”
– Does the honorable member believe those tales?
– Yes. It took place all right. It is no wonder that honorable members opposite thought that there was dual voting at the recent elections, because at an election which took place in Sydney the other day - an election at which 3,000 persons were entitled to vote - 600 persons voted twice.
– They are used to it.
– There was no Labour candidate in that contest. That is one of the reasons why honorable members opposite thought that dual voting took place at the recent elections. The Government are apparently out to restrict the provisions of our Electoral Act to such an extent that it will be difficult for electors to get their names upon the roll, and easy for the officers to keep the names of those electors who remove from one house to another, off the rolls. They must expect, therefore, to hear from those honorable members who represent the workers, because the latter move frequently. Coming to the question of preference to unionists, I wonder if any members upon the Government side of the House ever had to work for their living.
– A great deal harder than the honorable member ever worked.
– When they were working for their livelihood, were they always satisfied with the remuneration which they obtained?
– No ; we managed to get a little more.
– If they were not satisfied with their remuneration, and if they were men, they undoubtedly endeavoured to adopt some method to improve their position. That is the essence of unionism. I know what happens frequently when men attempt to form a union. The boss, upon meeting one of the men, will say, “ Surely you are not one of those agitators who desire to form a union. We are getting on all right, I think. Where is the necessity to form a union?” Thus he ascertains the feeling of the individual, and, as a result, that individual is made either a ‘ ‘ blackleg “ or a marked man. After years of fighting for better conditions, and for higher wages, is it to be wondered that the manly men who have borne the heat and burden of the day should object to being robbed of the fruits of their labour by the non-unionist?
Unionism to-day has gained a position with which the employing section of the community is not pleased. That, perhaps, is only natural, although, to my mind, it is foolish for the employers to be hostile to unionism. I think that a good employer gets more harm from associating with an unfair employer than is likely to happen from his connexion with men who are working for him, and who are receiving a fair wage. That is my opinion, and it is shared by many large employers. But they will sink all their differences to fight what they regard as their common enemy - the unionist - who is trying to obtain sufficient to enable him to live and keep his wife and family in decency. When it comes to a fight, the employers drop all their differences, although they know that many with whom they are associating in the fight against the worker are unworthy of them, because they think that the unionist is their biggest enemy.
– A crow never picks out another crow’s eye.
– They say not. Unfortunately, in the ranks of the workers there are men who will not sink all per sonal feeling and join with their fellows to fight the combined employers. There are many reasons for this. A man is, perhaps, an inefficient worker, whom an employer will take on in time of trouble, although he will have nothing to do with him in periods of prosperity. Another stands aloof because perhaps he has had a row with his union, because he cannot get all his own way, and leaving his union, he becomes a black-leg. I have never met an employer who had any good feeling for men who would black-leg during a strike.
– An employer will never trust them.
– Quite so. Blacklegs are generally inferior workmen. The Government, in proposing to abolish preference to unionists, are contemplating that which is both unnecessary and unfair. The system was applied by the late Government, not to officers in the permanent service, but only to temporary employes - men who were members of a union being granted a certain preference. I do not think that the Government will be able to carry out their proposal all along the line, because they will find that nonunionists for the most part are wasters. There is, of course, the free workers’ section - men who belong to a union brought into existence by the employers, and subsidized by them to fight the genuine workers’ union. The free workers’ union has not been very effective up to the present. Let us hope that it will not be. Any honorable member opposite who has had to fight to improve his position must appreciate the reasonableness of the demand that preference to unionists shall be given under certain conditions. I wish now to deal with the proposal of the Government to place the Postmaster- General’s Department under the control of a Board of Commissioners. Let me say at once that I am opposed to this scheme. The management of the State railways by Commissioners has not been such as to justify the extension of the system to the Postal Department. For instance, Sir Thomas Tait, who was brought from Canada to run the Victorian railway system, understood his business, but he was not engaged to manage the railways in the interests of the people; he was told that he had to make them pay. I believe that he made them pay by failing to give the requisite railway services, and by so starving the rolling-stock that, notwithstanding the large railway workshops at Newport, it was found necessary, within a short time, to import 100 locomotives. If it is suggested that the people desire a certain railway service, the Commissioners say at once, “ We are the bosses of the situation.” The Government of the day, no matter what their majority, nor how thoroughly they may understand the requirements of the people, have no power over the Railway Commissioners. That is undesirable. Instead of removing the Postal Department from the control of the Minister, I think that we should give him more power, and call upon him to accept full responsibility for the control of his Department. If it is thought desirable to have Commissioners, why not appoint them as officials responsible to the political head, who can give expression to the desires of the people 1 Under a Board of Commissioners that would not be possible. At the present time the Postmaster-General can agree to the construction of a telephone line, or the supply of a mail service to an isolated community, notwithstanding that he knows that it will not pay; but what chance have we of obtaining such facilities from Commissioners whose chief object will be to make the Department pay? I am one of those who do not believe it is necessary that either the Postal Department or the State railways should be made to pay their way. I do not say that millions should be lost; but efficient railway and postal services are more desirable, even if money be lost in supplying them, than are inefficient services that pay their way. If the Department be handed over to the control of Commissioners, our position will be even worse than that occupied by the State Government in relation to its railways. The Government also tell us that they propose to increase the gold reserve in order to give greater stability to the Commonwealth note issue. I do not think that is necessary. My own opinion is that this step is to be taken, not because the Government think it necessary to increase the stability of the note issue, but because they desire to detract from the benefits of the system.
– Why should the honorable member say that when we are merely bringing back the gold reserve to the point which the Labour Government fixed?
– The late Government, in their wisdom, recognised that it was unnecessary to keep the gold reserve above a certain level.
– The honorable member will recollect that we disputed the point.
– Is it not peculiar that the present Government, with all the banks of Australia behind them, should be proposing to help those banks who are at present venting their spleen on the people of Australia because they are not allowed to issue notes on the same terms that prevailed prior to the Commonwealth note issue 1 Members on the Government side were against the institution of the Commonwealth note issue, and I believe they are still against it, owing to the fact that their friends, the banking corporations of Australia, were making. enormous profits out of their private issue. Has it ever struck the Attorney-General, for instance, as peculiar that, when the banks had their own issue, only a short two years ago, and paid a duty on the notes, there was never more than £4,500,000 worth in circulation ; and that now, when the Government have the business in hand, and the banks admit that they are restricting the use of notes as far as possible, there is £9,250,000 worth? The answer to this question is very easy. The banks robbed the people of Australia of the duty on £5,000,000 worth of notes; and what honorable members on the Government side desire is that the banks shall, as they did formerly, make a profit on both the note and the sovereign. As to the payment of the duty on the notes, the banks arranged that it should le calculated on the Monday, when there were more notes in the banks than on any other day in the week. Our working m( n, are paid at the week end, and on the Monday their wages are in the bank, either in their names or in someone else’s, and the banks paid duty only on the notes in circulation on that day, being called upon to pay nothing on all the notes that were in use during the week. No wonder the banks squealed about the loss of their tillmoney when the Commonwealth note issue was instituted. How honorable members on the Government side can defend banking of that character I do not understand. It inevitably meant that, if ever a crash came, there would be no gold to pay for the £4,250,000 worth of notes in circulation. And yet we are asked now to be- lieve that a Government note issue, with all the stability of the people and the wealth of Australia behind it, needs more bolstering up than does a private issue, simply because the bank directorates contain names of persons who may be well known in commercial life.
– The banks afterwards had to find £6,000,000 in gold for £6,000,000 in notes.
– I do not know that the banks had to do that.
– Where did the banks get the money from?
– They used the notes and the gold. As a matter of fact, there always was nearly £10,000,000 worth of notes in circulation in Australia, and yet the banks paid duty on only £4,250,000 worth, showing that they would have robbed the public to the extent of the duty on £5,000,000 if a demand for gold had been made upon them.
– What do we want gold for ? All we require is credit.
– What is the trouble? The complaint is that the Government have locked up the gold, but I point out that notes are currency, and that as much can be bought with a £1 note as with a sovereign. The late Government further re-issued gold to the extent of very nearly £6,000,000, and allowed the people of Australia to operate on it, whereas, in the past, the banks used that gold as well as the notes that were in circulation. We are told that the Government intend to arrange for the consolidation of the State debts. I should like to see that policy carried out, but I ask the Attorney-General whether it is of any use arranging to consolidate the debts if the States are afterwards to be free to borrow as they choose ? Does the Attorney-General think there is any chance of the States undertaking to borrow only through some Federal arrangement, so that one State may not anticipate another on the market or borrow too much?
– This is such an interesting lecture of quite a new character on curreny that I feel quite incapable of answering any financial questions.
– If the AttorneyGeneral chooses to try to be sarcastic, he may, though I point out that he did not like some of the sarcasm that was hurled at him on account of his holding a retainer that he ought not to hold. I am giving the opinions of a man who obtains his knowledge from outside, and I have proved, to my own satisfaction, at any rate, that, in view of the figures quoted as to the note issue, there must have been something wrong - something that is apparent to the Attorney-General, although he will not admit the fact. Our friends on the Government side are very much enamoured of Wages Boards - they have taken this infant to their arms. They ask ‘ ‘ Why is a Federal Arbitration Court necessary to deal with industrial matters? Why are you dissatisfied with Wages Boards, which provide a cheaper and more efficient procedure for dealing with these matters than the Commonwealth Arbitration Court?” But they know that Wages Boards are useless at the present day, and that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court could deal more effectively with industrial conditions and improve the position of the wage earner more than it can be improved under the Wages Board system. They know, too, that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court could give such awards as would prevent the manufacturers of one State from undercutting or interfering with those of another State. A Wages Board is composed of an equal number of representatives of employers and employed in any industry, with a chairman, but its action is from the first trammelled by certain restrictions. In the matter of apprentices, for instance, Mr. Murphy, the Chief Factory Inspector, has declared that an apprentice in one branch of a trade must get as much as an apprentice in another branch of that trade. The clothing trade - to mention one by way of example - makes every kind of garment, from a dungaree overall to a fieldmarshal’s uniform, but those who are engaged in the making of overalls could not make expensive uniforms. Mr. Murphy, however, declares that an apprentice who is learning to make overalls must get exactly the same wages for the same length of time as the apprentice who is learning to make goods of a much better description, although the one apprentice may be engaged in a branch of the trade in which his business can be learned in twelve months, and the other in a branch of the same trade the business of which cannot be learned in less than seven years. Rules such as these regarding apprentices work ill effects on our industries, and on those engaged in them, as well as on the apprentices themselves. We have been promised that they will be altered, but they never are altered. Again, although there have been Wages Boards in Victoria for the last twenty years, there are still trades for which Wages Boards have not been appointed. When the representatives of employers and employes meet on a Wages Board you have two parties - one determined to give as little as possible, and the other determined to get as much as possible. If either party is dissatisfied with any settlement arrived at there may be an appeal to the Court; but the Judges have decided that in hearing such an appeal they cannot take into consideration whether a man can live on the wages fixed for his employment. They hold that they may take into consideration only whether the industry can afford to pay the rates of wages fixed for it by a Wages Board - that it does not matter whether an employe is single or a married nian with a wife and ten children to support, for whom the wages allotted are altogether inadequate. Another trouble which arises out of the Wages Board system is this: the New South Wales Arbitration Court was satisfied that the wages given in the boot trade and the jam trade in Sydney were not high enough to enable the employes in those trades to live. But the employers said. “ If you increase the rates beyond a certain amount we shall be undercut by our rivals in Victoria, who will have lower wages to pay”; and the employes themselves, seeing that this would be so, agreed to take wages that were insufficient. Let me state another objection to the Wages Board system. An employer may say, “ I should bs willing to give higher wages, but I need more protection on the ..commodities that I manufacture.” It is the State Parliaments that create the machinery for dealing with industrial disputes, but it is only the Commonwealth Parliament that can meet a case of this kind, and enable such an employer to give higher wages by increasing the duties protecting his manufactures. How can honorable members contend that the present methods of dealing with industrial matters are efficient, when such glaring defects exist? If Victoria ever became sufficiently civilized to allow the agricultural workers of the State to have their wages determined by Wages Boards - we are a long way from that, I think - and higher rates were fixed than prevailed in other parts of Australia, the Victorian farmers would be at a disadvantage as regards those of the other States, and would be undersold in the Australian market, if not in the markets of the world. The same thing would happen in other callings. What is necessary is to allow the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to take into consideration the circumstances of an industry in every part of Australia. It may be that the men employed in an industry in one part of the Commonwealth should receive more than those employed in the same industry in another part, because of their peculiar circumstances - their cost of living might be greater, for instance. Again, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court could say to this Parliament, “ A certain industry is not receiving sufficient protection to enable the payment of a living wage to those employed in it. We have made an order requiring the payment of certain rates of wages as soon as you have imposed the higher rates of duty which are necessary to enable them to be paid.” An award of that kind could not be made by any State industrial authority. I am afraid that Ministerialists claim that the Wages Board system is the best, merely because they know that under it the workers must get less than they would get from the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. That must be why they support the Wages Board system now - although in the past they fought against it for all that they were worth. Let me now explain a statement in regard to which I have been entirely misrepresented. When my respected leader had delivered his policy speech in Maryborough, I determined that I could not follow him on one point of his policy, and I repeat here what I said in Port Melbourne at the time as to the course which I should pursue. I am a new Protectionist, and shall not give a vote to increase the Protection of those who have robbed the workers and the community. At Port Melbourne I enumerated the industries in regard to which I would not give higher Protection, and mentioned many commodities on which I would increase the rates of duty. Australia must have a large industrial life if she is to occupy the position which we desire for her. Unless we establish industries throughout the length and breadth of the land, we shall, as a nation’, be but a weakling. This we cannot do unless we impose duties to prevent the importation of the cheaply-produced commodities of other countries. Situated as we are, I cannot conceive of any argument in favour of Free Trade. But we who are Protectionists must be careful that Australia does not fall into the position of the United States of America, where the President has declared that to defeat the trusts he must lower the Tariff. If we are not careful, we shall find ourselves in the same position. My advice to my fellow Protectionists is, therefore, to obtain for this Parliament the legislative power necessary to deal with the trusts. I am inclined to think that the President of the United States of America is a Free Trader. If he were a Protectionist, it would be his duty to appeal to the people for an amendment of the Constitution that would enable Congress to legislate for the destruction of the trusts, and that he does not seem to have done. I am afraid that if the robbers are allowed to continue their depredations, the people of Australia may revolt, as the people of the United States of America have revolted, and say, “ We must have Free Trade to put an end to the exactions of the trusts.” If we have Free Trade, it will be the end of our industrial career. Although our resources are great, we are not in as strong a position as America, and could not so well bear the injury that would be done to our industries by Free Trade. What we ought, therefore, to do now is to deal with the manufacturers who are not treating our people fairly. I have been asked by the Prime Minister whether, holding the views that I have just expressed, I can vote for the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition. I say that I can. I desire that the Tariff shall be reopened ; but I hold myself free to decide on what lines the duties should be increased. The lines on which I would increase the duties are more numerous than those on which I would not. Would any honorable member vote for higher duties on stripper harvesters? Certainly I will not. Not one vote will those filibusters, the agricultural implementmakers, get from me in this House. They rob the men who work for them, they pay them as little as they can, they take them to Court after Court to prevent the payment of decent wages, they rob the farming people by charging abnormally high prices, they make enormous profits, and yet they have the im pudence to say to the worker that if duties are increased there will be more work for them to do. Those gentry will get nothing from me. I would rather go out of Parliament than vote for increasing the duty on stripper-harvesters whilst these robbers are treating the public as they are doing to-day.
– I shall have “to take the honorable member out to Sunshine.
– There are hundreds of men living in my electorate who are working in the agricultural machinery shops, and the majority of them are of the same opinion as I am. They know that they can expect nothing from the employer, who has been robbing them all his life, no matter how much duty he gets. I will tell the House of another commodity that will get no more duty as the result of any vote of mine. I refer to boots. The boot manufacturers of Victoria are robbing the people of Australia to-day, and at the same time are paying as little as they possibly can to their workmen. They want more duty. Yet they are doing all they can to prevent their workpeople from earning a fair living. They refuse to give increased wages. I venture to say that three-fourths of the boots made in Australia are produced in Victoria, and it was largely because of the attitude of the Victorian manufacturers that the manufacturers of New South Wales could not give higher wages to their men. These manufacturers are paying a paltry 9s. per day to men who work like machines all day long. I should like honorable members to pay visits to some of our boot factories, and see what the men are doing. They are working at machines like the machines themselves for eight hours a day.
– Are they not working under an award of the Federal Arbitration Court, to which they themselves agreed ?
– They are working under a Federal award, but what right has the employer to be robbing the people and making abnormal profits?
– As a matter of fact, they are paying more wages than before the award was given, to the extent of £190,000.
– I should like the honorable member to understand that these manufacturers are getting the advantage of a duty of about 26 per cent., and only pay 2l£ per cent. in wages. Does the honorable member deny that? I have it on the authority of Knibbs. What took place in the Arbitration Court? The employers told the President of the Court that they could not afford to pay even 9s. per day, and that wage was only agreed to after lengthy negotiations. Does the honorable member know the conditions under which men are working in the boot factories? He will see no old men there. The work is so strenuous that by the time a man reaches the age of’ fifty-four or fifty-five, he is done for, and no longer wanted ; and at fifty-five a man has ten years to wait before he can obtain an old-age pension. Whilst these men, these robbers, take all that they possibly can out of their workpeople, they charge the public very nearly 60 per cent, more for their boots than they charged five years ago. Mr. Marshall gave the show away. He said that after allowing for depreciation in stock, writing down the value of machinery and buildings, and allowing for bad debts, they paid 14^ per cent, on watered stock. Yet they want more duty.
– The honorable member voted for the existing duty.
– I will not vote for any more duty under the present circumstances. In the United States, President Woodrow Wilson is placing boots on the free list, because of the machinations of the boot manufacturers, who rob the public, whilst at the same time they are robbing those who have to earn their living in the industry. Protection ought not to make commodities any dearer than the amount of the wage paid is higher than that paid in competing countries.
– The honorable member is on sound ground now.
– That can be done in this country if the manufacturers will give the public a fair deal. But they voted against us at the Referendum because we wanted to secure a fair deal. Almost every manufacturer in Australia strenuously opposed our policy, and gave money to secure the return of the Free Traders on the Ministerial side of the House.
– Where did the money go to?
– I know of only one member of the Ministerial party who can claim to be a true Protectionist, and he represents a Free Trade constituency,, namely, Kooyong. The honorable member for Kooyong is a convinced Protectionist, but the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Darling Downs are only 20 per centers. That is about as high as we can get their to go. The other Ministerialists are Free Traders, and yet the manufacturers of Australia spent money to defeat our candidates and secure the return of our Free Trade opponents.
– Has the honorable member evidence of that? We have heard these fictions before.
– The honorable member for Kooyong knows as well as I do that at the last election there was a Referenda committee of the so-called Liberal party, which had rooms and canvassers all over Australia. He cannot get away from that. These rooms were not the candidates’ committee rooms. Oh no ! In Fawkner, the electorate joining mine, there were men canvassing and working for months before the election. They had a committee room, and worked it in such a way that the cost could not be included in the expenses of the candidate. It was put down to expenditure on the Referenda campaign, though all the time the committee rooms were worked in the interests of the Liberal candidate.
– That is not a bad idea.
– It was not a bad idea. The -honorable member’s crowd know how to work things. We cannot teach them much in these electioneering dodges, though they are somewhat suspicious of us. But let me come back to the boot manufacturers. Not only did Mr. Marshall give the show away in the direction I have indicated ; but last .February he told his men, “ We cannot afford to employ you regularly, because we have not sufficient duty, and we can import cheaper than we can manufacture.” I do not wonder at that, considering the profits his firm was making. But while Mr. Marshall was telling the people in Victoria that he could not employ his hands full time because of insufficient duty, he told the public in Western Australia that he could not supply them with boots because the demand was so great.
– Hear, hear ! That is true.
-Let us admit that he was perhaps playing a game in Victoria. But he was playing another sort of game in Western Australia. If he told a lie to the people of Western Australia for the purposes of advertising, he was equally capable of telling a lie to the people of Victoria, when he said that he could not afford to make more boots at the present rate of duty. Therefore, he was a liar in any case.
– The other manufacturers would like to put him under lock and key.
– If that action of his is typical, he ought to be the Leader of the Liberals.
– There is another manufactured commodity, the duty on which I would not give a vote to increase, though the industry is one which I should like to see fostered in Australia, because it depends for its raw material upon one of our natural products. I refer to woollen-piece goods. They are manufactured in this country to-day under a high protective duty.
– The manufacturers are doing pretty well, too.
– In spite of the duty, many of the manufacturers import the yarn which they use in the production of the finished article, though it is in manufacturing the yarn that the principal amount of work is given.
– Is this the honorable member’s “yarn” or theirs?
– I may inform the honorable member that I know something about woollen goods. In Victoria, the manufacturers have since 1908 improved the commodity which they produce out of all knowledge. They are producing to-day a very good class of material. It is not anything like as good as the best West of England cloth; they do not claim that themselves; but still it is a very good material indeed. But, although these manufacturers are working under one of the highest protective duties in Australia, they pay the worst wages of any of our industries, with the exception of the jam trade. If the manufacturers of woollen goods are of opinion that they deserve more duty, I tell them that before they will get a vote from me they will have to pay better wages to their workpeople than they are paying to-day.
– The Tasmanian manufacturers did not want the last increase of duty.
– That is hard to believe.
– They sent word publicly that they did not want it.
– The only reason for that must be that they wished to drive other competitors out of the field. Perhaps they were importers as well.
– No, they were not.
– They may have had interests in importing firms. It is hard to believe that a manufacturer would not desire more duty on a commodity which he was making unless he was catching fish somewhere else.
– The manufacturers were sweating their employes.
– The woollen manufacturers of Australia to-day are sweating their employes shamefully.
– Things seem to be pretty bad in Tasmania.
– As I have already said, this industry is the worst in Australia, with the exception of the jam trade, and yet the manufacturers are clamouring for more duty. They do not try to improve to any great extent the machinery with, which they produce their commodities, and many of them import the yarn which they use. You can go into some of the factories and see yarn consisting of 60 per cent, of cotton.
– They do not all import the yarn.
– The majority of them do. Here is an industry which ought to flourish in Australia. With proper handling, we ought to become exporters of woollen piece-goods. It ought to be possible for us to take the wool from the sheep’s backs, wash it, top it, turn it into yarn, manufacture it into piece-goods, and turn “ it out for use by our people, and for export. It would give employment in many directions, but that will never be done in Australia by the men who have got hold of the woollen trade. I am not an investor in the true sense of the word, but if tomorrow a company was being formed to establish an up-to-date woollen mill with the view of producing proper woollen goods, even under our present duty, I would not mind taking a few shares and advising my friends to get shares, too. If the manufacturers paid the employe’s good wages instead of the starvation wages paid to-day, I would be willing to give them a higher duty, feeling that if we could produce woollen goods it would be beneficial to Australia to do it in that way. The award of the Wages Board in this industry was a disgrace to a civilized community. The Age, with other newspapers, advocated that the industry should get the benefit of more protection, in order to. use up natural products. So it ought to do, but not while it is paying the wages which are paid to-day. I will mention another commodity which will get no more protection with my help, and that is sugar. I do not know whether the sugar manufacturers think that they will receive more protection, but I can assure honorable members that if my party were to propose an increased duty they would not get any help from me. Without a doubt, the sugar manufacturers have robbed the people of Australia.
– How do you feel towards knocking a pound off the duty?
– I would be quite willing to take off the whole of the duty, only I know that it would injure, not the company, but the farmers who are growing the cane in Queensland. If we could get the duty taken off without injuring the growers I would be quite willing to help in that direction. The manufacturers are not particular; they would manage to refine in some way or other, and make their profits out of imported sugar. When an attempt was made in this House six years ago last November to introduce what we know as the first instalment of new Protection there was a gentleman who was to be seen in the lobbies, the Speaker’s gallery, the refreshment rooms - in fact, everywhere - and his name was Hugh V. McKay. He was here as the representative of the harvester manufacturers of Australia to get as much duty from this Parliament as he possibly could do.
– And you gave him double the duty.
– I was not a member of the House at the time. I tried to increase the duty afterwards, and if Mr. Hugh V. McKay had played the game fairly we would have increased it. Six years ago he haunted the precincts of this House, and I, from the gallery, heard the honorable member for Werriwa, one of the Age Protectionists-
– Oh ! that is interesting.
– The Age took the honorable member as its candidate just as it took the honorable member for Henty, another Free Trader, and led them to success.
– And both good men.
– I am not talking about the individuals, but their fiscal ideas; they are rotten on fiscalism. When I was sitting in the gallery I heard the honorable member for Werriwa, from his seat on this side of the House, charge Mr. Hugh V. McKay with being a robber and everything that was bad. The language he used, sir, was lurid in the extreme. I was aghast at hearing his description of a respectable manufacturer in Victoria who was endeavouring to get higher protection so that the industry might be fostered. I was disgusted to hear the language which the honorable member used against Mr. Hugh V. McKay. But all that he said was true. Mr. McKay was a scoundrel of the deepest dye; he sold Protection in Victoria, and other Protectionists have gone down with him. I am talking about the employers’ section. Then we had the spectacle of Mr. Hugh V. McKay, associated will all the Free Traders of Australia, going to Ballarat, fighting a Protectionist in the person of Mr. McGrath, and spending thousands of pounds in the effort. I do not know who found this money. My honorable friends on the other side deny that it was collected for the party, but I guarantee that £10,000 was spent in Ballarat at the last election. The Liberal party could not possibly have contested the seat without the money. They had paid canvassers galore, paid organizers, and committeerooms all over the electorate.
– How many motor-cars?
– Two hundred, I understand, and my honorable friend knows that one cannot get motor-cars for nothing. Mr. Hugh V. McKay was trying then to beat a Protectionist to sit in this House with Free Traders. What sort of position do honorable members on the Government side occupy?
– McKay was an Argus Free Trader.
– He was an Argus Free Trader and an Age Protectionist, meaning the same thing.
– You are a little mixed in your fiscal views on your side, you know.
– Every honorable member on this side would have voted the new Protection, and, failing that, some honorable members here have their own opinion. On this side there are only three Free Traders whom I know of, while on the other side there is only one Protectionist - the honorable member for Kooyong. With that single exception, there is not one of the old Deakin Protectionist party left on the other side. The honorable member for Darling Downs, of course, was only a Protectionist because he was in a Protectionist Government.
– If Australiais such a Protectionist community, how do you account for a majority of Free Traders coming back to the House?
– My honorable friend has given me a puzzle to answer. I have not said that Australia is a Protectionist community. I know that outside Victoria it does not “ cut much ice.”
– Yes, it does.
– Only in isolated parts. In the Maranoa electorate there is no industry for putting even a hem to a handkerchief, but its representative gave us Protectionist votes, because, as he said, he did not want to see men put out of work. That is the sort of Free Trader we have on this side, but are there any Free Traders on the other side who will give Protectionist votes because they do not want to see any one thrown out of work ? On that side are the Free Traders; on this side are the Protectionists. The Argus stated the truth when it said that the verdict at the election was “ a Protectionist rout,” and the Age told an untruth when it said that it was “ a Protectionist victory.” Now, if Mr. Hugh V. McKay ever gets into this House it will have to be fumigated. Surely it is impossible that a Democracy could stand having a man of his character in a representative position ! Going back to seven years ago, when an endeavour was made to reduce the duty on harvesters, does the honorable member for Franklin think that he could conscientiously sit side by side with Mr. Hugh V. McKay, and say, “ We are of the same political opinions “ ?
– I would not vote for any more duty for his harvesters, no matter where he was.
– I feel sure that my honorable friend would not. In the person of Mr. Hugh V. McKay is centred the whole of the injury which is being done to Protection in Australia. If we had not had a Hugh V. McKay, new Protection would be an established fact in Australia to-day.
– That is absolutely true.
– If Mr. Moore, the manager of Robinson’s, had been the leader of the agricultural implementmakers on that occasion, we should have been dealing with a gentleman who would have told us what he meant, and dealt fairly and squarely with us.
– Keeping his word of honour.
– Exactly. With Hugh V. McKay we were dealing with a filibuster, whose only thought was to make a fortune for himself and his family, and rob the men who work for him, and the farmers, and who injured Protection in Australia so much that it will take a decade to get back to where we were when we started. Is it any wonder, then, that I feel bitter as regards Hugh V. McKay? Is it any wonder that Protectionists in the Labour movement should look upon that man as anathema ? I would say to our responsible, fair-dealing manufacturers, “ Keep Hugh V. McKay out of your association. That is the man who has caused the downfall of Protection in Australia. As Free Traders you may vote for him, but, whatever you do as Protectionists, do not touch him with a 40-foot pole, because he is dangerous and will ruin us if he has an opportunity to bring more harm on Australia than he has done in the past.” To the Age, which tried to beat me at the last election, but whose efforts were so futile that I secured a bigger majority than I had ever done, I would say that I am a Protectionist, and it is not a true Protectionist advocate. During the campaign it tried to parade before the people of Australia that the Labour party had not been true to our pledge of Protection, although it knew full well that we had been true to that pledge. Then it tried to make the people of Australia believe that the members of the Liberal party now sitting on the other side were Protectionists. Every one on the other side must have laughed, with tongue in cheek, when he read the articles in the Age. If the time should come when the people of Australia, tired of being robbed by the sugar companies, the harvester companies, and the shoe-making companies, will have some power by which they can bring into operation Acts of Parliament that will stop the manufacturers from carrying on in the future as they have done in the past, then we shall be able to have a proper system of Protection - not, as we have to-day, a hybrid system, where we are afraid to put on high duties because we know that the manufacturer would take his profit right up to the hilt. In America, the woollen manufacturers had the benefit of a duty of 100 per cent., but they were so rapacious that they raised the price of their goods to practically the full amount of the duty. If Congress had had the power to prevent them doing that, there would have been no talk by Dr. Woodrow Wilson to-day of reducing the duty on woollens to 20 per cent. There would have been no talk about putting boots upon the free list. The Labour party appeals to the people of Australia to so amend the Constitution as to give this Parliament power to enact legislation of that character. The late Government declared that if the electors did not grant them the legislative powers which they sought, they would impose higher duties upon certain commodities. Therein they made a mistake. They should have adhered to their original intention not to grant increased protection unless it were accompanied by the new Protection. I intend to do so, and I will vote for the imposition of higher duties only in cases where the manufacturer is prepared to give his employes a square deal, and to refrain from robbing the public.
.- I had the pleasure of hearing portions of the speech which was delivered by the honorable member for Wimmera upon the amendment which has been submitted by the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable member and myself do not agree in politics. At the same time, I have a strong personal regard for him - a regard which I hope is reciprocated. While listening to the honorable member, I could not avoid feeling sorry for him, because I recognised how bitterly disappointed he must have been that the Ministerial statement of policy contained no reference to the nationalization of the Atlantic cable. During the three years that the late Government were in office, it was my duty to listen to many speeches by the honorable member upon quite a variety of subjects. He discussed the maternity grant, the land tax, immigration, and many other matters, and it was a very rare occasion on which he did not refer to the need for nationalizing the Atlantic cable. With him, I am very keen upon that project. The late Government did their best to bring it about. But we were unsuccessful. Whether our non-success was due to the fact that we did not press the matter as we should have done, or whether the vested interests of the shareholders in other cable companies were too strong, even for the Imperial Government, I do not know. But I shall be very glad if the present Ministry succeed where we failed. It would be a good thing if the Atlantic cable were nationalized, so that we might have the benefit of cheaper communication between Australia and the Motherland. I am not so anxious to secure the transmission of cheaper press messages as I am to bring about cheaper cable messages of a social character between here and the Old Country. I shall welcome the day when -our great cables are being used by the millions rather than by the millionaires. If we can cheapen the cost of social messages it will help to knit together in closer bonds of sympathy the Motherland and Australia. Most of us have a strong personal regard for the Old Country, which has done a great deal for the world. There is one thing, however, in which it has failed - it was not the birth-place of the distinguished statesman who represents the constituency of Robertson. With that sad exception, England has done a great deal for the world generally, and for Australia. I repeat that I should be very glad to see the Atlantic cable nationalized. I was somewhat surprised - if it is possible for me to be surprised at anything which the Prime Minister is prepared to do - that one of the first proposals thrown upon the table - of this House was to introduce a Bill to authorize the establishment of a Federal Agricultural Bureau. If there was one thing more than another which the honorable gentleman thundered against during the recent election campaign - and he thundered against many things - it was against Socialistic enterprises. All the wealth of his rhetoric, all the strength of his logic, and all the fulsomeness of his abusive powers were employed in the denunciation of them. We were told that if this country continued to embark upon Socialistic enterprises, bankruptcy, ruin and chaos were inevitable. The great argument that he used was that tho Socialistic enterprises of today did not pay. In this connexion he instanced the Post Office. He stated that private enterprise had to pay a great deal of the loss incurred by that Department. I think that he made that loss represent 6s. 9d. or 7s. 4d. per unit, according to the meeting which he happened to be addressing. At any rate, he affirmed that there was a certain sum which each individual had to pay in order to keep the Post Office going. Thus he deduced the argument that if we had more Socialistic enterprises we should be landed in ruin and chaos. Yet he now proposes to lay before us a scheme for the establishment of the Federal Agricultural Bureau - another bit of Socialistic enterprise, and one which will return no revenue. I do not object to his proposal. Very likely a Bill with that object in view will be discussed by both parties in this House quite free from party bias.
– The Prime Minister promised to introduce that Bill in his policy speech.
– But it seems strange that a gentleman who thundered against Socialistic enterprises on the ground that they did not pay, should now propose to bring forward a Bill to establish another enterprise of that kind.
– It is pure Communism.
– During this debate we have heard a good deal about preference to unionists. It is not my intention to say much upon that question, so far as it affects Australia. But I may be pardoned if I refer to it for a moment or two so far as it affects England, because in some small way we are associated with it. As honorable members are aware, during the regime of the late Government the Commonwealth purchased a piece of land in London, upon which to erect buildings for the purpose of advertising Australia. The late Ministry were anxious that the same terms should be offered to those who were to be engaged upon those buildings as are offered to persons here. The representatives of the Labour unions of England waited on the High Commissioner and submitted two proposals to him . They asked, first, that in the tenders to be called for the buildings preference should be granted to unionists, and secondly that the stone for the buildings should be cut in London. When the matter was brought before us, we agreed to apply to those who tendered for the contract the same conditions as are applied here. That is to say, all things being equal, preference was to be granted to unionists. Regarding the cutting of the stone in London, we stated that we were not prepared to agree to that proposal until we were in receipt of further information. We were assured by the High Commissioner that if we inserted in the tender forms a provision granting preference to unionists none of the contractors in London would tender. In view of that communication, we authorized Mr. Murdoch, of the Department of Home Affairs, to visit England, and if the contractors there would not tender under the conditions which we had laid down, to arrange for the work to be undertaken by means of day labour. Immediately that fact became known, we were informed by the High Commissioner that there were contractors in England who were prepared to tender. In granting this little preference to persons in England we were not granting a great deal. We have to admit that the condition of the workers there is worse than is the condition of the workers here. To my mind, there is no comparison between the two. If there are unemployed here, their condition, it is true, is not much better than is the condition of unemployed there. But, in regard to persons in regular work, the comparison is much in favour of the Australian. Some little time ago, whilst travelling in a train with some friends, I met a gentleman whose name I will not mention, because the conversation which we had was of a semiprivate character. The honorable member for Bendigo, the honorable member for Batman, and Mr. McKenzie, the Minister of Lands in this State, were also present. This gentleman is well known to every Victorian, and especially to the Prime Minister and myself. He is a journalist, who also moves in other spheres. He is a Liberal who writes for the Liberal papers, and who, I presume, votes for the Liberals.
An Honorable Member. - And subscribes to their funds.
– I do not know that he does that. He has visited England on several occasions, and, in the course of our conversation, he informed us that if he were a citizen of England he would b& a revolutionary. I also met, some time ago, another Liberal, who is especially well known to the Minister of External Affairs. It is not long since he was in England, and spent a certain portion of his time in the East End of London, where he met a lady who expended most of her energy and a good deal of her money in philanthropic work. This lady assured him that, were it not for the gin palaces in the East End of London, the West End of that city would be burnt down. Things are bad enough in England to-day, but that they are not worse is due absolutely to the trade unions there. Mr. Herbert Paul, who until a short time ago was a Liberal member of the House of Commons, has written one of the latest histories of modern England, and in it states that the unions of England have done more for the workers of that country than all the Parliaments that ever sat at Westminster; and more, even, than the discovery of gold in Australia did for them. The Reverend Ensor Walters, a prominent clergyman associated very intimately with the church of which the Prime Minister and I are humble members, also says that the greatest factor in improving the lot of the workers has been the trade union movement. The Federal Parliament has granted preference to the manufacturers of England, and I do not think it would be too much to ask that some little preference be granted to the trade unionists of England. Some people may say that, in giving preference to the manufacturers of England, we included every manufacturer in the country; but the Parliament that granted that preference would, I am sure, have been pleased, had it been possible, to declare that those who paid sweated wages should not be included in the proposal. What the present Parliament would do in that respect I cannot say, but we have to admit that it is impossible to impose such a condition. In pleading for preference to the trade unions of England, I wish to show what unionists have suffered for the sake of their fellow- workers. I have here a pamphlet which gives an account of the arrest and trial of six men simply because they proposed to form a trade union to improve the lot of their fellow- workers. They were agricultural labourers, and were anxious to obtain a living wage for those employed on the farms of England. They had been receiv ing 7s. per week, and when they were told that this rate was to be reduced to 6s. per week, they formed an association with the object of securing a wage of 10s. per week. In opposition to their scheme, placards were distributed throughout the agricultural areas of England setting forth that any one who joined the union would be sentenced to seven years’ transportation. In the words of this pamphlet -
This was no idle threat ; within three days of the publication of the notice George Loveless and five other labourers were arrested and lodged in Dorchester gaol.
George Loveless was not only a Labourite, but a Methodist local preacher - a fact that should appeal to the Prime Minister -
The five other labourers were James Loveless, brother to George, also a Wesleyan local preacher ; James Hammett, their brother-in-law ; Thomas Standfield, another Wesleyan local preacher; John Standfield, his son; and James Brine.
These men had to stand their trial because they had formed a union with the idea of raising the wages of agricultural labourers to 10s. per week.
– When was this ?
– In 1831. The honorable member’s interjection reminds me that one of his party recently referred us to something that happened in China 900 years ago.
– Only because the Chinese had anticipated the Labour party.
– Not at all. When these men were asked whether they had any defence, George Loveless replied -
My lord, if we have violated any law, it was not done intentionally. We have injured no man’s reputation, character, person, or property. We were uniting together to preserve ourselves, our wives, and our children from utter degradation and starvation. We challenge any man or number of men to prove that we have acted or intended to act different from the above statement.
Two days after this these men were again placed at the bar to receive sentence, and were told by the Judge -
That not for anything that we had done, or, as he could prove, we intended to do, but for an example to others he considered it his duty to pass the sentence of seven years’ penal transportation across His Majesty’s high seas upon each and every one of us.
They were transported, but as the result of agitation in England were taken back after spending eighteen months in Australia. I have referred to this case as illustrating what trade unionists have had to suffer in England. ‘ No honorable member knows better than does the Prime Minister what trade unionists have had to put up with. In these circumstances is it any wonder that the Opposition feel keenly and bitterly his action in withdrawing preference to unionists, although he is thoroughly familiar with the history of trade unionism in England, and perhaps has had personal experience.
– Does the honorable member wish us to understand that these men belonged to a trade union?
– Yes, they were trying to form a union, and were sentenced to seven years’ transportation.
– They were regarded as being bound by the law of conspiracy, which was not altered until 1875.
– I would remind honorable members opposite that, according to their own leader, the capitalists and employers of Australia are a worse class than are the capitalists and employers of England. The present Prime Minister made that statement publicly in the course of a speech which was quoted in this House the other day. If, as he says, the capitalists and employers of England, who were prepared to deal with men in the way I have shown, are better than the employers and capitalists of Australia, then what, may I ask, are the latter not prepared to do ? I care very little for the action of the Government in withdrawing preference to unionists in the Commonwealth, because I know that immediately the unionists of Australia choose to put forth their strength they can wring that concession from any Government in charge of the National Parliament. There are in Australia a few people who are opposed to trade unions because they think they might interfere with their privileges, their comfort, their ease, or their income ; but behind the trade union movement is a great national sentiment. James Russell Lowell - and I suppose honorable members opposite will not object to my describing him as a Liberal - has said -
Suppression of the slave trade, abolition of slavery, trade unions - at all these excellent people shook their heads despondingly and murmured “ Ichabod.” But the trade unions are now debating instead of conspiring, and we all read their discussions with comfort and hope, sure that they are learning the business of citizenship and the difficulties of practical legislation.
I regret that the Government should propose to exclude the rural workers from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In view of their contemplated action, I may be permitted, perhaps, to state very briefly the history of that measure. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was introduced by Mr. Deakin, who was then Prime Minister, and I may say, in passing, that, whilst I should not like to see him representing what we believe to be a Labour constituency, I hope the time is not far distant when his health will permit of his being once more a member of this House. The Bill, as introduced by Mr. Deakin, provided for the inclusion of the rural workers as well as the rest of the workers of Australia, but during its consideration the Deakin Government was defeated, although not on this particular question Mr. Watson then formed a Government, and took up the Bill which had been introduced by Mr. Deakin. When its consideration, was resumed, Mr. Robinson, who then represented Wannon, moved an amendment excluding rural workers from the provisions of the measure. Mr. Deakin, to his credit be it said, voted against that amendment, but the present Treasurer, who was a member of the Deakin Government, which had introduced the original Bill which covered the rural workers, voted for their exclusion. If, as a member of the Cabinet, he voted according to his conscience for the inclusion of the rural workers in the Bill about to be introduced, he must have quickly changed his mind, since he voted for the amendment a short time afterwards. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro was also a member of the Deakin Government, yet he, too, voted against the inclusion of the rural workers. The amendment was carried, and agricultural labourers were’ accordingly excluded from the provisions of the Bill. I am glad to say that our Government, as soon &s it came into power, brought the rural workers under the Act. If there is any section of the workers to whom the Conciliation and Arbitration Act should be extended it is that which is the weakest. If it were a question as to whether the shearers, miners, and carpenters, and others working in the great cities, or therural workers, had to be excluded, I should exclude the former classes, because they are stronger and better able to fight for themselves. Some honorable members during this debate have expressed the opinion that it is impossible for a Judge to fix wages, hours, and conditions for farm work. I am not one who thinks it easy to conduct a farm. Although there is a good deal of poetry surrounding rural occupations, I know that farm work requires brain, muscle, and activity; but surely it is not more difficult to work a farm than to manage a big mine or any of the great industries of the cities? We are told by honorable members opposite that a Judge is able to fix wages, hours, and conditions in the case of a mine or great city industries, but that he is not able to do so in the case of farm work. Such an idea, in my opinion, is childish.
– Can a Judge fix the climate ?
– The honorable member who is interjecting is a gentleman who did not hesitate to cross swords with one on whom the shadow of death had already fallen. There is a good deal of hypocrisy on the part of those honorable members who say, “ Why not let Wages Boards do this work? “ Is there a Wages Board for rural workers in Victoria? A Wages Board was sanctioned by the Local Legislative Assembly, but rejected by the Legislative Council.
– That does not say that the rural workers will not get a Wages Board soon.
– Get it soon! The reason why we are’ anxious that the rural worker should have the benefit of the Arbitration Court and preference to unionists is that we desire, as far as possible, to protect him from victimization. We were talking just now about eightyfive years ago; but I may say that only about twenty years ago it was my duty to go to Queensland with the object of raising funds for the Broken Hill miners, who were then on strike. Amongst the places I visited was Mount Morgan; and it had been by desire, on account of my voice not being so strong as I should like, to speak in a hall in preference to the open air. I sent word in advance of my intention to speak in a hall at Mount Morgan, but when I arrived there I found that an open-air meeting had been arranged, for the reason that the miners were afraid to be seen inside a hall taking part in a meeting the object of which was to raise funds for trade unionists at Broken Hill. As to rural workers, I should like to read a quotation from a” publication known as the British Weekly, which is one of the leading religious papers supporting the Liberal party in England. In the issue of 10th July, 1913, there appeared the following -
A huge crowd of farm labourers, variously estimated at from 2,000 to 3,000, who had travelled by cycle, waggonette, motor charabanc, and special train, assembled in Selby Market Square, on Saturday, June 28, to celebrate the formation of an agricultural labourers’ union for the Barkston Ash Parliamentary division, with a view of compelling a minimum weekly wage of 24s. and a weekly half-holiday on Saturdays, such half-holiday to be waived in hay or harvest time, on payment of overtime wages, at the rate of 6d. per hour.
Mr. W. Morrit, the farm labourer secretary of one of the newly formed village branches, detailed his sufferings on account of his association with the movement.
In the following issue of the same paper I read -
The Farm Labourers’ Union of the Barkston Ash Parliamentary Division has already reaped benefits from its demonstration. A majority ot farmers have granted an increase in wage, which, with other allowances of free rent, milk, potatoes, &c, brings the weekly wage within measurable distance of the demanded 24s. The weekly half-holiday has also been granted. A minority of farmers, however, either emphatically refuse to employ Union labour or have granted a monetary .rise in wages, with weekly half-holiday, but deducted usual extras.
Many farmers in the neighbouring Parliamentary Division of Howdenshire, fearing the formation of a similar Union there, have granted an advance of 2s. per week in wages, and a weekly half-holiday, and all indications undoubtedly show that the time is ripe for a comprehensive legislative scheme on behalf of the agricultural industry.
That is happening in England, and shows that there men are being penalized because they belong to a union; and I can only emphasize the fact that we have it, as I said before, on the authority of the Prime Minister, that the employers and capitalists of England are more tender towards their employes than are the capitalists and employers of Australia. I am rather sorry that the Government should have decided to do away with day-labour, and adopt the contract system. I do not make day-labour a fetish, nor do I necessarily regard contract work as anathema. It depends greatly on whether the Government have the necessary plant, staff, and organization; if they have not, it would be folly to adopt day-labour. In the case of the London offices, the late Government were told that in order to employ day-labour it would be necessary to obtain a very expensive plant, which would have absorbed more than we could pos- sibly have saved by doing away with contract. Under the circumstances, I admit that it would have been folly to adopt the day-labour principle. All the same, it seems to me a pity that the Government should have “ turned down “ day-labour, because, to my mind, each case should be judged on its merits. If we have the plant, organization, and staff, the work can be done more cleaply by day-labour; and the House, or, at any rate, the Opposition, is perfectly justified in asking the Prime Minister the reason for this proposal by the Government. The Prime Minister, when he was PostmasterGeneral in New South Wales, introduced the day-labour system, and defended it on the floor of the State House, showing that it was cheaper than contract work. The honorable member for Robertson seems to have satisfied himself that day-labour should be abolished, because, as he told us, five men and a boy had taken seven or eight weeks to do work that might have been accomplished by two boys and a girl in, I think, an afternoon, or something of that sort. I frankly admit that, in my opinion, a labourer will do neither more nor less work on day-labour for the Government than he will do under a contract for a contractor. If there is not proper supervision he will not do that which is required of him, but he will if the supervision is sufficient. This, however, does not apply only to workers; and as an illustration of this, I give an instance related to me the other day by a person whose veracity I cannot question. Two members of the honorable profession to which the AttorneyGeneral belongs were engaged in a case, one as senior and the other as junior; and I may say that both gentlemen are known to every member of the House. The senior counsel had for a time to leave the case in charge of the junior, and whilst he was away the junior obtained a verdict for his client. The senior counsel, when he came back, was very much surprised to hear that the case was over, and, although they had won, said, “ Why, it ought to have lasted two days longer.” I am sorry that the Government intend to interfere with the maternity allowance; and in this connexion I should like to read an extract from a speech delivered by the late Lord Salisbury, Conservative Prime Minister of England, at Newport. The right honorable gentleman was not speaking on the subject of a maternity allowance, but dealwith the question of education -
If the law says you shall have education, and they are unable to pay without enormous ,difficulty, then there is a reason why they should be assisted ; but they are assisted under the present law, and I do not think that we should make presents of large sums of public money to people perfectly competent to pay for the education of their children. I should like to help the poor more liberally, and to enforce education without undue hardship ; but I should shrink before I gave every subject of the Queen, whether rich or poor, the right to have his children educated at the public expense.
Honorable members know that there is free education in England, and if we substitute the name “Cook” for “Salisbury,” and “Maternity allowance” for ‘ Free education ‘ ‘ we have the whole question in a nutshell. I may say that free education was adopted in England by a Conservative Government, of which Lord Salisbury was the head, so that this reform was carried in spite of anything he had to say. The maternity allowance will not, in my opinion, be removed from our statute-book until something better takes its place, and that something will not be the charity dole, the pauperizing allowance favoured by the present Government. The other day I saw a cartoon which most admirably depicts the attitude of the Government in this connexion. The Government are shown handing over £150,000 to the sugar trust of Australia, while the Prime Minister attempts to throttle a woman in order to take from her the £5 allowance. I regret that the full report of the Committee appointed to investigate the allegations in regard to the general election was not placed before the House earlier. Honorable members opposite, with the press at their back, made some very serious charges;. and the result was the appointment of the Committee. My belief is that none in this House were more disappointed than the Ministry, and the members of the Liberal party, at the character of the report. In any case, the report was unfair as it was submitted, because, apparently, it stated that there were some 5,000 cases of impersonation and dual voting. I find that, so far as Broken Hill is concerned, the electorate contributed 109 names to that 5,000. I have been told by the scrutineer whom I appointed that seventy-three of those names were obviously a mistake of the poll clerk, and that probably the remaining thirty-six were to be accounted for in the same way. If that be so,, the information ought to have been laid on the table of the House when the other figures were made public. I understand that the Government propose to amend the electoral law by removing the provision which requires the signing of newspaper articles relating to an election published within a certain time of the issuing of the writs. I feel sure that Parliament will not amend that provision. My belief is that, as time goes on, the public will demand the signing of all newspaper articles the whole year through. Why should not these articles be signed? Newspapers have ceased to be mere purveyors of news, and are no longer the champions of liberty and freedom. Mr. Mackinnon, who is part proprietor of the Argus, frankly informed a Senate Committee that that newspaper was a business concern. If the Argus is a business concern, what in the name of heaven must the Age be? Every honorable member will agree that there is a much higher tone in the conduct of the Argus than there is in the conduct of the Age. But our metropolitan newspapers are merely partisan sheets and business propositions. Those who conduct them think more of their advertising columns than of the liberties of the people. To use the words of one in respect for the memory of whom even the honorable member for Parkes would be prepared to raise his hat, because he was a great Liberal - I refer to John Bright - the managers of the great dailies are quite prepared to enslave the nation so long as they can bask in the smiles of the rich. If a journalist wishes to stab a man, let him stab that man in front, instead of behind, and in daylight instead of in darkness. Not only should we know the names of the writers of newspaper articles, but we should, if their statements are incorrect, criticise those statements. During the recent electoral campaign, the Argus, in its issue of 7th May, published a leading article “ written, after consultation, to express the views of the Argus, by David Hewitt Maling, 197 Collins-street.” The article spoke in laudatory terms of the present Prime Minister - which its writer was quite entitled to do if he thought fit - and went on to say -
Mr. Cook is frequently taunted with the fact that he once espoused the political doctrines which he now denounces, and he has the ready answer that those shallow notions marked only the measles and chicken-pox stage of his political growth.
After reading that statement, I wrote a very civil letter to the Argus for publication, signing it with my full name, and adding my address. The editor had previously stated that he could not publish a letter which the late Attorney-General had sent to him because it had not been so subscribed. In my letter I asked if the editor would be good enough to let me know when the honorable member for Parramatta made the statement attributed to him. That letter was not published. I then wrote to Mr. Maling, saying that I should be very glad if he would let me know when the honorable member for Parramatta had said what was attributed to him? I had been telling the people that the honorable member had not changed his views, because, on the 12th June, when speaking at Lithgow, he said -
He believed in having his own opinion, and would not allow any caucus to think for him, or to come between him and his constituents. He had not altered his position, the other had done the jumping round and now imagined he had.
I wrote very civilly to Mr. Maling, pointing out that I might be doing a gross injustice to the present Prime Minister, which I desired to avoid, and therefore asked if he would tell me when and where the statement attributed by him to the honorable gentleman in the leading article of the Argus had been made. I received a courteous reply from Mr. Maling, but when I wrote asking him that the correspondence between us might be published he objected to its publication, and therefore I cannot lay it on the table as’ I should like to do. When statements of the kind to which I have referred are attributed to any one in a newspaper article, it is a fair thing to require of the writer that he should say when and where they were made. Let me pass on to the Northern Territory, in the development of which I naturally take a great interest. The criticism I am about to make in no way applies to the Minister of External Affairs, from whom during the whole time that I held his office I received every courtesy and kindness. Sometimes he agreed with me, and sometimes he did not, but his disagreement was never due to party feeling, and I always felt that he was actuated by the desire for what he thought best in the interest of the country. The development of the Northern Territory is such an important matter that it should be placed above party politics; I would say that, whoever’ might be Min- ister of External Affairs. It is easy to deal with the subject in a non-party spirit with the honorable member for Angas at the head of the Department, but I would endeavour to deal with it in the same way were any one else in charge. I cannot speak in the same language of the Minister’s leader or of his colleague, Senator Millen. The Prime Minister, with that love of terminological inexactitude which has characterized him from the time that he entered this House, misrepresented during the electoral campaign what had been done in the administration of the Northern Territory. He and Senator Millen went about declaring that the Fisher Government was filling the Northern Territory with unnecessary officials. In view of those statements, I asked the Minister of External Affairs whether, in his opinion, unnecessary appointments had been made by his predecessors. The Minister, like his leader, is a party man, but he has some regard for the truth, and, in reply to my question, he stated in this Chamber that, so far as he could ascertain, there had been no unnecessary appointments for the development of the Territory. I wish to be fair to him, and add that he did not say that he approved of the personnel of every appointment.
– I spoke of the number.
– The answer disposed of the statements of the other two Ministers. Having regard to the programme of the Ministry, I ask, how could the Territory be developed in the manner suggested but for the preparatory work of the last Ministry. On one matter of policy the present Ministry and its predecessor differ fundamentally. It is now proposed to alienate the lands of the Territory in freehold; it was our policy merely to lease them. When the Government proposal comes before the House, - it will occasion a battle royal, and we on this side will not support our opinions with our own arguments, but will use the arguments^ that have been put forward by honorable gentlemen opposite. The Prime Minister, for example, has stated that -
The trend of economic thought, and even of popular thought, realizes the iniquity of the recognition of private property in land. It is the one thing above all others that has cursed this country, and has cursed every other country of which we have any knowledge, and unless it be abolished it will curse these countries in the future as they have never yet been cursed. The initial wrong done to society is in attempting to recognise such a thing as property in land.
It may naturally be asked why, these being the honorable gentleman’s views, he proposes a policy for the Northern Territory which would bring upon the country the curse he has described. We might ask, too, why the Minister of External Affairs, who in the past has ably and eloquently advocated leasehold as against freehold, is to be placed in charge of a measure providing for alienation in freehold. The Prime Minister, speaking of his late leader, Mr. Deakin, when that gentleman was in office, said -
The Prime Minister has scintillated all over the political sky for years past, and has been careful to detach himself from anything that would involve him in obloquy.
Surely he cannot object to my using the same words. Another matter about which I have a word or two to say is the double dissolution. I regret that the subject has been discussed in this Chamber, because its discussion increases the difficulty of getting legislation through this House. When the subject was being merely written about by irresponsible leader writers, who are not allowed by the employers to sign their articles, it did not matter much, because it does not matter what Schuler, or Pratt, or Maling, or Brown, or Jones, may write about a thing, but, when it began to be discussed in this Chamber, notice had to be taken of it. The most idiotic and silly suggestion that could come from any one possessing even a gleam of intelligence came from the honorable member for Franklin, who proposes that the members of both Houses should voluntarily resign. But we are not only dealing with irresponsible men and with idiotic proposals, which I would not insult the House by occupying a single moment in discussing. Responsible Ministers - even the Prime Minister himself - have referred to the idea of a double dissolution. How can a double dissolution be brought about? Even a dissolution of this House cannot be secured at the whim and caprice of the Parliament. The dissolution of this House and of the other House is within the prerogative of one who is placed high above any party - a gentleman who, ever since he has been in Australia, has never once shown the slightest taint of partisanship. Let us come down to bedrock. How can a double dissolution be brought about? It may be brought about if this House sends a measure up to the other
House, which disagrees with it; and if the measure then comes back to us and is sent up a second time, and a further disagreement ensues. But what possibility is there of this House not agreeing with the other House with respect to such a measure? It has been stated that one matter on which a disagreement might be brought about is preference to unionists. That subject has been made prominent by the present Government. We can quite understand that, because the predominant figure in the Government is the Attorney-General. This is one of the things, then, as to which it is supposed that an accute difference of opinion may be occasioned. But in order that such a question may be remitted in the form of a measure to the other House, there must be a majority in favour of it in this House. There are thirty-seven members on the Opposition side who are pledged up to the hilt to maintain preference to unionists. Before Mr. Speaker can be called upon to give a casting vote, there must be thirty-seven members on the Ministerial side who are prepared to abolish preference to unionists. We are justified in asking whether the Prime Minister is against that policy, in view of that speech of his, extracts of which were read here the other day ? I think that we shall ask, and ask very fairly, whether or no the Prime Minister, when he pleaded for preference for unionists in that able and vigorous speech, honestly believed in what he was doing at that time, or whether he was merely expressing those views to advance his own ambitions ? We shall have a right to ask that question and insist upon an answer. We shall expect him to answer his own speech step by step, argument by argument. We may not be able to get an answer ; he may not be able to give one. But the country will want to know what the answer is before a double dissolution is forced. We shall want to know exactly what the Prime Minister’s present views are, and whether he was honest in expressing his convictions on the former occasion, or whether, to use the words of the immortal poet of England, it may be said in his case -
Tis a common proof
That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face :
But when he once attains the utmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks into the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.
Before we take any step which can eventuate in a double dissolution, it will be fair to ask a question of the Prime Minister, who argued as he did, when he made the speech which has been quoted. It could not be, as suggested by Mr. Maling, of the Argus, that he was a young man, because at the time the speech was delivered he had been a member of Parliament for a number of years, and was close upon forty years of age. He had long ago had the “chicken-pox.” It could not be due to youth. It is but right that we should expect him to give us a candid answer to the question why he surrendered the cause he once undertook to vindicate, and has given up the keys of the fortress he undertook to hold against all-comers. We shall be justified in asking whether he is going to be true to his own convictions, or whether he is going to abandon them because of a passing clamour. There is another question as to which we are told a sharp difference of opinion may be brought about between the two Houses. I refer to the postal vote. But thirty-seven honorable members on this side of the House are opposed to the restoration of the postal vote.
– No. Two of the honorable member’s party have announced themselves in favour of it.
– The Prime Minister has stated in this House that the absentee vote is as good as the postal vote, and already our Electoral Act provides for the absentee vote. Are we going to bring about a double dissolution on such an issue as that? Then we are told that a difference between the two Houses may be brought about on the question of the signing of newspaper articles at election time. The honorable member for Henty has in the past very ably and strongly spoken of the need of articles being signed . Perhaps somebody has been “roughing him up a bit.” If such a question is raised, we shall have to draw attention to the speeches of the honorable member. Does any one really think that a legitimate majority of the members of this House can be secured in regard to any one of those questions? Mr. Speaker, in a speech delivered outside this Chamber, has also made reference to the possibility of a double dissolution. He is reported as having said -
The only thing we can hope for is that circumstances may work in the direction of bringing about a double dissolution.
Those are the words of our present Speaker at a meeting outside this House. It is not for me to suggest what Mr. Speaker should say here or elsewhere, but I do say this - that if a Speaker is going to make use of partisan utterances of that kind, then if at any time in the heat of party conflict inside the House his impartiality should be questioned, he ought not to put the blame on us. If we question that impartiality at any time we shall be able to point to this utterance of his. In times past the Chair has been occupied by distinguished men, and the outstanding characteristic of those who have been its occupants has been their impartiality. In conclusion, I would say that we have had brought before us, not a programme, but a challenge. It is not an appeal to this House to do the business of the country, but a loud call to arms; not an invitation to us to deal with some of the great national questions that are full of life and throbbing for solution in this great continent of ours, but it is a gauntlet that has been flung in our face. We are prepared to accept the challenge. We are ready to obey the call. We will take up the gauntlet. We could do no other; we could not if we would, and we would not if we could. It would be cowardice on our part to do otherwise. What the result will be I cannot say, for if there was anything that the last election has taught me it is the wisdom of the modesty of being slow in prediction. But we have nothing whatever to do, with results. We have only to maintain principles. It is our duty to stand for those principles for which we have fought in the past, and for which we are prepared to continue our fight in the future, whether we stand or fall. We quite admit that the questions to which reference has been made are paramount with us. We can offer to the Government no hope that in any way can we help them to undermine the edifice of legislation which we have built up. The Attorney-General has stated that the present Government are prepared to use every constitutional means iri order to carry into law those ideas for which he and his party are contending. We say, on the other hand, that we will use every means at our disposal to maintain inviolate upon the statute-book those beneficent and far-reaching measures which it was our pleasure, our duty, and our honour to pass into law during the past few years. We are not a band of timid and self-seeking politicians who place the security of their positions before the interest of their country. We are determined, whatever the risks and consequences may be, to go on waging this warfare on behalf of the humanity of this country, against organized wealth and vaunted privilege. We are determined to go on with the struggle regardless of expediency. We feel that it is better far to win the approbation of the toilers of Australia in battling for the welfare of the country than to- gratify any ambition - even though that ambition may be the laudable one of representing the people in this, their National Parliament.
.- I wish to say, at the outset, that it gives me very great pleasure to have the opportunity of making an effort to justify the position of honorable members on this side of the Chamber. I may say, by way of preface, that I have been much interested in the attitude of our young friends on the Ministerial side. The alacrity with which they have sprung into the breach has been exceptional, as far as newly-elected Parliaments are con,cerned. The manner in which they have ventured to address advice to the older members of this House does not, however, reflect much credit on their modesty. Some of them have adopted a cock-sure manner in addressing members who have, for many years, been in this and other Parliaments. In that respect they have shown themselves worthy followers of the Prime Minister. He has told us that he has behind him a number of new men of whom he is proud. He may well be proud of them. There is no doubt that they have followed, not only here, but in the country, the example set by their leader. It is interesting to know that these young men have shown themselves so eager to fight before their political spurs have budded; but I venture to say that, before they have been much longer in the arena, they will find that the consideration which has been extended to them by all honorable members, on account of their political youth, will not be continued, and they will then realize that some of the remarks which they have ventured to make will have an unpleasant way of coming home to roost. I do not wish to be hard upon honorable members opposite, but there is one honorable member who I cannot help but feel went out of his way to be a little more than critical in his observations to honorable members on this side. When the honorable member for Dalley interjected - and he generally interjects with a degree of intelligence which does him credit - the honorable member “for Hume very naively told him that he had better go to a phrenologist and get his head read. I hope that the honorable member for Hume will never take the risk of going to a phrenologist to get his head read, at any rate in public, because if he did, that would be the end of the honorable member for Hume. This gentleman who takes it upon himself to suggest an examination of the bumps of honorable members on this side is notorious as the medicine-man of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales. For years he has been endeavouring to lead them into a cul-de-sac, to lead them to their destruction, to lead them to distrust honorable members on this side. Although many honorable members on this side have been engaged in State politics, and understand probably as much about the lot of the men on the land as it is possible to know, the honorable member for Hume has tried to lead the farmers to believe that the men who have left their records on the annals of the State Parliament have been the enemies of the primary producers. In that way he has led the farmers astray for many years as the mouth-piece of the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales. He is, indeed, the medicineman of the farmers and settlers of that State. I wish he were here in order that one might draw his attention to the time when he appeared on the scene in my electorate - in 1910 - with the object of putting an end to my political career. He came there with all the innocence he is capable of assuming, and I can assure the House that he is capable of assuming a good deal of innocence. He told the people, as though in a vision, that his boys had realized the duty which ought to fall on their father. They came to him in the morning, and said to him, “ Father, arise, go into the north-west of New South Wales and rid this country of that man Webster, the member for the Gwydir. We will attend to the farm while you are away, and what we do not know, mother will show us how to do.” That is how he told the electors his patriotic sons had undertaken the work of his great farm, whilst under the control of his better half, who, I believe, is the better farmer of the two. Under these pleas he appealed to the unsophisticated men on the land, and asked them to give him their support, to return him to the Federal Parliament. There was another factor by which he endeavoured to persuade the men oh the land there. He said, “I am a champion stack-builder.”
– Is he related to Paddy Stack on the Hughenden-road ?
– I am not referring to chimney stacks, but say that he claimed to be a champion stackbuilder. When some of my farming friends looked at his thatch they did not believe a word of his claim. They asked him to go out next morning and take up their challenge of £50 to build a stack, to which there was no response. He had been mostly a pedagogue. As a public-school teacher he rose to a certain eminence in the profession - it was not very high - and finding himself unable to climb higher he took unto himself a wife, who was able to place him on the land and make a stackbuilder of him. He patriotically resigned his seat in the Legislative Council - the dead House of New South Wales - to go and capture the Gwydir seat. He failed, not only to gain that seat, but even to get a State seat which he subsequently attacked in the same electorate. ‘ Afterwards he lost the chance of getting a seat in the ^Legislative Council. He thought he was sure to get back there, but the Government that put him in the Council before was defeated, and New South Wales was saved an infliction by reason of his absence from that illustrious Chamber. The next role we find him in is that of an undertaker looking for a job. He went to the Hume electorate, and how well he succeeded in wresting the laurels from one who, had he been well, would not have permitted that to be done is only too well known to honorable members. Yet he has the audacity to come here and tell honorable members on this side to go and get their bumps read, to find out whether they know anything of some of the matters which are placed before them. My honorable friend of course, professes to be a great authority on land questions. His comrades here include a number of men who have been on the land, and who are on the land to-day. The honorable member for Riverina prides himself upon being the “ pure merino,” the crime de la crime of the men who got on the land without having done anything which would savour of being either unlawful or unfair. If the honorable member only knew the character of the class whom he so vigorously espouses he would never for a moment attempt here to point to the squatters as men who became possessed of that which they hold to-day by means which were creditable to them. Take the original land map of New South Wales, and see how the squatters began to build up their estates from the time of the primary settlers; take the holdings of New South Wales which are held by the so-called squatting class, and what do we find ? We find these holdings peacocked all over by either the present holders or their predecessors. We find the bond fide settler harassed off his holding, driven to despair until he was bound to relinquish that which he had obtained honestly by the wiles of the land pirates and agents, who were ever trying to monopolize the lands of the country. My honorable friend talked about the class who own the larger areas in this country. Now, how did the holders possess themselves of the major portion of their holdings? It was by dummying in every direction, and driving the legitimate settler away. In that way was the patrimony of to-day built up, and if there is anything which is discreditable to the class to whom the honorable member for Riverina refers it is not only the way in which they used the law, but also the way in which they made the laws when they had the full responsibility of the government of this country. Look through the landed estates of New South Wales, and see the handiwork of those who have ‘helped to build up the honorable member’s class to the position they occupy to-day. Any man who will tell me that this class should be emulated and elevated in the opinion of the people will tell me what history denies, and what the records will not prove. So much for the honorable member and his acclamation of the virtues of the man who has monopolized the lands of this country, not only to the detriment of the people, but to the undoing of the progress of one of the grandest countries on which the sun has shone, or which God has given to man The other day I heard the honorable member for Corangamite “let the cat out of the bag.” He said, “ I knew full well that when these Labour men came into their own, my day was very nearly at an end, and so I wisely got in out of the wet. I knew that the men on the other side of the House meant what they said when they declared that they would put a tax on land, that would bring back, or attempt to bring back, the land to the people. I knew they would carry it out. I anticipated their influence on parties, and so I began to call in the surveyor and the agent to draw plans of subdivisions, to put my land out to share-farmers, and to distribute it amongst those who were able to purchase it at boom prices.” I have no doubt that in his own way the honorable member is a good, decent man on the land. Unfortunately, I was not a member of the House when he was here before, but he evidently left a very good impression when these very important issues were not at stake. During the three years he was here, he learned to know that the men on this side could be trusted, and to-day he is wealthier because of the manner in which he read into the possible actions of this party that which eventually came to pass. Of course, the men who subdivide their holdings and offer the land for sale to the adjoining holder, who makes his estate a little larger, take to themselves the position of patriots There is no patriotism in their composition. It is a matter of self-preservation all the time. ‘ It is a matter of utilizing the forces that are out there to further enrich themselves. I do not doubt the honorable member’s statement that he has got more land to offer to the State at boom prices. The State has had to acquire estates during the last two years. “ When they have paid me,” the honorable member said, “ for the land they got on the Richmond, they can have some more land “ - he did not say at the same price, but probably he meant at a little higher figure. That is, after the man who settled on the original holding has added a little more value to the remainder. I do not know whether my honorable friend has been investing in more estates with the view of anticipating the necessities of the State and the wisdom of the policy of the Government which might be in power; but I have no doubt that it came as a severe shock to himself and to many other men in a like occupation to find that Mr. Wade was deprived of office, because with that event came the death-knell to the involving of the State in the purchase of large estates at boom values, and to the crippling of the people who were ultimately to become the owners. It must have been a great shock to some persons when Mr. Wade was displaced from office, because he was preparing in all sorts of ways to take these estates off the hands of speculators who, anticipating the action of the Government, had endeavoured to reap the harvest whilst it was yet ripe. However, some of them have been left, and more will be left in the future. I extremely regret that the party to which I belong has been returned in our present infinitesimal minority, and that, as a result, we are prevented from doing what otherwise we would have done. When we find that a measure is not effective, it is obviously our duty to make it effective, and that is what we would have done if we had continued in occupation of the Treasury bench. The honorable member for Corangamite need not put too stiff a price upon what he has to sell in the future, because he may not be able to realize that price after we have had an opportunity of again asking the electors to return us to power.
– The land to which I referred was sold only last year.
– But the offer of it might have been under consideration long before.
– Not at all. It was sold to the Government at present in power in New South Wales.
– Even if the Government bought it-
– They were wrong in buying it ?
– In cases of that kind it is not the Government who suffer, but the men who buy the land at prices which they cannot afford to pay. These are the victims of land speculators. I wish now to say a word or two concerning the great anxiety of the Prime Minister to close this debate. Anybody would think he had never occupied a seat on this side of the Chamber, that he had entirely forgotten what he and his followers used to do when he was in Opposition. But those honorable members who occupied a seat in this House during the past three years, when he had not a possible hope of defeating the Government; - which is not the case to-day - will recollect that when the supporters of the late Ministry remained almost silent, the members of the Opposition used to rise one after another and keep the debates going, until even the honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Moreton were called upon to utter funeral dirges over a dying cause. Yet because the members of our party feel it incumbent upon them to give expression to their views, the Prime Minister would make it appear that we are doing something for which the people will punish us. There was no greater sinner in the matter of obstruction than the honorable gentleman himself when he was in Opposition. No occasion was too small for him to let loose the dogs of war. One has only to look through the pages of Hansard to discern that he used every member of the Opposition for the purpose of prolonging debate and of harassing the Government. Yet he asks us to close this discussion - to omit saying to the people of this country that which we desire to say to them before we again appear before them a little time hence. The Prime Minister and his supporters are merely whistling to keep up their courage. They know that the elements which played an important part in the last election will not play a similar part in the next election. The other night the honorable member for New England spoke of the honorable member for Gwydir, “ who just got in by the skin of his teeth.” A majority of 948 votes is a good thick skin. I do not know what the honorable member thinks about the honorable member for Calare, the honorable member for Hume, and the honorable member for Riverina. The victory in the case of the honorable member for Hume would have been a humiliation in the eyes of any other man. My constituents who have sent me to this Parliament for some time did not dream that my defeat was possible. The overconfidence which pervaded the ranks of my supporters was largely responsible for the reduction of my majority. To apathy and over-confidence the defeat of the Labour party was largely due. At the next election honorable members opposite will find that their return to this House with a triumphant majority of one has proved one of the greatest calamities which could have overtaken them. It has aroused the sleeping dogs of war, and to-day in many electorates men are preparing to avenge themselves on those who have misled then - upon those who, by means of the power of money, and of paid organizers, were able to snatch the great majority upon which they claim to rule this country. When Mr. McGowen endeavoured to rule in New South Wales with a majority of two, his action was stigmatized as a crime, which was headlined in every newspaper. But it is a virtue now in the case of the Prime Minister. The same newspapers which hounded the Government of New South Wales week after week, and year after year, have not a word to say against the rapacity of the Commonwealth Government whose members are hanging on to office “ by the skin of their teeth.” Why? Because they know that if the Liberal party had to face the electors in the immediate future it would mean a decimation of their forces, and a glorious victory to the Labour party, whose members the farmers will yet learn are their best friends. I wish now to say a few words regarding the honorable member for Robertson. He did not develop spurs, but wings, when he made his contribution to this debate. He was having a fly on his own. Of course, this is not the first time that we have met. At one time we were members of another Parliament. And whilst I would welcome him here, as I would welcome any man who desires to learn his business - because this is the place where he will learn it if he is capable of doing so- whilst I would give him every encouragement so long as he exhibits a decent inclination to be taught, I say that when he attempts to instruct instead of being instructed, I must ask myself whether a gentleman who was a member of another Parliament for six years, and who did not leave it because he was defeated for his electorate, but because he thought he was going to be defeated-
– If the honorable member is referring to me, he is stating what is not true.
– I would not have said a word regarding the honorable member but for the fact that I read his speech in Hansard. It was nothing to read, but I understand that it was glorious to observe the speaker. One would think that he had a commission from the Salvation Army - that he was one of the most capable colonels that General Booth’s regiment could produce. Of course, as a Salvationist he would undoubtedly fill the bill. But this is not the place where we want Salvationists of that type. We require men who are prepared to save, this country from the greatest evil that has ever threatened it - an evil greater than small-pox. Honorable members opposite have only a very mild attack of the disease. We do not need to vaccinate them. I would suggest annihilation as the only remedy in their case.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I propose now to deal with a matter that is seriously interesting the people of New South Wales and inconveniencing something like 750,000 people. I allude to the smallpox scare, which has been fathered by this Government, and in connexion with which, they have acted in a manner that is not only unnecessary, but suicidal to the best interests of the State. If proper supervision be exercised, it is quite unnecessary to isolate any part of that great State. It was amusing to hear the Minister this afternoon stating, in reply to my inquiry, that he was not aware that any one was suffering in Sydney. Of the victims those who are troubled the least are the people that have had the small-pox. Those who are suffering the most are the people who have been vaccinated. When the Minister, either because of his innocence or something worse, tells the House that he does not know of any suffering in Sydney, he shows that he does not properly appreciate the responsibility cast upon him.
– He did not say that, and the honorable member knows it.
– I am not going to accept any denial on the part of the honorable member. His denials in the past have proved so unreliable that I would show that I was lacking in what was due to the House if I gave any attention to the Ministerial scavenger. Since the small-pox outbreak in Sydney, there has not been one death from the disease, nor has there been one serious case. It is true that a few who have been in quarantine are slightly pitted, but that to some extent may be put down to lack of the attention and care which ought to be exercised.
– Hear, hear ! There should be no pitting nowadays.
– Not if those in charge understand their work. I have to say, with a good deal of regret, that a number of people have died as a result of the treatment they received at the hands of the men who vaccinated them, and because of the character of the lymph that was used in the early stages of the outbreak. There are in their graves today men who, but for this, would have been alive. Families have been robbed of their breadwinners, men of their wives and children, because of what I call culpable negligence and the criminal application of that which is supposed to be a cure for small-pox. I know of one case - that of a young man to whose sister a nephew of mine is married - who had never had a day’s illness until he was vaccinated. He was twenty-three years of age, and when the outbreak occurred was vaccinated at one of the public depots. For the next week his arm was somewhat painful, but not severely so. At the end of the week he retired to rest as usual, and during the night his wife thought she heard him talking to himself. She spoke to him, but got no reply, and when she failed to arouse him she struck a light, only to see the dead face of the man to whom she had been but recently married. He was taken from her in the bloom of life - taken so suddenly that there was never a good-bye. That case, in my judgment, was due to the criminal negligence that was practised, and the indifference that was shown to the quality of the lymph that was used in these cases. Then, again, imagine a Minister taking notice of a panic-stricken medical man. Let us glance at the history of this outbreak. A man from an infected port was allowed to land in Sydney. That was the first culpable act on the part of the State health authorities. This man was allowed to mingle with the people of Sydney, and eventually the eruption from which he was suffering spread to others. For five weeks a number of people were suffering from this malady, and the medical profession, which is now howling for general vaccination, knew of this. According to the authorities, it is an easy matter to differentiate between small-pox and chicken-pox. The pustules are distinctly different, and the disease may be recognised beyond all doubt four days after it makes its appear ance. Yet for five weeks this disease was allowed to spread among the people in the poorer suburbs before the health authorities realized what it was. Finally, they declared, in their wisdom, that it was small-pox of a very mild form. Up to that time, they had been unable to say whether it was chicken-pox or small -pox, so that for five weeks the disease was stalking about the city and suburbs of Sydney seeking whom it might devour. All this time the arm of authority was paralyzed. The doctors were unable to diagnose the disease, the remedy for which they suggest to-day is vaccination. The next stage was the arrival in Sydney of Dr. Cumpston, Federal Director of Quarantine. He, like most medical men who are suddenly placed in a position of great responsibility, took panic. Finding that contacts had been freely mixing with the people he felt that his responsibility to the Commonwealth was not to isolate the contacts, or to quarantine the sufferers, but to declare the district within a 15-mile radius of Sydney General Post Office to be an infected area. This involved some 750,000 persons, proclaimed to the world the belief of the authorities that” Sydney was an infected port, and cut off those supplies which are the life’s blood of the city - supplies from the country as well as those carried oversea. In the wild delirium of this eminent doctor, who took it upon himself to isolate 750,000 people, instead of isolating the contacts, as was done in 1883-
– And also during the plague outbreak.
– Quite so. The outbreak of small-pox in 1883 was of a malignant form. As soon as it appeared, however, the health authorities quarantined the house in which the sufferer resided as well as the contacts, and took care to keep them there until all danger was over. That outbreak, although the disease was in a malignant form, was eradicated in half the time that has elapsed since the present panic occurred, and the ruin which has been brought upon tradesmen and business people generally in Sydney was avoided. Dr. Millard, one of the highest authorities on small-pox ; Dr. Seaton, health officer of Surrey, England, a man of great experience in dealing with disease; and Dr. Collins, a member of the Royal Commission appointed by the House of Commons to investigate the surroundings of an epidemic of small-pox in tHat country, all declare that it is sheer madness to vaccinate a community in which the epidemic is raging. Vaccination during the currency of an epidemic simply spreads the disease. After all, it is only small-pox in a secondary form. I should like to address a few observations on this subject to the Minister of Trade and Customs, but he is not present. He ought to be here. Why these empty Government benches ? What is the reason for the dearth of honorable members opposite ? Why are not Ministers, who are responsible for what has taken place in Sydney in connexion with the outbreak, in their places in this House ? The Government show a contempt for the responsibilities of their office when they leave but one representative in charge of the House.
– Let us have them in.
– Very well.
– I call attention to the state of the House.
– There is a quorum present.
– There are scores of people - young, old, and middle-aged - in their graves in the city of Sydney that would not be there but for the idiotic action of the Government and their officers in connexion with vaccination. When I think of the callousness of the medical profession, and of those who were directing operations in the early stages of the epidemic ; when I think how the newspapers were hounding the public, and appealing to all to undergo vaccination-
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that there is no quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– The conduct of the proceedings at the public depots, at the instigation of the officers of the Government, was not only inhuman, but revolting. Thousands of people rushed to what they believed to be the only escape from dire contagion, and amidst the crushing and bumping, like that of people demented, children were trampled on. There was let loose on the public a number of students and practitioners who had no experience of vaccination; and we saw the results. The operation was not skilfully performed, but patients were scratched as though a cat had scratched them. There was no regard for how large a surface was scored, and, an unlimited dose of lymph having been applied, it was allowed to have its effect; and, later on, we had deplorable cases of sacrifice of life on the one hand, and suffering of hundreds of people on the other. This is something we do not wish to see happen too often in our community. Dr. Cumpston, before he took the action he did, might, at least, have taken care to select men of experience to deal with the public in this wholesale way, and to have seen that a sufficient quantity of properly-matured lymph was available. As a matter of fact, a number of young, inexperienced doctors were let loose on the public, and the lymph was of such a character as not to be fit for use. After the scratching, which was of such a character as to cause people to leave the depots with blood dripping from their hands, we might have looked for some humane precaution in the way of a supply of lint to protect them from the atmospheric germs «which are always hovering amidst crowds. As many as 10,000 people were vaccinated in one day, and they were quite ignorant of the dangers to which they were exposed “by this inhuman treatment. Dr. Cumpston might at least he.ve issued a circular or leaflet, impressing upon those who had been vaccinated the necessity for care and attention after the operation; but not a word of enlightenment was afforded after these poor innocents had been run into the shambles and branded like cattle. We are told that the people were vaccinated at the rate of 100 an hour, and we can imagine the kind of operation there was, under the circumstances. I was vaccinated, but I was not vaccinated by those warriors let loose by Dr. Cumpston and the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– The honorable member looks very well on it.
– There are not so many “scabs” about me as there were around the honorable member at one time. Naturally, when I saw so much suffering, I brought a little common sense to the study of how the operation should be performed ; and if my doctor had not understood the matter, I should have quickly instructed him. However, my doctor understood his business, and I am here vaccinated and in my right mind.
– That is a doubtful point.
– It is not doubted, except by those who are themselves a “ little bit gone.” I say advisedly, from my reading - though I have not time to quote authorities now - that small-pox today in Sydney is being spread by vaccination, and not by the contagion incidental to the disease. We are told in the newspapers, morning after morning, of cases in various districts, and of how, perhaps, in one house, eight people who have been vaccinated have escaped the disease, while one unvaccinated has developed smallpox. When, however, cases of this kind are investigated, we find usually that the poor little orphan who has contracted the disease has never been near a small-pox patient or small-pox quarters, and the fact is that he has contracted the disease from the high fever set up amongst his vaccinated companions. It is well laid down by authorities that cow-pox is spread in this way. In the early stages of the outbreak we were told by the medical profession that, although the disease was then in amild form, it would later on become very malignant. The facts have proved that those medical men did not know what they were talking about, because, according to them, the disease should have assumed a malignant form six or seven weeks ago. The disease has not swept the State, as we were told it would ; and altogether the facts bear out the opinion of eminent authorities that it is vaccination which is spreading the disease, and thus we still have it as a mild or secondary form of small-pox. If the Minister of Trade and Customs wishes to stop the spread of the disease he ought to stop vaccination.
– We havebeen freely vaccinated in Victoria, and we have not got the disease yet.
– I do not think it is possible to give some Victorians anything.
– The honorable member is quite right.
– It would not be an ordinary scratch that would pierce their hides. However, this with me is not a matter of merriment, but one of serious moment; I know too many who are grieving over those who have passed away - who have been legally murdered, and for whose death some one is responsible. The responsible persons are those who raised the scare, and they are under the control of the Government.Had I, as Minister of Customs, done, or authorized to be done, what we have witnessed in Sydney, I should not be able to sleep in my bed at night because of the consciousness that I had inflicted serious loss on some families, and much suffering on many individuals. We are still told by the public authorities to-day that, unless the people are vaccinated, the disease cannot be stopped; but I say that the disease will go on until we stop vaccination. Any one who looks at the record from day to day must have noticed that four or five days or so after any large number of vaccinations there is an increase in the number of small-pox cases, and that with any decrease in vaccination there is a slump in the number. In no country that I know of would contacts, even if vaccinated, be allowed to go at large. The Minister of Trade and Customs here has adopted a policy, previously unknown, of vaccination instead of isolation; and what security, I ask, does he thus obtain? He does not know whether the vaccination has taken or not. The person vaccinated may not be immune, but he is allowed to go at large, and may be carrying contagion with him. In a percentage of cases, the vaccination does not take, but those who have been in contact with the persons stricken with disease are thus permitted to carry the infection further afield. This Government must take responsibility for the greatest blunder that has been committed in any country. The Minister of Trade and Customs appears not to understand much of what is being done. He was never a very strong Minister, and never showed too much backbone, although he has held various portfolios. In my judgment, he now appears weaker than ever. He does not know what suffering he has inflicted, and what loss he is entailing on the people of the great city of Sydney. The business people of Sydney are being ruined rapidly.
– And unemployment is increasing.
– That necessarily follows. Houses that used to be full to overflowing with country visitors now have only one or two temporary boarders and the staff. Anthony Hordern and Sons, whose emporium is the largest in Australia, recently held their annual sale. Usually during the twenty-eight days for which it lasts it is hardly possible to get to the counters, but this year you could get to any counter easily at any time, the attendance during the sale not being as large as it is at ordinary times.
– The same state of things exists in all places of business.
– Yes, in every business house in Sydney and at every hotel; and what is felt by the large places is feltalso by the small places. The monetary loss suffered by the people of Sydney - it is not their greatest loss, because the loss of life is greater - has been estimated at £1,500,000 per week. There is that amount of money less in circulation iu Sydney per week than is usually in circulation there at this time of the year. How long is this state of things going to last? The Minister has talked a great deal about saving the country, but there is something more to be done than has been done. It is his duty to take matters in hand in a proper way. If his officers do not understand the situation, and cannot do anything better than to systematically spread the disease, he should seek other advice to put an end to the sufferings of the people by stamping out the disease. Stop the vaccination, and remove the embargo, but isolate the contacts, and treat the patients in a civilized and intelligent method. If that is done, Government action will be useful to the country and to those suffering from disease. If it is not done, on the heads of Ministers will fall the vengeance of the people whom they deluded only a few short months ago into voting for a worse disease than even small-pox - the imposition of Tory rule on this fair land. The day of judgment of those who got the people to vote for the Liberal party and to defeat the referenda will come. That day is not far off. Then will they pay the penalty for the weakness of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the lack of experience of the officer who has led him astray. I had intended to speak about my appeal to the Speaker for immunity, for the right to come to Parliament without having my arm probed by a doctor, but I shall not do so to-night. There are higher authorities than our Speaker respecting the privileges of this House. The authority of the House of Commons protects the immunities and privileges of this House as well as its own Under its rules, the immunities and privileges which I claimed, having a conscientious scruple against vaccination, must be upheld. I had the right to come to this House without running the risk of being contaminated as others have been. Suppose that the proclamation which quaran tines the metropolitan area of Sydney had been issued just prior to the date fixed for the first meeting of this Parliament, no member who was summoned by the Governor-General from the Sydney constituencies, or from any of the electoral divisions north of Sydney, in New South Wales or Queensland, could have come here without being vaccinated, and those who had been vaccinated would have had to wait at least seven days to obtain certificates of satisfactory vaccination. Suppose that during those seven days some great question of national importance and urgency had arisen, requiring the action of Parliament, will it be said that any ukase of a Speaker, or any law, would have prevented its members, to whom had been intrusted the safety of the whole nation, from coming here ? To imagine the contrary is preposterous. In my judgment, it is an infringement of the privileges and immunities of this House to prevent members from coming here unless they have been satisfactorily vaccinated. Turning now to another matter, I have been highly amused by the innocence of my young friends on the other side. I was a young man once. I won my seat in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly only on the sixth attempt; I went under on five previous occasions. It took a bit of fighting to win the seat, but I learnt something during the struggles. The honorable member for Hume probably knows a little of what I learnt. But, although I had had vast experience in other public bodies when I entered the House, and found myself among my peers, I waited for my spurs to develop. I did not speak in the first session. That may seem a marvellous thing to honorable members opposite. It would, perhaps, have been marvellous if they had refrained from speaking in the first debate. The most amusing thing about their speakers is the manner in which they try to teach us our business. Each young member, fresh from the country, tells us that the Post Office has been scandalously mismanaged, that the country districts have been neglected, and that Parliament has hitherto been quite indifferent to the development of a great Department. Their excuse is that they do not know. May I tell them a little, so that they may be a little more cautious in the future. The honorable member for New England was one of those who dilated upon the ineffectiveness of the Post Office. But in the three years during which the Labour Government was in office the expenditure on telegraphs, telephones, and wireless was £3,379,196, and the expenditure on those services for the nine previous years, when the Liberal party was in office, was only £2,439,000. Yet these youngsters tell us that the Labour party neglected to attend to the interests of the country. Their complaint is disposed of in one sentence. The total expenditure of the Liberal Governments for a period of three years was only £10,744,273, whereas the total expenditure of the Labour Government, which has been accused of hindering development, was £15,945,485 in three years. Honorable members opposite talk of the neglect of the Post Office. I suppose that when stumping their electorates they were as little careful to imitate George Washington as they have been since in this Chamber. I shall put on record what has been done in my electorate, an electorate which is developing, and needs even further attention. During the three years that the Labour Government was in power, I had no fewer than fourteen post-offices in that electorate modernized. The post-office in every important town in the electorate was brought up to date, the population of the largest town there being 7,000, and that of the others varying from 1,000 to 3,000. On the Bingara post-office £331 15s. was spent to bring it up to modern requirements; at Boggabri the expenditure was £615 ls. ; at Coolah, £262 ; at Coonabarabran, £634 19s. 6d. ; at Curlewis - a little post-office newlybuilt, which I caused to be properly ventilated £61 3s.; at Gunnedah, £1,025 13s. 6d. ; at Inverell, £560; at Moree, £1,540; at Mundooran, £92 15s.; at Mungindi, £230; at Narrabri, £890; at Narribri West- a little post-office built in my time which required ventilating - £34; at Pilliga - another small post-office - £40; at Quirindi, £250; at Warialda, £851; and at Wee Waa, £269- a total of £8,364 14s. 6d. I say to those who complain that the Labour party neglected the interests of the country that there is no record like that for any other Government.
– There is no record like that for the Hume.
– I do not know, and I think that the honorable member does not know, what the record for the Hume is. All he was concerned about was the beating of the man who was there. I gained a great deal of knowledge as Chairman of the Postal Commission, which was travelling about the country for three years. I may mention for the information of honorable members that the innocent gentleman who now represents the electorate of Hume, when he was contesting my seat in 1910, sought to defeat me by telling the electors that I was making a very good thing out of the Commission, having drawn in one year £960.
– Be a little truthful.
– 1 am not aware that the honorable member could be even “ a little truthful.” He said that I drew £960, in addition to my £600 as a member of this House, making a total of £1,560 in one year, and that it was evidently a good thing to be on the Postal Commission. Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for him, I happened to be addressing a meeting 4 miles away from the place where he made that statement. I came into the town shortly after he had delivered himself of this wonderful story, and was consequently able to put my reply into the newspaper which published his statement. Afterwards at a meeting at Inverell, he was interrogated by one. c his supporters, when he said that the statement was quite true, and that he was going to telegraph to the authorities for proof. But I suppose Alfred told him that what he had said was not the truth, and when he was conducting a meeting at which Mr. Deakin spoke, instead of being manly, and acknowledging that he had made a mistake - that the statement was wrong and that he apologized - with an effrontery that even Ananias could not approach he denied ever having made such a statement. Subsequently, when he attended a meeting at a little place where I happened to be, a number of people who had been at the meeting where the original statement was made, could not believe that he had denied it, and went to face him. But he denied it still.
– Did the cock crow?
– Peter was “ npt in it” with the honorable member for Hume. What can any one think of a man who will by methods of this kind try to undermine the reputation and work o another man ? Is it any wonder that he was capable of taking on the job he did at the last election ? No other man would have done it. I also wish to say, in regard to the building of post-offices, that I saw some of the plans prepared in the Department. Having been a builder, I gave the Department the benefit of my knowledge. I modernized some of the plans, and in one or two cases my suggestions were adopted - a tiling that I believe has not occurred before in the Department. I did this in order that the best results might be obtained whilst the Labour party was in power, because I knew that I should obtain very little satisfaction when they went out of office. Take telegraphs. What happened in relation to them ? Honorable members will recollect the conditions of the telegraphs all over Australia when the Labour party came into office. There were rotten poles, and in some cases, even in large cities, the wires were holding the poles up. In 1910I could not get anything done. Why? Because the Department did not know the condition of things until the facts obtained by the Postal Commission were brought under its notice. In 1911 I got 248 miles of new telegraph lines built in my electorate. In 1912 I got 587 miles built, at a cost of £7,200, making altogether £9,293 expended on improving telegraph communication. Take telephones. The telephone is the greatest modern convenience that has been given to promote civilization in the back-blocks. The telephone is the greatest civilizer at the disposal of country people. In 1910, I got 211½ miles of public telephones erected in my electorate. In 1911, I got 172¾ miles built, costing £4,355; and in 1912, 274 miles, costing £7,637. Altogether, I secured the erection of 658¼ miles in three years, costing £19,592. The farmer.- are getting more benefit from one Department, owing to my efforts, than they could have obtained at the instance of the honorable member for Hume in a thousand years. Adding together post-offices £8,344 14s. 6d., telegraphs £9,293, and telephones £19,572, we have a total of £37,229 14s. 6d. spent on postal works in the electorate of Gwydir.
– Does the honorable member expect to get anything from the present Government?
– I have already made matters fairly secure. I have only three applications for telephones, and two applications for new mail services on my books at present. Therefore, no one can say that country interests have been neglected as far as my electorate is concerned. Taking another aspect of the question, I secured a reduction of 25 per cent. on guaranteed telephones, and 50 per cent. on new mail routes. Moreover, the officers of the Post and Telegraph Department have never in their history been so well treated as they were under the Labour party. Nearly every man from top to bottom has been benefited by reason of the administration and legislation that came into force during the time this party was in power. I wish to say a word or two with regard to the electoral business, and to the mare’s nest discovered by that active little gentleman, the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs.
– The scavenger
– I could not apply to him the word that is in my mind, because it would not be parliamentary to do so. He has been very active, but he has discovered nothing. This Government, however, has made some awful blunders. Already they have blundered more than any Government that I know of. What they did in regard to the small-pox was a gigantic blunder. The cry which they raised about roll-stuffing has reflected discredit upon the calumniators who tried to besmirch the fair name of the people of this country. What occurred in that relation was, to my mind, the most discreditable thing that has ever been done by responsible Ministers. They made charges by and large without having one atom of proof. But it was characteristic of them to give rise to these false alarms. In my own electorate, thirty-three names were submitted by the Chief Electoral Officer for the Divisional Returning Officer to lodge with the presiding officers for objection to enrolment. The thirty-three names did not arrive in time for them to be sent to the various presiding officers, who, therefore, did not know anything about the objections to them. But the whole of these persons were voted for. My scrutineer tells me that every one of them was polled on election day. Who voted for those thirty-three persons? Not our side. I have been in politics a long time now, and I can safely challenge any man to bring proof that at any time during my political career I have ever countenanced actions of that kind. I know that the game is not worth the candle. My people have never been trained in such electioneering dodges. But if an inquiry is made, it will be found who voted those thirty-three persons. There are other electoral matters to which I should like inquiry to be directed, but I will say no more on that point just now. I have a few observations to make in regard to the honorable member for Flinders, but lie is not in the chamber. I will deal with this high priest of Toryism, therefore, when the second edition of our censure motion comes forward. Turning to the question of preference to unionists, I need not add much to what has been said by the honorable member for Cook. That honorable member performed a valuable service when he resurrected the speech made by the Prime Minister as to preference to unionists. Now the Prime Minister has the audacity to tell us that he does not intend to do anything to injure unionism, for they are not out against unionism. As a matter of fact, they are very appreciative of the unionists. The honorable member for Grampians told us the other night that the unionists increased in number by 130,000 during the term of the Labour Government - that is, from 300,000 to 430,000. He said that these 430,000 persons want to rule Australia. He forgot that in nearly every home there are three or four votes independent of the unionist’s vote, and that outside that again there are relatives in various occupations. So that when he comes to enumerate, not only the unionists, but those who are in sympathy with them all the time - their relatives, their families, and friends who are not unionists by reason of their occupations - the honorable member for Grampians will see that he is dealing with, not 430,000 persons, but more than 2,000,000. The remarks he made about “beer sparrers” and “beer chewers “ showed the degradation of a man who runs a wine distillery.
– And very good wine he makes.
– Even good wine drives men mad at times. I know that the man who supplies to the wine-shops wine such as is supplied in “the country districts of New South Wales is responsible for more calamity to the individual and the family than are all the breweries that exist in Australia to-day. There is no more deadly poison than adulterated wine or wine that is badly distilled or immature. For a man who is making a fortune by distilling wine to turn round on the poor worker, who very often takes his glass of beer because he has no other means of drowning the sorrow produced by the pressure of the other side, is not creditable. It is a disgrace to the utterer of the words, and a disgrace to the party that fathers the opinion of such an individual.
– You have only half a minute to go.
– All I can say in half a minute is that my honorable friends on the other side can rely upon it that what I have said to-night will be supplemented later on.
– I take this opportunity of mentioning a matter to the House. During the speech of the honorable member for Gwydir, attention was called to the state of the House, and before it was counted an honorable member left the chamber. I did not see the honorable member go out, but my attention was called to the fact by honorable members who were present. I sent for the honorable member and explained to him that he had been guilty of a breach of the Standing Orders. For the benefit of new members, perhaps it would be just as well for me to state at this stage - I did not desire to interrupt the honorable member for Gwydir in his speech - that to leave the chamber after attention has been called to the state of the House, and until the Speaker has counted the House, is an offence against standing order 34, which requires that when attention has been called to the state of the House no member then present must leave the chamber until the Speaker has counted the House.
.- During my parliamentary career, this is, I think, the first time I have risen to speak on the Address-in-Reply, and I do so’ now, first, to help an anxious Parliament to get. back to the ‘electors, and, secondly, because there is such a hurry to get there that I might not have another opportunity of speaking. There is an adage that “ The longest way round is the shortest way home,” and apparently Parliament is acting on the principle that the longer it talks the more quickly it will get to the electors. It seems a peculiar way of getting there, but we will get there, and when we go it will always be too soon for me. So far, I find that I have at least one sympathizer here. The honorable member for Corio is quite satisfied with his position, and I am sure that you are, Mr. Speaker - the party can give you nothing better. I am perfectly satisfied with the position in which iu has pleased my beloved country to place me ; I do not desire to run any risk at all, because I know where I am, but I do not know where I might be. Mr. Speaker, only you, the honorable member for Corio, and myself, are satisfied to stop where we are. Here we are presented with the spectacle of seventy-two men unitedly struggling to get back to the country. Why do they not go? What is to stop them going?
– We cannot get on without you, dearest.
– That is the unfortunate thing. Why should the honorable member for Corio, myself, and you, sir, be embroiled in troubles in which we have no interest? Why should not the others go to the country, and leave us in a position where we are perfectly satisfied and happy ? Let them go. I am satisfied that we can carry on the business of this country as well as they can. We can carry on the government satisfactorily while they are absent. Go, gentlemen, your country awaits you.
I have listened to this discussion with great interest. I have heard talk of national destiny, national aspiration, the necessity of passing useful legislation, and making two blades of grass grow where only one blade grew before. I think that the last original idea came from the honorable member for Wannon.
– That is right.
– But I have not yet heard a single word as to what will be the character of the legislation by which you will make two blades of grass glow where only one blade grew before.
– By having the best brains in the world in the Agricultural Bureau.
– I have not yet heard by what form of legislation we are going to conduce to the better government of this continent, or add to the happiness of its people.
The debate has furnished some remarkable lights and shades, and if ever the time comes when I am to die by the hand of a political opponent, give me one like the honorable member for Nepean - a man who has kind words to say for you after he has killed you ; a man who is gentlemanly enough to plant you in a political coffin, to place roses on your breast, and to offer prayers that you may never return. But what a contrast to the honorable member for Wannon. “Wannon,” the latter said, “had notbeen represented for long years. It is now about to be represented.” I have nothing to say as to the remarkable conceit of a gentleman who imagines that representation only commences with his advent, or who imagines for a single moment that the representation of a constituency consists of the quantity or the quality of the “ jaw “ which is put on the floor of the Chamber. If that is the mark of representation, how excellently must Lang have been represented in the last Parliament, and how poorly now ? But so we are told, and the honorable member is not satisfied. 1 say nothing as to the conceit - nothing as to the idea. But I do pay here my meed of admiration for the chivalry of a man who is not satisfied with killing his opponent, but can only be satisfied when he prods a stick into the corpse. There is his generosity. The late member for Wannon at least held his ideas firmly. He held very strong convictions, whether we agreed with them or not. Not only did he not agree with those who now sit there, but he could not altogether see eye to eye with his confederates on this side. At the same time, his beliefs were deeprooted, and he understood and believed that Parliament was not so much a place for talk as a place where men came to interpret, and give effect to, the judgment of the people. Holding that belief, he carried it out, and infinitely better would it be for our country if there were a few more here like that gentleman. If there was any sincerity in the Prime Minister’s aspiration, I venture to say that he would like to see a few more men so silent in this Chamber to-day. In any case, the Government might follow the practice adopted in the Congress of the United States, where gentlemen who have ideas to convey need not occupy the attention of the House, but can hand an address in to the Congressional Record to be printed for the benefit of those who are satisfied to read it. No doubt we have had many remarkable things happen here.
I do not agree with some honorable members on this side who say that this
Government has done nothing. It has done some wonderful things. It has done something to develop this continent. I do not make any reference to the postage stamps. I have not a word to say about that subject; it is useful work; it is a splendid thing to see the kangaroo abolished, and replaced with the head of the King, decorated with the racing colours of the PostmasterGeneral. That, I think, will help to open up the country. I do not say anything about defective boilers, and men who were put out of work here and there. Those are useful things, but I have not anything to say about them. What I do draw attention to are useful acts of administration and useful works. The Government has, for instance, made an act of restoration. Restoration is very useful for practical government. It has restored once more all the signs and symbols of fourteenth century government. Once more the mace is paraded before us-
– Order ! The honorable member cannot pursue that subject.
– No? I am sorry, sir. Permit me to say that these things have been restored.
– Order !
– I do not want to make any observation or reflection ontheir character. I desire to draw from them arguments and deductions which I consider are perfectly legitimate. I make no reflection on the act of anybody.
– The honorable member must not refer to that matter.
– Why not?
– It has been ruled out of order before.
– But is a thing so sacred that no one can make a reference to it?
– Order !
– I claim the right to draw my deductions from the things. I say that these are the signs and the symbols of fourteenth century government once more restored, Mr. Speaker, in order to demonstrate the principles upon which we strive after the well-being and happiness of communities.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member riot to refer to these matters. I have already told him that he was not in order in doing so.
– What is the standing order against it ?
– Order !
– Where is a standing order against it ?
– Order !
– I desire the standing order to be cited.
– There is no standing order which sanctions the honorable member’s course. There is only one way in which a ruling can be challenged, and that is the way provided for in the Standing Orders. It was laid down by my predecessor in this office that any reference to the absence of the mace from the table was not in order, and would not be allowed.
– All right. We cannot make any reference to a lump of wood.
– I might also inform the honorable member, while I am on ray feet, that the mace was laid on the table, under standing order No. 11.
– Very good. I make no reference to the mace. T see before us a piece of wood-
– Plaster of Paris.
– Plaster of Paris.
– Order ! I have already told the honorable member that he must not continue in that strain.
– I watch with very anxious care the manner in which this little piece of wood is placed in its little bed and taken out again.
– Order ! The honorable member will see that he is disorderly in referring to a matter which I told him cannot be alluded to. He must not proceed on these lines. I give him fair warning that he must not defy the Chair.
– On a point of order, sir, I would like to know whether, in a debate on the Address-in-Reply - a debate in which almost every subject under” the sun may be discussed - and on a noconfidence amendment, it is not competent for an honorable member to refer to the fact that the Standing Orders have been carried out? That, I apprehend, is all that the honorable member has said.
– The honorable member for Bourke was proceeding in a derisive strain to discusss a subject which other honorable members had previously been informed was not in order. I would remind the honorable member that this matter had already been previously decided, and that no exception was taken to the ruling given on that occasion. In the previous Parliament, Mr. Speaker McDonald ruled that the honorable member for Wakefield “must not refer to the matter.” That ruling was given on the 12th September, 1911, and is recorded in Hansard at page 309. The matter has already been decided by the previous Speaker, and again in this session, and cannot be now re-opened.
– Apparently there is a misunderstanding between you, sir, and myself. You have referred to one thing ; I was referring to another.
– Order !
– Evidently I am not to be permitted to say anything regarding the restoration of the wigs and gowns. But it must be clearly understood that there was one thing which even the Labour party in its most iconoclastic mood dare not touch. Whatever it might do in regard to other things, at least, I can say that in its most iconoclastic mood our party dare not touch the AddressinReply. Had we dared to abolish it, does any man in this country imagine for a moment that we would not be faced with it now? Would it not have been restored with the other things?
– Order !
– I am not referring to anything.
– If the honorable member is not alluding to the matters to which reference has already been made, it is difficult to understand to what he is alluding.
– Do you, sir, rule that the honorable member cannot refer to the Address-in-Reply ?
– The honorable member for Bourke, I take it, was referring to “ other things,” and such references have already been ruled out of order.
– With all due respect to you, sir, it is remarkable that I am not at liberty to say anything unless you understand it. You must have been placed in many difficult positions during your occupancy of the chair-
– Will the honorable member resume His seat? He is again transgressing the Standing Orders. He must not traverse my decisions or engage in a discussion with the Chair. I would again point out that to continually drag Mr. Speaker into the discussion does not add to the dignity of the Chamber.
– I have no desire to traverse your ruling, sir, but you must have found out long ago that I am one of the few honorable members of this House who unhappily possess no dignity, and you must make allowance for uncommon men.
If the Address-in-Reply had been abolished, there is not a single person in this country who is not fully satisfied that it would have been restored by itself, if not with the other things to which reference has been made. So that honorable members would still be engaged in its discussion. The Government would have regarded it as part of the essentials of Parliament and it would have been restored, irrespective of whether it is an absurdity or not
– What is all this about, I wonder?
– I will tell the honorable gentleman. I have heard many things from him that I could not understand. During the discussion upon the Address-in-Reply, an honorable member is at liberty to talk upon any subject. It is his right to do so, and it is permissible for honorable members to exercise their right. I have noticed that honorable members opposite have exercised their right in this regard to an unlimited extent. I remember when I made my advent to this Chamber that the supporters of the then Government said very little upon it - so little that there was a protest from the Opposition. The members of the Opposition spoke one after another, even at the beginning of the debate. They discussed the AddressinReply from the 1st to the 13th JulyThey spoke 250 pages of Hansard. The honorable member for Parramattaspoke for hours, and other members of his party also spoke for hours. The honorable member for Wimmera claimed the right to traverse every subject imaginable; and there was an affable gentleman representing the electorate of Lang who demanded to know if the supporters of the Government had been “ struck dumb.” The press complained that supporters of the Government would not speak, and thus help to prolong the debate. The discussion of the Address-in-Reply is recognised as an essential of Parliament. It practically covers the sun, moon, and stars in their orbits; indeed, it embraces everything that is in the heavens or under the earth. On the present occasion this discussion has continued for three weeks, and the Prime Minister has gone from one part of the country to the other affirming that the Opposition are pursuing a policy of obstruction ; that they are hanging up legislation, and preventing the business of the country from being transacted. I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will declare here, in the presence of the representatives of the people, that the men sitting upon this side of the chamber have for three weeks pursued a policy of obstruction. Will he favour me with an answer? He declines to do so. What he says on the public platform he dare not say here. Yet we have been faced with this position : that for three weeks a Government which declare that they desire to carry on business have met Parliament as late as possible, adjourned as early as possible, put up as many speakers as possible, and got them to talk as long as possible. They have shared one-half of the time occupied by this debate.
– This is what we get for adjourning early.
– It is true.
– A mean crowd to make a point of that sort, after appealing every night for an adjournment.
– There is nothing mean in an attitude such as I have taken up. But for a man who has taken a share in the delay which has occurred, and in the responsibility for that delay - a man who, for three weeks put up his own followers in equal number with those upon this side of the Chamber - it is mean, contemptible, and untruthful-
– Order !
– Oh, yes ! I am out of order again.
– I will ask the honorable member to withdraw those expressions as being unparliamentary.
– They are true, all the same.
– Order ! This kind of thing will not be permitted to continue. It is just as well for honorable members to understand that. I want to tell the honorable member that arguing with the Chair is quite disorderly, and must not be proceeded with.
– Withdraw the word untruthful, and nothing else.
– I am very sorry that I am obliged to say that the Prime Minister did not say anything which was un truthful. My parliamentary careeris a thorny one. I am always on the rocks somewhere.
– Why insult Mr. Speaker ?
– I did not. We are face to face with this fact - that the Prime Minister shares the responsibility and the ignominy attaching to all that pertains to the conduct of the business of this Parliament during the past three weeks. He permitted it, and he shared in it.
– And he is responsible.
– He is wholly responsible. Yet he has the impudence to get on a public platform and to talk of other men obstructing business. My talk is obstruction; his talk is patriotism.
I come now to the real matters which this Parliament is to be asked to discuss. The Government have presented us with their policy. I have looked at it. I have heard the debate which has taken place so far, and I have heard honorable members opposite on platform after platform, in almost every State, attacking the Labour party. Nearly every one of them has spoken of those things which mightily affect the productive resources of this continent. With them it has not been a question of perfecting our electoral system, because, no matter how perfect the machinery of government may be, we have chiefly to consider the uses to which that machinery is put. They have affirmed that the use to which the Labour party put its powers was inimical to the best interests of this country.
Now the most important piece of legislation enacted by the last Parliament was the Land Tax Act. I have no intention of occupying time in discussing the land tax from the stand-point of its economic and industrial results. But the whole of the Government and their supporters have stated in the Liberal press, in this Parliament, and on the public platform, that that tax is injurious to the country. They have described it as an iniquity. The honorable member for Corio and others have told us during the course of this debate that the result of its operation has been to prevent the cutting up of large estates, to increase the price of land, and to prohibit subdivision. They have affirmed that the 15 per cent. deposit required as a guarantee of a bonâ fide sale has prevented poor men from getting land. They have declared that the tax has produced injurious results, driven land out of cultivation, and- made land dearer. What then do they propose to do? Either they believe their own statements or they do not. If they do not believe them, they are untruthful men, who have slandered their opponents. The facts demonstrate it. If, on the other hand, they believe what they say, what is their obligation to their country? Is it not that they shall use their political power to bring about the repeal of this iniquitous law? What are they going to do? Uphold their policy? In that policy there is not one word in connexion with this matter. What are you going to do, you lovers of your country, you honest and upright men ?
– Sit and draw the boodle.
– Order ! Will the honorable member address the Chair ?
– I always do. However, I am getting tied up in a knot. Do these gentlemen say things on the platform which they believe to be untrue; if so, they are discredited. If, on the other hand, they say what they believe to be true, they stand condemned in the eyes of their country, because they come here and do not attempt to repeal legislation which they have affirmed is an iniquity.
I come now to another matter : the repeal of the Australian Notes Act and the Act providing for the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank. Speaker after speaker on the Government side of the House has scouted our Commonwealth note issue, and has derided the National Bank. They have done so from the public platform ; their newspapers have done the same. They have affirmed, even, during the course of this debate that, per medium of the note issue, or per medium of the National Bank, money has been made scarce and dear. They have said that our National note issue has made money tight, has crippled the financial interests of the country, and, in one way or another, has piled upon this continent immense injury. That is their affirmation. What are they going to do? Let the Commonwealth Bank and the note issue remain. What are these men ? Are they slanderers of their opponents, or lovers of their country? If they are slanderers of their opponents, they are going to demonstrate that fact by leaving the note issue and the National Bank untouched. If, on the other hand, they believe that the note issue and the
National Bank are injurious to the best interests of the people, where is their patriotism? Where is their love of country ? Where is their business knowledge t There they are before us, with power in their hands, yet they dare not appeal to Parliament to repeal these measures, which they say have vitally and prejudicially affected vast financial and industrial interests in Australia.
Upon all these matters they are silent. Surely, in connexion with this matter of the bank, they are anxious to go on ? My own view was that when we started upon our career as a Labour Administration - when the door of opportunity was thrown open to us - we should march on boldly. I thought that when a Government such as ours was had gone abroad for experts in connexion with fortresses, arsenals, and so forth, when the States went abroad for experts in connexion with their railways, and their irrigation, and viticultural systems, we should be more than justified in going abroad to obtain an expert of world-wide repute and knowledge, brought up in the atmosphere of national banks and international relationships. I thought that while building our forts and dock-yards we might do something to lay siege to the financial arsenals of Capitalism and set up round the continent a chain of National Banks. That was our obvious duty and obligation ; but we wanted to be moderate and discreet. We therefore made a small start, waited for months, and finally selected an expert - from one of the other banks. We put the whole management of the institution in his hands, and what have we got from him ? Not much. He holds an entrenched position, and is free from all governmental control. There is not a National Bank in any other part of the world where the Treasurer of the day has not a controlling influence. In the case of the Bank of France, and the Bank of Germany, the Finance Minister sits upon the board, and is at the very head of the institution. In each of those countries it is recognised that the National Bank is the ark of the nation’s industry, and that the well-being of the nation is wrapped up in its stability and advancement. The Government of the day, therefore, never lose control over it. There they have regard to the ideals and aspirations of the people, as well as to economic administration. Here, however, we listened to the cry that the
National Bank should be free from political influence, and we appointed a general manager whom we declared should have absolute command for seven years. He tied up the bank; he eviscerated and strangled it, and then he writes to the Times that the very institution that he is paid by a Labour Government to administer has contributed to the financial stringency prevailing at present in Australia.
Such is the position in which we find ourselves, and now honorable members who sit behind the Government, although they see the bank which they have denounced, and the national note issue which they have derided, strangled by a man who is being paid to administer and develop it, do not intend to take any action. When they are reinforced in their belief by the statement of the general manager, why do they not bring the bank to an end 1 Why have they not the courage to do so ? They dare not take one step in that direction. The hour is not yet. That is their hope of the future.
Then, again, what are they going to do in connexion with the great question of the Tariff ? This is a very important matter. Since I must address’ myself to you, Mr. Speaker, I wish to be very careful to do so, especially in relation to a question in which we are mutually interested. For two years after my advent into this House, I carefully read from day to day the great Protectionist journal. I followed it, and walked round the city in order to see for myself how our factories were faring. I saw men going into the factories in the morning and coming out at night. T read official statistics which taught me that the number of men and women in our factories was increasing, but when I read my beloved journal I knew they were unemployed. I knew from the statistics of the day that more persons were being employed in factories, but when- 1 read the Protectionist daily I learnt that scores more were unemployed. I saw new machinery going into factories. I knew there was nothing for that machinery to do. I saw the struggling manufacturers putting up new buildings or making additions, but I knew from my beloved journal that all these buildings were empty. I saw the manufacturers travelling in motor cars or making tours round the world, but I knew that they were doing so only to escape the ruin brought upon them by the ineffective
Tariff. Being an ardent Protectionist - one who desires Protection not merely for one class, but for all - I thought some action should be taken. If Protection is a good thing, and has an important influence on the nation, it should not be confined to one particular set of individuals. The people need to have protection from dirt, from hunger, from insanitary conditions, from all the evils of life, and our party can only be a party worthy of its name, and worthy of the support of .the great mass of struggling workers, when it considers the question of protecting the people from some of these further evils. When I read my paper I knew that the poor manufacturers were dying of starvation, or touring the world in order to escape the ruin in which the ineffective Tariff had involved them. And you will remember, my comrades of the party, that I said to you, “Put up the Tariff.” Some of my party, who do not suffer as we of the city suffer, from the influence of a local’ journal - some from out-back who have no comprehension of these things - had no sympathy with my demand. Their answer was, “ Put up the protective duties on what?” I replied, “ Put up the duties on something or other by 50 per cent, or 100 per cent. Give us more Protection.”
Time went on. I still read my paper, and then I saw in it the statement that every time the Tariff was put into the melting pot there resulted disaster to industry and prices. “ Well,” I said to myself, “ where am I?” Then some of my comrades said, “ Look at what your paper says; you cannot put the Tariff into the melting pot without bringing about a crisis.” Months passed, and then, in December last, this beloved journal said, “ Thank goodness, the time has gone by when the. Tariff has to be reconstructed.” I rubbed my eyes, and said, “Where am I? Where are our ruined manufacturers? Where are the closed-down industries?” Then on 23rd December last, in summing up the work of the session, this newspaper said, “ The Labour party, by its Inter-State Commission, has taken the last breeze out of the Fusion sails.” I thought we were right for the elections.
– What about the Sedan ?
– I prefer to deal with one subject at a time, and even in doing that it is hard enough to keep clear of the rocks of the Standing Orders. Time went on, and I said, “ Mighty Labour party. Wisdom lies always in the majority. For two years I was wrong, and I did not know it. But I know now that the majority of our party were right when they said we should not touch the Tariff.” Then the elections came, and I found that, instead of being right, I was all wrong. According to this beloved newspaper, I was an ardent Free Trader, and they put up against me a Protectionist who had always been a Free Trader. The factories began to be closed up again. There were more unemployed; the manufacturers once more began to be ruined, and the people were called on to put me out, and to put some one else in. It did not matter who it was. My beloved paper said that a sawmill had closed down because of the ineffective Tariff. The truth was that a dynamo would not work, and a boiler had burst, but the suspension of operations was put down to the Tariff. Then we were told that the straw-board industry was ruined, and hundreds were out of work. The manager explained that it was not the Tariff, but a fire, that was responsible. And so it went on. Then came the elections, and I read articles in this paper appealing to the electors to “ Down with the Labour man for Wannon. ‘ Down with the Labour man for Indi. Down with Labour everywhere.” “Ahern is a good Protectionist; will guarantee Protection in the first session. Put in Ahern.” “Down with McDougall, and up with Rodgers. He guarantees Protection in the first session.” “Down with Ozanne, up with Kendell - sure Protectionist.” Our men went down, their men went up, and now I am looking for Protection. The Age, after we had rectified sixty-four Tariff anomalies, declared that this was a work of no consequence, that it did not touch the Tariff. After the general election, however, it said, ‘ If the Government of Joseph Cook will touch only twenty items, that will be enough. That will be sound Protection.” I now read that the Cook Government is going to cure anomalies in the first session of the present Parliament - if they are discovered. We need not trouble, therefore, about the land tax or the note issue, the National Bank, or the Tariff - most of these matters are in the hands of the Inter-State Commission, and there they will remain. If we are here as long as they are before that Commission, we shall be happy. And the anomalies are going to be cured - when discovered. Happy Parliament, if we remain until the Cook Government discover them.
I look now, sir, for anything else that the present Government is going to do. Believing in the principle of arbitration, we decided that public servants should be brought under or be allowed to appeal to the Arbitration Court. Years ago, when I was in the State Parliament, I said that one of the mistakes of modern Governments lay in the fact that they did not make a clear-cut distinction between economic and civil functions; that whenever industrial undertakings, whether railways or factories, were owned and controlled by the nation it was the duty of the Government to give the management into the hands of efficient men, and to guarantee justice to the employes by giving them the same right of appeal to the Courts as had citizens outside. Therefore, I was quite in agreement with the principle of our party, which laid it down that the public servants ought to be able to go to the Arbitration Court; and, as a fact, some of them have gone and have obtained verdicts. But the Public Service Commissioner, like the Governor of the National Bank, has taken it on himself to criticise the public acts of the Government and their results. What would be said if we were to measure the operations of the Arbitration Court by the opinions of an employer who declared that it absorbed so much of the gross earnings of his particular industry. This Government and their supporters have constantly denounced the application of the arbitration laws to the Public Service, and declared it to be an outrage. But the Government do not propose to abolish the law which extends the arbitration laws to the public servants, nor any of the other laws that affect the economic and financial interests of the country. They do not propose to perform any useful act that will in any way augment the happiness of the people, or tend to make two blades of grass grow where only one grew before.
If the Government were not prepared to make an attack on the financial and other laws brought into existence by the late Government, and were anxious to bring on business of a non-party character, they had ample opportunity. They might have come down and proposed to discuss propositions which were of a noncontroversial nature, and which would prove of benefit to the country. Would not any reasonable Government have taken that course in order to tide over the first session, and see what events might bring forth? A Commonwealth bankruptcy law is essential, and then there are life and fire insurance regulations, a Marriage aud Divorce Bill, and much other legislation of the kind which might have occupied our time. We are faced with the fact, however, that the Government will not touch anything of real vital interest to this continent or its inhabitants.
What do the Government propose to do ? Their first proposal is electoral reform; but supposing they bring about all the electoral changes they desire, what will they have done in regard to the two blades of grass? Will electoral reform, no matter how perfect or pure it may make the machinery, increase the happiness of the people, ‘the country’s productiveness and trade, or in any other way promote the material interests of the country? Such reform will not make one home brighter or put a penny in any man’s pocket. May we not, therefore, come to the conclusion that the Government are endeavouring to choose their battleground for a particular purpose - in a manner they think will best strengthen their hands - not to promote the national interests, but essentially to promote party interests, and the interests of the party which they represent in this Chamber?
No sooner was the election over than from one end of the country to the other there were cries of corruption. The Liberal newspapers were full of this new sensation; and yet the other night the Attorney-General asked “ Who on this side has made any such charges?” But what need was there for the Government and their supporters to make the charges when they could get some other dog to bark? In any case, the Treasurer, for one, said that there was wholesale corruption at Fremantle and Perth - that there were thousands of cases of personation. We remember, of course, that when the results of the investigation were made known, the Treasurer did not say that he was sorry, or make any other apology for his statement that there were 2,0.00 perjurers and personators in Perth and Fremantle, but merely remarked, “ I am surprised.”
Therefore, if I say that honorable members opposite have done so and so, and it is proved that they have not, I shall not need to apologize, but merely to express surprise that things are not what I thought.
Thousands in my electorate were supposed to have marched from polling-booth to polling-booth determined at any risk to carry the banner of Labour to victory; but, thanks to the extreme honesty of my constituency, and especially of its representative, nothing of the kind happened. As I have said before, we do not desire any means of that kind to be adopted ; we must be absolutely honest - except when the situation is critical. Those who made an investigation in my electorate found that there were sixty-seven absent votes, most of whom were ladies, who do not usually care to travel further than they need on a wet day, and the election day was exceedingly wet. In the case of one lady of Northcote, who is as well known as I am, and better, and who was supposed to have exercised an absent vote, what really happened? As a matter of fact, the lady was in the constituency at the time, and she did not use an absent vote; and if somebody exercised it in her name, it was only necessary to turn up the records to find the signature of the person who did. That, however, was not done, and it is not even known whether any person did exercise a vote in that lady’s name. There were forty persons who were supposed to have marched from booth to booth; and, apparently, those who made an investigation relied on the ticks that were on the roll. At one of the tables an officer was taken extremely ill, and had to leave. We know what happens in moments of anxiety, and that officer could not see as well as he could in his normal health, and there were more ticks at his table than at any other, while at another table there were two more ticks than voters. If, for instance, at any table there were 202 ticks shown, the Government had only to see how many men voted, and if there were only 200 of the latter, it must be evident that there was a mistake in the ticking. Such cases did happen; but out of twenty tables, the ticking at three-fourths of them was absolutely correct. The whole thing boils down to a sham, a fraud, and a delusion, showing that the slanders by the Liberal party on the late Government are absolutely without the slightest foundation.
Driven by the facts to tue conclusion that the whole of the charges are a dream, the Government and their supporters tried to explain the position away by saying there may have been impersonation. No Government can make any law which will prevent impersonation, any more than they can make a law which will prevent men committing crime. The late Government was not the first to put more than two booths in one subdivision, and, wherever there are dishonest people, they will proceed from one polling-booth to another. Under every form of government, there has been personation, and no Government can cure it. It stands to the credit, honour, and glory of this country that, even in a time of turmoil and bitter passion, there should be so few men and women on whom the slightest suspicion can possibly rest.
Then the Government propose the restoration of the postal vote. If it be confined to the sick, I have no objection to that. I consider it a point of tactics that we should not oppose that proposal. They wish to choose their own battle-ground, and that we should not allow. If the postal vote is restricted to the sick, the amendment of the law will be a good one, not only in itself, but because by agreeing to it we shall take a weapon from our enemies, and stop them from using, at least, one of their battle cries.
Then there is the matter of preference. The Attorney-General said the other night that it is scandalous that there should be preference, and that a law would be passed prohibiting it. The prohibition of preference would mean that men should go forth armed with a club to settle their disputes. I believe in preference, though I shall not occupy time in giving the grounds of my belief. In their struggles to improve their condition, the organized workmen of the community occupy an altogether exceptional position. They find money with which to fight cases in the Courts. Other litigants when they gain verdicts are the only ones to enjoy the fruits, but when the organized workmen of the country win awards, the gains are not theirs only; they go to all connected with the industry. Our workers find themselves compelled to struggle and fight for their rights, but those who organize and pay to get what is won have to share with those who do nothing and pay nothing, those who are masters’ men and non-unionists. Organized labour, if it wins a victory by force of arms, revolution, or the peaceful processes of law, has to share it with those who will not join the organization; but when it loses, it alone suffers the consequences. Whatever may be the weaknesses and shortcomings of individuals, none can deny that organization is a civilized force, which should be fostered and encouraged by law. Men have progressed from the dens of savagery to their present condition only as they have learnt to associate one with another, to do by organization what was impossible by individual action. But we have not yet got preference. If we had, I should say, “ Fight by all the means in our power to retain it. Talk from now to the end of the session, if need be.” Whatever we have we should hold fast to. We should never allow anything to be won back that has been snatched in the struggles of the past. But the so-called preference is a mere sham, administratively and legislatively not worth the paper on which it is written.
What does preference on the part of a Government mean ? It means the appointing of men wrapped up in your own ideals, believing the things in which you believe; men who have sympathy, brains, and heart, and desire what you desire. With such men at the top, you may be sure that for the rank and file the right men will be selected. But when we were assailed for having given preference to one individual and another, we made it our boast that we had not done so. Why should we have done that? Every other Government that I have known of has been partisan in its methods, and has given the public appointments in its gift to men of its own kidney. What have we to apologize for? It was our mission, our duty, what we owed to the movement to which we belong, to see merits in our friends rather than in our opponents. Who are the members of the Closer Settlement Board in this State? They are the discarded soldiery of the party in power; the politicians who have fallen by the wayside. The same thing may be said of the members of the Licensing Board, and of all the other Boards and Trusts in this State and elsewhere in Australia. The men that the Government appoint to these positions are men of its own party.
– Not one Labour man has been appointed to them.
– I never knew one to be appointed; but it was the proud boast of the Labour party that it, at least, was moral and clean, and selected its officers for their merit, irrespective of their political views or religious beliefs. What did we gain by that? Nothing. The only man who could be said to have got anything out of his attachment to the Labour movement - Mr. Ryland - has been pursued with as much hatred as if he had committed a crime. The administrative preference that existed under Labour rule was worth nothing. When honorable members opposite boast of having swept away preference, I say that they have swept away nothing: that the position is now exactly as it was. Under this Government you will have exactly what you had before. Preference is secured by force of numbers acting in unison. If ever a Labour party gets into power again it ought to make sure that the men up above who have the carrying out of its works are men in sympathy with its ideals : no more Millers to be a curse to the party in performing the functions of government.
Legislatively, what preference is it proposed to abolish? We sought to protect union funds. Should not the unions be allowed to spend their money how and for what purposes they like? Have not the employers the same right? The Constitutional Union, which has its head-quarters in the Equitable Building here, and of which the Age said, just prior to the 1910 election, that it is dominated by a man representing a large foreign interest, issued a manifesto appealing to employers for funds for the political fight. It is the money power that constitutes the force that operates the machinery of the organized opposition to the Labour party. That is the life blood of the party opposing us. It feeds the Women’s National League, the Liberal League, and the People’s party. The circular to which I refer makes that plain . It points out that, as the result of its expenditure, the referenda were defeated in 1911. That is regarded as a good return for the funds collected. Its expenditure also brought about the defeat of Labour candidates in certain State constituencies, and the defeat of this party at the last election.
In this country, workmen are organized for particular purposes. They desire the improvement of industrial conditions. It is the great drudgery of the underworld, the gaping ignorance that destroys the soul, that we must war against. The honorable member for Corangamite, speaking the other night said, “ I have never protested against the increasing of wages.” Why did he believe that high wages were good ? Because, he said, they had brought a better class of men into the particular industry with which he was connected. Is not that the testimony everywhere? If you give a man a higher standing in the community, if you give him a better standard of living, if you give him time for recreation and rest, if. you give him hope in life, he will soon drop the savage pleasures of the past and develop an intellectual and moral standard which he never had before. The men in the industry to which the honorable member referred have been given that hope. The consequence is that a better class of men have been brought into the industry. Yet it was said, twenty years ago, that the efforts of the Australian Workers Union, of the honorable member for Darling and his colleagues, would bring ruin and disaster upon the shearing industry and drive it out of existence in this country. The history of that movement has, however, demonstrated that a better class of men have been brought into the field.
Oh the other hand, the employers, driven by their interests, have founded their own organization. Now they object to the organizations of the workers coming into the arena of politics. But is not that what they were founded for? Is not that the reason why we are here? We are not here purely of our own volition. Some of us took an early part in this great movement; but, after all, we are but cogs in the wheel. Why do men who are connected with trade unions send us into Parliament? Why do they subscribe their money to maintain their organizations ? It is perfectly true that they have put hundreds of thousands of pounds of their money into the movement. It is money that has been laboriously earned. They do not spare their exertions. They do not work and pay for their own pleasure, but in order that we may come here and be their advocates. And we should be false to the trust and to the hope which they repose in us if we were not - we who are here by the will of the organized workers - to realize that it is our duty to represent the great masses of this continent. By reason of the force that we have been able to exert in State and National politics, we have developed the social and industrial laws of this country in such a way as to make a deep impression upon the life of the nation. We are here because the people feel that their -material interests are being advanced by our efforts. We represent the force and numbers of the organized workers of Australia, who see no hope for the future but from the movements for which they so cheerfully work and so freely subscribe.
On the other side of the House there are also gentlemen who represent money - not, perhaps, in their own persons, but still they are the agents of money. They represent the landed interest, the great financiers; all those who feel that their personal interests are affected by the advanced legislation which we have espoused. “Why do they work in this direction? Why do the squatters, the bankers, and others send in their money to aid the party opposite ? Amongst other things, I may mention that on the 26th April there went to the Bank of Victoria tho sum of £500 from a gentleman named Herbert Brookes to another gentleman by the name of J. M. Fowler, of Perth. Why was that sum of money passed through the Bank of Victoria? Was it to advance the cause of liberty and of. equal opportunity for all? Why does the great Protectionist support the ardent Free Trader? Because behind all these things there are felt to be other issues at -stake. The financiers, the squatters, and the manufacturers want honorable members opposite to advance their interests. They want them to uphold whatever privileges they possess. They want those privileges to be retained in their hands as long as possible. It has been just the same throughout all history. Legislation by the King meant -government in the interest of the King. Legislation by the barons meant government in the interest of the barons. Legislation by the great landlords of England meant government in the interest of the landlords. Legislation by the rich manufacturers meant government in the interest of the rich manufacturers. Legislation by the squatters meant government in the interest of the squatters. Legislation by the bankers and financiers meant government in the interest of the bankers and the financiers. And, in exactly the same way, legislation by the people, because they are the foundation of all true government, means government in the interest of the people.
It is so all over the world. What a farce it is to talk about there being ro clashing of interests. How ridiculous for any one to pretend that he can, at one and the same time, represent those who believe in land taxation and those who do not; those who believe in high rates of wages, and those who do not; those v.’ho believe in looking after the interests of the financiers, and those who do lot. What a farce it is for any one to say, “ I represent anything and anybody; as long as I can secure office, I am prepared to do anything for anybody.” Now, honorable members opposite pretend that they represent the people. Do not let us, if we have material interests to serve, as we all have, deny that such is the case. What is the particular object of honorable members opposite? Their object is to represent a particular class. We also make no secret of the fact that we are here to represent material interests. Why do the great squatters want the reversal of the Labour party? Why do they want to keep the present Government in ? Why do the great financial institutions want them in? It is a farce to deny the real object which they have in view. Does any one really suppose that the squatters and the financial institutions are seriously concerned about preference to unionists, cr about voting by post? They do not trouble about such things. They want something more than that. Their great wish to shake the power of the Labour party in the Senate is founded not on a desire to secure voting by post, but to prevent the forces of living humanity in this country from getting entrenched in power, and to enable the forces of reaction to sweep away the legislation connected with national banking, the land tax, and so forth, which we embodied upon the statute-book, believing them to be essential to the true interests of the citizens of this country. That is the particular object which the supporters of honorable members opposite have in view.
Look at the class they represent. Take them one by one. Ask any man in the gallery to contemplate the Attorney-General as the model of a true democrat and a progressive. As the honorable member for Ballarat pointed out the other night, the Attorney-General at one time obtained possession of power in the State of Victoria. What was he then ? An autocrat, utterly without sympathy, cold and callous, eager to embrace the opportunity which occurred to him of sweeping away, if he could, every vestige of beneficent, industrial, and social legislation in this State. There is no need to take up time by repeating what he did. He made an attack on the power of combination. He went further, did this advocate of liberty, and took advantage of an opportunity to restrict the rights of the citizens of this country. He proposed to pass a Coercion Bill more odious and restrictive than anything enacted in a Parliament within a hundred years. My honorable friend from Ballarat made a slight mistake, which I desire to correct. We do not wish to do any injustice to our opponents. My honorable friend said that the honorable member for Flinders got £1,000 from the Employers Federation as a reward for his industry. Now, that statement was not correct. He did not take the £1,000. He said, “ I cannot take the money, give it to my wife.” While to her he said, “ Darling, take it. It would undermine my moral fibre to take the money, but see that the cash is in the family.” This is the man who to-day goes abroad and says that to give a pension to a man who has spent sixty-five years in struggling and battling against misfortune, carrying his swag, working here and there, sunk in sickness, distress, and unemployment, is to undermine his moral fibre. Of course, I do not cast any blame on a man like that. We are all men of honour. I have done the same. The only thing I regret is that the doses are not large or frequent enough.
I have no intention of speaking later, because everybody is anxious to get away to the electors. I have no intention of speaking on the other matters connected with the Marconi business except that the trouble has arisen. Was it the honorable member for Nepean who said that the explanation of the AttorneyGeneral, in reply, perfectly satisfied him that everything was smiling? Somebody pointed out to the AttorneyGeneral the case of Mr. Asquith - no analogy. Somebody reminded the honor- able member of what he had said ia the McKenzie case - no analogy. Somebody quoted the case of Mr. Isaacs - no analogy. Somebody reminded the honorable member for Parramatta of his statement that two members who drew retainers from the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales had to resign from the Ministry - no analogy.Nothing that ever has been or will be can possibly be an analogy to this honorable and learned gentleman. On what meat does this great Caesar feed? Nothing touches him. It is almost the same as if some one said, “ Here is a retainer to defend a burglar.” Then he is appointed Solicitor-General and says, “ I am the legal guardian of the State in everything except that I hold a retainer from the other side.” He said, in connexion with the Marconi case, “ I still have a retainer. I do not know whether it is right or not, but any case against the Marconi Company I hand to another Minister.” I take a retainer from you or anybody else who comes along, and then I take the position of Solicitor-General and prosecute for the Crown. Then I say to the Minister of Lands, ‘ ‘ I am the legal representative of my country except against those burglars, from whom I hold retainers.” In that case, somebody else represents my country, but we are all honorable men. So be it. There stands the position of the two great parties.
Let us now take the honorable member for Grampians. What does heaim at? He wants to sweep away the franchise of the country and establish a ratepayers’ roll. Take the honorable member for Calare, as representing the new type of politicians who come here - as representing, not the old ideals, but the new hopes and aspirations of the money power of his country. He glorified the conditions of the Old Country - those odious conditions under which 1,500 men ‘ in some cases have as much political power as 37,000 men. When he is asked if he supports that system he answers boldly ‘ ‘yes. ‘ ‘ Honorable members on the other side want to sweep away the existing things, without a political policy, without an ideal, without a hope, without’ a dream of destiny. Ask them where are the two blades of grass to come from. How are they going to make the two blades grow?
– By adopting the system I advocated.
– Changing the electors] law will enable grass to grow ! Here are your saviours. We have here clearly a definite policy, right or wrong. It may be good or evil, but only the future can tell.
Opposite is a party that talks of producing something, and then it has the -cheek to pray to God that we will keep on talking, because it has no particular policy to propound. All that it proposes possibly is to have an election on those things which appeal to the prejudices and the passions of the people. A party that talks of equal opportunities - a party that flies the banner of equal liberty, and the banner of equal opportunity - proposes to strike at 100,000 men who are within the precincts of the law, to prevent the rural workers having the right of appeal to the law. I do not ask whether their case is good or bad, but I do ask where is your equal opportunity. These Liberals talk of making laws for all men, yet they propose to deny to vast bodies of fellow -citizens an opportunity of utilizing the law in their own interests. Why is it that they dare to-day to appear on the floor of the National Parliament, and say that the rural workers shall not have equality of right to appeal to the law? It is because, in the rural districts, they feel that Democracy is not yet as powerful as it should be, but just in proportion as it becomes more powerful so will they recede from the position which they occupy to-day, and will then assert that they were always favorable to the rural workers having the right to appeal to the law. These honorable members talk of equal liberty in the country when, throughout the modern world, some men are ham-strung at the starting-point, and others are simply left at the winning-post. That they call equal opportunity. Whether we are right or wrong in our methods, whatever the frailties or weaknesses of the party or the men, we at least are trying to realize that which we hold near and dear.
This contest will go on. Some may lose the number of their mess, some may fall by the wayside, but the men who sit behind the Government may make sure that the sweeping tide of human thought will bring up a new humanity. There is the Government; there it stands without a policy. It offers nothing for thiB country; no means for making two blades of grass grow where one now grows; no useful legislation; no endeavour to sweep away those things which it says are fatal to the country, but holds out as far as possible the door to entrenched evil, and before the rising tide of Democracy it must disappear. In conclusion, sir, I am very sorry to have crossed swords with you. I plead humbly to you to forgive me, and thank you.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Higgs) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 September 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19130902_reps_5_70/>.